Monday, December 17, 2007

mindfulness

Sometimes words just come into my head, and the ideas about those words follow, and a sort of reference game where I wonder why such and such a word came into my head at that exact moment, or did the idea come up, and my brain simply responded by looking for the word...
some time today the word 'mindfulness' came to me. and I will take you now on the little journey I traveled with myself as this word stayed the central lens of my thoughts today.
I thought of my class in college with Robert Thurman. Buddhism taught by Uma's dad and the only U.S. born Tibetan-ordained monk... or something like that. the class was going on during September 11th and the period that followed that and I was living and studying in New York City. he was a powerful thinker, speaker, visionary, and more. He had so much passion I remember thinking at the time he almost sort of levitated in front of us. He talked quite a bit about Mindfulness, and we read great books, "Inner Revolution" by him being one of my favorites... and he had a million ways to communicate the ideas he wanted us to feel in our bodies NOT JUST 'know' in our heads. He talked about how The Matrix movie was very Buddhistic... and he talked about how using the 14 techniques of Mindfulness may serve us in getting through what was a very difficult time compounded by the fact that an entire CITY was experiencing the tragedy and the grief en masse.
Driving home tonight I longed to refresh my memory on the techniques and I found this website helpful... www.mindfulnessbell.org/14trainings.htm


I went tonight to a dance/singing show at a Pilates/Yoga/Dance studio (www.studiosoma.com). The teachers put on an extremely talented show-- it didn't hurt I guess that there were Martial Arts world champions, professional choreographers, and American Idol singers among them. (One thing you gotta love about LA. There's a lot of crazies but there ain't no dearth of talent!) Anyway, it was interesting to feel so moved despite the relative casualness of the production (most of us were sitting on the floor watching) and the simplicity of it. Different teachers did 'demos' of the many different class styles offered: Tango, Salsa, Hip-Hop, Musical Theatre, Jazz, Ballet, Burlesque, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style movement, etc. and two of the teachers took turns singing traditional Christmas fare like Mariah's Carey's All I Want for Christmas, or Chestnuts Roasting... The really nuts thing: Alicia Keys' No One made me feel SO MUCH, so full, and present, and incredible...

I guess I am a little shocked because last night I went to see the extremely high-production value Ray Charles musical at the Pasadena Playhouse... and I felt so little. I was extremely proud of my college friend Brandon Victor Dixon who was AMAZING as Ray... but it just goes to show I guess. Ray is going to Broadway in the fall of 2008 and that is wonderful I just hope it kind find it's soul a little bit first. The songs were amazing, of course, how could they not be... but the whole concept was so cold and device-y and 'smart' it was sort of empty for me.
And I think the whole comparison is especially vivid for me because of Nest, my dance-theater company turning five this year, and the celebration that happened last week, and talking to different people I'm close to about what I want it to be in the future, as it continues to grow hopefully-- what that growth means exactly. There are so many different directions. So often we think 'bigger,' 'bigger,' equals 'better' and 'more successful' and whatnot...

And then it extends not only to Nest, but to my self, how do I want to grow? What does being happy? being successful mean to me? It comes up extra this time of year, like when it's your birthday, ... it's the holidays, and you want to be generous not only with gifts but with your heart and your soul and share... and then with the coming of the New Year-- and the opportunity for starting fresh, at least in our own minds. ;-)

anyway, mindful mindful
now let me remember,
present present

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"happiness is only real when it's shared"

I saw Into the Wild the other night and I can't stop thinking about it.
It made me feel an incredible amount, which is something I always appreciate, and I am excited that the feeling has not waned in the days since I saw the movie. If anything, the feelings have grown. I walked out of the movie about 4 minutes after the last people had left the theater, and I felt so moved it was literally hard to walk. My knees didn't seem to work. As if the feelings, the thoughts and the change in me was physical.

My favorite parts about the movie/story were
* Chris' conviction, integrity, COMMITMENT
* the relationships, and the way they differed, but all showed that loving someone SO MUCH can sometimes mean letting them go, (away even) ... and even if you are worried for their judgement or their future or them forgetting about you ... when you really love someone you want them to fully realize who THEY are MORE than you want to see their beautiful face everyday. [Sometimes, maybe, the two are not mutually exclusive.]
* the simplicity Chris was able to find in moments, exchanges, stupid jobs, -- the ecstasy of the apple scene, his time with Wayne, his time with Rainey and Jan, the naked hot dog couple, ... even working at Burger King
* "I've never been as happy as when I was penniless"
* his lack of obstinacy regarding change in the realms of his plans, his vision, his pleasures, relationships ... it is well and GOOD to be flexible, and fluid, and OPEN
* his embrace of intensity -- feeling things deeply, caring DEEPLY for people in his life (without suffocating them), for his goals, for his values, for his perseverance, sensitivity, quest for truth-- 'calling things by their true name'
* his sense of humor and perspective
* his sincerity

... ALL of this achieved without riches, addiction, drugs, alcohol, or drama ...
but instead, through balance and conviction

and most importantly, that last line (and the title of this post):
"happiness is only real when its shared"

I loved the film. the story as Sean Penn saw it. the (probably) myth of Chris McCandless ... the performances, the cinematography, the people who inspired Chris, the book and writers and nature, and Eddie Vedder's music ...

Damn. gush gush gush

now what?

(everything is changing)

Friday, November 30, 2007

even cowboys need hard hats

Around lunchtime yesterday I saw the most dignified looking man crossing the street near a job site in Pasadena. He was carrying two small coolers and had the most beautiful carriage and posture. Despite his dirt-stained Carrharts and t-shirt, he looked like a classic film star. And the clincher-- in his right hand he held a hard hat-- in the shape and style of a cowboy sombrero. That is a first for me. Maybe that is one good thing about our product-laden world-- there really is something for everyone.

Then this morning, around 8:30am I came to the classroom computer where I am working today and the website that was open was Steve Harvey's "Trip A Day" Giveaway. One of the classroom assistants, Miss T, had filled out the online application. She wrote about how she had never been on a trip in her life, how in fact she had never set foot on a plane. She is a 38 year-old single mother with 3 children and one grandchild. She wrote about how she knows she is very lucky, especially since she works with emotionally-disturbed children, and she counts her blessings every day... but that she would really like to get away and be in a place that lets her forget about how hard life can be, just for a little while. She selected Mexico & the Caribbean as her ideal trip destinations. I didn't mean to read her private writing but since there is a disclaimer saying that the writing would appear on the website I figured it was okay. Also, the form was already open on the computer I had to use to take attendance, et cetera. Anyway, I hope she wins. Also though, I feel like she is already a winner compared to so many people-- who don't see all the good they have in their lives, who are always wanting more, and who take the little things for granted.

Monday, November 26, 2007

what is the image in your head?

the image in my head right now:
A glass bowl filled with glass marbles. Stillness. Then, the curtains sway and heave, a wave comes crashing through the window and knocks the glass bowl off of the table. Can the fish in the ocean hear the marbles hit the floor, displace the water, the chair, the walls, each other? Do the marbles look like air bubbles to the fish or do they see in them cat's eyes? or childhood games? memories?...


