Friday, May 31, 2013

Sad Stars

UntitledGoogle Reader goes away on July 1st. We're a month away from that deadline and I haven't done anything to wean myself off of it. I think I'll go with Feedly but it would be nice if I did that more than 12 hours before the whole thing goes POOF! Well, it's not going to happen today so instead I will just revel in my beloved starred file and share some stuff with you.

Our Sueb0b recommended a friend's food/recipe blog. I don't always fall in love with those. This one is fantastic. It's called Kalyn's Kitchen and I think you might find something you like there. A huge chunk of the starred file is full of her posts after I fell down a rabbit hole into the site at lunch yesterday. Gremolata? I had no idea!

Here's a great quote from Oklahoma State Rep, Doug Cox, asking what happened to sanity in the Republican party. I've been asking some of these questions for a long while, it's nice to hear them going out to a wider platform. His angle isn't perfect, as the post explains, but it's a step in the right goddamned direction.

Ra Worship While we're on the subject, I haven't followed through to read all of the articles associated with this but if you haven't been reading even a little about Kermit Gosnell please spend some time on it. This post is a decent place to start. The anti-choicers are, of course, using him to bolster their argument but if you follow the horror to its logical end you have to see that he's the reason we need abortion to be legal and safe. Safety first!

Can't stop there. Outside of the US there are problems, too. El Salvador is denying a woman a life-saving abortion. Let us distill the governmental response here; while calling themselves pro-life they are going to allow a woman and her fetus to die. Just let a productive member of society die a potentially brutal death. I don't think that word means what they think it means.

Untitled Schmutzie, a blogger I have long enjoyed and met a couple of times, wrote a great post that stirred up a bunch of feelings for a whole lot of people. It's a list of things that child-free people are told by some parents. The most admirable thing about the whole hoopla is, I think, the variety of responses that came from the online community she has created. The most galling thing is the number of people who have tried to tell her that these things never happen. They do. All of them. I told another child-free person about #6 and before I could even finish the thought she was nodding ruefully. Don't dismiss this. Think about it. (I'm linking to the Blogher publishing of the post, it was first published on Schmutzie's site. It's worth going to both to see the comments.)

Palate cleanser! Flowers made out of the bones of rodents. Cool. Though maybe I shouldn't call that a palate cleanser.

Many of you are doing a lot of gardening these days. Great resource for that is Sara's blog, which she's recently begun updating again with delightful photos for illustration.

Ok, let's dive back down into the muck. Did you hear about #FBRape? Facebook took offense to breastfeeding photos and gave their reasons as the pornographic nature of such images but continues to allow pro-rape pages to proliferate in their space. Users took action using #FBRape to target advertisers and ask them to quit advertising until justice and intelligence could be served. Some companies responded well, some very poorly, and thirteen companies pulled their advertising. Facebook's response, a step in the right direction yet not a solution, is here.

Untitled Coincidentally this went down the same week that it was announced that Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of popular non-fiction title Lean In, will be a keynote speaker at Blogher '13. They will be accepting pre-submitted questions for the Q&A. I look forward to a lively discussion.

Interesting infographic about parental leave policies at tech companies. I especially like the ones where the maternal and paternal time off policies are the same.

Another high note, the Supreme Court declined to even hear testimony on an Indiana law to defund Planned Parenthood. It's like chipping away at a glacier but I like to see the ice cubes fall.

Let's end on something light, quick, and funny. I went back and read this over and over so I could keep chuckling. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

City Sermon


Some days the whole world is our classroom.

Three men are standing near each other on a sidewalk in front of a store window. Men A and B are talking to each other. Man C is concentrating on his cell phone as if looking up information for the continuation of his journey. Suddenly Man C sneezes and walks off. He makes a vague gesture toward covering up but it's not even close to the oft-preached chicken wing technique. Man A immediately gets a sour look on his face, waves a newspaper in front of himself as if to dissipate the snot spray, and wanders away from the area. As he wanders Man B trails along behind. They manage to cut off several pedestrians in the through-way, slow the flow of traffic in that lane of the sidewalk, and finally come to rest directly in front of the store's one point of entry or exit, completely blocking it. Man A maintains his expression of disbelief that someone could be so inconsiderate as to sneeze without noticing what impact that might have on the people around him.

Thus endeth our real life lesson of the day. The theme? Practice what you preach.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Poetry Prayer #17

I saved the poem for the holiday. This is from T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland. It's just a tiny excerpt.

The Wasteland
by T.S. Eliot

V. What the Thunder Said

After the torch-light red on sweaty faces 
After the frosty silence in the gardens 
After the agony in stony places 
The shouting and the crying
Prison and place and reverberation 
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains 
He who was living is now dead 
We who were living are now dying 
With a little patience

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dog Drinks

Genius?It's probably about time we had a little fun, don't you think?

