04 November 2009

It was a Tuesday, I believe.

Biking in the rain. Ears buzzing, legs weak, whizzing bicycle spokes and splashing raindrops against my sleeves, short skirt plastered to my legs. Leaky shoes. Duct tape peeling off the heels. Damp gravel underfoot.

The Chocolate War. Afraid to read on; afraid he’ll lose. Scary, like Watership Down, how something so tense and psychologically twisting can be put in a scenario as innocuous as a rabbit warren. Or a Catholic school.

Hot car, sweaty face, no-lunch lightheadedness. Running errands. Hunting groceries. Remembered the bags today.

Driving fast, downhill, thunder rolling angrily, lightning tearing at the sky. Music blaring, wind shoving, raindrops tearing.
Happiness.

Shopping with Jonathan. Silliness. Intimidation tactics at the ghetto grocery store.
Calvin & Hobbes in the car; shopping with Mom, wondering how long before she and I will be together, really present with each other like this, again.

One day, drunk to the dregs. It was a Tuesday, I believe.

09 September 2009

wasted space


What would it be like, to not believe in God?

To live in an empty universe, the endless fields of stars un-hemmed by any fence, any 'Hedge Of Protection', with no loving or holy or judging eye looking down? No small voice in the silence. No comforting arms in the darkness. No rule. Only the human self, free and unhindered and uncared about, to do as it wished, love as it could, and, possibly, comprehend total insignificance. I defy anyone to feel important in the face of the night sky.

I read once about a man who said he could not believe in God, because he didn’t believe that anyone would waste as much empty space in their creation as was ‘wasted’ in our universe. I smile at this. It’s quite reasonable, if you think about it. It would take a special, simple, fond foolishness, wouldn’t it, to open up all that space just so that one’s children could have stars in their sky?

03 September 2009

deep breaths

Too many options,

Moving too fast

When all I want

Now

Is to sit quietly and think.

About when life was simple. And boring. And there was peace,

To take the place of this college/life

Excitement.

01 September 2009

I AE'NT DED

Top Five Best Things About Sophomore Year

  1. Not being a freshman! No more of that walking nervously across the campus, clutching my class directions in my fist and smiling desperately at random strangers. No more prodding helplessly at cafeteria food, my stomach rumbling in wistful remembrance of the food back home. No more being condescended to by upperclassmen. And, ye gods, no more overzealous sorority recruiters. Phew. Glad we got that over with.
  2. Not being afraid of professors. Well, maybe some people still are. And of course there are those gutsy individuals that never were. I, on the other hand, can now remember with fondness the ludicrous rumors that circulated last semester about my professor's classroom mishaps/grading habits/personal life, and smile gleefully as his (soon to be modified) syllabus intimidates the freshmen. Which brings us to...
  3. Freshmen! You can spot them by the campus maps clutched in hand and the slightly lost, worried expression. Also, they tend to jump when the campus soapboxers single them out. Oooh, aren't they cute? Yes they are. Yes indeedy, the poor widdle tings.
  4. Getting to pick my dorm. Supposedly, you can 'list your preferences' for freshman-year dorms, but it is all a sham. You get piled into the airless, cockroachy building with all the other freshies regardless. No longer!
  5. NO MORE INTRO-LEVEL CLASSES! College Algebra was the bane of my existence. I spit upon the memory of it.

That is the sum of my accumulated wisdom so far, but it has only been a week. Stay tuned for further revelations.

19 August 2009

a brief interlude

It’s interesting, how people feel free to be demanding and belligerent about things that don’t matter very much—a sandwich, for example—but immediately become meek and cooperative when confronted with, say, a doctor’s office. Is it because everyone considers themselves the reigning expert on food, but no one thinks they know more about medicine than a man in a white coat? This is entirely possible. Then again, I know people who could probably burn a salad who would insist on a second opinion if their doctor prescribed them a Tylenol.

Well, no; I take that back. She doesn't burn salads anymore. But she doesn't take Tylenol, either.

These are the things I mull over, here behind my reception desk.

06 August 2009

...because going online and rambling about nothing is lame. That's what God invented journals for.

Hey!
All the cool kids’ blogs have a theme. Maybe I should have a theme, too.
(The following is a list of things I like/care/know enough about that they would qualify as regular topics for Valentine and I.)