I love this poem and it has been haunting me lately.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Sunday, November 18, 2007

thank you for waiting, leaves

There’s really no getting around it
NY makes me feel a lot of things:

Im not sure how exactly it works, or if there’s a particular order but here’s a smattering, and this is not specific to this trip—but really to every trip, or the many years I spent living there:

1. Nostalgic – for the firsts that happened there, for the memories that happened there, for the life I lived at different times there, for the times I heard about but wasn’t yet born for (60s and 70s, 1880-1910s… etc)
2. Inspired – theater on the stage or on the subway/bus/street, the brilliant design and fascinating development of the city itself… the people, the people again
3. Excited – what could happen? Anything! (Like a kid in a candy store)
4. Full of curiosity and passion – so much to see, listen for, smell, so many experts, so many people with their own burning intensity
5. Connections with people both known and unknown
6. Fun—dancing, talking, walking, seeing, kissing, running, eating, pingpong
7. Lonely—it is a wonderful place to be alone, but it also a wonderful place to have a partner in crime, a best friend, a love of your life…
8. Something Extreme – in the last year the times I have been to NYC have had blizzards, crazy rain that shut down the subways, and A TORNADO (in Flatbush!)

Makes me think of the song my dad used to sing:
‘I have often walked down this street before
But the pavement never stayed beneath my feet before’

I spent quite a lot of time in the last 48 hours following my own tracks.
The tracks didn’t show, in many cases my sense memory outlasted the cement even… but it wasn’t the ground I came for I guess. It was the path. Or the memory. Or the signs that the distance between the past and the current path might give me…

From the 10 years ago place I felt proud and excited at being able to express myself better and with greater clarity and confidence than I had 10 years prior. The teacher I used to have ‘issues’ with sat across from me and we bounced ideas around about strategic planning for the future of the wonderful program that changed my life so much… then, on the station platform and Metro-North train along the Hudson I remembered how exactly I felt when I had sat sharing headphones, giggles and the pages of a journal with my best friend. Not surprisingly, I saw two teenage girls who looked just like Sarah and me.

From twenty years ago the way I felt in my first New York City cab ride. Nighttime. Sticking my head out the window. Just like the movies…

From seven years ago… On 10th Street and 1st avenue I remembered feeling like I might have met the person I was going to spend the rest of my life. We shared a passion for art and literature and theater and insatiable curiosity and romanticism and all the memories came flooding back of cold nights nearly running with excitement from the N/R on 8th Street across Lafayette and 3rd Ave, by St. Mark’s Book Shop, taking the Stuyvesant Place shortcut to 10th, and walking past 10th Street Lounge and the sushi place that took care of my fish once when the street was closed after the crane for the luxury high-rise above Theater for a New City fell…

From nine years ago… At DOJO I remembered being an 18 year-old who was so excited to find a place that had yummy, healthy food and beer and was cheap and didn’t card, even me…

From five years ago… I remember living on MacDougal Street and the adventures that living in that close proximity to so much that was exciting to me allowed for. Many early-morning walks home.

It goes on and on. The first play I saw at the Rattlestick, … Adam Rapp’s Faster, and how exciting that was, and to now, not so many years later, go see a play there and have the director and half of the actors and designers involved be good friends. The world moving closer? Or are we all expanding only to close some of the perceived gaps?

Clinton and Henry Streets in Brooklyn and the time I spent there. The funny realization that the memory of that time has now been altered and informed by my attachment to certain works of fiction and characters and their stories specific to those places—(Mingus Rude from Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, Paul Auster, etc.)

One of my oldest friends in the world Nick and the funny way things both change so much and stay the same. Ping pong and Brooklyn forever.

I know the tracks from these times, these people are connected to the path now, and I know I love all the new stops and/or memory pegs added to the path this weekend. New touchstones, new paths from Union Square to 9th Street, new Israeli brunch places in Brooklyn, new unmarked dance halls hidden above unassuming restaurants, new orange, amber and red leaves falling, new ideas and seasons shared with old and older friends… and fortunately… new feelings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

saturation


I go in waves I guess. Longitudinal waves specifially I think. Sometimes I want to sit down, to describe or document, to share, constantly. I see something, it makes me think of something-- I want to tell you.
Other times, I swing away from the critical mind a bit. I feel it would be in haste to describe the things. The experiences are too fresh, too raw, not yet meaningful, or sometimes too meaningful for now. Often, I feel that so many people are so quick to 'name' things, to define, and categorize, and compartmentalize, only to quicken the moving on... and something is lost in this.
on the intake side:
It has been an incredibly crazy busy week.
I saw:
1 live music / DJ show (Ming and Ping)
1 stand-up comedy show (Adam Harrington and friends)
1 dance-theater performance (Pina Bausch)
1 movie (No Country for Old Men)
1 improv comedy show (Harold Night at the Upright Citizens Brigade)
1 play (Wildboy '74 at BOOTLEG)

6 shows in 7 days.

On Saturday I took the day off from 'culture' I guess. But riding bikes along the water up to Malibu and later sitting in an outdoor hot-tub with a tent over it, and having my tarot cards read in between-- these experiences were certainly very special and quite unusual and 'other' too.

the colors are still fresh and wet and the deep saturation makes it hard to know what to make of all these experiences yet. I know getting to watch Pina Bausch sitting between two of my best friends in the world is a memory I'm likely to remember with a deep joy my whole life. Our eyes widened together, our mouths laughed together, and together, the two hour-long snow-white confetti fall onstage, played tricks on our eyes, and heads, and hearts.
and even if I don't know what exactly to make of it yet, the show renewed my faith in myself, that someday, hopefully soon... I will make something of it. all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

showing up

359 days ago I went to the plaza outside the Taper Forum and the Chandler Pavillion and all that and watched the opening performance of Suzan-Lori Parks 365 Plays/365 Days. I loved the plays, the performances, the direction, the unique challenges of performing on the plaza, the shepherding aspect... as classical music blasted and a man told me he loved me (part of the 3rd Constant-- 'the tasks') ... and I loved standing outside the Disney Hall for the last of that week's plays and being in awe of not only the theater aspect but the COMMUNITY aspect. All of us were sharing this very simple experience of watching a piece of theater, but outside, in the 'cold,' ... amidst the unusual backdrop of downtown Los Angeles. Together. And then the little party at REDCAT with food and drinks and many of my favorite LA artists in one place. The plays went on all year and I felt pretty involved throughout. Seeing shows, one on the Pier in Santa Monica, directing shows in a gallery space/sidewalk downtown (NestArts.org), performing in shows (Son of Semele Ensemble, Cornerstone Theater), and generally feeling enthused by the uniting cause.
Last night the 'year' went out with a bang. We were back downtown, this time at California Plaza's WaterCourt and Nancy Keystone directing for the Center Theater Group. Suzan-Lori was there. Many of the participating theaters were there. And most importantly, MANY MANY people who do not tend to go see a lot of theater were there. And they looked amazed and inspired and tickled to me.
One woman, Galeen Roe, went to see every week's show in LA. And she was there. And she happens to work on the 35th floor of the office building that looks over the Plaza. And Suzan-Lori happened to write her a play, which she read, beautifully, ... and because it is a 'forever' play, that lives on past the performance or 'those' 365 days... it lives on when Galeen looks out the window of her work and down onto the Plaza and remembers the magic of last night, or when any of us remember some bit of magic perhaps... I would like to share it here.

The Rage Against Galeen
(a forever play for Galeen Roe, who has seen every production of 365inLA)

(THE RAGE creeps along the stage. A bundle of folks working their surly energy. Bad vibes. Dashed hopes. Stolen elections. Funding cuts to the arts, funding cuts to the poor, funding cuts to the public schools. Too much traffic on the 405. The smog. The plastic people. The Plastic Garbage Patch two times the size of Texas and sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Another glacier that just melted away. The Industry. The Man. The Co-Opted Brother. Your last nerve worked right down to the bone. No rain. Too much rain. The fires. That helpless "Yeah, I yell at the television when I watch the tv news." That helpless-anger-rage. And then, there's that war that makes you wanna holler. Holler! Yeah, all that rage, all that angry rage creeps along the stage, certain of its power.

