Wednesday, December 31, 2008

last day of the year

here is my blank page filled up, in order:

what a year it has been [impossible to add to]

the thing about this forum is [and that's all she wrote]

[and then, down to brass tacks here...]

reasons it is really hard to write a blog:
1. people make fun of you if they find out, sometimes in plays, even if they also have blogs
2. there is a crazy thing that happens where you simultaneously really want and totally don’t care or even desire at all for people, i.e. your friends to read it, see number 3
3. the ‘putting it out there’ makes you feel alternately at peace/release-y, and, vulnerable.
4. sometimes being earnest and being funny don't happen at the same time and it seems cooler to be funny
5. time-- where does it go?
6. the catch-22 of hanging out with 'medium-' to 'high-profile' people... (not my idea for how to think about humans, but is there a better way to say it?) if you are doing cool things with them you sound like a star-fucker if you talk about it, so then you go out of your way not to talk about it, which just makes you seem weirdly uppity and obnoxious for being secretive or reticent, or too much time passes and you don’t write anything so then the task begins to feel gargantuan
7. the delicate balance between being frank and protecting your privacy, as well as the people in your life
8. no one is paying you to do this and you to focus on doing activities that garner you a wage
9. a lot of really crazy shit is going on and it is almost impossible to process, much less ‘blog’ about in any sort of articulate way
10. you sometimes feel like an asshole when you say “I have a blog” (see number 11)
11. you fear the addition of “blog” as a verb into the English language, e.g. I blog, He blogs, We blog, you all blog, they blog… etc.
12. it is not the same as a conversation even if you want it to be sometimes
13. it is a little more like a conversation than you want it to be sometimes
14. you get a lot of flak for being honest and inquisitive about actual ideas that mean something to you—and this is discouraging for many reasons’
15. haters
16. lovers
17. family
18. sometimes it is hard to know who your audience is, if any
19. sometimes it is hard to find your voice—sometimes this can be a function of the one before
20. no matter what putting something out there is an aggressive act, especially when you aren’t all about being coy, careful, or clever as to how said output should me interpreted
21. as luck would have it that’s all I got. If that’s not a lot though how about this?

Reasons it is great to do this thingy here:
1. sometimes it feels great
2. it’s okay to make people laugh, especially when you are laughing too (it’s okay, blogs ARE really funny and strange—I agree!!!)
3. it is easier then reading Balzac (and I know this for a fact)
4. it feels like a very pure way to stay in touch—‘if someone has the time and interest, here I am, take it or leave it’…
5. the whole ‘transparency’ goal
6. it doesn’t COST money
7. it might make someone, like maybe you… smile/think/fart/sniffle
8. time goes so fast and it is a way to encourage being present with life, it is very active documentation
9. you get to say, “I have a blog!”
10. you get to relive the excitement you feel for the great stuff you are describing, and maybe, others get to feel the good stuff too—because you turn them onto to some book, show, etc. and then it is not just all about you
11. sometimes people write comments
12. sometimes these comments are very thoughtful and generous and sweet
13. it feels good to get stuff off your chest even if you are not saying all the stuff you would say to your BFF or your pillow
14. some days it feels like the only real contribution you make of your self to the world at all— but in a good way
15. being made fun of teaches you humilitiy, and not to take yourself too seriously—very important I think
16. by writing about what you think about a thing you come to know yourself better, who you are, what you care about, how you feel about such-and-such… BIG stuff
17. it doesn’t take up physical space and once you say things sometimes that frees up mental and/or emotional space
18. posting photos and videos is really fun and shockingly easy, and makes me feel surprisingly tech-savvy
19. there is such a thing as a blog being a springboard to something else—like a book, or a play, or love affair, it hasn’t happened to me, but I can imagine it happening.
20. The thing itself—it can be very simple—and I am after this in my life.
21. I said I would.
And there it is. The case is made.
I will continue to try.

PS thanks for the nudge nudge Andrew & Erica. off we go!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I remember reading this Wordsworth poem junior or senior year of high school, with Eben sitting behind me... and feeling its potency then.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Today, this week, month, year, several years?? there are moments when I feel a bit overwhelmed. By the amount of books I want to read. By the number of movies I feel it is imperative to the continuing development of my soul that I see. By the quantity of news that I feel it is my responsibility as a privileged member of a media-laden society to process... By the phone calls I would like to make to stay in touch. By the disconnect between the number of ideas I have and the number of them I have brought to fruition. By my love for people. By my anger at people. By my compassion for people who are suffering, those I know and those I don't know. The list goes on and on.

Last night I went to a fun reunion-of-sorts party which had the unusual distinction of including speeches. Maybe because the party was celebrating my friend Sam's brief return to NYC from Obama-land... and he has been so close to such a great orator for a bit, and maybe because of how monumental this week was, and because many of us at the party went to a high school where declamation was not just revered but PRACTICED... we were all game. A college friend got us warmed up with a more conventional toast, and then Sam took the step ladder and went on for a bit. He told stories from the trail, stories we will probably learn in the coming weeks (about for example, Barack's first night in NYC as a transfer student at Columbia, when he slept under the stars in an alley on 109th Street), and he talked about how much the people that are his support team have meant to him these past two years especially. He grew up in a neighborhood in Boston called Jamaica Plain and many of his childhood friends were there to raise their glasses last night. He talked about his girlfriend Sasha and how much of a rock she has been, and how having her there to listen to him gripe, or share in his glee, or just shoot the proverbial shit with has gotten him through more than anything. I was really happy for him. I am really happy for him. He is the kind of sensitive, thoughtful, complex-minded individual you might assume would favor a career in the arts or education over politics.

And you know the most amazing thing-- instead of going to Washington, where he could surely get a cushy job in the administration-- he is choosing to keep doing what he has been doing. Finding people who have never participated in politics ever before maybe, talking to them, getting them excited, and sharing their stories... He is choosing to stay with the movement, and effect change from the outside in-- rather than play the conformity game with the bureaucrats in Washington. And the really exciting thing to me-- the macro-level reality is-- when this Obama-thing started two, or four, or arguably more, years ago-- it must have seemed like a near-impossibility. The people involved must have felt pretty overwhelmed by the amount of change him being elected President would effect. The paradigm-shifts. The mind-opening...

Ahhh... but we did it. Here we are. It wasn't easy. Change is not easy (Sam kept saying that last night, I guess it is something Barack says pretty often...). As Sam put it, "It's fucking hard. But it's worth it. It's so exciting."

