Just arrived back home in the States and I must say it’s already good to be back. As I have mentioned, working abroad is usually like being on vacation; however, from all the stress I’ve been feeling this particular trip, it actually does feel like I am taking time off now. Glad it is behind me now.
My flight back, since everyone always wants to know, was fine. Great even. I had a six hour layover in Istanbul, which was pretty boring (funny I was complaining about a mere four hours before). But it was nice enough, if only just so I can brag about having eaten chicken in Turkey. Why yes, I am a grown-up child.
The flight back to New York was fantastic though. Long, but fantastic. I got on the plane and walked not two steps before I was looking at my seat assignment. “12B,” read my ticket. I looked at the seat, looked at its label “12B,” then rechecked my ticket. I looked at the seat again, paying special attention to just how far it was positioned behind the seat in front of it. I looked at my ticket. 12B. I looked at the size of the seat. I looked at the seat label. 12B. I couldn’t help but notice the adjustable reading lamp protruding from the seat’s headrest. I looked again at my ticket. Then at the seat’s retractable foot rest. Then back at the seat label.
Realizing that I was blocking the aisle, I decided to go ahead and put my bag in the oversized overhead bin and sink into the relaxing cushion that was the airline seat. It was an honest mistake, I thought. “I’ll just wait here until the person this seat actually belongs to comes around. A flight attendant will sort it out.”
But no one bothered me. Not until a sweet old lady came along and asked me to help her with her bag. She must be the true owner of this seat, I thought. No. Her seat was 12A.
It wasn’t until then that the realization actually hit me. There was no mistake. There was no other seat “12B.” This was my seat. And I was flying business class.
Granted, I have flown business class before. Heck, I’ve flown first class on more than one occasion. But they were mere 2 to 4 hour flights. Barely enough time to watch a movie. This leg of my trip was 11 hours long. Business class on an overseas flight beats first class on a local one any day. In the first few hours, I was served two full meals. “Full meals” by economy class standards anyway. I think the first was actually supposed to be a snack.
Still not sure why I was put in business class. I was told initially that I would only fly economy. My initial flight to Istanbul was economy, but then it was also only 4 hours long. I decided not to ask questions and just go with it. So I sat back (my seat had 4 separate buttons for reclining) and watched/slept through 4 movies. Most comfortable I have ever been on an international flight.
And now I’m back. Life is going to be pretty odd now. Really have to try and put what’s left of my life here back together. I still might be returning to Abu Dhabi in January, but I’m not going to count on it. I doubt my next trip would be as stressful as this one was, but if I can find another gig in the meantime, that would be great too. As usual though, I’m going to take it a day at a time. Life is too short to make plans too far in advance.
We’ve now hit my final day here in Abu Dhabi. Again. After these last two shows today, I’ll be headed back to the States. I’m happy to be going, since this trip has been especially stressful, despite me successfully not injuring myself (knocking on wood for the last two shows…).
Looking forward to resting up and getting back to my training. This gig has really served to inspire me to build up my skills further. It’s great to know that you have something that people would pay to see you do, but I don’t like the idea of complacency. After all, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing the same old tricks, so I have to develop new ones to keep it fresh. That’s what the circus is all about, in my opinion.
It’s sad to me when people are told to train specific skills, but are never given the opportunity to experiment. This is actually my primary concern at this point. I really want to find or create a space for myself where I will have room to explore. I thought I might find it doing this show, but only to a certain extent. There are other options out there, I just need to figure out how I want to go about it.
For now, I have some time to rest up. Off to spend the holidays with my family, which should be nice. It has been great to hear from my friends and family back home. They have all expressed their excitement about my dream becoming a reality. Usually I would be quick to shrug it off, “Oh, it’s really nothing.” “I just got lucky.” “It’s not that big a deal.” But speaking to them has really opened up my eyes to the bigger picture. A lot of people never reach their goals because they are too afraid of failure to try.
Especially my older friends who have known me before I started my training, my biggest fans, you might say, allow me to see the significance of this gig for me. They were the ones I talked to first about this “crazy” dream of joining the circus. At that time, we were all skeptical about it. And, like when you’re a kid, you don’t really notice much that you’ve grown up. You just run into an aunt you haven’t seen in years and she reminds you about “How tiny you were when I last saw you!”
