Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a photograph can tell so many stories

Peter Turnley is one of my favorite photographers and a family friend (he has shot my mom's school, Codman Academy). Each year he assembles a photo-->video montage of his Year in Pictures. Take a few minutes and visit these vivid worlds. I really feel that his pictures always have rich, layered narratives within them. And they are so damn striking. Do you agree?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

a woman on the subway platform at 96th street

You can never go back. You see a young woman in scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck and you remember the year you spent in that outfit. The days you wore it out on the lunch hour because you liked experiencing the little kindnesses shopkeepers, strangers showed someone they perceived to be a caretaker. The lunch with Jimmi at Fred 62 when he said, "are you working at a hospital now?"
Not exactly.
My longest-straight employment to date was at Talmadge studios in LA, the set was Seattle Grace hospital, and my employer was Touchstone TV. It was a hard job in a way, long hours that often started before the sun came up but the people I worked with were lovely and the pay was decent. Like most 'money' jobs I've held it had the attractive quality of lots of down-time for reading, writing, and thinking. Among the more exciting elements of the job I got to watch two great DPs work: Tim Suhrstedt and Adam Kane, and do funny things like lie in bed with Patrick Dempsey, and dance with Katie Heigl, Sandra Oh, TR Knight and Ellen Pompeo. I stay in touch with the other stand-ins Eriko, Val and Kelly periodically and think of them more often.
It's amazing how much another person-- a complete stranger- can remind you of a moment, now long gone, from your own life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

thank goodness for little girls

I have been feeling a little down lately but am so grateful to Erica for reminding me of this young lady, who brings a smile to my face and a twinkle to my eye every time I so much as think of her.
magic girl

I hope she works the same magic on you.

Also, she always reminds me of the part in The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda (Meryl Streep) and Nigel (Stanley Tucci) school Andy (Anne Hathaway) on how she came to be wearing the color blue she's wearing and how fashion is not shallow or elitist but culturally interconnected and global and really very meaningful.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


My friend sent me an extraordinary article called The End of Solitude. I think it is definitely worth reading.

It also got me thinking about how I really enjoy solitude, and often feel like that is one of the qualities few of my peers share. Something that makes me 'weird.' I don't mind feeling weird though. Also, I thought about how most of my favorite books center around character's who are struggling with being alone versus being 'attached.' Siddhartha, Leaves of Grass, A Moveable Feast, The Road.

I am riding on the bus to Boston at the moment and feeling very cocooned in my foliage-staring, computer-reading, This American Life-listening bubble. I know I am technically connected, and I'm certainly in a crowded group environment, and yet I still feel like I am garnering the benefits of solitude. If nothing else I think living in a city teaches you to access and protect the state of solitude, the mental experience of it-- even without being technically alone.

In memory of Dr. David Musto, who passed away yesterday. He was a great man who well understood the infinite value of solitude. I remember fondly sitting in the house in Williamstown this past summer and listening to Dr. Musto and Jean's ideas for possible Broadway musicals. Dr. Musto, you will be missed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

where I'm at today

I think the pictures speak for themselves.
I am a very lucky lady.

Thank you Liz Engleman and the Tofte Lake Center for bringing Emily Conbere and I out to a cabin on your Boundary Waters, taking away our cell and internet vices, and giving us a week of the most stunning quiet to work on our play.

And thank you Tucker Hollingsworth for your absolute picture-perfect proof of the beauty.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"we used to write letters"

Arcade Fire continues to be one of the most inventive and brilliant collections of artists around. I love their new album (especially "We Used to Wait" and "Sprawl II") and this is probably the coolest video I've ever seen.
You enter the address of the house where you grew up. And you get your very own video.
It's incredible.
Check it out.


Happy Labor Day while we're at it! Try to make it to a park/backyard today and indulge in some food that comes in buns, chip-eating, white-clothes-wearing, and other summer activities. Today is officially the unofficial end of summer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


It's been rainy lately but the sun is starting to come out... which means... there might be...

