January 23, 2011
I took some pictures on my digital camera in the last couple weeks, of the latest New York Snowpocalypse (can it really be the “snowpocalypse” if it happens every year?) in Central Park, and of certain mysterious phenomena of my apartment. When I went to upload them to my computer, there were a dozen pictures in the batch that I’d forgotten were on the camera, from a short, whirlwind trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado back in August for my cousin’s wedding. I remembered I’d disregarded them because most of them were taken quickly, some from a moving ski lift, and my camera’s battery was having trouble deciding whether or not it was imminently dying, so I’d assumed they couldn’t have turned out very well and written them off. But a few of them were okay.
What strikes me is the huge sense of peace that emanates from them, even though very little about the weekend, and nothing about my life at the time was peaceful in the slightest. A lot was going on personally. I had gotten a 6 AM flight to Denver and was delirious from going nearly 24 hours without sleep at one point, and cranky and strung out from altitude sickness. I was working on two shows at the time–one going perfectly swimmingly but the other descending rapidly into hell–and was in close contact all weekend with my partner stage manager concerning the latter one, and playing frantic phone tag with two other people about the schedules of possible upcoming gigs. There was apparently some family drama that I didn’t even hear about until much later.
Only far in retrospect is that bright, sparklingly vivid tranquility that was there the whole time apparent to me, as I take a last few peaceful hours to myself this morning, before I begin tomorrow my next long, hard slog through a production that I can already tell is going to take everything out of me for the next couple months. It’s like the assurance of peace only now caught up to me in time, or I caught up to it. The sense is resonant of a verse of one of my current favorite songs:
I am assured, yes, I am assured, yes, I am assured that peace will come to me.
A peace that can, yes, surpass the speed, yes, of my understanding and my need.
–Josh Ritter, “Lark”
A thought that I’m going to try to hang on to…as it’s becoming apparent that my next few weeks are going to feel more like this:
January 20, 2011
Usually, upon returning from being away from New York for the holidays, I walk back into my apartment and am shocked and appalled by the conditions I’d been living in and wind up staying up until 4:00 AM cleaning. I can’t even unpack before I clean. So BEFORE I left for Christmas this past year, I cleaned everything–swept and mopped, scrubbed windowsills, slayed dustbunnies, changed sheets…and cleaned on top of the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Now there are many funny, and troubling, things about my apartment. Emily #2 and I often joke that, like the disturbing house of the novel House of Leaves that’s bigger on the inside than the outside, more stuff fits in this place than physically, rationally should be possible.
But the top of the medicine cabinet provides the best evidence that there is actually some kind of wormhole or other space/time anomaly at work in my apartment.
I am only half kidding.
We don’t clean up there often, but when we do, every time, there’s not just the dust and dirt and grime that you’d expect, but big pieces of junk. And we can’t figure out where it’s coming from.
Okay, see those two big white chunks? They seemed to be plaster or something similar. The smaller one is about half an inch across and the bigger one is more than an inch across.
One corner of the bathroom’s tile floor is crumbling from a succession of bad repair jobs. But how would this junk get from down there to up on top of the medicine cabinet?
There’s a hot water pipe that runs right next to the medicine cabinet, and there’s a little space around the pipe through its hole in the ceiling. But nowhere near enough for stuff of this size to be falling through.
And I’m sure it would be easy for my skeptical friends out there to say, oh well, it’s probably just left over from the last time your bathroom ceiling fell down. And it would be tempting to let myself believe that.
But this phenomenon predates, by years, the first time the bathroom ceiling fell down.
So I don’t know what else to believe…other than that there’s a wormhole in my apartment, or something like the magic karma frozen donkey wheel transport system between the Island and the Tunisian desert in Lost, only instead of being that cool, it’s between somebody else’s crumbling apartment and mine. Or that maybe it’s the NYC equivalent of vibhuti, the ashlike substance that is supposedly the residue manifested by sages like Sai Baba in great acts of magic. Only I’m not sure I want to know what kind of attempted metaphysical stupidity is producing this stuff.
If anybody has a candidate for a rational explanation, or knows more about the odd behavior of old buildings than I do, I’d love to hear it. Thanks in advance….
January 12, 2011
This makes me so upset that I somewhat doubt my ability to write coherently about it.
Arizona Orders Tuscon to end Mexican-American Studies Program (New York Times)
The attorney general of Arizona has decided that a Tuscon magnet school’s Latino literature class an illegal propagandizing and brainwashing program, under a law which he himself wrote, seemingly for the specific purpose of targeting the Tuscon school district’s ethnic studies programs, after a perceived personal insult by a high-profile guest speaker:
It was Mr. Horne, as the state’s superintendent of public instruction, who wrote a law aimed at challenging Tucson’s ethnic-studies program….Mr. Horne’s battle with Tucson over ethnic studies dates to 2007, when Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, told high school students there in a speech that Republicans hated Latinos. Mr. Horne, a Republican, sent a top aide, Margaret Garcia Dugan, to the school to present a different perspective. He was infuriated when some students turned their backs and raised their fists in the air.
According to the Times article, the law explicitly forbids programs that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” suggestions that “portions of the Southwest…once part of Mexico should be returned to that country,” “promotion of resentment toward a race,” and programs that “are primarily for one race or that advocate ethnic solidarity instead of individuality.”
