Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Maybe Sleep Just A Little More

For my birthday last month I took myself out to a show. It's a site specific version of Macbeth called Sleep No More. It's been running for several years and from the moment it opened people have told me I should go and that I would love it.

I believed them! I kept meaning to go but it's interactive and didn't that mean that I should get a group to go with me but something so expensive who would I ask and organizing it and it's really better for me to go on nights where I don't have to get up in the morning...

It felt like a lot of decisions.

My boss had given me 2 theatre tickets of my own choosing for my Christmas present in 2016. I saw Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 during my annual July staycation and meant to see another show lickety split but dog training ramped way up right around then and things got nutty and again what an embarrassment of riches to be able to choose any show in NYC to go see. Any show at all. Which one?

Which means that finally late in December I convinced myself to take a leap and bought 1 ticket in the mid-range for Sleep No More for a Monday night in January, the night before I turned 49. It felt great from the moment I decided to go.

The holiday season always feels fraught with so many decisions. I tend to feel like I'm the one steering the ship. Mind you, I'm actually only steering my own ship but the harbor is crowded that time of year so any one person's routing decisions have that famous, fabled ripple effect.

Chem E and I spent a few months mulling and guessing and supposing and finally deciding how we might do things differently when we traveled north this year based on the minimal rocking of other boats. We planned to stay in MA together. She'd meet me there. I'd do much of the driving. It would have me well-placed to do some driving for my parents, too. We got it all in place and then I finally told my parents and there was uproar.

They'd heard that Christmas Eve was going to be in MA instead of ME. I hadn't heard. Who was right? What to do? So we tracked down all that info and it turned out my plan suddenly included a lot less driving. So while I never love change this change worked out pretty damn nicely for me.

The night before I was to travel Chem E called completely done in. Her flight was delayed and delayed and then canceled and the change options were terrible and what to do? She couldn't decide and every time she chose something that path would suddenly be closed, too. I threw out some possible solutions, maybe cracked open the idea box a little, but I was working that day so I had to leave her to it. By the time I finished with clients she had managed to implement our plan of last resort (which will likely become our plan of first resort in years to come).

The next morning my sainted neighbor drove me to the car rental place and parked around the corner, hiding my dog from the rental people. Once I transferred luggage and dog into my car I drove across the street to the airport and picked up Chem E from her flight and together north we rode. It couldn't have been better if we'd planned it that way!

The weather was bad that day but we got where we were going and we were together. The weather was great the next day and all our celebrations were divine. The weather was horrendous on Christmas Day and we adjusted and I drove alone (plus Ed) in some of the worst conditions I've navigated in many years to get to NH and hang with Mama Kizz. It all worked! All of those decisions made for a successful trip.

Every year as the calendar flips over I hit the skids a little. There's a lot of mental and emotional labor to the holidays and the travel. Then it's time for back to work but my birthday is right around the corner and I always feel a bit like I get a pass until I'm another year older. I get up and I do the things I need to do - walk the dog, see the clients, write the emails, go to the office, check in with the friends - but any sort of forward motion is gone. The dishes go undone, the floors unwashed, the meals are ordered not made. Bare minimum maintenance is observed.

Going to see Sleep No More was a micro version of that skid, in a way. I called a pass for that night into the next day for my birthday. I got showered and dressed and I treated myself to a cab when transportation decisions started to mount. Then on to a ridiculously expensive cocktail at a silly lumberjack-themed speakeasy under the same management as the show's venue. I had a slightly fancy ticket which allowed me free coat check for the show and a reserved table in the lounge. I was treated like royalty. A VIP concierge seated me and talked me through how the evening would go and told me I could jump ahead of the line.

The show takes place over a four story building and audience members are free to roam the entire space for the entire evening. No one tells you where to go, you choose. No one tells you what might be happening where. There's no map or posted timeline. It's all your instinct, your decision, your adventure. They give you a speech to explain this before you're unleashed into the performance space and the final direction is, "Fortune favors the bold."

