Real Estate Tangent

The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

To-Do List For When They’re Finally Gone

Things I fully intend to accomplish when my kids finally go back to school after summer break (8.5 MORE DAYS):

  1. Get a pedicure. The long kind where he massages your calves with the sugar scrub, and it causes you to think, for a moment, that you’ve fallen in love with an elderly asian man wearing bedazzled jeans.
  2. Nap, during the day, like I’m Mariah Carey or something.
  3. Take private lessons with my aerial coach. Finish choreographing my piece. Field calls from agents wanting to represent me.
  4. Try on swimsuits at Target without being called over the loudspeaker to come pick up my unruly offspring from the video game section.
  5. Learn to crochet and make myself a mermaid tail blanket for my Mariah Carey naps.
  6. Complete an entire thought without once having someone interrupt to ask if he’s allowed to make a bow and arrow out of a stick he found in the greenbelt, my embroidery thread, and a fork.
  7. Effortlessly lose 10 pounds because no one is constantly eating french fries or muffins within reach.
  8. Clean and organize my entire house. Unpack boxes still sealed from when we moved here 6.5 years ago. Develop personal decorating style. Maintain a home I’m not embarrassed to let the pest control guy see.
  9. Rewatch Game of Thrones. Keep track of the number of times someone should have murdered Joffrey but didn’t. Attempt to pinpoint the moment Jon Snow stopped being attractive and became insufferable. Mourn the fact that Daenerys got famous enough she was able to renegotiate her contract so she doesn’t have to do topless scenes anymore.
  10. Start a zine* called Blue and Rose’, dedicated to my cat and favorite sort of wine. Publish poems, short stories, and drawings featuring wine and cats both together and separately.
  11. Teach my back to be flexible enough so my toes can touch my head.

Things I will actually do when the kids are back in school:

  1. Read all the Huffington Post, Jezebel, and Snopes articles that were ever written.

 

*Are zines still a thing? If not, reestablish zines as a thing.

 

Committing Sudoku

Conversations with Ben while in line for the diving board at the public pool…

Me: So this time, I want you to do the approach like you did last time, but tuck your knees and then dive in head first. Also, make sure you circle your arms all the way back after you hurdle.

Ben: MOM. Do I have to? I’m really terrible at this.

Me: Yes! Just a few more times. You said you want to be on the diving team. Wouldn’t you rather have me show you the basics now than show up to the first day totally clueless?

Ben: uuuuughhhh. But I’m so bad… It’s humiliating. I’m going to commit sudoku.

Me: *eyeroll*

Ben: *elbows my side like an old-school vaudeville comic* Get it? Cause seppuku is violent ritual suicide by disembowelment, but sudoku is a math game? And they sound similar?

Me: Yes. I get it. It’s your favorite joke. I’ve heard it once or twice before.

8 or 9 year old kid who just went off the board climbs out of the pool and cuts in front of me in line. He waves his friend over to stand in front of him. Friend dumps several gummy candies into his wet hand. Kid tosses them into mouth. Neither acknowledge me, Ben, or the 6 other kids behind us.

Me: Uh, hey guys? Really? There’s a line back here.

Kid turns and appraises me, trying to decide if I’m just a bossy kid with sun damage and crows feet. He glances toward the cluster of moms on the bleachers under the shade and back at me, raising an eyebrow as if to say, “Are you lost?” and then moves directly behind me and Ben. Friend follows.

Me: Really? You’re just going to cut all those little kids now?

Kid: *points to Friend indignantly* He was there.

Me: Oh whatever.

Me (to Ben): Did you see that? Little kids are such cutters! What the hell?!

Ben: Of course they are. Have you never met a little kid before? That’s like all they ever do. Can’t we take a break for a little bit? I’m gonna decapitate myself.

Me: No, no. You can do this. Just watch me once more and do it like that.

Ben: I’m not any good. It’s embarrassing…

Me: You’re fine! It’s your first time trying it. And I’m really not a very good teacher.

Ben: You’re right, this is entirely YOUR fault. You’re an awful teacher. You just say, “Do this.” and when I try what you did you go, “Ok, good, that’s right, good job, oh wait, NO, not like that!, uh… good try, let’s do it again. but not like that next time.” 

