Major lesson of the day:  Take lunch breaks in the middle of the day or it will seem as though your afternoon has disappeared. 

I was the first college kid there today!  Got in around 9:40 or so and stretched out for an hour watching the high school students train in straps and in some dynamic hand to hand.  I don’t remember any of their names!

After I felt warmed up, I started working my handstands on Byamba’s wooden blocks.  He watched me for a while, and then sure enough, he started me again on his block routine.  He stepped up a few things, though.  First there was the quick stacking and replacing of one block, and then he had me do it with two blocks in a pile, and then three.  After that I had to do the finger flick drill with stacks of four.  Finally we worked on the stacks again, first some basic handstand coaching, and then kickups in sets of five.  Tucked, straddled, and piked.  Then I held some one-hand handstands for a bit on my left side.  Evidently my left side is better than my right because my right side causes me to stick my chest out.  I’m holding handstands for 30 seconds at a time now.  I’d love to get it up to a minute by the end of the month.  I never fall anymore as long as I hit the position.  Hitting the position is the hard part, though.  I also learned that my normal handstand is a little crooked, my right shoulder leads.  Of course, my arms bend too.  That is a terrible habit, and one that I need to get over, and fast! 

In the middle of training, Byamba motioned for me to do a pike sit on the floor.  I figured he wanted to see where I was with it, so I happily complied.  The next thing I knew, he had shoved my back all the way down to my knees with all of his weight.  Everything I thought I knew about the way a person is supposed to stretch went out the window in a blinding flash of searing leg and body pain.  Sweat was pouring from every pore on my body, and Byamba was laughing.

Here’s where I realized that I didn’t know enough Mongolian or French to tell Byamba that this hurt like mad, so I had no choice but to stare straight ahead with a look of surprised terror on my face.  After a second it felt like he was about to let up, but I was dead wrong.  In actuality, he was just getting a running start.  Bam!  All of his weight came down on me again, and he bounced for a bit.  My knees said “Hello” to my chest.  I saw Byamba’s feet out in front of me.  The world blinked out of existence for a while.  The whole time I though “Well this is as bad as it will get,” and then it got worse.  One of my gymnast friends from MIT who had studied circus in San Francisco had told me a long time ago, though “Don’t ever let them hear you scream.”  So I was quiet.  Startled, surprised, and quiet.  So that’s how the Mongolian handbalancers and contortionists have such great bodylines.  Finally, he was done.  I weakly held up two thumbs up signs with my head hanging limply down.  “Bien.”  I managed.  Byamba motioned for me to straddle, and we did it all again!

I met a tissus artist upperclasswoman, who spoke to me in English and I with her in very halting broken French.  Very talkative and friendly, she made me feel welcome.  It seemed as though she had taken a long break from training this summer given the amount of trouble she was having with what appeared to be old skills of hers, but she was still very good.

I also met a German handbalancer.  He is friends with The Contortionist’s temporary roommate who does Chinese pole.  The Contortionist came in around 10:30, and the four of us went to lunch.  The Juggler and The Hangbalancer asked me why I wanted to do circus, and I told them about how it was the synthesis of many arts and that there was no strict boundary of convention or vocabulary that a performer necessarily had to live by, and that it is the hardest training in the world.  They took pause with that, telling me that you are only worked hard if you look to be worked hard, and that two students from their year were “told they didn’t have to come back.”  What a polite way of saying that! 

The Aerialist was back in school today, and can not tumble for a while due to her knee.  She seems pretty upset about it, but she’s a cool person.  I like her more and more, despite the fact that we cannot speak to each other!  She didn’t come to lunch because her roommates were out looking for apartments and she didn’t want to miss them if they came back and wanted to go to lunch.  Ah well.  “A demain.” 

We got back to the school and I checked out the school’s internet access.  With a little bit of finagling I think I can check my mail there.  That’s a bit of a relief.  By the time I finished my strength workout, it was nearly three o’clock, so I decided to skip my abdominal workout and play for a bit.  I talked with the big guy who was doing teeterboard (double in, double out, actually, not what I said yesterday).  He does everything too! 

It seems as though there are a few populations at the school.  Those who don’t work, those who do enough to get by, those who excel at one discipline, those who are jacks of all trades, and those who are good at everything.  It is that latter group that I really need to strive to be.  The Contortionist and I have agreed to kick each other if we see the other lazing about. 

At lunch, the two older students also told us that at the beginning, people stay at school all 13 hours, but that after a while, people get sick of seeing the same faces, so they leave earlier.  I hope that seeing the same people is never a reason for me to leave my training! 

Upstairs, I joined in a gossip session with some other first years about who had “kissed with” the girl with purple hair, not to be confused with the girl with pink-hair.  None of us could keep the names straight.  Argh!  So many circus people! 

The Clown and I played around for a bit, and The Mentor gave me some pointers on side summies.  Then my small-sized counterpart, Straps Guy showed a standing full done perfectly.  Damn.  I also saw a “kick the moon,”  which is a variation of a gainer.  At least I can do those things.  There is an excellent tumbler I met too.  Very tall, but excellent form, and everyone always wants him to show tricks. 

I was briefly pressured by a formateur to think of majoring in tightrope because no guys do it and my short body is perfect for it because I can do a lot of acrobatic tricks and things like that.  Man, teachers are really out selling their disciplines to the first years! 

There is a girl who is always working tightrope in the mornings.  I want to learn her name.  Despite her slipup today, The Contortionist, her, and I seem to be the early morning crew of this free-training period.  I want to see how that carries over into the rest of the year 

The program from last year’s show is helping me on the names of the upperclassmen, and I constantly look at the name list on the bulletin board for mental refreshers.

The Tumbler in the first year did not feel like coming in today.  I hope he is not injured.  Despite it being a very quiet day with myself not having learned any new skills, I still can’t wait for tomorrow. 

I talked with The Mentor outside for a bit, and Straps Guy said “Do you want to try banquine?”  Of course I do!  Man, I hope the porteur is here tomorrow so that I can get hooked up with that stuff!  Meanwhile, Sylvain told me that the Quebec word for “fun” is “fun.”  Good.  That’s an easy one. 

I’m also finding it funny that so many of the teacher think that I am trying to do tissus with trampoline instead of just looking at them as two different things.  It’s an interesting idea, though, and not too far off from a concept I had been thinking of with a circus artist I had met back in Boston.  People at this school are so good at everything, and really friendly to boot.  I’ve never really felt so lucky and at home!  I hope this lasts for a while.  My legs are going to hurt a lot tomorrow.  Byamba will stretch the hell out of them again anyways!  A demain.

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