It's thrilling to have all that freedom. It's also a little alarming to a completionist like myself. How would I possibly see it all? I wouldn't. What would I miss? There's no way to tell!

It's a lot like being an adult.

This year I hit the aforementioned skids pretty hard. I had so much work, which is exciting and delightful. The co-op is replacing our windows so I had to prepare for that which meant moving all my furniture and making a huge mess. My end of year experience at the office was...not ideal. I was still mulling it over and thinking about what choices I might make for that job. Now that I'm, at least partially, self-employed I should really get my taxes together sooner. There was so much to do, so many things that needed to be decided.

I could just wait until after my birthday, though, couldn't I?

The floors got filthier. I ordered in food and did not even bother to get groceries. Friends asked to get together and I put them off by a week, then a month. Clothes got washed but sheets did not. The floors got even filthier. I knew it was happening and I knew that it was time to turn the ship around just maybe next week. Not right now. I'd made enough decisions for right now.

At the beginning of the show I was energized. I roared up 3 flights of stairs in my clunky winter boots and prowled each floor. I stayed for some moments of performance. I even stayed after a couple of them. I tried to get the lay of the visual land. (In retrospect I think that getting the lay of the aural land would have been more informative.)

Once I'd been through it all one time I tried to go back and find places that I'd enjoyed. I found myself oddly wrapping around several times to rooms I hadn't enjoyed. Weird floor textures and too much stage fog got to me. At any moment something could happen. Anything could happen. But where? I didn't want to miss it!

About 90 minutes in according to my Fitbit I gave myself the luxury of a break. I knowingly risked missing something in order to go to the bathroom. I even considered stopping at my reserved table for a drink. My own personal intermission. If you know me you know that even considering these things was revolutionary.

As I bombed through the lounge to the restroom I saw a couple of other patrons making that choice. They were checking their phones and resting their bones. Once I'd peed, though, I didn't want to miss any more. I definitely didn't want to check my phone in the middle of this experience.

Back in I plunged! I saw some more amazing things. I saw characters I hadn't seen before. I saw evidence of scenes that had happened without me. I made peace with it over and over. I kept moving. Things were getting crowded and, whereas in the beginning it felt right to move away from the crowd, now I felt like they might know something I didn't. I made middle of the road decisions trying not to stay stuck in a clump of people but to follow before or behind them to see what attracted their attention and decide from there.

My Fitbit, which I use as a watch, ran out of juice so I had no idea how much time was left.

I couldn't pay attention to anything too long. Any time I stood still I felt like I should be somewhere else. I wanted to go sit and have a drink. I never leave before the end of a show, though. As I rolled from room to room and floor to floor I debated the relative merits of staying and going rather than really taking in what I was seeing.

Eventually I wound up in what I think is the Macbeths' bedroom. It's huge. Even when the crowd showed up, trailing a couple of nurses, there was plenty of room. I could be on the outskirts of the group and still not be jostled. The nurses cleaned up the room. They folded letters and stacked them. They straightened up towels. They made the bed. Then they sat quietly for a minute or two. And we stood with them. I didn't feel compelled, or perhaps not able, to choose to go elsewhere.

Then the nurses stood up. As the younger one passed me, where I was leaning against a column, she took my hand. I tried to return the exact pressure and emotion she was giving me. She swept me away with her. She gently and firmly moved people out of our way. She knew where to go and she took me there. I wondered when she'd leave me and concentrated on matching her pace.

She led me to a balcony above a giant room. She carefully directed a couple of other patrons out of our way and we stood in a perfect spot to view the scene below.

I didn't let go of her hand.

She didn't let go of mine.

When the climactic scene was finished she led me again. She cleared our path again. She took me out to the lobby, removed my mask, looked me in the eye, and said goodnight. And I thanked her. I did it quietly but I wanted to say it louder and about 12 more times. I was so relieved by her taking charge. I had decision fatigue. I needed help and she found me. Once she'd found me she kept me until everything was safely finished. She made sure I didn't miss the most important part.

It was exactly the birthday present I needed.

