Klyde Warren Park

My War on the Pigeons

pigeons I sit and watch a pigeon flatten itself out on a newly fertilized lawn space. Its entire underbelly is wading in crap, and the degree of contempt and disgust I feel for these birds bubbles to the surface. It may be written on my face. The smell of the fertilizer certainly doesn’t help.

Pigeons are dirty and truly annoying birds. They are, in my mind, the spawn of rats and roaches, and some are so audacious that they will snatch some of the food that you’re eating right off your plate. I understand that they are somehow an integral part of a complex ecosystem, but I still pine for a world where pigeons are less populous. Why can’t we have adorable penguins waddling around Dallas? Dang you, science!

Don’t get me wrong: I am an animal person (more so than a people person, really), but I have this visceral aversion to pigeons. I’m not completely sure when or how I began to actively dislike them. It feels like something that has always been there. Or maybe I have hated them since watching Hitchcock’s The Birds at much too young an age, a fact that didn’t travel out of my subconscious until I was 20 years old.

When I was 17, I went on a spring break trip to Italy (yay Catholic school!) and was horrified at how the pigeons crowded the city streets. It seemed like there was a one-to-one pigeon-to-human ratio in Italy. One of my classmates actually managed to catch one in his hand, just to see if he could. When he let the pigeon go, he had what I can only describe as oil on his hand.

Until moving to Dallas last summer, I had never lived in a city with more than 150,000 people. This means that the pigeon population was never large enough to be particularly disturbing. Now that I’m here, however, the birds sometimes stifle my happiness on my walks, runs, or bike rides. Sometimes during my walks, I find myself running after them and flailing my arms just so they’ll make lame attempts at flying away. I dread the day that I end up kicking a lethargic pigeon. I may dislike them, but I’m not cruel. Plus, I don’t ever want the aforementioned pigeon oil to get on me.

pigeons

I spend a lot of time outside, and I really love going to parks. Sometimes I throw around a frisbee or play with the dogs, but other times I like to bring a book or pen and paper and just relax. One day, I was reading a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain that a friend had loaned me. It was a nice day, and there was absolutely no warning about the poo that landed a few lines below where I was reading. It took me a moment to process the splat, and when I did, I tilted my head back and I swear the pigeon on the branches above was laughing at me. There wasn’t anything I could do—the page was ruined. I was nervous that he had more ammo for the book and me, so I didn’t try to scare him away. I left the park and bought a new copy of the book for my friend.

I almost dance with happiness when I go somewhere and see a sign that says “Do not feed the birds”—something the DART stops should invest in. I can’t recount how many times I’ve seen someone throwing morsels and pigeons jockey for a taste of human food. I want to yell, “DON’T DO IT! THEY’LL NEVER GO AWAY!” But let’s be honest, I look crazy enough when I attempt to chase them away. I shouldn’t solidify that perception by vocalizing my thoughts.

There is a place I’ve found, however, where the security guards tell people to please not feed the birds—Klyde Warren Park. I am able to sit and enjoy the park without constantly being harassed by birds. During a lunch hour a few months ago, I somehow ended up sitting in the middle of a group of masticating, uniform-wearing school children. I watched a few of them throw their crumbs to the ground, and instantly, pigeons were there, pecking away. Then my knight in shining security guard uniform told the children, “Please don’t feed the birds.” I was pleased for nearly 30 seconds.

The children were crafty enough to wait until the security guard had walked far enough away to resume feeding the pigeons. There wasn’t a teacher in sight. This was my moment to say what I wanted to about the pigeons. I could fight the pestilence and not look like an insane person!

“Think he just told y’all to not feed the birds,” I said.

The kids stopped flinging their food, but the pigeons stayed to finish off their dwindling rations.

One girl stood up, fiddled with her sandwich, and then crouched down. She extended her arm and opened her hand to reveal a piece of crust. She looked at me and said, “But they’re God’s creatures.” As if on cue, a pigeon hopped towards her hand and cautiously pecked.

I mean, what the hell can I say to that?

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

(Top photo: Miwok/Creative Commons; Second photo: Percy/Creative Commons)

Doing Dallas: Fancy Night

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Three years ago, two of my best friends and I were rejected entry into Reunion Tower. See, we’d been out on the town in search of the perfect phytoplankton shot (who doesn’t want to cross “Throw Back a Cup of Microscopic, Phosphorescent Organisms” off of their bucket list?!) and decided to explore downtown Dallas in the process. We frolicked about Klyde Warren Park, almost crashed a wedding in the Old Red Museum (I was gung-ho but Daniel and Cody were “hesitant,”), met a man named ‘Honest Mike’ who claimed to share with us the secrets of the universe, and then realized, as we looked up, that we were at the base of Reunion Tower.