Yesterday Michelle and I walked the dogs in the park and through the greenmarket despite the chilly temps and persistent rain. We were all shivering and sad about it but glad for good conversation to keep our minds off the fact that it was May and we were still wearing elements of our winter clothing.

On the way home I explained Drunk Dog Training. It's probably a terrible idea but Sara and I seem to be having some success with it. We drink wine, chat, and train our dogs to do silly things. Currently we spend a lot of time teaching them to whine on cue...rather than all the damn time like they do now. They're getting pretty good. I explained that we'd be expanding our drunk dog training posse tomorrow because we planned to take dogs and people to a local pub after our regularly scheduled training class. This revelation of our insanity led to the following:

Michelle: Will the dogs be drinking?

Me: Probably not. I suspect Rikke won't let us get them drunk.

Michelle: What would Ed's drink of choice be if he did drink, though?

Me: (without pausing for thought) Old fashioned.

Michelle: With our without the fruit?

Me: (talking over her) Definitely with the fruit!

As I walked the rest of the way home after Michelle peeled off I wondered if I was right. Ed is sort of an old man, it might be the right drink for him. He's awfully picky. He'd probably specify his whiskey and refuse to have a drink if the bar didn't stock the right brand. He might be a wine, guy, though. He doesn't have strong appetites. He'd probably be a super snobby wine guy if he had wine.

Now, Emily, I'd have to call her a beer drinker. She'd be the girl the guys loved to hang around because she drank beer just like them. She wouldn't be picky about it, either. She'd be happy to drink a microbrew or a Guiness but she'd be just as happy with a Rolling Rock or a Brooklyn or whatever was on tap that day. If she lived in England she'd be a lager girl, Carlsberg all the way.

My cats? Wine spritzers. No question. If they'd lived in the 80s they'd have had stock in Bartles & James. Light weights, both of them, who probably shouldn't be drinking anyway, for mental health reasons.

Your turn, what would your pets drink, if such a thing were at all possible.

*No one at this blog condones serving alcohol to animals. Ever.

Friday, May 24, 2013

While We Grill

Triptych 1It's a holiday weekend around these parts. As this blissful break has grown closer the weather report has grown bleaker. Between this morning's jaunt to the dog park and this afternoon's puppy stroll the temperature dropped seven degrees and the rain began. It's in the 40s now and raining and gray and I am perfectly ok with that. It's good for napping and inside-the-house things which I like very much.  People get uppity when you don't have fancy plans on a bright, sunny holiday.

It's also good for remembering. While over here we're putting our feet up people in many parts of the world are struggling to rebuild. Thought I'd update you on ways we can help the folks in Oklahoma who were hit by those fierce tornadoes.

* If you go to the donation page for Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma they explain how donations will help them to support their area (you can even do that give-by-text thing that everyone is so fond of). Knowing a member of the organization I've been told a few stories this week that make it easy for me to promote giving to them. They aren't my tales to tell but please believe me when I say that they're doing fantastic work.

* Donors Choose is always a favorite charity for me. They leapt into action immediately and you can enrich their OKC support easily.

* I chose one animal related organization to give to with our Photo Challenge (Forever Yours) but I chose it from a list made by a friend who knows the rescue community over there very well. If you'd like to support some others, here's the whole list: Animal Resource Center, Inc.; Pet Food Pantry; Safe Haven Animal Rescue. Not all of them are set up for online donations but it should be evident where checks can be mailed.

Knowing that not nearly everyone who sustained damage from Sandy here on the East Coast is back in their homes and at their jobs and schools yet makes it all too easy to reckon how very long it will be before the Oklahomans will be able to get to their new normal. I am discouraged by how we are unable to recover from one thing before the next horror happens but I am heartened by all the help I see people giving.

Thank you for all you do. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Photo Challenge: ART

Before we kick off, please refer to yesterday's post for ways we can help people in the tornado struck sections of the country. Also scroll all the way down for another way to raise money for the rebuilding.

First, though, ART photos!

Something I'm a little shy about in my own work is the truth that art is imperfect. In thumbnail this shot looks both technically and artistically sound but viewed larger it has flaws. I have to admit, though, that I love it, blur and all.

Before you click through and check out Our Lisa's other contributions to this challenge tell us what you think this looks like. She and I see something very specific that others don't always see. (The title in Flickr gives it away.)

guest book
It was really hard for me not to post Our Janet's entry with a dog in it or the one that speaks to the roots of her relationship with her fiance (yup, that's new, you can congratulate her) but this one, from a guest book on a recent trip, is so much about art in every day life my finger clicked on it of its own accord.

Speaking of art in every day life, who makes fancy art on their soot screen? Our Bethany's family, that's who! I'm especially intrigued by the way this skull (no muscles!) looks like it's angrily raising its eyebrow.

