Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Not All But Most

Untitled

Ten Things Tuesday won't be all about Listen To Your Mother today but there's going to be a generous sprinkling, you can bet on it.

1. Have you bought your tickets to Listen To Your Mother yet? There are 24 cities, all featuring local writers. I'd love it if you'd go to one. If you're skeptical I think you might be surprised at how much you like it. (They're not all on the same day so you should look for the city near you and find out what their date is.)

2. Yesterday Our Misti watched her city's show sell out, which had to have been a marvelous feeling. Her response was to rent more chairs and sell some more tickets. When I checked a few hours ago there were only 20 seats left from the new number. I don't know what ticket sales are like in other cities but I feel as though this is a cautionary tale. If you're interested (you are, you are!) then don't wait to buy. Last year I waited and only got a ticket at the last minute when some cancellations came in. Fellow cast member, Laura Pruden, tells me she wound up making some black market kind of a deal buying a ticket in the ladies room on the day of the show. Will NYC sell out? We don't know but let's not put it to the test by waiting.

3. Speaking of tickets and shows and whatnot, I booked my cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, in a new-to-me venue. One night only (June 7th at 7pm) I'll be performing at The Duplex in NYC's West Village. I'd really like to show these people what my story and my friends are like. Please, please, please, please come see me. You can make reservations right now by clicking this link.

4. Yesterday an NBA player came out. I'm glad he did and it was wonderful to see what care he took with his detailed and heartwarming announcement. Most news outlets have been quick to say that he is the first active pro sports player to come out. Feministing reminds us that they missed a word. That word is male.

5. Do you want to get a taste of a Listen To Your Mother show before you buy your ticket? Misti includes a video excerpt of yesterday's rehearsal in this post.

6. I often joke that my job could be done by a middling-intelligent monkey. Some poor admin at Sotheby's points out that I'm exaggerating. (Side note: What is Sotheby's doing looking for admins on Craig's List?)

7. These pretty charts showing the age of some Hollywood leading men as compared to their leading women makes me feel roily in my tummy.

8. Are you having trouble figuring out a Mothers Day present for a mom? You should buy a ticket to a LTYM show. If that's absolutely not possible for you here are some other ideas that are cute. Not as cute as tickets to LTYM, though. You want to give that mom an experience.

9. This item deserves its own post but I'm so angry about it that I'm having trouble stringing words together. Better to get the info out in the world a little further right now than to wait until I can wrap my words around it. People (people like Rush Limbaugh but still, technically, people) are equating the younger Tsarnaev brother with Trayvon Martin. These people are angry that both boys' life stories are being told in the news. They feel that treating either of them, an innocent young man shot down on his way home from a convenience store and a slightly older young man with some unknown involvement in a scheme that killed and injured hundreds, as whole humans is a shameful thing. They thinks that equating these two men is correct. I can't fucking even. Bastards.

10. Let's end up on a neato keen note about World Book Night. This tale of book giving made me feel a little sorry for my earlier misgivings.

Now go buy your tickets to LTYM and make a reservation to come see my show. OK? Please?

*Photo is a tribute to Mothers Day. Queen Bee took that in Venice of me and Mama Kizz. We look great because we've gotten over our jet lag. That photo was taken the day before we returned to the US.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Focus Dogward

Two HeadsIt's been a dog-focused week. Last Sunday I decided to crate the dog regularly for reasons that are a little gross and a little embarrassing but totally normal. I figured it was probably going to go ok but I prepared for the worst. That's just the way I roll. I left detailed instructions for the dog walker about easing him into it, informing me of the least little anxiety he might show, not worrying if he didn't want to get back in after his walk, giving him a basket full of treats, and turning around three times and spitting and...well, you get the idea.

On Monday I rushed home to release him and everything had gone...fine. On Tuesday I rushed home to release him and take him on a walk with Sara and Bu and the walker told me that he'd gone directly into the crate when they got back home. Wednesday I rushed home to release him and get ready to take him to knitting club where he would cause trouble with Bu again and the walker's note was honestly incredulous. She'd never known a dog who voluntarily, nay eagerly, went to his crate. I began finally to believe that he was not only understanding the program but really liking it. His overall demeanor seems more calm and focused and, dare I say, happy. Thursday I didn't rush home. We leisurely got ready to walk with Rachel and her visiting dog, Shadow (pictured looming goofily above Ed).

Good Dog At this point I stopped thinking about my dog for a while because I fell in love with Shadow. Seriously I love him. He got up and posed for that photo, he gently sucked treats out of my hand, he carefully rose up on his hind legs to give me a hug and a kiss. He's a gem! He had to go back home on Sunday. I miss him.

But back to my dog. We had our Life Skills class with Bu and Stella on Saturday. Oh, you know, and Rikke. She came, too. Ed was...disinterested at best. Not sure what was happening with him. Options include but are not limited to his being full of Scooter Snacks from a morning with Michelle, his absolute worship of the sun, his getting freaked out early on when we practiced being left alone with a friendly stranger, and my doing something that wasn't sending the right signals to him. We ran each dog through a mock CGC test and he probably would have passed if he'd taken the test that day but he did weird things like not come when he was called after he'd been put in a stay and trying to drag our friend Mike across the field (Mike pegged him as an easy dog, Mike got unexpectedly schooled, sorry Mike!).

