A Happy Birthday Do-Over

29 Aug

My birthday was two weeks ago.

And I gotta be honest, it wasn’t the best.

It wasn’t bad, not at all.  I got to do a show that night, I got lots of phone calls and messages from friends and family, received some lovely gifts, was surprised with beautiful flowers from my boyfriend…all good things.  But there were some bummer things, too.  My plans to spend the day on the Lewis River with my boyfriend were totally derailed and the trip got cancelled.  I took myself to the movies as a consolation, but I went to see The Giver, which was totally wretched (read the book and skip the movie.  Please).  I was exhausted by the end of the day and our tentative plans to go out after the show didn’t materialize.  It was just kind of a bleh-birthday.

But Dusty was adamant that we make it to the river.  So on Wednesday, we cleared our schedule and took a day off.  And friends, it was AWESOME.

Waking up that morning FELT like my birthday.  We got up, put together our picnic, and dashed up to Lewisville Park.  We spent hours sunbathing (extra win–my SPF 75 and sunhat did their jobs and I DIDN’T BURN!), splashing in the river, snacking, and taking summery selfies.  I got to try out my new bathing suit (the “Penelope” crochet suit in navy from Nordstroms cost me an arm and a leg but was totally worth it!) Since it was my (un)birthday, I subjected him to Harry Potter, reading the first few chapters aloud to him like I always wanted to.  We took a slow walk back to our car, stopping to pick up walking sticks and swing on the abandoned swingset.  We ate ice cream on the way home and took a long, long nap.

But that wasn’t everything.  That evening I went out with two friends who I love like family for a belated birthday dinner at Tasty N Sons, which was every bit as delicious as it should have been.  I went home full of food and happiness.  Dusty had gone to Seattle that night, so I was free to discover Orphan Black, which is basically my favorite show now that there is no more Game of Thrones for me to watch.

I guess my point is this: Birthdays are special.  The gift of another year lived and the promise of another year to come is worth celebrating.  And everyone deserves one day a year to be totally selfish and have things their way–and the chance to give others that day in return.  I’m happy I got to have the day I wanted, even if it wasn’t on the day I planned.

And here are some photos:

 

Closed for Renovation

19 Aug

Wrapped up in teacher training this week, will return next Monday!

O Captain My Captain!

11 Aug

Robin Williams is dead.

It took his death for me to realize how much he had made up the fabric of my life.  His voice was a constant in my childhood, as I watched videos of Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire and, especially, my beloved Hook over and over and over on our ancient VCR.  His influence extended into my young adulthood with Dead Poets Society (which will forever and always take me back to Mr. Barrett’s class and the happiest school year of my life) and Good Will Hunting.  He even touched my adulthood with Death to Smoochy, which I maintain is the funniest thing I ever saw and I really don’t care what the critics had to say about it.

And now he’s gone.  And somehow, I can’t quite fathom it.  I mean, it’s not like I spent tons of time thinking about Robin Williams.  I just thought, stupidly, that he would always be around.  His characters were so large and epic that it didn’t really sink into my poor human brain that he is–was–just a man.

His passing serves as a reminder of two things.  The first is that we never truly know what is happening inside another person.  A person’s outside, whether they are a public figure or no, is not always an accurate representation of their inside.  It reminds me that there might be people in my own life who are suffering, and I might have no idea.

The second is that death is coming to us all.  It seems so strange–that someone can be here and then not be here–and yet it us, truly, the most natural thing in the world.  The great unifier, so to speak.  I never met Robin Williams.  But he is dead and one day I will be dead and one day everyone I know will be dead.  How is death so shocking when it is so certain?

When Tess contemplates her own death in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, she speaks of all of her “tomorrows” unfolding one after another–until at last she reaches the tomorrow that is the day she will die.  This framing of death has always been a strange comfort to me.  I will live until I die.  My tomorrows hold joy, heartbreak, frustration, elation and, eventually, the end.  Maybe I will see it coming.  Maybe it will be over before I know what’s happening.  But it’s waiting for me.  It’s waiting for all of us.

