(Yes, this post takes inspiration from an Abba song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BshxCIjNEjY)
It’s hard to put into words how insanely awesome and crazy the past couple of weeks have been. That confluence of rehearsals plus performances with the busiest of workweeks sure makes life interesting. Throw in conference calls and holiday parties — sheer insanity. I’m physically and mentally exhausted and might be getting sick, but it’s been a lot of fun with ups and downs.
The Nutcracker this year was more special because I felt much less of an outsider. Maybe it’s that the kids were much friendlier and the adults also a more cohesive group, or maybe it’s that doing an actual variation (Russian) — even if poorly — made me feel slightly more legitimate this time around. I know for sure that it’s not the closing of the technique gap: everyone else still dances circles around me (pun intended). In any case, the crazy tech week rehearsal schedule was tolerable even though they punctuated the 10 to 11 hour workdays during the earlier part of the week.
The performance weekend was simply magical. I don’t know how we get through five performances over three days, but that mix of adrenaline and mutual support somehow got everyone through the rather brutal schedule. It’s a rather nice break to drop everything else in life and just focus so deeply on something in which you have not aptitude that it feels really real for a few days. When I get to perform with people who truly believe in what they are doing, it seems so incredibly beautiful that I feel this glimmer of pride and emotion(?).
Some shoutouts: my Clara this year is quite good and is a very promising dancer. I look forward to watching her grow and mature as a dancer — one day, I’m sure she’ll do SPF. Mad props to “Rubies” for nailing SPF on such short notice; she has improved so much over the past couple years, it’s amazing and inspirational. And to KD and YP for dancing beautifully in their roles; they make me believe that this is not a completely foolish errand. And of course “Beauty” is always mesmerizing on stage regardless of her role. And to DC for being a great Mouse King foil and making rehearsals a lot of fun.
I still think those mirliton costumes are kind of cute.
And despite my attempts at dissuading everyone from attending, I really am very grateful for all those friends who showed up and watched the performances. It really means a lot to have you in the audience. One of these years, I will be confident enough to actually invite people to attend.
Also, I really need to learn how to smile onstage. Worst fake smile ever. I guess I can’t jettison all that inner irony/sarcasm in just a few years, but I’m really trying very hard.
Also also, my party scene wife gave me a nutcracker, so now I have one of those.
Finally was able to procure tickets to see Yo Yo Ma! A decade of waiting is about to end early next year. I am uncomfortably excited.
The title of this post is regarding to what I was trying to explain to my friends on our monthly(ish) conference call regarding question #4: life philosophy, and a similar line of thought I had at the theater. Which is that, in the theater, we performed for only a few hundred people at a time. The show itself is probably not life-changing to anyone in any way, yet it feels real and worthwhile. Live performances, though, are always under economic pressure because they just don’t scale well.
On the other hand, the products that I work on at work literally affect a billion people, albeit in generally minuscule ways. Maybe it’s true that by surfacing relevant information to people, we do save lives and improve the wellbeing of humanity as a whole. The reach is surely there. But, saving ten seconds for a billion people isn’t the same as saving one individual’s life. More and more, I wonder if I should be taking a more personal approach towards work, and life in general. The hordes of data do mask the underlying people — entire lives and beings — to some extent, and maybe I have become numb to some aspects of that. When a 1% change means millions of people… it’s hard to even comprehend that sense of perspective. There are all sorts of people out there, both good and bad, that use search.
But it’s also a personal issue, too. How to live my life and imbue it with some semblance of meaning. Isn’t it the personal connections, which are necessarily few, the ones that truly matter? And if so, am I being untrue to myself by not spending time working on establishing and nurturing those? That is, finding a job that cares for individuals as such. But another part of me says that I’m doing a job that I’m relatively good at doing, and that I am probably contributing to society as best as I can, so who cares if it feels a little off. And I still love my job, despite these philosophical tensions, so who knows.
Went to the company holiday party last night. The De Young Museum is actually surprisingly large and quite a swanky venue for the holiday party. It was quite nice that the exhibits and galleries were open; wandering around the museum was fun, and I hope to visit again in a non-holiday-party setting. It’s always fun to see a bunch of engineer coworkers get all dressed up. And omg, “IJ” was even more stunningly beautiful than usual. I do wish that I were a little hungrier, because all the food looked delicious but I hadn’t the appetite. Chocolate-dipped bacon was the highlight of the desserts. Pretty damn good.
And then went to a white elephant party this afternoon with some friends I haven’t seen in far too long (recurring theme of my life). I really should be much less lazy about visiting people in sf, although I feel like maybe they should come down here sometimes, too. It was actually a nice gift exchange, and I’m glad that someone seemed to enjoy the Boyz II Men Christmas album, which I’d hoped would be hilarious. All the gifts were actually pretty good.
This late-night blog post writing caps quite the interesting two weeks. I’m really tired, but in a good way. I suppose we all taste the bittersweet and either learn to love it or hate it.