Me: Sorry… I don’t know how to break it down. I’m old and I can’t remember how I was taught, I just know how to do it. Can’t you just watch me and do it like I do?

Ben: Do they have morphine in the lifeguard stand?

Me: Why, does your back hurt from when you landed last time?

Ben: No, that was just another suicide joke. I was trying to get as many in as possible.

Me: That one was kind of weak. Here, take my turn and just try once more.

Ben: OK.

Me: You’ve got this, I know you can do it. Yes, that’s right! Good job-wait, not like that! No! Uh… no. But that was a good try. Let’s just do it once more. But more like this, here, watch me.

 

 

Thoughts On Art

I took a class last night at the aerial gym called Act Development and Refinement. It’s meant to help aspiring aerialists create cohesive works they can showcase at student shows, festivals, or just when you want to have your friends over and force them to watch you perform (check the mail for your invites, guys!).

There are generally two types of aerial performances: Ambient and Choreographed Pieces. Ambient aerial is when you have a set amount of time to go up on an apparatus and perform for a milling crowd. Usually there is a DJ or sound system playing music. For this type of performance, you plan out series of sequences you can do back to back, with lots of pausing to pose and spin and shit like that. It’s popular at bars or corporate events. Usually you will do multiple sets during an event. A Choreographed Piece is a set routine performed to specific music and is generally used at a show where the performances are the main event.

(Maybe you already knew all of that. I’m just explaining it because it took me like a year to figure out.)

I’ve done a little bit of Ambient performing and I performed a duo routine on silks in one student show last year, but I haven’t ever put together “An Act” before. It’s something I’d like to do, so I’ve been taking private lessons and doing a lot of internal whining about how I really wish I had an act. I’ve also been daydreaming about performing in a super great sort of gothic, but also sparkly costume (after I lose 10 pounds) and like really fantastic fake eyelashes, where all the people who ever made fun of me for anything, or made me feel shitty in any way were in attendance and forced to admit I’m far cooler than they will ever be. This is an important part of “The Process” of act creation, obviously.

The class last night was the first one, so there was a lot of dialog about theory behind creation of a routine and how to go about it. Toward the end of class, Monique, the instructor and burlesque performer, told us, if nothing else, we need to remember to be authentic. We need to figure out what sort of style works best for us and create a voice out of it.

I spent my run this morning (because I’m doing that nonsense again) thinking about what authenticity in aerial arts means, and how it specifically relates to me. Generally speaking, one of my strengths is authenticity and having a voice. I’m fairly opinionated and I like attention, I think any Facebook personality test would say. Truth and transparency are things I value highly. But being authentic in an aerial performance? This gave me pause. How can I be true to myself when the essence of what I’m doing is an act? My goal, in performing, is to appear more beautiful, graceful, strong, and generally amazing than I actually am. If I’m gonna be real with who I am when I’m performing, then I’d better plan to trip over a crack in the floor on the way to the silk, sweat and shake while I’m in the air, and possibly fart accidentally for the grand finale.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Aerial is an art, like any other form of art. My job, as the artist in this medium, is to communicate my personal perspective to the audience. I just need to figure out what my personal perspective as an Aerialist is.

I have a bunch of Aerialist performer friends. We all know a lot of the same tricks, but when I really broke it down, I realized they each has a wildly different personality in his or her act. Monique is a sexy, liquid, burlesque performer with an affinity for a dark edge. Lauren is whimsical and light in her performances. Dakoa is bendy and gothic. Monika is sensual, but with a characteristic seemingly infinite extension in every movement. Karen is spunky, strong, and dynamic. Each voice is clearly unique.

This, apparently, is what I need to determine for myself. So far, I think I’ve ruled out a sexy burlesque kind of a style. I think I’d rather watch that than be it. I just can’t pull that shit off with a straight face. And I’m not flexible enough to lean toward the contortionist side. But I’m strong. And I have nice lines. My toes are always pointed. I might tend toward ‘quirky’. I like sparkles. Can that be a style? Sparkly?

I think I need to meditate on this. But I’ll figure it out. Just you wait.

Hiking Tales: The One With the Wasps

We met at the trailhead at 5AM. It was a long hike, eleven miles, but I’d done Tom’s Thumb before, so I was pretty sure it would be NBD.

