Sunday, September 30, 2012

Trapeze School New York - DC

Greg and I visited the Trapeze School of New York - DC branch the other evening.  My pictures did not come out well, so I've scooped these images off the Internet.

TSNY is a fascinating institution.  According to their Web site, the school was first opened by private owner Jonathan Conant in 2002 in Manhattan.  Since then it has been one expansion after another - In 2004 they opened an additional location in Baltimore (which later re-located to Washington, DC), and one outside of Boston.  In 2007, a second location opened in New York, and in 2008, a school opened in Santa Monica.

While other flying trapeze schools have privately griped about TSNY's business-like approach to this performing art, there is no denying TSNY's terrific success and professional appearance.  In order to grow quickly and maintain quality and safety standards, Jonathan and his team have created clear systems for everything, from rigging inspections to staff training to student skill progressions.

Interestingly, Jonathan never intended for TSNY to be a "circus" school, and has only very slowly begun introducing classes in other disciplines such as static aerials, acrobatics, and juggling.  The demand for these things is obviously there, but the company is committed to flying trapeze as its highest priority.

Prices for flying trapeze classes are high.  (Here, and everywhere else that flying trapeze is offered.)  It's up to $59 for a class slot that may include up to 10 students, and each student may only go up to fly a handful of times.  (and in New York, the class prices can go up to $70!)  Having experienced this myself, though (at TSNY in New York, many years ago) I can tell you that those flights, especially for a beginner, are major, terrifying, exhilarating events.  And enough people come for that thrill, and then get hooked on this amazing sport, to keep TSNY busy for a long time to come.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Some recent photos

This is my morning running / biking route, around Gravelly Point, with the planes taking off overhead and the monuments across the river.  Especially pretty when the sun is rising.  The Mt Vernon Trail is so awesome ... some days I get on my bike and ride down into Alexandria, today I went all the way up into Georgetown.

Baz spent a good 5-6 hours one day, all by himself, assembling this 3-D Capitol Building.  He was very determined, and very proud of the final result!

We just celebrated Ayla's 8th birthday!  Her "Arts & Crafts Birthday Party" is still to come, in a couple of days.  We're having it on a Tuesday afternoon, which seems so odd!  But the kids' school schedule has changed to Wednesday-Sunday.  It's going to be a good schedule for us this year, but so strange to have the kids in school all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

We've been back and forth to Philadelphia quite a bit this month, and one day we had the joy of hanging out with my friend Rebecca and her kids at Wissahickon Creek.  Rebecca is running a little camp for kids on school holidays, where they go out and play in the woods, completely unstructured, all day.  It's fantastic!  Another reason to be sad we're not in Philadelphia right now, but we will take these sorts of opportunities whenever we can.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I do not usually shy away from challenge.
Underestimate it? yes, maybe.
But in general I like to be challenged, I like tackling things that are perceived to be difficult, and I feel great pride in accomplishing them.
Tonight, though, I let the voice of "oh, that would be hard" win.  I had in hand five complimentary tickets to see 7 Doigts de La Main at the Kimmel Center.  A modern circus company I have always wanted to see, on a date that my whole family was in Philadelphia and available.  What could be more perfect?

I didn't anticipate how overwhelming it would feel to be out in Lafayette Hill (at a child's orthodontist appointment) and facing down an hour's journey into Center City through a heavy rainstorm and even heavier rush hour traffic.  The mountainous difficulty of finding dinner and parking in time for the performance.  And when I looked around at my family - all bedraggled and exhausted after a typical Philadelphia level of overstimulation - the road home to Washington, DC just looked way more appealing.

So, we bailed on the show and drove south.  It had that bad "quitter" feeling to it, and honestly made me feel rather suburban and old.  Am I now one of those people who doesn't drag her children into the city for a show because it's challenging?  Will we soon be just staying home and turning on the TV instead?  I got a bit depressed dwelling on the implications of our desertion.

So sorry we missed you, Sequence 8, I hope you were wonderful....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not Morning People

If you've ever wondered if the Cirque du Soleil artists have their normal-human sides (unkempt, groggy, grouchy) simply catch them before noon.  Totem has recently started doing 3 shows on occasional Saturdays. The 12:00 show requires everyone to be on site no later than 10:30, so the 10:00 shuttle bus is a jumble of half-asleep, barely-coherent people clutching coffee cups. I decided it would be cruel of me to photograph them in this compromised state, so you'll have to use your imaginations.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to the circus

Baz and Ayla started school today (4th and 3rd grade!), it feels like we are all re-joining the tour after almost two months of time away.  Of course we've been here now and then - circus classes, premieres, that sort of thing - but today was the first time in ages that Isa and I just hung out at the tent for the whole day.  Remembering all the good and the bad that this entails.

One of the nicest parts of the afternoon was going in to see our new trapeze artists debut their act.  It was that show-of-support, everyone coming out to see them and cheer them on, kind of day.  And Sara and Guilhem are really lovely, I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.

Circus classes have been a bear to organize, and they continue to be a whole lot of work to run.  But moments like these make them worthwhile!  Our Belarusian sport-acrobatics coach apparently thinks you're never too young for a two-high.  :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I've been commuting back and forth to Philadelphia a lot in the past few weeks, working at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.