On Sunday we rested. Well, I took the handsome dude in the second photo on a super-successful walk. Ed stayed home, happy as a clam, in his crate.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poetry Prayer #13

It's been a doggie week. It needed a doggie poem. This is a lovely story.

Two Dogs Have I
by Ogden Nash

For years we've had a little dog,
Last year we acquired a big dog;
He wasn't big when we got him,
He was littler than the dog we had.
We thought our little dog would love him,
Would help him to become a trig dog,
But the new little dog got bigger,
And the old little dog got mad.

Now the big dog loves the little dog,
But the little dog hates the big dog,
The little dog is eleven years old,
And the big dog only one;
The little dog calls him Schweinhund,
The little dog calls him Pig-dog,
She grumbles broken curses
As she dreams in the August sun.

The big dog's teeth are terrible,
But he wouldn't bite the little dog;
The little dog wants to grind his bones,
But the little dog has no teeth;
The big dog is acrobatic,
The little dog is a brittle dog;
She leaps to grip his jugular,
And passes underneath.

The big dog clings to the little dog
Like glue and cement and mortar;
The little dog is his own true love;
But the big dog is to her
Like a scarlet rag to a Longhorn,
Or a suitcase to a porter;
The day he sat on the hornet
I distinctly heard her purr.

Well, how can you blame the little dog,
Who was once the household darling?
He romps like a young Adonis,
She droops like an old mustache;
No wonder she steals his corner,
No wonder she comes out snarling,
No wonder she calls him Cochon
And even Esp├Ęce de vache.

Yet once I wanted a sandwich,
Either caviar or cucumber,
When the sun had not yet risen
And the moon had not yet sank;
As I tiptoed through the hallway
The big dog lay in slumber,
And the little dog slept by the big dog,
And her head was on his flank.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Worth A Visit

UntitledMy parents took me to nursing homes when I was a kid. It wasn't a volunteer thing, we had elderly relatives and family friends so when they visited they took me along. I went to hospitals and care facilities in the same way that I went a lot of other places. As early as 10-years-old I got that these places can be uncomfortable and tried to get out of it. If you've met my mother I want you to picture me at 10 telling her that I just didn't want to visit my great grandmother because it was creepy. When you're finished marveling at the fact that I'm still alive you can keep reading.

I probably didn't handle all of these visits well. I was probably a pain in the ass to get to the facilities and continued in that vein throughout our stay. I was surely a horrific conversationalist who required a lot of explanation when I wasn't near. This did not deter my parents from bringing me again. And again.

As a late teen and early 20-year-old I declared myself "no good with senior citizens." When the dance school I worked for was thinking of expanding into the senior fitness realm I played up how awesome my co-worker would be at those classes. She was good with old people, she liked them, she'd do a bang up job. The seniors we met while teaching children in community spaces were occasionally ornery and almost always nosey but also, by and large, pretty happy to see us every week either way. This information was, apparently, lost on me in my self-centered youth and vitality.

Untitled Sometime over the past decade or so I've realized that it's not about being good with senior citizens or the developmentally disabled or the mentally ill or anyone else. It turns out that I learned a long time ago that it's about being present, respectful, and lending an ear. Occasionally it's about selective listening and seeing but mostly it's the respect and the ear thing. I knew this at 10, I knew this at 20, and I know this now at 44. It's just that in the last 15 years or so I've actually understood what I'm doing and quit complaining about it.

Don't tell anyone, I almost like going to visit care facilities now. I mean, I'm not comfortable enough to make it my full time job or anything but a regular stroll down the washable wool halls works for me. I've performed in nursing homes and prisons. I've taken day trips to visit hospital beds. I've sat up all night in torturous institutional chairs. I've eaten meals in care facilities and so has my dog.

Almost three years ago when I got the call that Moody was dying I went to the hospital. The friend who kept me apprised of the situation wasn't going to visit. He said it brought up too many memories. It wasn't going to bring up memories of wine and roses for me either but not to go wasn't even a question for me. I hopped a bus across town, asked at several hospital buildings, and finally found the ICU. Honestly, it was probably the most disturbing hospital visit I've ever made. There was no question that Michael was dying, he was in the center of a very open ICU where everyone was in terrible shape, the one relative that was there didn't know me from Adam, and Moody was covered in tape and tubes and gadgets to the point where I almost couldn't see his face and what I could see didn't resemble him. In a life that had lost great heaps of dignity this was a low point. Though in some ways it gave me peace about his leaving because I knew he wouldn't want any of that bullshit to continue. His sister was incredibly kind and, after a little polite chit chat (and, yes, we live in a society where that's required even at the bedside of the dying, this is why I hate society), she took a break so I could sit with Michael alone.

Untitled Of course I cried and of course it hurt and of course it brought up a metric tonne of intensely awful memories. On the other hand, I got to see his face and I honestly believe he heard some of what I was saying and we said goodbye after our fashion. I wouldn't trade that visit for anything. I can't understand anyone who wouldn't have chosen to make the trip even though, intellectually, I know there are plenty of valid reasons.