He is very, very excited. And I love that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

this is a moment for a great speech

Dear President Obama,
Yesterday afternoon I had lunch with several older folks-- a brilliant and thoughtful 72 year-old among them (who as a young man had written his thesis under the mentorship of Mr. H. Kissinger). Before lunch began our host shared with us several news stories he'd printed out from the internet. I was horrified to learn that there are churches across the country holding 'Burn the Qu'ran Parties' on September 11th in protest of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque in Lower Manhattan. I was also frustrated with myself for being so consumed in my own personal bubble that the most I had engaged with this issue was appreciating a detail of FOX's hypocrisy that Jon Stewart had pointed out on The Daily Show a few nights before.
We were all united in our horror and the older folks at the table went on to discuss the intense need for a great speech right now. Having lived through the Kennedy years, the Civil Rights Movement, and Vietnam-- I realized how powerful a role great speeches have played in highlighting atrocities (as well as the redress of grievances) for this older generation-- and I tried to remember the great speeches that have played a role in the shaping of my social conscience. Your speech on Race in Philadelphia from 2008 is probably the speech of my life so far. (I was born in 1980.) I wrote about it here and think about it at least once or twice a week.
I know you are swamped and you are taking a much-needed vacation at the moment but I ask you to please consider making a speech about this issue. I live in New York now and I lived in NYC on 9/11 and I can assure you this Community Center would be a wonderful source of pride for most New Yorkers.
I'm sure you read it already but since this is an open letter-- I found Frank Rich's op-ed quite insightful. Read it here.
Thank you for your time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I have a new home- for two months anyway, and I feel like I'm living in a treehouse. I moved my bed to be horizontal along the window (trying to de-accentuate the long and narrow nature of the room) and when I look out I see lots and lots of trees, the greenest grass, a sculpture on the grass (Lousie Bourgeois?), the green mountains in the distance, and Degas' dancer on a sign for the Clark Art Museum. The Clark is one of my favorite museums and it also has the most extraordinary hilly, woods-y trails out back that are ideal for summer running.
The trees remind me of Michael Greif's production of The Three Sisters that I worked on last time I was here (2008) and I believe I was in this very same room when I spent the summer here in 1999. My room was right about Charlie Day's room and I much-enjoyed coming up the stairwell every night and seeing him sitting (shirtless) on his bed playing his guitar. I was a teenage girl and he was playing music-- what can I say?
It's been a hectic but incredible past several months. I've launched a new company-- with the name taken from this very blog-- and mounted a full production of Steven Levenson's Seven Minutes in Heaven-- a play we first conceived of together less than 15 months ago! All the reviews are in, and they are marvelous (check out www.coltcoeur.org to read them). And I couldn't be more proud of the show, the designers and crew, the cast, Steven, and myself. The best collaboration I've ever had. And we still have 5 more shows!!!! (Go to www.here.org for tickets)
Anyway, here is the physical view from from here.

As far as the mental view: Amanda Charlton (the fearless leader of the Williamstown Theater Festival Workshop) put it so well last night when she emphasized how special and rare this time is. For two months, I get to be ONLY a director. I don't have to be a tutor, or a girlfriend, or a receptionist, or a babysitter, or a perfect daughter, or ANYTHING else. I am so excited. I love being a girlfriend and a daughter, and sometimes I even love tutoring-- but for the next two months-- it's all about the pursuit of art/entertainment. How very special.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

holding on to things

I have spent a considerable amount of time, extremely intermittently, 'moving' over the past several months.
Due to a convergence of events which include traveling for work (I have spent 2+ months in five different cities on both coasts in the past 24 months!), my mother moving out of her house, and me moving out of my LA house-- I have been much encouraged to 'get rid of stuff.' And here begins the quandary.
I used to give my friend Adam a hard time because he was so good at getting rid of stuff, I sometimes wondered why the objects themselves didn't mean more to him. Letters, cards, photos, etc. It turns out I was reading him wrong. He is constantly streamlining his belongings and yet he holds onto and invests more in the friendships he maintains from growing up, etc. than anyone else I have ever met. Which seems like the important thing. And he gets photograph printed. Which is just way too rare and awesome.
Personally, I have a very hard time throwing things away. The sunflower Susanna left me in our shared locker at Boston Ballet in 1991? It's on top of the bookshelf in my bedroom in my mom's house. ...The set of pajamas I tried to sew in 1993. Every letter Nick Farrell wrote me between 1992 and 1998. Photos and drawings and collages and all those triangle-folded notes from high school. My typewriter. My old pointe shoes. The tulle I wanted to save for a costume. The other tulle. Every Vogue and Sassy magazine from 1992-1997. The endless christamas lights I must save for parties and shows... It just gets to be too much! And yet, how do you know what of get rid of and what to hold onto?
My sister and I used to mine the room my mother grew up in for clues and artifacts from when she was our age. We would delight in cryptic letters and take pictures in her old clothes. I am so grateful there was something left there for us to uncover.
I really enjoyed the 7 1/2 month period I spent living out of a suitcase last year, and I know that was largely a function of not carrying around so much baggage, both figuratively and literally. Now I live in a 5th floor walk-up and every time I'm about to acquire something I ask myself if I really want to carry it up all those stairs, and then carry it down again at some point in the not-too-far future. But I also feel so tied to the stuff that is sitting in boxes in my mom's house. It's not just that I want to have certain books around me, I want to have THOSE books, with the notes in the margins and the dog-eared pages. I want to be able to unravel tightly-wrapped notes and travel as if through a wormhole to my mind circa-1995. I want my daughter or grand-daughter to be able to slip on my old pointe shoes and feel where I stood.
I actually threw out Susanna's sunflower just recently; it had almost turned to dust, but I'm glad I saved it all these years. She got it for me when I was having a bad day and sometimes when that happens now I remember what she did, and I can see it there in the locker bursting with color and life, and it makes me feel better. If I had thrown it out as soon as it faded, I might not have remembered.