Then, GALEEN enters. In real life, she's blonde-blue-eyed and pixie-petitie, but when you do the show, she can be as you like. Tall or tiny, she or he, human or other being, singular or a multitude, blonde, or black or brown, feel free with the casting. Feel free, feel free.

GALEEN
THE RAGE
GALEEEN
THE RAGE

And the Rage, certain of its power, approaches Galeen. And Galeen, quite simply, shows up. Maybe she does a series of elaborate hand gestures (Elaborate Hand Gestures!) But hand gestures are not necessary. Yes Galeen shows up And her heaven-sent presence stops the Rage in its tracks.

And Galeen continues to show up: in a multitude of different ways. At a multitude of different times. In all venues, in all seasons, through all weathers. In Valencia even!

Galeen's presence, her audience, bears weight And witness: as the Rage transforms itself into something beautiful and powerful and good.

Actions like hers create the world Peace
Actions like hers create the theatre Piece
And all the world remains/
A stage
Forever.)
The End

I hope it is merely the beginning of the middle ... the juicy thick of it // ;-)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

almost a week has gone by

without words

sometimes when I am feeling the most, or the busiest, or the wheels are turning the most in whatever way I find it hard to write. Sometimes I think I am scared to write anything in these times because it could go so many different directions. And somehow, writing can make a thing, a thought, an idea, seem more real. More definite. A commitment.

about a week ago I spent some time with an old teacher. he is one of the most amazing thinkers I have ever known and I was very lucky to get to see him. During the hour or so we spent together I felt so many lights growing inside me, lights I had forgotten about, lights I thought had gone out, they were re-ignited and spread to each other and it felt huge and powerful. we talked about empathy and how a teacher might possibly go about teaching empathy, to middle- or high-school students. or anyone for that matter. he told me about using metaphor, and we talked about the idea that a person only truly knows a thing when he knows it in his body. through and through. As a dancer this rings very true for me.

I will try to dscribe a few highlights from my week now, not by telling you what I did, or how I felt, but through metaphor. or something like it...

Moments:
sunday around midnight: I felt like a soldier in ancient days who travelled weeks with a message for a family. The message said: "The war has ended. We won! Your son is still alive. He will be with you again. Soon." ... but the family was not at the given location. There was no one there. The soldier kept travelling. Carrying the message. Where? To who?

tuesday around midnight: I felt like a balloon filled with air that has not been tied off. It is flying around a room full of giddy children who are releasing other balloons of many colors. Spinning dizzy and blowing air through rubber lips singing their puffpuff song. In unison.

halloween around 10:20 am: my favorite halloween costumes on the kids at school are worn by the kids in the "special education class." they are the most imaginative. and fantastic. no french maids there. no stupid vanity either.

friday around 11pm: I felt like a christmas tree that has been picked up from the lot by the nicest, warmest family. And they are all gathered around, drinking rummy eggnog and hot cider with real cinnamon sticks and hanging homemade ornaments and stringing popcorn and cranberries and remarking on what a good choice. what a great tree this year. they are happy and sing carols and tell stories. later, each of them checks in on the tree on their way passing through the room... does the tree have enough water? are the lights working? it has more than enough, they are...

last night around 4 am: I felt in my body sheer delight and unusual peace when I thought I was going to be swallowed by the fire. Erica accidentally turned the gas way up and when I leaned in to light the wood the flames all but enveloped me. Looked like special effects. Felt surprisingly not hot. Why peace? I had danced. Been to the ocean. Day with bestest friends. Forgotten crushes resurfacing-- you never know what you might find at a taco truck at 3 in the morning.

right now: Sundays are best served full right now. I feel so lucky for my friends and the house I am living in and the strides I am making in my soul. It almost feels like I am actually getting taller. Oh if only...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

why not?

I was running across the street to the mailbox this morning when I noticed a man's leather dress shoe in the crosswalk. I looked around and saw a homeless-looking man at the corner with a chock-full shopping cart. On the lower level there was a single lonely shoe. I called out to the man that he may have lost his shoe-- and I pointed to the crosswalk. The bedraggled, barefoot man replied, "I'm Cinderella." Smiling, he set out to retrieve it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

celebrate

We won the World Series! We, that is, not only the players and managers and Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox establishment, no, ... the people of Boston. The hot dog sellers and the kid who listened to the broadcast on his radio under the covers and the old guys who've been saying "I think this is gonna be our year..." but maybe more truly believed they couldn't possibly have the good fortune for it to happen twice in their lifetimes... anyone who has ever called Boston home really... and gotten on that train. And cared! And cheered! And drank beer! And high-fived! YESSSS!!!!!!!!
... And talked stats and pitchers and came to feel like game days were a breath of fresh air, because as exciting as it is, baseball is also very simple. It is old-fashioned and classic and there are rules and everyone from player to ump to spectator, has TREMENDOUS respect for 'em. And as much as people might be talking about A-Rod's contract today, and the money these players make and whatnot, somehow it is hard for me to believe that any of us, even the players, are really thinking about that stuff. The bear hugs and the jumping on each other, the utter glee on Papi's face after Ellsbury's catch, Papelbon's drunk-on-life dance moves, Varitek's quick slip of Papelbon's final Series-ending strike into his back pocket-- you'd have to try pretty hard to convince me it's about the money... Sure the stakes are a lot higher when it's the World Series but I bet each of these players felt such glory at moments in the game their whole lives. In little league... Playing catch with their dad... A pick-up game with some friends in the park...
Anyway, baseball, and 'play' and 'games' -- pretty special stuff. I'm so glad I got to really be ON this ride.

Go SOX!! Now and forever...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

cheating on the memory of a loved one

When I finish a great book it takes me days, sometimes weeks, to embark on the journey of reading another.
I go through stages of minor grief, withdrawal, frustration, longing and nostalgia… and somehow, finally, I am ready to start again. When I read the first words of a new book they often strike me as extremely awkward, foreign, and of a world I have no desire to move into. I miss the old words, the characters, the mood, certain phrases and syntax and images that echoed in the pages and in my mind for the days or weeks I spent with the book.

Sometimes I feel like I am cheating. Betraying the one I loved so much, the one I said was “my favorite,” the “best ever.” But then, the end of that story has come and gone for me. I go back to it in my mind and visit the characters and imagine where they might be later on, but the words are finite. And for me, the days without a really great book in my life are less full. Less bright and resonant and meaningful.

And so I must move on. Begin again. Set out and quiet my comparisons and missing and longing and move forward with characters who still have a future ahead of them.

It reminds me of relationships. The steps of one ending, sometimes in a manner that feels as unresolved or incidental as a really great book, and the stages of transition, and the wash of feelings and missteps you might take in trying to move forward. I try to remember that the great books will always be there, to re-visit not only those characters, but the way I felt when I was with them. On a journey that felt infinite and forever.

The last book was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Before that, the semi-connected The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Now: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

Two passages I read this morning and want to share:
“You forget some things, don’t you?”
“Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”

“The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

incredible generosity

This morning I went to the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to bring some blankets, toys, clothes etc. to the people who have been evacuated from their homes in the area due to the raging wildfires.
More than 300,000 people have been evacuated. This is not an abstract number or idea. During Katrina say, or many other disasters, I watched images on the news and read the stories in the paper but my proximity to this situation has changed everything for me. The air everywhere, is FILLED with smoke. The few people who are outside, walking to work or waiting for a bus, have bandanas, or masks, or an extra piece of clothing over their mouths. As if they are running out of a house in flames. Only they are just there, in a moment in their lives, and you don't see the fires, but they seem to be EVERYWHERE around here.