I'm off the skids now. I didn't go home from that show and hop off them and get back to doing the things that adults are supposed to do, of course. That's not how it works. I think that was a turning point, though.

That actress probably has no idea.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Taking Aim for 2018

Women's March 2018
The big world is different and my little world is different. Some of the differences are related, plenty are not.

I basically abandoned the Photo Challenges. Sorry. Though, let me elaborate, I'm not so much sorry it's over as wish I had made the final curtain come down more gracefully.

Let's talk about 2017.

My dog training business is going really well! Remarkably well. Better than I thought I had any right to expect in the first full year of being boots on the ground with it. I still have my office job 3 days a week with check ins on the other 2 business days. Listen To Your Mother NYC took its final bow in 2017. I found a program I loved volunteering in and devoted regular time to that. The political climate in the US demanded that all caring people take regular action.

Whereas I used to have a lot of time to ponder and plan and think and write and, frankly, dither 2017 was a year of streamlining and letting go and channeling a shark. Never stop moving, you guys, that's when you drown.

Sidebar: I don't glorify the cult of BUSY. I do, though, see how saying yes whenever a client shows up is a smart way to grow a young business. I have more dues to pay before I can be comfortable enough to turn clients away on the basis of wanting to keep Thursdays free for Must See TV or whatever.

I don't know if you know this but it turns out that dog training involves a lot of writing. I did not know this. Even as I was being taught how to write the things that need to be written I didn't put together just how much writing that meant on a regular basis. In one of my classes I wrote a treatment plan that had all three of my teachers commenting basically, "Dude, that's too much detail." and I still didn't remotely understand where this was headed.

You've got your introductory emails/texts/calls, your scheduling emails, your document distribution, all before you go meet the client. After that you have recap emails (which may or may not include handouts that you wrote) and, in the case of classes, homework emails. Oh, and those classes involve writing syllabi - usually with collaborators - and registration emails and consults with colleagues and scheduling discussions, too. At which point in private sessions or classes you're ready to take questions. Those can come at you at any time of the day or night in emails or texts or voice mails. My phone autocorrects to a remarkable number of scientific terms now.

Anna & Ed after the Post-Thanksgiving Open House
Don't get me wrong, communicating with a lot of clients is a great "problem" to have but it needs to be clear that my rates should be interpreted in light of all the admin work I do as well as the hours I spend in the presence of actual dogs and their people. As an hourly rate those seemingly fancy numbers get much more mundane.

So I let go of some things.

Starting in late January 2017 I decided to keep a nightly "Feelings Journal." Every night (I missed about 5 and made those up the next day) I opened a little notebook and wrote:


along one side of the page. Then I wrote a line about something I'd experienced that day in that category. For Feel I usually wrote more than one line but generally not more than about five.

I finished 365 days of that project Wednesday January 24th. I was glad I did it and glad it was over. I liked how it focused me but didn't feel like continuing it.

Here in 2018 my training is still going well but not so well that I can leave it to rise on its own. My volunteer gig dissolved for reasons that make me sad. Our political climate is making us no safer in the world. I'm sort of, kind of, a little bit getting used to the categories of busy that I need to be and am slowly streamlining my approach to make it all possible without powering that success solely on anxiety.

In the final days of the Feelings Journal I thought often of this blog. I missed it. I'd long held a vague notion that I'd like to write more thoughtful pieces here on a more occasional basis. I tossed around the idea of a once a week entry that I revised and revised a la vintage Tomato Nation posts. I briefly, very briefly, thought of the tiny gems of Smacksy and wondered if I belonged in that realm. I constantly want to be funnier so considered a theme, flexing my funny bone, just to have a goal and to strive to be more like the radiantly hilarious Wendi Aarons.

Somewhere along the line I decided that I can commit to most things about once a month. I can write and mull and revise without pressure if I aim for 12 entries here in 2018. It seemed like nothing when I first thought about it 31 days ago and now, as the end of January draws nigh, it seems like it could be too much. Well, not too much but a lot. My life is filled with a lot these days. I want to find room for this, though.

