Monday, August 27, 2012

Virginia Beach

As usual, seasons of big family events leave me with less time to blog.  And this summer vacation (with still two more weeks to go before Baz and Ayla start school again) has been nonstop.  We are in Virginia Beach right now, for the annual Kennedy / Lange family vacation.  While we're only here for a few of days of it (due to Greg's work schedule) it's still a treat.  There are 31 family members present.  Here are the 12 children - my 3, plus their 4 first cousins, and the remaining 5 are cousins on the Lange side.  25 of us are all staying in one big house, which is a zoo!  Pool, ocean, waterslide, remote-control helicopters, board games, bunkbeds, and Grandma Laurie's tiny new Angel Doll puppy dog.  We love that Becky and Matt organize this annual fiesta, and maybe someday, when our touring days are done, we'll be more regular attendees.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The woes of a non-career-woman

Our new home here in Arlington, VA, has pretty much everything I should need for peaceful stay-at-home Mom life.  A beautiful swimming pool, a great nearby library and playground, and walking distance to tons of shops.  There are nice routes for my morning runs and bike rides, and the weather is fine.

So why, after only a week of this new routine, am I snarling at the children and sinking into an "oh what's the point of doing anything" kind of funk?

It must just be the nature of stay-at-home-motherhood - trapping an ambitious woman in a routine with the sole purpose of raising children.  I feel like I am in a padded room sometimes, bouncing around, trying alternately to escape or to keep from losing my mind.  It is not the children's fault - they are mostly very well-behaved, and they can fully occupy themselves with reading or playing together.  (getting themselves dressed, washed, or doing household chores, of course, is another story).

But for me, the problem is the lack of an adult identity.  I went to site today to watch the show backstage and re-connect with people.  Which was very nice.  But watching everyone work reminded me that I am just hanging around here with no real purpose.  All I'm doing is trying to fill the time and avoid total boredom.  What kind of a life is this?!

OK that sounded a little melodramatic.  I may be over-thinking things as Greg approaches his contract re-signing meeting this week.  It is not news, that life on tour provides me with lots of ease and material comforts, and that I desperately miss having my own career.  I suppose I need reminders that no one's life has everything they could possibly want, and I have a good percentage of my wish list already.  Counting blessings, counting blessings....

Many of you have asked, over the last couple of years, whether or not I could get a job on Totem.  The answer is, probably.  But it wouldn't be at all good for our family.  The jobs on tour - from ushers and merchandise staff all the way up to Company Manager - require work in the evenings and on Sundays. Which would mean paying most of my salary to a childcare provider.  And if would also defeat the purpose of our quality family time here on tour - if I was running myself ragged with work, I couldn't be here for the children and Greg, taking care of the household.  My big family needs a lot from me, and if only my ego would quiet down, this would be sufficient.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Out of the mouths....

Totem, as seen by Isa, age 5.  (Keeping in mind that we have seen Totem about 97 times already)

On Rings Duo, where Denise fills in prancing around on the ground for Alya: "But wait.  She didn't do her act!"

On Monkey Business: "I don't like this part with the fighting."

On Perch: "You know, he has to learn to climb fabric before he can climb that other thing.  It's just like climbing fabric."

On Pavel's solo hand balancing: "It seems like the show is totally new!"

And the overall show: "This is happening for real life."


In the meantime, Baz is struggling with boredom during the show now and alternately pouts and strategizes on ways to get me to leave.  But tonight at Premiere, when there was no chance of escape, he crossed his arms and settled down.  After Roller Skate he said to me, "Mom. Christian hit his drum 135 times during that act."

Monday, August 13, 2012

A tribute to libraries

It has become one of our most cherished touring rituals - finding the local library.  Once we're there, the kids get buried so deeply in books that it's hard to find them again, but I usually have time to look around and make comparisons.  And now, in our 15th apartment in our 13th city, here's the roundup...

MONTREAL & QUEBEC.  In these cities, I was a novice at library use.  I thought if I brought a letter from Cirque or a copy of our apartment contract, I would be given a library card.  I didn't know that the magic words were "We just moved into town."  And a piece of mail, any piece of mail, is what they want to see.  The Montreal and Quebec librarians were both hard-liners and did not issue us library cards (except for Montreal at one point giving us a `temporary card' that allowed us to take out three books).  The libraries in both cities, however, were quite nice, especially Montreal's multi-level glass-elevator central branch.

