Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Grass Is Always Greener.

Everything is going fab here in Montreal, but I must say there are some things that I miss. Remember that I said "things", and don't get your panties in a wad since I won't mention how much I miss you.

I miss...

Fried ice cream from Cucos in Columbus. Actually, I miss junk food in general! What I eat is part of my job, but I can only eat so much protein and vegetables before I want some ice cream. Fried. From Cucos.

My dog. I miss my dog.

SNUGGLING! Most people know that I love to snuggle. My two favorite people to snuggle are my husband and Kesley Cofsky. Unfortunately, they're not here.

SIDE NOTE: TODAY IS KESLEY'S 21ST BIRTHDAY! Happy birthday my love. It's going to be a *great* year.

My end of the year August glow. My tanning months were cut short, and I'm getting more yellow by the day. Gotta love being asian.

My bed. There's NOTHING like your own bed. Especially since I get to sleep in it with my husband and my dog! Well, Maya only gets to sleep on the bed for special occasions (my birthday, the last night I spent in Columbus, when I beg him enough...).

My cooking utensils! I have no oven or crock pot. Am I sounding like a princess yet?

American grocery stores and American grocery store prices! I saw laundry detergent at $20 for the small bottle. There is something terribly wrong with that.

American taxes! Yep, we have it easy in the States. Remember that next time you see your pay stub.

There is something special about home. When I got married, my roots were shallow in Upper Arlington. As I got closer to my Schmidt family and the UA community, my roots began to spread farther and deeper. I am so blessed to call my home base Columbus, and I am so thankful that I'll forever have the memories of this past year. I don't know where the next few years will take us, but my heart will always feel at home in Columbus.

Before I close, here's an update on my .05 cent grocery bag crisis. My best friend's mother, and my second mother, sent me two reusable bags along with many other goodies. How thoughtful and practical! I have to give a special shout out to Mama Shipper because she's been loving on me since I was 12. She never failed to cook me dinner during high school or send me mail during my college days. She always remembers me, and it makes me feel so special. Thanks Mama Ship! I hope I'm half the mom that you've been to me.

Thinking of all the things I'm grateful for tonight. Whether it's Houston, Columbus, College Park, or Montreal, there are chunks of my heart that belong in each city.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Today marks the fifteenth day that I've been in Montreal, which also means it's the first day of Week 3! I'm already getting sad about leaving, and I have 2 1/2 months left! I think I might have a serious problem. I mourn goodbyes before they happen every time. When I go visit my family in Texas, I usually cry the first night I'm there because I know I have to leave. Max thinks I'm crazy.

I might be. A little.

In fact, I got sad today thinking about saying goodbye to Max when he visits... in two weeks. Oh my gosh, I just reread that. I am crazy.

I think I should move on before I reveal more embarrassing personal information. The first weekend that I was here, I went into the city with some of the other artists here for general formation. There was a some kind of art festival happening on a a main street called Saint Catherine on Saturday. There are multiple art museums in Montreal, but this festival was special because there was street art on every corner! Graffiti covered most buildings and there were artists everywhere.

It was amazing! And legal. I dig it.

LA and I becoming one with the art.

Aleksey, me, Petunia, and Nikita. I like to refer to them as the Russian Mafia. They like it.

LA, me, and Elena! 

Because our first week of work was mostly meetings, it was exciting to get away from HQ and venture through the city. On Sunday, Juan, LA, and I went back to the city and visited the port and chinatown. The architecture of the buildings sent me into tourist-mode and the view of the water didn't help. Good thing my hubs bought me my handy camera for our anniversary!

Champ de Mars


Raaaawwwrrr. Juan made fun of me for posing on this one. I deserved it.

Vieux Port!

Surrounding the port, there was a teenage guy singing live with a crowd of fifty people. Alleys included restaurants, artists displaying their art, trinket shops, and cobblestone roads. There was also fresh fruit, italian ice cream, and a mime. It took me right back to Italy!

After a weekend filled with metro buses, trains, walking, and friends, it was nice to get a good rest before my first day of training on Monday. Bateau training on Monday was incredible! It's the first time in my life that I've had to rely on a partner, so it's been hard transitioning from selfish decisions. As a gymnast, I also have a hard time being imperfect. After doing gymnastics for 17 years, it's hard not to be perfect immediately. It's also hard to retrain my body into new habits that completely defy rules I have been following since I started gymnastics. For example, there are certain times when I am supposed to flex my feet or change the angles in my shoulders. As a gymnast, I trained myself to avoid flexing my feet and closing my shoulders before I was 8. Today, I had to remind myself that this is my sixth day training! Mistakes are often, and they are good. Mistakes enable me to learn. Unfortunately, my partner usually gets the beating when I make mistakes. He's been kicked in the face, sat on, and stood on. I feel so bad!