-stage managing (not just for theatre)
-coffeeshops (and everything associated)
-steampunk (because you cannot possibly have enough steampunk. ever.)
-good books (self explanatory)
-alleys (more fun than you think)

Valentine and I will give this some thought. Stay tuned for further developments…in the mean time, here is a picture of my sister.




26 July 2009

pricey coffee (and other respectable addictions)

I have decided (especially given the events of my last blog post) that it's high time I started living more within my Broke Theatre Student means. There's no time like the present to start living frugally, considering that a) in the present economy, it'll be necessary sooner or later, and b) I want to start fattening up my travel budget.

Here, then, is a list of things I plan to get rid of/downsize indefinitely:


  • (Pricey Coffee) The biggest and sweetest offender on my list; this is going to be hard, as the Starbucks caramel macchiato literally sings my name every time I pass that delicious, wallet-eating coffeeshop. Also the white chocolate mocha. And the chai tea. And just about everything else on the menu...Folgers homemade, here I come. If I get really ambitious, I might even quit altogether and switch to tea. Or is that any cheaper, really?

  • (Unlimited Texting) All right, so I don't actually have unlimited texting, although that would be pretty awesome. But I'm still forking over something like $50 for my phone bill every month, and it is causing my bank account some serious pain. Basically, I need to research a cheaper cell phone plan.

  • (Sleeping Late) This one's kind of a reach, but darn it, I have a lot that needs to get done and sleeping until noon tends to mean a low-productivity day for me. If I'm going to come up with some alternative sources of income, this needs to change.

  • (iTunes) Fortunately, hulu and pandora should be my friends on this one, since I don't have to own their videos/music to enjoy. Unless it's something really awesome...like dc Talk, say...

  • (Discretionary Spending) Some ice cream here, a pair of earrings there, a cup of coffee, a movie ticket or a pair of shoes...man, that stuff stacks up. Fortunately, my friends are not real big shoppers, so this one isn't as bad as it could be, but I need to start keeping a record.

I think that's enough for now. Baby steps and all. And if this doesn't work, I could always take the Calvin and Hobbes approach. WWCD (What Would Calvin Do)? That's a scary thought...

25 July 2009

quitter



Today, I quit my job.

Well. That's probably oversimplifying the case a bit. Today, I attempted to quit one of my part-time jobs, my first job, only to be informed that I had to talk to the general manager to have such a thing properly approved, and he will be in tomorrow.

(It is occurrences like these that further convince me that my life is actually a sad art house film with vague soul-food, coming-of-age overtones; the kind of thing that Tobey Maguire and the chick from Juno might star in, with Tyler Perry both producing and appearing in drag at some point.)

It is a truly ridiculous world we live in (or maybe it's just me?) where I can't even quit my job without being given the middle-management runaround. Meditating on this ridiculousness helps me to not think about the fact that I have worked this job for three years solid and no one, not a single person that I spoke to about my imminent departure, even attempted to get me to stay. I mean, it's a crappy job. A wage-slave, dead-end kind of a job. And yet, the idea of quitting it felt like failure at first. When I left today (vowing fervently that I would never, ever return as an employee; I'll call in tomorrow to speak to the GM but I'll be darned if I'm ever going back in that office), there was nobody to wave goodbye or say that they would miss working with me, or even to say "good riddance", for that matter. It just didn't make much of a difference. I didn't make much of a difference, I suppose.

To be fair, I was never in it for more than the paycheck. Like I wanted to be in food service for the rest of my life? My fellow employees (those who didn't work two weeks and then walk off/get fired; we went through a lot of flaky people while I was there), for the most part, didn't care about what we were doing any more than I did. Sure, some of us stuck out in that we actually liked the customers and the people we worked with, took pride in our work, and maybe even thought our company was a generally good one. But it wasn't something we belonged to. We just worked there.

I spoke to Faith & Co. about my growing desire to quit, long before I actually did so. She pointed out something that I had never considered before: at this stage in my life, there's no good reason to work a job I hate. Losing the extra income is a risk, sure, and kind of scary, but it's not the end of the world. And I have other options.

C'est la vie, I guess. On to the next thing. Like deciding how to productively structure my suddenly-extremely-flexible schedule...

09 July 2009

reminder time.

Today, I do not have any words in me. Today, I am tired, chubby, dull and unattractive. Today is a day for borrowing other peoples' words.

