Sunday, August 26, 2018

Love has taken away my practices

I thought leaving an MFA program where each day was full of scheduled obligations and moving home to focus on my career would create a welcomed vacuum of time, and my days would be full of creative writing and inspiration and blogging about said inspiration. I forgot the verity of the adage:  if you want something done, ask a busy person.
For the first time in a few years, I've not been busy, and I have very successfully gotten very little done. Each week I've been home, there has been something I have wanted to do in Louisville:  free concerts, book readings, food coop meetings, farmer's markets. Somehow I have sabotaged each excursion with poor planning, momentary disinterest, distraction or as is the case is most of the time, sheer forgetfulness.
I've been going to auditions, visiting with family, doin the yogas, biking round town, scouting houses going up for auction, walking the dog and doing the bread work. Literally and figuratively...I inherited a sourdough starter from my sister-in-law and that thing is like a part-time job in and of itself!
In the more figurative sense, Gandhi preached about this concept of bread work and equality. It is a concept I'd like to model in my life (while I simultaneously dream of jobs that pay me more than I need).
I don't know that I've truly ever needed.
I mean, sure...I've been shy a few hundred bucks a few hundred times. I've had to ask for things from loved ones or request help from Uncle Sam. I've had to borrow from Peter to pay Paul. But true need?
There was a time when I needed that, I suppose. Romantically, I mean.
Many years of kissing many toads.
But now that need is more than met. Each day I spend with Jake, I love him more. You get it.
There is something to be said about an embarrassment of riches. Perhaps it's embarrassing because you know inherently the inequality of wealth plagues our humanity. Blights our hope for a more just world. And yet, we accept.
We accept our privileges and whine about our struggles. We fill insatiable yearning with stuff and food and booze and smoke and live in lack in want of more. I don't mean to project. I am responsible. I am guilty. I am trying. I say we as Americans. As artists. As tribe members of the New World (Dis)Order.
Though there's nothing new about disparity.
Isn't it funny I've know the word disparity since grade school, but only just learned parity in recent years? Or perhaps I'd heard it for longer, but only just realized the root connection in recent years.
I always thought disparity and despair were more closely related. And it can still feel that way sometimes.
But opposites are often just two sides of the same coin, yeah? Now isn't that hard to swallow? Something as, as precarious as a coin toss decided the fate of whether you are born in light skin or dark, in a male body or female, to parents with money or not, etc, etc, etc.
What if there were a way to forgo any excess if you could be assured no other human being would experience lack? Yeah, yeah, communism in theory...but I'm not talkin politics. Morés not laws. Standards not policies. Action not direction.
What if?
I'm gonna keep imagining it.
Meanwhile, time to make the sourdough.

Walking the moonlit walk or la poursuite de la légèreté

This full moon has me reeling. I recently got a phone upgrade and joined Instagram, and no surprise, I can't figure the shit out. I never had Snap Chat, but clearly Instagram's trying to emulate it with the temporary story stuff, and then I got the Facebook app for the first time, and it's clearly trying to be more like Instagram.
Correct me if I'm wrong here.
You know what, nevermind.
I don't really care.
It's not that I'm against being held accountable. I just signed up for a 5 week Bowspring yoga series that's gonna kick my ass in gear; hold me accountable in ways I desperately need for my body. And I'm happy to say that collaborations with a talented screenwriter are on the horizon, so perhaps I can cultivate a local community that will hold me responsible as a writer. Also, I've come across a new suggestion for writing that I believe will be good daily practice (thanks Jill Solloway...all hail!).
And it's not that I'm against social media.
Instagram actually saved the life of a loved one yesterday.
No thanks to me...but a life was saved, nonetheless.
So it's serving a purpose. Or many purposes. Some of which I can get behind.
Watery pisces has me on the hunt once again for buoyancy. For levity in what feels like a downpour. Or a breath during waterboarding.
I came across this reading which brought me some hope:
“Pisces is the ultimate healer, the ruler of our subconscious where our stored memories, habits and beliefs live. During this Full Moon we will awaken what has been laying underneath the fear, what has been keeping us stuck and allow our inner shaman to heal us. This is a time to call back our soul from places where it has been forgotten and to return back to our wholeness.” -Nicole O'Byrne 
Truthfully tho, traditional astrology is less appealing to me than the social contracts and markers of the passing of time. Our relationship to the shifting seasons and our progression from moon to moon, or month to month. The waves and ebb and flow of synchronicity and direction and grace. Ya know, how we move through time relative to one another (rather than the alignment of the planets and constellations).
The August moon was called many things by different cultures. For early Americans, it was the Dog Day's Moon. My broken heart (from said near-loss-experience of a dear one and their cry for help on Instagram) was soothed last night by taking Prince to the dog park. It helped that my amazing husband finds beauty wherever he roams, and by the end of the stroll, I had a bouquet of nature's treasures: reminding me of our vows to build this life together in that very park 5 years ago this November and filling me with gratitude.