I came down yesterday morning because my grandmother is in the hospital (unrelated to the fires). She is a serious current events buff in general but laying in a hospital bed with no mobility makes 'keeping up on the news' pretty inevitable. She suggested I bring a carload of blankets, toys, and clothes to the stadium as was requested on the TV. I did so this morning.
Here are a few amazing/sad/inspiring things I saw:

* A woman in her late-30s or early-40s pacing in one section of the parking lots, barefoot and crying. She had a baby over her shoulder that she was patting on the back. The baby was not real though, it was a plastic doll.
* Lots of donuts
* MANY grown men trying to put cots together (I think they were not quite camping/handy-person types)
* Wild exotic birds hovering around three teenagers in their pick-up. Two large macaws, several parrots and parakeets. Nearby, in another truck, several singing canaries.
* An older woman playing a flute
* Many children, one with a balloon-animal on his head
* Mounds of donations and and steady stream of more on the way
* Many couples staring into space but holding hands
* Newspapers
* Several neighborly interactions between strangers. Sharing refreshments, playing cards together, rocking babies.
* So many dogs.
* ALL kinds of people.

Monday, October 22, 2007

the things we tell ourselves and each other

being on a retreat with your theater company is really amazing.
So is eating ice cream.
Doing these two things together is off the charts.

Especially when the Red Sox are the BEST TEAM EVER.

I am thinking of the people who have been evacuated in the wild fires raging up and down this western coast. I was talking to someone about the Santa Ana winds on Saturday night and it was one of those things where I was just sort of saying something, as if it were true, and possibly even obvious, but in fact I had no real idea what I was talking about other than the sorta strange intuition that was permitting the words to come out of my mouth as if they were indeed fact or expert or something. We discussed Suzan-Lori Parks' play "Santa Ana." I kicked a felled large frond from a palm tree out of my path in the park near the substation in Culver City and watched a tumbleweed blow across Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Was it a premonition?
Man, ... strong winds.

Questions: Can it be a 'retreat' when it is just two people? What if, the actual purpose of the trip is entirely different and the retreat aspects are mere moments between the reasons you are really there? Is this denial? Is it effective?... Might this line-of-thinking be an option for all the evacuaees?... i.e. Visualize yourself on a sudden and spontaneous vacation. Everything is not bad and scary. You are going to the Stadium! Lots of people will be there! Free food and camping! TOGETHER! For days! (Hope, or, in Spanish, Ojala! (insert appropriate accents))

sometimes denial feels healthy and/or necessary

Sunday, October 21, 2007

on a dime

Things can change.

I just stopped by my dad's blog (http://bigmangettingsmaller.blogspot.com/) ... which I wonder may one day be akin to stopping by someone's home for a sit-down and storytelling... I can tell you right now I would love to visit with many loved ones, but the 3,000 mile distance makes looking at their words a bit more do-able.

I just finished writing the posting below and felt inspired and fairly happy in the 'outlook' department when I hit the Play button on the 'soundtrack' my dad selected for today's writing. It is an amazing song I have been obsessed with since I first heard it at age 9 when my sister brought it home from summer camp with her. It is called "Kilkelly, Ireland" and my dad has found an incredible video that is sort of a visual narrative of the song (which was based on actual letters from a father to his son) using historical photographs.

Perhaps needless to say but I sobbed for the next 4 minutes. I have been thinking about 'important things' an unusual, and perhaps unhealthy, amount lately. I am torn over whether I am sort of a glutton for sadness right now or if I am just being honest with myself and doing the necessary 'riding it out.' It is hard sometimes not to let the sad and horrible things going on in the world, both macro and micro, get a sensitive girl down. Thank goodness for jokes and funny movies and the Red Sox right now!!

My dad's writing is quite powerful as well and I recommend to all taking a look.

Splash of Colors

My Mom sent me this article this morning from the Boston Globe. It is sort of a funny coincidence to me that she sent it because while I was watching the Red Sox play (AWESOMELY!) yesterday and interacted with many (RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME!) fellow Boston peeps I made a note to myself that I would write a bit about 'where I come from' today. Boston and it's people really do have a special spark. Especially in October. Go Sox!

So, another coincidence is that shortly after I moved to LA I went to an audition at the American Film Institute and as I was on the winding driveway I saw Corita's colors. And then her name. The Corita Art Center. I had completely forgotten she even spent any time in LA. Then, a little over a month ago, shortly after moving to a part of Los Feliz (an especially green, pretty unique and sort of 'intellectual' funky part of LA next to Silverlake and Griffith Park) ... while on a run one day I ran by the Convent that Corita had lived in. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was literally a stone's throw from my new house. What a special presence here.

Corita was like a godmother to me and many of the other women in my family. She was a mentor to my Aunt Sara, who's art now finds itself manifest in a sucessful fashion line (www.SaraCampbell.com), she was the one of first real artists I knew closely, she was the first 'old' person I really knew (and wasn't afraid of), and, she was the first person I felt close to who died. I remember visiting her in the hospital when I was 6 and she had cancer quite bad and she was playing with me still and making me laugh. She gave me some of her breathing tubes and other parapharnalia and I remember taking it home and playing in the bath with it, and pretending that my dolls had Cancer but were at a water spa and were going to get better because of a Dr. Corita.

Anyway, the tanks she painted were very close to where I lived from age 5 to 18 in the Dorchester section of Boston. I would see them all the time and smile and feel 'the world is an amazing place' every time. There was a lot of artwork by her in the apartment, and then house, I lived in growing up too. I don't have pictures of the paintings which accompanied these lines but a few of my favorite pieces had the following written on them in her very specific flowing cursive...
"The crocuses always come up."

"After ecstasy, the laundry."

"Of love,
be
(a little)
more careful
than of anything"


DORCHESTER
Belatedly, Dot says tanks, Corita
Kent's creation now embraced, and analyzed
By Michael Corcoran, Globe Correspondent | October 21, 2007

It has been more than 36 years since Corita Kent painted the Boston Gas tank on Commercial Point, but the intrigue over the colorful work of art has not waned.

Now, it's even the topic of scholarly discourse.

The work, which Kent designed to represent "hope, uplifting, and spring," will be the subject of a panel discussion next Saturday on "the art of Corita Kent and the history of the Rainbow Gas Tank." The event is being held by the Dorchester Arts Collaborative and Dorchester Historical Society at the Savin Hill Yacht Club, and is open to the public.

"It seemed to me that we should celebrate the fact that we have, right here in our neighborhood, the largest piece of copyrighted public art in the world," said Joyce Linehan, chairwoman of the arts collaborative.

The event will feature a panel discussion with artists and others familiar with the Kent's art, and on public art in general. It will cover the life of Kent, who died of cancer in 1986 at age 67, as well as the history of the tank, which Mickey Myers, a friend of Kent, described as "a sign of hope that we are not alone."

The painting was commissioned in 1971 by then-Boston Gas president Eli Goldstone, who thought it would be good to turn the two gas tanks into a work of art.

The design on the 140-foot-high tank features a vibrant rainbow splash and is easily visible from the Southeast Expressway. The original tank was torn down in 1992 and the painting was recreated on the remaining tank, now owned by National Grid.

"I think it is an interesting example of a piece of public art that has been closely identified with Boston," said Ricardo Barreto, executive director of Urban Arts at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, who will moderate the forum. "It's a piece that people were skeptical about initially, but has since become a symbol of the city to some extent."

Part of this skepticism may have stemmed from the whispers that Kent intentionally inserted a silhouette of Ho Chi Minh, the longtime Vietnamese revolutionary leader, to make an antiwar message. This idea has made the iconic piece of art somewhat divisive. When the original tank was torn down in 1992, veterans' groups demanded the design not be included in the replacement.

Kent denied that Ho's likeness was on the painting, and many doubt the validity of interpretations to the contrary.

