Build Each Other Up
At the end of March, I went out into the desert to run 13.1 miles down Mt. Charleston in Nevada.1 Running in new places2 is one of my favorite ways to pass the time, especially when I can convince other people to do it with me.
Home base was Las Vegas,3 which is a place I’d never been. And whoa. You guys. What a wonderful and terrible city. I both want to go back right now and never want to go back ever. But that is another story for another day.
Vegas is a great place to go not just because of the great food and overwhelming spectacle4 but because you are close to so many Natural Wonders (tm). Given how everyone who has seen the Grand Canyon waxes rhapsodic about said big hole, I decided to book a tour for a look-see.5
Long story short: said big hole is well worth all of the rhapsodic waxing. Words can’t even begin to capture how awe inspiring it is. The hype is well earned. It is indeed a Natural Wonder you should make a point of seeing. But that’s not what I want to tell you about.
While we were gawking at and scrambling around the Canyon,6 a group of college-aged Black women were posing for a photographer. They were cheering each other on with lots of “yasses” and “werks,” just filling each other up with praise. Because I am nosy, I asked one of the women what they were modeling for. Was is a new activeware brand? Sunglasses? Something else a middle-age white lady would not immediately recognize?
We’re just modeling, she told me.
There was a much-smaller crew of photographer and models at our next stop, too.7
Here’s the thing: however you want to enjoy the world is your choice, as long as you’re not interfering with anyone else’s way of enjoying the same part of the world. What these women are doing is A-OK and took nothing from my enjoyment of the Canyon.8 I could have ignored them entirely if I took ten steps in any other direction. It did stick in my head, tho, because I didn’t realize this is a thing people did.
Which brings me around to Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, which is now live on Amazon Prime. The idea of the show is simple: Lizzo9 is looking for dancers to add to her Big Grrrls squad. Hopefuls audition, live in a house, and face challenges to see who will make the cut.
This show is not America’s Next Top Model Plus-Size10 — and thank goodness. Back in the day, Tyra Banks (and the producers) found ways to set the contestants up for failure because that is what the format demanded. Setting unachievable goals made for good TV in the early-to-mid 2000s. And we’re just now starting to deal with what that focus has wrought.
Instead, Lizzo sets her big grrrls up to succeed. She wants to build them up, rather than tear them down. But that doesn’t mean she tolerates unprofessionalism and sloppiness. She (and her team) wants dancers who can do the job, which means they need to pick up choreography quickly, have the stamina to make it through the show, and speak up about their own limits and superpowers.
In short: it is an eight episode workshop11 on how to be a working professional in the entertainment industry who loves herself first and foremost, which is the only way to thrive in the industry without losing your mind. I could not recommend it more.
But to bring this back to the Grand Canyon: one of the aspiring big grrrls talked about being in the modeling troupe at the HBCU12 she attends. Which lead me down a rabbit hole into a world that I would not have known about if the media gatekeepers hadn’t started to focus on more stories than the white ones. I had zero idea such a club existed because my higher ed work was in largely white13 schools. I can tell you all about the Harry Potter club, tho, so …
I don’t know if that’s what the women at the Canyon were part of, mostly because I didn’t have enough knowledge to ask. But to make this all about me,14 it’s good to have a reminder that I don’t know everything about everyone — and that goes double when I think about people other than Gen X white women who can name all of the members of Duran Duran.
In other news:
Sometimes, a story falls into your lap that hits in a different place than all the others. This piece for Another Mother Runner was one of those for me.
I took Christie Aschwanden’s book proposal workshop last year and it gave me great insight into a project I’ve been working on for-ev-er, as well as introducing me to editors and agents in the industry I never would have known. If you are in a similar place, she’s offering it again. Holler if you have questions but (short version) I highly recommend Christie as a teacher (and a human).
My friend Emily took a deep dive into a tradition that strikes fear into many mothers’ hearts: Spirit Week Can Get Bent.
So what say you? Did you know about modeling troupes? Are you a white person?
Adrienne writes books. The most recent Somebody’s Gotta Do It: Why Cursing at the News Won’t Save the Nation but Your Name on a Local Ballot Can is available where ever books, ebooks, and audiobooks are sold.
Short race report: it wasn’t my favorite course, if only because we were in the mountains for 3+ miles, then in a boring stretch of not-mountains and quasi-suburbs. Then the sun came out and, given that this is a desert, there were no trees to speak of and the bulk of the shade came from the occasional overpass. Revel races are amazingly organized, tho, and I’ll likely do another one.
My life goal is to run a race in all 50 states, which is a goal I’ll likely not fulfill but it does give me a way to organize my life. Next up is Montana in June!
I don’t drink or gamble but found plenty of ways to amuse myself, including just wandering around muttering “what the actual fuck…”
We went to a drag brunch that was all that and a bag of chips. My face hurt from smiling so hard. If a bunch of men in dresses (especially OG host Shannel) can’t lift up your life, you need some professional help. (Oh and I learned that I am now old enough that lithe, young, and half-naked male dancers have moved from “hot” to “adorable” in my psyche.)
I have a very minor fear of heights but it remained untriggered when I stood on the edge three steps from certain death. It’s like it was so preposterously deep that my brain didn’t even register the potential danger.
Guano Point, where, yes, they used to mine bat guano back in the day.
I know it’s popular to hate on younger adults for their selfies and phones and TikToks but, seriously? Who gives a crap? How are they causing you harm?
(Like with the drag queens), if you don’t enjoy Lizzo, I have serious questions about your ability to feel joy.
ANTM got me through the infancys of both of my children. It the perfect show for those who are sleep-deprived and discombobulated. Pretty pictures. Easy to follow. Much sound and fury signifying nothing.
striving for greater diversity, mind, but
I mean, this is my newsletter and all