Our flaneusing thru Cherokee Park prompted me to research what the August full moon was for this native tribe who once nurtured this section of the world:  The Fruit Moon. A serendipitous reminder to hunt for pawpaws soon. It's a tragedy that I only learned about this indigenous fruit in recent years, as I'm 7th generation Kentuckian. It makes ya wonder just what gets passed along and why. Every other white person in the Southeast region inappropriately claims Cherokee heritage...and yet we know so little of it. I'm guilty of it myself, and recently discovered my only verified Cherokee ancestor was actually a slave to the tribe and likely of African decent.
Another tribe, the Choctaw, called it the Women's Moon. Wouldn't hurt us all to embrace a little more feminine these days. The devastating and traumatic personal events of a life nearly lost were (in my best estimate) the result of toxic masculinity and substance abuse. Our society forces men into a corner with their choices for processing with emotion. Hence the substance abuse. Hence the repression. Hence the violent tendencies. Crying is necessary. Emoting is human. Let this watery moon break the damn and let them flow.
For the Chinese, the August moon the Harvest Moon, and for the Dakota Sioux, the Moon When All Things Ripen. You reap what you sow is inarguably true (maybe even with a capital T), but how much has been sown on a cellular, subconscious, generational level? How much of our crop was inherited? Our free will seems to come with a caveat: disparity. Perhaps that's where the ego can gain disproportionate strength? Because we're forced to live in and inequitable world, a part of our brains cannot fathom equality? The Instagram incident was like a horrific, R-rated version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Sadly, a harvest that is a wake-up call to just how destructive and harmful repeated actions and words can be for credibility.
And for the Celtic peoples this was called the Dispute Moon. Which seems most fitting for the events that played out in my circle these past 38 hours or so. Dispute,  from dis-‘apart’ + putare ‘reckon.’ A reckoning of the highest order. A sharp, rocky bottom, from which we all hope to rise. 
Each culture had their reasoning behind their moon nomenclature, but I find them all helpful and relevant. On the calendar I follow, we are in a time of questioning, fearlessness and intelligence. Not intellect. There's an important distinction between the two. Intelligence represents deeper understanding on a subconscious level. We are also in a year that is the conclusion of a 13 year cycle about purity, flow and Universal Water.
May we all continue to seek healthier, cleaner more buoyant bodies and minds by continuing to question our world views with fearlessness and digging deep to reveal our own intelligence.
Walk in the moonlight.
Hug your loved ones tight.
Be there for each other.
And never, ever give up.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


My husband is the best at uncling. He's a professional. He's been doing it a lot longer than I've been aunting. I know I drive him crazy sometimes. As the oldest of 4, I can be a bit...directive. Luckily he's the youngest of 3 and is patient and accepting.
Most of the time.
I know I can be a...lot. Energetically. I also know I'm a real lucky lady.
He's been helping me balance some intense excitement and insecurities lately.
They pushed back the notification date for the episodic lab at The Orchard Project, where my pilot is being considered. And I feel a bit like I'm being tortured. It would be such an incredible experience, and I've got nothing definite on the horizon to look forward to.
It's exciting and terrifying to be back in pursuit of work again. This field is fickle and fierce and the work fleeting. I remember the relentless rejection and my reasons for the hiatus pre-grad school, but I feel very hopeful and motivated to work and confident in the opportunities to come.
In one way or another.
I've been babysitting again. And still on the fence about makin my own.
Jake (the husband) is the best at practicing non-attachment.
I am...learning.
The only thing I want or can think about is getting this writing opportunity. It is so close, I can taste it. I may just enter another competition if this one doesn't come through. I actually had an acquaintance win the Comedy Series screenwriting competition for the ITVFest. A friend on the Facebooks who seems like just the kindred spirit I'll need to reach out to when I get the news either way. Inspired to enter this contest if I'm an Orchard reject, anyway, so it was a comforting consolation to come across her blog today.
That's what we do.
Relentless action against rejection.
Feels Sisyphean. Like the battle to be waste free in the presence of those who are not concerned. Or eat well in the presence of those who make different decisions.
But Sisyphus was happy, no?
That's how it ends.
You live and then ya die. You try until ya don't.
So I guess a Masters of Fine Art has made me a professional waiter. No, not like a restaurant server. (Though you never know what kind of side gig I'll get.) Like one who waits. Professionally. Perpetually. It's hard for folks to accept this as a profession. My grandma and sisters and parents ask after every audition, "So, when will you hear?"
That is a great question.
The answer is always maybe soon and probably never so hopefully they'll outgrow the constant inquiry.
