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


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 (, 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.


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
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...

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...