The Other Side of Vegas

When someone says “Vegas” most people instantly think of crazy clubs, neon lights, gambling, and all the glitz and glamour that is “The Strip.” Now that I’m a local, I can tell you first hand that there is so much more to this city.

Welcome to the other side of Vegas.

A few weeks back I went on my first real hike. Yes I’ve done some random hiking through the woods a time or two, but never up any sort of mountain. Where has this been all my life?!? Oh wait, I lived in Illinois where the only sort of elevation is going up an on ramp onto the highway. ¬†KB and I went to Calico Basin, which is just outside Red Rock Canyon National Park. Even though you can see the strip in the distance, being out here feels worlds away.

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The road to Calico Basin

Instead of just walking through trails, we decided to go climbing instead. The climb up was fun to maneuver and figure out the best route. The view at the top was amazing. It was so peaceful to breathe in the air up there. Almost magical. There was even a second where it was completely silent-it was a feeling like nothing I’ve ever felt before. With all the chaos going on in the world, it’s nice to know that moments of peace and clarity can still exist. I could have stayed up there for hours, but my butt was getting numb from sitting on the edge of a rock and it was well past snack time. Note to self: next time bring snacks with you!

Flash forward a couple weeks and KB and I went back to Calico, but this time to check out the trails. I was sitting in the parking lot with my drivers door open and my foot hanging out waiting for KB to get there. After a few minutes, I decided I would just close the door, roll down the windows, and turn the radio on instead while I waited. A couple minutes later I see her pull up so I roll up the windows, get out of the car, and I hear the guy in the car next to me say, “lets see what kind of snake that is.” Um excuse me sir did you just say SNAKE?!?!? **side note: I’m terrified of snakes! As I’m standing there in complete shock (so much so that I didn’t even let out a shriek!), I see this big snake crawling out from UNDER MY CAR! KB almost stepped on him as she was walking towards me. I’m pretty sure time stopped in that moment. Turns out he is a gopher snake and he decided he just wanted to cross to the other side of the parking lot; all while trying to give me a small heart attack! I thank my lucky stars that something told me to put my leg back in the car and close the door as I waited, or else that thing could have crawled up my leg and I’d probably still be in the hospital receiving trauma counseling.

Once we got past our near death snake experience, the rest of the hike was really cool. We saw so many lizards, a chipmunk, lots of butterflies, and a huge jackrabbit! We did NOT see any more snakes…amen! I did however, see a random tree in the middle of the trail and instantly became 10 years old again and had to climb it. My inner 10 year old came out again when I came across a rock pile and decided to make my own to match it. (Side note: the new portrait mode on my iPhone creates some super cool pictures of rocks!)

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Left: existing rock pile. Right: my creation

I know there will be plenty more outdoor adventures in my future…I think I’ll just take extra precautions when getting out of my car from now on!

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A tale of two shows

As I had mentioned in a previous post, just as I was all settled in at MFL, they were off for a week so I was over at “O” for that time.

I thought it would be fun to do to a little compare/contrast between the two shows.

Parking

MFL-We are ridiculously spoiled with having a private lot right outside of the loading dock to the theatre. This makes getting in and out of work super easy. Since Luxor is on the south end of the strip, there’s also less traffic congestion to deal with and it’s basically a straight shot to and from my house. Winner winner chicken dinner.

O-The Bellagio is a very large property and they have separate guest and employee parking lots. My first day there, I just parked in the guest lot, then walked through the casino and met one of the therapists outside of the O box office to take me backstage. That was easier than having to try and navigate my way through the back employee entrance…or so I thought. At the end of my shift a little after 11, I thought I knew where I was going, but very quickly realized I must have missed a turn or something and did not recognize where I was. I was lost in the labyrinth of the employee hallways/offices. I asked someone how I got back to the casino floor and she told me I could take this elevator (she pointed just to my right) up one level. I didn’t remember taking an elevator or stairs to get backstage, but my short term memory is not super reliable, so maybe I did and just forgot. Well I go up one floor in this elevator and find myself in the back kitchen of some restaurant. Nope..not the casino floor. Crap. I go back down and start heading back to where I left the theatre and I walked past a set of escalators. Hmm did I go down escalators to get here? I must have. It looked like a bunch of casino employees were heading up to start their shifts so I decided I would follow. When I got to the top of the escalator I could only go right or left. I chose left. Wrong. Should have gone right. After about 10 minutes and a lot of confusion, I finally made it back to the casino floor and then to my car. Note to self: Pay attention when someone is bringing you somewhere new that you will have to navigate on your own only a few hours later. Luckily that was the only time I got lost. It’s actually a little easier to navigate from the employee parking lot to the theatre, it just takes about 5 minutes longer. Did I mention the Bellagio is a large property? I need to invest in one of those hover board things when I’m over there.