So I will.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Year Post Life.

I'm big on marking occasions. Even terrible occasions. I guess that's something Facebook and I have in common. I actually waited to write this until I got my Facebook memories for the day so I could see what the final pics posted were and download them.

One year ago this morning I fed the pets and Elvis wouldn't eat. I don't remember if he even tried. I suspect not. I could have waited until evening to see if he rallied but given his chronic wound and how difficult eating was for him on a good day...

Which is not to say that I didn't think about it. In fact I got myself ready for work and got on the train. By the time I got off the train in Manhattan I had come to terms with the feeling that now was the time.

I called the home vet, thinking she wouldn't be able to come until the following day. She made time for that evening.

I called Pony Express to make sure she knew.

I went to work and stayed a short time. I knew I wasn't going to come in the next day.

The vet was lovely. She was interested in all the pets. She was kind but not too much. She had everything she needed to make the whole thing go smoothly but not be rushed. I have recommended her several times in the past year.

It's sad. It was sad a year ago and it's sad today. I am sad. I miss him. There was a lot of him to miss. He had a big personality and giant needs and he set the tone for the room without a doubt.

It's also been a relief. He had giant needs and he set the tone for a room without anyone else's input. So many vet visits, such careful feeding, endless re-balancing of meds and supplements...

When he was 4 years old a vet diagnosed him with a heart murmur and told me that, with medication, he would live a couple of years.

When he was, I don't know, maybe as much as 12 another vet suggested I check his thyroid because there was no detectable murmur which, given the original diagnosis, was either highly suspect or a miracle. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with hyperthyroid and basically from then on everyone pointed me toward what we needed to do rather than projecting on what might happen next.

A month shy of his 16th birthday he died of cancer. Of a fucking tumor in his mouth. The mouth he used to scream at me for more food that he could eat...with his mouth. Now that I think of it I wonder if the hyperthyroid actually sped that process along so it wasn't so slow and painful as it could have been.

He is missed.

We are doing ok.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Photo Challenge: OBSERVE

I'm rolling along these days. Any forward motion is worth celebrating.

Photo challenges? Always worth celebrating!

Our Cindy is a professional observer and a damn fine one! Go science!

On my way to listen to some poetry I observed this hippo getting some tourist love as she observed/surveyed the sidewalk outside Lincoln Center.

This Saturday is the Grand Finale show of Listen To Your Mother NYC. I'm sad to see it go and grateful to have been a part of it all this time. In celebration of that the next prompt you can either use GRAND or FINALE

Please enter by 9am Tuesday May 16th for posting on Wednesday May 17th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and GRAND or FINALE. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Photo Challenge: ABSORB

My two words for the year are observe and absorb. I'm somehow unable to caption the photos for this challenge. They feel like absorb. Here, you'll see.

While we're at it let's use my other word for the next prompt. OBSERVE. Go forth and OBSERVE.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday May 2nd for posting on Wednesday May 3rd. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and OBSERVE. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Photo Challenge: WORK/WERK

Funnily enough I just got to join this challenge because I've been working so much! Lucky me. I really am relieved when I have plenty of work. Building a business is scary stuff.

Our Cindy is everything that is light and good about being a scientist. I love that she shared this view of her many facets with us. See also her recent blog post about trusting scientists.

This is what a hard day's work looks like for me now. A dog, her family, plenty of questions, plenty of hands on practice and at the end of it a dog who only wants more!

Off the cuff, let's have the next prompt be ABSORB. Run with it!

Please enter by 9am Tuesday April 4th for posting on Wednesday April 5th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and ABSORB. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Photo Challenge: UPS AND DOWNS

These are wildly varied in a way that I find hard to describe. Good thing we have pictures for that.

Our Ana in Oslo. I'll tell you a secret, her smile is always that big.

This capture by Our Cindy haunts me. In the best way, of course.

Milo had a few ups and downs before I met him but now it's all ups forever. He found the right folks.

Next prompt is WORK (or WERK if you prefer). Bring it!