According to Alexandra Carrera, director of the Corita Art Center in Los Angeles, Kent's style wasn't well-suited to concealing an abstract representation of someone's face. "There was nothing really meticulous about her paintings," said Carrera. "I don't think there was anything to the rumors."

Myers, who is executive director of the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville, Vt., also said there is nothing to the rumors.

"I can tell you from [seeing] those earliest sketches there was never any intention or goal to create a portrait of anyone or to make any form of political statement in Corita's brush strokes."

But controversies aside, the painting has persisted through the years as a slice of quintessential Boston. Paul White, who in the early '70s served as state senator for the district in which the tank is located, said that while constituents initially didn't know what to make of the eccentric design, it has grown on the people of Dorchester.

"It's a real unique community icon, it has an identity, and it is so different from public construction, which can be so bland," said White, who will take part in the panel discussion. "It has endured because, despite its age, it continues to be a fresh image."

"Anyone from the community will instantly recognize the gas tanks," said Barreto.

"The traffic reports even cite the tanks when giving traffic reports. It is really a piece to celebrate, and I think people would be really disturbed if it were gone."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

lost-making

things to make a person feel lost:
1) losing a personal journal/diary/daybook. (red colored. leathery cover and bound-ish. three-quarters full.)
2) losing a loved one (or hearing of a friend who did and feeling overwhelming sadness and complete fear at prospect of losing a loved one myself).
3) having your pregnant sister have to go into the hospital with an appendicitis. scary x2. (see number 3)
4) having four days pass and still not being able to find your lost journal/diary/daybook.
5) losing control of something or someone that used to feel right and good and THERE.
6) all or any combination of these things.

on the upside, this happened:


(remember good things)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

jump in






it is not often that one gets to feel like Clarissa Dalloway and a naked-but-for-body-paint "Earthling" in one weekend.
I had that rare opportunity.
sometimes when it rains it pours.
hosting a party is a very special experience. We did it! Chefs as friends doesn't hurt but getting the party dancing is a skill not to be undervalued either...
everything went grand and our house is now officially 'warm-to-very hot."
then saturday was an event called Eco-Nouveau. fashion/film/art/dance/DUBLAB afterparty. Backstage is so fun! Madness! Models everywhere and so many assistants and flashes popping and the I have never heard the questions "are you done?" and "which shoes are you wearing?" so often in one day. It was fun playing in that world for a day. Getting painted and hair done and performing on a giant catwalk in a grand cathedral downtown is sort of a grown-up Eloise experience I think and I embraced it as such. I feel a little bit closer to Demi Moore now (that Vanity Fair cover). And to spencer tunick and the lovely ladies I performed with. there is nothing like the feeling of skinny dipping through a crowd.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

for what its worth


please look at someone/something/yourself today with a little more love
a little more patience
a little more laughter ... humility ... pride
a little more space

look for the subtleties
they are there

I promise

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Miss Musical

Apparently I am a huge musical aficionado. Actually, I'm not. But I have seen two in the past four days. And I saw a couple this summer, and I saw one this spring/summer about 7 times. Why, you ask? Well, for many reasons. For love. To support. For fun... For reasons to do with the musical that my mom and I are working on. For the reason of being on a quest to satisfy multiple unusual obsessions with the recordings of musicals I had not yet seen. That sort of thing.
On Saturday I went to Wicked which I feel like I am the last person I know to see-- even all the 11 year-olds I know saw it LAST year... and tonight I saw A Catered Affair, a brand spanking new musical by Harvey Feurstein. It is going to Broaway next Spring but if you can get to San Diego in the near future-- go see it!!!!!!! it was absolutely amazing. There was a talk back after, which was actually very illuminating and lovely because no one was too full of themselves, even though in my book these people have a right to be, and the dramaturg stayed out of the way and didn't get too esoteric or abstract... anyway, some people felt that it was more of a play with music but it truly was a musical, just a COMPLETELY UNIQUE one. and not in the way the Spring Awakening is unique-- because it uses rock and minimalism and has so much style... but because I literally felt inside of it, on a journey with the characters the entire time-- beginning to end. That never happens in musicals. Rarely does it even happen in plays for me. Truth be told, and I hope this doesn't scare anyone away, ... I also felt like my eyes were nearly filled with water/three stoplights short of full-on tears for most of the show. The subject matter is ordinary and yet momentuous. It is 1945 or so and a son is dead and a daughter is getting married, and money is tight and tempers are fierce. It had the simplicity of It's A Wonderful Life-- and of course, in that simplicity there is a universality. Wow. CHARGED.
Now as a theatermaker myself, the differences between WICKED and A CATERED AFFAIR were huge, Wicked was massive and epic and spectacular, a spectacle with substance to back it up... and A Catered Affair started quiet and simple and surreptitiously snuck inside you and rocked you to the bone; heart and mind's string playing vibrato...

musicals really are a wide open affair.
go figure

Monday, October 8, 2007

antidotes for heavy boots



So this kid in an ESL class I was teaching in the other day brought up this letter and asked me very politely to read it over and make sure it made sense, etc. He looked about 15, definitely shorter than I am, but very cute with a great smile... and so, the first line caught me a little off-guard.
It went like this:

I am so happy being married to you.
I desire you and I love you.
You are the most beauty.
You are so precious and funny laughing.
Being married to you means getting to spend the rest of our lives annoying each other.


...
!
It went on and I asked him about the sincerity of his message. Was he really married? Did he mean this stuff? Or, was it a joke? I thought that last line was extremely brilliant and funny and probably true-- but I was trying to get a sense of his intention. I asked him if he wanted to say something 'good' or something 'bad' or something 'funny.' Very sternly he said, "no no Miss, not funny. Not bad. Only loving." I figured out he meant to say "enjoying" ... instead of "annoying" ... I think it really works either way though. For now anyway, that is one lucky lady.

Friday, October 5, 2007

music - part II

Last night I got to go to the gala opening of the LA Philharmonic's season at the Disney Concert Hall in LA. My friend's friend is the principal oboiest, and I am SO GLAD we ran past the free wine and coffee and crumpets in time to catch her solos in the 'love scene' from Berlioz's "Romeo and Juliet." She was incredible. Gehry's design and the acoustics were incredible. Esa-Pekka, the handsome, young, conductor was incredible. Renee Fleming was incredible. And Jack Nicholson and Diane keaton, seated to my right, were INCREDIBLE.
A hundred or so musicians working together, playing so brilliantly, but with such subtlety and nuance, to transport the entire hall into edge-of-your-seat mesmerized stillness... oh my gosh-- I loved it. Renee Fleming even led the audience in a sing-along version of "I Could Have Danced All Night." And yes, the entire group sitting around me beamed at each other as we sang; the older tuxedoed gents leading some of us younger, casually-attired and musically-ignorant kids...
At the end Jack leaned forward towards Diane's ear, and, in a classic Jack stage-whisper said, "Thank you so very much." He adjusted his shades and was off.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

two bruised knees but BRIGHT eyes

First, thank you to the people who have left comments. Either in this forum or via email or post. I love letters and the sort of exchange that comes with feedback/response makes me feel less like I am being self-indulgent and more like I am simply writing letters to friends I may not yet know. So, thank you!

I do indeed have two bruised knees. It was accidental but I leaped headlong and physically into the 'falll forward' mentality last night... either that, or the street was suddenly transformed into the most slippery ice skating rink and I was 5 years old again... and I can say that I am happy to have gone forward, rather than backwards, I've suffered tailbone injuries aplenty and the donut pillow is not an old friend I would like to spend time with again(!) ... and, you'd never even have known I have the shiners I have from the way I jumped right up again. I was not really embarassed, or unhappy with the falls, they just were, and I got up, and that was that. And I recommend that stance in most 'fall down' scenarios be they physical or emotional...