With Robin’s death, a line to my childhood has snapped.  Maybe it snapped long ago, and it took his passing for me to realize it.  There is no childhood in my line of tomorrows, those have all passed.  All that remains is to fill the tomorrows with as much LIFE as I can and hope that when my death greets me, I can be at peace with the knowledge that I lived and loved as best I could.

The added tragedy of his passing, of course, is that it appears that he took his own life.  It makes me profoundly sad that a man who created joy for so many was unable to lift himself out of the darkness.  Suicide of a loved one has touched my life, and so I send my deepest sympathies to those who knew and loved the man rather than the artist.

My Dearest Readers, I do not know what is hidden in your soul of souls.  But if you too are battling that darkness, please know that I care for you.  If I can be of help, reach out to me.  If I can’t, reach out to someone else.  But you are loved and you matter and there are people who want to help you.

Death will come for us all.  But until then, we must strive to live as best we can.  We all have some darkness in us, and I hope we can all find the strength to reach out and grab a hand when the darkness of depression or addiction or brain chemistry threatens to pull us under. And I hope we can all find the wisdom and insight to sense, as best we can, when we might offer that hand to someone else.  Our tomorrows will have some darkness.  May we all find the moments of light and love.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills.

 

Working Together to Work Together

7 Aug

Hoh. Lee. Hell.

It’s been a bitch of a two weeks.

I haven’t written, but know that I have  VERY GOOD CAUSE.  My show went into tech and then into opening (very successful, so yay), my work life got slammed, and I was battling pretty  major fatigue at every turn.

And then the bombshell:  Dusty (my boyfriend, ICYMI), would start working from home.  Immediately.

First of all:  This is very good news.  He does something similar to what I do–that is, a whole bunch of different stuff–and working from home will provide him with more flexibility.  The change in his work arrangement has other benefits, which I won’t get into because it’s none of our business.  But yay!  It’s good.

The immediate concern was, of course, space.  Dusty found out this move was taking place on Thursday, and on Saturday he moved his work computer and stuff into our house to begin on Monday.  So our first thought was where in Hades to PUT the damn stuff.  He has his downstairs rehearsal/recording studio, but there’s not enough room for all his music stuff AND his work stuff.  So that left the office.

My office.

Now, considering I’m a spoiled, introverted only child who is greedy with space and craves solitude, I was surprised at how utterly OK I was with the idea of him “moving in” to my room.  I could easily move out my “thinking couch” (yes, that’s really what I called it) and bring in a second desk.  I was HAPPY to do it.  But there was only one desk.  His desk.  I knew I had to vacate the premises immediately and return his desk to him. But then, of course, I had to get a desk of my own.

The next step was an ordeal. Since he had to be back to work Monday, we had to get our shit lined up Sunday after my matinee.  The final performance of OPENING WEEKEND, which  meant we were fresh out of tech/dress/performances and I was exhausted.  Even still, we piled into his car and drove to the local thrift store.  It took a massive effort (choosing a desk, realizing it wouldn’t fit in the car, running to Fred Meyer to buy the rando screwdriver needed to take it apart, taking it apart, driving it home in two trips, going out for ice cream (!), re-assembling it, moving my crap into the new desk, loading Dusty’s stuff into his desk), but I am now the proud owner of a beautiful roll-top desk that I adore and purchased for a steal.

And my office is now our office.

Once we finally had our office in order, Dusty took a look around and said

“We’re going to be seeing a whole lot of each other.”

Back-to-back

Back-to-back

This is a big deal.  For the first year and a half of our relationship, we led very separate lives.  Our own careers, our own friends, our own homes, our own lives.  We loved each other and spending time together, but also had our own shit going on.  That changed when we moved in together–sharing a home means sharing a life. But even with a shared home and shared life, we’re both independent as hell.  And part of that is–was–time apart during the day.