Please enter by 9am Tuesday March 21st for posting on March 22nd. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and WORK or WERK. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Photo Challenge: FOR THE LOVE

I'm feeling a lot of love this week so the prompt makes me happy.

Enjoy and please join us for next time! Prompt is below.

Our Cindy knows love when she sees (and feels) it.

I try to take a selfie with each of the kids whenever we're together no matter how crazy my hair because, well, you never know.

I can't even explain why but the next prompt is UPS AND DOWNS. Bring it!

Please enter by 9am Tuesday March 7th for posting on March 8th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and UPS AND DOWNS. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Photo Challenge: DO SOMETHING

I hadn't looked at the Flickr Pool. I had no idea if anyone was still with me. I dreaded the moment.

You're with me! Thank you!

Enjoy these photos. We're doing something and that's amazing.

Our Cindy rallied in MO for women. 

I protested and I have also been knitting for a local school's underserved students.

Our Janet marched in MA for immigrants. 

I thought to myself, "For the love of all that is holy, I don't know what the next prompt should be!" So there you go, FOR THE LOVE. Let that inspire you.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday February 21st for posting on February 22nd. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and FOR THE LOVE. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Photo Challenge: SWING

For the record I feel totally out of the swing of things right now. I'm working to right the ship, promise!

Our Cindy gives us the down home family feel. Thanks, I needed that!

I was on an emotional pendulum over the holidays when I was given custody of the photo album from Auntie Blanche's 85th birthday party.

I was just saying today that it's enough to do something. It doesn't have to be big. Let us be the prompt that guides us, DO SOMETHING!

Please enter by 9am Tuesday February 7th for posting on February 8th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and DO SOMETHING. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Photo Challenge: Let's Go

I'm getting back in the saddle after celebrating my birthday on Monday. It's nice to have some beauty to keep me going.

From the moment I saw this one by Our Cindy all it makes me think of is my grandparents' camp. I didn't even meet Cindy until long after that camp had been sold and the g'rents gone on to the great camp in the sky. She gets me right in the feels.

This is what I'm greeted with on cold, dark mornings. No amount of encouragement will get him out of bed. So I carry him. Once we get to the street he's willing to walk. At least for a little while.

In honor of getting the hang of this year, getting in the swing of things, if you will. Let's be prompted by SWING. Enjoy!

Please enter by 9am Tuesday January 24th 2017 for posting on January 25th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and SWING. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Photo Challenge: ONE LAST TIME

I'm exhausted. Are you?

Pretty pictures will help.

In my experience Our Cindy always manages an evocative snapshot of the end of every trip.

I am not a practiced selfie or ussie taker. On important occasions, though, I manage to get everyone to gather around the digital campfire juuuuuuust before we leave.

I'm taking the next one from dog training but you'll see why it fits. The next prompt is LET'S GO. In dog training I use it as a cue for the dog to know that the group is moving forward together.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday January 10th 2017 for posting on January 11th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and LET'S GO. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Photo Challenge: LEGACY

I looked at both of these photos and came up with the same caption. I don't know what you call it when the caption comes on top, the theme maybe? Title? Subtext? Here's the theme/title/subtext/whathaveyou:

"Sure, he wasn't perfect but look what he created."

by Me

Next prompt comes juuuuuuuust before the end of the year so prompt is long but wide open, ONE LAST TIME.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday December 27th for posting on December 28th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and ONE LAST TIME. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Photo Challenge: ACT

I grew up acting. I act now. I just signed up to act (sing) in Neil Kramer's annual holiday concert. I'm learning how to act when it's the first bit of activist. I found this round's entries inspiring for that.

New prompt down below!

Our Bethany elevates even the smallest act.

Our Cindy inspires action regularly.

Our Janet has a potion to activate.

The stage is set. All I have to do is act upon it.

A friend's father passed away last week, as did a high school friend of mine. Without being too maudlin I've been thinking a bit about LEGACY. I don't know what the heck that means for a photo prompt but I have faith that you will show me.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday December 13th for posting on December 14th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and LEGACY. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.