Art - Calder Man at MOMA
Our Sue really took off with this challenge. Again, it was incredibly tough for me to choose so I hope you'll click through and see her other offerings. Something about the colors of this one and the lighting in the composition made it stand out, though.

I do not think that Our Cindy knows how much I love tie dye. I haven't done it for decades and stylistically I'm not exactly a tie dye sort but man do I ever love it. This shot makes me yearn for a dozen Hanes tees, some dye, and a whole lot of time on my hands.

The next challenge is BOOST. You can take that in a physical or emotional way or any other way you can think of. For every photographer that enters the BOOST challenge I will donate $5 to Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and $5 to an animal focused charity to be named later (I have an expert down there researching where the need is greatest). Please spread the word far and wide. If anyone's interested in matching my donations I think that would be pretty cool, too, but the bottom line is that anything you can do from sending good thoughts to hands on help is fantastic.

Edited to Add: Forever Yours will be the animal-related charity for our purposes. Also in the running were Animal Resources, Inc., Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma City, and Safe Haven Animal Rescue. All of those organizations are personally endorsed by someone I trust.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday June 4th for posting on June 5th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and BOOST. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have questions.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Think They Were Scared

Nivea & BarbaraThere were a lot of very emotional pieces read for Listen To Your Mother - NYC. Some happy emotions and some more wrenching. Since we only heard each other's pieces about three times those emotions stayed fresh for the listeners. My place in the line-up stayed firm throughout, as did the place of the woman who read before me.

That woman was Barbara Patrick. She is a quilter, mother, and gun regulation advocate from Newtown, CT. You can imagine what her piece was like. Every time I heard it the essay broke me open. The day of the show was no different. I could have shut myself down if I'd wanted but that wouldn't have served me as a performer or a human being so I did my best to work with the emotions she brought up. The bit that gets me every time is where she talks about the hard questions she fields from her kids now, post-shooting. They're all good questions but the last one guts me every time I think about it. "Do you think they were scared before they died, mom?"

That's exactly what I wonder, too. Kids crammed in a bathroom with a teacher trying to keep them both calm and quiet. A teacher making a game of stashing her students in cupboards to keep them out of sight so she could face the gunman alone. An adult's hand reaching out of a classroom and yanking a student inside. I think they were probably terrified though I hope not.

Birthday Girl With Cake Some of you may know that Our Misti started a new job last week. I can't find where she gives us her official title but she is, in essence, a regional director for the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma. It is a job tailor-made to her skills and by every account she had a thrilling and exhausting week getting acclimated and meeting girls and preparing to change the world one scout at a time.

Last night via social media Misti, and other friends in Oklahoma City, kept the rest of us apprised of the horrible situation unfolding in their area. I sat in front of my computer and watched live streaming video of children wandering around the flattened carcass of their elementary school. While I did that Misti told me that's her region. Those are her kids. When we heard of children being sent to triage along a human chain, the seven children found dead, the ones whose teacher lay on top of them to shield them from debris are, to some extent, her kids now. Though her position is not exclusively interfacing with scouts she will, no doubt, field Barbara's soul-clutching question many times in the near future. "Do you think they were scared before they died, Miss?"

I am, of course, supremely grateful that Misti and all our friends in that area are safe. I am also glad that this particular region of scouts has my friend on their side. They could not wish for a better advocate, someone willing to use all the tools at her disposal to help them heal as quickly and cleanly as possible. As I watch my friends both near and far scrabble for something to do to aid in the recovery I am also grateful for the steady stream of notifications I've been getting about how we can contribute in meaningful ways.

After Sandy hit the New York area we were given a close and all too personal look at how the Red Cross distributes what our donations provide. If you're still considering promoting the Red Cross as a viable aid agency for donations I suggest you ask local business owner Allison Robicelli before you hit send on that donation text. Be prepared for salty language. Here are a few local charities I've done a small amount of research on and feel comfortable endorsing. I honestly believe these organizations will be getting aid to families immediately and during the long rebuilding process.

  • Team Rubicon sends US military veterans to disaster-stricken areas for help in recovery and rebuilding efforts. They were of vital assistance after Sandy and they provide a money back guarantee on your donation.
  • Some NY-based food businesses (spearheaded by Ms. Robicelli and including our friends at Spoonable Caramel) are partnering with Team Rubicon to raise money. You can donate through them here.
  • The Occupy movement has found their niche in disaster recovery. Their principles dovetail nicely into peer support and team building to keep assistance flowing.
  • Comedienne Elayne Boosler is a tireless animal advocate. She suggests donating to the Oklahoma Humane Society if you want to help animals and families with animals.
  • Listen To Your Mother - OKC chose Infant Crisis Services, Inc. as the local charity they would support in this their inaugural year. The Center is now taking donations of goods and money and turning that around into supplies for families caring for very young children while they rebuild. Babies don't stop eating or eliminating just because the house got blown away.
  • And, last but not least, the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma have a lot of work to do. Misti will let us know in more detail what's needed. Today is, for them, about accounting for the whereabouts of their scouts, tallying the needs of those families, and making a plan for supporting them. You can donate here or wait to see about other initiatives. 

