Saturday, November 10, 2012

12th New Thing ~ Mob Mentality

When creating the list of 50 Things, there were three that felt like they might be particularly difficult to make happen:
  1. Fly in a fighter jet.
  2. Set up an outdoor bath tub on my deck overlooking the water.
  3. Participate in a Flash Mob
As elusive and near-impossible as these seemed to me, I kept thinking, "Man, it would be incredible if I could manage to pull these things off." Like winning the 50 New Things Lottery.

There are some items on the ever-changing List that I may not be able to do only because they are probably going to be financially prohibitive. We will see what happens. I hate being skunked by price. In fact, it tends to make me more determined.

But the Jet, the Tub and the Mob aren't about money; but instead, more like pulling the right Chance Card:
"Second Prize in a beauty contest. Collect $10." 

Luck of the draw.
Right place at the right time.
It's not what you know; it's who you know.

Now, if I'm convinced something is going to be difficult or impossible, then it will probably become difficult or impossible, where it might not have been otherwise. Like a mental block.

So, in spite of my mind suggesting repeatedly, 'These things are going to be hard,' I wrote them on the list anyway. Telling my voice of negativity to hush. Sending the three 'wishes' out into the universe, choosing to believe they're possible.

*Fighter jet, bath tub, flash mob.*

*Fighter jet, bath tub, flash mob.*

*Fighter jet, bath tub, flash mob.*

Fighter Jet:
Riding in a Fighter Jet feels tough to pull off because I don't know if it's "allowed." Can civilians go up for a ride-along in a military air craft (aside from local media promoting an upcoming air show or SeaFair-type event)?  I don't know the answer to this question. I'm afraid that the answer is no. And as long as I don't ask officially, I won't get an official answer. Therefore both answers are possible. Schrodinger's Cat.

Outdoor Bath Tub:
A bath tub on the deck overlooking the water? This also seems so difficult. I think it's because quite a few things would have to fall into place.
To make this happen, I would...
  • Need to find a tub that someone is looking to get rid of. Or sell me, for an amazing price.
  • Need the owners of my home to be okay with a clunky, old heavy tub sitting on the deck
  • Need help moving the tub to my place.
  • Need help setting it up: moving, placement, plumbing, drainage.
Feels like a lot of difficult ducks to get into a row. What are the chances, right?
But IF I could pull this off? Totally worth it!

Flash Mob:
According to Wikipedia, "A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression." Read more here: Flash Mob Wikipedia Article

My first exposure to a Flash Mob was this link someone sent me a few years ago:
Historic Flash Mob In Antwerp Train Station - YouTube 

I was hooked. How amazing!  And how cool would it be to be part of a Flash Mob?
Rhetorical question....SO COOL!

There are many Flash Mob videos online. And like anything....some good, some not.

My favorites are the ones that give me chills. Make my eyes water.
Here's a great link for that:
Christmas Food Court Flash Mob - YouTube

Quite a few have been done in downtown Seattle. One example, click here; See You in the Crosswalk - YouTube

(I'm going to stop adding links now. There are just so many cool ones. The search can be addictive: Holiday Flash Mobs. Glee Mobs. Airport Mobs. Marriage Proposal Mobs. I could watch for hours. If you are going to wander around You Tube, Flash Mob videos are my recommendation. Oh wait....just one more...nothing like a man who knows how to this link...Denver Airport Holiday Flash Mob - YouTube)

Naturally, I've wondered what goes into making them happen. If the nature of a Flash Mob involves secret and surprise and stealth, how do people who want to participate ever hear about them? Is there a secret society of silly, special, spirited folk, organizing and orchestrating these events? An underground culture of social subversives? How do you go about practicing the choreography for a top-secret event in a otherwise undisclosed public place?

And most importantly, where do I sign up?

Watching these, I marvel at the teamwork involved. What must go on behind the scene to pull them off? I want to get to know the kind of person who would spend so much time and energy to brighten the days of unsuspecting passers-by. Creating random acts of kindness. Paying it forward. The kind of people who look beyond their small, insular lives with a heart for joy and celebration and the smiling faces of strangers. Creating a sense of spontaneous community. I want to know that person. I want to be that person.

The possibility of making this a New Thing felt even more difficult than the Fighter Jet thing.