But here’s the thing.

I’m happy he’s going to be around.  Maybe I have to turn in my Independent Woman card (j/k, you can pry it from my cold dead fingers), but I’m stoked that we’ll be together all day.  I feel like I should be worried…but I’m not.  I just think it’s cool.  And it’s not like we’re really together ALL the time–he still has to go to the office for brief spurts several times per week, and I’m always flitting about.

It’s a new step, for sure.  But even to my independence-and-solitude-craving-introverted-self, it feels good to have a buddy at work.

And now I do.

Lessons from the Green-Eyed Monster

16 Jul

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about jealousy.

I don’t consider myself to be a terribly jealous person, but I’m certainly not immune to the feeling.  When I see a person who is stunningly beautiful or  crazy talented or has access to resources (money, mainly) that I wish I had for myself.  I feel a pang, for sure.  When I was younger, I was often consumed by my jealousies.  I knew them for what they were and hated them.  Now I value them.  Jealousies have a place in us.

I’m not a fan of dividing feelings into “good” and “bad.”  I know folks who go through life trying to repress all their “negative” (anger/jealousy/selfishness) feelings.  I don’t live inside their heads and won’t presume to criticize the way they live their lives and manage their emotions, but I choose a different attitude in regards to my “negative” feelings.  Our anger, our jealousy, our insecurity, our selfishness–they have a place inside us.  And I believe that if we endeavor to accept them, examine them, and then release them (rather than repress them or right them), we stand a greater chance of being happy.

Jealousy as a Clue

Much as anger can clue us in to when our boundaries are being crossed, jealousy can clue us in to some interesting crappola as well.  Jealousy helps us know what we value, what we want, and what might be missing..  Do you feel jealousy pangs when you witness undeniable talent?  Great beauty?  Happy family life?  Power?  Possessions?  Clue in on what makes you jealous and go from there.  It might not always be straightforward or easy.  It might not always be pleasant.  You might find that what your jealousies reveal to you are not things you like to see in yourself, in which case you might have some major work to do.  But it starts by playing Sherlock Holmes and figuring out what your jealousies are telling you.

Comparing Leads to Despairing

Jealousy stops being productive once it starts controlling us.  Because that shit can take over your life, and that helps no one.

When I was a very young adult (late teens/early twenties), I was obsessed with two things (well, three things, but “getting a boyfriend” isn’t relevant to this).  The two things were: being beautiful and being talented.  I had been told since childhood that I was those two things and came to believe that any chance at happiness or success would only occur if I remained beautiful and talented.  So I spent several years of my life preoccupied with a ranking system in my head, that I was constantly updating.  “She’s a better singer, but I’m a better actress.”  “She’s funnier but I’m smarter.”  “She’s thinner but I have a prettier face.”  “She’s talented but I work harder.”  “Oh fuck, she’s prettier AND more talented.”  “Oh, thank God, I’m the prettiest one here.”  “Oh no! My scene was the worst!”  “She’s so skinny why am I not that skinny it doesn’t matter if you’re pretty if you’re fat and I’m not even pretty anymore I haven’t been pretty since I was 16 and now I can’t even count on being smart everyone’s smart and I’m not good at anything and my life is over.”

It was exhausting and ruining and shameful.  And it left no time or attention to actually bettering myself in those and other aspects of my life.  You can’t be brave in acting class if you’re trying like hell to claw your way up to “best” and are afraid to take risks or look foolish.  You can’t fully participate in school if you’re too busy figuring out if you’re the smartest or best looking one in the class.  And you sure as fuck can’t be a good friend, teammate, or person when you’re so fucking self-absorbed that you can’t see past your nose and where it ranks in some bullshit, made-up system.  But that was my life.  Until I hit 23 or so, and decided I was sick of being a despicable human being and started to wise up.