“How great would this night be if we went and got dessert in the spinny ball restaurant?! It would redeem our failure at being wedding crashers!” I said. So, in we went.

We were instantly stopped, however, in the lobby and told we were “not dressed nicely enough to enter” and so we “needed to leave and come back at a later time looking significantly more put together.” OUCH. So I had dressed casually for phytoplankton, not decked myself out to the nines for the Met Gala. Sue me. All I wanted was some cheesecake, possibly with a raspberry drizzle on top, and maybe some vanilla bean ice-cream, too. Was that too much to ask?!

Not being ones to take insult lightly, we crafted a plan. They wanted fancy? We’d show them fancy. In fact, we’d dedicate an entire night to classy speech, sophisticated style, and various sundry fancy activities. With that, Fancy Night was born. And, it just so happens that last Thursday was the Second Annual Fancy Night. Huzzah! With pinkie fingers raised high and our noses even higher, we stepped out for a night of swanky glitz, posh glamor, and urbane culture. Here is what transpired:

Order Fancy

Doing Dallas1

The most important part of Fancy Night is the menu. How will the waiter know that you’re fancy unless you order fancy foods? How will you outshine those seated around you unless your plate is laden with fancy fare? How will you pay for this if you’re a broke college student with 51 cents in your savings account?*

Doing Dallas2

We decided to dine at Rise Nº 1 because it specializes in gourmet soufflés (please read the word soufflé with a heavy French accent) and because any restaurant that has a superscript in its name is just overtly snazzy. We opted for the Smoked Salmon Soufflé (from my limited culinary experience, I’ve learned that anything with the word “smoked” or “poached” in front of it is both significantly more expensive – aka fancy – and supposedly more tasty), and a Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Chévre Soufflé, strictly because we didn’t know what “Chévre” was but it sounded fancy, exotic, and fun. We then followed both these up with a festive Cranberry Champagne Dessert Soufflé.

Doing Dallas3

After the scrumptious first bite, I was hooked. Soufflé is like cotton-candy for adults; it tastes like you’re eating a cloud of heavenly goodness. Seriously. I wouldn’t have been surprised if our soufflés had been brought out to our table on the back of a unicorn – they tasted that magical. Cody referred to the whole thing as a “religious experience.” We were so enraptured by the delicious wonderfulness of the food that we probably didn’t maintain a fancy aura while eating. In fact, we probably looked like a pack of hungry dogs eating for the first time in months. Regardless. A guest at the table next to us stood up and randomly started singing opera (lol WHAT…all the waiters were confused), but we took this as a sign that the gods of fanciness were bestowing their blessings upon us. Dog pack and all, I’d say we nailed the whole fancy foods thing.

*Answer: Call your parents and start singing “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. If you’re #blessed with a voice like mine, they will literally pay you to be quiet.

Drink Fancy

Doing Dallas4

Following our dinner and operatic experience, we made our way over to the Warwick Melrose Hotel for cocktails in their Library Bar. I’d like to take a moment to point out just how much I appreciate the name “Library Bar.” As a college student, this aptly named bar opens so many doors. Like, if a professor were to ask me, “Hey, what are you doing tonight?” and I said, “Going to the Library,” they would be none the wiser that I’m in fact going to a classy cocktail establishment and not to the university library to study. How sneaky.

Anyway. The bar was wonderful, complete with a live pianist and saxophonist. Surrounded by furniture of rich mahogany, the scent of leather-bound books, and the sounds of alto-sax, I totally felt like I’d been kidnapped by Ron Burgundy and Kenny G, and like kind of a big deal.

We all ordered fancy drinks, and after trying a sip of Cody’s martini – I’d never tried a martini before – I sadly discovered that I will never be able to totally embrace the fancy life, because fancy people drink martinis, and I think martinis taste like spoiled mayonnaise. I guess I’ll just have to settle for casual, un-fancy cocktails.