Besides acrobatic training, I've also spent time in acting, voice, dance, percussion, and artistic classes. I also do physical therapy for my shoulders daily and we just started pilates this morning! Our schedules are physically demanding, but the joy of the job enables momentary pain to dissipate. The bruises of last week are starting to diminish, but new ones are found every day. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

After a long week of training, the crew took a trip to Quebec City on Sunday to see Amaluna. Amaluna is the newest Cirque Du Soleil show, and it is also the show that LA has been training for. She's hoping for a contract like the rest of us! It was a three hour bus ride, but the city and the show were worth it.

Dema, Petunia, Jonas, LA, Dema, Elena, Vitaliic, and Aleksey.

This is us just being creepy. It was a long ride...

but a beautiful city!

The Big Top

Cirque Fam

The train station

We were sitting across from the train station on the patio of a restaurant in 70 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, sipping sangria and munching on fries. It was quite the day! I only had one glass, so I think the day might have been more fun for Jonas and LA.

I obviously had to get a picture close to the Japanese flag.

LA and I before the show!

A little bit of God's painting as we were leaving the show.

The show was, obviously, inspiring and insightful. Now that I have been on the other side of Cirque Du Soleil, I watched this show with a different eye. The costumes were incredible and the talent unique. There is an acrobat who sings live during her performance! She was incredible. Watching the show gave me even more determination and motivation as a new week began. I am so blessed to be where I am, and I still wake up every morning thanking God for this opportunity. 

And I'll say it again: Don't count the moments; make the moments count.

Week 3, here we go.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 13, 2012

Before you go any further, I have to warn you. I understand that it is socially unfavorable for people to be outspokenly mushy and lovey-dovey on public social sites.

Well, it's my anniversary, so I'm going to do it.

I'll try not to bore you or make you gag.

This post isn't about how perfect my marriage is. It's also not about how perfect my husband is or how perfect I am. We fight. We are selfish. Occasionally I even raise my voice. As my husband put it best, 2/3's of our first year of marriage was good. The other 1/3... well, you get the point.

Marriage is hard, and neither of us ever expected it to be easy. Although we have had our ups and downs, our marriage has caused me to grow in so many unexpected areas over the past year. A lot of people said that we were too young, hadn't known each other long enough, and needed to have more individual experiences before getting married. I understand where those views stemmed from; but one year later,  I can honestly say that getting married on August 13, 2011 was part of God's perfect plan for us.

Now for the mushy. I'll try to make it quick.

On this day, August 13, I am exactly 715 miles away from my husband. Max likes normal. Max loves stability. When we discussed Cirque Du Soleil, there was never a moment that he shut down my dreams- even when it meant 3 months or longer of long distance marriage. Not only did he encourage me to pursue this dream, but he made it possible. Emotionally, he is the one consistently encouraging me. Financially, he is the one consistently supporting me. Spiritually, he is praying for me. He's given me the best gift that he could by urging me to chase after my dreams even though they might be at the cost of his.

One last story.
Yesterday, our fish died. His name was Gill, and he was our 4th family member. I have a very strange obsession toward our pets. Max accidentally dropped Gill down the drain at the beginning of the summer, and I immediately got angry with him and started crying. Yes, crying. Long story short, Max had to tell me that Gill died yesterday. I cried, and few hours later, Max sent me a picture of our new fish: Gill 2k. That's the kind of wonderful man that I married: he didn't call me psycho when I cried, and he even bought us a new fish.

Our first picture together

Annapolis, MD during our senior year of college

The Christmas we got engaged!

Our legal wedding in Columbus. That's Santa back there.

The beach in Puerto Morelos where we were married by my brother.

Morning after photos by JS Grey

Our early anniversary celebration at Barcelona's

Mackie, thank you. Thank you for loving me even when I am totally awful. Thank you for believing in me when I begin to doubt. Thank you for being my backbone. Thank you for trusting in the Lord and for leading our marriage. This first year has been a true gift. I'm looking forward to year two. "And Mizpah, for he said, "May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other." Genesis 31:49

Don't count the moments; Make the moments count.

I love you all the blue.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Pardon my teenage girl lingo, but I can't help myself: OHH EMMM GEEE... THIS IS UH-MAZ-ING!

I'm here. Finally.

Monday morning I flew from Columbus to Newark, then Newark to Montreal. Flying over Montreal brought me to tears. From the plane, I could see the beautiful city and the olympic arenas that held the 1976 olympics. I was born in 1989, but gymnastics has caused me to fall in love with the '76 olympics due to the first PERFECT 10.0 performance by Nadio Comaneci. 

I didn't get my camera out in time to take a picture of 'The Big O' because I was afraid of my flight attendant. I braved up though after I realized that my view was a memory I'd have for life.

The city is 'magnifique'. Many told me that Montreal is a taste of Europe; I couldn't describe it better.

When the flight landed, I journeyed through customs, immigration, and baggage claim. After some light interrogation and half an hour of waiting, I received my work visa. As the security allowed me to pass through customs, I immediately saw a small, grey-haired man with a sign that said, "Cirque Du Soleil: Abigail Schmidt". I contained myself, but I almost burst into tears. Until this moment, I hadn't been face to face with anyone affiliated with Cirque. It was the pinnacle of my first day in Montreal, but it's only gotten better since I first saw my name next to the name of my new employer.