I’m all grown up now. Well, I still have more growing to do, but I’ve at least gotten through puberty. I like thinking about goals this way, though. If you think about them as some great feat to achieve, it seems too great. However, if you look at it like growing up, it is something that can be tough, but you really don’t have a choice in the matter. You’re going to do it one way or the other. Either that, or you die. And since you’re going to die eventually anyway, it’s not really the alternative. Suddenly your goal seems so much more attainable.
I think that’s how all successful people look at their goals. They don’t think, “This may never work.” Instead they think, “This might be tough.” As the old saying goes, “Failure is not an option.” Or as I like to say, “Everything is going to work out in the end because it has to.”
Feeling a lot better now. I was getting pretty stressed out this week and it was killing my mood. Was starting to feel really alienated and even singled out by the rest of the cast, which has served to upset as well as confuse me.
However, I’m even more confident now with what I am doing and it seems like the alienation I felt is dying down. Thank goodness for that. I really didn’t want to have to leave here feeling disappointed with myself or the cast.
This came at an opportune time too because, now that it is the weekend here, we are going to be performing 3 shows today and tomorrow. It would have been hell if I was still stressed out.
And speaking of opportune, I am also happy to report that I now have internet access in my apartment. Hooray! Been feeling like a kind of nomad with no internet or phone in my place. Glad to be reconnected with the world (wide web). There are also plans in motion to get another car for the cast, so I (and some of the other new members here) don’t have to take the bus to work every day.
Lots to be happy about. And I have just one week left here before I head back to the States. Of course, just when I’m starting to get comfortable here, I have to leave again. Oh well. I’m looking forward to the break.
This last week should be a big one. Not only do we have 3 shows today and tomorrow, we also have a press event this Sunday. And then the day before I leave will be the official opening of the show, and we will be doing a special banquet performance that night. Not sure what to expect, but it should be pretty interesting.
Looking forward to the end of this week. After that, it should be all downhill from there. It has been an interesting, up and down return trip. Just hoping to finish it strong. Emotionally, physically, and uninjured.
Back from my “day off.” Refreshed, warmed up, feeling more confident about my skills. Just hoping I’m not too sore to do everything I did yesterday. We shall see.
Couldn’t have asked for anything more yesterday. The park was closed, so I was just about the only one in the whole place aside from some maintenance staff. This gave me plenty of time and space to work on everything I wanted to. And then some!
I even walked halfway home when all was said and done since it was so nice outside. When I was here before, being outside felt similar to being strapped to the top of a pot of boiling water. Now, it feels like a spring day in Florida (hot, but not unbearable). And at night, it is exactly perfect, temperature-wise.
I got outside after training and realized I had missed the bus home. But it was so nice out, I figured I could just walk all the way back. However, after about a mile and a half, the soreness started to kick in, and I could really feel the weight of my bag. So I decided to cab it the rest of the way. Only cost me about $3.50.
I feel it’s important to note that today is Election Day. And I’m still in the Middle East. Worry not, I turned in my absentee ballot before I even flew back over here; however, I’m wondering if I will be able to see the results when they are released. I still don’t have internet in my apartment, and the results will probably come out sometime around 6am over here. So it will probably be a while before I find out who the next president of our fair country will be.
I’m sure I’ll be okay to wait the few extra hours when I get to the park to check the news. It’s just the first time I’ll be out of the country during an election. Weird. But if I have much travel in my future I’ll have to get used to it.
We did it. We survived the entirety of Speed Week without going completely insane. Well, more or less. We now have our first day off in two weeks (well, they do. I’ve only been here a week myself). And since I don’t really have anything to complain about, I’m not calling this a day off at all. Instead, it’s a professional development day.
I remember when I was going to school and how I got so excited when I saw “professional development day” on the calendar because it meant a day off for me. Now it seems I have grown to the point that I am on the other side of that coin, and now professional development day means everyone else has the day off while I still go in to work.
