Archive for the ‘ insights ’ Category

Full Life



If the real truth is found in silence, then I have been more honest with you, Reader, in the past six months than ever before.

The real truth is that I am a small person whose life can only be witnessed by the few who jostle for proximity. The real truth is that I have so much to say and with such feeling that the utterance seems to cheapen it by dilution.

Reader, I am marrying a man. I am marrying the man that I want, the man that I dreaded because he was too perfectly my inner soul’s desire and threatened to make my life happier than I felt it had a right to be. Happiness is for the weak, for those who close their eyes to the sorrow of the world, for those who will not sit in silence and bear up under it alone, for those who are Human and not Atlas.

I forget that I am human, Reader.

And furthermore, I forget that grasping happiness though it runs through your fingers and linking arms with a person though they walk at a different pace and relinquishing sole proprietorship to another gloriously faulty spirit—these things are brave. These things are beautiful. These things make the universe mean something more, even if you are only dressing up entropic atoms with sentiment. I choose the sentiment. I choose to feel.

I get angry because I wasn’t watching the road and slammed on breaks and food and papers and shoes and jackets and books have careened into the crumb-crusted carpet of my dying Toyota.

I get surprised because my family and friends actually left their comfortable homes, got into their cars, drove into the scary ITP, huddled silent and sweaty in a spare room, and celebrated our engagement with wine and cake and stories and hugs and tears and letters and laughs.

I get overwhelmed that the logistical felicity of 35,000 ticket-holders depends on my dexterity with Excel, Adobe, iPhone, vehicle, GPS, small talk, Outlook, clothing shopping, and getting a good night’s sleep (at which I suck).

I get sorrowful because I miss my close friend and all I could think about while I listened to him tell his story about moving across the country is how much I will miss him when he is gone and how talking on the phone isn’t the same as accidentally bumping into each other when you readjust in your seat across the booth or as squeezing each other tight when you say goodbye with a hug or as seeing what’s really happening inside the face though the words sound normal enough.

I get jealous of my beloved because I want to forge a fairy-tale home for him that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter and pleasing to the eye all year round and brimming with the hearts of people who love him and need him and respect him and teach him and hear him and sometimes my best-laid plans are corrupted by my own need for him to build me a fairy-tale home that is always the right temperature and situated in a convenient location and full of furniture that doesn’t make you sore after a three-wine-glass conversation.

I get proud of myself for acting like an adult, which basically means that you keep on acting even if you don’t hear applause or get a review (let alone a good one!) in the paper or get the contract renewal before the current one expires.

Life has been extraordinary to me and it’s filled my little clay plate with a helluva lot more tasty and prickly food than it can manage, and I don’t ever want to give the impression that I am insensible to that bounteous fact. But sometimes, standing there without saying anything, just holding your plate with both hands in front of you and your face turned down so you don’t trip while you’re walking—sometimes, the silence is all. Thanks for listening.

The Best Parts of Life Have No Record

Bahaha! *laughing and crying simultaneously*

Bahaha! *laughing and crying simultaneously*

I watched a film tonight about hunting Nazis—prosecuting war criminals using documentation, interviews, eye-witness accounts, etc.

Quite apart from the obviously incendiary content, the film threw me into contemplation of the past two and a half months of my life.  Months, which according to this blog, never existed.  Months, which according to my iCal were completely unpopulated with events.  Months, which according to my bank account, were only spent eating food and sleeping under a roof—oh, and an occasional theatrical excursion.

There is no record of the 1000+ backordered items that my staff and I have delivered to our customers.  Nor of the 13-hour days with only a meal and a half to see me through.  Nor of my emotional, spiritual, or psychological journey from a “college graduate” to a “young adult.”

And yet, all of this and more has happened.  One of the perversities of our digital age of immediacy is that there will forever be a record of the fried baby octopus I ate for dinner a week ago.  But vanished forever in the recesses of my spirit are the undulations of my soul, my connections with other people, my disillusionment with myself.

Facebook, play on.

WordPress, write one.

Heart, beat on.

There is One listening.

Living for More Than Profit

On Facebook today, the Shakespeare Tavern drew my attention to a recent article by Susan Booth, artistic director of the Alliance Theater.  (And there you have some of the most important hyperlinks you’ll ever need, all in one sentence 🙂

In her article, Booth articulates that funding for the arts has largely failed since we’ve moved to a consumer-centered capitalist bottom-line ideology because the arts are not about profit of a material kind but about profit of an essential, unquantifiable human kind.