"Our deepest FEAR is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that
we are POWERFUL beyond measure. It is our LIGHT, not our darkness, that most
frightens us.
We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?' Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a
child of GOD. Your playing small doesn't SERVE the world.
There's nothing ENLIGHTENED about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure
around you. We are all meant to SHINE, as children do. We are born to make
manifest the GLORY of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in EVERYONE. And as we let our
own LIGHT shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are LIBERATED from our own fear, our PRESENCE automatically liberates
others."

~ Marianne Williamson

07 July 2009

Napps

In my world, you do not rush a hair salon visit.

I called my salon yesterday, a place called Napps that I trust enough to deal with my not-quite-dependably-locked-up hair. The girl who answered the phone had about as much of a professional air as my fifteen-year-old sister, but she assigned me an appointment for 11am today.
“Do you have a stylist?” She asked.
“Um. The last time I was there, I spoke with Ansa?” I replied uncertainly, and not quite truthfully. The last time I was at Napps was when a dear friend of mine—we’ll call her Blue—was toying with the idea of dying her blonde hair blue. I can still remember the way the staff looked at us when we stopped by, their gaze skittering across her bright, blue-eyed curiosity to land on me, asking did I want to make an appointment? For answer, I pointed at Blue, who was studying the weave display with all the innocent inquisitiveness of a kindergartener learning her colors. Then, I gave a slight, apologetic shrug, and they seemed to understand, but I’ve felt vaguely guilty about it ever since. Don’t blame me, my shrug said. My clueless white friend insisted on dragging me in here. You know how they are. She thinks we’re having an adventure. Which wasn’t quite true, since I had been the one to tell her there was a hair salon down that way. It was the same old story with us; part of me wanted her to get a glimpse of my world, to both share it with me while yet appreciating its strangeness, its utter difference from her. Leave it to me to want the impossible. I wanted her to be a part of me, yet retain my own, distinct and independent identity.

None of this, however, was relevant to my conversation with the girl on the phone yesterday. “Ansa has some openings after 10,” she told me.
“Can I make an appointment for 10:30am, then?”
“Umm…make it 11?”
“All right. Perfect. Thank you.”

The first time I ventured inside Napps, I was maybe seventeen, and with my mother, as we perused books of hairstyles and she and Ansa—who had offered us her time, gratis, for a consultation—tried tactfully to talk me into a real style. I had masses of hair, then, wavy and split-ended and wild but long, damnit, which was what I had been working so hard for. I had lusted after long hair all my life, but the permed styles were too much work for my tiny stores of patience, and now they were telling me that, if I wanted to wear my hair natural, the first step was to cut it all off and start over from the roots.

To say that I balked would probably be an understatement.

Ansa, bless her heart, suggested a compromise. I could get cornrowed braids for awhile (like regular cornrows, only instead of ending at the nape of the neck, mine continued for about a foot in thin, neat braids), wearing them until my hair to grew out enough that cutting it wouldn’t be such a drastic change.
So I got the braids. I wore them for about six months, then took them out, and came back to Napps for my cut. By then, I was 18, and off to college in a matter of weeks. The haircut wasn’t so scary anymore; it seemed like an appropriate change, since I was going to be all Mature College Lady soon, right?
That time, my appointment was with Kelly. I strode into the small storefront as confidently as I could, walking right past a t-shirted man who turned out to be Kelly. After the initial awkwardness, he led me up to his barber’s chair and went right to work asking exactly what I was looking for. He was kind. He could obviously sense my nervousness, and didn’t make fun of me for trying so hard to be offhand about it. Also, he talked on his cell phone almost the entire time he was cutting my hair, leaving me free of the pseudo-personal barbershop talk that I wasn’t that good at yet. An hour later, I walked out the front door with three inches of hair and a new, confident spring in my step, free as a bird and feeling, for the first time in a long time, happy with the way I looked.

I look back at those pictures now and wince. I’ve never been very photogenic, and that mini-fro I was sporting back then, while comfortable, did pretty much what it wanted from day to day, based on what side of the bed I got up on and whether I put conditioner in my hair. I didn’t do much, if anything, with those three inches, besides wait impatiently for it to grow out long enough to get twisted. December of that year, Aunt Fran took care of just that, and seven months later, I walked into Napps for the third time, at 10:54am on a Tuesday morning and with all the time in the world to indulge my hair. Ansa was there to twist my ‘locks for me (or rather, grown-up twists…I don’t know that they’re entirely locked yet), and she even remembered me. I sat down in her chair and listened to the salon chatter, mostly consisting of these deft-fingered Kenyan and Senegalese women passing judgment on the Michael Jackson memorial service happening on the flat-screen over my shoulder. I read a magazine, talked to the stylists, even dozed off once or twice under the hairdryer.

