Perfecting the Mad Dash

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Buddy and I have a saying to describe one of our mother son rituals. It is called the MAD DASH. Right now, we only have a Mad Dash every Tuesday. Last year, the Mad Dash was every Monday and Wednesday. When I have shows or an insane rehearsal schedule, like when I am working with a theater company, the Mad Dash can be every day.

What is a Mad Dash you may ask? A Mad Dash is when I have 30 minutes or less to pick up Buddy from school or an activity, drop him off at daycare or with his dad, and get to rehearsal or a technique class. It is a Mad Dash because Tucson is a city that is very spread out and the interstate does not run directly through town. That usually means red lights every half a mile at 35 miles per hour driving.

The Mad Dash can be very anxiety producing, stressful and involve a lot of yelling on my behalf. A Mad Dash may also involve some road rage on my part especially if the Mad Dash is close to a performance I am directing and producing, or when I have grant deadlines.

As an introvert who takes a long time to warm up and get in the zone to work and write, cutting up my concentration by running all over town stuck in traffic when I have a deadline looming is insanely frustrating because it is a large distraction (See Blog Post #1). The Mad Dash can also be insanely stressful, especially on days when I leave the house at 7:45am and won’t be returning until 11pm that evening. On these days, I have to be on top of everything: homework, piano books, water bottles, snacks, rehearsal bags with notes, music, costumes for dancers, lap top to get work done in parking lots, outside of speech therapy, or choir, wherever I can find a moment. Buddy has learned my “please turn green, please turn green” mantra I say to the lights every half mile. And he knows when I say “gas pedal” I mean “get your shoes on, pick up your things and get out of the door 5 minutes ago.”

Lately, however, with the whole company hiatus thing, my stress level is much lower these days and the Mad Dashes have been upbeat and something fun that we laugh at and joke about. For example, the Tuesday Mad Dash usually begins with Buddy racing his friends to the parking lot after choir rehearsal and ends with a guessing game about who will arrive first at the rendezvous point for the Buddy drop off at a Jimmy John’s parking lot, me and Buddy or my partner. The significant other usually wins.

Right now, that Tuesday Mad Dash happens between Buddy and my rehearsals. Buddy is in the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and studies piano so now he and he is also a performing artist with rehearsals and call times and shows. I was always sad that my husband retired from dance right after we got married. Now I think it may be a good thing. I can barely juggle two performing artists rehearsal schedules! I can’t even imagine trying to coordinate three! And between Buddy and me, I foresee many more Mad Dashes in the future.

The Precedence

Less than six months after founding, my company received a grant to apply for 501c3, non-profit status. Looking back on it now, it was an interesting reaction to the grant all around. I was not excited nor did I celebrate. I got to work right away, I hit the ground running and did not look back. I had work to do and a deadline by which to achieve it. I felt pressure and the need to succeed after receiving this small investment. My founding board president, however, had the complete opposite response. Her reaction was “I guess we have to do this now.” I was dumbfounded by her reaction. Of course that is what we were going to do. That is what we set out to do and I had that headstrong attitude…. I never fail.

Those who have applied for 501c3 status know that the process is long, time-consuming, and filled with lots of paperwork and technical language. All the Ts have to be crossed and the Is and Js dotted, or heaven forbid, the application is rejected and an org has to apply again. The application is also expensive and the grant my company was awarded would only cover one application. One try. It was the organization’s one shot. Pressure.

Having experience working on federal grants at the University and after successfully applying for my husbands’ green card by myself, I decided to do the application in house. And that meant I would do the application. Me, working at home, just me. And my son.

I did the paperwork for the c3 when my son was 9 months old. At a time when he was learning to stand. At a time when I was weaning him from breast feeding. I worked on the application during my down time from work. I was teaching 2 classes back then. It was supposed to be 20 hours of work a week but it was more like 30 or 35. Like artists, adjunct faculty are overworked and underpaid. There I was, In between lectures, office hours, grading, and managing teaching assistants. I only had child care for my UA job. All the dance company work didn’t pay, so the expense of childcare was not justified. Especially for my husband. My mother-in-law lived 45 minutes away and was unable to help due to ongoing family problems. It was me, working from home. With my son.

The memory that is seared into my brain from this time in my life is an image of me. Sitting at my desk in my small one-bedroom apartment on an exercise ball, desperately trying to finish the application. And my son at my leg, trying to stand, trying to climb up my knee, so that I could hold him. But I could not. I had to finish this application. Me, alone. Stress. Pressure. I kept brushing him down off my leg, back to a seated position, back to the floor. So I could focus on work. No child care. Stress. Pressure. So I could get the application done. No child care. So I could finally have space to do choreography I envisioned.

Pushing him to a seated position so I could work, so I could choreograph, so that I could dance. That set the precedence for the years to come…