I've had the opportunity to visit someone else in the hospital recently. Sometimes it was a pain in the ass and sometimes it was weird but, again, I wouldn't have done anything differently. I used my skills and I had some really good times and, as we were hoping, nobody died. So I thought now would be a good time to push a certain hope I have out into the world.

I hope you visit your people in nursing homes and hospitals and rehab centers and prison. I hope you can see your way to the good in your visit even when things get uncomfortable. I hope that you understand how important those visits can be for you as well as for the person you're visiting. I hope you learn that, almost at any price, these visits are worth it.

If you want some company I'll come with you.

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The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Photo Challenge: SIMPLE

I'm watching Nashville while I prep this photo challenge and Gunnar & Scarlett are so ding danged fabulous together that you really shouldn't be surprised if you scroll down and find out the next prompt is SEX.

I won't be.

Maybe.

Have to scroll to see!

Back on topic, these photos are so simply beautiful that I feel as though I'll muddy their impact if I do my usual short blurb on each one. Next time I'll get back to it but this week no blurbs just enjoying pics.

Clothesline

Gecko

April Snow

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by Me

Mermaid

deceptively simple

IMG_3265
by Our Alisun

Joe and Em Feet
We have a new member, Deb! This piece if awesome is by her.

Here we are all scrolled down and the prompt is....S...E...ok, no I have no idea what the prompt is. Let me think a minute.

I'm serious now. It's been a pretty serious week and a half, has it not? We've at least seen some wonderful actions amid the terrible ones. So I'd like the prompt to be COMMUNITY. Whatever that means to you.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday May 7th for posting on May 8th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and COMMUNITY. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have questions.

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The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Things About World Book Night

Books to Give
I can't make this a list. Nor can I make sure it's 10 things. It's just some things about World Book Night.

I almost didn't join in this year but there were so many books that I loved on the list I decided to jump in. With all that's been going on, though (LTYM on 5/12, Cabaret on 6/7) I didn't think about it much beforehand.

Last Wednesday I brought Ed with me to Greenlight for their book pick up event. They had local celebs reading bits from some of the books on offer. Ed was really good. I was sitting on the floor because the joint was packed and he was lying down in front of me. I was doling out the treats and all was going well. In the middle of a reading from The Lightning Thief (the scene at the St. Louis arch where the chihuahua is actually a chimera) someone leaned around the greeting card display behind us and Ed went apeshit. I toned him down super quick but was really embarrassed and hope that everyone thought it just enhanced the reading.

He made up for it later by posing on top of my box of books (Bossypants by Tina Fey) so the rep from WBN could take pics of him.

I fell asleep last night worrying over where and to who I would give the books. Reading is part of regular life for me. It's not a hobby or a special skill, it's just LIFE. I read every day. I read fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, plays, screenplays, essays, from trash to treasure. If I went to that mythical desert island and only got to bring five books I would still, surely, read every day. WBN books are supposed to be infusing communities of infrequent readers with literature. This is not something I can really wrap my brain around. When I volunteer to do this I'm supposed to, essentially, profile people and try to ensure that these books get into the hands of infrequent readers. How do you tell? I mean, I know highly educated people who don't read or only read manuals or only read non-fiction. I know people without degrees who read all the time. They don't wear a sign! There's a lot of room for accidentally pissing someone off. This makes me anxious.

Part of why I have signed up to do this is to move myself out of my comfort zone, encourage myself to speak to new people, to chance rejection and not have it stop me. This sort of task works for me because I'm more worried about wasting the books than I am about feeling shitty when someone rejects my offer. (Best rejection today: Guy handing out flyers is staring at my books. I stand in front of him and offer him a book. He stares at me for a second then just turns his head and continues to hand out flyers pretending that I'm not there.) That being said, as I left my house this morning with my Book Giver sticker on and my tote bag full to the brim I felt more alone, more isolated, more fragile, more reluctant than I do on a normal day so I'm pretty sure I won't be signing up for a third WBN. I will absolutely support the event in other ways but giving alone isn't working for me. Maybe someone will want a team member and that will be something I rock at.

Of course, a block from my house I had my favorite giveaway of the day so far. I was crossing the street and a teenager was coming the opposite way. I offered him a funny book. He took it, said thank you, and then took his earbuds out to see what he'd gotten. I got a teenager to remove the earbuds! I am a golden goddess!!

Then I walked to the train, realized I'd forgotten my wallet and metrocard, walked home to get them (1.25 miles each way), and walked back. I only had 5 books left by the time I finally got on the subway to go to work.

I'm afraid to tell the next part. What are the WBN folks going to do, fire me? Will they not give me an A+ in book giving? My whole life I've been a B student, who do I think I'm trying to fool? Anyway, sometimes I don't give a book to a person directly. Sometimes I find a place where someone will find it and I leave it there, begging to be read. I left one by the local engineering HS in a place where either a tech-focused kid or a member of the custodial staff is most likely to find it. I left one on an outdoor chair at a burger place near the school. I left one on the metrocard reader in the subway. I left one in the laundry room of my apartment building (the washers often get stuck and you have to wait up to an extra 10 minutes for your load to finish). I know there's no guarantee that these books will be picked up by infrequent readers. My logic is that if it's picked up by someone in the target audience then cool, mission accomplished. If it's picked up by an avid reader they're likely to read the info about WBN on the book and pass it along to someone who reads less often than they do so mission also accomplished!

