I don't usually expect nor do I get sympathy for this as often as I hear "go buy a calendar." I suspect that ironing out the kinks surrounding how I interact with the iPhone's calendar app isn't the only part of the problem, but rather that people who are less mindful have a hard time recalling everything they've agreed to be a part of. People who are naturally organized have this ability, and I am not one of these people.
The true complication of it isn't that I don't remember all the bookings I accepted--I can write those down, plug dates into my calendar, and casually discuss details about those performances in conversations with other performers involved in those projects. The problem comes when I book myself on top of things in my personal life that aren't business-y engagements. Like lunch with a friend, or a date with Chip.
|And I don't always get to "two-birds-one-Stones" those engagements.|
In one hand, I'll have an awesome opportunity to perform and accomplish something significant for myself, and in the other hand I might have the welfare of a personal relationship.
In this way, the art of burlesque--a hobby and community which brings me so much joy and fulfillment--sometimes becomes a painful dilemma. On a few such occasions, I've committed to a business deal where I'm exchanging a service for an agreed rate, and weighed that against having to cancel dinner plans with Chip for the third time this month. In these instances, neither choice feels entirely like the right one.
|Further compounded by turning down taco pizza...has that ever been the correct choice?|
I'm not really sure how to become more mindful in these circumstances. Either one carries with it the penalty of appearing unreliable. I know that as a producer, I'm far less likely to book someone who has a history of being flaky. I know I wouldn't invest a lot of time and effort into being friends with someone who routinely blows me off.
Often enough, a burlesque friend will say to me "you know, we really need to hang out more when we're not performing." This statement is kind of doubly confusing to me, because I sort of look at performing as a chance to hang out with people I love the company of. Even when I do get to hang out with burlesque friends offstage, the conversations routinely circle back to performing, performance concepts and ideas, and what substance will be poured over which of us during the next burlesque performance we'll both be in. The two circles merge pretty easily in my experience.
But in dwelling on that, I was able to identify another fault of mine that is currently in the triage phase.
I agreed to go on a relaxing vacation with my non-burlesque-involved girlfriend Chip in June, and we had a conversation about what day we were planning on leaving and coming back. She suggested there might be an overlap between that week and a show I had tentatively planned on being in, and without thinking about it or asking what would work better for both of our schedules, I said "I'll just meet up with you at the vacation spot the next day after doing the show."
It became a conflict in that moment because I have been booking a lot of shows, and they're more frequently starting to take me out of Boston. Being booked for the next several weekends in the coming months is something that has the potential to put a lot of strain on my relationship, especially since I'm dating someone who is not a burlesque performer.
In that conversation, my knee-jerk reaction was to make the show day work, and the attention from that weekend's crowd of burlesque fans and fellow performers trumped the attention I'd be getting and giving from someone I care a lot about, and I didn't even give it a moment's thought.
|"Hey, weren't you supposed to be on stage 10 minutes ago?"|
Some background here: where possible, Chip dutifully attends every show I'm in without hesitation. So it's not like she isn't otherwise above-and-beyond supportive of my art. In that regard, I would have been encroaching on plans she had made and inserting another "hey, look at me" moment into my calendar.
I realized then what the performance lifestyle taught me about myself. As performers, we all love the attention we get. Personally, I try to remain humble about stage stuff and make sure I'm keeping my performer's ego in check, but deep down, I really do love being recognized for my contributions to the discipline of burlesque. I love being recognized, and I love being told I did something well, or created something memorable. I try not to show it, but I get schoolboy-level giddy when I see the performance photos and comments buzzing all over Facebook about last night's amazing show. I feel like performing is a kind of free therapy that I'm stealing, and it's an absolutely self-centered motivation that makes me keep returning to it.
So naturally, I do want to get back on stage as often as possible. It's easy to get sucked into the performance world entirely, and it's a rush knowing that people are eating up what you're serving. But I have to remind myself that validation has many forms, and that it's important not to neglect every other source of it when one creative or professional outlet is doing well. Certainly, the temptation exists on Monday morning to half-ass my efforts at work because "Oh man, that show was so amazing and none of my clients would ever make me feel as personally fulfilled as my audience did AND HEY LOOK IT'S LUNCH TIME KTHXBAI."
|"You know what? Just forward my emails to the trash folder and set my phone to 'detonate.'"|
So really, I suppose I need to explore what makes me fulfilled in all its forms and find a balance in scheduling that translates into a well-rounded, meaningful life. Sounds easy enough.