Friday, April 2, 2010

A Crazy, Scary Place

This past week marked my 50th Jazzercise class since I joined in January. I'm nothing if not obsessive when I like something. (I read the entire Anita Blake series in two weeks when I discovered it a couple of years ago.) My instructor, Leanne, is a lot of fun, and honestly, one of the big reasons I've remained so diligent about going. At a key moment, when my muscles are burning and I'm gasping for air, she'll say something that makes me laugh, and I push through to the end of the routine.

She said something in class yesterday that really resonated with me. She made a random comment about the song playing, and then laughed and said, "My brain is a crazy, scary place."

I can relate.

I think that crazy, scary place we call our mind is both the blessing and the curse of creative people. We couldn't do what we do without the strangeness that lives inside of us. I'll write a scene that's waaaay out there, and when I go back and read it later I'll think, "WTF. Where did that come from?"

Leanne told us she sings in her head all the time. I get that because I write in my head all the time. I invent stories for the people I see while I'm grocery shopping (which probably explains why I come home without half the stuff I need). I even write in my head during Jazzercise.

We do a routine to Melanie Fiona's "Bang Bang" in which she talks about locking and loading and targeting the man she wants. I like the song and the routine although Jazzercise choreography is not above some cheese. We make guns with our fingers and pretend to shoot.

Leanne looked out at us from the stage and said, "None of you are smiling when you make your guns."

We're supposed to smile when we shoot someone?

Hmmmmm...the wheels start turning, and I see a woman holding a gun. Her hand trembles. Her eyes are wild, her face streaked with mascara and tears. She wipes the back of her hand across her face, smearing her ruined make-up even more. But while the gesture does not cleanse her face, it does calm her mind. We see the panic leave her eyes. Her hand is steady, and just before she pulls the trigger, she smiles.

The music changes, and it's a Latin rhythm. The same woman is in a salsa club, head thrown back, hips undulating with the seductive beat. A man approaches. The dance floor is crowded, the lights strobing wildly in time to the music. Later, she won't be able to tell the police if he was tall or short, dark or light, the shape of his face, or the color of his hair. All she remembers is his eyes...dark eyes glittering with secrets held close.

I'm working out his secret when the music changes again. Rascal Flatts is playing a country song backwards. He's getting his house back and his dog back and truck back, the big screen TV and the DVD. I'm blank for a moment, and then he gets his achy breaky heart back, and we're back in business. Dark eyes still glitter, but now they're squinting in the harsh light of a West Texas afternoon. A cloud of dust rises on the horizon. Deeply tanned hands twitch, and then slip a bowie knife out of its well-worn sheath. Calloused fingers stroke the handle as the cloud morphs into a truck. A bluetick hound's muzzle peers around the cab. The sun glares off the windshield, but it doesn't matter. He knows who's inside. He flips the knife, holding it loosely by the blade as a red stiletto emerges.

"Evacuate the Dance Floor!" Flashback to the club. A piercing scream, blood pooling on the floor and the strobing lights are the garish lights of police cars and ambulances. The woman allows the gun to slide out of her hand, and when the police push her, cuffed and silent, into the back of a waiting cruiser, the grotesque smile is still plastered across her face.

When the music changed to "Bitty Boppy Betty," a fun little number about a drag queen, I stopped mentally writing and listened. The lyrics to that one need no embellishment.

Later in the strength training portion of the class, we were working our adductors (the inside thigh muscle). Leanne noted, "I didn't even know I had inside thigh muscles before I started Jazzercising. Justin Timberlake helped me find my inside thighs."

I must have worn a smirk on my face because I was definitely thinking big dumb eighth grader thoughts. Leanne pointed at me with a smirk of her own, and declared, "That's not what I meant!"

Yeah, I know, but my mind is a crazy, scary place.


  1. It's amazing how music can evoke such strong images. I hope you are going home and writing all this stuff down because I can't wait to read the book!

  2. Thanks Jane! Most of the stuff that swirls through my brain never makes it to paper even though I write every day. I should probably keep better track of my random story bits. LOL