I saw two amazing shows this weekend. Last night was Bright Eyes with the LA Philharmonic and M. Ward and Yo La Tengo at the Hollywood Bowl. We had a 'terrace box' and a picnic and wine and stars and stars in our eyes and our ears and even stirring in our hearts. To me, Conor Oberst is the most gifted lyricist/musician/singer/handsome chap. I love his voice and I usually feel like I understand exactly what he is saying in the songs. Like I would sing in that tone and those words if my vocalizations came out the way they feel in my head & body...

Also, I went to see Must Don't Whip 'Um at Redcat. It was an extremely awe-inspiring-- brilliant design -- lighting, video, live mixing off all the elements by the performers themselves (who are really more of technical artists-- and thus fabulously unusual to watch perform), INCREDIBLE music by Cynthia Hopkins' band GLORIA DELUXE... it was something else. I used to be very close with the people who made it, in a common creative community in NY, and intertwined socially and whatnot, and it had been about three years since I really saw many of them. It is a real gift to have that time away sometimes-- I saw how amazing the people are like it was my first time.

I got to go to the ocean again, dip in the water, bike up the coast a ways, read more of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (why are those two souls-- Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer getting divorced?? I feel like I know them from their books and I love them both and I think they are so incredibly lucky to have found each other and I just don't understand)
ANYWAY

here I am
seeking seeking seeking
and finding

Monday, September 24, 2007

fall forward

this phrase applies to many things. to what you do to the clocks that makes it extra hard to get up 'on time' the following morning
what you should do if you trip and maybe tumble, stairs, curbs, heels, even the rare banana peel... if you are physically falling, you want to fall forward, but ... !! maybe now I am re-thinking this, are you not supposed to fall forward and instead fall on your bum? ... bigger than your tiny fragile wrists I suppose...

So, it is also an expression that is sort of a metaphor... more than the sum of its parts at least. When times are tough, or unsteady, or rocky... seize the opportunity. To move forward ACTIVELY and energetically.
Forward implies motion, momentum, positive, progress, growth, change... all good things, yes? And the 'fall' part is not so bad either-- is it? It is a moment of instability amidst what can sometimes be, well... droll, even BORING... redundancies and routine stagnations. Right?

Yesterday I spent a few hours with a 3 year-old boy who is one of the great loves of my life. He can do no wrong. I spent a good amount of time with him when he was 1 to 2 years old, so there's a real bond, and when he sees me he gives me the best hug and eyes-closed kiss. Last night he followed that up with "Wanna draw with me?" and... "we're going on a date." When I was drawing spiral shapes and suggested they looked like snails he promptly corrected me saying, "no, they aren't. They are escargots." He even speaks French. We blew bubbles outside for awhile, ate dinner, played in the bath, watched some telly, ate toast with jam, read together, danced together, sang some songs together (he corrected my pronunciation of Frere-Jacques too!!) and curled up in bed. GREAT date!! The times when he was acting up even, or acting his age I guess, splashing me or throwing the bath toys outside the tub, he was so cute, and so pure in his actions, I couldn't stop myself from cracking up. Oh, if I could only bring that lightness and quickness to laugh to all my challenging relationships/situations!!
Anyway, it got me thinking. It had been about 6 months since I really saw Finn, maybe even 9 months... and he CHANGED so much. He can make sense when he speaks. He can hold something tightly and not let go. He can communicate in two languages. He can articulate what and when he wants to eat, to pee, to sleep, to hug...

If all of us could grow and change that much in such a short period, we truly would be evolved to a ridiculous degree. . ...Or maybe it is also that I didn't see him for that time, so I could really experience him and the changes distinctly... I know that the physical growing (and later, shrinking) becomes more subtleas you get older, but why do we think we should stop learning and growing inside? SO MUCH POTENTIAL. It is exciting to me to think about.

At the same time, I was talking to a friend and he raised a very interesting point about how so many of the examples of relationships we see in pop culture, in movies, in books, on tv, etc. involve people who are perfect for each other and
when they finally get together it is as if they are perfect for each other forever. Because the story is finite, and we do not often see how the characters change, and grow, and how sometimes that growth might mean the two people are no longer perfect for each other. His example was Lloyd Dobbs in Say Anything, and when the movie ends and they are on the plane you get a great, happy feeling because you feel that they are 'perfect' together. But what is going to happen in Europe? How is Lloyd going to change? How is Diane? The movie ends and we never know but in real life, the 'movie' keeps going. So often we miss the many, often great ways the people we love are changing, because it doesn't fit into who they are to us, or our 'concept'/construct of them...

I know with family, and really special old friends, there is that unconditional love that keeps going no matter what. And I think in romantic love, I hope anyway, that at some point the two people know themselves and each other well enough, and make an active choice and commitment to foster and nurture the growth of themselves and each other together... but I know that takes some tools and some self-knowledge and strength that take time to come by...

I have a lot of friends who are going through break-ups right now, mostly with their significant others, but in some cases with their careers, figuring out what they really want, what kind of life they want to lead, if they like the process as much as the supposed 'product' ... and it is a time of transition. I just want to shout to everyone, or whisper gently in their ear-- THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY!! TAKE IT!! Sure, sometimes it is just plain hard, the re-negotioating your life without someone, creating new mythologies of your life... but like Voltaire said in Candide, "All is for the best in the world."

I also went to the beach yesterday and that is one place that changes my life every time I go. It was beautiful and clear and the water was just nippy enough that it was pretty empty and we had a picnic and nothing tastes better than salty sandwiches and chips. Good day. One at a time...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

lucid

yesterday I read a NYTimes article about lucid dreaming and tricks to making it happen. I guess Jake Paltrow (Gwyneth's brother) has made a movie dealing with the subject. So, I have tried some of the tricks the article suggested.

Waking up, staying awake for about thirty minutes, then going back to sleep, ... trying to engage in the course of the dream with any light switches I come across, flipping them on and off (light in dreams is usually not subtle) -- to send a message to the brain that the body IS dreaming, which then allows you to pursue the directionality of the dream more actively, and experience it more fully. I think the article was in this past Sunday's paper. I wish I had it in front of me so I could reference it more accurately but perhaps I am embracing the sort-of softened dream quality state and thus I am actually okay with not getting the precise particulars... ;-)
Also, the school I have been teaching at this week has a little room with a very comfy couch and I saw a woman teacher sleeping there during lunch and so now on my conference period I have taken to laying down there for twenty minutes and reading and/or sleeping. it is quite lovely and has been producing spectacular and vivid dreams.

Also, for the past couple of weeks I have woken up every morning around 5:30, completely confused about where I am, why I am alone, and what I was just dreaming about. Sometimes I get back to sleep after this, and sometimes, I do not. This morning's dream was especially rich though. I remember a boy standing on a street corner in a pre-dawn light (so much for the lack of light subtlety in dreams!), as if waiting for a bus, only I knew he was waiting for a certain person. He had a very long string at the end of which was a red balloon filled with heium. He looked sad and then, when I went to him, he was gone, and only the balloon was still there. But it was in the same place, as if someone was still holding on to it. Then I remember thinking that I was the boy. Very odd.

** Also, I went in the steam room again yesterday, a few hours later than I had gone the day previous, and The Laugher was in there again. It got me thinking-- does she live in there or something? Is it that prolonged exposure that is tickling her funny?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

odd

Yesterday I was in the steam room at the fancy gym I have a guest membership to
and as soon as the steam shut off, I heard a small whimpering sound. I looked behind me towards the source of the sound, trying to be discreet given the obvious nudity factor; plus the added unique pressure imposed by the confidentiality agreement I signed... (the place is filled with actors and celebrities and the paparazzi tries to sneak in frequently I was told)

I feared seeing a naked woman crying. That would have been quite unusual. I suppose I have heard people say working out strenously can release emotions, etc... but it was much worse.