Granted, “work” for me is an amusement park, but it still means I am sacrificing the one day I have to do recreational things in favor of honing my craft. But hey, this is the whole reason I wanted to be a performer in the first place. So I could train for free and write it off as “work.”
But I definitely needed this. It has been months since I have really done anything acrobatic on account of my ankle. So doing the show has been pretty stressful for me. I feel out of shape. Which is especially terrible because my part in the show is currently so small. It makes me feel like dead weight. What the hell am I doing here if I can’t even perform my one little part well?
And so I’m going in on my day off to train and get myself back up to where I need to be. And maybe try something new as well. The nice thing about being the only one in is that I get the whole space to myself. And that’s just the way I like it. I do my best work when I don’t have anyone else observing. It has actually been difficult this past week to get any training done, not just because we have had so little time for it, but also because we all use the equipment at the same time. I’m a big advocate of sharing, but I progress faster when I don’t have to wait my turn.
So I’m actually looking forward to this. Some alone time with the apparatus. By the time I come in for rehearsal tomorrow, I should be back up to snuff and then some.
Only two days left of Speed Week. It’s been a crazy week for sure. It will be nice when we finally have a day off. Lots has been going on (apparently), but I wasn’t really around to witness most of it.
There are a bunch of celebrities coming into town, including Kylie Minogue (an Australian singer I’d never heard of), the band Nickelback (who everyone hates for some reason), and Eminem (you’ve probably heard of him). All of the above are performing right outside our park (like, literally in our front yard); however, even park employees are not able to see the show without tickets. And the concert starts after the park closes, so there’s no opportunity to sneak a look. No biggie though, since I’m not too big on concerts, unless it’s an artist I really love.
We were also surprised by a guest appearance by Sean Kingston to our park yesterday. I guess he decided to come by for Speed Week as well; though, he won’t be performing. At least, he is not advertised to. Maybe he’ll make a guest appearance in Eminem’s show as well.
In any case, he came by to see one of our performances (so I am told). I tried to spot him in the audience, but I had no way to identify him in the crowd. He was definitely there though, based on what everyone has been saying. I have no proof, but at least I can brag now about performing for a celebrity.
Speed Week has taken its toll on all of us it seems. The performers are beat from playing so many shows with no days off, the crew has also been dealing with various technical issues with little down time, and our producers have been fighting with the Ferrari World reps to get all necessities to keep the show running smoothly. It’s been tough all around, and it is starting to show on all of us. Just two more days.
As for me, I’m surviving alright. My body has been in a state of constant soreness, and my jet lag is starting to hit hard. But I’m still happy to be back in the show. And with some of the spare moments I’ve had I managed to work on some of my other skills. Cyr wheel, German wheel, tumble track, and juggling are all coming along. It seems the only circus skill I have yet to master (or at least get somewhat proficient in) is unicylcing, which still seems like an impossible feat. Just need to put the time in and I’m sure I’ll get it. Lucky one of the new guys brought one that I can mess around with.
Looking forward to the day off. Although, I don’t even know what I’m going to do with myself. Probably take it easy and give myself time to recover. Until then, another day, another dirham.
Officially recast into the show. It will be a little awkward since I’m doing a slightly different part than I did last time, but the choreography is pretty much the same. It will be nice to finally be able to do something rather than just sit and watch. We only just had time to run a rehearsal today, since the park has been so busy with Seed Week.
In terms of injuries, I am doing fine for now; though, I am minding my ankle. It has recovered since I twisted it, but I want to be careful not to put too much strain on it too soon. It has gotten pretty sore since I started tumbling on it again, but my whole body has. I think it is mainly from being inactive and not because of the sprain. I am still going to be careful of it since my goal, after all, is to not injure myself again.
That’s pretty much it for me. The only other update I have is about Hurricane Sandy in the States. Naturally, I am not effected by it over here, but I have been reading about it online and from friends in Facebook. Based on what I have heard, it seems that everyone I know in the area is doing fine, just dealing with power outages and such. But it was scary for a while hearing the news and not knowing where everyone was or how severe the damage was.