It was an out and back, and for most of the ‘out’ the sun was behind the mountain. We started with a group of 8, but my sister, who runs 7 miles every other day, quickly pulled ahead of the pack, followed by her bestie, and former Division 1 collegiate athlete, Jen. I trotted behind them, mostly keeping up.

The last time I did this hike was 2 years ago when I was running 12-15 miles a week and 4 months into a weekly long hike training program. I was also hiking with non-super athletes. We did things like Stop For Rest Breaks. This time was different.

About 3 miles in, the gap between me and Jen (behind Sarah) was starting to grow and I was breathing hard. I began to fantasize about hiking with my husband, who bitches bitterly, but gives me an excuse to rest occasionally. I looked up, and in the distance, Sarah stopped. Jen piled up behind her, and I quickly caught up, ready to complain about the pace and non-resting. I was bitter bitcher of this group.

“I don’t think this is the way,” Sarah said, looking toward a dip in path that went over a small wash. It was overgrown with trees and bushes.

“This has to be the way,” I said. “Where else would we go?”

“There’s… bees,” she said, and I paused, listening for a moment. Sure enough, I heard the eerie hum of hundreds, maybe thousands, of wings.

“This is the way,” a voice behind me said. It was a guy we’d passed awhile back who’d caught up to us. “They’re wasps. You have to go through them. They were worse yesterday. I turned back. But today I’m going through. You just have to keep your mouth closed and not swat at them. They’re attracted to the moisture in your mouth.”

“We have to walk through them?!” Jen asked. It sounded completely insane. We could see them swarming around in the wash. It was about 5 feet of branches and bushes and a little bit of water, covered in buzzing, stinging kamikazes.

“I talked to the park ranger about having them removed, but they won’t do it. If you want to finish the hike, you have to go through them. Do you want me to go first?” the guy asked. He was weird, but he didn’t seem like a complete lunatic, and we sure as fuck didn’t want to be the ones to test his theory.

“Yes please,” Sarah said.

The guy took a deep breath, clamped his mouth shut and walked down into the depression in the path. We collectively held our breath as he took three or four steps through the mass of insects, but they didn’t change pitch or fervor. The guy didn’t scream or fall to the ground writhing. On the other side, he shouted back to us (with more surprise and relief in his voice than I was comfortable with), “I made it! I didn’t get stung!”

Sarah, Jen, and I stood there for a few moments just looking at each other.

“I think I’m going to hold my shirt over my mouth,” Sarah said. Apparently we were going to do this, too. I was sort of hoping everyone would decide a 6 mile hike was decent enough for the day and pack it in.

“Alright, let’s go,” said Jen (she’s an attorney, so she has experience staying calm while under attack).

Sarah lifted her tank top over her mouth and plunged in. Jen followed quickly behind. Before I could lose my nerve, I held my shirt over my face, took a step, and closed my eyes, walking as calmly as I could.

Wasps dive-bombed my head. I could feel them bouncing off my cheeks. Their wings were in my ears. It took everything I had in me to keep from screaming bloody murder and using my arms like propellers to keep them the fuck away from my orafices. With my eyes still shut, I took three quick steps through the brush and was out on the other side.

Shaking with relief and residual terror, I opened my eyes. Sarah and Jen were standing there, also unscathed.

“That was horrible!” said Jen.

“That was the most terrifying thing I think I’ve ever done,” I told them, without exaggeration.

“You know we’re going to have to go through again on the way back, right?” Sarah said.

Vacaysh Travel Reviews

Last week we vacayshed in La Jolla for a week with the fam. It was a mostly enjoyable experience (which is really the very highest praise you can hope for of an eight day trip with 8 kids and 9 adults in one house). I feel compelled to do my due diligence as a proper vacayshee and review all the establishments we patronized for future vacayshlings.

1. Some hotel in San Diego we stayed the first night – Showers are super excellent for washing your mid-section and knees. A room with two double beds is perfect for a family of 5, unless your teenager wants to sleep lying down without being a fire hazard. Walking distance to a bar my brother-in-law really loves because it has a piano player and paintings of naked ladies on the wall. I’m pretty sure he and my sister named their dog after that bar.