Theatre/Show

MFL-The Luxor theatre took me a few days to navigate..partly because I had to learn all the theatre terms and partly because it is not set up the same on both sides. How was I supposed to get to the “stage left quick change” if I didn’t even know where stage left was. The show itself is a magic show, so its different than your typical “Cirque” type show. There are little elements of Cirque, such as gymnastics, dancing, etc, but the main focus is on Criss and the Illusions. If you’ve never seen a magic show before or are even remotely interested in it, I would suggest coming to see MFL. They do a really great job-its very entertaining to watch!

O-For those who may not know, “O” is Cirque’s water show. It’s been around for almost 20 years. The stage is almost entirely water. There’s lifts that go up and down to create platforms of dry land, but most of the time its all water. This can make getting from one side of the stage to the other quite difficult. I had to quickly learn where it was safe to walk so that I didn’t end up IN the pool. Side note: I will have to eventually take a “swim test” to be over there. They want to be able to swim from one end to the other and back and then tread water for 5 minutes. Do i get a raft for this? Little water wings? Anything?I’m much more of float down a lazy river vs a actual swim person. Minus the water, the theatre is pretty easy to navigate because its almost symmetrical. The only confusing part for me was remembering the orientation of the training rooms to the stage. Its almost the complete opposite at MFL, so it took me a second to figure that out. The show itself is an artistic masterpiece! Franco Dragone is the mastermind behind this production and there has been very little change in almost 20 years because it is such a beautiful story. If you want to see synchronized swimmers, acrobats, divers, ariel artists, and contortionists all performing in and above the water, this would be a great show to see.

At both shows I’ve been able to work with some really talented artists. I am really enjoying being in this setting and being able to help these artists perform at their best each night. Of all the settings I’ve worked in, this is probably the most exciting for me. I’ve always loved “behind the scenes” type stuff and even did a bunch of stage crew gigs back in high school. Getting to pair that with my passion for helping people prevent/recover from injuries has been such a great experience so far. I’m so excited to see what these next few years will bring!

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up

It may come as a shock to some of you to hear that I hadn’t really worked out in about 2 months. Yes you read that right, I said 2 months. I went from a super consistent 5 days a week down to 0. We’ve all “fallen off the wagon” before; I’m no exception. The problem isn’t the falling off, its the getting back on.

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Post-WOD with my EAD Family

My last real workout prior to moving was the “Viva Las Becky” WOD that the coaches from EAD put together for me. I think I did maybe 2-3 more intermittently at EAD after that, but mostly it was because I had to test workouts for the Tandem Throwdown. In retrospect, I think I felt defeated knowing that for the entire month of July, I would be bouncing back and forth all over the place. I knew there wouldn’t be any consistency to my life, and that included my workouts. I gave up before I gave myself a chance. Yes I was moving from one friend’s house to another, traveling to/from Vegas looking for a place to live, driving back and forth from my parents house, doing lots of sorting, packing, and preparing, but had I really wanted to get a workout in, it could have happened. I just didn’t want it bad enough-and that’s ok. With all the stress of changing jobs, leaving behind friends and family, and moving across the country, it was actually kind of nice to not feel obligated to have to get a workout in. One less thing to worry about. Side note: I did begin to panic a little bit when my shorts were becoming too saggy in the rear..time to start squatting again!