Luckily, my husband is not one of those folks. He believes in me, but remains unattached to any ideal life or high hope I have in mind. I've been to yoga nearly everyday for 2 weeks, mindfully breathing deep and moving my body, and practicing contentment, but he just has it. He strives to do his best, and he's cool with just that.
But I want to do better.
I know it can be exhausting. I can be exhausting. But if I want to sleep at night, I have to do the very best I can. Which is a moving target.
Because I believe it should be.
But knowing when to let go? To just be instead of do? I have trouble. I get that it's important. It's why I need to practice yoga. It's far less about the action than it is about the inaction of the practice.
Walking with our 2 year-old niece today in the park was so sweet. I found contentment easy then, but now as she naps and we TCB online, the ol' ache is back.
The fantasizing. The chase. The hunt. The waiting.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Free fallin or the luck o the Irish or Happy Belated Mother's Day

My mom has a song for any occasion. I, too, think in lyrics sometimes. Or worse, misheard lyrics. We're both pretty bad about that. Like they say, I am my mother's daughter. And by they, I mean my mom.
She's a dreamy one, Ag. My sisters and I are fond of calling her by this truncated first name familiar because she's the cool mom. She was the one who bought you the real makeup kit you wanted when you were 4 or took you to get your belly button pierced your 8th grade summer. She was young and fun. Most friends coming over growing up genuinely liked her and thought she was a hoot. Even if she wasn't always the most...responsible?
Yeah, I can easily say she was never the most organized (yet again, another trait I get honestly). She's as scattered as her daughter's blogs. We attempt to reign her in from her farflung theories or pontifications or hypotheses, but she sometimes makes a hell of a good point. She's rarely on time, but knows how to have a good time when she finally arrives, and she's always good for a laugh.
Well, maybe not always. The sharp shards of grandma's heart made for some sensitive edges in her daughters. Rough edges that don't attempt to be anything but.
Because my grandma lost her mom so early, the adult mother-daughter relationship is uncharted territory for her, and often a little strained because of this mapless maternal line. My mom, in turn, slips up sometimes and behaves badly towards my siblings and me. Not that we don't turn around and do it right back to her, but it's a cycle we're working on breaking.
And we had a breakthrough on Mother's Day. I was doubly grateful this year. Not only did my mom give me life. She showed me this weekend she's willing to put in the work to break a negative, self-fulfilling cycle of anger, even when provoked by yours truly at my worst. I know it's corny, but she inspired me.
There are things at work in each of us. Patterns. Cellular memories and proliferation so complex and ancient we can't even begin to understand. Momentum of our ancestors that we either get swept up in like a snowball rolling down hill or that we harness and rechannel like an irrigation system. To cultivate our own goodness. Or at least better.
Come on guys, like the FLOTUS so eloquently encourages: BE BEST.
But we get this beautiful opportunity of choice every single day we wake up.
Or do we?
I woke up absolutely shaken this morning by the nightmare I had last night. It was so bad that in my dream I actually thought "I don't want to go to sleep because I'm probably going to have nightmares about this." I wish I were evolved enough to lucid dream, but I'm a deep dreamer. All up in layers that leave me with a morning contemplation that's like deciphering another language.
I like trying to dig in, though. They're great teachers, dreams.
This is quite possibly the worst dream I've ever had. And I'm going to share it here so I guess I really am an exhibitionist.
Kind of a dirty word.
But essentially what I think the dream was about so it's fitting.
I was at some big festival somewhere, though I feel like there were Russian undertones or accents or names, I don't know exactly what kind of festival it was. Sort of like the air of a music festival without the music? Not important. I had an intimate moment with this man (which was not something I felt immediately able to confess to my husband or mother-in-law this morning for obvious reasons in my first confession of this bizarre subconscious emission) and I was immediately ashamed and broken hearted about the breach of my marriage. The mystery man was then murdered in my presence (which was almost a relief because of my shame and fear of Jake discovering this horrible infidelity). but then I was an unwittingaccomplice so in order to cover my tracks, I had to chop up (with a large meat clever) and eat the body.
I know.
I must be really effed up, y'all.
Or my subconscious has as dramatic a flare as my conscious self?
Whatever. I'm a freak, clearly.
It was terrible. I was choking it down. And it had a distinct flavor of those cheese filled hotdogs.
The. Worst. Nightmare. Ever.
I think it was about Acting.
You know, the craft I just spent 3 years studying and "mastering."
Basically the guy represents my egoic exhibitionism with which I've been so intimately acquainted these last few years (and maybe my hubs represented my equally true selfless, seeking, righteous self), and now the chancy career path that is theatrical acting is being "murdered" by my search for a day job that won't suck my soul or impede my progress, and I'm having to eat my shit (so to speak) and accept a low-hourly-wage gig or submit myself to the misery of serving tables in my late 30's. Or teach.