The supply-and-demand question isn’t really about a supply of cultural organizations and a demand for the arts.

And as long as we keep arts-funding relegated to that small definition, we will always have cries for financial help and imperiled institutions.

But were we to acknowledge that our shared need for introspection and empathy flows through every facet of our daily lives and is therefore essential for us to support, then perhaps we’d stop talking about arts funding and start talking about humanity funding.

I think that Booth has not only diagnosed the cyclical nature of the annual funds and desperate direct mailings that theater-lovers receive on an ever increasing basis, but she has also discovered how America has impoverished itself.  Defining our lives by the cruel rigor of supply-demand excises us from the source of life.  

My seventh grade science book defined life as the ability to:

  • grow
  • respond to surroundings
  • reproduce
  • extract energy from the sun (or food)

In my marketplace mire, I often see death:

  • one routine that never changes or offers incentive for improvement
  • inability to react to people, events–internal or external–in deference to the “professional” determination to ignore everything that doesn’t contribute to scanning at a register, checking out online, or sealing the deal
  • strict limitations on how much or how little of another individual’s ideas, personality, etc. I can incorporate into something new that combines with my ideas, personality, etc.
  • discouragement to engage with spirituality, Nature, feasting, partying, dancing, laughing, music, or other food for body, mind, soul, and spirit

So I take up Booth’s challenge and snowball it into my own: I WILL LIVE!  Not only will I make it through the day, but I will decay a little less.  A plant or animal expends all its energy on those four characteristics of life; I will quit hoarding the precious little I have in the hope that it will suddenly expand into a never-ending, self-sustaining supply for which there will be eternal demand, but I will give my time and energy to growth, reaction, reproduction, and sustenance.  Like Booth explained, communities that are culturally impacted by the arts are compassionate and vital (alive).  Maybe America would have more personal improvements, more interconnectivity, more happy babies and creative masterpieces, more girth––all because of a little more of a fiscally silly thing: funding humanity.

Life should be a crazy ride that you just hold on and enjoy.

Life should be a crazy ride that you just hold on and enjoy.

Responsibility and Reward

I’ve been contemplating–crazy, I know–the difference between facing life as if it is a responsibility and facing life as if it is a reward.

I recently got to travel for a long weekend, and even though I was very busy throughout my vacation–even waking up earlier than I get up at home!–I felt immensely refreshed.  Each day was like an exquisite gift; I didn’t mind expending my energy on it because I knew that I would never have another day quite like it.  And although I “earned” the reprieve by my hard work and frugal planning, it was also something made possible only by the generosity of those around me who opened their homes and wallets to give me a fantastic holiday.

And honestly?  Each day that I work hard is made possible by the generous support of the One Who loves my soul.  (And, no, He doesn’t do it for a cute tote bag as a thank you for His donation.)

Life isn’t easy, and there are strings tied to every fiber of our being that the world around us likes to pull and stretch, sometimes until the line just pops and you know a great thing is gone forever.  But each string doesn’t have to dictate the way I move; I can muscle my way into a dance, a rejoicing in the day that fills my soul with delight and liberates my heart from the oppression of puppeteering.  And with each struggle to find the giggle (or grimace) that my heart feels in each dawn, my strength will grow and my dance get longer, more fluid, and more sure.

So, here’s to tomorrow: may it be a joy set before me!

A Nervous Splendor

Today The Emperor has been computerized into a system willing to grant its children lordly prerequisites and sexual license while remaining resistant to essential reform. Under today’s system the young often appear as a generation of Rudolfs [the Crown Prince of Austria who committed suicide in 1889]: free and glamorous in theory, crushingly impotent in action; freely skeptical yet unable to establish one skeptic-proof premise; free to see themselves as unbounded individuals without ever arriving at successful individuality; free to press pleasure into numb excess; free to demand the absolute of their senses and their ideals only to be failed by both, overprivileged and hapless at once; free to sound the depths of sophisticated frustration.


Preeminent Pleasure

This was my old commute.

This was my old commute.

Quite awhile ago, I wrote a post on how driving changes you.  I considered the fundamental shifts in thinking engendered by long hours living between two rows of dotted lines.