Time saunters by in a black hair salon. I don’t know, maybe it does the same thing in the mainstream ones, too, but given what I know of my race’s timekeeping habits, probably not quite to the same extent. Nobody hurries. Nobody has anyplace else to be that day, or if they do it’s not any time soon. Ansa paused in her work several times to answer the phone, to finish with another client, to make conversation—even to greet a young Kenyan woman, apparently new to the neighborhood, who had come in because she had heard there were native women here with whom she could entrust her hair.

Even with all of this, I was in and out of the salon in under two hours, having tipped Ansa generously and obtained her business card for the next time. My head felt cool and a little tight from the fresh twists, and going back out into the bright, hurrying world was a little bit of a shock at first. But I carried peace with me. I held my head a little higher, feeling my locks brush around my ears, and thought happily of the long, beautiful hair I’m going to have someday.

Unless I feel like cutting it off again.

Or doing something else entirely, depending on when and how the mood strikes me.

I am, after all, a Mature College Lady, and quite at liberty to do as I please.

20 June 2009

Domesticity.


Last week, I embarked upon a great and terrible undertaking, the likes of which I had not attempted in a very long time.
Namely, I am making a skirt. Sewing a skirt? A skirt is going to come of this at some point, and it will not be from the store. Here is what it looks like so far, still pinned to the pattern (and if you look closely, you can see the tips of my flip-flops at the bottom of the picture).

Right, so it’s not very impressive yet. But it was oddly exciting to pick out the pattern, choose the cloth and cut it to the pattern all by myself (and by ‘all by myself’, I mean I only consulted my mother about what to do next, oh, three or four times). I mean, this is a very tangible sort of goal; I’ll be able to put my actual hands around it when I’m done and say, “I made this.” It’s a small thing, but I’m enjoying it.
After cutting out the pieces for my skirt (at this point, my mother had gone to bed and I have absolutely no concept of what to do next!), I made a cake. Baked a cake? It’s not finished yet…I’m writing this while it’s in the oven, although the whole idea of baking a cheesecake is still kind of weird to me. I mean, I always assumed you just chilled it for several hours, like Jell-O. Nope. You have to bake it first. We learn something new every day, I guess.
(I would have a picture of the cheesecake, too, but the batteries in my camera have quite inconsiderately died and there isn’t another good battery to be had in the entire house. I swear, at the rate we go through them, my family must eat double-A batteries; it’s only a matter of time before someone admits it.)
I haven’t really cooked anything that didn’t have a box involved for a long time, but tomorrow is Father’s Day, and I don’t have much money or creative ideas, so I am making my father a cheesecake. He likes cheesecake, so this should go well, provided I don’t screw it up.
The funny thing is, I’d love to be a talented cook, seamstress and hostess. I'd love to have all those pretty little domestic talents that tend to get overlooked now that we ladies, having been liberated from the home, have sallied forth to seek our fortunes with other skills. I just don’t want to be the Kind of Girl who’s a good cook, seamstress and hostess. You know; the shy, na├»ve one with the pearl necklace and high-necked sweater. Maybe I really am a feminist at heart. Or I’m just impressionable. In this culture, what’s the difference?

15 June 2009

consistency is not one of my strongest points.

It tells you a lot about me, I think, to say that I forgot that I even had a blog for the longest time.

(It poured rain and rumbled with thunder and lightning all morning today. Excellent reading and writing weather, especially considering that the last couple of days have been sweltering with the hard-baked humidity that the Midwest so generously bestowes on us. Sadly, the rain was over by the time I had to go to work this afternoon, and we were back to flat heat.)

I've taken up writing again, fairly regularly, if for no other reason than because it was the quickest and easiest thing to fill the hole when theatre was out of my life for the summer. I am, once again, home from university, and not entirely sure whether I actually have a life. To be honest, I have spent a lot of time reading webcomics, daydreaming, skimming through library books, and watching movies on my laptop. I'm itching for a real, solid project to sink my teeth into, but don't seem to have the willpower (or direction) to make it happen by myself.

(By the way, I was hoping to be working an internship in a theater, and/or going on a road trip to the beach this summer. Neither of those things worked out. I am, of course, not bitter at all. Nope. Instead, I am working two jobs and gloating over finding all my textbooks online for wicked cheap.)

