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Monthly Archives: August 2015

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My roommate told me recently he was going to move out in a month.  Not for any dramatic reason – he got an insanely good offer to housesit in a luxury duplex apartment and live rent-free in his own wing of a penthouse with a view of the Hudson River (I am not kidding), and couldn’t refuse.  I’m already screening potential new roommates, so I’m not worried about that (okay, maybe a little).

But my roommate also sad he would be leaving behind almost all of his furniture, and offered to sell me all of it for really cheap.  His stuff is all better than mine – seriously, his bedroom looks like a still photo from Dwell magazine – and I’m taking him up on that.  But that necessitates getting rid of my old crap.

And that’s got me pensive.  A lot of the furniture I have is random mismatched stuff that I either dragged around a couple of apartments, or picked up in a hurry when I moved to this place; my last apartment had a sleeping loft, so I had no bed when I moved here and I had to persuade a friend to take me on an emergency run to Ikea where I got the cheapest thing just so I could stop sleeping on the floor.  My office storage is a series of four bookcases acquired at four totally different times as my “stuff to store” expanded.  There’s a hall closet that is also full of mismatched shelving gathered from old roommates and cheap emergency purchasing.

It was slapdash and emergency and in-a-pinch.  Just like a lot of the things on those shelves are.  And I’m going from that to a stylish bed and a whole coordinated office set.

And I’m wondering why I put up with that slapdash stuff so long.  Mostly it was about money – I’ve not always had a lot of it – but surely I could have scraped together the means to get a better bookshelf, right?  Or at least been more patient and waited until I found one that looked right rather than just accepting what was at whatever store I went to and thinking “Oh, hell, it’ll do”?  Or at least taken my time picking a bed?

I also am looking critically at the stuff on the shelves, wondering why I kept all of it.  There’s a connector cable I have that I don’t even know what it was for – but I have it, and I need to get rid of it.  And the two years of back issues of a culinary magazine that I never read, or the books on theater that I still have despite not working in theater for five years now.

Years ago I was browsing in a Neo-Pagan book that said that “you have to serve the Goddess of Trivia before you can serve any others.” It was an admonition that you have to take care of the basic life-maintenance stuff before you can do larger things; before you can climb the mountain, you gotta clean the bathroom.  A handful of things about my life have felt a little stuck and weighed down; and I’m starting to think that what’s weighing me down is old furniture.

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The Ravelled Sleeve of Care

I had a rotten day at work yesterday; the kind of day that makes you question your life choices. Came home late, sulked, went to sleep early, and woke up in the middle of the night sheerly due to stress.

But then I went back to sleep…and before waking up again with the alarm, I had a whole series of vivid, spectacular dreams.

Of course, now that it’s morning I don’t remember the whole of the plot, but there are some definite details I remember:

  • Visiting the small church we went to when I was a girl and seeing all the furniture cleared out, leaving a big open space for me to explore. I wandered around a bit, and then started dancing, doing pirouettes faster and faster throughout the space before laughing in sheer joy and running out.
  • Making smoky pernil in the kitchen of a house where I was dogsitting for a dog I never saw.
  • Walking through a shantytown built just outside the ruins of an Adirondack Great Camp.
  • Drinking white wine in an elegant restaurant before going on a hunt for the friend I’d come with – a person I have never seen before in real life – and not looking too hard because I was too busy studying the pictures on the walls and listening to the happy buzz of people eating and talking around me.
  • Showing up early to a Chinese-language course at my local library, and feeling so comfortable that I changed into pajamas I’d brought and lay down on a couch, and none of the students coming in later finding that odd.

I don’t remember my dreams much; my years in theater and a couple years of bad stress seem to have done screwy things with my sleep cycle.  So I’m always glad if I remember a dream now, because it’s a sign I’ve gotten enough REM sleep.  But this many dreams, and all of them with such an overwhelming sense of wellness….it was the perfect remedy for the day yesterday.

Spending Time With An Ex

Mother of God how in the hell did I survive this schedule for ten years.