My mom keeps saying I'm free falling. And yes, she then sings Tom Petty.
And I am a bit.
Don't know where the next paycheck'll come from.
Enrolled for Union health/dental insurance today...completely uncertain if I'll book another Equity acting gig in time to keep the coverage past 6 months, but damn grateful to get it for a short spell.
But last Thursday I found 3 four-leaf clovers, and I looked at my phone at 11:11 last night, this morning and tonight, so clearly I'm gonna be fine.
The luck of the Irish.
On the Media this week had a powerful take (which, as it turns out was a rerun broadcast of the series BUSTED) on the myth of social mobility in America. It talks about the same wheels we spin in generational karma and just how big a role luck has to play in our class or social standing. (SPOILER ALERT: it's a bigger role than hard work). In other words it's random, but is given rough shape by our collective history and implicit biases. Clearly, it's the biggest culprit for the issues and inequities around race in our country.
I know it's a trite and ridiculous thing to bring up, but I only just learned about the Irish being enslaved during the early trans-Atlantic slave trade while writing a paper in grad school. I admit for a moment it felt...I don't know...redeeming to be a descendant of oppressed people. Seemed about right. I've never had 2 pennies to rub together, but I feel like I've been working nonstop since I turned 16. Often more than one job at a time. The myth of meritocracy, as it's called, erodes our faith in free will. But also takes some of the pressure off.
Anyway, since I learned about it, I've also learned how inappropriate and misguided any comparison being descended of Irish slaves to the African American experience is. White privilege is luck. Inheritance. My mom works in one of the poorest and poorest performing schools in Louisville, and tonight she lamented, "I just don't understand how the black communities are so disenfranchised." Not 20 minutes later, she was discussing how the possible sale of her inherited land might enable her to buy a new car (which she does definitely need).
Don't worry, I pointed out the overlooked but obvious comparison. And she gets it. She also reads my Happy Belated Mother's Day! You're the best mom I've ever had!!! We're in this together.
I find out by the end of the week if I get to work on my pilot in an episodic writing lab with mentors that could easily shift the course of my life. It might even just increase my social mobility and allow me to make more than poverty-level income for the first time in my adult life. Sometimes I catch myself holding my breath thinking about it. I've worked hard on it, and it's work I'm proud of no matter what happens. I feel pretty privileged to even be considered in the finalist round of candidates. Probably shouldn't have my hopes up as high as they are.
But I feel lucky.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Magnetic Human

I love a good theme.
Perhaps it was an early love of Sesame Street? Tho I don't remember actually watching the show much when I was a kid, 3 of my favorite books involved the characters--of course there's the classic Grover masterpiece, There's a Monster at the End of This Book, and his other perhaps lesser known gem Grover's New Kitten. The latter made me aware of the name Ginger, which I'm still forgiving my mom for not naming my first little sister. The third is a vague memory of a large hardcover that had an actual recipe for cookies with Cookie Monster. I guess it was my first recipe book?
Perhaps this love of theme explains my passion for cooking, too? You know, recipes, regions, ingredients, cravings...there tends to be a rudder (often guiding an undercurrent from behind, since I rarely actually follow a recipe--I let it follow me) that keeps a certain order or container to the endeavor. 
I crave order on the outside because it's often an elusive quality on the inside.
But not too much order.
When I used to teach yoga, I would attempt to craft my classes around a theme. Usually one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga (even though I'd studied the style of Iyengar more…which for those unfamiliar is essentially of different branch of the yoga tree even tho the creators had the same teacher). It was an easy way to weave in storytelling or what teachers of the Buddhist tradition call Dharma into my classes, and it kept me on task. Mostly.
Clearly I've never felt strictly beholden to theme. It's hard for a central idea to lord over a mind quite as unruly as my own. But I like a good one, nonetheless.
In 2012, I began to follow a derivative of the Mayan spiritual calendar.
Done rolling your eyes?
Yeah, I know. I get it. 
Before you get up-in-arms about cultural appropriation, it was created by a half-Hispanic New Age peace-lovin, EarthDay-creating hippie in the early 80's as a calendar that is PAN-cultural but incorporates a wisdom of the Maya…and he had the blessing of the surviving modern-day Mayan elders to proliferate this notion to the world. The brass tax is essentially this:  everything we see is light waves, everything we hear is sound waves, how we interpret these sensory perceptions is through brain waves, and we're held here on the planet by gravitational waves, so why not honor time as a wave? Time is measure and movement. The Maya took the numerology of our bodies: 20 (measure represented by our digits) and 13 (movement represented by our main moveable joints) and multiplied them to create a 260 day cycle (roughly our gestation and seed to stalk for corn, their and arguably our main sustenance), that they then imbued with oh-so-familiar archetypes. 
