Live and Direct: Bunker 3 Gets a Kitten

January is usually a slow time at the SPCA, but it took me three visits and near-constant reloading of the SFSPCA website to find an all-black male kitten that J and I could adopt. Not a lot of kittens are born in the middle of winter, even the mild California kind. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, because everyone adopts pets over Christmas and in January there is almost no turnover at all, but the SFSPCA has seen an unusual spike in adoptions this January, especially around the Presidential inauguration. On one Saturday alone, the nice lady at the desk tells, they adopted out 18 dogs. When the world hurtles towards fascism, everybody wants to go home and cuddle a pet.

The new kitten's name is Edison Carter (broadcasting live and direct), because I cannot resist a Max Headroom reference and also because now my cats are named Edison and Tesla. Edison is two months old, which means that he fits in the palm of my hand. Let it be known that I did not choose this cat. I just stood in the his little kitten condo and he introduced himself to me running up my arm, perching on my shoulder, and licking my neck.

Eddy's foster notes say, "He loves everybody!" So far, this appears to be true. Within 24 hours, my tiny new kitten and my 8 month-old behemoth (seriously, he is 13 lbs) were rolling around on the floor together and trying to eat each other's faces off. By the third day, I woke up to discover that I was spooning the big cat, who was spooning the little cat. We have achieved domestic bliss.

So while Twitter is a hellmouth, spewing forth fresh horrors from the Trump administration, and I spend all of my time trying to work out what people should do with their devices at borders and at protests, at least I can come home and kittens (large and small) will run up to me and lick my face. I'm not about to tell you that everything is going to be okay, but at least I can tell you that oxytocin is the drug that's going to get me through the next four years.

Rise to Power

Dear readers, I got a promotion.

One of the curious things about getting out of the habit of writing about my life in a public place is that I've found it is easier to write about bad things that happen than it is to write about good things. This is why I can tell you that my cat has died, but I don't know what to say about my job. I've been at the Mysterious Workplace for nine years now and they've promoted me regularly--this is my sixth title and my third department--but I am especially pleased because this is a big promotion that moves me up into management.

I don't think I can share too much about how I wound up with my ridiculously overpowered title, aside from that it involved some bizarre political ju jitsu and now I sound as if I am much more important than I really am. Having said that, no sooner was I granted my overpowered title then people started proposing to move more and more projects under me. I am flattered but also cautious, because I am very attached to my job and I would prefer not to screw it up.

It has occurred to me that perhaps I have not written about my promotion because anything I have to say is vague and boring. Hurray! I have done well at work! I am happy but also experiencing imposter syndrome! I fairly certain that the most incompetent people I have ever met have never experienced a second of imposter syndrome and sometimes I envy the tremendous confidence and sound sleep that must come with an advanced Dunning-Kruger complex!

It turns out that I'm not very good at bragging about myself, even in a place where very few people will see it. Here, I will give it a try:

I am going to be profiled in a documentary. They have interviewed me and taken some footage of me walking around picturesque places in ess eff and they spent most of a day shooting me while I mucked around on tissu. I have made them promise to only use footage of me in which my legs are straight and my toes are pointed. Much like my promotion, I am proud of this, but also a little bit trepidatious. I spent most of the day after our aerial shoot having a weird sort of aerialist esprit d'escalier, thinking of much cooler-looking moves I could have done.

I am going to be in a documentary that Netflix is paying for. I am much more comfortable with this one because I'm just going to be talking about my work. I will still probably spend a lot of time worrying about my hair and whether or not I'm wearing the right shade of lipstick. The last time I did one of these, I got stopped on a the street a couple of times by people who had seen it, which made me feel famous.

I am going to be in Teen Vogue. As we are all aware, Teen Vogue is hella woke, so now they're covering privacy and security issues. I don't know how this is going to work out just yet, and it is likely I will simply be giving background or a quote or two, but having my name in Teen Vogue would be a fine achievement for 2017.

Why yes, I have noticed that how anxious I am about publicity is proportional to how close the event is to printing/debuting/airing and that afterwards, having reached Peak Anxiety, I look back on the thing and generally feel good about it. I could make a chart, but I suspect that this is not a situation in which a chart would be helpful. Now, having listed my achievements and worried about them, I will go hide in a blanket fort and watch Mary Beard documentaries about the Roman Empire.