I know that many of you have been helping with this effort already. Thank you. Please stay safe, wherever you are.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Poetry Prayer #16

I've been thinking a lot lately about being alone and being in company. I knew the first lines of this poem, most people do, but I had no idea what the rest of it was like.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


UntitledIt's common knowledge that child-free adults, like a lot of other brands of adults, take a ration of shit about their choices. I feel that, aside from the occasional pointing out of facts, you don't much need to say anything about it. You know, unless you have a chance to speak in a national reading series or something. Today, though, I encountered an obstacle that bears pointing out.

I follow Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project and Happiness At Home, on Twitter. I've seen her speak once and I've read one of her books. If you're unfamiliar with Ms. Rubin's work it's about her search to make her life a happy one. She's a planner and she made a plan to try and increase her happiness quotient and used a blog, later a book, to track her results and offer the plan to others. While her own life, which includes a husband and children, is used in her examples she makes it clear in her writing that her principles are for everyone. We don't agree about everything but we're adults so that's to be expected. I like her vibe and I appreciate her writing and I like to know what's going on with her. After reading her book I would venture that she'd no more mean to exclude child-free readers based on her being a mother than she would exclude male readers because she's a woman.

When Rubin tweeted a request for people to fill out a survey this morning I clicked through to help her out. Turns out it was an opinion poll about a redesign of her website and possibly her next writing project. I am happy (see what I did there?) to help with that sort of thing to the extent I can. Some questions were required and some not. Down near the end of the survey, in the section where they capture demographics, I hit a snag. Usually a lot of these questions are optional but in this case they were all required, which makes sense if she's trying to gather potential marketing and PR information. I could fill out my age and my income but the next required question is about how many children I have. Here are my choices (and I'm allowed to tick all that apply):

  • I'm planning to have a child someday
  • I am pregnant
  • 5 more choices with age ranges of children
Do you see me there?

Me either. So now I can either not complete the survey and stay silent, complete the survey with the lie of my choice, or speak up. I tweeted to Ms. Rubin publicly that I was unable to help her because all of the answers on that question assumed a desire or plan for children. She got back to me shortly saying she'd just realized that and was working on the fix.

That's a perfectly reasonable response and I appreciate both her speed toward solution and the time she took to reply to me. I suspect she'd already heard from other folks. I don't want it to sound like I'm blaming her exactly, mistakes are mistake and that's cool. Anyone who has ever written anything even as small as a tweet knows that proofreading can be a bitch, even when you're good at it. There's one thing that continues to niggle at me.

No one noticed that might be a problem.

I don't know if Ms. Rubin wrote the survey herself or if she had help from a publishing or marketing professional but, as a writer and a collaborator, I feel certain that she had multiple pairs of eyes on this before she let it go live to a large audience and not even one of those people spoke up to say that they'd left out an option. In fact, the first response "I would like to have a child someday" is pretty clearly crafted to make sure that the question doesn't exclude families working with infertility and it's also technically valid for waiting families in the adoption process. Not having children, though?

There's that saying, "There's no such thing as bad press." Even if they're excoriating you they're thinking about you and that's going to boost your brand in some way. Look at all the blogs in the sphere that devote their time to making fun of TV shows. You can't skewer a show well unless you're watching it and if you're watching you're boosting their ratings. It turns out, though, that the child-free choice gets no press at all, not even a glimmer in the back of someone's mind that says, "This question feels funny." No matter how many times we politely clear our throats no one even turns to look.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Pale me at LAPA

The past couple of times I've had performances I've tried to remember to put a signature at the bottom of each blog post about the show. It turns out I'm not especially consistent about that. It also means that you have to go searching through unrelated posts to find the information about the show. Finally a solution came to me.

You'll note that I've got a new page up top there titled, "Can You See Me?" That page will get updated with all the appropriate information and links whenever I'm performing. All you have to do is click to figure out what, where, when, and how to buy tickets.

In this case it's my cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, at The Duplex on June 7th at 7pm ($15 cover + 2 drink minimum). I hope that you'll be able to come and I humbly beg you to please spread the word to anyone who might be interested. I'm excited to be playing The Duplex for the first time and I'd like them to be excited* about having me.

*Excitement in this case can be measured by the number of paying audience members. It's a cold hard fact of running a club.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Above And Beyond

Auntie Blanche & ChemE
If you've been paying attention at all you know that last night I read as part of the New York City arm of the 2013 Listen To Your Mother movement. We had a glorious crowd, both large and responsive. With their help we were able to give $1,000 to our chosen charity, Family to Family. As you can imagine, the event was much more than words on a page or even words from our mouths but I want to share here the words I shared yesterday at Symphony Space. Thank you for being part of the support that made my experience so rich.