She was laughing. Uncontrollably. Non-stop. For the entire ten minutes I lay in there. At first I laughed a little myself. Then I kept checking her again and again for some sign of what she may have been laughing at. No sign. It was like she was on laughing gas. Or it reminded me of stories of odd behaviors recorded in the 1960s and 1970s during government psychedelic drug trials. Then I couldnt relax because all of a sudden I felt like I was not relaxed enough, not having enough FUN in there!

Oh well. Small wonder. Maybe working out can release really incredible laughter too. I bet that lady loves working out!

Monday, September 17, 2007

2 kinds of love, 2 kinds of goodbyes

Sometimes you say goodbye in a very full and elaborate way:
* extended dinners full of laughter and toasts
* intense and frequent hugging leading up to the imminent parting
* inordinate amounts of picture- and video-documentation of all the final 'good times'
* late-nite walks scaling favorite adventure terrain old and new
* packing and re-packing and the giving of gifts the you may actually want the other person to have or that maybe don't fit in your suitcase or the life you picture for yourself sans that person
* shared silences staring at stick-on star constellations or out car windows
* delightful compliments sent and recieved (i.e. "The path of your face on the way to your smile is like drinking perfect, cold, apple juice.)

Sometimes you say goodbye even though you know that person is going to be a part of your life forever.

Q: Why?
A: Your life, and your love, will never be exactly like that again. Maybe it is the time itself that you are saying goodbye to. The version of yourself that you were with that person.

It is harder to say goodbye when you are not sure if the person you are saying goodbye to IS going to be a part of your life forever.

[too hard to really hug even?]

Sometimes you don't get to say goodbye at all. That must be the strangest stuck feeling in the world.


On a lighter note:
I went to see the best show on friday night. It is called "Worst Laid Plans: True Stories of Terrible Sex" and it was performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, in LA. It is a bunch of lovely ladies telling their own hilarious and sordid true stories with only the sparest of accoutrement. Their black t-shirts bear a number representing their 'number' ... and each taps a hanging triangle after announcing the title of their respective monologue. The titles ranged from: "The Farting Rapist" to "How I slept My Way to the Lower Middle," and a token boy sings a song at the end. So much fun. So good to laugh.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

six years later

People have said so many many many things about that day.
a few ideas that mean something to me and have resonated over the years are:
that was the end of our innocence, a shift that came so violently there was an emtional disconnect similar to what happens when people experience a psychological break-- the difference between the world, our world, my world anyway, at 8:44 am Sept. 11, 2001, and 8:45 am, ... ALL was altered tremendously. In a moment. Without time or warning or the tools to adjust or cope or even begin to understand. A flash, and it was gone. And yet, a city, a country even, experienced the shock and awe (the REAL shock and awe, as opposed to the flashy docu-war on Fox News later... I still can't believe that is what the Bush administration named their first steps in Iraq in Feb 2003) and TRAGEDY together. we held each other up, smiled through tears to comfort strangers, spent hours looking at the faces of strangers and came to KNOW and CARE for them... vigils, more candles than I have ever seen in my life, hugs, music, poems read aloud, the idea that going out to dinner was a step in renewing the spirit and social contract of the city... the putting one foot in front of the other day after day even if the masses pedalling through train stations, down sidewalks, and into and out of buildings was BARELY holding on...

we have come a long way. together?

Six years later...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

a moment of truth

top 10 things a person can do to mend a broken heart

10. ride the trains, like a hobo or a lady of leisure... towards foreign and exotic locales (i.e. the 'SURFliner')
9. Pretend you are far far far far away from home/source of heartache and do whatever necessary to promulgate this illusion/fantasy further (to reference a quote from my mother: "Feelings are really really hard. That's why people become drug addicts and alcoholics and have eating disorders...")
8. Make friends with strangers (especially groups of traveling musicians) in hotel lobbies, go to their rooms with them, play music and jump on the bed until 5 in the morning.
7. Take a dip in a pool or the ocean (Horse Shoe beach in La Jolla is dreamy and a hidden, and therefore, underpopulated GEM).
6. Go on a road trip with 1 to 4 friends of the same gender, laughing and singing all the way.
5. Go to Swallows Inn Bar in San Juan Capistrano, CA. It's an ACTUAL old saloon and there are real cowboys on the rodeo circuit in there and a great band and dance contests every Saturday night and the locals are just CRAZY there.
4. Drink a bottle of wine and then go skinny dipping with you aunt, or another same-sex family member.
3. Eat gelato while watching the seals slumber at sunset while connecting with yet another stranger. [Perhaps, a bench-sharing tourist from Lousiana with the deepest N'Orleans twang who lost EVERYTHING in Katrina but has a tremendous joie de vivre nevertheless. ...Now, that puts things in perspective.]
2. Exercise. Run. Swim. Walk. Work. Play. A Game. A sleepover. Diversions.
1. Be in the feeling when it passes over you like a tsunami wave that kicks up the ocean surface of every memory you ever shared. And churns it through your entire body. ... Be in it. Feel it. Let it wash over you and let it pass.

The good times were real. They were shared. And even if your life may be different than you had imagined it, imagined it maybe without even realizing that indeed you had VIVIDLY IMAGINED it... things will work out. You will be good. A door closes and suddenly you are moving and you are seeking and engaged with yourself more fully... and other doors open.

(the sound of many doors opening. windows too. ... BREEZE ... fresh ... light)

Monday, September 3, 2007

we comprehend by awe

The moon is gone
And the Pleiads set,
Midnight is nigh;
Time passes on
And passes; yet
Alone I lie.

(Sappho, 7th century BC)


it is a poem about stars. and it was the favorite poem of Ms. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin -- the woman who figured out what the universe is made of. it is made of hydrogen. we, and all things, all matter, are made of the same thing: hydrogen. or, you could call it... stardust.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

in memoriam





I learned this morning of the death of two of my heroes.

E. Dorrit Hoffleit
(12 march 1907 - 9 April 2007)
&
Ingmar Bergman
(14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007)

I hope that these two brave, brilliant, passionate souls will move you just as they have moved me.

Dorrit was a lifelong astronomer. I was lucky enough to know her in the last years of her life-- though from her energy and vivacity I did not anticipate her leaving us so soon. Ha! So soon-- after her 100th birthday! She was one of the warmest and funniest people I have ever met. She was light on her feet and in her spirit. And what a hard worker-- she stayed on at Yale, as an astronomer and advisor until last year. And even then-- Dorrit truly LIVED among the stars.


http://www.astro.yale.edu/hoffleit/index.html
a brief obituary from Yale:
On April 9th Dorrit Hoffleit passed away at her apartment following a brief illness. Dorrit's astronomical career spanned more than 75 years, the first 25 at Harvard and the following 50 plus years at Yale. At the time of her passing she had just celebrated her 100th birthday at a luncheon attended by 94 of her friends and colleagues (at which the accompanying photo was taken). Dorrit's research spanned a wide range of interests including meteors, spectroscopic parallaxes, variable stars, astrometry, providing research opportunities for young women at the Maria Mitchell Observatory, which she directed for 20 years, reporting on current astronomical research to the amateur community and the history of astronomy. Most observers will be familiar with her through the Bright Star Catalogue on which she labored painstakingly to ensure the accuracy of all entries. Dorrit had a major impact on those who collaborated with her or took the time to stop in her office to say hello. As one well-known astronomer put it, Dorrit is our bridge to the beginnings of modern stellar astronomy and one of the many things that makes her so wonderful is that no matter how glad you are to see her, she always leaves you feeling that she was even happier to see you. We will all miss her cheerful presence.
William van Altena
20 April 2007