2017 Killed My Cat

If you go back, way back to my very first livejournal entires, you can see wee little never, in her early twenties, living in the Concrete Bunker on Folsom Street, posting about her tiny black kittens, Ada and Perl. What you don't see in those entries is that I am in the grip of a black depression, and J has bought me these kittens because he thinks it will cheer me up. Everyone who knows me knows that I am desperately unhappy, especially J. I think that no one notices. I have been depressed for so long that even I don't notice most of the time. J says it's like living with a ghost.

Kittens do not cure my depression--my depression is vanquished by Prozac and school--ut Ada and Perl are delightful. J and I raise them together. We post photos of our cats to the internet, when posting photos of your cats to the internet was still a relatively new thing. We give them Friendster accounts. Ada is my cat, unequivocably. She is shy and sulky with strangers, while Perl is vocal and outgoing. Perl is J's cat, through and through. Perl claws J's face in the morning, demanding to be fed. Perl sits on J's lap when he plays video games.

When Ada got hepatic lipidosis, J and I learned about the Very Expensive Emergency Vet. We learned to force-feed a cat and give her subcutaneous fluids. When Ada got sick again, years later, and we could not get her pancreatitis under control, we learned to bathe a cat, to give a cat pills (Ada hated to be pilled), and how to quarantine a cat while she's recovering from surgery. Ada died suddenly. After surgery, she just never recovered. J came home and found her limp on the floor and brought her to the vet, and by the time he'd called me to tell me to come over, she'd had a heart attack and died.

Ada was my first pet. I'd never had any animal for its entire life. I could not bring myself to pick up her ashes for six months. I did not get another cat for two years.

Perl died slowly, at the age of fifteen. In her last weeks, we knew that there was nothing that could be done to save her and we could only work to make her comfortable. In her final days, we simply could not get her to eat. J pureed cat food with water and force-fed her using a syringe. We gave her subcutaneous fluids and B12 shots. We fed her so many pills. I went to the pet store and bought as many different kinds of cat food as I could find, hoping that one of them would interest her. But my hollow-eyed cat would not even drink water. And finally she was too weak to get up to use the litter box, and then she was too weak to get up at all.

We picked her up and let her sleep on the bed next to J, which was her favorite spot, with a towel under her.  And in the morning, we woke up to a couple of yelps, then she shuddered, and wet herself, and died. I will not tell you how many times we checked her breathing and her pulse before we took poor Perl's body to the vet. You think you are a hard-nosed engineer, but suddenly you're some sort of idiot optimist and nothing has ever just shuddered and died in front of you and you just want your cat to still be alive.

Neil Gaiman references aside, I do not believe in a Death of Cats, or a Death of Anything Else, for that matter. I do not think there is a cat afterlife where Ada and Perl will claw furniture together and sleep on a blue velvet chaise lounge. It is terrible thing when an animal that has loved you and depended on you for its entire lifetime suffers. This is all we have, this very brief time together. So if you still read these things, if you have made it this far, find someone that you love and hug them close, even if it is a cat. Especially if it is a cat. 

Everybody Knows...

Today I read that our bodies now have an extra organ. Obviously, no new organs have snuck into our bodies in the middle of the night. Sometimes what was always there is just classified as an organ now. It's funny to think that you know the human body and then oops, science intervenes, and suddenly you don't. You have a mesentery somewhere in your digestive system and researchers aren't even sure what it does.

2016 felt a little like discovering there a new and mysterious organ in my body and that organ has cancer. I am not young, my few remaining readers. I have a career (I got a very fancy promotion in 2016) in which I am a respected expert rather than an international bright young thing. I have a house (or, as one much-younger visitor pointed out during my holiday Christmas party "she has a house that matches her apron"). I am reasonably competent at my demanding hobby. I speak authoritatively on a number of subject unrelated to my work. I travel the world. Indeed, I travel the world so much that I am recognized by the security guy at the International terminal at SFO. I have a happy life with J and our cats.

While 2016 was busy trying to kill as much of my childhood as possible (David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher, Prince) that's what I did. I ran down a giant sand dune in Namibia when J and I trekked across the country for two weeks. We saw a significant percentage of the world's wild roaming Black Rhinos (one) and endless number of desert-adapted elephants and a lioness stalked us. I touched a cheetah's paw--the cheetah was passed out. I flew to Chicago to go to dinner. J and I went to London to see Lush play. I was in Thailand when the King died. I released malware research and took on a post-Soviet government. I got drunk with a guy who used to tour with Bowie in a Doha hotel bar. I sat for my painter in Berlin and she made me into watercolors.