Just before my 50th birthday, I started searching online using different keyword combinations but only managed to find Flash Mobs scheduled in Florida, Texas and California. I genuinely considered trying to make it to the Florida Mob; it was for some one's 50th birthday. Felt appropriate.
But in reality, it just wasn't going to work. Schedule-wise. Cost-wise. The Internet search for something local wasn't very encouraging so my hope and searching slacked off. Eventually weeks had gone by since I'd looked for anything. I guess I decided that if it was going to happen, it would have to be serendipitous. If it was meant to happen, then it simply would.

One Monday at work a few weeks ago, after Flash Mob had slipped off my radar, I noticed a few of my favorite PAC people gathered around a single computer, watching something, quite intently. I peeked over Dellie and Sally's shoulder.
"What are we watching, girls?" I asked.
"There I am," said Dellie, pointing to the screen. "Right there!"
"I see you," said Julie.
This is what they were watching. Link:  Flash Mob at the Puyallup Fair - YouTube

Just a few days before, at the opening of the Puyallup Fair, Dellie had participated in a Flash Mob.

Holy Crow!! A Flash Mob in my own back yard. And I'd missed it. So much for serendipity.

"That's incredible, Dellie," I gave her a squeeze. "Good for you!!" We continued to watch (on our break time), trying to catch glimpses of Dellie in the mob video. Someone from the department formerly known as HR walked by and saw us gathered around this work station. I said in an overtly loud voice, "And that is how Windows7 works. Any questions?" We laughed but weren't kidding anyone. We dispersed and went to our separate corners of the building. I talked to Dellie later about sending me the link, congratulated her on the amazing accomplishment and mentioned how green with envy I was.

It was at this point that she uttered those 11 Magic Words:  "There's another Flash Mob on the last day of the fair."


The questions came tumbling out of my mouth...
"Can I do it?"
"Who do I talk to?"
"What do I have to do?"
"How can I learn the dance?"
"Who do I talk to?"
"Can I do it?"

My flustering all over myself didn't seem to phase Dellie in the least. She totally set me up. Told me about C & C Studios in Sumner. A Zumba class where she heard of the Mob and learned the routine. The class that I could take to learn the choreography. The dates and times. The location of the studio. Who to call, who to talk to.
"Would they be okay with me joining for the sole purpose of doing the Flash Mob?"
"Yes, yes!" Dellie said. "You should do it."
"Are you doing the Closing Day one?" I wanted to know.
"Yes," she said. "We'll do it together." I wanted to cry, I was so happy. This was now the second New Thing that had made me want to kiss a girl right on the lips. I couldn't believe my good fortune. Serendipity comes through for me again! I never doubted.

So I called C & C Studio. Carla answered. I explained about the 50 New Things, the blog, my hope to participate in a Flash Mob. That I probably wouldn't join the class except to practice for the mob. C & C is quite far away from where I live and work. She was completely enthusiastic and welcoming. "Absolutely," she said. "Join us."

The next day, I went to the studio just off Hwy 167. Over the next week and a half, I attended a couple classes, stayed after for extra practices, watched the practice video over and over, practiced at home (as most of the classes conflicted with my work schedule).

I was stressed and scared, wondering if I could learn it well enough to participate. It came during an incredible busy time. Between the day I first learned of Dellie's video and the last day of the fair, I had four other New Things lined up. There was a lot on my calendar. I was completely overwhelmed. So through out my September 11th Thing, the Writing Contest, the Storm Game and Showing Sheep, in the back of my mind I keep thinking about how I had to learn this dance. A dance that most of the other Mobbers had been practicing far longer than I'd been.

I was so excited to do a Flash Mob; it was important to me that I give it my very best energy.

I was probably more nervous for this New Thing as I have been for any. Or maybe it was just because I had those many days leading up to it. Auto Cross was scary as hell but I didn't actually know I'd be doing it until Matt held open the door and said, "Jump in." Not knowing ahead of time for some of the 50 Things has been a true advantage. If I'd have know how stubborn sheep could be....I may have chickened out.

The Storm game Friday night, the Sheep Showing Saturday morning, a week of work, regular life in all the moments in between...I was tired. Overwhelmed, even.
The Flash Mob, for which I did not feel prepared, had me nervous.

Sunday, the last day of the fair, was suddenly upon me.

I met Dellie by the carousel inside the Gold Gate. Dellie and her husband, Gary. The Mobbers gathered in a staging area tent. We sat waiting. We ran through the dance a couple times. Heard last minute changes and details. Practiced one last time. Waited some more.

