Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Working (with Bikram breaks)

The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts has been struggling through some problems lately that have required more of my attention.  A lot more... I've been sitting at my computer for 30-40 hours a week reviewing spreadsheets and reports.  And although all this time has not yet uncovered solutions to PSCA's issues, I have learned a few things about myself.

I am clearly out of the habit of actual, mundane, desk work.  3.5 years of traveling-housewifery will do that to you, apparently.  I am logging my work hours to the minute - because I find the time at my desk crawls, unbelievably slowly, and I am often shocked by how little time has gone by.  Half of my mental energy seems to be taken up with controlling my mind to settle down, to stop wanting to jump up and go to the gym or do the laundry.

Getting focused work done while the kids are at home is an exercise in futility.  Even with my 3 - who are so much older now and fairly self-sufficient - so much time gets eaten up preparing meals, breaking up arguments, dropping off and picking up at playdates, chasing them down to put clothes away and brush teeth, and then, of course, bedtime stories... I carefully logged a 12-hour attempted work day yesterday (9am-9pm) and was able to fit in 6 hours of work during that time.  And it was all in 20-minute segments.

But back to the distraction / restlessness factor - how do you all do it, desk workers of the world?  Do you just get used to it over time, or do you have to stand up and run around every half hour or so?  Do you get special office chairs to make it more comfortable (because I can't find any position I can sit in for a very long time)?  And how do you avoid getting sucked into Facebook all day long?

I have been escaping the apartment for some time each day.  A great thing here is that we're only a couple of miles from Bikram Yoga Costa Mesa, which is one of the best Bikram studios I've been to.  I'm going 4 or 5 times a week.  It's located in "The Camp", which is this entertainingly-California-crunchy-new-age--bourgeois-commune sort of shopping plaza.  The Web site describes it as "an innovative retail campus dedicated to an active, healthy lifestyle mindful of environmentalism and supportive of the local community."  Here are a couple of photos of The Camp.  

The bright sunlight isn't usually how I see The Camp - I normally arrive at class at 5:45am, and it's still dark.  This is the best way for me to do Bikram - early in the morning, before anyone else in the family is awake.  I get home in time to make breakfast for the kids, and my day starts off right.  

Today's teacher said that Bikram is the only exercise she knows of that actually heals the body, and I have to agree.  Everything else wears you down in some way - sore muscles, aching joints, etc.  Doing Bikram feels like nothing else - like every part of you is wrung out, stretched and squeezed and put back together again, clean.  Another teacher one time described it as brushing your teeth, getting all the gunk out - and it feels this way, too.  Going too long without class, you feel like you've aged, your body is stiff and achy and cluttered up.  

But as Bikram says, "You're never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Visiting Kelly, Ziya, Kai, Tenzing, and Sage


Winter Faire, 2013.  This is an event at a local school in Marin County - it's a fundraiser, where they bring in bouncy castles and games, etc. - and they also get a snow machine and make small sledding trails.  Snow sports, California-style.  All the cousins had a blast.

We went up to San Anselmo for a few days during the break between cities, to visit Greg's sister's family.  This includes my two 5-year-old nephews, and my brand-new baby niece!  Here name is Sage, and here is a photo of her sleeping in my arms.  (she sleeps a lot. she is almost 4 weeks old).

My other favorite picture from the weekend is Ayla holding Sage.  Ayla would have been happy to hold Sage all day, every day, I think.  (although she might not have been as happy to wake up with her every 2 hours at night!)  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Irvine, CA

We made our shortest city transfer ever this week, driving 35 miles from San Pedro to Irvine, CA. The hassle of packing up our entire apartment, and unpacking it again, really made me question whether it would have been better to stay someplace halfway in between. And our arrival in Irvine - aka the land of "soul-crushing suburban sprawl" - has not made me feel any better about the move.

Although San Pedro was nothing to get excited about, we did have the fortune of a beautiful spacious apartment there, with expansive views over the harbor. Our apartment here in Irvine feels, by comparison, closed-in, dark, crowded. The dark-brown wall-to-wall carpet isn't helping.

So far, the best thing I can tell about our new home is that all of the families are living together. We love this!  The worst thing, as far as I can tell, is the city of Irvine.  I came across this gem from the Atlantic magazine, which explains this place nicely.

(NERD.i.stan) n. An upscale and largely self-contained suburb or town with a large population of high-tech workers employed in nearby office parks that are dominated by high-tech industries; any large collection of nerds. Also: Nerdistan.

Example quote:

South Orange County is a classic nerdistan — largely newly built, almost entirely upscale office parks, connected by a network of toll roads and superhighways to planned, often gated communities inhabited almost entirely by college educated professionals and technicians.
—Joel Kotkin, "Avoiding Excesses Has Buoyed L.A.'s Tech Sector," Los Angeles Business Journal, August 20, 2001

The area also reminds us tremendously of San Jose, another "nerdistan".  So, it's going to be one of these kinds of cities... a severe test of my energy and resilience.  As always, the strategy is simple: look for the good.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cycling along Palos Verdes Drive

After some trial and error, I finally found my cycling route here.  Palos Verdes Drive.  I forgot my camera on the ride today, so I scooped this image off the Internet - but this is really what it looks like, all along the way.  It's stunningly beautiful coastline.  The route is terribly hilly - a massive climb just to get up to the area, and then it's up and down all along the road - but worth it for the views, and the reasonably safe road traffic.  I kicked out 24 miles today and I'm exhausted but happy (and, more than ever, really wanting a proper road bike!)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seeing things, doing things

Despite my intention to have a lower-key few months here in southern California, we seem to keep sightseeing.  I guess we can't help ourselves.  Here we are on a sailboat!!  One of our tour members, Jean-Sebastian Gagnon, is a sailor (when he's not busy being the Head of Props, that is).  He made friends with some of the boat owners here in the harbor, and brought all of us out on a fun ride this morning.  All the kids got to drive the boat when it was motoring, and Greg even got to drive it with the sails up.  What a beautiful experience it was!

In addition to this, we've had a bunch of other fun events here.  We went up to the Griffith Observatory, hiked around the hills and visited the astronomy exhibits there.  Greg and the kids toured the Battleship Iowa.  The school kids went on a field trip to the Queen Mary ocean liner, and to the Scorpion (Russian submarine).  My Mom and I spent a day at the Getty Center.  And one evening, we took the kids down to the Dia de Los Muertos festival, right outside our apartment building here in San Pedro.  Today, they spent the afternoon at a Laser Tag place in Torrance, for Ilya's birthday party.  There is never an ordinary day.