September 15th, 2015


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.