Conclusion

Doing Dallas5

The minute I returned home, I took off my heels, changed into baggy pajamas, and returned to my plebian lifestyle. Sadly (but not for my bank account) Fancy Night only comes once a year. However, sometimes I sneak fancy phrases like, “I clutch my pearls” (said with a thick Southern drawl) or “Oh, how absolutely, positively charming” (said with a British accent) into my everyday chit chat. In so doing, I keep my swanky spirit alive and fan the flames of fanciness in preparation for the following year.

Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

Doing Dallas: Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. This past week, I found out about free Zumba classes in Klyde Warren Park. While the prospect of working-out (oi vey,) dropping it low, and sweating with strangers made me nervous, I knew this was too Dallas-y of an opportunity to pass up. Here is a glimpse into what happened:

A Retroactive Live Blog of My First Zumba Experience:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

11:15 AM – It’s been a while since I’ve worked out. Will I have enough energy? Should I carbo-load? Am I supposed to carbo-load the day-of or the night before? Does Zumba even warrant carbo-loading?

Zumba

11:25 AM – Finally come to a decision. Going with tortellini for lunch. YAY CARBS!

11:30 AM – Watching Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” music video while eating to get into the Zumba spirit. Praying my hips tell the truth this evening.

12 – 4 PM – In English class. Cannot concentrate; thinking only of Zumba. What should I wear? Will I know anyone there? What if I’m the only one to show up and I’m so bad the teacher just leaves? I CANNOT BE THE ONLY ONE THERE. I retweet Klyde Warren Park’s tweet about the free class, hoping one of my Twitter followers will be really into the Zumba scene and decide to join.

4:50 PM – Zumba is in t-minus 1 hour, 10 minutes. Feeling low on energy. Decide another bowl of tortellini is the solution.

5:15 PM – Wearing spandex shorts and a Lululemon top. I totally look like a Zumba pro – no one will even be able to tell this is my first time. To Klyde Warren Park I go!

Zumba

5:25 PM – Sitting at a stoplight I check the temperature. 100 degrees! In this heat, I’ll sweat so much it will be like I worked out for six hours instead of just one! Or I’ll pass out. Does fainting burn calories?

6:00 PM – I’m not the only one! There are 30 women and one man here. One woman has a striking resemblance to Meryl Streep, and I find this strangely comforting. I’m already sweating.

6:02 PM – I’ve positioned myself in the second row on the far right end. While I at first think this is a prime spot, once we begin getting down to a song with the chorus “I’m gonna get it tonight,” I realize that I’m right next to the glass windows of the Lark on the Park restaurant. It’s dinnertime, and the restaurant patrons are gawking at us. Oh, sweet Lord.

6:05 PM – The immunization I got on Monday is still very painful and I am having trouble lifting my left arm. I decide to substitute any move involving this extremity with a Rockette kick of my left leg. #NailedIt

6:07 PM – Actively confirming I have no rhythm and two left feet. I start to think about how I am always one step behind and going left when I’m supposed to go right. Struck by the fact that this sounds like a song lyric, I start composing the song in my head as I awkwardly shuffle along to the music.

6:14 PM – Why can I not do a body-roll?!? I am painfully aware that my feeble attempts resemble Phoebe dancing for Chandler on Friends.

6:20 PM – Actual words from the instructor: “I want to see bigger pelvic thrusts, people!” Wait…WHAT? Is this Zumba or Fifty Shades of Grey!?

6:25 PM – Really regretting that second bowl of tortellini. I’m cramping up hard and quickly losing the desire to go on living. I look over to Meryl Streep – she’s still going strong. This gives me inspiration to power through.

6:36 PM – “Sexy and I Know It” comes on. THIS IS MY JAM. All thoughts of cramps vanish as I drop it lower than I did in the discotecas of Spain.

6:40 PM – So much sweat in my burning eyes that I can no longer see the instructor. Clearly I put too much of my soul into that last song. “Womanizer” comes on. Though empowering, I decide to make this song my last.

6:44 PM – I came, I saw, I conquered (or so I tell myself). I act like I’m going to get a drink of water but really pick up my stuff and scram.

Zumba

6:46 PM – A safe distance away from the action, I stop behind a pillar to take a picture of my fellow Zumba-mates continuing the workout. I realize how extremely creepy this looks. I look around to see if anyone notices me. I realize that looking around makes me appear even more creepy. I make a dash for the car.

6:55 PM – Sweet, sweet air-conditioning!

7:00 PM – I stop and get a cookie on my way home to reward my efforts. I have enjoyed my Zumba experience and plan on returning next week.

Chelsea is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!