I enlisted a small street team. On my way back home to pick up my wallet I ran into some dog park friends who I'd told about WBN before. Three of them each took a book to hand out on their own. Many hands really do make light work. Light was important while I trudged back and forth with a load of books.

Standing at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change a woman sort of cut her eyes at the books in my hand. There was a man standing nearby. He'd looked, too, but I'd been to shy to approach him and he'd been too wary to ask me about the books. I offered the book to the woman and she took it, immediately reading the back and introduction. I saw the man lean in to see what she'd gotten so I gave him one, too.

I gave a copy to the local fruit stand guy, to the security guards for my complex, and to two different crossing guards.

I have four copies left. I'm trying to give three of them away on my way home. The fourth I'm saving to send to a friend who is in the hospital. He'll get to read it and then he'll be able to leave it behind for other patients, many of whom absolutely fit the description of the target audience.

I know I said this wasn't exactly for me but I really am amazingly glad I did it twice. I hope you'll consider doing it, too. It's a national movement and people choose many ways of giving their books. You should try it! No, really, you should!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Dog By Any Other Name

My GirlOver at Blogher they're talking about why and how we name our dogs. I did a quick share of Ed's naming story but thought I'd do a larger explanation here. Whereas Emily's naming was quite spiritual, Ed's was much more practical.

When Emily arrived it was a dark and stormy night, I lived in a drafty brownstone and Pony Express came straggling home in the rain with this animal. I'd been deputized to put the house's other dog, Oscar, out in the back yard so we could handle the new dog on her own. After I did that I sat on the staircase that faced the front door to greet the hairy, rainy rescue contingent. Pony Express and our friend, Cate, came in with a clearly terrified dog. We cordoned off the entryway to keep her contained and the three of us just tried to stay as still as possible while we waited to see what this dog would do. She tried to get out and run away, standing on her hind legs and using both front paws to try and manipulate the door handle unsuccessfully. Her entire being was consumed with the message, "RUN!"

Within 15 seconds of her being in the house a voice in my head spoke very gently. It said, "Her name is Emily." That kind of thing has never in a million, zillion years happened to me. It was clear as a bell then, though. So Emily she was. Also, Em, Emmie, Emolina, Radar, Zie Kleine Hund, Baby Girl, Our Little Gazelle, The Dog, and so much more.

Untitled I heard about Ed for an entire work day before I met him. I knew more about dogs so I actually got into organization mode when I decided I'd be taking him. I had to get someone to lend me a leash and a crate and I had to do some inventory on my cupboards to see if there was anything I could feed this guy. The first thing I did, almost involuntarily, was plan his name.

He was found in the parking lot of an outlet of the local electric company, Con Edison. Having listened, third hand, to the description of the dog - a brown and black boy puppy - I felt well-informed but still wasn't absolutely certain that I was getting the full and correct story. I decided to call him Eddie while crossing my fingers that he didn't turn out to be a girl because then, by my logic, I'd have to call him Connie and I hated that idea. He turned out not to be a puppy but he was a boy and the name has turned out to suit him very well. He is Ed, Eddie, Edison, Edward, Monsieur, Jerk, Quit It, Buddy, Big Guy, Little Dog, Crazy Eddie, Fast Eddie, Lord Edison of Upper Barkington, Mami Boy, and many more.

What about you, did your pets get named in a special way?

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The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poetry Prayer #12

In the midst of the blood and the fire and the fear of this week Our Lisa made sure that I saw this poem. Every image of it reached right inside me but it was the clear picture of someone holding a face firmly but carefully and kissing the emotional boo boo away that stirred everything up. Hold your emotional face gently and soothe it. We have to gear up to face another week of not knowing what will come.

The Thing Is
by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Strong

Today, on the anniversary of so many other terrible days, we're watching another one unfold.

Close

Here's to everyone who got up and went to work anyway this morning.
Here's to everyone who explained to their children.
Here's to everyone who revered the flag enough to use it as a tourniquet.
Here's to everyone who waited to hear the truth.
Here's to everyone whose waiting ended with terrible news.
Here's to everyone who wondered how they were going to walk the dog.
Here's to everyone who knows all the lyrics.
Here's to everyone who is still singing.
Here's to everyone.

*I can't find any of my Boston hats so I went with the lobster tee. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Learn The Words

UntitledEvery four years or so I go off on a rant about the National Anthem. It's the Olympics that makes me do it. It's kids who have worked all their lives to do something they love as a representative of their country and yet don't learn the words to that country's song. The kids who do learn them inspire me to stand in my living room, often half clothed, and sing along. The kids who don't tarnish my memory of their achievement. I think it's that important.

Last night the Boston Bruins played the first professional sporting game in that city since Monday's bombings at the marathon. Their regular anthem singer Rene Rancourt started them off then lowered his mic to allow a crowd only rendition of our national tune. Here's the video. You know how lazy I am about videos and I've watched it. Get yourself a tissue and go on. I'll wait here.