2. Cody’s (restaurant in downtown La Jolla) – Fantastic champagne cocktails. Adorable waiters abound (my favorite was the one with the man-bun, but the one with the black-frame hipster glasses and accent was delicious, too). We went back a second visit to sample different cocktails and waiters and it did not disappoint.

3. Our rental house – Extremely homey vibe. With all of the owners’ personal belongings stuffed into closets and drawers and all their old family photos up around the house, it felt like we were visiting my Great Grandma in Minnesota, down to the ancient peeling wallpaper, unpredictable plumbing, and possible haunting. The feral kittens who live under the deck in the back provided endless hours of entertainment for the children. Also the hot tub is the very perfect height for epic jumps and flips into the swimming pool. And it seems like maybe someone hosted swinger parties in the room we affectionately called The Ghost Dance Party Room, so… that’s probably useful, for someone. Tip: If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, don’t use the middle switch on the second floor bath for the light. It goes off and back on every 13-ish seconds, so you might die of a heart attack when you’re half asleep and plunged into darkness mid-pee. The far left switch stays illuminated more consistently. 

Feral kitten.

Feral kitten sighting.

4. The La Jolla Farmer’s Market – Absolutely superb location for fresh, local produce, poke’ over rice, and nonchalantly stalking that actor from Pretty Little Liars while he buys souvenirs for his girlfriend from the guy with the table of crap he swears he found on the bottom of ocean.

5. Birch AquariumThe place to go to spend $17/person for 12.5 minutes of entertainment for your children. If you’re in a big rush, just go straight to the sea dragon exhibit and stand there for 7 minutes and you’ll get your money’s worth.

Sea dragon. Real thing. I think.

Sea dragon. Real thing. I think.

6. Legoland – Completely endurable if you go to BevMo beforehand and stock up on tiny cans of margaritas to carry in your purse.

7. Surf Divas – A legitimately excellent place to get surf lessons complete with a harbor seal and a shovelnose guitarfish sighting. And no one even drowned!

Offspring surfing! And not drowning!

Offspring surfing! And not drowning!

Post surfing! (Pre-drowning.)

Post surfing! (Pre-drowning.)

8. Being on the Beach – Supremely beautiful experience when the sun is out. I recommend bringing a nephew who is obsessed with chasing seagulls. This will keep the birds away from your snacks and provide entertainment when you get bored. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your super-fair middle child’s hands and forearms. They will literally turn purple and swell from four hours of gripping the boogie board in the sun if you don’t.

9. Prison Hill Brewery in Yuma – A far better choice for lunch than Arby’s. Yes, driving home sucks ballz, but you might survive after a BLT and fries from this place.

 

Hard Things

I haven’t been doing The Running. Or The Blogging.

I have lots of excuses:

  • So. much. working.
  • Circus classes are both exercise and a creative outlet, so that’s where I’ve been focusing my time and energy.
  • Offspring require feeding. Like every day.
  • It’s hot. I hate hot.
  • Being funny is stressful.
  • TV has gotten so much better in the last few years, amirite?
  • Who’s going to read all those Jezebel articles if I don’t?
  • I’ve been busy learning how to do my make-up from Youtube videos ever since I got super old and need it.

But mostly, I think it comes down to the fact that they’re hard. Writing and running are both activities that require consistent mental focus and regular willpower. If I run and write several times a week, it gets easier and more rewarding. It’s still exhausting and challenging, but I’m better at it. It’s easier to ignore the trolls in my head urging me to give up. My momentum picks up and my accomplishments mount. Each run adds to my self-worth. Each blog post makes me feel like I’m adding to the collective art/entertainment of the internet.

But neither is ever easy. Neither is ever relaxing or even something I could call “fun”. Eventually I get to the point where I feel like I can give myself “A Break”. You’re too busy to write a blog post, I tell myself. You can’t run tomorrow, you need to rest, I demure.

And then, instantly, it’s been 3 months of sporadic writing/running. Suddenly, even though I ran a half marathon 6 minutes ago, and wrote a blog post that got 500+ likes 87 seconds ago, I can’t even run 3 miles without walking or write a blog post that anyone I’m related to will like.

Now that I know I can run and write, I hate myself when I don’t. I’m a lessor form of myself when I’m not running and writing. I’m the person who ran. And who wrote.