What would I prefer-- to NOT be overwhelmed??

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

please vote

My good friend Sam Graham-Felsen, who has been working for Obama for 2 years, has a link to this speech on his gchat tag. I personally love Henry IV, parts I and II and Henry V-- following young Prince Hal's youthful and privileged ignorance, adventures and debauchery, and ultimate pursuit of wisdom through exploration and education. Apparently our friend Chris Roma learned this speech for declamation in 11th grade at Boston Latin (our high school) and has not forgotten it. Sam said he used to recite it in their college dorm room. I think it's a good message for today.
Oh yes- and PLEASE GO VOTE!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

sentimental sunday

Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.
Aldous Huxley

This morning over 100,000 people from all over the world woke up and set out to run/wheel 26.2 miles.
I wasn't one of them.
But I love them for their passion and perseverance and desire to push their own physical (and in some cases, mental) limits.

It is a gorgeous crisp fall day and we are SAVING daylight today-- which is fun, right?
Or, alternately, getting an extra hour of sleep.

I went to CITYterm in Dobbs Ferry, NY early yesterday morning for a meeting of a council I am on and I really love everything about that place. The train ride along the Hudson, the steep hill up to the Masters School, the humble Tudor building where the program is housed-- dorms upstairs, classrooms downstairs... I lived there for about 4 months my junior year of high school but collectively they were probably the single most formative four months of my life. It is a semester program with an emphasis on not just 'learning things' per se, but learning HOW to learn. How to be the author of your own learning, of your experiences. How to 'read' any interaction or experience as if it is a text rich with meaning and the opportunity for interpretation/analysis. I learned what it means to collaborate and how the reflection on the end product is as important as the production itself. I learned how to use the scientific-method-- and not just in the context of science. I practice what I learned at CITYterm in my daily life, in the interpersonal exchanges and in my work-- putting on a play is in fact very akin to a giant collaborative science project.

I saw a few old friends last night and other old friends earlier in the week, also some GREAT plays, Black Watch-- which was one of the best shows I have seen in my entire life, and Farragut North, written by my good friend Beau Willimon. I am so proud of Beau and excited and also even the themes of the plays have me thinking a lot about potential-- what 'potential' means-- what our individual roles on this planet, in this life, are... and how to deal with the expectations of ourselves and others for these lives we lead. A friend was describing her boyfriend's unique ability to resist specific career goals but instead opt for embracing the 'exploration.' A former math teach who is now working in finance-- I imagine the fluidity with which he appears to be accepting his path will serve him well in this economic depression... and his flexibility will most certainly make him an attractive asset to a company.

I have been pretty flexible in my life lately-- with my career, with my home locale, friendships/relationships, and I am finding it incredibly rewarding, if sometimes a bit confusing. My friend Alex asked me if I felt a bit rudderless lately-- and though I did at that moment, I don't see it that way anymore.
Just as a poem is singular in its ability to compress complex ideas & feelings into relatively sparse language thereby increasing the density of the space the words take up-- this time of so many unknowns is a time of great authorship for me, for my life, my work. I think it may serve me best to subvert my expectations for what I 'should' be doing-- and really embrace the exploring and the 'authoring' of my experience. I may not know precisely what it all means until the reflection stage-- but at least I will know I am fully engaged in the active experimentation and the concrete experience.

Monday, October 20, 2008

how do you do your best thinking?

a Saturday Night Live sweatsuit!!
what a concept!
I did my best thinking walking through the streets of the west village in new york city. These streets are so deeply satisfying as is the cup of coffee inside the cafe.

Yes the streets and residents and shops are well-kept and seem almost frozen in time (a better time?). Everything is VERY nice but without the ostentatious flair of Soho or either of the Uppers... or even Williamsburg, DUMBO, Park Slope... The West Village feels a little more heterogeneous (at least it is not overwhelmingly nouveau-riche, hipster, trust fund artists, or lesbians and babies. Maybe it has to do with the well-cultivated bohemian look the younger people here don, I believe the look to be more aligned with the souls of the older folks-- I believe maybe they did protest in Tompkins Square in '88 and hung out at CBGB's and maybe they have written great songs, made great films, paintings, stories, etc.)

Mostly though I think it is the scale that is so satisfying. The very HUMAN scale-- the relationship between the street width, the building heights, the sidewalks and the trees. Old trees. Cobblestoned streets. History happened here...
The perfect street by this criteria-- at least that I know of-- is called Theater Street. It is in St. Petersburg, Russia and it is home to the Vaganova Institute-- the training grounds for the world-class Kirov Ballet.

My mom called me this morning because she had heard the Vaughan Williams piece "Lark Ascending" on the radio and she had a strong emotional reaction to the memory of the choregraphy piece I made to the music in tenth grade. She called me to say how proud of me she is, and (in a vein similar to all mothers I am certain) how 'I am so special.' Of course, like most people in their 20s with career uncertainty, no significant other, etc. my thoughts went in the direction of-- "Oh no!! What happened?"

I distinctly remember being in 5th grade, right at the beginning of the school year, and thinking, "oh no, how will I ever do as much cool stuff as I did last year?" [At that point looking back on the year prior included such highlights as dancing The Firebird, winning the spelling bees (Spanish & English), being in the hospital with a rare life-threatening condition, knowing someone who knew someone in Dirty Dancing, winning a $75 savings bond in an art contest, starting to play the flute on a 'curved head joint', doing a REALLY good science project...] In hindsight of course, it all seems incredibly normal. Nothing really spectacular but yes, probably all combined pretty big stuff for a ten year-old.
It is funny because every fall I have pretty much that same fear. What will I do this year that is as exciting, impressive, inspired, as something I did last year?! And I always quiet those fears because they really aren't very helpful, and after so many years of them-- I've learned again and again that each year really is more exciting and full of surprises.
Also, I got sent a picture of one of my best friends at age 10 and its great and raw Harrington and amazing how much who he is now at 30 was already at work in his little 10 year-old version.
And I KNOW the same was true with me. And the same is true of my 6-month old nephew. He loves reading, music, and dancing, and laughing, and breasts. (Just kidding-- well, not really.)
I understand that part of getting older involves more reality interspersed with the creative flights of fancy... and yes, I have chosen to make a go of it in a career that embraces the imagination, which is why I really have to remember that even though it feels like a luxury to meander through these winding well-scaled streets... I have always gotten a lot of my best thinking done on my feet. And isn't that worth something-- knowing where and how you do your best thinking? What's your best thinking outfit? Tunes? Partners in crime? What's your best thinking city or country?