I told myself that once I got to Vegas I would get “settled in” before trying to find a CrossFit gym. In the meantime, I’d just have to workout at my apartment. My complex has a pretty decent gym set up. There are the typical cardio machines and free weights, but they also have battle ropes, pull up bars, a dip station, kettlebells, slam balls, AND an oly bar and plates (not bumper plates, but at least they have something). I’ve ventured in there a handful of times, but let me tell you, its ridiculously hard to motivate yourself to workout when you don’t have any real plan or structure or support group.

This is where CrossFit comes in. I was so very fortunate to stumble upon EAD/CFAH 7+ years ago. Little did I know that I was walking into an absolutely amazing gym/community. I know part of my hesitation to find a new gym is the fact that I know without a doubt that it will never compare to what I came from. This is a hard pill to swallow. I’ve looked into several gyms out here and made a list of the ones near me. Upon further review, some had coaches with little experience or expertise, some were simply too far away or didn’t have class times that corresponded with my work schedule, but most simply had poor programming. I refuse to train with bad programming. Maybe I’m biased because I write the workouts for EAD/CFAH, but I’m not going somewhere isn’t going to give me bad workouts. After narrowing my search down, I came up with just a few gyms that I thought were worth checking out. The first gym I tried had a unique class structure. On the day I went, there was a 45min gymnastics biased class followed by a 45min oly lifting class. Everyone was really nice and welcoming, but I did not find myself challenged there. I later spoke with the owner who agreed that this might not be the best environment for me based on my current ability level. He was very kind to offer me suggestions of other gyms in the area and gave me a little insight into each of them.

I kept putting off going to try other gyms until I got a message from my friend Lynn who said he was coming into town the following week and wanted to hit up a workout with me at my new gym. Crap…now I have to find a gym! I had already planned on checking 2 more places that week. The first one didn’t work out, but the second one had more potential. The first class I tried at CrossFit Mountain’s Edge kicked my butt. Who knew GHDs, #135 cleans, and handstand walking could be so hard. Oh wait..I should have expected that having done nothing for the past 8 weeks. I liked the challenge of the workout and decided to go back for another class on Labor Day. The workout was “LumberJack 20.” This is a WOD that I have programmed a handful of times, yet I’ve not actually done it myself as it was always written on my rest days. As a little refresher, the workout consists of 20 reps each of deadlifts, KBS, OHS, burpees, pull-ups, box jumps, and DB squat cleans with a 400m run after each movement. This workout is difficult enough on its own, but things were complicated by trying to run and not pass out in the Las Vegas midday heat. Note to self: next time bring a drone with an umbrella attached to hover over you while running to keep you out of the blistering sun. Despite feeling close to death a time or two, I actually enjoyed the class.

So for now, CrossFit Mountain’s Edge will be my new home; they have some very large shoes to fill. EAD/CFAH you have spoiled me. I miss you all like crazy, especially when I’m heading to the gym to workout, but all the memories we’ve shared always bring a smile to my face.

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One Month In.

*I’ll start by saying that my streak of posting once a week has clearly ended. I don’t know how people can blog weekly (or even crazier..daily). I just don’t have that kind of free time..I’m too busy laying by the pool ūüôā This living in the desert thing isn’t so bad.img_2475-1

I’ve been officially in Las Vegas for one month; feels so much longer! Over the past week I’ve been gathering all the necessary information to bring to the dreaded DMV to get my license/plates changed. I feel like Nevada’s process has more steps than other states I’ve lived in before, but at least they have appointment times for the DMV so I should’t be stuck there all day. Also I found it interesting that you have to pay for smog checks out here..that’s one thing Illinois actually did for free.