Archetypes that woulda made ol' appropriator Jung proud.
Some people are incredibly averse to this notion. Well, not my close-close people. But definitely some of my used-to-be-close people. And no, it's not because of this calendar we've fallen out of touch. Time and distance, unmeasured and impossible to track, did that.
The idea the creator, José Argüelles, had was that perhaps this unnatural, arrhythmic Gregorian count we're all blindly following is part of what's broken us out of the circle, or cycle, of nature and perpetually sets us up as a warring faction against nature and consequently ourselves. Maybe if we could just wrap our head around a new way of interpreting time, we could convince our bodies to do better things whilst we move through it??
I think it's noble, idealistic and inspiring, but...
But nothing.
I follow it. And it helps me process things. All the archetypes hold incredible value and simultaneously cast dark shadows. The shadows are embraced as fact, not sugar-coated or brushed under the rug. Just accepted.
The whole thing is a veritable rabbit hole of fun and fancy. And acceptance and forgiveness, the Mount Everests of human aspirations. 
I've struggled this week with acceptance and forgiveness on numerous levels.
First of all, I got a terrible haircut. I'm working on a film that relied on the continuity of my haircut from October, so I brought footage of the film to the salon (which I had researched and found from Google's suggestion of "best salon in Knoxville"), and the stylist went to work. Then referencing the video 5 minutes into the cut says "You know, I cut the sides too short…it is a little longer here."
I think I responded with something like "well, don't say that!" As if that could somehow bring back the hair she'd mistakenly chopped off.
I left angry, and I kind of get angry every time I look in the mirror. 
I still tipped her.
And so I get angry about that in retrospect.
Guys. I've been meditating twice a day for 20 min each for 3 solid weeks, and I still get angry about a quasi-bad haircut and my tipping the stylist last week. How ridiculous am I?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the music video that broke the internet this week haunts me. I can't accept the world we live in. I can't forgive my ancestors or myself for the ignorance and inequity that plagues us. Because the past nips at the heels of the present. Each time we humans rise up in wisdom and knowledge, there's a roller coaster plunge into darkness and confusion. There is the rhetoric that keeps us divided, but there is also denial intrinsic in the suggestion we're all the same. A denial afforded solely to the majority. Privilege does not inherently promote responsibility; that's something we have to teach our children. Teach ourselves. Where am I called to help? To speak truth to power? Where am I called to just listen and observe without comment? How do we accept and forgive one another? How do we accept and forgive ourselves?
On a personal level, I have had trouble accepting and forgiving a cohort. This particular cohort blew up the sanctity of our ensemble in a dramatic, self-serving display of deceit and manipulation last year, and somehow (self-preservation is real, folks) has created a reality for themselves in which they are the victim. (Using the genderless pronoun here to attempt anonymity...tho part of the egregious offenses of said cohort would hold up in court as libel and slander against another so they barely afforded themselves the courtesy.) Luckily there are eight of us, and the solidarity of the seven who were pawns in this cohort's mind games has kept us all sane and relatively happy working together. But this particular cohort garners a lot of positive attention from the University and department, and of course strangers ignorant of their volatile potential. And a witless partner of whom they spoke poorly and will likely hurt.
I hate even bringing it up on this public forum because to even do such a thing says more about my deficiencies than h...theirs. But my point is about my own ineptitudes so I hope that point is not lost. I cannot accept that they'll glide through life manipulating and lying and hurting people and still be viewed as the charismatic lovable character they portray to the world. I didn't think I could forgive.
I thought I had at times, but the forced proximity and professionalism have made catharsis and forgiveness a long, slow windy road.
Speaking of roads, yesterday a lovely young lady I know shared this meme on Facebook:
Of course, I hastily commented about drivers' ignorance and cyclists' rights and how I thought this jackrabbit's joke was in poor taste having woken up in an ambulance after being hit by a motorist from behind, and I prefaced with "I know you're young..." 
I realize now that maybe in the context that could've been patronizing, but as a 36 year-old woman, it's hard to think of young as anything but a compliment. I meant it more as an acquiescence.
>>I feel it necessary to interject here that the woman who hit me 4 years ago was on her phone and veered off the road to hit me on a wide shoulder of a busy road. I also have forgiven said woman because she was out of town, it was her 59th birthday, she was on her GPS and I'm sure she felt awful--though she never told me so herself.<<
The friend and I had a really productive and forgiving conversation after we both got over being butthurt, and I think we both felt good afterwards. It was a tiny little micro-victory in acceptance and forgiveness yesterday.
So I guess there's hope.
Afterall, to err is human; to forgive, Divine. -Alexander Pope
The theme of the next 13 days (appropriately called a wavespell) on my weird, wild calendar is imbued with the archetype of "Yellow Human." 
