Sunday, February 1, 2015

6 months later

We left the Cirque tour 6 months ago.  Sometimes it seems like it was all a dream; it is so far away from the life we have here now.

My Totem friends are writing about Melbourne - it sounds like a very colorful and interesting city.

On my phone, I've kept a few old voicemail messages from my Russian friends.  I like to listen to their voices.  I especially like  to hear the Russian language, and to understand what they're saying, in a tongue that is receding from me quickly.  Is it possible that, in a few years, I won't understand my friends speaking to me?

I don't miss touring, in general.  I especially don't miss the suitcases.  I don't miss feeling adrift, and having to figure my life out from scratch every 6 weeks.  But I do miss the people, deeply.  When I see the photos of my friends' babies, growing so quickly, it gives me heartache.

I've asked the rest of the family if they miss tour life.  Everyone says yes - and if I ask specifically, what do you miss?  These are the answers:

Isa: treat day in the kitchen
Baz: museums
Greg: housekeeping!
Ayla: my friends

Especially this time of year, it's hard not to think about all of the gorgeous warm-weather places we stayed.  I still have weather forecasts for Los Angeles bookmarked on my computer, which is pretty painful, and sometimes I look back at where I was at different times of year - they were almost always warm and sunny places.  And being back in a place with long, sustained cold weather - and a drafty old house and high utility bills - feels especially rough.

I feel like I have aged a whole lot in these six months.  I've lost muscle tone and gained gray hairs.  The days are longer and harder than I've ever experienced, and the stress level higher.  I don't know if I'm even the same person who, a year ago, would have spent the day cycling, going to frozen-yogurt shops, and reading novels.  I miss all of the physical activity of tour life - I miss running and hiking and trapeze training and the gym.  But if I had to pick one hobby I miss the most, it's Bikram yoga.  Nothing else has ever been as complete and fulfilling.  Bikram takes about 2.5 hours of time 3 or 4 days a week, and that is simply impossible in this life I've chosen to come back to.  I hope someday I'll be able to fit it back in.

But it's a Sunday night.  The dogs are dozing by my feet, Isa is rollerskating in her pajamas in the kitchen, Baz is helping his Dad renovate the new upstairs bathroom, and Ayla is diligently working on her homework.  I have to keep reminding myself that we have all of the important things here; all of the things that are really meaningful.  And the people and places we connected with on tour will live in a special part of our hearts.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve (our 21st)

My blogging time seems to be winding down.  I have so much less time to write here than I used to.  And the day-to-day events of our lives - while being very absorbing and exhausting to those of us living them - are just not as exciting to the rest of the world as our previous days of constant travel and circus adventures.

Nonetheless, taking time here to record some of our memories and milestones is still valuable - and Greg and I just spent an interesting New Year's Eve together.  It was our 21st, keeping up the different-city tradition!  You can look back at this post to see the full list of cities, if you're curious.

This year was Charlottesville, VA, where Greg was booked to perform his solo show at the Paramount Theater.  The Paramount is a beautiful old venue in the very cute downtown pedestrian mall area, and we were happy that he had early-scheduled shows and a great tech crew to help him out.

His first show went spectacularly well.  These past few weeks have been a real trip-down-memory-lane for me and Greg - he helped me teach a Spanish Web workshop recently, and then he completely resurrected the "Innovative Juggler" show after 5 years of dormancy.  Most of the routines in this show he started doing 10, 15, or even 20 years ago.  As I was watching him onstage, my mind kept flitting around to other places and times I have watched him - Japan, Sweden, the cruise ships, the Poconos resorts.  So many shows.

The second show, though, was distinctly weird.  Check out this news story … Greg was basically 10 minutes into his performance when protesters holding banners saying "Ferguson -> Charlottesville" and "Black Lives Matter" started loudly singing and chanting, and two of them marched onstage.  Greg had to stop his show and leave the stage, while the stage managers tried to get the people off stage and out the door.  Police were called, and it took 15 minutes (during which time, a number of audience members gave up and left) before they could get the protesters out the door.  And then Greg had to re-take the stage, re-start his show, and get the audience back.  It worked - they were on his side, and loudly clapped and cheered when he resumed the show - but it was a very rattling experience.

Phew!  We were relieved to get through that, and enjoyed the rest of the evening having dinner and drinks and seeing some small performances around the area.  We stayed at the Omni Hotel.  The kids remained behind this year - they stayed at Aunt Becky's house having a big cousin sleepover.  And the dogs stayed home as well, being dog-sat by the Sells.

The New Year begins, and we have much to be grateful for, and much to look forward to (and a few resolutions to make).  We'll all enjoy another day or two at home before the whirlwind of work and school begins again.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Xmas tree 2014

Looking back.  It was 2009 the last time this tree was set up in this room, with all of our personal ornaments and mementos.  In the four years intervening, we celebrated Christmases in London, Boston,  Atlanta, and California.  We decorated our trees, when we had them, with paper chains and cut-out snowflakes.  It's lovely to have our special tree decorations again, and to see the glow of the lights in our very own living room. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Today was full.