So I have a plan. I’m going to run and write. The hard things make me stronger. They make me better. They grow my brain and my body and my soul. I’m going to do the work.

Today I ran on the treadmill. It wasn’t pretty. I wanted to watch 7 Days In Hell, but my super old iPad didn’t have a new enough operating system. So I watched a Jen Aniston movie that depressed the shit out of me, Cake. About halfway in I wanted to hold my breath until I passed out. But I pushed through.

Today I’m writing a blog post. I’m posting it late. Probably no one will read it.

I’m going to run 3 times a week. Even if I don’t run the whole way.

I’m going to blog 3 times a week. I’m going to write them short and sweet, to work on conciseness. 500 words or less. Quality, not quantity.

Ready, set, GO!

Diet Math

If I lose 10 pounds, my life will be approximately 10% happier. I will feel better both physically and emotionally. I will be more proficient at aerial because I’ll be lifting 10 fewer pounds each time I climb. When I get dressed in the morning, I won’t need to examine the density of my muffin top. Seeing a picture of myself in a leotard or swimsuit won’t be emotionally scarring. Thus, it makes quantifiable sense I should go to the drive-thru salad restaurant for lunch today.

That said, if, instead of waiting in the 10-car-long line at the drive-thru salad place, while I’m already ravenous, and then another 30 minutes to get home before I eat, I drive through the fast food joint next door and get french fries to eat in the car while I’m driving, my happiness will be improved by at least 50% for the next 45 minutes. French fries are a proven source of joy in the immediacy of their consumption. Plus, in order to reap the 10% increase in happiness that will eventually come with the weight loss, I will have to defer the 50% happiness increase surrounding every meal, three times a day, for approximately two months. This works out to 8,100 minutes over the next 2 months that I will have to choose to be 50% less happy in order to eventually be 10% more happy.

This also does not take into account the maintenance salads (and accompanying happiness decrease) I will have to forgo french fries for over the next foreseeable eternity to keep the weight off and maintain my 10% improvement in happiness.

Additionally, if I move forward with the plan for the 10% improvement in overall happiness, there’s a 30% chance at some point during the 8,100 minutes of fairly significant unhappiness, I will be unable to maintain control of my temper during a blood sugar crash, and I will get out my car after that bitch in the white jeep with the stupid fucking vanity plate that says SASSY, cuts in line in front of me at the drive-thru salad place, and stab her in the arm with the wine opener I keep in my purse.

In the event that I stab Sassy Bitch, there’s a 90% chance I’ll go to prison, because you can’t just stab bitches, even if you’re dieting and she deserved to be stabbed. If I go to prison, according to Orange is the New Black, I can expect an overall 40% decrease in general happiness due to both the total lack of french fries and anything of nutritional value on the menu. Although I will (again, according to OITNB) ultimately learn some life skills that will probably balance out a portion of that. And also there are some hot chicks. Plus no one has to wear leotards or swimsuits in prison.

So I think what I’ve concluded here, is that if I don’t eat french fries now, I will regret it eventually when I am in prison.

Small Talk, Ranked by Awkwardness

13. With your spouse when you’re out to dinner for the first time alone in a really long time, and you can’t remember how to talk about anything not urgent or imperative.

12. With your pest control service when the card on file was declined, after you explain it’s because the card was compromised and reissued and you’re not sure they believe you.

11. With your kid’s teacher in Target, when she’s in yoga pants, and you suspect she thinks your kid is annoying.

10. With your boss when he’s trying to be “one of the guys” and starts talking about the last time he was in Vegas at that one strip club.

9. With that guy you went to high school with you haven’t seen in 18 years and are in a long line behind at the post office, when you’re not wearing any makeup.

8. With your kid’s friend’s mom when you are pretty sure you have nothing in common but that both of your sons are the class lunatics.

7. With the cashier and other people in line at the grocery store when you’re all standing there waiting for a price check on tampons that’s taking forever.

6. With the pharmacist as he’s ringing up the prescription strength laxative you’re trying really hard to be an adult about and not explain is for your son, because you don’t actually have any problems pooping.

5. With your dentist when he’s using the high-pitched scraper thing.

4. With your gyno when he’s adjusting the speculum.

3. With your next door neighbor the morning after you had a big fight with your spouse and you’re pretty sure you left your window open.