About Me

I am:

An only child.


Never married.

Child free.

By choice.

When I was 10 my cousin, Chris, was born and my Aunt Lennie polled the rest of us. Tim, Sara, & Mike were siblings. I was an only child. I advocated for only children on the basis of liking being able to be on my own, of going places with my parents, of not having to fight for every inch of space and time and energy I needed or wanted. It wasn’t, I knew even then, a terribly nuanced, or even strong, argument but my convictions were pure. Chris remained an only child and I understand now that I was soothing fears, not helping to make choices, but I was flattered to have been asked.

I have been called:







Once you reach a certain age people begin to wonder why you aren’t married and they give you lots of advice. The most baffling is always to be less picky. If you would just care less about how you want to spend THE WHOLE REST OF YOUR LIFE then you could be married! Easy!

I used to date a and on for years. He was never going to marry me and for a while I was sad about that. Then, on a dark and stormy night a couple of years ago I threw him out of my house and was genuinely glad about it. He used to tell me that if I ever wanted to have kids he’d be happy to “help me out” because “we’ve got great genetic material.” He has kids with someone else now and, if all the rumors I’ve heard are true, they’ve been a real eye opener for him and not in the way he’d hoped. I don’t think genetic material is a good enough reason. What’s so special about my genes that they need to be passed along?

Things I do:


Sound out words.

Cut up banana pancakes (I hate bananas).

Dress up like a mermaid.

Bake birthday cakes.

Attend concerts, plays, and awards ceremonies.

Find Waldo.


Leave the light on.


No, I don’t want to have kids, actually. I don’t hate kids. I hate having to say that, though, because it sounds like I’m defending myself and I sort of am. It’d be easier if I was just anti-kid, but I’m not.

At my Auntie Blanche’s 80th birthday she looked around the restaurant at all the strangers staring at our balloons and cake and flashing cameras. She leaned over to me and said, “They don’t have any idea that not one person at this table is related to me.” Auntie Blanche isn’t technically my aunt. She was a role model for me and for hundreds of others she met through her years as a public school teacher and local celebrity. Single and child-free she dedicated her life to children. She’d pile a bunch of us kids into the back of her car and drive us to the beach for the afternoon. Wearing a wrap skirt over her bathing suit and a white, cloth sun visor she stood up to her knees in the cold, Atlantic ocean so we could body surf until our lips turned blue.

What I’m saying is, I learned at the feet of a master.

I do not:

Regret my choices.

Mourn my differences.

Love less.

Care less.


What if I had kids of my own and that meant that I didn’t have the kid-centric relationships I have now? No Kaleigh who takes my dog out for ice cream. No annual visit to Santaland with Rosa. No weirdly fascinating silent narratives at brunch with Felix. I don’t find the mythical loss of kids-I-could-have-had terrifying. It’s the idea of losing these kids I love now that drops the bottom right out of my stomach.

I am:




Many years ago Mark and Carolann had a brief lapse in child care so Felix and I hung out in deepest Brooklyn one frigid January day. After wrestling the damn stroller out the door I was determined to take as long a walk as we could stand. Luckily we wheeled by a coffee shop and I decided to thwart frostbite by snagging a table with a view of the sidewalk. I set him free but he was content to watch the world go by and I watched with him. A few moments later I felt a little hand on my thigh so I looked down and he looked up at me as if to say, “Isn’t it nice sharing a quiet moment together?”

Yes. Yes it is. It’s perfect.

*The picture above was the random one that showed up on my computer desktop when I arrived at work this morning. That was perfect, too.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Poetry Prayer #15

Today I'm going to stand up in front of a theatre full of mostly strangers and tell them the story of people I love. It's making me cry a little to think about it but I'm excited, too.

When I was in drama school we had to choose one of the choruses from Shakespeare's Henry V and present it. If you've done any Shakespeare work at all you've probably worked on the first one. "O for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention..." probably rolls off your lips at the slightest provocation. I wanted to do something different so I read through them a couple of times and finally chose the third one because I liked the phrase, "petty and unprofitable dukedoms" near the end. It wound up teaching me a lot, not only about acting Shakespeare, but about acting songs and acting in general. The choruses are exposition. They're the part of a play or TV show or movie that's like reading the phone book. You can't give that stuff to a crappy actor if you want anyone to listen to it. The pictures in this piece are exquisite and I've grown to love the ones I see in my head when I speak the words. My ability to paint those pictures by speaking these words seemed like a good thing to remind myself of on a day like today.

Enjoy this gorgeous poem. I'll see you on the other side.