AMSTERDAM.  By Amsterdam, I had figured it out, and we managed to get a library card.  But the only library branch that was close to us was the Waterlooplein branch, which was very tiny!  And had only a couple of shelves of English-language books.  I think we took out every kids English-language book in the place at least once.  This was the first place we saw the RFID automated check-out system, now installed at most libraries we visit.

LONDON.  The Chelsea and Kensington library branches made lots of good memories for us in London.  We checked out tons of books.  We went to library storytimes.  The kids and I got especially attached to British authors like Lauren Child, Jeremy Strong, James Mayhew, Dick King-Smith.  I read lots of Philippa Gregory.  We read Peter Pan, and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and visited the famous statue near where we lived.  And of course we read Harry Potter.

CHARLOTTE  Maybe this is why Charlotte was such a depressing place for me - we never made it to a local library, there was nothing within reach.  We did find a great used book store, which we visited several times.

BALTIMORE.  Old dusty city library, the first place I saw that had postcards ready to mail to yourself so you could bring in proof of address.  I have since used this strategy on numerous occasions.

PITTSBURGH.  It was worth the lengthy bus trip to the stately, beautiful Carnegie Library.  Outside the library was Dippy the Dinosaur.

TORONTO.  It was kind of impossible to get to the main Toronto library.  Across the street from our apartment was a tiny law library that had a handful of children's books, devoured quickly.  Then we spent a few weeks trying to find an evasive bookmobile, and eventually gave up and started spending money at Indigo, a big Canadian bookstore chain.

SAN FRANCISCO - Isa and I spent countless afternoons at the Mission Bay branch of the library, close to the Cirque site.  We read book after book, took out items in Russian for our friends, and attended a Winter Holiday Sing-A-Long.  This library first gave me the recommendation, when I lost a book, to order an inexpensive copy on Amazon and return it to them, instead of paying the full new-book-plus-penalties price.  Another strategy I've had occasion to use more than once.  It was somewhere around this time that libraries began to compete for blue ribbons in the Kennedys' record-keeping.  San Francisco, I believe, allowed 50 items to be taken out at once, which seemed pretty amazing at the time.

SAN JOSE - it was a trek on the light rail to get to the Martin Luther King Jr Library, but a great library once we got there.  San Jose allowed 100 items to be taken out at a time!  The kids and I attempted to test this principle, but the weight of carrying the books across the city got to be too much.

SAN DIEGO - La Jolla's main public library was, again, a formidable distance from home, and our one trip there resulted in my lost wallet on the bus; an experience which overshadowed most of the pleasure we got from the facility itself.  But we found a branch nearer to us, close to a large playground and rec center, that we began to frequent more often.  This library had playgroups in different languages every day - Chinese, Arabic, Russian.  So often when we were reading, there would be an unintelligible singsong of little voices going on behind us.

BOSTON - We went to several different libraries during our time in Boston; most notably we spent time at the beautiful suburban libraries in Natick and Wellesley.  But for now we'll focus on the one we went to most often - the main Boston library at Copley.  Listed as the second-largest public library in the United States (after the Library of Congress), and the first children's room in the U.S., it's an exquisitely decorated old building which hosts as many architecture tourists as it does readers.  And although we did truly enjoy the hours we spent there, I did find their children's collection to be a bit musty, in need of cleaning out and updating.

ARLINGTON, VA - Though we're calling this tour stop Washington, DC, we are really in the library system of Arlington, and today we visited the local branch which we can see from our apartment balcony.  It became a prize-winner on our very first visit - the librarian was one of the most welcoming I've encountered, giving me a library card with hardly any hesitation, and announcing that the library allows unlimited checkouts!  The kids got a bit starry-eyed, dreaming of bringing shopping carts and suitcases to carry out all the books... I was also very pleased with their children's area, a solid and well-maintained collection of newer and high-quality kids' literature.  We may be visiting daily.

Enough typing for tonight ... I've got a book here to read!