There isn't a dip before the crowd comes in. It isn't a thready, half-hearted version carried by a few voices in each section. It doesn't speed up, everyone stays together. The requisite shouting and whistling is kept to a minimum. It's an arena full of regular people singing their fucking hearts out. If it fails to move you I'll be surprised. I fear that in a few short years we won't be able to drop in on any stadium in the country and see them pull off a crowd only sing along of our one big shared song. That will make me immeasurably sad. I think it's an enormous mistake to let it happen.

As defined by Wikipedia (I know) an anthem is, "a song (or composition) of celebration, usually acting as a symbol for a distinct group of people." Sure we're a very big group of people but that's sort of the point. To have one common thread of a melody that ties itself to each of us couldn't be more important in my eyes. Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it's got weird language. Yes, someone always starts it too high (or too low). No, we should not change it to America The Beautiful. An anthem needs to be weightier than that. It needs to be strong and steady enough to support us all when our knees start to sag.

This week we'll have had bombings in Boston, a disastrous gun legislation setback, an enormous explosion in Texas, and the anniversaries of both the Oklahoma City bombing and the end of the siege in Waco. America the Beautiful would fold under the pressure. The Star Spangled Banner lifts those boulders like a sack of rotten apples, tosses it over her shoulder, and flings it onto the compost heap.

Learn the words, you guys. There are a lot of apples to toss out these days.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Birthday Boy

Untitled

Wish this scruffian a happy trip around the sun, as it were.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

10 Things for This Day

UntitledYesterday was the kind of day for which Cameron Crowe wrote the line, "I have this theory of convergence, that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just don't know why they have to happen at the same time. I just wish they could work out some schedule." A friend is in the hospital, another friend got a job, earthquakes in Oklahoma, my iPhone revived, and, of course, the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Ever since going through a couple of large scale disasters I tend to go over the procedure a lot when another one happens, even when it isn't close to me. In case it'll help anyone else I'm going to devote this week's 10 Things to that sort of thinking.

1. Now is a great time to practice this set of questions when speaking: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me now? It's easy to trip up when we have such easy ways to broadcast what we say but every time we open our mouths we have a new chance to ask and answer the questions. I, for one, needed a couple of do-overs yesterday before I got it right.

2. Remember that this is, you'll pardon the expression, a marathon, not a sprint. There is a quick sprint at the beginning to get everyone safe and stable and accounted for. Now it's a long haul of detective work, healing, and adjusting to new protocols. Make sure you conserve enough energy to keep going. A friend reminded us yesterday that it took seven months and a false arrest to find the person responsible for the bomb at the Atlanta Olympics. This won't be wrapped up with a bow soon, if ever.

Untitled 3. It's also good to remember that everyone processes things differently. A lot of those different ways might be annoying to you and your way may be annoying to others. Try to be kind to people even if you want to tell them to shut their pie holes. Some people need conjecture, others need facts, some need hysteria, others need media blackout. Me? I gravitate toward lists. I made a list of who I needed to account for. Then I made a list of facts. Then I made a list of things I wanted to say. Then I erased it and asked the three questions in #1. Now I'm making this list. I suspect this list will annoy the fuck out of some people. I hope that making the list will help me to be more compassionate about the ways other people are processing that make my blood boil.

4. Today (and any other day) is a great day to do something nice for first responders. They don't have to be people who responded to yesterday's horror, you probably have wonderful people in your own hospitals, police forces, fire departments, and schools. Can you buy a cup of coffee or drop off a gift card or something for them? Hell, if you're very close to one you could go cheap and just dole out kisses and hugs.

5. It's also a smart day to cut yourself some slack. I tried to put the remote in the fridge and I forgot my lunch. Others have tripped, missed the alarm, and left assignments unfinished. That's ok. Today you just keep moving forward a little and it's ok to go slow. You're worth the time.

6. You're also worth a treat. Get yourself a swirly coffee drink or a pedicure that it's still too cold for anyone to see or have a glass of wine with a friend even though the dishwasher and the cat box are both full.

Little Seal 7. In a calm frame of mind go over your disaster preparedness with your family. Who will text who? Where do we meet? What's the next step if someone doesn't arrive? Who has charge of the pets? How can you use social media to communicate more effectively when lines of communication are slowed? We do this now not because we think that we're going to need the information in the coming days but because now, with everyone on alert, it is safe enough that we have the luxury of time to refine our decisions without panic.

8. This would be a fantastic time to do something nice for a random someone. Since we're all a little jangled in our own personal way how much better would both sides feel if you paid for the person behind you in line or moved someone else's garbage cans or (in too many parts of the country) helped shovel someone's walk.

9. Consider regular breaks from the media today. Just because they're broadcasting 24/7 doesn't mean we have to listen all that time. Whereas it was a hell of a day not to have a working phone yesterday I'm kind of glad I didn't. I was forced to disengage from all informational outlets a few times over the course of the afternoon and evening. I didn't miss any news and I was able to keep my own fear, anger, and panic down to appropriate and manageable levels.

10. Remember that I'm glad you're safe. I hope you stay that way.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Party Time!