I saw how far I had come in an acting class a few years later.  A friend was performing her scene, and she was killing it.  The familiar thought came to my head: I wish I could do what she can do.  But then, unbidden, a second thought followed: but there are things I can do that she can’t do.  This wasn’t (mentally) said with a sense of superiority or comparison or ranking.  It simply meant that  I can’t be anyone other than who I am.  But, on the flip side, no one else can be me.  I can learn from what other people do and are, but it will always come through the filter of me.  And that’s a GOOD THING.  It’s silly and pointless to compare yourself to another in a toxic way–but more than that, it’s arrogant.  How dare I assume that someone else’s life is perfect from the few little clues I’m privy to?  I have no idea what they struggle with or fight for or cry about.

Who Drives the Car?

I’ve become obsessed recently with this idea of “driving the car.”  I am an emotional person who believes in feeling my feelings.  But I don’t want my reason to be a slave to my emotional life.  And I certainly don’t want my emotional life to be so central that I’m blind to what is going on with other people.  It’s something I struggle with constantly and probably will forever.  But recently I heard just a snippet of an NPR interview (I didn’t hear who was being interviewed and can’t properly credit–apologies) where the interviewee made a reference to knowing when to let the intellect “drive the car” while the emotions took to the backseat.

It really, really resonated with me.

A day or so later, I found myself in one of those difficult-but-necessary relationship talks.  My boyfriend was laying some truth on me, and before I even knew what was happening, I opened my mouth and replied: “Something about what you just said upset me, but I’m choosing to let my reason drive the car right now.  Just know that we’ll have to come back to it.”

Of course, I was so busy congratulating myself on what a mature and responsible response I had just given that I didn’t hear a damn word of the next three or so things he said after that, but…baby steps.

I think the idea of driving the car can be applied in moments when we’re experiencing pangs of jealousy.  It might be helpful to say to ourselves (and as cheesy as it sounds, I think we LEGIT have to say it to ourselves): “I’m feeling jealous right now, but I’m not going to let that drive the car in this moment.  I’ll look at it later.”

So What I’m Saying Is

From where I stand, jealousy is a natural part of life.  And if we’re smart about it, our jealousies can reveal things to us.  Just always remember that we are only getting a small piece of the narrative, and we never know the details of another person’s experience.  And while jealousy is valuable, we should try to keep it from driving the car.

Oh, and for the record, I fail at this all the time.

But we keep on.

 

A Summer of Magical Reading

9 Jul winter's tale

Ho. Lee. Crap.  I love summertime.

I’m lucky enough to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, which is the best place to summer in the entire universe.  Sure, it’s gray and rainy for 8 months out of the year, but the remaining 4 are the loveliest you’ll find ever.

It’s magical.

And speaking of magic, the last several books I’ve read have all been magical in one way or another.  So for those of you who are like me and like a little magic with your iced tea and sunglasses, here’s the lowdown on what I’ve been reading.  Just a note: most of these books fall into the “magical realism” genre in one way or another.  If you’re seeking legit fantasy, you’re gonna have to find another blog. Sorry.  But here we go:

 

1. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin:  It’s funny that I’m starting a list about summer reading with a book called Winters Tale, but life is funny sometimes.  And summer or winter, this book is worth your time.  winter's taleThis is the type of book that makes me love books.  It so large, sprawling and epic that it makes my ribs stretch in the reading of it to make room for ALL THE FEELINGS in my heart, yet also deeply personal and intimate.  It takes place in an alternate version of turn-of-the-century (the last century, duh) New York City, and is a love letter to that city.  It follows Peter Lake, a thief and an outsider, as he meets and befriends the angelic white horse Athansor and falls in love with the beautiful Beverly, who can hear the universe.  The story contains miracles, a cloud wall, and a mythical village upstate that is hearbreakingly beautiful.  I adored this book with my heart and soul.  It took me months to read, and I found myself putting in down for days or weeks at a time.  Not because I didn’t like it, but because I loved it so much I felt I could only take it in small doses.  It’s not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one.  If you prefer your summer reads to be of the page-turning variety, maybe put this one on hold until the nights are longer.  But don’t deny yourself the pleasure of reading this great novel.  Oh, and apparently they made a movie.  I refuse to see it because I’m pretty positive I’d hate it.