Lucky me, my best thinking starts right outside my front door-- even if it is a different street every other week. Maybe that's a giant part of it actually. I keep moving, different week-- different neighborhood... but each time I step outside my feet are taking me on a new adventure and my mind is at it again.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Plate tectonics & rogue waves

I have been thinking a lot about home and friends and family and how crazy it is that in the 21st century so often we are so far away from each other. Spread across states, countries, sometimes even continents. And yet, this physical distance doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. My grandmother and I were driving by a bevy of Western Unions about a month ago and she asked me what they were used for now… and I told her I thought they were mostly for people wiring their families money in other countries. There is a real concentration of Western Union-type places in my neighborhood in Boston—because there are a lot of immigrants from all sorts of places—the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Barbados, Sierra Leone, Haiti… to name just a few. And these people, while they are surely very engaged in their day-to-day American life—are also, I would speculate, incredibly tied to their roots in their native country. This is sort of fascinating to me and especially meaningful when I need a bit of perspective. Or a reminder that is is okay and even great to feel ties to different places.
I am in a bit of a transient/gypsy/tumbleweed state. I supposedly live in LA, but I haven’t been there for almost 5 months. That is where my ‘work’ as I’ve known it for the last few years is, my best friends, the (stuffed) bunny that I sometimes sleep with, my roommates, my adopted LA family, my car, my books, my boots (until recently)… et cetera. I have been on the east coast, in new york, in Williamstown, Mass., in Wellfleet, Mass., and now in New York again. In New York I’ve stayed in three neighborhoods at least—Fort Greene, Flatbush, and Williamsburg. Soon, I will move to the Lower East side for a week or two. A year or two ago I kept saying—“I want to travel… I want to work… I want to tour! I want work to bring me to new and exciting places! Indeed—I have gotten what I wished for. And most days I love it. I am excited to go back but it won’t be for a while yet.
And while it is true that I haven’t had more than 36 hours off since I started working on May 16th… it is also hard to imagine jumping back into my LA life. It is only 6 hours on an airplane but it is a sort of cosmic mental shift as well. 3,000 miles and you have a change of climate, social life, job, ‘home’ and more. Sometimes it almost seems to me that the erasure-effect that the ease of airline travel has on places being ‘far away’ from each other makes for a loss of mental awareness to the massive shift that is going on with such a trip/move.
I do feel lucky to have family and friends spread out across so many interesting, unique places. These places have an effect on us, inevitably, and make for an incredible patchwork of experiences that make us who we are.
And I like feeling the closeness, and I like remembering the distance-- and then getting excited that at some point pretty soon I will get on an airplane and 6 hours later I will get off and LA and my life will meet up again... and also I will see the place differently, for the changes in me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

my first 24 hours

I arrive in New York and settle spottily (since I am so used to the up-and-go with the suitcase now) in Williamsburg, head to Times Square for a Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers event... am delighted to find red carpets and all sorts of 'normal' people on them. Chairs are filling Broadway from 42nd to 47th Streets and giant screens and speakers are set up. The Opening Night of the Metropolitan Opera and Renee Fleming sings for one and all. The audience is rapt. The party is fun. The one person I meet there turns out to be working on my friend's play, the world gets smaller and smaller... then Indian food with said friend and my lovely cousin Katherine, ... and home to the burg. The next morning I join the Language of Trees team and it feels like everyone is batting 1000. So fun. Great to see friends and make new ones. That afternoon-- a surprise jaunt to Red Hook via Water Taxi (got on on Wall Street-- where a fire alarm, or maybe the stock market, sent everyone rushing from the Citibank building) ... I got to see the Waterfalls, a great Obama sign, a very cool converted warehouse apartment building, what views!!, and even go to Fairway. MMMmmm. And that was just the first 24 hours...

in NY on the first day of fall

Monday, September 22, 2008

this is important.

My Aunt Tracy sent this to me and I feel compelled to share it with you. It is powerful.
I feel so lucky I have 6 INCREDIBLE aunts, 7 female cousins, and 1 awe-inspiring sister, each of whom are extremely independent-minded, accomplished, inspiring individuals. Each of whom has inspired me in numerous ways. I am deeply committed to women empowering each other but, like Eve Ensler, the prospect of a McCain/Palin presidency TERRIFIES me, and makes me want to spring to action-- to do anything I can to keep that from becoming a reality. Please read this. And at the very least, please make sure you are registered to vote, you have reached out to others to vote, and VOTE on November 4th.

Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for "The Vagina Monologues", wrote the following about Sarah Palin.

Drill, Drill, Drill
I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not. [from ACH: I recently learned (via the NYTimes) that under Palin's mayoralty Wasilla, Alaska actually charged rape victims for their forensic tests.]

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States . She
would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S. , but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards
dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

Eve Ensler
September 5, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

the very best forms of nostalgia

Today is the anniversary of the death of Johnny Cash. I will always remember the day and the night in New York City in 2003 with Iver and Joey and all that great music.

to me nostalgia is the feeling you have when you experience something in a way that is more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps because of memory, longing, the nature of the thing itself...

1. baseball-- be it current or classic, little league or the Red Sox in October...
2. Ballet and/or dance.
3. The streets between Beacon and Shawmut, and Mass Ave and Clarendon in the South End/Back Bay of Boston.
4. Records played loud in great rooms with wooden floors. Especially, in houses with dogs around...
5. Country music-- especially Dan Seal's All that Glitters isn't Gold
6. the places I've lived-- the towns, the houses, the streets, the cafes and bars...
7. Walking through an art museum/gallery-- in the past few months: Mass MOCA, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Clark Institute, the Institute of Contemporary Art (go Massachusetts!). Highlights were Jenny Holzer, William Kentridge, Robin Rohde.
8. Old boyfriends. (See #1-- related?)
9. Really great movies.

I saw two movies in the past week or so: Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Richard Linklater's Before Sunset (the 'sequel' to Before Sunrise). I really enjoyed both of them and found them both very provocative. They had some things in common, loads of magic hour footage, beautiful European locales and their native women, (Barcelona & Penelope Cruz, Paris & Julie Delpy, respectively), and a solid amount of ruminations of love, relationships, connections, lust & desire, responsibility, etc. Both films were fairly simple constructs-- relying primarily on dialogue and character with little to no major action sequences or special effects... yet both films managed to feel full and rich and exciting. It probably doesn't hurt that I am at an exact point in my life where I am extremely hungry for a European city and also simultaneously intrigued/disgusted by love-- but always FASCINATED.