I was so nervous. I was being given too much time to think about it. It's easily the closest I've come to backing out of a New Thing. Changing my mind and walking away. Telling myself whatever story I needed to, in order to justify acting on my cowardice. You know how it is, running away with your fear wrapped neatly in your excuses.

I texted Ciara. "Tell me again why I'm doing this?"
"Because you are brave and you want this! It will be amazing fun. You can do this! Just have the best time!"

That's my girl. She has a real knack for the support and magic words thing! She is God-given.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I got this!

Sweet Dellie and her patient husband Gary, probably thought I was on meth. Jittery. Chatty. FREAKING out.

We made our way to the mob site. Under the Extreme Scream. Appropriate.
We mingled in the packed crowd of Last Day Fair Goers. Checked the time. Mingled, mingled, mingled.
"Dellie, what time is it?"
Mingled some more.

The idea with a Flash Mob is that you appear to be just a member of the crowd, that you are as confused as anyone that something spontaneous and unexpected is happening near by. All nonchalant, like. Then suddenly you jump right in.

Our music cue blasted through the overhead speakers. The area was packed. Two or three people started dancing together. Then another group joins them. Then more and more. It was crowded but suddenly we were all dancing. Laughing, singing, smiling like crazy.

Some of the last minute changes had us turning in directions we hadn't practiced so there was a bit of scrambling to be facing the right direction and moving all together. It was hilarious. Dellie and I tried to stay close to each other. Poor Gary tried to keep us in the view finder as he recorded us. Bless your heart, Gary!

At one point, maybe about 2/3s of the way through the dance, I was on the most right edge of the mob. Pressed close against people who were watching us. Right next to me there was a young girl, looking up at me. I had to be careful not to run her over. She was probably eight or nine years old. She stared at us with wide eyes. It was crazy loud but I bent down and said, "Do you want to dance too?" I could tell she did, but she shook her head, "No." I said, "You can if you want to." She never did but I like to think she'll be in a Flash Mob herself one day.

The energy was incredible and infectious. We were all completely caught up in the moment. I was so emotionally moved by the experience. I wonder if there was anyone else there who was crying as she danced.

This link is the 'Officia'l video of the Final Day of the Puyallup - You Tube and it's great; I keep watching it for glimpses of Dellie and I.

One thing I didn't realize until after....I had practiced and practiced. I was as prepared for that dance as I could be, given the time I'd had. But it turns out, what I should have practiced was the nonchalance. Behaving like I didn't know what was about to happen. (I'd make a terrible actor. I have a hard time pretending. Especially when I'm nervous and excited.)

Gary recorded Dellie and I. It probably wasn't easy as she and I kept moving to different areas. (Well done, Gary!) Then he got the video to me on a disk later that week. I struggled loading in the blog directly. And was ultimately unsuccessful. Thanks to Darcy, who uploaded it to her YouTube, you'll see the link below.

But before we watch it, I need to tell you, as I finish writing here and am about to add the link, I'm terrified. For such a public event, it felt very personal. As nervous as I was before the Flash Mob itself, as nervous as I've been for any of the 50 Things so far, posting this video link, here for all to see.... is scarier. Scariest so far!

I can't explain why but it's true. Linking to a video where I'm lost in the crowd takes no courage. But letting you see my wrong turns, mis-steps and nervous energy? Frightening. But then I remind myself that putting myself out there for public scrutiny (see the sheep post), showing the real stuff is where the excitement it. The release of joy. The satisfaction of accomplishment.

Without Dellie, this would not have happened. If it were not for her infectious optimism and open nature, Flash Mob would still be on the list of 'unlikely' New Things. Dellie, you are an angel and I am so blessed to know you. Thank you!

I also want to encourage you to visit C & C Fitness Studio at this link. Corrine and Carla could not have been more welcoming and encouraging. I knew very little about Zumba before I went but it was a great experience. I've been to the studio class a couple times since the Flash Mob just because it's so energizing and fun. I've thought about looking up classes closer to home but for now I'll keep driving the distance. It's worth it.



  1. Dude, I am so jealous...
    This looks like so much fun, and I can tell you are having the best time!

    Awesome new thing!!

  2. I always wondered what went into those cool flash mob events. It is so weird how these new things just jump out at you and I love it that you jump back! Very brave of you to put yourself out there like that.