img_2510Well I didn’t beat my record for getting everything up on my walls, but I’ve done a pretty decent job. Generally speaking, things went smoothly. ¬†However, I did have a small fight with the panels hanging above my bed. They are made of styrofoam so I use those 3M wall hanging velcro things to attach them. On one of my many many trips to Target, I was walking past an end cap with them so I grabbed a pack of 9. I only needed 3..or so I thought. When I got home and ripped open the package, I realized I bought the wrong kind. These didn’t have the velcro on one side, they were just sticky on both sides. I figured it should still work fine, so I proceeded to hang them above my bed as usual. I’ve gotten pretty good at holding the level in one hand, the panel in the other, and still getting them up there evenly spaced. (yes I may or may not be little OCD about spacing) After all three panels were up I went on to hang up my white lights. Then, out of no where, one of the panels came crashing down. So I had to use a new sticky hanger. Then another came crashing down; I¬†used another sticky hanger. WTF these non velcro wall hangers don’t work for this! Plan B-use a nail to attach them to the wall. This is much easier said than done. After a lot of frustration and 2 days of battle, I can proclaim victory over the wall panels..at least for now.

 

I have completed my integration as a Resident Therapist. Over the past two weeks I’ve gone through the necessary emergency action plan rescues at MFL as well as finished up learning about other procedural things, so now I am officially covering the show on my own. Of course just as I get all settled in, MFL is going to be on dark (no shows) this week. It’s going to be a little weird not being there this week.¬†The more time I spend with everyone at MFL, the more it feels like home. Over the dark,¬†I’ll be over at “O” learning the ins and outs of that show, but I’m anxious to get back to my people at MFL.

At one point in the last week or so(remember I still have no concept of day/date) MFL celebrated it’s 500th show-took them a little over a year to get that many. To celebrate, they brought in a hawaiian shave ice truck for the cast/crew between shows. It was a place called The Frozen Frog¬†and it was delicious! I opted for the cherry flavor. By the time 2nd show started, everyone was ready for a nap (hello sugar high/crash) and had red tongues, but it was a lot of fun. Then a couple days later I was in a meeting with the coaches/artist director and we got on the topic of dinner. The initial talk was of quesadillas, and then it quickly¬†escalated to steaks. A couple text messages later and we had confirmation that we would indeed be having steaks for dinner. Sweet..I haven’t had a good steak in a long time. Let me tell you, the steak was fantastic and this was the best meal I’ve ever eaten out of a take out container. Thanks Criss!

A couple people have been asking if I’ve found a new CrossFit gym yet. The short answer is no. I’ll save that for another post. That’s all for now.

Week 2

img_2482My schedule for the 2nd week was a little different than my first. The week started (on Wednesday) at MFL. I was able to review the information I learned last week as well as start to go over more specifics for our medical records system. I have a big binder of information that can be overwhelming at times, so I made myself a “cheat sheet” with shortcuts to where certain documents are or how to fill out commonly used forms, etc. I feel like this will come in handy for a while until I get the hang of all 742 different types of forms, etc I will have to use ūüėČ I also feel “official” with my MFL t-shirts. Being that this is a theatrical production and I have to wear black when covering the show, it’s good to have a couple more shirts to throw into the rotation. Sometimes I feel like a ninja walking around in all black..in the dark. Ok maybe a blind ninja. Yes there are some rope lights that help guide the way on stage left or right, but its pretty black up there.¬†People can sneak up on you (or the other way around) because everyone is trying not to be seen. ¬†However, i’m getting pretty good at recognizing people’s silhouettes.

If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas you know that you are so overstimulated by all the lights, sounds, and people that it’s pretty easy to be wide awake at all hours of the night. Well, when I’m at work in the basement of the theatre this isn’t the case, so sometimes by the time 2nd show is starting (930pm) I’m ready for a nap. One night after work, ¬†I met some co-workers for midnight special bowling after work. I think it was around 1:45am when we left and I wasn’t the slightest bit tired. Then when I got home, of course I couldn’t fall asleep until after 3am. My body is more on Vegas time now. Typically this wouldn’t be a big deal since most of my days don’t start until 3pm, but I just so happened to be attending an emergency medical responder course at 9am the following day. This was the first time that I’ve really had to deal with “traffic”. I decided to take side roads to get there and attempted the freeway to get home. Lesson learned, next time just take the side roads both ways. It will end up being faster, even with stoplights. Generally speaking Las Vegas drivers are pretty tame compared to Chicago. I guess its all a matter of perspective though as I’ve heard a couple people mention that Las Vegas drivers are horrible. I then proceed to ask if they’ve ever driven in Chicago; the answer is always no.

