13 Ways that March 2016 Kicked My Butt

Hello! You might be wondering why you haven’t heard from me in such a long time! Usually during March I blog every day about funny things that happen at our shows. This year, however, I did not manage to blog at all. I was too busy trying to deal with all the crazy things that were happening.


But now things are finally settling down, and I have time and energy to blog again! Here, for your enjoyment, are the top 13 crazy/embarrassing/difficult things that happened during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day season.


  1. I am STILL getting over having mono last year. It’s been nine months now, and I am really, really ready to be back to 100%. Unfortunately, a couple people I know who had mono said that it took them a year before they were back to normal.I get tired very easily and have to take a nap every day in order to function. Sometimes ordinary things feel overwhelming, like paying bills or vacuuming. Worst of all, I feel like an energy-sucking vampire has clamped his teeth on my neck and drained out every last drop of my normal enthusiasm. I haven’t been writing much at all, and I only choreographed one number for our big March stage show, because all my creative juices are just gone.Luckily, I feel enough better that I was able to make it through St. Patrick’s season. If I’d gotten mono this January instead of last July, I’m not sure what I would have done.
    2. I got a letter from my insurance company telling me that they were not, after all, going to pay for the septoplasty I had in December, even though they’d preapproved the surgery and told me I was 100% covered. I had a total panic attack when I saw that; dance teachers aren’t known for having loads of disposable income lying around. I never would have had the surgery if I’d thought it wasn’t covered. Now my doctor’s office is duking it out with the insurance people to try to get them to cover it. Fingers crossed!
    3. I was making potato salad for lunch with my sister. First step: quarter potatoes. Second step: put them in a pot of water and bring to a boil. While I waited for the pot to boil, I checked Facebook. I got so wrapped up in Facebook that it wasn’t until 20 minutes later that I wondered why the water wasn’t boiling yet. That’s when I found out that the big burner on my stove was dead.

    My husband and I did some research and found out that the stove was the original one from when our house was built in 1984. You can still find replacement burners online, but they are so expensive that it would be more cost-effective in the long run for us to buy a new stove (especially since there was no telling when one of the other burners might go).

    So we went stove shopping. We had to replace our fridge–also the original from 1984–last year, and now Ray says that our dishwasher (the only remaining original appliance) is running scared.

    I joked that the stove was the only birthday present Ray was going to get (see above comment about disposable income). As it turned out, he also got a new bathroom sink, too, since the bottom of his sink had rusted through.
    4. Speaking of which, it really sucks for Ray that he has a March birthday and married an Irish dance teacher. I say that every year, because every year it sucks just as much.
    5. I got a phone call from the mom of one of my 12-year-old dancers. They were at the doctor’s office, and her daughter had an ingrown toenail that was so bad they were going to have to cut the nail off. She wanted my advice on which option was better: A) have the infected toenail cut off now but risk her not being able to dance at our big stage show later that week, or B) wait until after the stage show to have the nail cut off but risk her not being able to dance because she was in so much pain.

    Kind of a catch-22.

    As I was talking to the mom, I was wondering what I was going to do if her daughter couldn’t dance, because she was one of the leads in our finale and we didn’t have 1) any understudies or 2) any more rehearsals before the show.

    They eventually decided to wait to have the toenail removed, and in the meantime the doctor gave them a bunch of other remedies to help with the pain. The girl danced at the show and was fantastic, and then the next day she went and had her nail cut off.

    That’s dedication!
    6. One of our other dancers in the show was in a car accident at the end of February and fractured her arm. We were sure she was going to have to pull out of the show, but she came to rehearsal with her arm in a splint and said there was no way she was quitting.

    “Luckily, I’m an Irish dancer and don’t use my arms,” she said.
    7. I already talked about the troubles I had getting one of the costumes for our stage show (http://nerdseye.com/2016/04/04/owls-well-that-ends-well/).