Henry V
Chorus iii
by William Shakespeare

Thus with imagin'd wing our swift scene flies
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought. Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king at Hampton pier
Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning:
Play with your fancies, and in them behold
Upon the hempen tackle ship-boys climbing;
Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give
To sounds confused; behold the threaden sails,
Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,
Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea,
Breasting the lofty surge: O, do but think
You stand upon the ravage and behold
A city on the inconstant billows dancing;
For so appears this fleet majestical,
Holding due course to Harfleur. Follow, follow:
Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy,
And leave your England, as dead midnight still,
Guarded with grandsires, babies and old women,
Either past or not arrived to pith and puissance;
For who is he, whose chin is but enrich'd
With one appearing hair, that will not follow
These cull'd and choice-drawn cavaliers to France?
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege;
Behold the ordnance on their carriages,
With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur.
Suppose the ambassador from the French comes back;
Tells Harry that the king doth offer him
Katharine his daughter, and with her, to dowry,
Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms.
The offer likes not: and the nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,
[Alarum, and chambers go off]
And down goes all before them. Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

No, Thank YOU


The muppet-themed birthday party I went to in March had a brilliant set up where each activity was done in the name of a character. Kermit sponsored the cupcake decorating, Sam the Eagle admonished you to wash your hands in the bathrooms, and the room with the liquor was designated the Statler and Waldorf Adults-Only Lounge.

In the birthday girl's room she'd rigged a backdrop and borrowed a tripod from her grampa and put her birthday present, a new camera, to use. This was known as Miss Piggy's Modelling Studio. Each guest was asked to stop by during the party and take a photo of themselves, preferably with our girl.

These might be my favorite shots of me taken in a long, long time. Miss Piggy runs a high class establishment.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

I Won't Stop Writing These

I'd tell you about Our Misti's Kikimama but she does it so much better. Don't tell either of us that cats can't save lives.


Treats for everyone, for sure.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Photo Challenge: COMMUNITY

As we draw closer to the Listen To Your Mother show here in NYC the theme of COMMUNITY has, of course, been prominent in my mind. This is a prompt I think I'll come back to. The results are beautiful and I bet we'd do more with another crack at it.

i think the stump stood a little taller
Our Bethany moved away from my neighborhood shortly after this photo was taken. Having this shot in the challenge and meeting her for a drink on Friday are both bittersweet.

I carried a flag
Our Cindy was chosen to carry one of the flags in her local AIDS walk. She's the perfect person for that kind of honor.

I have no idea what's going on here in Our Ana's community but I love it! I want a mask and a tambourine and a place to wield them both.

You've been flocked!
The sign captured by Our Janet reads, "You've been flocked." Apparently it's a prank of love. Well, sure!

The Giggles
The woman on the left in my recent rehearsal was tired, hungry, and discouraged when she arrived. By this point, she'd turned it around and gotten the giggles.

I'm in a swirling vortex of preparing for both Listen To Your Mother and Back Where I Belong. This is my art and sometimes it's scary but it's still fun. Prompt this go 'round is ART! Whatever that means to you. Could be anything...

Please enter by 9am Tuesday May 21st for posting on May 22nd. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and ART. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have questions.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A Good, Hard Look

Sofia, Sascha, Laura

The annual Blogher conference features something now called Voices of the Year. It's an event that originated as the Community Keynote, the brainchild of the awesome Eden Kennedy. One of the keynote speech time slots for the conference features a lineup of members reading an important post from the past year of their blog publishing. Since the beginning of this tradition, before I'd ever been to a Blogher conference, I wanted to be part of it. It has been one of the highlights of my experience at the three Bloghers I have attended and I'm very much looking forward to it again this year.

The process is that you can nominate a post by you or someone else and there is a combination of voting by the community and by a jury of our peers that decides the final slate of readers. I am late in the game as submissions close on May 15th but, spurred by the excitement of Listen To Your Mother, I decided to see if I could choose something to submit. The allowable time period runs from, I believe, March of last year to present so I got myself back to March of last year in these here archives and I began to skim and read and remember. This turned out to be pretty humbling.

You know me, I love a good routine. There are plenty of lists and links and now even poems on this blog. The photo challenge, which I wouldn't change for the world, is prominent and the sight of it kept me from abandoning my search all together because at least I know I'm doing something of which I'm proud. There are far too many Treats For Everyone posts, and I don't mean that I wish I hadn't written them, I mean that we've lost far too many in our world. There are a few quick jokes or vignettes that are sweet and spot on but they do not stand alone. They cry out "I AM BLOG" in the same way that parachute pants scream, "I AM THE EIGHTIES." I am seeing very little proof that a practiced, polished, capable writer lives here.