Although I am still dutifully staying between the lines, now, I’m happy to say, I have been transported (at least momentarily) into a whole other world: my commute has changed.  Now, I am no longer masculinized by a swift, hard, competitive, linear, and stressful penetration into the city’s center.  I am rocked back and forth in the feminizing curvatures of  local country roads, enshrouded in riotous foliage that sparkles with the morning sun.  And, I’ve seen the change in my attitude towards work!

I arrive at my employment in the kind of inspiring state of mind that makes it easy to believe that I am there to engage with real people, solve problems that address their immediate needs, and provide a stabilizing presence in their harassing daily errands.  I am singing in the car again; not cursing.  I am laughing with the windows down; not holding my breath against the fumes and exhaust.  I am taking the long way, just to swerve down the arcs of asphalt; not constantly recalculating the shortest distance between myself and my destination.  I am choosing my course based on pleasure not preeminence.

And I’m lovin’ it.

THIS is my new commute.

THIS is my new commute.

My Linen Should Be Laundered

How high are we?

I was bound to run into the glass ceiling.

Or maybe it’s a box.

Well, whatever shape it is, there are planes and angles involved.  It’s a structure that encases my thoughts, and, if you are the one standing on the other side, you may see me yelling and hear nothing.

You may see me yelling and hear nothing because I haven’t opened the window.  Yes, there is a window my in box.  But it’s currently only open for business once a week.  Lucy is going to crowd me out of the market.

The past month or two, I’ve only been blogging every seven days.

Although it may come as a shock, however, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been saying things.  Like I said, I just haven’t been open for business.

Lucy, will you help me?

Lucy, will you help me?

There are so many thoughts that shuffle between my ears every day.  Well, actually, my thoughts feel less like they shuffle between my ears and more like I can still hear them screaming at me across the room–from under five pillows, a set of headphones, and two squishy ear plugs.  They pound away at my head all day long, intertwining and running over themselves in their eagerness to command my poor little Self’s attention.  They jostle for affection and tenderness, and my poor Creativity has run away.  I think He is hiding in a corner until all the yelling stops.

But what’s funny about blogging is that I can’t let you in on that conversation.  I can’t let you in on that conversation because it’s not politically correct—or even polite, for that matter.  You would be offended, and then I would be offended at you, mostly for interrupting my eloquence with a *gasp*

I can’t let you in because you don’t care as much as I do.  My screaming voices are only a whisper among your screaming voices.  And we really all simply want peace and quiet.  The only reason my little window is comforting to you or to me is because it channels the energy; everything has to mush into a square to pop out the window and onto the other side of my glass box, or triangle, or quadrangle, or hexagon, or parralleogram, or rhombus.   (I think I secretly always liked the rhombus best.)  That little window of “a blog post” can do wonders to solidify the thoughts swirling around.

Perhaps it’s like those hurricane machines at the shoe stores from the nineties where the really loud salesman with the obnoxious and oversized company polo shoves you in to make a spectacle for the other innocent shoppers; you flail your arms about trying to catch on to something you can walk away with.  My thoughts aren’t like single paper dollars, though; it’s the whole roll of linen tromping around in gale-force wind.  They’re all connected; that’s why, if I eventually throw one end out of my glass window, the other end will eventually catch up and go sailing out into the great Beyond.

What if I am the Woman in White---does that make me crazy?

What if I am the Woman in White---does that make me crazy?

And that’s why it’s hard to blog.  I don’t want all my dirty linen out in the great Beyond.  I want it safely at home, where it’s regularly laundered, cut and dried.

So, accept my deep regrets: you may not hear from me for another week.


One of my dear friends sent me a link to beautiful pictures of snowflakes.

As I sat there looking at the perfect structure and order at the microscopic level, I was stunned by the thought that the swirling chaos of our lives—especially our inner thoughts—always manifests itself in structure at the minute level.  Perhaps it is not as “perfect” as cause and effect, but the repetitious decisions that we make every day, the thoughts that we repeated absorb into our consciousness, render us as who we are.

For example, my life profoundly changed when I  decided to quite being ashamed of loving my two parakeets.  It seems a childish indulgence, but when I embraced my fancy for what my parakeet fancy was (a haven in world preoccupied with impressing itself on as many people as possible), it became a delightful source of joy.  I no longer fought with my natural inclination to smile when an image of their antics flitted through my head during a particularly intense business meeting.  And, as the State Farm (?) ads in which they show a chain of cause and effect, from a friendly smile to saving a life or what have you, my little smile in that business meeting probably made someone else’s day brighter.