Glad to hear everyone is okay. Although I doubt it will be a very exciting Halloween on the East coast. It doesn’t seem like there will be much going on in the way of Halloween here either, which is sad since it’s my favorite holiday. Well, at least I still get to dress in a costume…
Now I am officially back in Abu Dhabi. And hey, I’m living in an actual apartment now! The hotel was nice, but there’s a special kind of feeling that goes with having your own space. One that isn’t invaded by cleaning people once a day. Although, the luxury was nice to have.
I am also going to miss having a breakfast buffet every morning right downstairs. Although, being able to make my own food will be nice. All in all, I am really loving the new space. That is, except for one, minor, drastically important factor: there is no wireless connection in the apartment, so I have no internet access!
It’s not that big a deal. After all, I have a (mostly) reliable connection in the park. When I first traveled over here, I wasn’t even expecting to have such easy access to the internet. But that’s just it. I wasn’t expecting it, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out it was readily available to me pretty much all the time between the hotel and the park.
To the point that I came here this time assuming it would be the same. Nope. And now all I want to do when I’m at home is to log on. “First World Problems,” as the new meme goes. Really liking that one. It’s a nice acknowledgment that the crap most people complain about in the developed world (namely America) is a kind of spit in the face of all the actual troubles people in developing nations have. “Am I going to be able to eat today?” versus, “I can’t log onto my Netflix account!” Oh, boo hoo.
But in all seriousness, it sucks to be me. What a terrible inconvenience! Hopefully we will be able to get a router installed soon because I want to be able to feel comfortable in my own home, dang it!
Since I couldn’t access the web last night, I occupied my time with my socks on, sliding across the extra slippery, empty floor space (a la “Risky Business”). I can say with confidence that my moonwalk is also really coming along.
As for the show, a number of things have changed since I last performed in it. Partly because we are down two performers due to injury, but partly also because certain revisions have been made to the storyline. The overall premise is the same though, and it will ultimately mean I have less to do performance-wise. So it looks like I really won’t have to strain myself too much (knock on wood).
We will see how it goes once we have time to rehearse everything and fit the new people into it. All the while we have now entered “Speed Week,” which means the big races will be going on at the racetrack right next door to us. Which also makes for more business for us. And more people in the park means more show times. Which means less free time. Free time that could be spent revising the show to include more people. All in due time, I’m sure.
It’s nice to be back though. Everything is still so familiar that it feels like I never left. Quickly getting reacquainted with everything. Looking forward to getting back into the show line-up.
Ah, the joys of traveling! Now on to hour two of my four hour layover here in Frankfurt, Germany. I was spoiled my last trips to and from Abu Dhabi. My flight out the layover was only an hour or so and the trip back was a direct flight. Although, it’s nice to have the break in between so you’re not stuck on a plane for 14 hours straight. Doing my best not to fall asleep and screw up my internal clock…
But I’m not one to complain. If you’ve been following the blog at all (or know me personally), you know by now that traveling (and all it’s little adventures) is never a drag for me. I love every bit of it. Even before I thought it possible for me to become a circus acrobat, I was enthralled by the idea of traveling around the world as a career. My dad used to (and continues to) take business trips which take him all over the world and I have always been so jealous.
And now here I am doing it myself (albeit flying economy class versus business, but I take what I can get). The only real hesitation I had about returning to Abu Dhabi was who I would be leaving behind in the States. When I first got the idea to pursue the circus life, I heard stories about the inherent difficulties of such a career. Namely, having a love life, raising a family, and settling down are about as difficult a feat for a circus artist as holding a handstand or performing a somersault is for the average layperson. Though, since having a love life was already a seemingly impossible feat for me, I never took much notice of these cautionary tales. “I’m sure I’ll manage when the time comes,” I always thought.
Well, the time has come. Of course, leave it to me to finally find myself in a happy, compatible relationship just as I am signed up to be flown out of the country… twice! And, of course, since my partner is so awesome and understanding, she totally supports my career choices, but even a 40-year-old virgin can imagine how much long-distance relationships suck. They say “Better to have loved then lost…” but they also say “Ignorance is bliss.” I wouldn’t be so torn about leaving the country if I didn’t have someone to miss as much as I do.