2. With your waxer when she’s using the tweezers during a Brazilian.

1. With your cleaning people. Ever.

Living the Dream as a Work at Home Mom

How today was intended to go:

6:15AM – Wake up to the sun streaming in through the windows the birds chirping. Lie in bed reading social media on my phone for half an hour before showering.

7:15AM – Drive happy teenager to school who is grateful he’s getting a ride and didn’t have to get up early to take the bus.

8:30AM – Breakfast at adorable hipster crepes and coffee restaurant with old friend from college and his new baby.

10AM – Show new builds to fun clients I haven’t seen in awhile.

11:30AM-2:30PM – Catch up on paperwork/emails.

2:30PM – Help boys with homework.

4PM – Start dinner.

6-7PM – Take a lyra class in Tempe.

How today has actually gone:

3:13AM – Gray wakes me up. I have a headache from the 3 glasses of rose I drank the night before because real estate makes me want hang myself. He has a 102 fever. I give him the literal very last drops of children’s Advil we have in the house. On the upside, it’s not expired, for once.

6:05AM – My friend from college texts me to say he’s excited for breakfast. I reply that I’m bailing because my kid is sick. He probably just thinks I’m a flake.

7:15AM – I drive the teen to school. He is surly and when his phone buzzes and I ask him who he’s texting he snaps, “NO ONE, MOM! NOT EVERY TIME MY PHONE BUZZES I’M GETTING A TEXT.” I stop at the grocery store on the way home to stock up on children’s pain reliever/fever reducers. While I’m in the utter wasteland of cell phone service that is my grocery store of choice, I get frantic texts from two different clients with two different urgent issues.

7:40AM – I get home and check in on the sick 10 year old. My cell rings with a school prefix number. I answer it, expecting the ‘Your child is absent’ notification. Instead it goes like this:

Me: This is Elizabeth.

Jonas: Mom, I need you to bring me a lunch.

Me: Jonas? What? Why?

Jo: I just need you to bring me a lunch. 

Me: Dude… right now?

Jo: Yes. 

Me: Is this for the field trip you told us was last Friday and then this morning you told your dad was tomorrow? Because we need to have a discussion about being responsible and giving people notice-

Jo: Mom. Make me a ham sandwich and whatever sides you want, I don’t care, and a capri sun and bring it to school. 

Me: Well-

Jo: Just make me a lunch and bring it to school.

Me: OK.

I have the epiphany that although he might be the smallest kid, Jonas is probably The Godfather of the first grade.

7:50AM – While I’m searching the fridge for ham (we don’t have any and I’m nervous this will displease Him) my phone buzzes with a text. It’s my mom’s neighbor. She’s watching my parents’ dog while they are on a cruise in the Bahamas. She needs me to come let the dog out because some clusterfuck with the yard guy has happened and Princess Sophie the spoiled lapdog refuses to go in the backyard while the help is there or something. I text her that I will drive over there in the next couple of hours and let her highness out.

7:57AM – My phone rings with an unfamiliar number.

Me: This is Elizabeth.

Caller: *Garbled*

Me: Hello?

Caller: I’m trying to reach Elizabeth Newlin.

Me (yelling): This IS Elizabeth Newlin! Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?

Caller: Yes, is this Elizabeth?

Me: Yes, this is Elizabeth… *longish pause* who is this? Is this Mary Rose? Because I’m going to let the dog out in a little bit, I’m just in the middle of-

Caller: Ah, no. This is Cindy with Cartus Relocation Corporation. I’m calling about the Ramblewood file.

Me: Oh! I’m so sorry for my unprofessional response! It’s chaos here. I thought maybe you were my mother’s neighbor about her dog. Or maybe my super demanding 7 year old. And my house is a total dead zone. Sorry. Yes. The Ramblewood file. What can I do for you?

Caller: *heavy sigh*

8:15AM – I drive a sack lunch up to the school. The secretaries raise a judgmental eyebrow at my obvious lack of preparedness (and bra). I haven’t brushed my teeth yet either.

8:23AM – While I’m driving home the other agent on the Ramblewood file calls me and asks questions I don’t have answers to. I promise him text responses as soon as I get back to my laptop. This is a lie and we both know it.

