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I don’t talk much about work.  Mostly because complaining about work is boring and ultimately counterproductive.  I find fulfillment where I can and most days I feel good about what I do.  Besides, it pays the bills for the other parts of my life.  But, as much as I would like to, I can’t totally partition my life and work things bleed over into other areas.

Now, as most of you know, I’m an introvert.  In addition, I don’t like being the decider.  Most of the time, when people present me with options, I can make a case for either.  If I don’t feel passionate about a course of action, then deciding between two “meh” options can actually be more stressful than you’d think.  I spend a lot of time trying to find a reason to support one over the other.  Add in to this mix the fact that I hate conflict, I dislike office politics and I can’t stand phoniness in any form (including having to support some business decision where there is clearly a hidden agenda)

So, naturally, I work for a large corporation with lots of politics and lots of phony, puffed up people.  And I manage a group of people and some of them need lots and lots of direction because they are always afraid of making the wrong decision.  When I have days like the last two when there is a lot going on and I’m forced to spend the whole day doing things that cause stress, it gets to me.  On top of that, I’m now back to four full days at the studio so there’s precious little “me” time.  The best I can do is get to the gym, get on a treadmill and get lost in my music.

Well, when I’ve got all this stuff crashing around me at work, it breaks down my defenses.  All the demons that are caged up find it easy to break free.  (Did you ever see the Buffy episode where Adam cut power to the initiative and all the demons broke free and started to cause havoc and mayhem – yeah, it’s kind of like that.  Oh, yeah, I’m a HUGE Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  Deal with it).  And the demons just naturally attack the weakest point which is my dancing.

Now, it isn’t all puppies and ribbons and the studio either.   (There is OwnerGuy’s new puppy, but a was speaking metaphorically)  Just another confluence of events that I’m dealing with.

First, we’ve reached that stage where the glow from the last Showcase has totally faded and I’m not yet able to get excited about the next one.  When I get full on into competition mode, I don’t mind doing rounds and running through things.  But, when I’m not there, doing the same things over and over again just sucks all the fun out of dancing.  Yeah, I know that repetition builds some such thing but it still feels more like drudgery than anything else.  This was one of the flash points with Z.  She’d always be on me about why I couldn’t just enjoy the process more.  In my head, I always answered that it is because I’m just not good at pretending to like something that I really don’t.  Working on the new routines has helped, but when we go back to old stuff, this becomes a problem.

Speaking of new stuff, we are two days away from another broken promise by OwnerGuy.  When we had our first chat he committed to having all the rhythm open routines done by the end of March.  That would be tomorrow.  Cha-Cha is not complete and there are no Bolero or Mambo routines in sight.  Now, I know I was working with a coach on a Fox Trot routine last night (more on that later), so that gives him an out.  I’m just tired of promises being made with no follow through.

Against that backdrop, I’ve got the hard sell Hilde is doing on independent studios.  One of the worst things you can to someone like me is start giving me options.  OK, I actually love options but it just gives me too much to think about and I spend way too much time inside my head as it is.  But it does make me question whether the Famous Franchise model still fits for me.  And the more I turn that over in my head, the harder it becomes to focus on lessons.  If I’m ultimately going to leave, then should I really be focused?  That’s really not a good way to think but I find myself slipping into it from time to time as I imagine what life would be like without the Famous Franchise.

Alright, shall we discuss specifics now because the last two days have been very entertaining at the studio.  If you managed to make it through all that mental muck, I hope to make it up to you here.

Monday night was our first practice for the formation we are doing at Showcase.  With all four instructors participating (Z and OwnerGuy are sitting it out), we have twelve people in the formation which makes it one of the largest we’ve done.  There are four of us without partners and two couples so each instructor paired up with a student.  They had this worked out ahead of time since the new guy (he needs a name, I promise to work on one) told everyone to find a partner and B-Tech just suddenly appeared at my side and grabbed my arm to claim me.  Never saw that one coming but I think they went by experience – pairing the more experienced instructors with the less experienced students which is why I’m not dancing with KidT even though she is my instructor.

We never got into any actual dancing because the whole night was spent on choreographing the beginning.  There’s a theme that I’ll get to in time.  But we start out sitting at a table, and then some things happen and we get up and move one direction, then another and then grab chairs and move and put the chairs down and move again to end up in frame with your designated partner.  We all started next to different people so there is chaos and confusion with people moving everywhere and chairs being picked up and moved.  That took a lot of coordination because we had an action on almost every beat so we were drilled on that.  We did do it to music a couple of times just to get a feel for how it would work.