 

2.  Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke.  WHAT?  ANOTHER SUMMER BOOK WITH “WINTER” IN THE TITLE?  mind of winterWhatever.  I play by my own rules.  ANYWAY.  This book is less “magical” and more “psychological thriller/ghost story,” but again, I play by my own rules.  If you’re seeking a page-turning thriller this summer, this might be right up your alley.  It follows Holly Judge and her 15 year old daughter Tatiana, whom she adopted from Russia as a toddler.  It’s Christmas morning, and Holly wakes up with a pit in her stomach, and the feeling that something followed them home from Russia years ago.  Due to a crazy blizzard, Holly and Tatiana are stuck alone in their house on the holiday.  The interactions between the two escalate from typical mother and teenage daughter spats to encounters that are truly bizarre and frightening.  Neither character is truly likable (Tatiana can be bratty and Holly’s obsession with her “princess” daughter is cloying), but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment in this book.  In fact, watching these two imperfect characters and wound each other and then try to make up is fascinating. Kasischke’s writing kept me on edge from start to finish, and I read the entire novel in a single day.  No matter how hot the beach where you read this, you’ll feel chills.  Trust me.

3. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan.  I’ve known the film Portrait of Jennieportrait of jennie (1948, starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten) for as long as I can remember.  It’s a classic in my family, as my mom was named after Jennifer Jones and called “Jennie” as a little girl.  It’s the story of a depression-era artist who encounters a little girl who seems to be of another time.  Each time they meet, she is years older, although it’s only a few weeks or months since they’ve last seen each other.  She is moving in and out of time, and her “timelessness” inspires him to paint her portrait.  I’ve always loved the film, but had no idea it was a book.  A few weeks ago, I saw it on the shelf at my boss’s house and commented on it–and his wife insisted that I borrowed it.  Friends, it’s lovely.  It’s sweet and sentimental and also quite unsettling.  Not for everyone, but the romantics out there definitely should give this a read.

4. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block.  I love a good post-apocalyptic YA novel as much as the next girl, and this one, based on Homer’s Odyssey, seemed like a slam dunk.  love in the time of global warmingBut I found that my reaction was mixed.  The story follows Pen, art art-loving teenager, as she navigates through a devastated Los Angeles after a cataclysmic “earth shaker.”  Block’s writing is lush and the world she creates is both frighting and beautiful…but something left me unmoved.  There is something in her writing that doesn’t quite connect with me (I never could get into to the Weetzie Bat books, hugely popular during my middle school years).  And I found the constant references to The Odyssey tiring–I would have enjoyed it more had the characters not kept commenting on the fact that they were following the Homer work.  But I did appreciate the complex and beautifully written LGBT characters in the book–something that was missing from much of the YA fiction I read as a wee one.

5.  The River King by Alice Hoffman.  PSYCH!  I’m actually smack in the middle of this one.  But so far it’s enchanting and haunting as all get-out–pretty typical Alice Hoffman.  Her special brand of Massachusetts Magic has gripped me since I read Practical Magic for the first time as a teenager.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

River King

I’d love to write more, but I got a book to finish.

Hobby Lobbying for Corporations over Women

1 Jul

It’s a beautiful day in Portland. Sunny and warm and delicious in every way.  Only I can’t enjoy it, because I’m still pissed as shit about the Hobby Lobby Decision that came down the pipes yesterday.