For the past week I’ve been doing a new volunteer thing at New York’s Fringe Festival – I’m one of the “Ambassadors,” which is a sort of combination marketer/salesman/cheerleader role, involving talking the show up on social media and hosting the “afterparties” that each of my shows gets following one of its performances.  The thing is, though, that there are 185 shows and only 12 of us ambassadors – so we each got a roster of about a dozen plays to shepherd through their paces, and about a dozen such parties.

And so for the past week I’ve been heading straight downtown after work, changing into a fetching green Fringe t-shirt en route, then seeing the shows (for free, which is a plus) and then standing around outside the box office afterward like a dorky camp counselor waiting to lead a tiny handful of people to a bar where I sit hovering on the edge of a tableful of the cast and their friends as they all swap injokes and I feel like a party crasher for two hours, before breaking my promise to myself that I’m going to take a subway home and hailing a cab.  I get in at 11 pm, try to fall asleep before midnight, and then the alarm rings at 6 am the next morning, lather, rinse, repeat.

The thing is, this is exactly the schedule I followed when I was a stage manager – the hours, the hanging around the casts and feeling like a bit of an outsider because I was tech and not performer, the exhaustion born of sleep loss, the going broke born of oh screw it I’ll take a cab home.  It was a schedule I kept up all through the late 90’s into the 2000’s.

Except – when I started doing that I was twenty-eight; and now, I am forty-five.  I used to be able to pull off a solid six months at that pace, with three shows coming in on me backtobacktoback – today, five days at that pace is breaking me.  My downstairs neighbor recently asked if I would be home on Sunday to let the super in for a repair, and was surprised I was so quickly able to say yes.  “You’re sure there’s no chance you’ll wanna have brunch or something?”

“It’s my first free day in nine days,” I told him, “and so I ain’t doing jack.”

I’ve joked to one of my co-workers that this is reminding me why I “broke up” with theater in the first place. I was starting to feel burnout and sleep deprivation after only four or five years, but kept going until I was spent – I’m still recovering from that.  But – the thing about running into an ex that you really, really liked is that sometimes you can see a glimmer of what drew you to them in the first place – and I have to admit I’ve seen glints of that as well, like the sheer awe on an audience member’s face when she was watching a play that totally blew her mind.  When I saw that and told her about the afterparty, she immediately decided to blow off her plans for the rest of the afternoon and join us; she cornered the two leads and the playwright when they all arrived at the bar and spent a solid half hour telling them how amazing she thought it was as I watched their shirts all swell with pride and their faces soften with gratitude at the same time.

Or the show involving aerialists and jazz drummers, which began with a speech from the show’s creator that was basically his artistic mission statement – but he was so eloquent that it got me thinking about my own creative life.  And then after that show, three members of the cast and two band members dropped by the beer hall we were stationed at, and they were lively and young and welcoming and eager and friendly, and I spent the next two hours in a heady freewheeling anarchic conversation that ranged from coming up with a ranking system for Tom Waits albums to passionate discourse on Where To Find The Best Ice Cream In New York to the origins of Scientology to How Stupid Tinder Actually Is When You Think About It, all mixed in with giggling and teasing each other across our beers.  We actually stayed long enough to close the place – I didn’t notice how late it was getting, and the talk was smoothing across my brain like a balm; it’s the kind of talk you have with casts on the tail end of a long day at a tech rehearsal when you’re all much too exhausted to give a crap whether people think you’re making sense, and the mental checks you put on yourself that stop you from saying the weird ideas all fall down and you find out that everyone else is just the same kind of weird you are.

But that kind of exhaustion hits me harder now and it takes me longer to bounce back, and after a couple more days I’m going to have to give my ex a hug and say it was great to be here again, and then go on back to where I am now.

An Open Letter to Erick Erickson, of RedState.org

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Mr Erickson:

By now, it is all over the news that you have disinvited Donald Trump from the RedState Gathering tonight, and that you have done so in response to Trump’s crass comments about Megyn Kelly of FOX News.  As a woman, I also feel that it is generally unfair to attribute a woman’s assertiveness, tone, or any other mannerism to any kind of physiological process which may be transpiring with her at that moment, and I appreciate you felt the need to step up and defend Ms. Kelly.

