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And on the Seventh Day, She Rested
toon
lilmissnever
After seven years at the Mysterious Workplace, you are allowed to take a sabbatical, which is three months of paid time off. Not many people achieve this milestone and some of us are such workaholics that we put off our sabbaticals for years, or we don't manage to take them at all. One of the lawyers made no less than three separate attempts at taking his sabbatical, but was always brought back by an obsessive need to have input on our government spying lawsuits. He announced that he was quitting smoking almost as often as he announced he was going on sabbatical. I put my sabbatical off for a year, but I want you to understand that I could have done worse.

On my first week off of work, a hacker dumped half a terabyte of data he got by infiltrating one of the companies I'd been criticizing for selling surveillance malware to authoritarian regimes. The Torrent went up on a Sunday afternoon and within about an hour, I was looking through the company's financial statements and customer lists. J and I downloaded the entire archive and spent the night drinking wine, reconstructing their wiki, and dumping all of the data into a proper database. J built me a quick little search engine and I spent a few day posting the juicier tidbits before Wikileaks made the emails easily searchable online. I did a few interviews. I followed up on some malware. What can I say? Changes in velocity are hard.

It was three weeks before I started to really let go on work and slow down. I could feel the other parts of my brain coming back online, the parts that could kintsugi the broken creamer in the shape of a pig, that could frame art and sort through my clothes and arrange to have that one living room wall repainted so it's not peach.

The rest of the time I am at the Very Serious Circus School. You may remember the Very Serious Circus School from that time that I quit it in a rage because it had literally been run into the ground by clowns. I would come to class only to discover that the doors were locked and no one was allowed to come in and the teachers weren't getting paid. Since then, it has been taken over by some Google people who now make up the Board of Directors. Princes have gone up (and up and up) but the school has a real website where I can reserve my classes and I know it will be open when I get there and everyone is getting paid.

All of my conversations about my sabbatical go like this:

"So, what are you doing with three months off?"

"I've locked myself in the circus school."

"What else are you doing? Are you traveling anywhere?"

Through clenched teeth: "No, I am not going anywhere. I am training. If I take a week to go somewhere in the middle of my sabbatical, I will fall behind on training."

"But you have so much free time!"

"I don't think you understand what training means."

In a typical week, I take two stretching classes, two aerial classes, and two conditioning classes. Twice a week, I either run 5k and lift some weights or I do high intensity interval training. Once a week, I take a Core 40 class, which is an exercise regime invented by sadists who felt that pilates was not painful enough. One day I hope to be as badass as the girl in my advanced conditioning class who finishes 90 minutes of conditioning and follows it up with 90 minute lyra class. I am back at what I think of as "normal" strength for aerial circus arts (sets of 6-ish pull-ups, a solid skin-the-cat, easy straight-armed straddle-ups, and the ability to lift my toes to the bar an endless number of times). I am probably more flexible now than I have ever been as an adult (square oversplits on my left and right sides, toes nearly touching my head in cobra, a proper bridge with my chest against the wall, and more progress on my center split than I've ever been able to make). I took a class with a new teacher the other day and she exclaimed, "Oh good, you're bendy!"

My sabbatical worries include laundering my gym clothes, consuming enough protein, and not being that girl who cries during the five minutes of center splits. My thighs are bruised and my hands are ripped up and whenever I describe my training regimen (mean Chinese acrobatics teachers! Disapproving Tiny Russian Woman!) it probably sounds like misery, but I am happy at the Very Serious Circus School. There is nothing more awful than losing the ability to tell my body to do something and have it obey. And for days at a time, I don't think about state-sponsored malware.

This is how I rest.

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I'm glad you're enjoying your sabbatical, even if other people think you're crazy. You gotta do what makes you happy. :)


I wanted to spend my sabbatical doing something I absolutely could not do while I was working. Given that training takes up about 3/4th of a full-time job, I think this counts.

Good for you, lovely.

It's possible I may have the until-now-mythical "academic summer" next year. I'll still have clients but perhaps I can get up to something more than cleaning out my in-box and listing a few bits of clothing on eBay.

<3

Dance, maybe? I recall that you used to enjoy dancing a great deal. I am inclined towards physical things, but I am also a pretty good example of "my idea of fun is not most people's idea of fun," so I am sure that your mileage may vary. You have been working several jobs at once for a while. A little sustained rest will probably be good for you.

Did I mention that I did the couples therapy thing? It was brief and intense, but I am surprised at how effective it was.

Edited at 2015-09-16 04:09 am (UTC)

Dance has disappointed me a lot since moving here. It bums me out.

I did start doing "Barrelates" classes during the last couple of months of this summer, but have had a hard time scheduling them around work. It would be good to spend a summer just moving and getting stronger.

You did NOT mention! I'm glad it was helpful - you clearly found a good therapist - and I hope the effects continue to be salutary.


I recall that dance turned out to be weirdly political. That is disappointing indeed. I'm glad you've found a thing that you like and I have nothing but sympathy in the "trying to make it to class while managing a grueling work schedule" department. I don't know how I will manage even a fraction of this when I get back to work.

I knew that my therapist was a good match for me. I was pleasantly surprised that my therapist was a good match for my partner-in-couples-therapy. I am profoundly grateful for whatever works.

“...[T]he Very Serious Circus School... had literally been run into the ground by clowns.”

That one's a keeper.


People used to wander in and out of the Very Serious Circus School more or less at random. No one had any idea of who was in what class and whether or not they had paid. Things are very different under the rule of the tech millionaires. Now you sign up for classes on a website with an unreasonably complicated pricing structure and a lot of rules about prerequisites. It's a little like college.

I have just been invited to take Mongolian contortion by my stretching instructor. My first class is on Tuesday. I am a little afraid of how much this is going to hurt, but I am happy that my instructor thinks I'm ready. In fact, here is a story in the Winnipeg Free Press about a woman who trained as a contortionist as an adult.

I will probably never do a full contortion act, but I think it will be very helpful for doing bendy things while up in the air.

Edited at 2015-09-20 10:15 pm (UTC)

Congratulations.
I'm duly impressed.

FWIW i long for time off so i can spend it sweating, filthy and slicing up my hands on unfinished metal at the shop.
none of which will surprise you.



I feel like I'm still a couple of months off from being able to perform again, but at least it's an achievable goal right now.

I wish you vast swaths of time for metalwork. It sounds soothing.

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