Sunday, April 25, 2010


Fringe is over. After two months of planning, managing, scheduling, re-scheduling, writing, directing, acting, rehearsing, designing, and changing. Great response, I am proud of my actors and my work. Thanks to all who came and supported me, or who supported me long distance.

I've been trying to identify how I feel right now. Sometimes I look at pictures to help figure things like that out.

The first thing I googled was "Empty Bowl" without knowing exactly why.

So I guess this is how I feel.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ghost Writer

Of course, my first play, working title Ghost Writer, would have to be about writer's block. But how delightful that I broke through right in step with my main character. Six pages of the first draft completed, and ready for auditions tonight. Will be performed at the Westmont Fringe Festival April 20-24.

Insider's trivia: the two characters, Sophie and Cleo, are named after my first two cats.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Infinite Superiority of Cats to Dogs

My mother's dog is hyperventilating. Has been for about 30 minutes now, ever since I stepped into the shower to enjoy what I had hoped would be a luxurious 15 minutes of muscle-melting bliss, just me and the Ella Fitzgerald song I've had in my head all day. I'd barely gotten to step one of the shampoo instructions, lather, when I heard over my own self-serenade: "Black coffee, love's a hand me down brew..." Knock, knock, thud! Strange, very strange. A panicked mental checklist: empty house, parents and sister not due back for hours, doors locked, windows locked, shit--the chimney! wait, no chimney... Oh. The dog. My mother's exceptionally needy Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle) and my primary rival for attention and affection when I return home. Hadn't mom mentioned last night that Abbey (the mutt's deceptively demure name) had been acting a bit anxious whenever someone got in the shower? I condescended to the animal's needy nature and interrupted my Ella impersonation with a monotone "Abbey, its fine, you crazy dog." This only provoked more frantic scratching at the door. How many times had I told my mother that dogs only respond to tone and repeated commands, not full sentences, thus rendering her scoldings of "Abbey, dear, it is really very rude to dig through Jessie's suitcase and shred her favorite pair of panties to pieces." completely ineffective. Perhaps the dog had mistaken my soulful croonings for the tonal equivalent of a cry for help. I adjusted my voice to the absurd cooing women seem to instinctually take on when talking to babies--human or animal. "Don't worry Abbs, it is just a shower, stop running your head into the door, take a breath, that's a good girl!" The attack on the door stopped. For about thirty seconds. Then she continued with renewed panic--whining, thumping, and scratching so frantically I was sure the door would have a hole in the middle soon if I didn't do something.

Reluctantly, I grabbed a towel from the rack (in retrospect, I have no idea why I did this. Perhaps I was subconsciously afraid to further scar Abbey's delicate psychology with my nudity) and opened the door. Again, I don't know how I thought this would help--my track history of calming Abbey down is pathetic, if not downright shameful. But there we were: me dripping suds and Abbey practically foaming at the mouth, in a brief showdown before she bolted between my legs to the tub. With her tail between her trembling little legs, she growled and snarled at the viscous jets of water still hitting the porcelain bath. For a moment, I was touched--maybe the mutt thought she was protecting me. But I still had a shower to finish, and this scruffy ball of nerves was making it damn near impossible. So I left the door open and climbed back in the shower, thinking she would be calm if she could supervise. Again, I was mistaken. Abbey tore down half the shower curtain in the frantic attempt to join me in the shower. Panic was in her eyes and she dove paws first into the basin of her fear. This would not do. After much pleading and cooing, I lured her out of the bathroom and halfway down the stairs with the tonal promise of lovely safe things before bolting back up and slamming the door before she could figure out how to turn her body around on the narrow stairs. By then, I was freezing, my hair was slimy with conditioner residue, and I had dog hair stuck to my wet legs and feet. Abbey was back at the door full force, so I had no choice but to rinse off in record time to relieve her stress and mine. Since then, she has not been further than ten inches from my ankles and whines every time I walk into the bathroom to grab the hairdryer or hang up my towel.

The cat, Mercy, meanwhile, has been curled up on the couch, guarding my now cold cup of tea and new book of poetry until my return, at which point she will doing one of several indeterminable things. First, she will show slight annoyance at my intrusion of her resting place, stretch out every link of her long back, and relocate herself on another cushion nearby. From that distance I can observe her graceful contortions while I write, and perhaps catch her gaze as she grooms herself and share a moment of self-satisfied indifference. Or, she may choose to accept my company, reach out a tiny paw and bat the ball of yarn I am knitting onto the floor, where we will watch it slowly unravel until she pounces on it with playful precision. I might crumple a piece of paper and play a lazy, low matainence game of fetch with her for several minutes, until she decides she has had enough and leaves the paper behind in favor of the window sill where she watches birds and invisible things in raptured silhouette. Watching her inspires me to write poetry, or to have an affair with a manic-depressive poet. But for now, she is my only poet-lover. Abbey, on the other hand, is like an infomercial with the volume turned way up, yelling at me about things I don't need. Right now, she needs to be walked.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Post rehearsal musings

Tonight I held my first rehearsal for my final directing project. I am adapting Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale The Swineherd with some heavy Commedia Dell'arte influences. Or at least, that's the idea now. John told us in class today to hold on tightly and let go loosely. That really resonated with me because I think I might live by that principle outside of the theatre too, and I'm not sure if that is the secret to life or a source of major issues. It could apply to people, places, ideas, dreams...Whatever is present is real and we should dwell completely in that moment with energized commitment. If we get caught up in regrets about past moments or anxieties about future uncertainties, then we fail to focus any attention on the only time we can actually influence, the present. To live presently is to be fully engaged with the potential of every moment, to be intoxicated with the dynamics of reality. And in that place of presence, there is nothing else to do but hold on tightly, because everything that is is, and you are immersed in it. Tomorrow cannot be held; Yesterday is the vapor of memory.