    There’s just never a dull moment in the life of a performer, nor an end to all the wacky things that can go wrong.
    8. We agreed to do a last-minute performance for charity at a club downtown. They only wanted six or so performers for one number, which should have been easy, but things got complicated when they sold out all the tickets and could only let two parents in with the dancers. Everything worked out ok, but I had to promise the other parents that the oldest dancers would help keep “creepers” away from the tweens.
    9. My husband is a Type 1 diabetic, and in the past he occasionally had trouble with bad insulin reactions that basically made him act like he was drunk. He got a new endocrinologist a couple years ago who put him on a better type of insulin, and since then he hasn’t had any bad reactions.

    Until now.

    Ray usually leaves for work before I get up, even during St. Patrick’s season. Right before he takes off, he says goodbye and gives me a kiss, which is sweet, but also amusing for him, since I am half asleep and sometimes say funny things. To get me to say something funny, he will often say something silly himself.

    So when he was giggling and acting weird as he kissed me goodbye, I didn’t really think anything of it. A) I was half asleep and B) he acts funny in the morning all the time. I did notice that his face was kind of damp when he kissed me, but I thought it was because he’d just taken a shower.

    Well, turns out he was having an insulin reaction, which makes him sweat and act strangely. When he has one of these bad insulin reactions, he needs to eat something right away to get some sugar into his system. Sometimes, if the reaction is bad enough, he becomes a kind of sugar-craving zombie, mindlessly doing whatever he can to find food. This is scary, but it can also be kind of funny (and I’m sorry to say that I have shamelessly exploited his medical condition for funny blog posts in the past).

    On that day, the insulin reaction was bad. He told me later that he got in the car and started to drive to work, and the next thing he remembered was coming to his senses in a King Soopers parking lot. He was sitting in the car eating a doughnut, and there were doughnut crumbs all over the seat and down the front of his shirt. Next to him, on the passenger seat, were four dozen-size boxes of doughnuts (with about five missing from the top box), and a receipt for $16 worth of doughnuts from the King Soopers bakery. He has no memory of driving to the King Soopers or buying the doughnuts, and he has no idea why he thought he needed to buy 48 of them.

    When Ray first told me this story, I was pretty freaked out. I kept imagining what would have happened if he’d passed out while driving, crashed the car, and hurt himself. That REALLY would have made for a stressful March.

    But as time went on, I was able to see the funny side of things. It was exactly like a werewolf movie, where the protagonist doesn’t know he’s a werewolf and wakes up the morning after a full moon to find blood all over him. Only Ray wakes up to find himself covered in mangled doughnut crumbs.

    I think I might have a comedy movie here…
    10. We had really bad windstorms the week of St. Patrick’s Day, especially on the Monday before. The Weather Channel said that some of the gusts were over 50 mph.

    After our Monday-morning show, I drove back to my office to pick up the wooden boards I would need for our Tuesday shows. I put the boards on a dolly and started to take them out to my car by backing out of the glass front door to our studio.

    The second I put my back against the door, a monster gust of wind caught it and slammed it all the way open, ripping the top hinge in half.

    I screamed in surprise, and my assistant Jeremy came running to see if I was OK. Luckily, the glass of the door hadn’t shattered, but since the door only has two hinges and the top one had broken, the door was hanging at a crazy angle and trying to fall all the way over.


    Thank goodness Jeremy was there. He held the door upright while I grabbed a ladder and took a look at the damage. That’s when I found out that the top hinge (which was made of metal, by the way), had torn in half when the wind slammed the door open. Crazy. There was no way I could fix it, and, with all the shows coming up that week, we weren’t going to be able to come in and wait for a workman to fix it, either. What were we going to do? With the hinge broken, we couldn’t even get the door to close.

    Well, the one thing that Irish dancers always have on them is duct tape, for putting on the bottom of hard shoes (it makes it easier to dance on slippery surfaces). So I grabbed some duct tape and taped the broken hinge back together while Jeremy held the door in place. It was really ugly, and not very functional, but it made it possible to get the door upright again so we could close and lock it.