UntitledIt's such a momentous occasion for me to go to a party on a week night, you'd think I'd have written about it sooner. Apparently it was so exciting I had to take some time to relax before I could get the words out. Last Wednesday night as many Listen To Your Mother NYC folks as we could manage got together to eat and drink and laugh and plan.

One of our cast members, Rebecca Land Soodak, has a close connection to Union Square Wines. The fine people at USW allowed us to gather in their tasting room and, for a truly modest donation per person, we were able to sample wines and Rebecca ordered us some munchies from Fresh Direct. The room was the perfect size so we could feel comfortable and we were the only people there so we could leave our bags unattended and mingle without dragging our belongings from pillar to post.

The wine was unbelievable. I should have taken a picture of the wine list so I could remember what we tasted but I wasn't that forward thinking. It was also served by a super kind, knowledgeable man who also happened to be a dog person. I walk into a party, find the dog people, and instantly feel better! Sadly this guy disappeared before I could thank him and stuff his pockets with caramel**.

As you might imagine it's weird to go sit in a room and share a very personal story with people you may never have met before. In my case before our first rehearsal I'd only met a small handful of the other participants on one or maybe two occasions. In my piece I'm sharing something that I believe in very strongly but that is often scary to say out loud. Now, you do it because it's what you went in there to do and you were lucky enough that someone else endorsed your choice by casting you. That doesn't mean it's easy, though.

We have our second rehearsal at the end of this month and I think it's going to be easier to go in there and speak my heart because now I know a few more of the folks who have my back. I'll have Momma D's encouraging voice in my ear. I'll have Laura's laughter lifting me up. I'll see Mary Beth's eyes shining back at me. I'll know that Sofia is watching me with her filmmaker's eye and I won't want to disappoint her. I'll have so much more, too, from the local team - Holly, Amy, Varda, and Shari - and the national one - Deb was serendipitously able to join us.

I am the world's most ardent Monday Morning Quarterback with social situations. I cannot turn off the endless loop of questions. Did I talk too much? Too little? Did I ask too many questions? Did I miss the opening for asking questions? Did I listen well enough? Did I laugh too loud? How inappropriate was that one story I told about my dog? Did I? Didn't I? Would I? Should I? If only I could go back and change it. I can't. I can only hope that everyone there understood how glad I was to be in their company and that I can't wait until we meet again.

*I was too busy talking. I only took 2 pictures and they're way too dark to share. So here's a picture of cake because parties = cake.

**What now? Since Spoonable Caramel is a sponsor I brought a bunch of caramel for party goers to try. Michelle is a firm believer in letting people know what they're endorsing. She likes you to taste and she trusts the product to convert you to a believer. I think we turned a number of tasters into advocates last week!

***The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poetry Prayer #12

Carolann reminded me of this one. She posted it this week in celebration of Poetry Month. When I looked it up I found two versions. Figured I'd post them both today. Seems appropriate today since my phone is out of commission for at least 24 hours and, in this day and age, having no phone sort of erases your identity.

I'm Nobody! Who Are You?
by Emily Dickinson

Close Transcription:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Dont tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

First Published Version:
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Every Day Around Here

Apparently yesterday was National Pets Day, encouraging folks to adopt rather than shop for their companion animals. Got to say that pretty much every day is Pets Day around here. As you know I have adopted all my animals, usually snagging them before they've even made it to a shelter or rescue organization. I'm still sorry I missed out highlighting the furry freaks over here.

Anna almost never gets top billing. You'd never know that I actually have a weakness for the shy retiring ones. I did at least manage to tell her this week that I know that when she goes I will be devastated because she's got the gentle, constant presence thing going for her. I also love that she's got a mean side eye.

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The dawg is..the dawg. I mean, really, what more to is there to say of him. He had a lapse in judgement this week but overall he's been, truly, a whole new level of awesome recently and I'm incredibly proud of him.

Head Shot

 I fear that Elvis is...not incredibly bright. I sort of like that about him. It's certainly made it easier to get all the right foods and medicines into him during his life of general malaise. He's an awfully patient guy for a cat who has probably never felt anything but freaked out thanks to heart disease.

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They are all marvelous in our eyes and they're just the tip of the iceberg of pets I've had the pleasure of spoiling.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Photo Challenge BASK/TASK

I think I weirded people out with this one. Sorry about that. It brought some good photos, though! Enjoy them below, comment, check out the many other entries I couldn't include that are lounging in our Flickr pool, and then check out the next prompt!

YUMMM
I surprised myself by picking this one out of Our Lisa's offerings. I was sure I was going to choose the one of her beautiful mom but there's something about the directness of this fried dough joy that kept calling me back. (On a technical note the kid in the pink behind her doesn't hurt but I don't think she factored into my decision.)

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This one was a surprise to me, too. Our Bethany also offered a shot of her new homeplace and it made me feel exactly as she said it would, peaceful, but I couldn't click it. This one got the click. (Technical note here is D's red sparking up the right side but, again, don't think it tipped the scale for me.)

Better put some sunscreen on before you bask!
Our Sue often makes me laugh this is no exception. Everyone in this shot makes me want to buy stock in sunscreen and skin grafting equipment. I can tease them about it because I look just like they do.