One of the major themes of the conversation the characters in Before Sunset have, the conversation by the way which spans the entire film in real time, revolves around their decision not to exchange phone numbers when they met in Vienna nine years before. They talk about how when you're young you might throw something away, leave things to "Fate,' because even though you might feel a connection that feels special, you don't want to be tied down, you feel that you are changing so much, you assume that if you feel this connection now, you are sure to feel it again and again for the rest of your life... But as you get older you realize how rare that special connection with someone actually is.

In the earlier film the two characters had arranged to meet in 6 months but with the understanding that perhaps one or both of them would not show. This is very romantic of course, and Linklater even makes light of the characters' naivete a bit. Some tragic thing happened and one of the characters didn't show. With no phone numbers, or any other contact information, that was it for these two. Nine years later, Ethan Hawke is in Paris, reading from his newly published book-- the book he has written no less to sort of hold fast to that night in Vienna. Of course, Julie Delpy shows up. I don't want to say too much in case you want to see this movie, I recommend it-- even though it is SO simple and very romantic, I think it is very good.

Anyway, my friend Siri sent a link a few days ago of an anthropologist lecturing on love, sex, cheating, etc. and I found it really riveting. Here is the link to that:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"9 dreams and whistling" is the song

Today is September 11th and I remember.
9/11 babies will turn 9 this year
and this war has gone on over 5 years now...
(please PAUSE)

Walking through the Institute of Contemporary Art yesterday my friend Beau and I got to talking about various trends in modern art and the importance of generosity of spirit, rigor, and real commitment. Some of the artists whose work was on display seemed to favor exploiting their personal traumas/minutiae of their lives with an abundant helping of preciousness and implied fragility. These works reminded me of notes from middle or high school, passed to a best friend or boyfriend, full of implied meanings more than the sum of their parts. In a way, some of these artists seemed to be looking to elevate the 'meaning' or 'importance' of their work by hiding some part of it, by making us feel the voyeur, making us look very closely at the tiny half-erased pencil poetry... Beau was contrasting this kind of work with some of Gerhard Richter's work that he saw recently. Being a great lover of blurred images myself, I am a longtime fan of Richter's, and I especially admire his dynamism as an artist, tackling new forms and techniques and seemingly without even the slightest self-consciousness. His work is large and aggressive and bold and GENEROUS.

I want to do work that is both personal, and intimate, but also GENEROUS. Some of my favorite artists: Sophie Calle, Charlie Kaufman, Pina Bausch, Ariane Mnouchkine, Miranda July, Jonathan Safran Foer... are able to achieve precisely this and I love them for it. I also love the feeling when I see some piece of their's, maybe the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know, or Sophie Calle's downtown NYC phonebooth project... and it seems so incredibly brilliant and of a very singular vision but funny and smart and accessible to MANY different kinds of people.
Now, since I am on the subject of art and heroes, here's one I am lucky to call a friend, ... and honestly, if the world had more people like John Hawkes in it-- oh what a wonderful place it would be.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

say yes to great adventures

What a glorious 24 hours.
It was almost like a dream-- at each turn it felt too good to be true, too fun to be real, ... the light on the water, the other people... it was all rather magnificent. Again on this theme: "Adrienne's Extremely Lucky and Magical Summer."

I had three real mates in the adventures on the past day. For me, having someone to share the adventure with is key. I certainly embrace potential adventures solo, but there are parts of the past 24-hours that couldn't have been, or shouldn't have been, if I were just flying solo.

First, Great Pond. Couldn't have a better name. The water is crystal clear, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, my friend Jonathan and I had some great talking and swimming; it was a perfect afternoon.

Next, my friend Lauren 'Jalapeno' (names changed to protect the faint of heart as she plans to run for President in 2040 and I am 'on the charge' rest assured) arrives in town and we have a lovely snack and walk on the beach. She comes to see the play I'm in, the performance goes swimmingly and the audience laughs plentifully... we meet some audience members, and head over to the bar across the way for some fairly competitive foosball tournies. Lauren and I improve considerably but we started at a pretty meek level. We are getting on with our new friends, fellow actors but also LOCALS, (one of whom I am pretty sure I know from somewhere and sure enough, four hours later-- we figure out we have a mutual mentor/guru figure), and we head to Ptown for some dinner and music. Bubala's is an excellent restaurant, the great Lois Smith is eating alongside us, and across the street is Enzo-- a restaurant and piano bar. I ate at Enzo once and loved it and a few weeks back the New Yorker had a sidebar profile of a guy named Billy who looks a bit like Andy Warhol and sings and plays a spirited tune and piqued my curiosity. Lucky again, it was his last night on the bench.
He was absolutely incredible. The kind of performer the like of which you might be lucky enough to see once or twice in your life, and in such a small venue, crowded with a colorful, raucous but tender crowd, a Czech bachelorette barty, lots of drag queens, young and old people... really special. Billy sang songs about Palin and McCain and Obama and his mother... and sang-talked about how the end of summer means saying goodbye to amazing people you met that you now love that you very well might never see again... and he sang Amazing Grace. The last song had the refrain 'life will go on' and that was my favorite one of all. It had lines something like 'all your friends might get AIDS and Herpes and Chlamydia and Arthritis and become junkies and die and you might go to more funerals than you have ever imagined but... life will go on" but it was ultimately a happy and hopeful song. We watched and we drank and we swayed and met people and it was really extremely LIVELY.
Then, with all that vim and vigor in our hearts and our livers we weren't ready to call it a night so we set off for a pond. We circled round the Monument and met up with some other new friends and headed towards another great pond down a very long unmarked dirt road and after we parked and the car lights died down it was pitch black. We walked barefoot and arms linked for about 10 minutes in total darkness and then we threw off our clothes and dove into the water. It felt exhilarating. The sky was ominously cloudy and the locals who do this sort of thing regularly said it was the darkest night of the whole summer. We swam and splashed around for a bit and listened to the silence and dried off without even a single towel and made our way back to the car over many roots and boughs just as it started to rain. The beginnings of the hurricane blew in just as we got dropped off back at the house for a warm shower and sleepover.
This morning I woke up with vivid memories of Sophia Coppola initiating a gchat with me, she had mentioned her dad was visitng, I said, "F.F.?" ... She said, "Yep." I told her my dad was also visiting me. I had also been flying planes onto aircraft carriers in my dream so I woke up pretty exhausted.
Jalapeno and I set out for caffeine and she got on her way and I met up with my dad for a marvelous breakfast. MMMMMMMMMMmmmmm eggs. The Wicked Oyster is one of the Top Breakfast Spots in my entire life experience.
After a leisurely meal we headed for Ptown and meandered around, walking out on the jetty by the salt marsh and driving around the very end of Massachusetts. Such beautiful dunes and birch forests and green and great conversation and it just doesn't get much better than this I don't think.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Remember the Veruca Salt album from 1994? Seether I think it was called.
"I can't see her till I'm foaming at the mouth..."
In the song it sounded like she was saying 'seethe her' -- which is what I am feeling just now.
I am sick of the RNC saying that Sarah Palin has more experience than Barack Obama. She actually said 'being mayor of a small town is sort of like being a community organizer, except you have actual responsibilities.' Or something like that. She was the Mayor of a town with 7,000 people and she has been the governor of Alaska for 20 months. The state of Alaska has a huge budget surplus because of it's oil and the federal money pumping into the state to keep the people who own all that land happy. In case you haven't noticed Sarah Palin, the rest of the country does not have a budget surplus. Similarly, hardly anyone lives in Alaska. And those who do are not the most diverse group of people. Hello Republicans-- America is a diverse country and a country in need of people with experience working with MANY different kinds of people.
My parents were community organizers in Little Rock, Dallas, New Orleans, Vermont, New Hampshire and Boston. I can tell you first hand that community organizers are the people who do the jobs that no one else wants to do. Community organizers are the people who help the people who can't always pull themselves up by their bootstraps-- because, as Obama so generously and perceptively recognized in his Convention speech, sometimes people don't even have boots on. And a lot of time-- this is through no 'fault' of their own-- as many of the people speaking this week at the RNC would have you think.
I grew up in a neighborhood in Boston where a lot of my classmates faced incredible challenges, brothers or sisters being shot while playing, no food, no shoes, tattered clothes, no health insurance etc., and these classmates were children. Innocent children. And they were great children and they are great people today-- firefighters, teachers, police officers... and if they were growing up right now, or under a McCain/Palin administration-- I can only imagine. If the abstinence education Palin supports didn't work, (as it didn't in her own family)-- and they were to get pregnant, with the Supreme Court getting increasingly socially conservative abortion might not be an option and so these young people would have the challenges of a family on their hands at a time when unemployment is at a high, financial aid for college is at a low ... it just terrifies me to think about.