My voice has been muffled of late by all the deluge of responsibilities and projects I am currently juggling, so I imagine that this post seems somewhat uncontrolled, unpolished, and unrefined.  But! I will not let myself be discouraged from thinking and smiling and writing.  In the end, all the little actions, the little consistencies in how I respond to my daily life: they will emerge as beautiful, regular, and yet unique expressions of my Self in all its swirling glory.

a little swirling snow

a little swirling snow

Ed Wood’s Masterpiece

After many recommendations from friends, I finally got to see the movie Ed Wood last night.  It was fantastic!  I don’t think I’ve ever been so attached to cinematic characters in quite a long while.  Martin Landau’s and Johnny Depp’s performances were heart-wrenching.  I know, love, and work with people like them; people who have such a heart and passion for storytelling, such a clarity of vision and sense of purpose: and no money or help to make it happen.

I would argue that most artists have a sense of the sensation of their own lives.  In a hyper-reactive way, they can commune with the drama of their Selves, and, in the act of doing so, they pull out the drama in each Other.  My own heart comes alive in new ways when I read a story or view a film that touches a chord in my soul that’s hidden away from the glaring light of the working day.  Creatives like Ed Wood are the unfortunate canary in the cage—their own demise is a signal of the loss of breathing room in our culture’s search for riches.

No, of course Ed Wood’s films aren’t a gold mine.  And they should probably never be remade—-not because they are the worst films of all time, but because they are valuable exactly as they are.  Tim Burton’s rendition of his life puts it right up in your face: every person’s voice and story is important, simply because it exists.  Not because you can make money off of it.

How do you cut yourself free of the Puppetmaster Dollar?

How do you cut yourself free of the Puppetmaster Dollar?

But, in the same moment, making money is absolutely vital.  And the film shows with unflinching sorrow the merciless Puppetmaster Dollar, pulling the strings of Ed, Delores, Vampira, and—most agonizingly—Bela.  And the show goes on.

Not the shows that we want to make, but the show of our lives.  As the title of my blog indicates, this life is not a dress rehearsal.  It is the big performance.  There is no going back.  You are on stage and the cameras are rolling, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never done improv before, everybody is already watching you.

Tim Burton maintains an excellent conceit to help us understand this concept in the film: everything about the movies that Ed makes (or anyone else for that matter—Vampira, Criswell, etc.) is devastatingly realistic.  And everything about their real lives (the morphine, the cross-dressing, the self-promotion, the Brown Derby fundraisers, the premiers, etc.) is over-the-top dramatic in the delicious generic vein that Ed Wood tries so hard to create in his pictures.  The intense pock-mark lighting, the extreme camera angles, the alienating long shots, the high contrast black-and-white, the outrageous props hanging on the fringes of the frames—-all these glorious tricks of the trade make you stare in awe at the drama of the mundane.

The ultimate crushing irony of Ed Wood is that his life itself was the best picture he ever made.

Ed Wood's glory and failure: he couldn't see himself for what he was.

Ed Wood's glory and failure: he couldn't see himself for what he was.

Hello Twitterverse

hello September

hello September

Twitter trends crack me up.

10:02 p.m. #Goodbye August

10:41 p.m. #Hello September

Isn’t is amazing that we can now track what thousands and thousands of people are thinking about?  And even with all the tracking, there are so few surprises.  We all have the same basic rhythm, the same primary needs, the same mood swings.

It reminded me of when I first started working retail.  It was like all our customers coordinated a full-on assault!  Out of nowhere, suddenly there would be 20 customers needing personal attention.  Then, as quickly and supernaturally has they appeared, they would vanish, leaving carnage of tried-on clothing in their wake.

Yup.  People are people.  August is hot and slightly inspirational; September is moody and evocative—and slightly annoying, because you suddenly realized that you overcommitted yourself in back in inspirational August.  We think of ourselves as being different…but we’re not.

who's gonna lead the army?

who's gonna lead the army?

Maybe I’ll ask my friends from Australia: are they are predictable as we are?  Do Australians feel about September the way Americans do?  Are there such things as global trends—because the universe as scientists know it is expanding, but the Twitterverse is shrinking, pulling us closer and closer until we’ll all be the same.