It's been great on so many levels - great to re-establish myself there, to get to know all the new people and changes and systems with the school now.  Wonderful to feel the energy of the place, and to drink in the sight of so many wonderful people teaching and training.  When I leave the school at night, I leave reluctantly, wishing I could just stay there to see every part of it.

I have long since accepted, though, that PSCA is a wheel turning without me; and I will jump on whenever I can, to help when possible, and sometimes just for the joy of it.  But I can't be part of everything there now.  The truth is, it's grown big and complex enough that even if I were still in Philadelphia, I couldn't be part of everything there now.

Anyway, commuting has its own joys as well.  Although I don't dress the part - PSCA is a strictly wear-whatever-the-hell-you-want kind of workplace, and the "real" Amtrak Northeast Corridor commuters are more the business-suit-and-briefcase type - I enjoy joining in their ranks for a little while.

I am a big people-watcher, and commuters are fascinating.  In the early mornings, a common sight is a well-suited young man, coffee and briefcase in hand, racing to catch a train with his tie tossed over his shoulders.  I never knew that men left the house like this, planning to properly tie their ties once they are seated on the train (obviously I have never been married to a man who wears a tie to work).  But then I found this Urban Dictionary link, which suggests that this is somehow a fashion statement of its own!  Hm.   

People on the trains are endlessly fascinating.  The guys in full army fatigues getting off at the Pentagon station.  Mothers herding children in school uniforms.  Young, nervous-looking women in pencil skirts, professional-looking blouses and high heels, glued to their cell phones.  People who look like they are on their millionth train trip and they are bored by the whole experience, and people who are stepping onto the train for the first time and trying not to look completely lost.  

While I people-watch, I daydream and speculate about their lives.  Maybe the VIP in the hip, untied tie is zipping up to his Wall Street job for the week, while his diplomat wife logs hours on Capitol Hill, and their children are shuttled around by top-notch nannies.  Maybe the heavy guy in the tired-looking suit is actually laid off but is pretending to go to work every day so his family doesn't find out.  This evening I sat next to a woman chatting on her phone about her upcoming appointment with an esteemed elderly violin master, who she is studying with so that she can pass along his wisdom to her high-level violin students in New York.  Last week, behind me, was a man with his three-year-old daughter.  He was taking her up to Philadelphia to watch a baseball game, and showered her with attention for the entire trip.  As I said, people are fascinating, and I love these little glimpses of their lives.  

Coming home this evening though was the most gratifying part of all, as the children leapt into my arms as though it had been months, instead of only two days, since they saw me last.  Missing them, and being missed, is a good and refreshing feeling, reminding me of all that I have here.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

The White House

So, we did end up touring the White House, something I don't recall ever doing before.  (Even though I lived right here in DC for three years).  It's not an easy thing - you have to contact your Congressperson, tell them your available dates no later than three weeks in advance, and be ready to jump whenever they contact you.  We were lucky that we were contacted for a Saturday when the kids weren't in school, and Greg only had to do minimal re-arranging of his training schedule.

You're not allowed to bring anything into the White House. No purses or bags.  I was able to stick a cell phone, an ID and a credit card in my pocket, and that was it.  Usually, when I leave the house with the kids, I pack like we're going on an Arctic expedition, so this alone was stressful for me!  But, after spending the morning dealing with complicated transportation, lunch, and restroom arrangements, we finally arrived, excited, on time.

To enter the White House you walk through an elaborate maze of pathways, being stopped and checked by Secret Service agents at multiple stops along the way.  When you actually get inside the building, you have a "self-guided tour", which I assumed meant an audio tour.  No - you actually just get to walk around the ground-floor reception rooms and look at the furniture and paintings.  There is minimal signage.  There are Secret Service agents posted in every room, however, who end-up serving as quasi-information guides, as people are always asking them questions.  During the tour there are no glimpses of any more exciting parts of the White House (like the personal areas, the work areas or the grounds).  The whole thing couldn't have taken more than 20 minutes and was a bit anti-climactic.

But, the kids were happy, especially when we took them across the street to the White House Gift Center and let them pick out Washington DC souvenirs.  Baz picked out a 3D Puzzle of the U.S. Capitol Building, Ayla chose a Michelle Obama magnetic dress-up set, and Isa has a stuffed animal Bo, the First Dog.  (The Gift Center is where we took the above goofy photograph.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Washington, DC sightseeing

Too long without blogging - but we have been quite busy!  As you'll see from the photo collection below.  Baz & Ayla's summer vacation is still in full swing, and with 3 kids at home the days seem to go by in a blur.  But we can't live in Arlington, VA without taking advantage of Washington's greatness... so here's what we've been up to.

Arlington National Cemetery.  You can just see the Washington Monument between the trees.
National Air and Space Museum.

"Minerva" Mosaic at the Library of Congress

Touring the Capitol Building

National Zoo

National Gallery of Art

Us in front of the Washington Monument (we are actually looking at the Lincoln Memorial)

Paddleboating in the Tidal Basin

These photos don't even cover everything... Greg and Grandma Terry took the kids to the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum.  We went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the WWII memorial, and the U.S. Botanical Gardens.  And we're fitting all this into days filled with trips to the swimming pool, library, and playground, and in my case, regular commutes back and forth to Philadelphia.

More to come.....