Greg had to take the dogs to the vet for their first checkup this morning.  It was pouring rain - so we had unlocked the back gate earlier to take them in and out.  Mid-day, Greg didn't think anything of it and let the dogs out in the backyard.  They nudged the unlocked gate open and disappeared.  Greg and I and his assistant Joe scoured the neighborhood for a short time before finding them making their way back towards home on Harvey Street.  Koonan had somehow scored a bag of rawhide bones!  And Nanook looked and acted distinctly sick.  We assumed he had eaten some garbage (perhaps an entire garbage-can-full, knowing him) and something didn't agree with him.

But a couple of hours later, his face had swelled up.  Greg took Nanook back out to the vet's. The emergency vet said that it was in all probability a reaction to the vaccines he'd been given that morning. He did some tests and prescribed Benadryl, and Greg was able to get the swelling to go back down.  Nanook is almost back to normal this evening, but we're all a little exhausted from the drama.

We spent another good amount of time today dealing with Studio 2 - Greg moved into Studio 2 a couple of weeks ago, and now we have a high-maintenance party-rental client coming in this weekend - they were unhappy with the compromised space (Greg's giant cone, tube, and other big props take up a lot of room), so we had to spend a lot of time negotiating with them, and Greg found a way to tuck all of the big stuff into a corner - good practice, actually, for when he'll need to fit it into a truck.  It's going to be a challenging weekend no matter how we handle it.

…I think lots of other stuff happened today …. but I feel like I'm about to fall asleep on the keyboard….

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Things we're up to

Isa doing her favorite trick of the moment, the "360" on aerial fabric (yes, she's about to let go and flip around)

Greg walking the dogs 

Baz with his school iPad - he does homework, and uses all kinds of apps I don't understand.
Trip to the Academy of Natural Sciences today.
We're no longer a gypsy family, but we can still be tourists once in a while!

Ayla loves the "stuffed animals" at the Academy, which continues to mystify me.  But I had to admit, after watching a video on taxidermy, that it is all more interesting than I expected. 
We are in the middle of our Thanksgiving weekend, which so far has involved an appearance in the 6ABC Thanksgiving Day Parade and Good Morning America, a lovely dinner at Becky & Matt's house, my office-renovation project and a PSCA Open House, a dinner date out to see the show QED by the Lantern Theater Company, the museum today, and having the Eddys over for dinner this evening.  Still more to come with playdates and home and office projects - we are filling our days with good stuff.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

States I've visited

Create Your Own Visited States Map

This is a nice map. Hawaii, I think you are calling me!

But seriously, what counts as "visited"?  Quite a few of these states I've lived in for months or years.  Then there are states like Oklahoma, which I've only ever driven through or possibly spent a night in a motel.  No great memories have ever been made in Arkansas or Alabama.

Regardless, it's nice to know I've been around.

There was an international one of these drifting around the Internet last year, and a few of my Totem friends filled it out, which was insane!!  Greg and I have spent good amounts of time in Europe and Canada, and only briefly touched on other parts of the world.  (Greg more than me - he's worked in Kenya, China, India, and on cruise ships all over the place).  But many of my circus friends have spent extensive amounts of time in Asia, South America, Australia, and Eastern Europe.

This is all on my mind right now because Totem is in Australia.  It's hot and sunny in Sydney, and my Facebook feeds are full of pictures of my friends on beautiful beaches.

Here in Philadelphia we have pulled out flannel sheets, space heaters, wool sweaters, hats and gloves, and we are still shivering in our boots.  The temperatures this week aren't getting much above freezing. It's a drafty old house, and the only ones who don't seem to mind it are Koonan and Nanook!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Youth Troupe

I'm very proud of one of my little projects here at home - reviving the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts Youth Troupe.  And Baz is in it!  He unicycles, and tumbles, and walks on the globe.  It's a group of 9 awesome kids, ages 8-16, and watching them train and perform together is one of the highlights of my week.  We had our first gig last week, and soon we're going to be in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Baz isn't sure he'll stay with the Troupe - it's a lot of work, he's decided, and he's not sure he really wants to work very hard (?!) … so, we'll see.  He enjoys his circus classes and the performances, but gets stressed out preparing for shows.  I sometimes wonder if the experience of living with Cirque artists for so many years has given my kids a sense of circus performance as some kind of un-achievable height.  Being a circus artist, to them, is training every day, and performing in front of thousands of people every night, and striving for physical perfection throughout whatever injuries and illnesses life throws at you - a terrible amount of hard work, no doubt about it.

But back here in Philly, circus can be fun, it can be amateur and playful and creative.  It can have room for non-traditional body types, for interpretation, and for expression.  While I know my kids may not fall in love with circus the way I have, I hope they do grow up to appreciate all of these sides of it.