Archives for posts with tag: work/life

Some small pink roses.

A carafe of water reflecting the light.

Pretty post its with a neat to-do list.

Avo toast and smoothie.

2015: the year of dissertation writing rituals.

IMG_7565
This past weekend David Brooks wrote an article about daily ritual and creativity in the NYT. He cites the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work , which Joey and I actually found in a local Greenpoint book shop a few months ago. At that time, I was desperate to create some more ritual in my life. Floating from project to project, and physical ailment to physical ailment, I craved the stability that might come with daily routines and rituals. I’ve written about ritual a bit on this blog, and have searched for ritual in my daily and varying routines. I found some rituals in certain practices like traveling. But when it comes to my creative practices (writing and choreographing) I don’t have any steadfast rituals. I think I’ve managed to create much more stability in my life since stumbling across the Daily Rituals book at the beginning of the summer, but my days still lack ritual. There is not one thing that I do every single day without fail. Except maybe brush my teeth and take my pills. I don’t walk the dog the same way each day, I don’t eat the exact same thing for breakfast each morning, I don’t even have a ritualistic drink like coffee.

Read the rest of this entry »

photo 2photo 3

Some things are perfect. Even on days like today when the feeling of fall enters the air and work seems impossible. Like the way that I can clear small debris and liquids directly from the cutting board into the sink. No cupped hands to catch the scratch and precariously transfer it several feet over into the sink or the garbage. No drips along the way. Just one fell swoop. Design, my friends. It’s a beautiful thing.

A therapeutic rest stop.

A therapeutic rest stop.

2013 has been quite a year for us. We got married, I started this blog, and then on March 7 I was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL). This rare type of leukemia is dangerous, but I am happy to report that it is quite curable when diagnosed and treated quickly and correctly. Just over nine months later I am deep in remission and doing well. The first six months of my treatment were intense. I was admitted to the hospital where I remained in isolation for the first month and a half of my treatment. Around the same time Joey completed and graduated from law school. The four and a half months after that were spent receiving daily chemotherapy infusions at my local cancer center. The weekend this ended Joey took, and we now know that he passed the California Bar. The day he finished the exam we received a call that his work plans have changed and he had to find his next position six months sooner than we had anticipated. As soon as this was settled we moved to Miami, FL for Joey’s work and I’ve spent time here resting and recovering. It was a whirlwind, but we made it through.

In some ways, I can’t believe how quickly my body has recovered since the beginning. I went from such a fragile and vulnerable state to being able to move across the country and live in a new city. I can go grocery shopping again, travel home for holidays, and see art exhibits. In this sense, things are back to normal. Still, I am not back to working full time, I have not danced in about a year, and I still spend a good amount of time in doctor’s offices. I continue to process what happened to me and I am still thankful for every single day that I have to live.

It’s funny that I started this blog just about the same week I felt the first symptoms of my cancer. And I’m surprised that I haven’t returned here to process some of life’s experiences while battling cancer. Several times I have wanted to post things, share things, and document things. I even drafted a couple of blog posts that I plan to finally post here soon. But it hasn’t felt right to return to this space until now. I had to let this year take its course. And now I’m ready to begin again. In just over one week we will leave Miami and travel through California for the holidays before we make a highly anticipated and permanent move to New York City. I hope to resume working full time, get back into dancing, and put 2013 behind us as we see what awaits for 2014. I think that this will happen slowly, but I look forward to experiencing the beginning in due time and in whatever way feels comfortable.

I hope that this blog will continue to serve its intended purpose: to help me articulate my experience of a work life balance. What’s interesting is that in the last year my relationship to this balance has changed immensely. My anxiety around performing the right balance went out the window when I was diagnosed with cancer and my hunch that the “life” aspect of this balance mattered most is now a life philosophy.

Image

I spent the past year planning a wedding.

It wasn’t a huge wedding. In fact, many people would consider my wedding small. We had 75 guests in a small estate in upstate NY. Nonetheless, wedding planning was something that consumed my life for a year. Surrounded by a career where I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be excited about my wedding I found myself geeking out on domestic details and spending hours – yes, hours and hours – perusing blogs about weddings, design, food, and the like. Wedding planning was like the forbidden fruit, or the world’s most terrifying procrastination tool for a graduate student artist who has to manage her own time. What was once a passion for wedding blogs – the colors, the textures, the designs, the photography, the social aspects, and also the narcissistic, unabashed, and socially/politically less engaged excitement over my own event – has now turned into a passion for life as a domesticated newlywed. I follow food blogs and blogs about kitchen gadgets. How did these domestic and materialist interests come about in someone who has considered herself a politically active and critical artist interested in things called “radical dance” and social practice? My avant-garde artistic tendencies clashed miserably with my newfound desire to “nest” and my all too normative comfort in making a home, buying pots and pans, and learning to cook new recipes. How could I justify or rectify the two increasingly distinct sides of myself: the professional side and the personal side?

Wedding planning led me to the blogosphere. I was particularly interested in Meg’s thoughts at apracticalwedding.com where she and other comrades explored many of the same feminist and social questions that I find myself asking on a daily basis. I have read several posts on or related to the topic of contradictory feminist tendencies and an interest in domesticity at A Practical Wedding. Most recently, I identified with Sharon’s post on Reclaiming Wife: Day Zero in which she discusses how while we don’t need to feel like we can have it all (a good marriage and a good career), when we want both of those things we don’t have to have them all at the same time. We can go through phases of feeling passionate about pursuing a career and then moments where feeling settled and satisfied with our home life is propelling our professional appetites. And I should confess that this wedding and newly married state is not the only moments that I’ve found comfort in cooking good foods and making a nice house. This is definitely something to which I am naturally predisposed, so when society told me that I better start thinking about cooking food in new pots and pans once the wedding was over… Well, twist my toes why don’t you.  

I am interested in this work/life dilemma, but my main interest is making the two simultaneously compatible. Because my career happens to be about the ways people exist in the world [how does technology affect everyday movement, how does movement facilitate social understanding, how does art making facilitate human relationships…] I think that I can make this topic central to my artistic quest. The thing that has gotten me a little bit off track has been my intellectual pursuit of my artistic interests. In this realm I must be ever vigilant to cross all T’s and dot all I’s in terms of research and writing. There isn’t always space to explore, pontificate, and dream. From here out I am giving myself the space to do just that. I hope that in this new space I will find the way to work/life balance and I hope that I can translate this into my movement practice and vice versa.  

So, why start this post off with the confessions of a 26-year-old bride? Well, my wedding ended up being a place for me to combine artistic interest with personal romance and domestic desires. I could think about the staging of an event, the pace of it, how people would move through spaces, what the costume and staging would look like. But this event, this performance, it was the most honest and true production I’ve ever staged or performed. It was in this event that I realized how unrealistic my artworks can be. So, exactly four weeks after my wedding, it is with my experience as a bride that I re-enter a creative space in pursuit of something that is real.

 I do run the risk of this reality being contrived, materialist, and privileged. I hope that I can maintain criticality while allowing myself to be honest. I guess this is the real divide that interests me. Forget work/life because I truly believe that these are compatible. Ultimately, I think I am interested in the relationship between criticality and privilege. I hope that this pursuit is less problematic than honest. I see people in my field every day who pretend to be critical and politically active when at home I can see that they relax in the comforts of a normative and/or privileged house. Rather than ignore this tension, I want to explore it and exploit it for the sake of figuring out what is wrong here and also what is right. 

**Photo credit goes to the fabulous Megan Dailor