8:28-9:32AM – I shower, iron a dress, and negotiate a contract with a husband and wife separately, while texting with the listing agent and putting on eyeliner. At one point I answer the phone with toothpaste in my mouth and say, “Hold on, I need to spit.” Because I’m a lady and a professional.

9:35AM – I dash downstairs to give the sick kid more meds. I’m still intending to show new builds at 10AM. Within minutes of drinking the Advil Gray says, “I think I’m going to throw up.” and pukes into the bowl he has in his lap. I walk him to the bathroom (he pukes twice more while I’m holding the bowl. I almost throw up in sympathy.). I text the clients that I won’t be meeting them at new builds and call and beg the sales agent to allow me to represent my clients despite the fact that I won’t be meeting them at the sales office on their first visit as required. He takes pity on me and relents (probably because he can hear the puking in the background). I answer emails, texts, and phone calls while waiting for Gray to feel a little better.

10:30AM – It’s late enough I feel super guilty my parents’ dog is still inside. Gray hasn’t puked in quite awhile and is sleeping on the couch. I decide this is the best time to drive the 23 miles to my parents’ house to let Sophie out.

11:03AM – I get to my parents’ house and unlock the door. Sophie does not come running. I call her name while walking through the house. When I get to the back door, there she is, outside, eagerly wagging her tail, wondering if I will let her in. I shake my head and text the neighbor, “I drove over to let Sophie out and she’s already out.” She texts back, “Oh yeah, John went by earlier.” My head explodes all over the inside of the house. I just drove almost 50 miles, while my kid is home sick alone, my clients are stalking me, and I have at least 300 things I’d rather be doing, FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I wish this woman was standing in front of me right now so I could punch her in the boob. I call my sister and yell at her not because any of this is her fault, but because I need someone to feel my injustice. Then I felt guilty for yelling.

11:30AM – I stop at Paradise Bakery on the way home, and instead of getting a salad, I get a sandwich, chips, and a cookie because I will probably get sick soon seeing as how it’s scientifically impossible to hold a bowl full of a sick person’s vomit without getting sick yourself, and I’ll need calories to keep my strength up.

1:30PM – Gray has a 103 fever and pukes up the Tylenol I give him.

2:35PM – Jonas gets home from school. He doesn’t say thank you for the lunch. He says, “I hate cheese and you shouldn’t have put it on my sandwich.”

It’s a glamorous life.

 

Keep Your Head Down

Last night I worked out at an aerial studio downtown during an open gym session. I haven’t successfully sweet-talked a gym near my house into letting me hang a silk and work out, or bullied my husband into building me a rig in my backyard, yet, so I’m still working out when I can, where I can, in and around my stupid have-to-act-like-a-grown-up schedule. Lately that’s been more of a challenge because apparently right now I’m pretending to be a “Successful Real Estate Agent” instead of a “Professional Waiter for the Phone to Ring”. The former is exciting and dramatic, but more labor-intensive than the latter.

Last week, my workouts consisted of one aerial fitness class (+1!), one run that wasn’t actually run and more of an exercise in futility (-3), one aerial choreography workshop that was really probably too difficult for me and mostly made me sad about my existence (+.25 for effort), and one actual run (+2!). On the weekend, even though I intended to hike and workout, I did nothing but wait for our new couches to be delivered, eat sourdough toast and blueberry muffins, and work (-∞).

This week I’ve been intent on redoubling my efforts, so I headed to the gym, alone, for my workout. It was only the second time I’d attempted a solitary workout. Usually I take classes or workshops, or meet up with friends to work out together, but I’ve been feeling like I need more solo sessions. I like to learn tricks, but I need to work on them to clean them up. I want to work toward creating an act, or a piece, or something. I’ve now taken classes from probably a dozen different aerialists, and I’ve gotten a strong sense for how they each have their own individual styles. Rain Anya is all about fluidity and stunning transitions that don’t even look like transitions. DeAnna McCandless does everything with a straight arm and specializes in powerful momentum and terrifying open drops. MoNika Ell told me once that he thinks of himself as a paintbrush and the space around him in the air as a canvas, so he stretches and extends his body throughout the space to ‘paint’ as much of the canvas as possible.