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Yes, I've taken a nice contemplative photo of a sweet, elderly kitty. What you don't know is that he's diabetic and has a taste for frosting. This was at a birthday party and he was looking through me at the Decorate A Cupcake Like Kermit table, figuring out how to get to the big bowl of green frosting. He'd already eaten the top off the demo cupcake.

foot and hands
Our Janet slingshotted me back to my childhood with this one. Technically she catapulted me back to about 10 years after that when I compulsively paged through scrapbooks of the aforementioned childhood. Complicated but true.

 Let's go super simple. It's been so nice out the last couple of days that I'm desperate for simple. Naturally the prompt is SIMPLE.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday April 23rd for posting on April 24th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and SIMPLE. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have questions.

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The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A Tenner

Untitled1. Voices of the Year submissions are open at Blogher. You should think about submitting a piece by you or someone you love. This "Community Keynote" is always my favorite part of the conference.

2. An excerpt (with link to the full piece) of a woman's decision to speak out about her abortion because she couldn't stand the split narrative being offered to her. What if she didn't regret it forever OR not regret it at all?

3. I really think we need more public transportation in the US. Trains specifically.

4. You usually hear stories about a comedian doing a joke and getting slammed for it so hard it becomes an internet-wide debate on his or her job description. This story is different.

5. Great story about rescuing a cat from Afghanistan. It's certainly possible to read it and think about ways in which the money could have been better spent but it's also nice to remember that sometimes you have to do something even when it doesn't make any sense.

Untitled 6. I don't have a link but it should be noted here that Maryland upheld its Breed Specific Legislation which asserts that pitbulls are inherently dangerous and therefore can be discriminated against. This is leading to the break up of families and the deaths of sweet, well-trained family members. I believe they are the only state to have such a bill covering the entire state rather than specific municipalities.

7. In solidarity with furloughed workers certain high level civil servants, like the president, are returning 5% of their salaries to the US Treasury. There is a lot of room for debate as to the effectiveness of this gesture. Have at it if you like.

8. This gif of a cat requesting ear scritches may very well turn your whole day around. I hope so.

9. Soon after Sandy hit our area I'm sure I linked to Mike D's food truck giving out free meals in the Rockaways to people trying to survive and rebuild. They're still giving away meals but working to transition to being paid for meals and being staffed by people native to the Rockaways. Just a reminder, you know, that the damage isn't fixed yet. Not by a long shot.

10. NJ is on a path to ban those idiotic gay conversion therapy scams. That would be pretty rad. Not to mention smart.

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The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Grateful I Practiced

What Do You Do?My voice lesson canceled on Friday so all I had to do was meet Bill to see a movie and manage to get myself back home in time for grocery delivery.  Checking my email before I entered the cinema I saw a message from Amy Wilson, the director of NYC's Listen To Your Mother.

"Edits to your piece," was the subject line.

My stomach dropped, of course. Though my head knows that edits do not mean "evidence of your complete lack of talent" my stomach sticks her fingers in her ears and sings Henery The Eighth, I Am whenever you try to explain. Hiking up my big girl panties I chose a path right down the middle. I replied right away but lord knows if I had to dial the phone to get these evidences of...I mean, edits, I wouldn't ever do it. Smart as she is, Amy said she would call me if I would just tell her when. We set up a time and I crammed a bunch of cookies and a silly romantic comedy movie on top of my feelings.

The phone rang and I had my piece up on the laptop screen and my listening ears tuned high. I stumbled a little in the small talk because I was already in Fix It mode but I rallied and felt better and got ready. The thing is, she only had a couple of things to talk about. One of them was even something that had gone oddly in the read through so I was planning to ask her how to adjust it to get the response I wanted anyway.

Victory 1 I was left, not surprisingly, with a lot of gratitude. The piece isn't very different now but it's better. First of all I was grateful that Amy had taken the time to make these tiny tweaks to boost the readability of the essay and that her manner is so gentle and open. Second I was glad that I'd practiced for this moment. I had already sent this piece and many others to trusted groups of first readers. They had helped me tighten the work up and move some pieces around and they always ask at least one question that I never would have come up with. I've had the opportunity to hear things I agree with, things I wish I'd thought of myself, and things I absolutely don't agree with. Because I respect the people telling me stuff, I have had to be smart about both how I hear and how I respond to criticism. I'm not going to say I like it but...well....I kind of like it. To be able to feel safe saying to someone, "I wrote this and I love it but it wraps itself around a tree right about here and I don't know how to untangle it, do you?" is both a relief and a pleasure.

Talking with Amy Friday night I agreed with most of her thoughts. I was able to ask her about one tree wrapping moment. She gave me the freedom to cut something I didn't like but felt I needed to keep. There was one thing I didn't agree with and even that was just that I didn't agree with how she suggested solving it. So I took a second, re-arranged the bits in question, and came up with another solution. I read it back to her and we both agreed that it did what we both wanted it to do. I could never have heard, absorbed, analyzed, and worked with criticism that fast if I hadn't practiced.

I'm so glad I practiced. Now I'm even more excited than ever for you to see this show!