I can't stand the appropriation of 'real' Americans by the Republican Party to refer to relatively well-off white people. I can't stand the accusations flying that the people challenging Palin's credentials are sexist. It is not because she is a woman. I love women and and I am glad she is a woman but that has nothing to do with it. The people saying that anyone saying 'she might not have her priorities straight' is sexist-- because I felt the same way when Edwards chose to campaign despite his wife's Cancer coming back. When you have a 4-month old with Down-Syndrome and a 17-year old who is SO FAR oFF from the values you are espousing FOR THE COUNTRY, I think you need to assess what is most important right now. Man or woman. I don't feel like it should fall on Ms. Palin's shoulders any more than on Mr. Palin's shoulders, but I think we can look to how a candidate looks out for their family as a sign of how they are going to look out for a WHOLE COUNTRY.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"a change we can believe in"

That was the theme of the Democratic National Convention last night as Obama took the stage for the biggest speech of his life. A minor thing but as my Obama-blogging friend Sam pointed out-- that line begins with my three initials... Coincidence??
Just kidding.

After the second performance of Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the WHAT Harbor Stage a few of us went over to my friend Siri's house for an impromptu viewing party. My very old friend (and the director of SPC) Brendan Hughes came, as did the actor Lewis Wheeler. Siri's younger brother and sister were also there and we watched the coverage completely rapt in almost total silence for over an hour. We got excited about all the different viewing parties that were being shown (Times Square had the look and energy of a typical New Year's there) and were delighted that people of all ages, classes, ethnicities seemed to be energized by Obama's words the way sports fans might watch the Superbowl or cinephiles-- the Oscars. But this is neither sport nor entertainment-- there is an aspect of each... but this is MUCH more serious than that.

I was so thrilled by all of the points Obama raised, his elegant tone, the nitty-gritty of his policies and the McCain attacks he anticipated and gracefully shot down. I loved his charisma and his warmth and his passion. Brendan was saying he is like a cross between JFK and Abraham Lincoln and I like that idea. Most of all, I trust him. And really, that is the most important thing. When he spoke so eloquently about the complexities of race politics in that speech in Philadelphia I was amazed at his unbelievable (and sometimes rare in men, much less politicians) ability to see the multitudinous sides of a thing, different and valid perspectives, different motivations, generations of ignorance/patterned behavior, etc. Again last night I felt like his recognition of how our different life circumstances inform our different hopes/desires/needs from our leaders and our government. [When he talked about how a hunter would have different ideas about gun control than city dwellers threatened by gun violence, etc...] His understanding of America is incredibly-nuanced and as such his record and his ideas for the future are exactly what this country needs right now. Not only for our domestic policies but for international diplomacy and America's street cred as a great and generous nation... Obama and Biden are our ticket.

Most of all the message that resounded with me last night was about compassion. We might not always be perfect, we might not always be at the top of our game, but we must ALWAYS be compassionate. We must help each other, and treat each other with respect and dignity, and look out for the future of our children and our planet.

Brendan has a one-man show that he has been working on and performing weekly out here in Wellfleet called Oomphalos. [Last show this Saturday at 9pm,] I saw it last week and I loved it. One of the major points Brendan touches on in the show is also about compassion. He shares tons of facts and philosophy with us, and a fair share of personal history-- and makes us laugh and makes us pluck rubber bands that give the sensation of our heart strings reverberating... and he shares his wonderful world view. He says if the 20th century is about ideas and great inventions and the like... the 21st century must be about how we treat each other and our planet.

Last week he also made a video that he showed as it was indeed the fateful anniversary... and I think it will make you laugh and think a little bit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

diving bells

The leap, not the step, is what makes the experience possible.
Heiner Muller

I just finished Anne Bogart's A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre, and I feel like I am poised at the top of the diving board. Like the very young Chinese women who amazed in the Olympics last night, I feel so ready. I arch my back, I fold forward, I put my hands on the ground-- stretching and extending each finger and pulling up and pushing down simultaneously. I pitch my hips and raise my feet slowly into a handstand, I balance, gripping each finger, pushing down, rising up. Then, a little burst, and lift-off. Flip after flip after flip I close my eyes at the exact moment of entry. In one fell swoop I disappear like a flicker of light. The water doesn't even ripple. I am in.
My God it's deep in here.

thank you Erica for giving/loaning(?!)...