Full disclosure: It is a snowy day here in NYC and a sort of day-off before a very busy spell. I just listened to This American Life #199. It's called The House on Loon Lake and it's a really good one.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I had a small medical procedure today and went under, as they say, and when I was waking up I heard a man talking and I had the sensation of being very close to him. Not physically close, but emotionally-close. I couldn't see him, we were separated by a curtain hanging down between our beds, but I heard him breathing, coming to, drinking his juice, and eating his peanut-butter and crackers. I heard his banter with the nurse and the anesthesiologist and the doctor who had performed his procedures. Since he had been 'scoped' -- the doctor was showing him pictures, of his own insides, and the man joked that he should put them on facebook. His doppelganger! When the nurse asked who was coming to get him, he answered, "my wonderful, creative and kind father-in-law." Then I started to imagine the band on his finger. Before I heard that I had assumed he was not married. His voice sounded young but also grounded, self-assured. He had a good sense of humor even when he was in some pain, which is a great test. He sounded like "a catch." Something about the whole experience, wearing those uninspired gowns, putting your belongings into a locker, shuffling around in little grippy socks or, even better, being pushed on a bed or a wheelchair, being 'taken care of' by all of the nurses and doctors, and giving over to the sedatives (?) -- it simultaneously made me feel very vulnerable and very safe. It also reminds me of 1984-- is that the one where the characters take 'soma'? There is something futuristic about the anonymity of it.
Perhaps it is not surprising that the first voice I heard when I am came to I believed to be a close friend. Apparently, as the medicine was taking effect I had started complimenting everyone in the room. I remember my doctor's fuchsia cardigan sweater over her scrubs, it really was cute. When I woke up my blood pressure was very low for awhile but maybe it was just because I wanted to stay a little longer in that state, listening to this man 'coming to,' a very private moment. He left first and as he ambled past me he turned his head and gave me a big smile and a thumbs up. We had shared something-- I think he felt it too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Alice Walker says goodbye to her friend Howard Zinn - The Boston Globe

I met Howard only once, in Wellfleet, after an amazing performance of Pillowman directed by Howard's wonderful son, Jeff Zinn. He was incredibly warm and friendly-- to the point that I wondered if he mistook me for someone else-- but since I love him so, and felt I already knew him through his work, I didn't mention it and talked with him like we were old friends.
Alice Walker says goodbye to her friend Howard Zinn - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

I especially love Alice's dream.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

it's about story

A couple of nights ago a bunch of friends came over and we spent 2+ hours talking about the kinds of moments that turned our heads, made our hearts and/or brains swell, and stuck with us. We talked about the final moment from The Office (British edition) Christmas Special, parts of Young Jean Lee's Lear, Cromer's Our Town, or bits from dance, music, books, poems, etc. We are theater artists trying to define our interests and focus as we form a company-- but we were also just re-counting great moments of storytelling. Moments that balanced humor and depth, sincerity and imagination, and carried that favorite of mine-- the element of surprise. Moments that felt totally true, but were somehow also more than true, more than just 'normal,' 'regular' kitchen-sink life-- because they were theatrical. Kate talked about the cultural day when she was visiting the middle school with the other sixth-graders in Kansas-- and the Swedish woman performing the African dance had lost her top. Her breasts kept popping out-- and no one had known how to respond-- and there was this giant gulf between people's impulses and behaviors and teachers were trying to be adult and the kids didn't know if it was a cultural thing or what... And how interesting that was. I'm sure I've gotten some of the details wrong but it was very funny and also precisely the kind of thing that I find fascinating and entertaining.