But Brexit and the US election gutted me. You think you know the world as well as you know your body. You think you know what all of your organs are. But suddenly you have a mesentery and it's come down with Stage IV Fascism. I am lucky because it is my job to fight and I will not have to spend any time worrying that I am not doing enough. And I'm unlucky because for ten hours a day, five days a week, I cannot escape what is happening.

So while everyone is resolving to eat better or lose weight, drink less or relax more, I am resolved that in 2017 I will fight like hell. This year is going to kill my cat and break my heart and destroy democracy as we know it. 2017 can come at me. I've got a broken bottle in my hand and I am ready.

Small Blessings: Or, 2016 Has Not Killed My Cat

I may be tempting fate, posting this with a day left to go, but 2016 has not yet killed my cat. Perl is fifteen years old. She is a frail and skinny thing. The last time I weighed her, she was 6.6 lbs. She has cataracts in both eyes and she moves slowly because she has arthritis. When she started losing weight very quickly this year, the vet diagnosed her with hyperthyroidism, which meant pilling the cat every day. In October, she stopped eating and started vomiting, which having developed a strong sensitivity to old cat problems after Ada, led to another trip to the vet.

Perl hates the vet. She gets carsick. She makes a sound like a baby being stabbed the entire time she is in the car. It is the most piteous wail. J and I have spent a lot of time at the vet in 2016.

It turned out that Perl was exhibiting the symptoms of either irritable bowel disease or a very low grade cancer, both of which are treated with steroids. After a couple of days in the Very Expensive Pet Loft, getting stabilized, we brought Perl home and added steroids to regimen. At this point, Perl required four pills a day. J and I got very good at pilling the cat.

Perl perked up, but she didn't quite recover. After a few weeks, she stopped eating. She just curled up on the same spot on the bed day after day and turned her nose up at the many kinds of food I brought her. Eventually, she could not get up to pee and I had to change all of the bedsheets. When she could no longer use her hind legs, we took her to the emergency vet, who kept her overnight again. It turns out that the steroids were making Perl diabetic. My tiny cat's blood sugar was so low that if we had waited until the next day to bring her in, she would have died.

Around this time we started having to inject our cat with vitamin B12 once a week.

On Christmas, J and I took Perl to the vet for her a recheck. We noticed that her recovery was a little shaky, but we thought it was just a matter of finding the right balance in her medications. Instead, the vet did a set of initial tests and then called us into the an examination room, looking grim. Perl was anemic--and not just a little bit anemic, but so crazily anemic that if she did not resume producing red blood cells, she would need a transfusion.

This is fine. This is fine. How much does a transfusion cost? $600? This is fine. We have already established that we are the sort of people who will set a mountain of money on fire to keep our cat alive. But it won't solve the problem? It's a temporary measure? It buys us time? By which you mean a couple of weeks. Oh.



But in the meantime, here is the saline for the subcutaneous fluids you're going to give her and needles for the very small amount of insulin she needs, because she is borderline diabetic. Stop her thyroid medication. Give her more steroids. Your cat is a bag of bones, held together with pills and needles and your checkbook.

My few remaining readers, there may have been some crying at this juncture. J and I went home and I put away towels and wailed. Cat lives are short and human lives are long, but J and I have had Perl for longer than I've been writing here. And this feeling is not new--Ada died slowly and expensively and all of her organs failed at once--but it is different when you know the time is coming and all that you can do is make her comfortable before she runs out of life.

This evening I got a call from the vet, who informed me of the results of the more detailed tests they ran on Perl's blood. It turns out that she is not quite as anemic as the quick test had indicated and she appears to still be making more red blood cells. J and I have given her subcutaneous fluids and fed her her steroids, but we haven't quite figured out how to give her a half dose of insulin because the syringes we have aren't small enough. Perl will die, but this is one sliver of misery I will not lay at 2016's feet.

Some things we save for next year.

All is Full of Circus

It's the end of 2016 and my life is very simple:

I get on planes.

I fight fascism.

I go to the Very Serious Circus School.

I'm going to talk about the third thing.

When I took my sabbatical last year, I swore I would return to aerials. I understand if people don't pay a lot of attention when I swear that I'm going to do things. I don't always follow though. But I went to the Very Serious Circus School every day for three months like it was my job, so that by the time I had to go back to work, I had proper callouses on my palms and shoulders that didn't fit into most of my shirts anymore.

I was afraid that the circus would not survive contact with 50+ hours a week at the Mysterious Workplace. I feared that once I started traveling again, I would get out of the habit of constant exercise. I have traveled more in 2016 than I have in any previous year--go back and see all those times I have sworn that this is the year I will spend less time on planes and laugh at me. Go ahead. I won't blame you one bit.

