Monday, May 10, 2010
Human beings are really amazing. We have the capability to adapt to just about anything. We live in crazy climates, we support any number of stresses on our bodies physically and mentally, we have children, we hold multiple jobs, we deal with the car when it breaks down, we grieve death among family and friends, we strive, we achieve, and just when we think we couldn't possibly handle any more - we do. We adapt. We make it work. And that is truly why we are at the top of the food chain.
Personally, I am coming off the back of one of those weekends - one of those weekends where I couldn't possibly have squeezed in one more little thing - and yet, looking back on it, I am amazed at what I managed to accomplish.
I am a professional stage manager for live theatre in Chicago. I am also the general manager for a theatre building that rents facilities to theatre companies without performance spaces. We have 4 spaces in total - 2 mainstages and 2 studio theatres that switch up every 6 weeks or so with a new show. We rent for rehearsals, meetings and any number of other events all year long and at any and all hours of the day. Needless to say, I have a very full work life that I wouldn't give up for anything, but when I am working on a show myself (as I am currently) it leaves me basically NO personal time. My show schedule on the weekends requires me to be in the theatre immediately following work on Friday night for an evening show, for both a matinee and evening performance on Saturdays, and a Sunday matinee. Besides commuting home and back for brief periods of sleep and to feed the cats, I usually don't see the light of day for an entire three days in a row. Monday morning comes bright and early and I start the whole week over. It's exhausting.
So imagine my "joy" when my director came to me this past week and requested that I be present for the technical rehearsals of a high school show that is partnering with my company on our current production. It's a fun concept - the high school (an arts academy) is presenting the same show as the professional company, and as a bonus to the young generation, they get to bring their show to our set to perform on the professional stage for 3 dates. I would have killed for an opportunity like that in high school. However, since doing this required that they work around the pro schedule, it meant teching their show at 9am on Saturday morning before my already double show day, and at 7pm on Sunday following our afternoon performance. Add to that my brothers' (they're twins) birthday on Saturday and Mother's Day on Sunday, plus my monthly meeting with my nutritionist that was also scheduled for Saturday morning at 9am and I thought my head was going to explode.
I was not looking forward to the weekend. On Thursday I started mourning my upcoming lack of sleep. I rescheduled my nutritionist to Sunday at 9am, called my boyfriend and joked that I would "see him next year", and as I pulled a dirty pair of jeans from Mount Washmore to wear yet again, accepted the fact that laundry just wasn't going to get done this weekend.
We had a good show Friday night, but I declined the offer to go out with the cast afterward which upset me. I was resenting everything that had to do with this dumb schedule. I sent my brothers a "Happy Birthday" email with gift certificates attached and wished them a better day than I knew I was going to have.
Saturday went as expected - 9am-1pm with the highschoolers, then immediately into pre-show checklist for our 2:30pm curtain, wolfing down a Subway sandwich backstage in 5 minutes while the audience was coming in to the house, show until 5:30pm, followed by show breakdown and set-up again for the 8pm show. While the rest of the cast went to our director's house for dinner between shows, I stayed at the theatre to make sure everything was ready for the kids. The actors were nice and brought me back a couple slices of pizza - not exactly diet friendly, but at this point, it was welcome. Good Saturday night show, but by the time the curtain came down at 11pm, I was socked. I limped around to do my post-show checklist and fought back the tears of exhaustion as I waited for the bus to take me home - resentful again that I didn't/don't have a car. After finishing show reports and logging my food intake for the day, I fell into bed at 12:30am. Did I really have to do all of this again tomorrow? Ugh.
But Sunday morning arrived, and I was awake. My place was a MESS, so I ran around to tidy up before my nutritionist arrived (it's really awesome that she does home visits!). I finished a general sweep of my apartment and decided that while I was at it, I may as well unload the dishwasher since it had been full of clean dishes since Wednesday and the counters were starting to pile up with dirty dishes again. Managed to get that done before the knock on the door.
It was a really great meeting. I got lots of encouragement from a doctor's perspective about my Spark nutrition program, and then we started to talk about my schedule - Wasn't it amazing how much I was accomplishing? How much energy I now have? How I am more apt to take on things now when my plate is already seemingly full? How I was managing to fit exercise into a jam-packed weekly schedule and making it work for me? And it got me to thinking - I really do perform at my best under stress. When I get ramped up - there isn't anything I can't do. Doors open, opportunities seem to fall in my path, and I am primed to go get 'em.
On Thursday, I had planned that I would go back to bed when she left and get another hour and a half of shut-eye before I had to go to my show call. But once I became aware of the level at which I was and have been performing, something in me clicked. I wasn't tired anymore. I loaded the dishwasher, finished cleaning up the rest of the dishes, made myself a great breakfast, called my mom, and got my laundry sorted all before leaving my house. We had a great show Sunday, after which I joined some of the members of our orchestra for a nice dinner, and then returned to the theatre for the kids' show with fresh eyes. I had a great time watching them play in our space, and was so proud of them for how far they had come even since Saturday morning. When my boyfriend arrived to pick me up at 10pm, I was tired, but still happy that I really had managed to get it all done! When I got home, I threw on a load of laundry - just because I could.
I have learned that tiredness begets more tiredness, and that the more we sit on the couch, the more likely we are to want to continue to sit on the couch. But it works in the opposite direction too. The more we get out there and "just do it", the more active we become all round AND the more we are able to accomplish. That's a good incentive in my book! It takes a big push to get started, but once the snowball gains momentum, well - we all know what happens then, right? Snow cones for all! :) Bottom line - It gets easier.
Am I still exhausted today? Yep. But look at everything I have to show for it. I adapted, I made room for life to happen, and because of that - I continue to grow and expand (but in places other than my waistline!)