So now I need to scream and yell a little bit. #sorrynotsorry

First off, let’s all take a moment to remind ourselves that contraception is not abortion.  Because contraception is not abortion.  I’ll say it again:  Contraception is not abortion.  I’ll shout it:  CONTRACEPTION IS NOT ABORTION.  I’ll sing it! Con-tra-cep-tion is not a-bor-tion!

Because it isn’t.  And I don’t give a crap if the Hobby Lobby Family powers-that-be have “closely held” beliefs that say otherwise.  They’re wrong.  And the fact that they hold whackjob, unscientific, harmful and backward beliefs should not affect the health and welfare of their female employees.  It’s wrong.  It’s unconscionable.  Say, for example, that I have a “closely held” belief that punching people in the face will give them happiness and lifelong prosperity.  I still can’t go around punching people because (as Ruth Bader Ginsberg put it in her dissent that is absolutely every bit as fabulous as the internet says it is), “your right to swing your arms ends where the next man’s nose begins.”  I can’t punch you in the face, Hobby Lobby, even though I really want to.  And you can’t control the bodies of your female employees, just because you want to.

Except, wait!  You totally can!  All because you have “closely held” beliefs (WRONG beliefs) that certain forms of contraception are abortion.

So let’s talk about abortion for a bit.  Everything I’m about to say has been said a gazillion times before but I’m gonna go ahead and add my voice to the throng:  the pro-life debate is not about “protecting the unborn.”  It’s about making sure that women are “punished” for daring to have any sex that isn’t about procreation.  Because if the pro-life factions were really about ending abortion, they’d be chucking contraception at us left and right.  They’d be fighting tooth and nail to make sure every woman had access to contraception, should she wish it.  Oh, and they’d be the world’s biggest fans of comprehensive sex education.  Because you know what actually reduces abortion rates? CONTRACEPTION AND COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION.  You know what doesn’t reduce abortion rates?  All the bullshit the religious right is currently putting women through.  It’s not about “babies” for the most hardcore anti-choice bigots, and it never has been.  It’s about female sexuality and making sure women are “punished” for having sex. And if that’s your stance, please do the world a big fat fucking favor and own up to it.  Call a spade a spade so we can have a g-d honest conversation about the subject.

US-POLITICS-HEALTH CARE-BIRTH CONTROLI have nothing new to add to the Hobby Lobby conversation, only to add my voice in support of women, women’s health and women’s fucking agency over our own fucking bodies (OH MY GOD IT’S 2014 WHY IS THIS STILL EVEN AN ISSUE I WANT TO TEAR OUT ALL MY HAIR AND STRANGLE MYSELF WITH IT).  I want to add my cry of “bullshit!” to YET ANOTHER decision that puts the rights of corporations to dictate the lives of American citizens over said citizens. I want to confront hypocrisy by forcing Hobby Lobby to own up to the fact that, while they refuse to cover certain kinds of contraception for their employees under the (erroneous!) belief that those forms of contraception are abortion, they invest in the pharmaceutical companies that produce Plan B and medication to induce abortion.  And I want to remind Hobby Lobby, SCOTUS and AMERICA that part of living in our society is paying for stuff you don’t like.  My tax dollars went into the Iraq War, after all.  And for the love of juice, your freedom of religion shall not impose on my right to freedom from religion.

For-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby exist for one goal: to make money.  They don’t have thoughts, they don’t have feelings, and they sure as shit don’t have religious beliefs or moral stances.

But women do.

Now.

I’m (generally) an optimist when it comes to social justice.  I have a closely held belief (see what I did there?) that, while the road to justice is far from a straight line, we are generally heading in the right direction.  I think of it as a spiral–we will take giant strides on the path to actual justice and equality, and then there will be backlash and we’ll go back a few steps.  It’s slow going, but we are moving forward.  But today I can’t think about the big picture and strides and backlash.  Not because I don’t believe we’ll ever make it to justice and equality—I do–but because I’m really fucking worried about what we’re supposed to do in the meantime.

 

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