This afternoon, as a little gift to myself I listened to the podcast of last week's This American Life. It is a great one. Three brilliant acts, Mike Birbiglia, transgender children (and I'm just finishing Middlesex), and love. I strongly recommend it. The whole thing.
This American Life
374: Somewhere Out There

Of all the 6 and a half billion people in the world, what are the odds that any two people are a real match? Stories from people who know they’ve beat the odds, and the lengths they’ve gone to do it—including an American professor who sings Chinese opera for anyone who'll listen, to get one step closer to his mate, and two kids who travel halfway around the country to find each other and become best friends.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

computer diary

If I had a computer diary and this was it I might write about how
there are a lot of different kinds of obsession, and a few different meanings too.
There's the kind of Obsession Calvin Klein sent Mario Sorrenti off with Kate Moss (his gf at the time) to capture in photograph form. The kind of photograph that would sell perfume of course.
Or there's the kind of obsession I sense when I see something really spectacular, like a great stage show or movie, or the fromagerie at Whole Foods. Like-- "wow, somebody cares so much about THIS EXACT ONE THING and they have dedicated a ton of time to the pursuit of this near-perfection," I think to myself. They might have come up against some obstacles and naysayers, but they kept right on. Because, maybe... they were/are obsessed.
It can be a very healthy/effective thing, and it can also result in some real tragedies. Ballet dancers are so obsessed with getting a variation right in rehearsal or class that they will dance even after their toes have started to bleed through their pretty pink pointe shoes. Football players, hockey players, soccer players, gymnasts-- they all push through incredible pain and physical barriers to achieve that elusive perfection.
It's late, I'm tired, I'm off on a tangent. What I really wanted to say was that sometimes when I start walking, I can't stop. I feel like I can understand what made Forrest Gump keep going. I derive a lot of different things from walking, and it also gets me places.
This evening I walked from Brooklyn Heights to DUMBO, across the Manhattan Bridge (the F wasn't running), to the Lower East Side and the Pig Iron show at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, then up to Houston, to Whole Foods (hence the thoughts of cheese), through Washington Square Park, and up to the West Village. Not so far, but I swear, if I wasn't carrying groceries and didn't have to get up early tomorrow morning-- I might have kept right on walking. I overheard fascinating sound bites:
"Of course Smooky is a disaster, she's the tragic hero"
countered with
"I bet she's not really a disaster, I bet she's really together and they just make her act like that cuz it's tv."

I also heard a 60-something year-old man say to a slightly younger-looking woman,
"What am I supposed to do, we never consummated the marriage! It's been three years already!"

I swear. True story.
I get a lot of thinking done while I walk. I also started to get a blister that is bleeding now though.

Alright, I'l leave you with this. Makes me smile every time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

me and the Suicide Girls

I am directing a play right now where I thought it might be useful to use the Suicide Girls as a point of reference in talking to the playwright, actors and designers. In my research I came across one interview today where some SGs discuss how they used to feel like freaks but now that they ‘know there are others like them, they feel better.’ These characters are also sort of politically-minded post-feminists, but I was reminded of what the SG in the interview said when I was reading Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone tonight. About finding your social/intellectual/spiritual brethren.
I have been meaning to read it for a couple of years—I devoured all of her other plays—and I read this one in one sitting… and this thing happens that happens often when I read her plays, or books by certain people (Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer, Paul Auster, Sophie Calle, Annie Baker), or watch certain movies/tv shows (The Office, Me and You and Everyone We Know) – where I literally feel like I have had an identical experience/thought/conversation/longing/image/string of words in my head.
In this play it was: the cellphone ballet (eavesdropping/stolen moments), the Hopper sequences, the semi-vegetarianism. But it has happened with all of Ruhl’s plays that I have read. I used to want to perform in them—though in a way that feels a little redundant since I already feel like I LIVE in them… now, I can’t wait to DIRECT them.
I also think to myself, the whole thing is sort of strange though.
And there are two ways to go from here…
1) Well, how about that, maybe it’s true… nothing is original…
2) How absolutely wonderful. There are others like me. I am not so alone. And thank god these people write and make plays and movies and tv shows and I can read/watch them and laugh and cry and make sense of it all much more because I am not the protagonist in these stories.

Anyway, when I was thirteen I actually believed that my friends invented graffiti. So, there is a long history of having an inflated sense of my own life.
I’m sure it’s just the same for the Suicide Girls.

Monday, January 4, 2010

happy new decade

I hope we all leap into the adventures ahead like this cat. (Cat, in the sense of-- man.)

parkour motion reel from saggyarmpit on Vimeo.