Monday, August 18, 2008

sand sand sand luck luck luck

I think I am the luckiest girl in the world.
I truly feel SO lucky.
I had a day off today and I got to run, swim, read, eat, drink, talk, act, write, watch, and play. I have a cray-pas set that says "Learn * Play * Enjoy" on the side and I am heeding those directions.
I just finished up a week in one of the historic dune shacks on the Surf Side of Route 6 in Provincetown. It was built in 1949 and rustic-- no electricity, water only from a brilliant red pump well (I thought of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan every time I used it!), an outhouse, and a 35-minute hike over steep dunes to get in. But once you were there-- HEAVEN!~ At times I felt like I was in The English Patient or The Little Prince or this great exhibition I went to in a museum in Paris in 2000 where different artists explored ideas of 'deserts' and 'mirages' etc... Sand sand everywhere! One night, our first time walking back in the dark in fact, we had a real adventure when the flashlight we had stopped working about 1/16th of the way into our journey. It was a cloudy night sky so not much help from the stars and with literally only dunes in every direction-- it took us over an hour but we found our way home. One of the craziest parts is I entered the lottery to win this week in early February, and I picked this week sort of randomly, and then lo and behold this job brought me to Wellfleet... Was it fate? Is there such a thing? I'm just saying...
Different friends, old and new, came for visits-- we even moved 'rehearsal' to the beach in front of the dune one day and had a great picnic and tennis-ball catch session. Another morning I woke up and mentioned to my mom that I had figured out how I might be able to get a director I worked for this summer's email... I would call another old friend who had worked for him... not two hours later my mom and I are walking around Ptown and said director rides by on his bike. Three hours after that he was at the dune shack and we spent a lovely couple hours talking shop and not-shop.
Coincidences? Manifestations of desired outcomes? I guess the why is less important to me than the 'events' themselves...
Just keep 'em coming please!
here are a few pictures:

picture this

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

a love letter to the here and now

sitting on an adirondack chair in the middle of a field in williamstown, massachusetts-- I feel so lucky for the past two months.
thank you and big ups to:
Alex T., Lee E., Erin K., Vanessa C. Katie F., Darren G., Matt McG., Kate B., Darrell H., Bryce P., Caroline K., Arla B., Matt McC., Kerry M., Stacey B., Sam F. & Sam G., Amy H., Stephen S., Justin W., Emily R., Nikki, Kristy H., Beau W., Andrea S., Portia K., Aya C., Rosemarie DeW., Stephen K., Mano F., Joe T., Cary D., Ethan H., Hondo W.-R., Jason McD.-G, and Rebecca S., Emily K. and Reed W., Amanda C. and Amy K., Morgan R. and Charlotte too, Heather R., Joey A., Ariel J., Elizabeth B., Becca L., Torie G., Jake, Chris K., Michael F. and Michael G., Peter M., and Roberta M. ...
and all the other apprentices for working so hard and making all the magic happen all summer...
I am moved by all of you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


sometimes I think my life is extremely full, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes exhausting... but always, packed. And often, sort of intense in many different areas. It is hard to explain-- I have several interests and sometimes I am pursuing them all simultaneously and at times this hurts rather than helps perhaps but I'm very decisive when I can be and don't force the point otherwise.
Anyway, here is today:
I woke up to a text from Adam forwarding a text from Steve who is acting in a one-act I wrote and directed that is playing in LA right now. Apparently last night there was sort of a fancy benefit performance (not to pay the actors or playwright or director anything, mind you...) and the following 'names' were in attendance: Natalie Portman, Devendra Banhart, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Alec Baldwin and some other people whose names are known. I was not in attendance since I'm 3,000 miles away so I don't know if they laughed or cried or patted each other on the back or what.
Cut to 20 minutes later, I am sitting in a hot not-in-use Kosher Dining Hall called Upper Greylock listening to the esteemed playwright John Guare talk about life and art and New York and LA and theater and movies and money and art again. A few of my favorite parts:
he & Lanford Wilson & Terrence McNally all had balconies that opened onto the same courtyard garden on 10th and 4th Avenue around 1964 and they would sit out there and typitty-type and try to torment each other that they were writing more... but of course they were not the names they are now then, they were just three guys. Sam Shephard was just a guy who was a waiter at a cool restaurant downtown. Guare's rent was 32 dollars a month.
"People used to go to plays to see the outcomes of extreme behavior... Oh, there's Othello... oh look, that's what happens if you get jealous..."
"Don't keep it in your head."
"All you can do is throw yourself into the action."
"Make yourself available-- try to swim in the water."
"You don't realize magic while you're in the middle of it."
"A big question-- is the choice I'm making going to humiliate me?"
"Why don't we make theater a place of poetry? Why ever just try to recreate reality?
"Nobody needs us ever.. well, okay, so in spite of that how do you give words to your heart? Why not bet on yourself?"
"Poetry in the theater is where you don't need big sets, effects... it's where the language itself is making the theater."
"I hate to write about people who can't speak. I think people are incredibly eloquent."
I also loved when he talked about Sam and Amy and Noah. I know those people. And I am in their fan clubs too.
He told great stories about being in the Army and the day he met Joe Chino and about how he got to know the kinds of people that don't brush their teeth so that they don't have to worry about their teeth later, because if they were enlisted and their teeth rotted out the military would give them a nice set of dentures free. "These people that are not us-- this is what they're doing... that we don't even know about."
And all of this and it wasn't even noon.

I want to tell you about sitting outside under a tree with Kristen Johnston and about going for a run in this gorgeous incredible place and about sitting at the library reading and getting ready for the reading I'm doing this week, and about shopping for birthday presents and about seeing the first preview of John Rando's production of Flea in Her Ear, and working concessions and meeting some great old-times who haven't missed a Williamstown show in 54 years... and all the thinking I am doing right now about big big things. But there is all this life happening outside and I am feeling pulled and in the middle of it and like Guare said, sometimes all we can do is throw ourselves in, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

pouring pride

It is a rainy afternoon in the Berkshires and I just finished sewing my snow bag
(almost every show I have put together since, oh, Moriah and my birthday's in 1986 or so have had snow scenes in them, I grew up on The Nutcracker-- what can I say?)
I have a moment to look out the window and take it all in and I am filled with so much pride and happiness.
I have had this same feeling several times in the past couple months. A feeling like in some way the universe in converging in a good way for some of the extraordinarily talented people I know and they are pouring forth their gifts and the universe is RECEIVING them most graciously and with smiles on everyone's faces. I am really really proud of all the hard work these people I know have been putting in, and I have recognized their talents for a long time, and it is a damn good feeling when good things happen to good people. It gives me hope and renews my faith and it is fun to have really successful friends too. Because they are doing what they love and they are happy. Which makes me happy.