It sounds lame, but I have a steampunk novel that I have been allowing to just float in the back of my mind for awhile now. These days, I am hesitantly, carefully bringing it back to the dock and scraping the barnacles off it, caulking the seams, re-planking the deck and allowing myself to speculate on whether it's worth giving the whole thing a new paint job and taking her out for a real spin. I won't go on about the details of the story here--that would be very, very lame--but I have to admit I am hopeful about it.
There is just one general problem that may ground this little sweetheart before she quite makes it out of the bay.
My problem is, a couple of my best friends are writers. They are a) very good, and b) extremely committed. I, on the other hand 1) write as a form of escapism (probably obvious by now), and 2) don't have the drive required to do this for a living. I've seen what they do for their work, what it takes for them to make it the best possible and keep going, keep their dedication to it even when things get ugly. I love my friends, which is why we have such a good relationship. But sometimes, they intimidate the hell out of me.

So...maybe I'll keep this baby tied up at the dock for a bit longer. Hoping no one will notice. I mean, she's not exactly fit to be seen just yet.

(Yes, I do have a tendency to overanalyze everything. I am aware of my uptightness, and still working on it.)

This, by the way, is a large part of why I've hitched my wagon to more of a theatrical star. A quick sketch:
In a theatrical production, there are a lot of people involved who must come together and make a project happen. For better or for worse, it's not just you and the computer screen/paper.
Also, the entire process--from auditions to strike--is, I am given to understand, typically no more than six weeks long. Then you are DONE. Finito. On to the next thing. I can't imagine even finishing a draft of a novel in six weeks, let alone being done with the thing.
Finally, a play is more of a fluid, living thing. It happens more than once, with real people and tangible sets...you can't control all the elements precisely, and each time, it's going to be a little bit different. I find that just plain exciting.

I can wax quite poetical about my dear theatre, but I won't just now. For one thing, I've rambled across quite enough subjects (and overzealous metaphors) for one posting. For another, I'm tired and I want to go to bed. But I'm not tired of this blogging thing yet, so maybe it was a good idea after all.

14 March 2009

and so, to begin.

“A man is least himself when he speaks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”

~Oscar Wilde


I always had a fondness for Oscar Wilde; he’s got a certain wry snarkiness that I can appreciate. A pity about his having been a rake and general scoundrel…I like to think that, otherwise, in a different time, we might have been good friends. Probably not good friends in the typical sense; he's the sort of person that I would have liked to know just for the pleasure of the verbal sparring matches, sharpening wit against wit. Most likely I would have lost a lot.

The idea behind this quote is what persuaded me to start this blog. There’s a very attractive freedom to the anonymity cyberspace affords, and the prospect of saying exactly what I think without having to consider who might be listening is pretty much too tempting to pass up. Still, it is a bit awkward, stepping onto this very public stage without being sure there's anyone in the audience to introduce myself to.


Today’s topic of note is spring break. More specifically, my own spring break and its imminent end. It only lasted a week, but there were parts of this week that felt like years. Coming home from University, even for such a short time, was like jumping off a fast-moving train into a wall of half-set Jell-o; I had to rediscover how to not have anyplace to go all day, how to have hobbies. Well, the hobbies thing didn't work out as well as all that; I'm pretty sure I don't have any, aside from sleeping and doing nothing for long periods of time. I say long periods; what they tend to be is twenty minutes or less. Unless I'm tired, sitting still makes me nervous.

On campus, I am a good student, a responsible stage manager (twice over, this semester, as I'm working on two shows at once, which is both madly exciting and entirely ridiculous--we will come back to the subject of stage management later), an animated friend and a considerate roommate. I see a great variety of similiarly busy people, most of them my age, every single day, as we go about our carefully scheduled and underrested lives.

At home, I am a novelty (which has its perks; you get spoiled when everyone's always happy to
see you. "Oh, it's been so long!"), a teller of exciting college tales, and a shameless couch potato. I reflect on this discrepancy often, wondering if it's a good thing, and what sort of an effect it's having on me and my relationships. I spend a lot of time looking at things from the outside, particularly my high school, such as it is (also a topic for a later post), and the, in some ways, much wider variety of people I associate with there.

Spring break makes me think of alleys. You get a glimpse, a slice of something apart from the routine--call it experience, a certain point of view, whatever--and then it's on to the next thing.