And once we have grasped what it is to cling to the present, then we must be ready to unclench our fist and let it go again at any moment.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Peace "Prize?"

It's my four day weekend, so I have real time to write again, but don't get your hopes too high devoted readers--there likely won't be another entry until November 1, when rehearsals and performances for Bald Soprano end and free time returns. Until then, I'll share my thoughts on the buzz about the Nobel Peace Prize before the media finds something else to bash on.

I first found out Friday morning in class when I was sneaking peaks at the New York Times headlines on my iPhone while simultaneously participating in a discussion about the complete absence of agape love in our culture's love stories (maybe another blog). When the headline caught my eye, in surprise I accidentally inhaled my scalding Earl Grey tea. After recovering enough to breathe again, reading a few articles online, talking to some smart people, and reflecting on my own, I have this to say.

To be sure, the enraged conservative cries of "But he hasn't even done anything yet!" are not completely off the mark, but I really don't think the Norwegian committee has suddenly turned into brainless idealists or screaming star-struck fans. I think the word "Prize" is what is tripping people up. Prizes go to people who have crossed the finish line first and Obama has barely taken a first lap. But in the press release, words like effort, vision, hope, and future are key. So instead of picturing a big shiny medal or an A+ hanging on the White House refrigerator, I encourage you to reflect on the analogy my friend Ben Taylor offered. He said that the Nobel Prize for Obama is like infant baptism. In front of the whole world congregation, Obama has been marked as a man who will work for world peace. His identity has been set publicly, and everyone who witnessed it is called to assist him in "the way he should go, [so that] when he is old he will not turn from it."

My conception of American politics has a significant European influence. I was in Germany when Bush was in his second term and I came to detest my American accent because of the associations that went along with it then. My new German friends pulled me into tourist shops full of anti-Bush tee-shirts and mugs--some of the most startling depicted Bush's face next to Hitler's with German phrases I'm grateful I couldn't translate. I was in Scotland, Ireland, England, and France during the election season and encountered either ambivalence towards American politics or complete support and yes, hope, for Obama's election. French shop keepers teased (maybe?) that they would only sell me things if I swore on the American flag that I voted for Obama. In pubs and parks, I was able to have conversations with people about international politics, instead of feeling attacked. I returned to England after Obama was made President, and although there are valid frustrations with some of the policies, just as there are among Americans, the general attitude is still positive.

This Nobel Prize is the most significant proof of the shift in the world's perception of America from a place of selfish, ignorant, aggressive power-wielding to a country that is trying desperately to get our shit together so we can use our influence to make the world a more peaceful place. You don't have to put a bumper sticker on your car, but every American should be on the sidelines of the World Peace racetrack cheering Obama on and keeping him hydrated as he runs this very difficult race to the end.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Meditation While Sun-bathing in Northern Idaho

It is inevitable,
as earth turns
as weather changes,
as time passes,
that the Great Sun
will be eclipsed by a cloud.
And for a time,
its warmth and light
grow cold and dim.
We, slaves to comfort and convenience,
scramble for blankets, fireplaces, and flashlights
to replace what we believe is gone
with cheap knock-offs
of our life source.
But it is inevitable, with
the turning of the earth,
the changing of the weather,
the passing of time,
that the clouds will drift on
to reveal again the Great Sun,
where it has been all along.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

At this moment

At this moment, I am thinking about the importance and the difficulty of being in the present. A good way to check yourself out of the past or the future or wherever you typically dwell is to finish the sentence "At this moment..." Repeat this as many times as it takes to be exactly where you are, because only when we are still are we still moving into another intensity (ref. Eliot).

At this moment, I am sitting at a small table in the wood lodge style restaurant bar The Korner Market, drinking stale coffee with a combo of Amaretto, French Vanilla, and Irish Cream Coffee-mates. This goes against all my coffee philosophies, but since I am in Priest Lake, Idaho, the paradise of my childhood summers that has likely never seen the polished steel of an espresso machine and hopefully never will, I am content.

At this moment, the book "Life of Pi" is sitting in my purse under my chair with an imaginary bookmark in the middle. I am eager to return to it.

At this moment, I am surrounded by four flat screen tvs mounted on the wood-paneled walls, surrounded by the array of hunting photographs, american flags, ancient logging gear, and animal body parts that make up the Idaho aesthetic. Clockwise, the tvs are playing the Nascar race, the Tampa Bay and Houston someones football game, Tiger Woods putting, and the weather channel. It is difficult for me to think of four subjects that I am less interested in. The drone of a Nascar race, however, is familiar background music to my Sunday afternoons, and if I thought hard enough I may be able to find some Taoist philosophy in the circular track. For that, though, I require better coffee.

At this moment, for all of my teasing, I am grateful for the rustic simplicity and beauty of life here in Northern Idaho. I feel parts of myself, long denied or buried, stirred to life with the taste of huckleberries, the smell of wet cedar, and a smile from my slow-speaking, flannel-wearing waiter.