Here's a little ditty:
Yay for Alex T. & Sara B. & Beau W. & Sam G.
& Erica R. & Tom F. & Emily R. & Emily C.
Yay for Adam H., Jimmi S. & my old babysitter Brendan
making a ruckus in Wellfleet Harbor
also for Sara-had-a-little Lamb
way across the pond in London-tam...

horrible. I know. Well, it's the thought that counts. Right?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

18 inches

All true things that happened during the 3 weeks I spent in NYC and on my way towards Williamstown (I wrote them in my little notebook and am posting them here a little after the fact)

Oh, I 'm sure it'll come to you-- just write from the heart, from here (hand on chest), that's what counts, right?" A security guard at the New York Public Library

The homeless guy with 12 shopping bags and a journal. He was focused so intently on his collages and writing carefully in his speckled composition notebooks-- my mother uses the same ones.

The same Asian man who's been on the N/R/W platform at 42nd Street playing the long string instrument, always and forever playing Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee -- he has gotten older, I guess I have too.

The prepubescent boy turning around to watch an especially curvy older lady walk away

The tall black man offering to help the tiny Philipino lady carry her baby and carriage up 2 flights of stairs coming out of Grand Central

An older man on the train looking a little teary reading the headline "Teddy Boldly Sails into the Rest of His Life" after Teddy Kennedy had a seizure and it became apparent that he has a brain tumor

A Middle Eastern man on his cellphone: "New York City is the center of the universe" (! I swear! No joke!)

my cousin Katie dancing so beautifully with a dance company she is in it almost made me cry with pride

A UPS guy talking to a FedEx guy: " Oh shit I gotta go, I go go call my moms and wake her up for work"

Listening to French tourists get excited about the Brooklyn Bridge as we fly over the Manhattan on the B train

"It's all... pretend I said something smart" Darrell Hammond in rehearsal for Beyond Therapy

"I mean, I do crunches and stuff, I don't look bad or nothing I mean I look sexy but the way this dress is it comes out sorta lumpy so what I did, what I had to do was to get a girldle, no back looks fine" A teenage girl on 125th Street

The pregnant woman pushing a baby carriage on MLK Blvd. who I asked for directions to the train: "Just come with me, you're good-looking... where you from ... Oh yeah, NICE... Can I get your number? ... Do you have a cellphone?... I could come over?..."
Yes. Also true. The whole thing reminded me of a joke Christian Harloff tells about expecting something normal, I think it was the baby carriage and the pregnant belly, but when I got up close I saw she didn't have a 'normal', healthy face... she was cross-eyed and the baby carriage had the Elmo doll in it. Not a baby.

Two octagenarians at the Harvard Club walking out of the dining room, the man gestures to a photo on the wall and says, "There's the new President," the woman replies, "well, there's a change for you." She walks over to take a closer look and stands there smiling at it for a moment. The new President is a woman.

A four year-old girl in a stroller on the 1 train says, "Look mommy, the lady from Sex and the City" when a striking woman with blonde hair gets on the train

The Down-Syndrome guy on the Amtrak train to Albany telling the older man he was with of his idea to take a motor from one of his motor boats and put it on this train and then just "Whoosh!! It could FLY!"

The Hudson and the green out the window of the Amtrak made me want to take pictures, even live in these beautiful serene places-- I can't believe I grew up in places like this (Vermont) ... I didn't even know it was so spectacular until I went away for some time

People out the window really sitting on their porches, drinking beer and lemonade and just watching, watching the train go by...

Favorite new-to-me haunts: The upstairs speakeasy on Avenue C, Rao's, McGarren Park & Picket Fences in Flatbush

Old haunts: Motor City, Prospect Park & the Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO

Shows: August: Osage County, Top Girls, Johannes Wieland at Ailey, Jollyship at Ars Nova, and Katie's dance show

what a great city. I am always happy to be back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

a little something is still more than nothing

it has been nearly a month since I used this template and that is partly because I didn't have easy internet access but also just because I was really really busy and in New York City and being a sponge and writing little notes, jot-downs, in my little notebook on the train or in a corner of the park but I didn't want to miss anything. I wanted to do, and listen to, and see, and take in, as much as possible. And it was pretty exciting and effective I think. I mean, I accomplished what I set out to do in that sense of it. I made a list of some especially extraordinary items that I will type up here pronto... but first, a detail I just read in the paper that made me bolt up and say, "I can't believe it! Really? Is this true? This is TOO weird. I've got to tell people about this."
Werner Herzog made a first-person documentary about his trip to Anarctica and in a write-up on the film it says Herzog finds "such banal appurtenances as a bowling alley and A.T.M.s," and "abominations such as an aerobics studio and yoga classes." REALLLLLLLYYY?
I find this very hard to believe but also not. I have nothing against bowling or aerobics or especially yoga for that matter but it is scary don't you think? I mean, is everywhere going to be the same? To me Anarctica represents all that is wild and strange and unknown and very very cold, and DIFFICULT, some untouched/untainted NATURE. Not so much anymore I guess.
And that makes me scared. And also a little sad. I mean next thing we know we might have the Concorde to Antarctica and it might be a giant winter wonderland playground and then at some point in the distant, distant future, they will make an amusement park that will try to re-create the Anarctica of a few decades ago, and there will be the last remaining polar bar on display, locked-up like some freak show, and the whole thing will be picked and pruned and fake-snowed and wildly popular and to think-- all to just imitate the very thing we seem to be ruining today.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

four great things

[may 22nd, note: I have been waiting to post this because I wanted to upload photos from my still camera and get a girl's last name... but those things aren't happening at the moment-- so I will go ahead and post without...]

the last couple weeks have been insanely busy, potent, colorful, inspiring and fun.
A few highlights:

Mira Kingsley's "Yes is a Very Long Time" at BOOTLEG was AMAZING. My friend Pablo did the lighting which was incredible in both the epic rock-show moments AND the intimate, moody, quiet moments. Mira and Sibyl O'Malley created the piece together based on the true-life event of when an asteroid landed in a family's 2nd guest bathroom in Freehold, New Jersey a couple of years back.
Shooting a film with Winsome Brown and Ken Roht on a Bolex in the most unique gallery in Highland Park. The film is called The Complete Victrola Sessions and I am the dancer in the 'Opium Den Back Room' scenes. The film is set around the turn-of-the-century and besides getting to work with Ken and Winsome it was great fun to work with Sissy Boyd, O-Lan Jones, and Rebecca ________ (insert last name here) ...
The Huntington Gardens outside LA but close. Desert cacti, Japanese gardens, roses, lush English lawns perfect for catch... and it is always fun to do something in the city where you live that normally only tourists do or you would do if you were visiting from another faraway place.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

may day

I love it when words have different meanings. words, or phrases, or objects, or facial expressions, or emotions even.