I was introduced to Ingmar Bergman by my friend, Sam Gold. I sat in on his film class, "Film and Spirituality," and was ncredibly moved by what I saw and what I learned. I loved Bergman's autobiography, The Magic Lantern, as well as his Images. My favorite of his films are The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, Smiles of a Summer Night, and The Silence. I love the story of shooting the image pasted above from The Seventh Seal. The story goes that all the filming was done for the day when Bergman looked up and saw the sky over the hill where they were shooting. He had a vision and hurriedly assembled any remaining actors, p.a.s, whoever... and described the "dance of death." He danced about and told them to run up to the top of the hill. He got the shot off just as the Magic Hour passed. It was spontaneous but lives as one of his most iconic shots. Oh, I love his child-like playfulness and his auteur's unyielding commitment to his vision.



http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/movies/30cnd-bergman.html?pagewanted=3&ei=5087%0A&em&en=fa0fe81f22091fdc&ex=1186027200

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

hope

Two inspiring things to share:
Jon Lester returning to the mound yesterday for the Red Sox after being diagnosed with cancer in his rookie season last year...

and this story from The Boston Globe
for full article go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/07/22 haitian_american_finds_her_inner_juliet/?page=full

Haitian-American finds her inner Juliet
By Ric Kahn, Globe Staff | July 22, 2007
Late next month, Kerlyne Cenafils is expected to join 719 other freshmen starting classes at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. She will arrive as a woman changed, having been transformed by the fire walk of her final year at the Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester: intense course load, senior social action project, hospital internship, women's basketball, the college-selection grind -- and, especially, the crucible of a demanding stage performance as the female lead in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
Come this Friday night, Cenafils, 18, will be in the assistant director's chair as her former Codman schoolmates collaborate with their educational partners from the Huntington Theatre Company in putting on another of the Bard of Avon's plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," at the Calderwood Pavilion in the South End.
For Cenafils, it was her rendezvous with Shakespeare during last summer's Huntington-Codman creation of "Romeo and Juliet" that became a defining moment in the life of one young Haitian-American woman going forward into the unknown.
Even now, Cenafils is loath to wax wordy about herself. But her metamorphosis was revealed on her college application, when Cenafils was asked to describe an experience that encapsulated an aspect of her identity. She wrote:
I stare out the window as the #28 bus shifts over city street bumps and hazardous potholes. The lines "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo," run through my head while I try to picture Juliet's sincerity as she reaches out to Romeo and yearns for his love and comfort. I bounce my right leg up and down against the shimmering concrete bus floor to the iambic pentameter of Juliet's lines, "Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love and I'll no longer be a Capulet." My attention is drawn to the constant motion of passengers around me. As I watch them, I wonder, what do they think of me? Who do they think I am and where do they think I am going? They'll probably think right away from my looks that I am a Haitian-American female. I think of all the negative stereotypes people hold against people of my nationality. How many times in my life have I heard Haitians being labeled as poor, uneducated, or destined to be unsuccessful? Too many. Maybe they think I'm like so many of the kids I know, wasting their summers working meaningless jobs, smoking, or selling drugs. I laugh when I think about it. We're riding through Mattapan, my home; one of Boston's most challenged communities. I don't think anyone knows that I'm on my way to the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion. I don't think anyone knows that tonight I will star as Juliet.
Growing up, friends say, Cenafils took the barbs from outsiders to heart, and let them slap around her self-esteem.
The ignoramuses told her that she lived in "Murder-pan," wore low-rent Payless sneakers instead of pricey name brands, and belonged to an ethnic group that was destitute, slated for dead-end jobs, and reeked of HBO -- Haitian Body Odor.
Those snubs, and the abrasive shorthand, "Oh, you're Haitian," sometimes pushed Cenafils to tears, says her longtime friend, Euphrate Louis, 19.
Meanwhile, pressures from her own community to rise above the lot of older immigrants sometimes made it feel like the weight of the Haitian diaspora was on her slender shoulders, friends say, further battering her sense of self.
In the spring of 2006, as summer approached, I decided that I wanted to do something that would really challenge me to overcome my fears -- particularly my fears of failure of being great, strong, and true to myself. It was with this goal that I auditioned for and accepted the role of Juliet in a Huntington Theatre Summer Acting Production. I had devoted my summer to this amazing project and now it was performance day. My director, Lynne Johnson, had helped me to push myself beyond my limits as an actor. She taught me how to make my lines sound natural and even romantic. I had entered the summer thinking that speaking powerfully and with strength of a character would be the most difficult thing. However, I came to realize that what was hardest was allowing myself to feel lovable and to be kissed on stage. Lynne helped me to both feel powerful and feel loved.
Cenafils had arrived at the audition looking for any bit part. She left with the challenge of slipping into the complex soul of Juliet.
Johnson saw an innocence in Cenafils, and was convinced that the teen could do it.
"Part of her charm is that she doesn't realize how beautiful she is," Johnson, the Huntington's associate director of education, says of Cenafils. The Huntington-Codman connection is in its seventh year.
Early on, says Johnson, Cenafils was stiff and uncomfortable during her interactions with Romeo. But it was through more than body language that Cenafils displayed her feelings that she was not worthy of giving her affections to another, complaining to Johnson that she wasn't romantic or enticing.
Johnson says she pulled Cenafils aside and told her, "Do you understand how beautiful you are, how attractive and loving a person you are? You're incredible."
During rehearsals, Johnson saw the changes in Cenafils, as she more easily melted into Romeo's arms, looked lovingly into his eyes, and tenderly received his kisses.
After her dramatic showing at the Calderwood, the audience responded with a standing ovation as Cenafils beamed with pride on stage.
Through acting in the play as Juliet, I was able to be heard and fight through the challenge of not being able to fully love and appreciate myself in addition to always doubting myself. This self doubt and lack of self love were [caused by] the stereotypes made against Haitians. I finally allowed myself to be loved and my director, Lynne Johnson, contributed to this remarkable outcome by teaching me how to bring these qualities out through my words and actions. I push the yellow tape as the bus approaches my stop on Tremont Street. I step off the bus and approach the theater. I push open the big glass doors. I am Juliet.
Offstage, friends say, they also saw the differences in Cenafils, post-Juliet.
She felt confident enough to forge a relationship with her first real boyfriend. She added a sense of playfulness to her intense public mien, teaching other budding thespians how to balance when to be silly and when to be serious. And when confronted by anti-Haitian remarks, says Louis, Cenafils was apt to brush them aside by saying, "I'm Haitian. Look what I've got going for myself." Now, when Cenafils rides the 28 bus out of Mattapan, she does so with a mental shield around her, she says, impervious to whatever psychic slings her fellow travelers may be aiming at her.
"I care less about what people think about me," she says.
Cenafils says she feels secure knowing she is a young Haitian woman striving for pure excellence over guilt-driven ambition, as she follows the road to becoming a doctor or lawyer or forensic scientist, hoping not just to make money, but to make a difference in this world.
"I want to be great," she says.


Lots of positive thoughts for the family of Brandon Mitchell, who died Saturday night in Worland, Wyoming. You were a great man Brandon. I loved talking to you about books and the Worland ways and feeling like a wallflower sometimes. I loved your house. I love Meghan and Eli and I'm thinking about you both. Brandon, I know that your spirit is big enough that you are going to love and hold and help Meghan to go on and to show Eli the kind of man his dad was-- even from up there somewhere. You are in a good place I trust. You will be missed by all who ever passed even a moment with you.

Also, positive thoughts for my mom, who's in the hospital with an appendectomy. A speedy and easy recovery so you can come play in California as planned!!