When I got in the car that took me to headquarters, I was really... really excited. Hence, this next picture.

Normally, I'd maybe try to act cool, but there's no shame in the joy I felt that day. This entire process has truly felt more like a gift than something that I've earned.

My driver took me to the Residence at Cirque, and I signed in at the front desk with the mother figure of the residence. As she looked at my three oversized suitcases, she said, "I should have given you a room on the first floor". Maybe I shouldn't have brought so many pairs of shoes? No, never mind... You can never have too many pairs of shoes.

Luckily, two Russians here on medical noticed our delay, and one of them kindly helped us carry my suitcases to my room. I reside in a hotel room style apartment; I have a bed, desk, two closets, the smallest kitchen you've ever seen, and a bathroom. It's perfectly sized and I have plenty of room. 

After I unpacked and set up my montage of family portraits, I went to the grocery store with a friend. She is here on medical receiving physical therapy for two surgeries, and we did club gymnastics together as teenagers. She's one of three americans out of all of the artists here, and I just happen to know her!

I'm just glad that the food looks the same here because otherwise I would have never been able to read the French signs that tell which food is which. Most people speak English here, but they aren't exactly thrilled when we make them.

I settled in that first night after reading a book that my sister-in-law (kind of), Brooke, gave me. The introduction mentions Isaiah 55:12, and it has become my meditation while I'm here. 

"You will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace."

Tuesday was another relaxing day. I mostly just settled in and napped. A lot. Oh! I did receive my Cirque employee card!

Wednesday was my first day at work! We spent the majority of Wednesday and Thursday in meetings for information on the headquarters, the staff, medical clearance, immigration, taxes, etc. They are smart to do these meetings at they beginning because everyone is so excited to be there. I've never been so excited for a tax meeting. We also found out that we will be seeing Amaluna in Quebec City next weekend! 

The first group congregation of all of the artists was definitely the most entertaining. There are Russians, a Kazakhstanian, a Canadian, two Americans, and one Argentinian in our group in general formation. Our first meeting involved French, English, Russian, and Spanish translators all talking at the exact same time. I literally felt like I was at the Tower of Babel. Since this moment in that room, I have spoken and learned more French, Russian, and Spanish than I would ever have expected!

My technical term within my specialty is called a "flyer", and my partner, Juan, is called a "catcher". We met on Wednesday morning, and the first thing he said to me was, "no problem. I catch you."

Well, that's all I really needed to hear.

After spending more time with him, I found out that he has un bebe! She is three *weeks* old. Please keep Juan, his girlfriend, and their baby girl, Alegra Palacios, in your prayers. Maybe pray that Juan catches me while you're at it.

Here is a video of what doing what he does best: catching!
His partner in the video, Charly, weighs around 55 kg. As if that's supposed to make me feel better.

Kilograms, kilometers, celsius, and military time... no one gave me a warning.

Montreal is the location of the international headquarters, and it is uh-maz-ing. There is a makeup studio featuring only MAC products (please and thank you!), two floors of costuming, multiple studios for practicing and creation, two cafes, free coffee**, physical therapy/workout center, a library, and pretty much anything else you could ever ask for. It's also decorated with Cirque memorabilia, and the environment is incredibly open and artistic. It is a total and complete honor to be here, and I am so grateful.

On Thursday night, I went to the grocery store with my new friend, LA. She was a member of the Canadian National team for gymnastics, and she attended Oregon State. Also, she's the only other girl who speaks English in our formation! That pretty much instantaneously made us friends.

LA and I walked to the grocery store. It's about a 15 minute walk, and we must have forgotten this when we were grocery shopping. We bought WAY too much to carry back. We tried, but of course, it started raining. Then we realized that we didn't write down the taxi's number!

Meet Laura-Ann. And our groceries.

Long story short, LA has a smart phone! We found a number, called a cab, and paid the $10 to get back to headquarters. Next time, buy less and bring an umbrella.

OH! Bags cost 5 cents here at the grocery store. Random fact.

Although I am learning new languages, I am also getting much worse at English. In order to talk to foreigners, I have to dumb my speech down. On Thursday night, LA and I spent almost half an hour talking about fruit to the Russians. When there is such a strong language barrier, all we end up talking about is what they call grapes and what we call watermelons. Fortunately, I will be your go-to-girl if you ever need help in a Russian supermarket :). Praise the Lord for my iTranslate app on my iPhone. Without it, the interaction between our group would be incredibly limited.

There are so many stories to tell and reasons to be thankful, so I will do my best to blog as often as I can! It's past midnight, so it's time for some rest. It is an incredible feeling to lay my head down on my pillow every night and feel so blessed to be here. It makes me grateful for my God-given talent, grateful for my selfless husband, and grateful for all of the people who invested in my gymnastics career. 

I wish that I could have this moment for life.

Goodnight, all. Look after my husband for me.