I want to have my own style! I want to be an aerial artist. And I feel like to have any hope of expressing myself in that way, I need to spend time on the silks without anyone instructing me or telling me what to do so I can figure out what I’m drawn to. I know, as a dancer, I was into a kind of ‘modern’ style. As a writer, I favor comedic storytelling. Who knows who I am as an aerialist? I want to be someone beautiful and amazing! (Who maybe doesn’t do a ton of bendy back things, because I kind of have an old lady back.)

This is how I ended up on the silks last night, working out alone. It’s also how I ended up heading home after only an hour at the gym, wondering if it all wasn’t really just a futile, waste of time, money, and gas. The workout was a shitshow, is what I’m saying. I ran through my stuff, but it was really hard. My stamina was down from lack of consistent time in the gym, and there were several things I wanted to work on that I couldn’t even remember how to do. I spent 10 full minutes trying (unsuccessfully) to remember a simple crossback from footlocks thing Dakoa taught me once.

At the end, I set a timer, with a goal of staying up on the silks for 10 minutes, to build strength and condition myself to perform ambiance sets. I made it through just under 8 minutes before I considered hanging myself from the silks instead of sliding dejectedly to the ground.

It was horrifying. I’d been watching YouTube videos of gorgeous performers before I got to the gym and I was determined to emulate their grace. I was going to focus on long lines and adding performance elements, posing within tricks. Instead, I spent the set shaking and sweating, trying desperately just to keep my old ass in the air. I wasn’t graceful, I wasn’t pretty. I didn’t know how to even figure out tricks I’d already learned, much less create my own. My hands ached, I felt nauseous and chubby, I just wanted to go home.

In bed, after I’d stripped off my sweaty circus outfit and determined I didn’t deserve my star tights and probably never would, I wondered if I should be spending my time and energy on an activity I was more suited to and less destined to fail at. Maybe my failures lately were a cue that I’d reached the end of my potential in this field and should move on to a new distraction.

But then I remembered Ira Glass (who’s totally on my celebrity hall pass list, so I how could I forget him?) and that thing he said I love so much:

Ira Glass quote

I decided I’m in the gap, drank a glass of wine, and went to sleep. After all, when I watched the video of my 8 minutes in the air, there were moments of beauty. My windmill hipkeys are great. My straddlebacks have always been enviable. For most of it, it doesn’t look like I’m working quite as hard as I am. I’m just not amazing like I want to be. My taste still far exceeds my abilities. And maybe it always will. But I won’t ever know if I give up.

This morning I got up and put on my running gear. I had on the schedule my normal 4 miles. I decided, because I’ve done my easier 4 mile route several times without walking in the last few weeks, that it was time to try the tough route. The tough 4 mile route is more difficult because it has a stretch of almost a mile at the end that is straight and gradually uphill. I can see the full mile when I turn the corner, and I can see the whole elevation change. It’s murder on my psyche, and I’ve given up and walked during that stretch probably as many times as I have made it through it.

This morning, though, I was in a decent mental place to get it done. As I ran the easier, downhill part at the beginning, I mentally prepared myself for the beasty end section. Just focus 3 feet in front of you, I pep-talked. You can make it 3 more feet, and you can certainly do 4 miles. You did 4 miles two days ago. This is not more difficult. Keep your head down, and don’t think about the mile you have left to go. Only think about the next three feet. 

Not terribly surprisingly, I did make it through. It was difficult, but the end section seemed to fly by as I diligently kept my eyes literally three feet in front of me.

As I finished the last half mile (it’s a downhill section back into my neighborhood to my house), I reflected on how this strategy is really what Ira is talking about. Rather than getting caught up in the big picture of how successful I’m being in comparison to everyone else, and my ultimate goals, I need to keep my goddamn head down with respect to my creative goals. I need to focus on the work I’m doing that’s right in front of me. I need to think about being successful in the next three steps, versus worrying about how much I still have left of the long, uphill part.

So this is what it comes down to:

Dear My Creative Pursuits (Writing, Aerial, Whatever Damn Other Ridiculous Thing I Decide I Want to do Next),

I will not give up on you. You are important to me and you make me who I am. I will do the work in front of me. I will recognize sometimes the steps I’m working on are difficult or going badly, but I will move past them and focus only on the next three steps in the journey. I will not get swallowed by The Gap.

All my love,