Yeah, I know this means little to you, but I'll share some of the propaganda that brings so much solace and purpose into my life. About the Human archetype (or "tribe" as it's called in the calendar):
We influence each other by modeling our values. All we think,
say, do, create, choose and feel impacts those around us, and
contributes to the Collective Human Consciousness, which we
are in turn affected by subtly and overtly. All that we consider
acceptable or normal merely reflects the precedents we have set
for each other. The behaviors and attitudes we've inherited from
our families and friends are for us to either perpetuate, or to 
change and evolve. By design, we humans have a shared 
vulnerability, yet we evoke invincibility when we connect with
each other and tho the Spirit which animates our humanity.
As we see the many faces of the One Humanity, may we
humbly honor diversity. 
-Eden Sky
Tomorrow (as every 2nd day or Lunar day in a wavespell) is the challenge to Yellow Human. Challenge to strengthen. It also happens to be the signature of the day I was born, making me a Red Lunar Skywalker. 
Now it makes all the sense, right?
Nah? I know. It's like a different language. 
It's what's called my Galactic Birthday. It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to.
Probably won't tho. And if I did, it'd be from happiness. I'm working on a film that I actually get to act in and have a fun evening planned with friends and authentic Haitian food.
Skywalker for the Maya represented the cornstalk or the maize goddess. Argüelles thought this represented a prophet or connection between heaven and earth. So listen up!! 
Or don't.
Trying to avoid plastic was making me crazy so I cooled my jets at the grocery store. From saline solution to bags of apples and potatoes or loaves of bread, I've moved it to the unavoidable column for now. I even used a plastic fork at lunch on set yesterday. In my defense it was not a plastic fork from catering, but one I've used and carried in my back-pack for about a month. I threw it away when I was finished because I was mindlessly chatting and following suit. But I did challenge 20 people to give up straws for a month. Not sure if anyone's truly taken up the challenge. And I even forgot to say no straw at a restaurant the other day (though now I'm happy to report I remember more often than not). It is certainly a losing battle to fight alone. 
Who really knows the best way to challenge folks? I watched the film Whiplash last night, which left me reeling, pondering that exact question. I don't think I want to end up abusive and an asshole about ecology and sustainability, but the film explores how effective a tough-love pedagogy has the potential to be. Of course, this efficacy comes at a cost. It's not really my style to demoralize and berate folks, but we'll see how I feel in a decade if we're still spinning our wheels.
Apparently the last show done at the Clarence Brown during my time here, Urinetown, did not do well at the box office. One reason might have been because even though actors had gone on television to promote it, they were not able to say the title because it was vulgar. 
Urine is vulgar, but plastic is a non-issue.
Humans. We may have inherited some ass-backward priorities, but I'm ready to change and evolve. Who's comin with me?
I leave you with some entertainment...our fight song, if you will:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Conscious incompetence

My grandmother compulsively rearranges furniture. Her mother died at twelve of tuberculosis, and she moved around a lot until she fell in love and started a family with a compulsive drinker and storyteller. Boy could my grandpa play a fiddle and spin a yarn! He was an entertaining old fool. His tales were not always the good kind, though. His stories included lies that eventually broke my grandma’s heart into sharp fragments.
I hear in my mind all of these voices.
I hear in my mind all of these words.
I hear in my mind all of this music, and it breaks my heart. 
It breaks my heart.
–Regina Spektor
 I’ve been practicing music more lately because I gave up our AT&T internet for the last month I’m in Knoxville. To save a little money. Find some peace of mind. I inherited an enormous peace lily from a graduating third-year cohort at the end of my first year of school, and she’s become dear to me like a pet.
Once I understood that fostering indoor plants has enormous health benefits, I’ve always longed to have great indoor plants. I never came to keep them because I’ve moved around so much and have killed a criminal amount of aloe. Undoubtedly I’d get smothery and over-water the damned things (and I don’t say damned lightly…they were clearly in-for-it the day I earnestly bought them at some such chain store or farmer’s market or coop), or I’d clumsily burn myself multiple times and overuse the poor sucker(ulent) within months. Was their doomed destiny preventable? Maybe. But they were sacrifices in my education in negative symbiosis…something humans are kind of the worst for being best at.
I think my subconscious is aware of aloe…like the year I had AAA and locked my keys in my car a record number of times. I can’t remember exactly how many, and for a moment I was going to lie to you. I have a bad habit of embellishing, and I even caught myself senselessly, somewhat compulsively lying twice this past month. (Don’t worry, you can still trust me…it was to my sister and my husband, and I later confessed the fibs to both of them…neither of them believed me anyway so the good news is I’m not good at lying to manipulate, but it made me wonder “how much does my subconscious lie for me to preserve other people’s feelings? Or to weave a story… to make a tale more compelling or interesting?”) Umpteenth would have probably been an exaggeration about how many aloes have died at my hands because I doubt it was so bad to have reached teen proportions, but anything is possible.