    We put up a sign telling everyone to come in through the side door, and then we just left it like that until after St. Patrick’s Day, when we finally could call someone in to fix it.
    11. One of our dancers is a champion named Phil, and Phil is one of the best-natured people you will ever meet. No matter what goes wrong, he always rolls with the punches and never loses his temper (although I understand from his wife that things are a little different at football games).

    Phil has a lot of practice rolling with punches, because if something really weird happens at a show, it almost always happens to Phil. A senior hit Phil with her walker once, for instance, and once a therapy dog took a dislike to Phil and barked at him during the entire show.

    But Phil had an Achilles’ tendon injury this year and couldn’t dance. So instead, the unlucky karma fairy transferred her attentions to Jeremy, the assistant I mentioned above.

    The zipper of Jeremy’s jacket got caught on the shirt underneath it at a show on St. Patrick’s Day, and it took several minutes of patient work for one of the moms to finally get it free. But then the zipper got stuck again at the next show, so firmly that the moms finally had to find a pair of scissors and cut him out (fortunately, they only had to cut the inexpensive mass-produced shirt and not the expensive handmade jacket).

    Jeremy was upset about this at the time, but by the next day he’d seen the humor in it. Surviving the weird things that happen when you’re a live performer is kind of a badge of honor. He wore a different vest to our Friday shows the next day and said he was lucky he had a second outfit.

    At our third and last show, I was helping the parents set up our dance floor while the dancers got their costumes on backstage. I looked up to find Jeremy standing next to me in his sweatpants.

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can dance at this show,” he said. “I tore a hole in my pants.”

    “Oh,” I said. “Are you sure? We could patch the hole with black duct tape and no one would know.” (Black duct tape is the dancer’s solution to everything; see #10 above).

    “Or we could safety-pin the hole shut from the inside,” chimed in one of the moms.

    “I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that,” Jeremy said, politely but firmly, and since we had a lot of dancers for that particular performance, we just took him out of it and rearranged the numbers.

    After the show, he showed me his trousers, and I immediately understood why he hadn’t wanted to dance with safety pins holding the rip together. He’d been warming up backstage with the other dancers, and they’d all decided to do some squats. He told them that they weren’t squatting low enough, so he demonstrated how to do it correctly. He got down really low…and RRRRIIIIIPPPPPP! The entire center seam gave out, all the way from front to back.

    That would have been A LOT of safety pins under a lot of pressure in a VERY dangerous place. So, yeah, good call. I’m just glad it happened that day and not two days later at our stage show! I’m sure Jeremy was glad, too.
    And that leads me to two stories which I’ve been dying to tell people but which are, unfortunately, kind of inappropriate.

    The inappropriateness was, in both cases, completely accidental and also harmless, since in one case no one heard it and in the other no one seemed to understand it. Thank goodness!

    Both cases are sort of on the PG-13/R level enjoyed by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and adolescent boys.

    If that sounds like your thing, keep reading. If it doesn’t, you can stop reading now and I won’t mind. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.stop


    12. We were doing a show at a very nice retirement home one afternoon. The activities director, a friendly woman in her late fifties or early sixties, introduced us to the crowded room of seniors. She finished her introduction by saying, “Everyone, please take a moment to turn off your cell phones and vibrators!”




    13. Our St. Patrick’s Day season was very busy, and I got behind with a lot of things. That always happens, but this year was worse because of the post-mono exhaustion I’m still experiencing.

    So I didn’t finish the narration I was supposed to write for our big stage show until the night before. That was OK, because our narrator (the dad of one of our dancers) didn’t really need it until the day of the show, but I still felt behind and frantic.

    It was getting late by the time I wrote the introduction for our last number, the story of how a boy monkey at the Dublin Zoo won the heart of a girl monkey, and I rushed through it. I didn’t proofread it when I finished; I just printed it out and put it in my bag for the next day.

    The next day, the day of the show, my husband drove me to the theater, and we arrived really early (my husband is always early for everything). I was nervous with pre-show jitters (which also always happens), so while we waited for everyone else to arrive, I decided to read through the narration and make sure everything was OK.

