Monday, February 28, 2011

November 2010 Monthly Update

November 2010

This month was full of action and travel! I was invited by a friend to attend the 100th show of DANCING WITH THE STARS! Wow, what a treat! Plus, there were several fellow Texans in the audience from my past: Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.

I teamed up with BOOK PALS, which is an organization made up of SAG members who volunteer to read to elementary school kids and/or kids in hospitals. I try to dedicate one hour one day a week to read to 2nd and 3rd graders in between all of my traveling, acting and dance classes, and hustling. It is really empowering to me knowing I am inspiring young children. Children have such an innocent and lively energy that is contagious and reading to them weekly is rewarding!

I was able to cross another item off of my “30 Before 30 List;” I went zip lining in Costa Rica! It wasn’t scary at all speeding through dry forests on a chain and pulley. I was also able to unwind and relax before making my monthly appearance in FANTASY at Luxor in Las Vegas. I signed up for Oprah’s “No Phone Zone” which was another item accomplished on my list.

Off to Iraq on my thirteenth military tour with the PURRFECT ANGELZ spending two weeks in country including Thanksgiving Day with the US Troops! I was really excited for this tour because I had choreographed a new routine called “Boots and Boys.” Supermodels strutting on a catwalk and women who rock their own style, were the inspiration behind my flirty routine. It was more about an attitude and spacial patterns as opposed to a plethora of movement. It was a hit! Speaking of hit, the evening before Thanksgiving Day and night of Thanksgiving Day, the base we Angelz stayed at for three nights in Basra was bombed three times; I have to admit, in all my tours, this tour I was actually scared! Waking up in the middle of the night, discombobulated to alarms and a count down till implosion, was a terrifying experience two of the three nights. Granted we each had a bunker to roll out of bed and into during such situations as this, but living this way for months and years at a time was unimaginable. Reality of war really sunk into my soul as I laid under my bunker with my hands over my ears and mouth open (it is not the explosion that kills people it’s the pressure from the explosion internally if the pressure has no way out of the body) listening to a recording over the loudspeaker “Incoming! Incoming!” as the sound of missiles fired and land explosively on base. It sounded like the bombs were right outside. Finally after 10 or more seconds, which seemed like an eternity silence crept over the night until a soldier announced over the loud speaker to make sure everyone was accounted for. Was it over? If I go back to sleep will I be awakened again by such alarms and explosions? Can I even sleep after all of this? Somehow I managed to fall back asleep not knowing that tomorrow night will be much worse.

It was Thanksgiving Day and it was a beautiful day in Iraq. The sun was shining, festive decorations were hung around base, the Troops looked forward to a day full of football and a food feast along with the Purrfect Angelz show later that night. I was in my trailer packing my show bag and sirens went off accompanied by “Incoming! Incoming!” I swiftly dove under my bunker and I assumed the position: hands over ears and mouth open and eyes closed as I prayed to God that all is safe on base and please stop this chaos. Thirty bombs were fired onto base and a building was hit. Fortunately, no one was in the building because all the guys who should have been working decided to leave early, grab a bite of food and get good seats at the Purrfect Angelz show; it’s official we truly are Angelz! In SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, before his comical “Make’em Laugh” stint, Donald Conner says, “Come rain, come shine, come snow, come sleet, the show must go on!” I say, “Come sand, come shine, come bombs, come heat, the show must go on!” That evening reminded me why I travel to war zones entertaining US Troops twice a year, and I’m looking forward to the many more tours to come!

Aside form the mortar attacks, I met the EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) crews at various bases and I even put on the same suit they wear when detonating bombs. One crew arranged bombs to be detonated by us Angelz for fun, so I pulled the pin linked to a bomb and watched it explode, super cool! I was also excited to have the chance to learn more about these courageous men on a personal level who talked happily about their wives and children and some of their close calls.

Less than 24 hours in L.A. and I’m off to Europe again but for vacation this time! Why didn’t I just stay on that side of the world you ask? Well, I didn’t want to wear show costumes for another two weeks, nor did I have enough space in my luggage to pack for two more weeks in cold, snowy Italy, Prague and Amsterdam. Ahhhhhhh a much-deserved vacation, I cannot wait!


Amber Strauser

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