I’ve long had mixed feelings about ethnic studies programs. And I haven’t attended Tuscon’s Latino studies class, so I can’t claim to know what’s going on. But I doubt very, very, very much that students in a high school literature class are actually being indoctrinated to support the overthrow of the government of the United States. And if denigration of individuality is the real problem, well, AG Horne, you might as well outlaw high school.
It seems far more likely that Horne is terrified by the prospect of a minority group, which he sees as a threat to his version of Americanism, taking justifiable pride in the literature of their own heritage, examining their place in American history and their hopes for its future, and that those hopes might conflict with his own. He’s not afraid of a bunch of Latino high schoolers plotting to topple the US government; he’s afraid of them having a narrative of their place in society that’s valuable, unique, and powerful.
And he’s counting on misinformation, ignorance, apathy, and xenophobia to protect him from any real consequences for his astonishing and vindictive attack on students’ First Amendment rights and academic freedom. He knows he probably won’t face any appreciable outrage from the state’s citizens, because not many people will see themselves in the group of young Latinos he’s maligning. Not many people will perceive any threat to the freedoms or safety from intimidation that they take for granted in this action, because they aren’t part of a controversial literature class alleged to be inciting disloyalty and racial discord. But they should. Because if this can be done to any of us without the protest of our neighbors–being legally targeted for what we are, read, or learn–then it can be done to all of us, for any reason.
January 8, 2011
One of the most shocking things anyone ever said to me came from my Mary Lyndon hall-mate Sally–one of the very few fellow dorm residents I ever talked to much at all–in my junior year of college.
She told me I had “mad style.”
I had never considered myself to have very much style at all, let alone mad style. I was always a nerd in school. Lately I had taken to wearing skirts with t-shirts and sneakers. I was trying to figure out some way to better express my femininity while remaining comfortable, and occasionally putting some of my new found awareness of line, silhouette, and color from costume design class to work for me in the many fine thrift stores of downtown Athens, GA. But to be someone with style, was a fate that had never crossed my mind as a possibility.
So, having never gotten all that good at taking compliments, it was with similar awkward though delighted surprise that I found myself the recipient of a Stylish Blogger Award.
My award comes from Aspergirl Maybe, who is blogging her way through the book Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome, by Rudy Simone, herself an author, musician and comedian with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a marvelous, concise, useful and emotional book, and I thank Ms. Maybe for introducing me to it and for her ever honest and fascinating blog.
As a condition of accepting this award, I am supposed to pass it on to three more blogs…and tell you seven things you don’t know about me.
The winning blogs are:
1. A Year of Plays, by Anna Moore. One of the things you wouldn’t expect about working in theater is that it’s really, really hard to get out and see theater. Anna pledged to see and write about one play a week for a year. She’s still going, on a less strict schedule…and producing a play and starting a theater company.
2. Pomo Freakshow’s yet-to-be-wittily-named blog, by Kestryl Cael Lowrey. I’ve now seen two absolutely stunning one-man shows by Kestryl, and want to wish hir all possible encouragement and joy in hir new blogging exploits.
3. The Intimacies Project is a collaborative multi-media public art project of dance, poetry, and visual art, which last year did a series of free performances from a storefront space in the Port Authority bus terminal, inviting people in off the street to get a little art in their lives. One of the dancers involved, Billy, is someone I’ve worked with before, and poet Claire Donato is a friend of a friend.
The stuff you don’t know about me is a little bit harder. Oddly, while I’ve always conceived of myself as a private person, I was realizing the other day that I actually have very few real secrets anymore. There’s almost nothing about me that somebody doesn’t know. The strange part is that almost nobody knows all the same things…I feel like people know different versions of me entirely depending on when they knew me. So the following aren’t anything that I guarantee you didn’t know about me, but rather that you may not have guessed, depending on what part of my life you came from….
1. I can in fact curse. I’m actually very good at it. Around the apartment, I have the mouth of a sailor. In the interest of professionalism, I try to keep a lid on it in rehearsal, which often leads to the hilarious misconception that I can’t curse…and a lot of shocked cast members when tech week rolls around and they hear me drop the f*bomb for the first time. In college, I auditioned for the role of Catherine in Proof, and the director asked me to say “fuck you” to her, just to make sure that I could.
2. I really enjoyed acting classes in high school. Other people were shocked, because I’d always been so shy, but I loved learning that I had the power to create an illusion, and the powers of expression I had while being somebody else.
3. I have a biology degree. It’s sort of a long story.
4. I drank a lot in college. Like, a lot.
5. I love living in New York, but I miss so many things that I don’t have here: hearing owls and crickets at night, being able to see the stars, a real porch, open sky. I’m not sure when, not even in the foreseeable future, but sometime I might have to leave NYC for someplace quieter. But I worry about being able to make a living someplace else.
6. My favorite words are all the ones without vowels. I do not believe that ‘y’ counts as a vowel; when they taught us in first grade that it did, I just chose not to believe it.
7. I wish I went to church more than I do.
Anna and Kestryl, come pick up your award anytime! (Intimacies Project involves multiple people, so I don’t expect them all to complete the lists.)
And lastly on the topic of unexpected things, as it approaches one year since I started writing this blog, having very little idea of where it would take me, it’s become one of the unexpected pleasures in my life, along with the interaction it’s brought with people both old and new to me, so I thank you all for reading.