 I believe.
 I think my subconscious is also aware of peace. The lily (named LilyBell by the cohort’s sweet daughter) has been such company for me these last two years, and she, too, is thriving. In cold months she lives directly next to my alter in my studio where I meditate and write. She has 5 beautiful blooms harkening (heralding?) the variant Spring warmth, and she’ll be ready to move to the front porch this weekend.
Said grandmother has the greenest thumb in all the land. She loves her roses and her dahlias and lilies and other various flowers and the occasional vegetable. Things that need her. Are dependent on her love and attention to live. It’s important to feel needed. 
But not too needed, don’tcha think?
I’m on the cusp of starting a family, and honestly I’m a little scared to be so needed. I think this fear made the first years of marriage extremely hard for me.
A friend of mine I may have leaned on a little too hard during those years wrote a song about urging a friend (who shall remain nameless) to make big decisions based on guts not fear.
And it shook me a bit. That advice (combined with my patient husband’s reminders throughout the years and days) continues to alert me how often I let fear call the shots in my life. Many of us are guilty of it. And somehow I do think women are more susceptible. Worry is the curse of a mother, I've been told. Perhaps men just repress it more due to gender norms?
I sometimes crave surrender in inappropriate ways.
Sometimes I look to people I have deemed “successful” for too much guidance. Too much support. And it gets too heavy, and they prudently distance themselves from me. My siblings look up to me because I’m the tallest, not because I’m the smartest or oldest. Because I’m probably not the smartest, and age is certainly relative. My brother is obviously more responsible and has dealt with far more adversity than I could ever truly imagine. One sister’s clearly an old soul who surpasses my own with lifetimes of wisdom, and the baby has a baby so clearly she’s matured past me in many ways I can’t even yet understand.
Today was my last singing lesson of graduate school, and I still have so much to work on. 3 years of repeating the same practices, identifying habits, attempting to inhibit them to make way for better ones. It was nice. I felt good about my progress, but I felt even better about my potential. Especially when I'll be living closer to my very own uber-talented mother-in-law is seriously the best, y'all. 
I had the craziest dream last night. Probably my subconscious reaction to the conclusion of singing lessons and the fear and stress of graduating, but it was a classic "actor nightmare." I was in a musical, but I didn't know my lines or the music or the cat was in the audience because I'd unwittingly brought him to the theater. I didn't have makeup nor a costume. And the audience was huge. And fancy. Like black tie gala motha fuckas.
Conscious incompetence is a very important step along the path to mastery. The precursor to competence. You just have mix in the right amount of practice and belief. 
That's the step I'm still on with the avoiding plastic, too, by the way. I thought, "oh, I'll be conscientious and stop buying plastic." Have you ever tried it? Please let me know if you have any tips about saline solution and dishsoap. 
I accepted a lifestyle challenge 11 days ago and have abstained from sugar and alcohol and most caffeine (which I think I’ve weened myself off slowly enough to give up without much thought this week). I’ve also meditated for 20 minutes twice a day (save one day where I only meditated once) and incorporated writing morning pages and drinking lemon/or ACV infused water 1st thing when I wake up. With the daily practice, and the fact that I am passed on to the next round for The Orchard Project Episodic Lab, I'm finally starting to believe I'm a writer. If I am accepted I'll spend 2 weeks in Saratoga, NY, this summer polishing up my pilot with some incredible writers (including one of my favorite living playwrights, Theresa Rebeck!!!!). 
The one day I was prevented from this morning routine and deprived some sleep, I crumpled into a crying mess. It was an audition day and I had a lot of emotions swirling, and we were dog/cat sitting and I got horrible sleep. It was strange though…as I was unraveling that day, I held in my mind the mantra that has taken over my meditations as of late:
I believe.
It buoyed me because I believed that the difficulty and overwhelm and fatigue would pass. I believed that no matter the outcome of said audition, I was still perfectly safe and protected and provided for.
I would say the majority of my circles are adamant (fervent even) Christians. I am a huge fan of Christ, but I don’t often like to proclaim myself Christian. I believe in many things at the same time. I am not fundamentally Christian. I am human. And flawed. And I surrender to a higher power of good orderly direction. And I recognize the manipulations and lies the Christian faith propagates because of tradition or patriarchy or greed. I praise the Lord, but I don’t pretend to understand what that Lord encompasses. Govinda Jaya Jaya. I think the "Lord" is beyond all comprehension…which I think Jesus said, but Muhammad probably did, too.
An old born-again friend of mine immediately associated her belief of God with my mantra. She’s been challenged with some health issues and her surrender is rightfully in His hands, she says...with a capital H.