To be sure, I am happy to have her in my life, and I wouldn’t be nearly as happy with my life without her, but love hurts. And not just when you break up either. The pain is just part of the game. But, just as I would say after running a suicide mission in one of my MMORPG games, “Worth it!”
Besides, I’m not even away a full month this time. A mere 20 days. Once again, someone (or some people, rather) in the show has gotten injured and needs replacing. Not a good sign. My ankle has only just gotten better from when I sprained it on my last visit. My ultimate goal this trip: avoid injury at all costs. As much as I’d love to keep working on my double, I’m going to hold off on the big tricks until I’m back in the States, when I have proper training equipment. As opposed to show props.
Naturally, no one plans to get injured, but I like to believe my willpower is greater than the average man’s. I am a superhero, after all. (I like to believe I’m a superhero also…)
Looks like there’s still another hour to kill before boarding the final, 6 hour leg of my trip. Wonderful. Oh, and it looks like it’s snowing outside. I can spend my last hour watching it, since I will soon forget the stuff exists once I am back in the desert.
Well here I am, ladies and gentlemen, back on my way out to the Middle East to perform at Ferrari World. I figured, when I told people I was returning to Abu Dhabi, it would be pretty obvious for what reason, but a number of people asked me if I would be performing for the same company as before. How often do I travel out to Abu Dhabi to perform?
I guess I can’t blame people for asking. I was caught off guard by a lot of the questions I got when I returned initially. A lot of people asked me, for example, “What was the food like?” Which I guess is a perfectly legit question, but it’s something I would have never thought to ask someone. It’s something I never really think about. Food, that is. I generally just eat whatever is presented to me, so traveling to another country wasn’t really a shock food-wise. It’s also a touristy theme park, so the food is about the same as you would find at any other theme park.
This actually got me thinking about how little consideration I put into what I eat. A lot of people think athletes have to be super careful with their diet. I can be choosey, but I’m generally laid back when it comes to my food choices. Processed, organic, vegan, salty, greasy, nutritious, whatever. It’ll balance itself out eventually.
I feel a little bad thinking about it this way though, because I have always been like this. Now I have the excuse that I’m an acrobat and work out all day, so I’m allowed to eat a lot. But even before I decided to become a professional acrobat, I ate about the same things. And no one gave me a hard time about it because I was thin.
If I were not thin, people would have looked at what I ate, or heard my philosophy on food and said, “Fatty.” And I too used to believe that if you ate fatty foods, you became fat. Now I know there’s more to it than that. A lot more.
I think gaining and losing weight is a lot like learning a new language: it’s tough, but anyone can do it; although, some people are just much better at it than others. For those who are able to drop so many pounds by adopting a new diet and exercise regimen, they make for great spokespeople for health fads. But others can spend years in a gym and just barely slim themselves past a certain point. And then they gain it back like that (I just snapped my fingers, FYI).
People think of what I do and imagine all my colleagues look just as “fit” as me. Well, no. After becoming a pro acrobat, I started to notice something. We’re not all the same body type. I have met elite level gymnasts and acrobats who can do some pretty amazing things, but once they put on their street clothes and rejoin the regular world, they are seen as “heavy set.”
I think everyone has a certain body shape. When they are “out of shape” their bodies change in certain ways, just as their bodies change when they are “in shape” or “fit.” For me, I was always pretty thin. But when I started to work out regularly, my muscles just became more defined. I didn’t really lose much weight (maybe 10 pounds or so). My waist size dropped considerably, but even I didn’t notice until I tried on some of my old pants.
Anywho, this big long tangent is just to say that you shouldn’t judge people too quickly based on their weight. There are plenty of “fat” people (or people who are considered “fat” anyway) who are extremely choosey when it comes to food and health (I know many personally), just as there are plenty of “skinny” people who don’t think twice about what they eat. Like me. The important thing is to embrace your own personal body type because, even though the powers that be would like you to think skinny is the only way to be pretty, most people aren’t that shallow. At least, none of the people that matter are.
…and you thought this blog was about the circus.