The irony of this is that it's been a year in which I've worked very hard on my writing and seen it bear sweet fruit. My cabaret, Back Where I Belong, is some of the best comedy writing I've done in a while and it has stood the test of several audiences (one tiny joke notwithstanding). Since the first of the year I've been writing 15 minutes a day on two long form projects that are coming along nicely in a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race sort of way. My participation in Listen To Your Mother has to underscore this point in my development, too, doesn't it? Yet finding a piece to offer to VOTY is proving to be a blog-altering experience.

I suspect things around here are going to change a bit. I don't think you'll see 10 Things Tuesday every week. I don't know that you'll see posts every day, or even the 4-5 days per week I've been managing lately. (But what if people forget about me? AUGH!) Maybe the answer is 15 minutes a day on my long form projects and 15 minutes a day on my blog-focused projects. Maybe it's one essay a week but spending the time to craft it well. Maybe I won't change a thing.

Just don't be surprised if I do.

Monday, May 06, 2013

LTYM Blog Blast: Screaming Down The Hill

UntitledYesterday was one of those days where I lamented not being independently wealthy. Our Misti's Listen To Your Mother show went off at 3pm my time. I thought of her in her bombshell dress watching all her work (and that of her team) come together. Friends posted updates and sent pictures and I know there will be more to come but if money (and time) had been no object I'd have been there. By the same token next week I would fly her here. Even if she didn't want to come (she's said she does) I would trick her onto a fancy private plane and have a car meet her at the airport and deliver her right to the show with mimosas to sip along the way.

You see, this year of Listen To Your Mother firsts is ours to share. Each should be deeply in the other's business regarding all things LTYM. Last year I confided to her that I was auditioning and I explained the whole process and when she cared enough to research my desire she found a show close to her and she auditioned, too. She got in last year and I didn't but at least one of us did, right? Encouraged by our respective region's LTYM teams I auditioned again this year and Misti threw her hat in the ring to start up an Oklahoma City show. We both won the shiny carnival prize and it's been a fantastic experience to share it even from so far away.

Mary Beth While I eagerly await more recaps and pictures from Misti's show I'll be preparing for the NYC show next Sunday (have your tickets yet?). I've been handed a second round of edits, I'm only halfway through clothing myself for the performance, and I have some courage that needs screwing to a point that sticks, if you know what I mean. I write a lot. I perform a fair amount. Reading out a personal essay, though, that's not so much my wheelhouse. Most of the time even having someone else read my essays aloud is an experience from which I find it hard to recover.

Now you'd think that, given the company I'm keeping in the NYC show, it would be even harder to share these feelings. This isn't a collection of half-assed musings carelessly chosen and tossed together. There is much to live up to here. The essay I'm reading is about my very personal choices in relation to motherhood and I'm reading it to a group made up largely of mothers on Mothers Day. You'd think it would be terrifying and, to some extent, it is but this group (both locally and nationally) is so strong, so diverse, so full of an energy I can't describe that it feels, well, not easy but easier, to be sure.

Untitled Last year when I told Misti about LTYM I could only send links and words. Now I have the opportunity, not with her unfortunately, and not with all of you but with a fair number, to share the actual sitting-in-the-room experience of Listen To Your Mother. I've heard from a few of my friends that they're coming and I'm thrilled and honored and so excited that they will bet there. I want more, though. I always want more. So, if you're on the fence or you know someone who is or if you haven't even considered it but I can twist your arm now, please buy a ticket and come take this ride. Sure, I'm scared to get on the roller coaster but as long as I've got friends screaming down that first hill with me I know I'll have a great time.

With less than a week to go until our show a bunch of people are writing about Listen To Your Mother today in a Big Blog Blast. I'll be updating as I can with links to those pieces.

First a link to the cause that NYC is supporting, Family to Family

Fellow NYC castmate, MaryBeth Coudal (2nd photo)

Another castmate,  Kim Forde (visible in 1st photo) (includes giveaway)

NYC Producer Holly Rosen Fink (with giveaway)

2012 NYC cast member, Estelle Sobel Erasmus (another giveaway)

Our director, Amy Wilson

Our co-director, Shari Simpson

An interview with cast member, Barbara Shriever Patrick

Giveaway by Onica at Mommy Factor

Giveaway by Kim Bongiorno

2012 cast member, Ilana, of Mommy Shorts is doing a brilliant photo challenge with a book giveaway and some tix to LTYM. You have to go check this out.

Another giveaway by KiwiCanadian at Mama Goes BAM

Couple more tickets up for grabs at Old School/New School Mom

*Pictures taken by me at LYTM NYC's rehearsal last week.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Poetry Prayer #14

It's funny how hard it is to find a poem when I'm trying to honor a specific event. Today Our Misti launches Listen To Your Mother in Oklahoma City. This poem is...weird maybe but it spoke to me so this is what I'm using.