I believe in the power of Mother Earth. I believe in my own power to change. I believe in love (and Cher’s life after it). I believe in the healing power of humor. I believe in creation. I believe in peace.

I believe in bravery in the face of fear. And I believe I’m finding it.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

slow down jo

Anybody ever tell you that you move too fast?
Anybody ever tell you how to make a good thing last?
'Cause it ain't like that. 
-Monsters of Folk
Now that I've established a few priorities with you guys (my blog audience...blodience?), we can really get down to it. Accountability. But...
No buts.
We're doin this.
I mean, you're here. So we're doin this.
Ahhh, shit.
Don't freak out.
We can go slow.
I practice slowing down time.
Mainly by riding my bike. It's pretty gray and rainy today and I had to come to the library to get some things done online. I canceled my AT&T home wifi service slightly earlier than my departure date with purpose. I often waste less time on the internet if I have a limited amount of time to get things accomplished, and I sleep better not having tv to watch with the Roku or interactions with screens before bedtime. 
There can also be a loneliness to quietude, but it's not a loneliness I fear.
It's a din that drowns out the song I'm trying to hum. The story I'm trying to tell.

Anyway, I biked here even though it was far more appealing to drive.
Especially since I'm getting over a nasty cold and I went out drinking with my cohorts last night as we finished up some data entry/organization for our digital showcase we're launching tomorrow. But I forced myself to gather the poncho and appropriate gear, and it felt so good. It always does. And daily it makes me mourn the society we could cultivate but don't.

I've been somewhat successful at creating some new habits, and I have to say starting the day with writing and meditating and [more often than not] making my bed has been lovely and helpful, but my relationship with time is bigger and more complex than a few good days. Or even a few bad ones for that matter. I say somewhat successful because there was travel and a wedding and cohabitation with a large group of people last weekend, and I have not yet mastered taking these habits with me on the go.
They're my home habits. But I'm looking to change that.
I want you to hold me accountable, but who are you?
And why in the hell would that be your job?
I gotta do this myself.
And that can be overwhelming. 
Having my own back was sort of the theme of my thesis project, and a "lifestyle challenge" I'm taking on for the next 30 days. I am abstaining from sugar and adding an evening mediation to my daily habits. 
I have not successfully avoided plastic altogether as I'd hoped, and I admittedly got a little depressed about the futility of my paltry attempt at avoiding it when yesterday, I not only forgot to say "no straw" at the restaurant, someone at my table requested a straw. If I weren't sick, I would've insisted he take mine, but I am so...and earlier in the day I used plasticware when it was offered because I was unprepared and happy to accept free food and didn't want to be that person eating with my hands. And I witnessed someone unnecessarily use extra plasticware. 
It seemed a glaring reminder that not only am I not living the way I feel it is important to live (in this case using less plastic), I am having little to no affect on the people with whom I'm closest on their decisions around this topic.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 
I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.
This is the interrelated structure of reality.
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The "lifestyle challenge," is part of a network marketing brand, and I hate that I have such strong reticence in joining these campaigns, but I do. They inspire folks to spread healthy habits, require the planting and regard for many plants, and aspire to create wealth among networks through sharing eco-friendly products.
And yet, I can't dive in. Join the club. Get others to join the club.
This was one of our favorite games to play as kids. Giving each other roles ("You're treasurer." "But I wanna be President, I'm always treasurer!"), pretending to have influence or control. I watch modern politics and realize it's the same with these grown-ass men in their red ties and their blue suits. Pretense. 
Of control and/or influence.
We all know commerce is king.
And so I guess the hard thing to swallow about these network marketing companies is just that. I don't need more things to buy. I need less. It doesn't matter that their products are often the ones I wouldn't mind having, that they may be healthy or enhance my life...they still seem beyond my most basic needs and therefor a bit of a...well, a sell. 
And I'm in the process of distilling exactly what it is I have to sell here.
So you'll buy it.
(Not the blodience you, the figurative you.)
I think after three years of growth, I'm ready to sell myself as an actress. So I'm trying not to get distracted by the side-hustle of "easy money" networking, but if I were, you could click here to buy some Norwex or Doterra or Rodan and Fields products.
I happen to think these companies are doing great things for women in business, and the history of this type of commerce is rife with badass women like Madam C.J. Walker, so I am far from knocking them. I recently had a heart-to-heart with my sister about why these companies seem so annoying at times, and I think it has to do with blurred lines between personal connection and professional ambition, but if you can mix it up just right in a network marketing cocktail that tastes good to you, I say DO IT! And I might be in your downline once I have 2 pennies to rub together, but until then, I'm gonna work at making my living at what I've invested the most in...and for now it's this acting schtick.
And writing. My reach? My aim? My message? Buy less, not more. And don't forget to say "no straw, please."