Friday, August 10, 2012


I'm in Philadelphia for the week.  Mostly doing circus school stuff, but this morning I had to go and give a deposition in a lawsuit I am entangled in.  Basically, it dates back to 2010, and one of the car accidents I was involved in, and a battle of insurance companies about who's most liable.  But the world of court cases and depositions is wholly foreign to me.  I wasn't prepared for the tension in the room, the formality, the 3-piece suits.  The anxiety I would feel about saying the right thing in the right way, about being honest and clear and yet not screwing anything up.  Although it was only a couple of hours of my life, and finished at 11:00 in the morning, I left feeling like I could use a drink.  (and for those of you who know me, I don't drink!)  How do lawyers live in this kind of world all the time?  My lawyer, who I met for the first time today and seemed very nice, said at one point in our taxi ride, "yeah, I realized after I became a lawyer that I spend all day, every day, arguing with people."  Yeesh.

You have to look for little gems of interesting-world stuff on days like this, and for me it's easy to appreciate the wonders of Philadelphia.  The deposition was held in the Curtis Center, an exquisite building in Center City that I don't get to visit nearly often enough... though I do recall setting up our aerial rig in this atrium for one event, years ago.

Here's something new.  To take the elevators in the Curtis Center, you press a button on this little screen telling it what floor you want to go to.  Then a message pops up saying "Please take Elevator C".  You then go to Elevator C, and there are no buttons inside.  You just walk in, and the elevator takes you there.  How odd.  Apparently it also understands if multiple people are in the elevator.  Fun technology.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saying goodbye to Boston, and favorite cities

Sitting here at my desk as the sun comes up, dappling the city skyline with colorful shadows, I can only think about how much I'm going to miss this place.  The joy I feel looking over Boston every day has not gotten old.  Never having experienced it before, I had no idea that living in a midtown skyscraper with a dazzling view could be so uplifting.  Some days I can hardly tear my eyes away.  And no matter what the time of day or weather - sunrise, sunset, rain, fog - there is always something beautiful to observe.

Of course I'm going to miss Boston for lots of reasons.  So many late nights catching up with old friends, afternoons letting my kids run around their grandparents' house and garden, mornings sweating it out in Bikram studios, days spent wandering around the Boston Common and the Public Library.  The bike commuting, the summer camp, running on the Esplanade.  All of this, and just the sense of connection I've had to the city and the people, to my family and friends, have given me a tremendous feeling of well-being.

It got me thinking about the cities we've visited so far... people often ask us "what has been your favorite city?"  The kids and Greg often answer Quebec City.  They loved our big house there, and the pool and bike trails across the street.  Tour life was newer for us then, though, and I think we were just generally more excited about the novelty.  When I look back at the cities we've visited - 14 of them, just counting the ones we've lived in - I rate them in two categories.  For the cities that felt most exciting and interesting, London and Amsterdam, for sure.  But for the cities where I've experienced the greatest happiness, Boston and San Francisco top the list.

A few more miscellaneous photos to post, memories of our summer here in Massachusetts.

Boston Children's Museum

Duck Tour
Isa at Singing Beach
 Baz at Singing Beach
Kids with Blagden cousins in Manchester-by-the-Sea
 Our kids with Forchion kids in Brattleboro
Greg and me in Bill & Serenity's kitchen in Brattleboro
Fort Warren

Looking back at these photos, I see how many things are missing - how did I not manage to photograph our brunch with the Marthinsens, magic tricks with Scott, touring backstage with Tammy, visiting Jill's studio, Circus Smirkus?  There are photos out there somewhere of me giving hugs and greetings to Elsie, Aaron, T, Aunt Jan, Uncle Tom, Uncle Rob, Melissa, my cousin Lisa.

While every city has had a few happy reunions, Boston has been over the top with love and connections.  Philadelphia is going to have a tough act to follow next spring!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Boston's street performers

As teenagers, we all have weird things we're crazy about, right?  ...for me, it was street performers.  An afternoon spent applauding for the jugglers, magicians and acrobats at Quincy Market in Boston, or Harvard Square in Cambridge was my idea of heaven.  So it's been a dream come true to live here in the center of Boston all summer long.  I've had a chance to really catch up on who's performing at Quincy Market, and to see some excellent shows.

These photos, taken with my iPhone, are not the greatest quality - so for each performer I'm also providing links to their Web sites, where you can see better images of them (photo and video).

 Jason Escape
 Daniel Forlano
 Lucky Bob
The Breeze Team breakdancers