One of the days this past week (don’t ask me which one because I really never know img_2480what day it is) I got a taste of the second show I’ll be working on. We had some emergency training skill sessions and document review at the “O” theatre in the Bellagio. Emergency action plans are a big part of my job. With there being such a high level of skill and performance in all of the shows, there needs to be an equally high level of prep incase something goes wrong. After the training,¬†I stayed to check out their treatments, meet some of the artists, and watch the show. I had never seen “O” before, and watching it for the first time from the stage was pretty cool.

I was back over at MFL for the rest of the week. I’ve gotten the routine of things down. Treatments are going well, the artists are great to work with, and I’m getting better with remembering everyone’s names/departments. I’m excited to be on my own very soon!

After some more training, I was able to play “tourist” for an afternoon and wandered around the Bellagio Conservatory. They change out the scenery 4 times per year based on the season. I’ve seen 2 different scenes on previous trips to Vegas, but this one was probably my favorite. The current theme is “tour of Italy.” If you know me at all, I don’t need to explain why this was my favorite.

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All week I’ve been making it a point to organize at least one thing in my apartment each day. Its getting closer to looking like someone actually lives here. As I was unpacking all of my wine, I realized that I think I left a couple bottles back home by accident. That or I drank them and forgot. Either way, my wine corner is almost complete. Next up is getting stuff on my walls. If I’m able to get it done within the next 2 weeks it will be a record. I’ve never gotten everything up in under a month before. Stay tuned…

Week 1

Its kind of hard to believe that I’ve only been here for just over a week. I’ve been so busy that it feels like a month already. It took about a day and a half to get my apartment “organized enough” for now. Most things have their place, all the furniture is put together (FYI I’m pretty much an expert at putting together IKEA stuff now), and all the new linens have been purchased. I probably spent about a total of 3 hours trying to decide on what color sheets, towels, shower curtain, etc to buy. That seems excessive right? I’m sure the security footage of me pacing through the aisles of Target is hilarious to watch.

Las Vegas is pretty easy to navigate. Typically I’m able to look up where a store is and get there without using my GPS. This did backfire one time when I thought I knew how to get to Bed Bath and Beyond based on the map…and I was wrong. Then I thought I knew how to get turned around and head back to where I was supposed to go..wrong again. So I finally caved and decided to use the GPS on my phone. Now typically this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, however being new to Las Vegas I made a rookie mistake of setting my phone on the passenger seat while I was driving. If you’ve ever been to Vegas you know it gets really hot. So hot, in fact, that your iPhone will refuse to work when its left in the sun too long. No iPhone = no GPS. Lesson learned.

I can tell I’m already adjusting to the heat. It had been in the low 100s the first several days I was here. Then I was out running errands (which seems to be a second job at this point), and noticed that it felt kinda cold. I checked the temp and it said 94. Wait 94 is “kinda cold” to me now? That escalated quickly.

IMG_2472OK enough of that boring stuff, you all probably want to hear about my new job. Well I have successfully made it through my first week as a Resident Therapist for Cirque du Soleil. Over the course of my first year I will be working with two of the shows here in Las Vegas. My primary responsibility will be at Criss Angel MINDFREAK Live, however I will also be working at “O.”

My first day at MFL was overwhelming and exciting at the same time. There were logistical things to take care of such as ID badges, parking passes, etc. I was given a tour of the theatre, met the cast/crew, and started gathering info for my binder of endless information related to the show and the performance medicine department in general. Most shows have 2 performances each night, one at 7pm and one at 930pm, with an hour break between. I watched the 1st show from the front of house (audience). I had never seen it (or any magic show for that matter) before, so I was able to get an unbiased view of what I will be working with. For the second show I shadowed another therapist to learn what acts I will be covering during the showimg_2471-e1502130768925.jpg

Over the course of the next several days, I continued to meet more of the cast/crew. Everyone has been very welcoming and friendly. I actually find that true of everyone I’ve met in Vegas in general. I have now seen the show from just about every angle you can imagine. I’ve tracked with every department so see their perspective on the show, and learn all the possible areas of potential injury that can occur. It has been very helpful to see all these different sides of what goes on backstage so I have a better understanding of what the artists are doing/need to be able to do.

