Crisis Mode, Creative Block and Tango

by noelyovovich on April 26, 2016

Last night was one of those nights that surprised me, but shouldn’t have.

The last 4 days I’ve been busting my butt to finish a webinar presentation that needed to be submitted to the producers yesterday, to go live in a week. You might ask why I was playing catch-up ball on this, because I knew about the deadline f22 done frontor a month or more.

Well, I could say I’m a procrastinator, but I’m really not, or that I thrive on last-minute pressure, but I really don’t. But sometimes when something is difficult, I give it as long as possible to work itself out internally before I knuckle down and confront it. This webinar was a challenge because I proposed to do a course on techniques to get past creative block, and my editor said, “Fine, do anything you want, as long as it involves Argentium silver”.

Now, this is not really a natural combination. On the other hand, even way back when I was a graduate student, I put an ad in the local free paper (the Chicago Reader) saying “Freelance Artwork $10 an hour” and whatever people asked me to do, I’d say “Yeah, I can do that”– then figure it out. (Well, except for the guy who wanted me to paint his body. But that’s another story.) And mostly they never knew I was scrambling. So I have a lot of faith in my ability to come up with something. So I said “Yeah, I can do that”.

Also, during the last couple weeks, my house went under contract, a good thing but distracting. Oh, and I’ve been trying, without notable success, to move my divorce process forward, and two days ago I gave up and told my lawyer we have to go to litigation. So, that was grim.

And because the house is on the market, most of my tools, along with most of my everything else, are stored away and inaccessible. So I was, once again, scrambling.

In the end, I did, in fact, come up with something that included the stuff I originally wanted to talk about, and alsRed shoes smo uses the suggestion that exploring a new-to-you technique or material (Argentium silver, for example) is a great way to blast yourself out of the lack-of-inspiration doldrums.

I’m very pleased with the presentation and I’m actually looking forward to sitting alone in a room for an hour, talking non-stop into the ether, trying to imagine a rapt audience that I can’t see, can’t hear, and who may not really even be there (but of COURSE they will!)

Which brings me back to last night.

After I finished the Power Point and submitted it, on deadline no less, I felt great. Really good. But as the day went on, my mood dribbled downward. When you are on deadline, you know exactly what you need to be doing and there are no doubts or uncertainties. I call it “crisis mode” and it is a simpler mindset, a relief, really, in a complicated life.

But after I sent off my presentation, all the complications crowded back in. By 8pm when my boyfriend finished work and called to say he was ready to head over to the Grecian Taverna where we were supposed to meet for their Wednesday night milonga, going out at 9:30 to dance tango seemed an exhausting prospect. Still, I pulled myself together and went, despite my misgivings.

It might have been the most fun I’ve ever had dancing, and I love to dance. And I should have remembered what my friend Shirley says: “When something is bugging you, dance it off!”

I’ve wanted to dance ever since I was a little kid in rural Florida and I saw the older kids dancing the jitterbug. That looked like the best thing in the world to me.

Over the years, I tried to get boyfriends and then my husband to learn to dance with me but none of them would do it. In 40 years of marriage, even though my husband went to a set of dance lessons with me, we never ever once went dancing, or tango creven danced together at a wedding.

So when, after 5 years of separation, I started dating, I told my new boyfriend early on, “If you want to tie me to you, your best bet is to dance with me”. Happily, he took that to heart. After some general lessons, he suggested we take a tango series. I still wanted to jitterbug (I think it is now called swing) but, hey, it was dancing, so I said OK.

I am now deeply in love with tango. After something like a year and a half of somewhat on-and-off lessons, we are good enough to be able to dance in a milonga without embarrassing ourselves. I love the music, the clothes, the shoes—and the beautiful, sensuous, intimate collaboration with your dance partner . I finally get to dance. I have little interest now in the jitterbug. Tango is heaven.

So I should not be surprised at all that my grumpiness and fatigue fell away as soon as I heard the music, put on my shoes, and stepped out on the dance floor with my every-dance partner. So now I’m wondering whether my answer to the question “How do you bust out of creative block?” should have been, “Dance it off!”tango cr 2


POST SCRIPT: It has been a year since my last post. A YEAR!!! Things get bogged down, don’t go as they should or as you thought they would. But I think I’m finally about to be on the move. It is exhilarating and terrifying. But as I like to say, “You can’t get THROUGH it til you get TO it”. More to come…

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy Kruse April 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Makes me smile ear to ear ❤️

Vicki Kataja April 28, 2016 at 1:41 am

You go girl!

noelyovovich April 27, 2016 at 7:08 pm

It’s never too late to learn to dance! That’s one of the joys of tango– it isn’t athletic (though it is sure improving my balance and leg strength).

Barbara April 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Was just remembering American Bandstand. Being 13, dancing in the basement with the kids from South Philly, and no one watching me. Never did learn to dance in public, but love reading what you’ve written here. It makes me happy.

noelyovovich April 27, 2016 at 10:00 am

Thanks for the comment, Marly. Dance it off– and write about it!

noelyovovich April 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

Hah! Well, yes, in a way. The Spanish explorers named the area for the silver they found there. Modern “Argentium” is a proprietary sterling alloy with a tiny amount of germanium in it, which gives it some different properties than traditional sterling, including whiter color and resistence to tarnish.

Sandra Graves April 27, 2016 at 8:36 am

Great to see you’re back, Noel, and moving ahead with your life.

Marly Harris April 27, 2016 at 3:31 am

So you made me cry, but I’m so happy for you. I’m at the very beginning of an enormous life change and I’m excited and terrified. The one good thing that I did learn today is that the best nut is macadamia.

Shirley Adams April 26, 2016 at 11:34 pm

loved this story. Nice writing. Wondering: is Argentium silver from Argentina – like the tango?

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