Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Worst Case Scenario

In the name of honoring the downs as well as the ups-
my 'trying not to cry face'. 
In my blog entry of six hours ago, I thought the worst case scenario of my new dance class would be one new student showing up. I was wrong. Worst case scenario is actually zero students. And right out the gate, my worst case scenario unfolded.

I spent the afternoon eating a good meal and trying to relax, get some positive energy flowing. My sister, Sharlene, called and gave me a rousing pep talk. Motivated, I decided to own this shit. Cut up a shirt and made it cool dance teacher-y. Did my hair and make up. Put on big earrings and bangles that alluded to Bollywood but were understated, Oaklandish.

Darnell, who was supposed to let me in, showed up three minutes before class was to start, but it hardly mattered as there was not a student in sight.

The studio faces Grand Avenue, a happening part of Oakland, full of restaurants and bars. I turned up the music. Put out my sign up list. Business cards. Class flyers. Tried to look busy. Approachable. Like I wasn't crying inside.

I waited 15 minutes then packed up. When you've envisioned a thing a hundred times, it's easier to face when it actually happens.

Darnell came back to lock up. I tried to glean information. Turns out he co-runs the studio with the man I'd been in contact with.

"You should have talked to Dan, he'll help you get going," Darnell said. I had tried. Dan had not been helpful.

"You should have made a flyer," Darnell said. I had, but it hadn't been put up at the studio. "Oh, wait, I think that's my job," Darnell said. "When it doesn't say the studio's name, I throw it out." I pointed to where it did say the studio's name. "Oh. My bad."

Darnell promised to get word out to his students. I told myself this is what it's like to work with creative types. But I'm a creative type, and I don't do things this way.

I sat in my car and cried, the full moon lighting up Lake Merritt across the way. Called my sister, Fiona, who said all the right things. I tried not to be hurt that none of my friends came to support me. Tried not to go down the rabbit hole of no one loves me and I'll die alone.

Because the truth is, my life is still in transition. New neighborhood. New business. New friends. I don't have my Bridget Jones/Carrie Bradshaw posse who comes to all my shit and is always a phone call away. I am still forming friendships, forming community. A new start is amazing and difficult.

I came home, fried up some turkey bacon and made a smoothie. I sat in my beautiful apartment which overlooks San Francisco (okay, fine, if you look over the phone wires and rooftops, you see a three inch view of San Francisco, but still).

"One day, people will have to pre-register to get into your class," Fiona had said.

Maybe that was true. Maybe not. What is true is that this whole year is an experiment. To see what works and what doesn't. And sometimes, you do everything in your power but some things are out of your hands.

Now that I have some turkey bacon in me, I can see the silver lining: at least I have my awesome "the day that no one came to my new class" story under my belt. It can only get better from here, technically speaking.

But as I said in my earlier blog entry, the only thing I can't do is not do.

The Things I Carry

Tonight is my first Beginners' Bollywood dance class. I am 1% excited, 99% scared.

For the past three months, I've been underground, planning and scheming and preparing my three-pronged plan: teaching dance, yoga, and writing. I've designed classes, designed posters, designed a website. I imagined a big party to officially launch this new phase of my life, but life happens so out of order, that suddenly the day of my first class is here, a random Tuesday in the middle of August and there has been no party, just hard work.

For tonight, I have prepared a dance to teach. It is basic, 'for beginners' as advertised. It incorporates elements of classical Indian moves, bhangra moves, and silly Bollywood moves. It is thought out and thoughtful because that is how I teach. I have planned a warm up routine, and a cool down routine. As back up, I've planned a dance that is just designed to play with some fun Bollywood moves. In case my dance routine goes by super fast. It is a fine line between preparation and anxiety. I carry this with me.

I have advertised on Craigslist, at coffee shops and online event calendars. I have harassed friends on Facebook to come to my new class. I've done all I can. 

Yet the voices in my head say I should have done more: I only distributed 250 flyers, I had bought 500. I should have made a meet up group. I should have posted flyers in Berkeley, not just Oakland. 

I tell myself it's not a big deal, it's only a four week class,-if it tanks, it'll be over soon.

But it is a big deal. It's more than this one dance class. It's the start of a journey. A journey which began with me saying, "Fuck it, I'm doing my own thing." 

Here are the stats on what people think of the "Fuck it" model of business: 

80% this think it's a bad idea. That it'll fail. This is not how you live life.
10 % are admiring/envious
7 % are whole-heartedly supportive
3% are on the same boat as me

I carry that too.

I carry remains of the last dance class I taught, over a year ago, through the Berkeley YWCA. At best 6 people came, at a low, 1. 

Sometimes it helps to think out the absolute worst case scenario, so I do: worst case scenario, tonight, no one shows up except Annie, my adorable friend who has agreed to take some photos for my website. We go get coffee next door. After I cry in the bathroom a while. Less horrible: 2 or 3 people show. I've taught 2 or 3 people before, I can do it again.

I think of my first novel. The one I worked on for 7 years, or is it 10. That I sent out to 40 agents, heard no thanks from 10, and then 'gave up'. Do I give up too easily? Will I fail at this because of that? Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know this is not entirely true. There is no real failure, we learn from every opportunity, etc.

The only tiny sliver of hope is the thought that came to mind during this morning's (very fraught) meditation session: I can't not.

I have to do this. I can't not do this because the risk of failure exists. That would feel even grosser than all this anxiety swirling around my stomach does.

So I'll befriend the anxiety, carry it with me, along with everything else. It, too, is part of me, part of this journey. 

For the remainder of the day, I will carry this poem by Rumi, cling to the sliver of hope in the last stanza: 

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
                                                     ~ Rumi