A call for help from sailors or fisherman in their yellow galoshes on a boat in the middle of the ocean or the day when all the girls in the village get out their ribbons and dance and weave around the May pole. For example.

So May day it is. May. birthday incoming. spring. the birds and the bees. the flowers must be coming up...

And so they are. I am excited to report that in two weeks I will set out on an adventure of many unknowns and many points of potential wonder and wonderfulness. I go to NYC for three weeks to assistant-direct a play. Then I go to Williamstown Theater Festival for two months, where I will get to direct two one-act plays. And swim in the 'tubs' in the very nearby Great State of Vermont. I get to experience all the madness that a sort of 'theater-camp' for grown-ups might make you think of... Then, I get to go to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod-- another Most Magical Place award-winner. I get to act in a play with a great director in a theater where the backstage is a stone's throw from the ocean. I get to spend one week living in an historic shack on the dunes in Provincetown because I won a lottery! I get to be in the same time zone as my family and driving distance for over four months!! And while I am gone the Little Bird theater company is going to do a one-act play I wrote called "Seeds" as part of a festival in June at the very beautiful Elephant theater. I feel like I am gloating or something but even as I am writing this I am in total disbelief at my incredible fortune. And I feel lucky and blessed and so much gratitude. It is CRAZY.

the one other time I felt this lucky was when I was seven or so I was visiting relatives in Saginaw, Michigan and there was some kind of fair and I kept winning all the prizes all day. I remember being so excited but then feeling like I also had to show everyone how excited I was;-- it was very exhausting. The big kahuna prize had been a large chocolate cake with chocolate frosting that was incredilbe-looking, it looked so fresh it almost looked wet, and I remember being TRULY excited about eating it and sharing it with my family. After we got home from the fair thing everyone was hanging out and doing fun stuff and I didn't want to miss anything but after much fighting it off and being defensive ("I am NOT tired") I fell asleep. I woke up and it was nighttime and everyone except my mom was gone out dancing or something and I said, "can I have a piece of cake now?" and you're not gonna believe this-- the cake was gone. They had eaten the WHOLE thing. Anyway, not exactly sure it relates but I guess I'm saying I KNOW I am very lucky. And, I haven't ALWAYS been sooo lucky... And yes by golly, I'm going to take advantage of these gifts and opportunities.

I am sinking my teeth in and I am holding on and I am traveling light because I am up for any adventure each new adventure leads me towards.

also, I found this incredibly eloquent:
(from the obituary of Albert Hoffman, Swiss chemist who accidentally discovered LSD)

"I entered into realities which were as real and even more real than the one of everyday, became more aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the plant and animal kingdom. I became very sensitive to all this and what will happen to all of us."

He died this week. He was 102.

traveling light indeed

Friday, April 25, 2008

number the stars

99th post.
365 days of blogging.
90th day of substitute teaching!
21 days until I leave LA for about 121 days...

for the last 2 weeks I have been working with a special education class at Hollywood High and I know this might sound cliche-- but they taught me so much. I spent the first several days feeling like I was going to explode, or lose it, or kill them, or crumble in a crying heap on the floor in utter defeat. But I made it!! And we learned a lot from each other I think. I challenged them quite a bit, demanding a "crazy" amount of work from them, and I made sure they had fun, and respected me and each other and the aides in the room... and now I actually miss them a little bit. The best day was when I brought in the game Taboo and we played that by a very modified set of rules that included being able to say ALL of the 'taboo words' and actually say the main word out loud but in slow motion... They loved it.

Then the past 2 days I have been working with sixth graders in a sort of honors program at a public middle school designed by Richard Neutra. I have gotten to listen to 120 presentations on "Building a Healthy Relationship" where the kids had to make a wheel with 8 sections describing "what you need to have a healthy relationship." Big hits were- "communication," "loyalty," "trust," "love," and "patience." My favorites were: "rememberance-- remembering the things that someone you love tells you and their birthday and stuff," "personal leisure time, or space-- so that you don't lose your mind and you do your own thing because couples who spend all their time together are boring and then you don't have anything to tell your boyfriend or girlfriend about," and "time-- you can't have a great relationship after only 1 day, it takes time, and you need to spend time hanging out, like for 5 years." Those are actual quotes. Wow, 5 years is almost half of those kids' lives.
If only all the confused 20-something year-olds I know could remember what they may have known so viscerally at eleven... what happens in those 15 or so years? It would actually be a compliment to say that some of the behavior is "childish"...

As much as it makes me crazy I am really grateful to these kids I get to teach. Yep, you guess where this is going...
they keep teaching me. SO much.

Monday, April 21, 2008


today's "warm-up"
[I put a quote on the board every day and ask the students to write about it. Really original I know-- but I love quotations and I love asking the students to do short bursts of creative writing.]
"All the world's a stage,
and all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts."
William Shakespeare

now, a real-life line from the play that is my life today:
one student, let's call him Deantoine, just joined the class last week. He tells me he was in prison before. "Okay," I say, "welcome."
He keeps repeating, "this lady I used to know used to always cook me cow brains, cow ass, and cow tongue. The ass was the best. Tasted real good. Blue balls!"

He is switching it up with metaphors about what his cell roommate used to smell like. "Cow shit, cow ass, cow manure." I told him it was good he was using similes and poetic language but that he could "benefit from more varied diction-- word choice." Now he is reading the dictionary.

We have been reading Borges' "The Circular Ruins" which deals with one man fashioning another being of his own design. Hmmmnn... it's kind of like being a teacher. On a good day.