I did not give up on the Very Serious Circus School. When I am not out of town, I take five classes a week: conditioning, stretching, rope, hoop, and intro to contortion. Genetics being what they are, I will probably never look like someone who spends all of their time in a gym, but I can do a lot of pull-ups, climb the rope hand-over-hand without my feet, and lift my toes to the trapeze bar an infinite number of times. The other day, I casually dashed off fifty tricep push-ups. Beginning-of-2015-Never was exhausted just thinking about fifty tricep push-ups. I suspect that the way one brags about these things now is by taking selfies of oneself flexing in the mirror and posting them to Instagram. In some ways, I am still a brain in a jar and the idea of taking a photo of video of myself exercising fills me with horror.

I started stretching classes thinking that I was flexible, and spent months discovering that it's just my hamstrings. I could bend over and lay my hands flat on the floor, but it turned out that my hip flexors were so tight they might as well have been frozen. I did my splits and bridges and everything else that required flexibility at the front of my hip by arching the hell out of my lower back. This made my lumbar spine hurt. A lot. It hurt too much to sleep. It hurt too much to go to class. I popped a lot of ibuprofen and did physical therapy exercises that stretched my hip by engaging my glutes. Contortion turns out to require a lot flexibility (surprise!), but also a lot of stability and strength from muscles I did not use much while up in the air. And that's how I ended up spending an inordinate amount of 2016 thinking about squeezing my butt.

My back hurts much less now that I have achieved victory over my hip flexors. My splits are nice and square and I can make full use of my back flexibility to touch my toe to my head in a variety of alarming ways. All of this means that my form is much improved and I make prettier shapes when I'm up in the air, which pleases me greatly. I'd built up years of bad habits by only doing the things that were relatively easy. On my return to the Very Serious Circus School, I have devoted myself to the things that are hard: straight legs and pointed toes, moves that require timing or momentum, all the things that I could technically do before, but that never looked quite right. I still have plenty of goals left for 2017 (flat center splits, forearm stand with my toes to my head, a solid one-arm hang on the rope, heel hang on the hoop) but there is almost no one outside of the Circus School to whom I can brag about the things I've done already. At parties, you can find me in the corner with the jocks and the yoga people, because who else is going to have a thirty minute discussion about getting adhesions out of your rhomboids?

And in this terrible, terrible year, it matters so much that I have a time when I have to leave the office and go to a place where no one wants to talk about digital civil liberties. It is good to have a place where I absolutely cannot be a brain in a jar and I have to pay close attention to the meat suit because it is twenty feet up in the air, upside down, and spinning.

I come home tired and sore and happy. I have weird bruises and I'm covered in chalk. I fall asleep watching YouTube videos of aerialists in Brazil. Then I wake up in the morning and I fight fascism.

Falling in Love With People You Never Met

In some ways, this is an addendum to my previous post. I hadn't quite finished thinking.

M once said that Facebook is where you learn to hate the people who are supposed to be your friends, but Twitter is the place where you can fall in love with people you've never met. I think that's what used to be so charming about Livejournal, back in the day. I fell in love with people I'd never met all the time. It still happens on social media--every once in a while someone's online presence is so charming that I cannot look away.

I've met A in person. We were at the same conference together in Spain last Spring. She's blonde and Dutch and she makes art about state surveillance. I have been eyeing the work of her feminist art collective for some time. We were plotting to swan about Berlin in ballgowns, because 2016 should include more ballgown-wearing and one of her friends (I assume it is a friend, possibly just a Twitter follower...I guess this all about how these distinctions are blurry, isn't it?) chimed in with a story about how one of her friends at MIT went to every final wearing a ballgown. I have great love for anyone whose ballgown game rolls that deep. Before I knew it, I'd spent most of the afternoon talking to an aerialist engineering professor in Minnesota with funny-colored hair and strong opinions about glamourous eveningwear.

Thank you, Internet. You have BenrieBros and trolls and men who send me unsolicited photos of their dicks, but you also have so many wonderful strangers. I could kiss you with tongue.

Your Catfish Friend

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It’s beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,"
I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”

--Richard Brautigan

Never start with poetry. Who even reads poetry anymore?

I have been thinking about friendship, partly because I read this fantastic piece in The Awl about the friendship between two female surrealist painters. It is a post that contains everything I hold dear: they have adventures, one of them "assembles cats," they have elaborate in-jokes, they insert each other (ancient, with a beard!) into stories. There is an escape via submarine. One of them goes through an extraordinary number of husbands. One day I would like for someone to write about my tiny and intense friendships like this.