    It wasn’t. There was an unfortunate turn of phrase at the end that I hadn’t noticed the night before.

    Well, maybe it wasn’t really that bad. I decided to ask Ray.

    “Can I read this to you?” I asked. “Then can you tell me if I need to change it?”

    “Sure,” he said.

    So I read it out loud. Basically, the story is about how all the animals at the zoo have a family except this one sad boy monkey. The zookeepers introduce him to a girl monkey, but she doesn’t like him.

    Then came the last, problematic line: “Maybe something will happen to give our story–and the boy monkey–a happy ending.”

    Ray laughed so hard that he couldn’t talk for like five minutes. That was all the answer I needed. Red in the face, I went through and changed the line to say, “Maybe something will happen to give our story a happy ending,” which seemed to take care of the problem.

    THANK GOODNESS we got there super early and I read through the script in advance. I will never complain about Ray’s earliness again.

    And that’s the story of my March! Now that it’s over, I am hoping that I can get back to blogging on a regular schedule.

    Thanks for reading!


Owl’s Well That Ends Well


I previously wrote about trying to get a child-sized set of owl pajamas for my March stage show (http://nerdseye.com/2016/03/04/owl-i-want-is-you/).


When last I left you, I’d just ordered the pajamas from a second company in China and was crossing my fingers that they would arrive before our show on March 13. The tracking information on Amazon said that they would arrive by March 10, so that gave me a couple days’ leeway.


Well, it got closer and closer to March 10, and still no pajamas. The tracking info on Amazon still said that they would arrive on the 10th, so I tried not to worry about it. There wasn’t really anything I could do.


March 10 came and went, and no pajamas. A quick check of the package tracker still showed them arriving March 10. I’d wait one more day.


March 11. No pajamas. The tracker was unchanged. Arg!


I copied the tracking number from the Amazon page and searched for it on DHL’s page. A message came up: “No result found for your DHL query. Please try again.”




After trying the number two more times, just in case I’d done something wrong, I emailed the sender to ask about the status of the package. I got this reply:


 Really sorry. I sent out the goods were returned customs, and now it can not be arrived at when you need it, if you still needed. I will send you. If you no longer need it, I’ll give you a refund, hope to get your understanding. Really sorry!”




That left me with no child-sized owl costume for March 13, and no way to get one. All I had was the gigantic adult-sized owl costume that the original vendor had sent me, and it was WAAAAAAYYY too big for our pint-sized dancer.


But when you work putting on live performances, things go wrong, and you learn to roll with the punches. So here’s what we did:


Two of our fabulous dancer moms took the gigantic adult-sized owl costume and put it on the pint-sized dancer. Using scissors and a whole box of safety pins, they turned the pajamas into an owl-shaped dress that, while still big, fit the dancer enough for the performance.




But we still had our second performance on March 20, and I was determined to get the child-sized owl pajamas if we possibly could. I emailed the vendor back and asked for them to go ahead and ship the pajamas again.


Would we be able to get them by March 19? I asked.


Here’s what they said:
“For the trouble you caused, we apologize, we will send the goods to go through Get out!”


This reply was not altogether reassuring, but by that time we were fully into the St. Patrick’s Day season and I had other things to worry about. If the pajamas didn’t come, the dancer could always wear the jury-rigged owl dress again.


So imagine my happiness when my sister texted me this picture on March 17:


It was the owl costume! It had arrived from China! It was a St. Patrick’s Day miracle!


The dancer was really, really happy to have a costume that actually fit (and that had legs). She looked super cute in the outfit when we performed on March 20. As an added bonus, a bunch of people in the audience told me after the show that the number with all the animal pajamas had been their favorite part.


We’re going to take this number to the Regional Championships in November, and now I HAVE ALL THE COSTUMES AND WON’T NEED TO TRY TO ORDER ANY MORE PAJAMAS FROM CHINA.


But I’m sure, in a couple years, I’ll come up with some new crazy scheme and have to do this all over again.