The rest of my time has been spent doing evals, treatments, etc and learning how to input into their system. I’ve also been reviewing all the emergency procedures for the show, as I will have to know those before I can “cover” a show on my own. Overall its been a good first week, however I’m thankful for a couple days off. Mondays are my Saturdays. This new schedule (3-11pm) is quite an adjustment from what I’m used too. Also working in general is an adjustment since I’ve had the last month off. The first night when I got home after work I wasn’t able to fall asleep until around 2am and I would wake up before 8am. Luckily that is no longer the case.

Looking forward to what the week will bring.

 

All Signs Point to Cirque

You know when people ask you “What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?” Well I never would have said,”moving accross the country to start a Job working with Cirque du Soleil.” Yet, here I am doing just that. While this may not be what I had ever thought I would get to do, more than one thing lead me down this path. Here’s a few examples of how all signs point to Cirque.

Ever since I’ve set foot in California (San Diego to be specific), I knew I wanted to move there. Something about the environment, the ocean, the warmth, felt like the place I wanted to be. Flash forward 9 years and I find myself on a job board selecting “California” as the state in the search box. The decision to FINALLY move to California had happened about a year prior, I just had to wait for my lease to be up. (I also had to wait until I was actually brave enough to “pull the trigger”-more on that later). As I spent every day conducting a new search for jobs in California on various sites, one day in particular I noticed something pop up on the side bar. Cirque du Soleil was hiring for positions in Las Vegas. Hmm, that’s not California, but its close and HELLO CIRQUE DU SOLEIL….how could I not at least apply?! I had already sent in an application for one CA job, a resume for another, and was working on a third. Even after sending my application to Cirque, I continued to search for CA jobs. I did not find anything else (and the ones I did find were not exactly jumping off the page at me). I also never heard a thing from any of the jobs I sent resumes to. I wasn’t meant to be in CA right now.

Several years ago, in 2013, I remember one particular Sunday morning at the gym when a few of the coaches were messing around after a workout. We were working on various handstand holds, and decided to snap some pics to document our attempts. There was a picture taken of me holding a handstand on top of two kettle bells. I posted it to Instagram on November 24th. It has remained my profile picture since that day. Oh, and the caption under it reads “practicing for cirque du Soleil.” Perhaps I was predicting the future…

Celine Dion has been my favorite artist since I can remember. Back in the day when CD’s were a thing, her “Falling into You” album was the first CD I purchased. My love of her music has been present, sometimes stronger that others, since that day. Within the last several years, as I was going through a bit of a self-discovery journey, I found myself really needing her voice and her words and her energy in my life again. It has not been until more recently that I find myself being more vocal about just how much her music affects me. Seeing as how she lives and performs in Las Vegas, I find myself drawn there simply for her presence.

My first trip to Las Vegas happened in June 2013. I was out there for the NATA convention. My two friends from college and I were out there a day early to attend pre-conference workshops. My one friend went to the Cirque du Soleil workshop. I went to a kinesiotaping seminar. I wanted to go to both. Little did I know that I would get my chance 4 years later.

If you have ever been into my apartment or been on a trip with me to Mexico, you know I am obsessed with those sun/moon decorations. I love the balance, the light, the contrast, the guidance, the beauty of them and what they represent. Heck, I even have a Sun/Moon tattoo. Soleil is French for “Sun”. The sun can be many things, among them a light. One of my favorite song lyrics is “Shine a light ahead when the next step in unclear.” My “next step” was trying to find a new job/move across the country. My “light” was finding Cirque.

I’m excited for the journey ahead. Would I still be on this path without all of the above mentioned “signs”? I don’t know; but it doesn’t matter. What matters is I’m about to embark on an adventure into the unknown and I can’t wait to see what unfolds. I am going to do my best to be present in each moment that comes, taking it all in, enjoying the process. I am excited to share my journey with others, and perhaps inspire one of you to take that leap of faith and create your own adventure.