Stop me if you are about to fall over from the shock of it, but I am not one of those people with a lot of friends. I have a wide range of acquaintances, the people that I am polite to at parties, and a tiny group of people that I white-knuckle clutch to my bosom because they are mine. And maybe I never stopped being a brain in a jar because my friendships are made of words--chat logs and what are you reading and did you see this and I wrote this thing the other day. Sometimes we make art and sometimes and I stand still and S paints me and sometimes we publish security research and sometimes we put each other in stories. Sometimes we make worlds so small that there is no room for anyone else in them. J and I have so much shared experience that we don't even need to talk anymore. We can sit companionably next to each other and grunt. But I also have strange and complicated friendships with long silences. There are friends I almost cannot see in person because our expectations are so high that we simply end up fighting. I have friends I don't even need to see because their simulacrum exists inside my head and I can't stop seeing things that would bring them joy, or hearing their voices in my head.

I've been thinking about friendship because I read this piece my painter wrote "in praise of prickly thistles" about loving difficult people. I am probably not the easiest friend to have. I'm not an alcoholic or an addict or a thief, but I have a little in common with the person that S used to be. I am not nice. I am no one's source of comforting praise. I am chilly and hard to read. I have a temper. I don't believe that I will ever stop thinking mean things, but I hope that one day I will catch them before they come out of my mouth. I don't think that we have to be perfect. I don't need my friends to be perfect--I love my strange and flawed imperfect people--but I do think that we should try, both of us, to be better than we are. 

I Forgot to Tell You About Several Things...

I suppose there is some advantage to having a space where I've been keep my writing for so long. I went back and looked at my entry for the first day of 2015 I saw that I started this year with a profound sense of ambivalence. I gained and lost so much in 2014. And maybe I had hoped that I was done losing things. Certainly, I couldn't have guessed that at the end of 2015, I'd still feel like I was finding all the little bits of myself, shakily gluing them back together, and hoping that they would hold.

I traveled for work: to Berlin (three times) and Brisbane and Stockholm and Austin, DC, Valencia, Trinidad, and Sao Paolo and Kansas City. I traveled with J for fun: to Hawaii and Iceland and Palm Springs and Chicago. There are certainly trips that I am missing--this is just off the top of my head--but I know that I traveled more than 110,000 miles this year. I saw kangaroos and koalas and once I sat on a beach and I could almost see Venezuela. Traveling for work takes some of the joy out of jet-setting, but I traveled smarter than I did in 2014 and it didn't wear my out quite so much. I learned not to stack my trips, one right after the other. I learned to say no to things. It is no longer remarkable for me if I'm in a documentary or I give a talk in front of a thousand people or I'm on the news. I've learned not to take a trip because I think it will raise my profile or all my work friends are going and I'm worried that they might have fun without me. There is always more work. There is always another party. I don't need to be more famous.

I really and truly had the last of my eye surgeries. My vision is as good as it will ever be.

I took my sabbatical and did not work for three months, sort of. I did a million little things around the house that I hadn't had the mental capacity to think about since we moved into Bunker 3. I framed things and repainted that wall in the living room which had somehow, unfortunately, ended up peach. I went on little vacations with J. I stayed home and cooked meals with J and we enjoyed one another's company in comfortable domestic bliss. We hosted parties and they did not cause me tremendous anxiety, except for that time that someone pulled the towel bar out of the bathroom wall, leaving a hole the size of my fist. 2015 was a good year to be married.

I spent my sabbatical at the Very Serious Circus School. I got my circus self back. I had hoped that I would perform again in 2015, but instead I took it slow and decided to focus on improving my form. I am nearly as strong as I've ever been and a little more flexible. My shoulders are enormous. A, fitting me for a new corset the other day, bemoaned her own aerialist shoulders, saying "I will never look delicate again." I'm all shoulders and biceps and alarmingly-defined forearms. In 2016, I will record my rehearsals and watch them. Even if I will never look delicate again, I will have straight legs and pointed toes.

I spoke at Odd Salon about something entirely unrelated to my work: the Affair of the Necklace, a talk which I wrote while sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Iceland during a music festival. I would like to give more Odd Salon talks in 2016.

Oh 2015, you were better than 2014, but I am tired of working so hard. Every year I have to run a little bit faster in order to stay in place. And I have so far to go. Just let me get there, 2016. Let everything stay okay for long enough for me to get ahead.

And on the Seventh Day, She Rested

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.