It is quirky but not stupid and so it is right up my alley.  I was actually having fun with it.  I did start to joke around with some of the other students who have done other formations.  A bunch of “what did we get ourselves into this time” stuff.  But, if we get any sort of reasonable precision in the movements, it will end up looking pretty cool.  We’ll see where the dancing will go but so far, it is fun.

We had a couple in the studio for two days for coaching.  They had just come from a Famous Franchise event and they are pretty high up in the Famous Franchise competitive sphere.  They either won something or came close – I wasn’t quite following OwnerGuy as he was talking about them.  The guy was in on Monday and the lady was in last night and she’s who I worked with.  This was the case where originally I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen because all the slots were taken but I ended up getting a spot after my lesson which is later than I like to stay and meant I’d have a coaching after a lesson.  That wouldn’t have been so bad but I also had a session with TrainerGuy so I was pretty tired coming into the studio.

I skipped group class for that reason so I got there with about 15 minutes left in the group class and OwnerGuy comes over to see me.  There’s a little small talk about the formation and then we get to the real reason – I owe another payment so I head off to settle up so the Famous Franchise enforcers don’t break my legs.  (That’s a joke by the way)  That’s when he starts telling me that he isn’t leaving me behind and how he’s trying to find a space to do a progress check and how he didn’t want to do one this week because of the coaching lesson.

Because the coach was going to work on Fox Trot and because I knew she was going to want to see what we had for closed routine, I made sure to tell Kid T that I wanted to go over the closed Fox Trot on our lesson so I wouldn’t have to do it cold for the coach.  She agreed and that’s where we started.  I’d like to say it was a great lesson but that would be a lie.  I don’t really know why but after she pointed out the first thing I did wrong, I fell into a real bad attitude and was really just going through the motions.  We do it a couple of times through while she corrects some things and then I get the “how does it feel” question.  Instantly, in my head, I come back with “the same as the other 999 times we’ve done it”.  (My demons can be sarcastic little creeps)  I actually just said it was fine and that I was comfortable with it.

Then we decided to work on our Peabody routine.  There is a dip at the end where I take her from my right side to my left and she dips.  She first showed me a two handed dip but the act of reaching across my body just felt awkward and I ended up turning towards her which was wrong because I was supposed to be looking forward.  At least that’s what she said although part of me had to be twisted.  So I just ended up way overthinking it and getting frustrated because it just didn’t seem right.  Kid T eventually brought BTech over to show me what it was supposed to look like and BTech hung around to assure me that I looked fine.

Well, then it was time for the coaching lesson.  There is something that is intimidating to me about working with a pro for the first time.  I know I hate being watched and judged.  (Wait – you compete.  Yeah, I’m able to justify that in my head because the judges aren’t watching me all the time.  Makes no sense I know but just go with me here). And there is that need for validation and here’s an expert who can tell me I’m doing good so the pressure is on to not screw up.  That plus doing a solid 20 minutes of Peabody had me breaking out in some really nice flop sweat.  And, by nice, I mean it was horrendously embarrassing to have to leave the floor to mop my forehead.

The choreography itself is pretty cool.  It is jazzier than the closed Fox Trot figures and nothing too complicated.  I’d describe it more but right now it is just a blur.  I should have written it down last night but I was in way too much of a hurry to get out of there.  At one point, the coach did remind me that the goal wasn’t for me to be perfect on the first night I learned it.  Yeah, my inner perfectionist tried to wrest control of my mind during the lesson but that helped beat it back.  At the end of the day, Kid T and I walked through it so it could be videoed and it really wasn’t half bad.  We need to smooth it out and then get me to be jazzier.  But it was one of the more productive coaching lessons I’ve had.

In the beginning of the lesson, she asked about upcoming comps and I was non-committal because I said we wouldn’t have all the open routines done.  Her comeback was that you didn’t need to and she’s had students do the same thing in both open and closed.  At the end of the lesson, she came back to the think in Chicago which she’s going to attend.  Made me promise to go because she wanted to see what her creation would look like by then.  I even shook on it.  Yeah, it was a promise under some duress but I would now feel bad if I didn’t go.



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