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The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Poetry Prayer #11

I got the name of my first original play from this poem. A quick google to get the full text proves that I was not the only one to be drawn to that line.

Part Three: Love

XXXIII
by Emily Dickinson



I HELD a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: “’T will keep.”
  
I woke and chid my honest fingers,—        5
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Caught Up

I am officially caught up with processing photos. I have had "Process Photos" on my to do list for so many months I don't even know what to do with myself. Everything that's ready for public consumption has been poured into Flickr.

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This weekend I have two birthdays to go to and I just had a really fun idea for a photo book to make so there's more to come but....

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I'm caught up.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Listen To Your Mother 10 Times

UntitledI started promoting Listen To Your Mother a bit last month. After several people replied to my missives apologizing about missing it (they seem to have seen MAY and read MARCH) I decided I'd scale back my efforts until April when the M thing wouldn't get in the way. Naturally, 10 Things Tuesday is a great place to kick off the April knowledge drop about the Listen To Your Mother movement.

1. Here's a video on the concept by creator (inceptor?) Ann Imig. You know I'm reluctant to watch videos (I'm a weirdo) but I have watched and loved this. Short, funny, genuine, and fun!

2. The NYC show is on May 12th at 5pm at Symphony Space. That's Mothers Day in case you didn't notice.

3. You can buy tickets here.

4. There will be shows in 23 other cities. If there's one near you I strongly encourage you to support it.

5. Each show benefits a local charity organization. The depth and breadth of the choices for supporting our community members is staggering.

6. NYC's honored organization is Family to Family.  This is a group  who pairs families who are in a position to give with families who are in a position to receive help. Some families are going through a variety of "normal" setbacks and some of them are specifically recovering from the storm damage in our area. People still need help getting back to their new normal and we're glad to be doing our part. The more tickets you buy, the more help is given, because 10% of all ticket sales go to Family to Family.

Untitled 7. There is no LTYM show in the northeast - CT, MA, NH, ME, VT. One of the NYC cast members is traveling down from the Berkshires because ours is the closest show to her home and she felt called to share her story. I sat next to her at our first rehearsal and, damn, I'm so glad she shared. Another cast member is traveling from CT. I read after her and had to take a moment to collect myself before I could go on. They're that good, you guys. All it takes to start a show is a dedicated group of intelligent, committed women. Please consider starting a show of your own.

8. Our Misti is part of the group of fantastic women celebrating the inaugural year of LTYM in Oklahoma City. Her show is on and they are supporting Infant Crisis Services, Inc.

9. Misti read in the Northwest Arkansas show last year. You can see video of her story here.

10. I sent out an email to a small group of friends who have their own businesses letting them know of sponsorship opportunities with our production. Michelle wrote back immediately, set up a call with producer, Holly Rosen Fink, and had finalized her sponsorship less than 24 hours from the time I sent the email. I sent her a note thanking her for taking a chance on my recommendation. She wrote back, "It's no risk. I've seen you perform. This is going to be great." That, right there, is one of the greatest compliments I've ever received. Regardless of how you view my performance, though, there are so many stories in the line up that Holly, Amy, Varda, & Shari have assembled that reach inside you and ring the bells on your heart. I really, really want you to see this.

Monday, April 01, 2013

UPDATE: No Different From Other Days

Toby

Today is the day when you can't believe anything you read on the internet. I'm not entirely sure how that makes it different than any other day but there is a heightened awareness, to be sure. I've caught two blatant pranks already and yet I'm sure they'll catch up at least a couple of readers.

I'm not much of a pranker. On a day like today, though, it's good to disclaim.

THIS IS NOT A PRANK. I'M TOTALLY SERIOUS.

Yesterday the above picture showed up on Facebook from a rescue organization in Baltimore. That dog is 18 years old. His owner just died and now he's in a shelter. Happy Fucking Easter, dog. I always want to help but usually can find a good reason not to. In this case I figured that, since he was featured online and had a sad story he'd get a lot of response. Since I couldn't get down to Baltimore to get him before the internet took care of him then I could stop worrying.

This morning I saw the same photo posted by a Brooklyn friend who had tagged her sister who lives in? Baltimore! I pledged cash to help get him out of hock and said that, if needed (as long as he gets along with cats and dogs) he can come live with us. The sister has already called the shelter and it doesn't open until 2pm on Mondays. She's going to call at 2.

All of this is not especially remarkable. I know cool people. They know cool people. As a group we are sometimes able to do very cool things. What I'm finding remarkable is how much I want this to work out. It's very likely that someone else will already have adopted Toby (that's his name). If my friend and her sister get him out of jail it's possible that they will want to keep him or that he's not strong enough to be moved or that he hates all other animals. We don't know anything about him yet.

I already have plans for him, though. They involve a lot of snuggling.

UPDATE: Toby has been pulled from the pound by a rescue organization. They are searching for a foster home for him. Unfortunately he does not like other animals or children so he won't be a safe fit for me or the fabulous L Sisters who did all the research on him today. We're all a little sad not to help him specifically but know that it's for the best. The lesson for me, though, is that I am probably more ready to help a senior dog than I thought and I should keep an eye out at the rescue orgs that I'm connected to now. That's...not a total shocker but it did sneak up on me.