However, I became curious as to how your relations were to other women in particular, and to women overall.  And I’m afraid I’ve become confused at what seem to be some puzzling inconsistencies in your perspective.

  • Last April, when asked your opinion of the possibility of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for President, you seemed doubtful she would be chosen because she was going to be “old”.  You further added, “I don’t know how far back they can pull her face!”  Can you clarify – what is it about menstruation that you feel is an inappropriate thing to pick on a woman about, but her age and appearance are?
  • In 2008, you said that then-candidate Obama was most likely “not shagging hookers” because “his marxist harpy wife would go Lorena Bobbit on him” if he were.  Can you explain why infidelity and domestic violence are fair game for discourse, but menstruation is not?
  • In 2012, you dismissively referred to a portion of the Democratic National Convention as “the vagina monologues” simply because it featured a number of women speakers.  If it is inappropriate to allude to one woman’s menstrual cycle in public, why is it appropriate to call a host of women “vaginas”?  (Follow-up question – is there another four-letter word you really wish you’d used instead?)
  • In 2010, you commented on objections to an anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl not by responding to those objections, but by dismissing the commentators outright, saying “that’s what being too ugly to get a date does to your brain”.  Would you mind telling me, why is it inappropriate for Trump to make an ad hominem attack against Kelly, but it’s perfectly fine for you to make an ad hominem attack against other women?
  • In 2007, you seemed to have no problem when Mr. Trump spoke disparagingly against Rosie O’Donnell.  Why do you feel Megyn Kelly is more so deserving of protection from Donald Trump than Rosie O’Donnell is?
  • In 2013, you expressed the opinion that it was “anti-science” to say that there was no biological basis that men are supposed to be take the “dominant” role in a family.  If you feel it is uncouth to publicly imply a woman’s thinking is wholly governed by her biologic makeup, then can you clarify why you then use those very same claims to support the notion of male superiority?
  • More recently – in July, you attempted to equate support of Planned Parenthood with “the brutal killing of animals“.  Certainly if it is impolite to refer to a woman’s menstruation, then it must also be impolite to refer to women as “animals”, regardless of the analogy you wish to be making, is it not?
  • Finally – I note that in the wake of this incident with Mr. Trump, others have reminded you of several of these incidents.  You have responded that at least you apologized for your “vagina monologues” comment but Trump has not apologized for his.  Will I soon be seeing similar apologies from you to Ms. Clinton, Ms. Obama, Ms. O’Donnell, the women you smeared in 2010, and the women you referred to as “animals”?

I am curious as to your thoughts.

Sincerely,

KW

A Good Sulk in My Room

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Work has been a tiny bit bumpy lately.  I’m in a very new and different sort of office environment, and working in an entirely different field; one with its own concerns, jargon, priorities, duties, and responsibilities.

As with any job, the basics were easy enough to learn – but also, as with any job, there’s a point when you have to level-up and do some more complicated stuff.  And it’s stuff that my boss and my co-worker already know about – because they’ve had a history in this field – but I not only don’t know, but don’t always think to ask about.  And so the only way that I find out that I should have done something is when my boss asks me if I’ve done it, and I sort of cringe inwardly and say “uh, no?” and her eyes get big and then I have to scramble.

It’s part of the normal growth cycle, though – I’ve just moved out of the dorky bouncy cute puppy stage and I’m now in the gangly awkward clumsy teenager stage, where you’re old enough to not be treated like a baby but there are things that routine experience hasn’t taught you yet.  It’s uncomfortable and icky and clumsy, but – compared to the rest of your life, it’s comparatively short.  And, my boss and my co-worker do get it – when I was updating my boss about some ball I dropped but then managed to re-catch last night, I mumbled apologetically that this was part of a learning curve and she said, “listen, I’ve been doing this stuff for 10 years and you’ve only been doing it three months.  It’s okay; you’re learning.”  She also soothingly told me I was learning pretty fast, which helped.

But I’m still having some uneasy flashbacks to the kind of moods I had when I was fifteen, when I would hole up in my room with my Genesis CDs and not talk to anyone because they didn’t understand that mine was a tortured life, and I’ll be glad to see the back of that.