Cigarettes And Whiskey And Wild, Wild Women  
by Anne Sexton
(from a song)

Perhaps I was born kneeling,
born coughing on the long winter,
born expecting the kiss of mercy,
born with a passion for quickness
and yet, as things progressed,
I learned early about the stockade
or taken out, the fume of the enema.
By two or three I learned not to kneel,
not to expect, to plant my fires underground
where none but the dolls, perfect and awful,
could be whispered to or laid down to die.

Now that I have written many words,
and let out so many loves, for so many,
and been altogether what I always was—
a woman of excess, of zeal and greed,
I find the effort useless.
Do I not look in the mirror,
these days,
and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?
Do I not feel the hunger so acutely
that I would rather die than look
into its face?
I kneel once more,
in case mercy should come
in the nick of time.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Winds of Change Do Blow

UntitledI love the Disney animated version of 101 Dalmations. I especially love the bit at the beginning showing people who look like their dogs. I think of it often as I get to know dogs in real life and boy does it hold true. Sometimes it's not the way they look, it's something deeper but the comparison always holds. I think I looked like Emily to some extent - a little off proportion here and there but an attractive, work horse design. I know that we were, temperamentally, the same. She covered up her feelings until they exploded, usually over someone who just didn't understand.

I don't think I look anything like Ed at all. He's svelte and quick and muscular. A little goofy, too, but it's not what you first notice. Our personalities, though? Well, I can't deny it. At the top of a long list we are both highly sensitive to change. While he can roll with the punches of a mutable daily schedule any larger shifts are a huge challenge. I am only beginning to understand, after an incident with a substitute dog walker and some related class work, that new people are a gigantic stressor for him. He's often really good in new situations, even with crowds and a lot of attention focused on him, but the factor that keeps his poop in a group is me. When he doesn't have my cues to read about who to accept and who to banish from his kingdom he regresses fast and, quite literally, furious.

Untitled Yesterday I found out that our beloved dog walker, Sarah, is leaving the company. She is a textile artist and, though I'm not privy to her reasons, I assume she's going to concentrate on her career in one way or another. I have it in my heart to be happy for her. I do! I want to be doing what I love, too, so it's fantastic to see that as possible. While I was out this afternoon buying a small goodbye gift for her, though, I found myself on the edge of tears. I'm going to miss her! I've only laid eyes on her maybe five times total but I'm going to miss the hell out of her. I know that this sounds a little insane and someone is probably wondering if they should warn Sarah immediately but I promise I mean no harm. She was just such a fantastic fit for me and Ed. I'd begun to think of her as a constant, even planning what to give her for Christmas, so I set myself up for this news to be a shock.

Ed exhibited his typical acting out behavior when he first met Sarah. She immediately asked what I did to help him stop reacting in those ways. She listened to what I had to say and she worked with him carefully and consistently over time until, after several weeks of getting at least one great report, this week I got three notes in a row that were extremely boring because he'd been a good boy, nothing to put on record or to ask. He likes her. He trusts her. He even listens to her. He's made huge strides with me lately as well and I'm sure that a common approach from both of his regular companions has a lot to do with that.

Tonight we're meeting the new guy, Felix. I hope I don't burst into tears and embarrass myself. I'm actually looking forward to it and I'm sure that he's a good and capable person. I've read his resume, he's got the goods, and I trust Melissa and Adam not to bring in any flakes, especially not for Ed who has given a few of their walkers (and Adam himself) a run for their money. I consulted with Rikke, our trainer, about how best to do the intro and we have a plan. I'm sure that it will all work out...eventually.

But I'm going to miss Sarah a lot and Ed will, too.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Stories

I had my camera with me so I took some pictures during our Listen To Your Mother rehearsal last night. These are just a very very few of them. The rest will be on Flickr soon. Promise. Have you bought your tickets yet?

Momma D!

You know what can make you nervous? Taking a picture of a photographer. Nivea made it easy, though.

I'm so glad I got this particular pose of Virginia's before she a. uncrossed her legs and b. made me cry too hard to keep shooting.

Holly & Varda
A conference at intermission to discuss how best to break it to us that we still have some tickets to sell. (Who knows how long they'll last, buy now!)

You know how you can tell that LPru is a pro? Sister can find her light in a blackout! Thanks for finding the pretty spot!

I'm trying not to kick myself for missing the focus here but I love the way Nicole is expressing what we all feel after we've bared our souls a bit in front of a group of (relative) strangers. How beautiful is she? And brave? I can't wait for you to hear.

Speaking of focus, when you hear Sofia's story you'll get an extra laugh over the fact that I managed to focus on her breasts here instead of her face.

It's a rare talent to be able to honestly enjoy watching a show you're directing instead of listening to your mind racing around all the things you still have to do. Fortunately Amy has that talent.

Rebecca's smile makes me happy.

Whenever I see Jaime I turn into an old lady and think, "His mother must be so proud." We'll find out on May 12th at 5pm at Symphony Space!