As I find myself at a pausing point in the play I'm working on after this glorious summer of writing, developing, researching, exploring and rewriting rewriting rewriting, I think back to my last solo-written full-length play How to Hide Your Monster and what I was thinking about around this time in 2015. At the end of that summer, I similarly found myself unsure of my next steps, knowing I'd gotten as far as I could go before getting outside feedback.
I think about crystalizing my voice.
I think about cracking the earth, opening it with care.
I think about the job of an actor.
How much it teaches me as a writer
to watch what a person can do onstage,
fully present in each moment.
I fall down watching.
Writing used to be what I did to get the desperation out.
I had to put my story into words.
Now the next step: getting that story out to the world.
I've done it step by step,
getting the fiction out in pieces through plays, stories, essays and poems.
Now with this play I'm trying to get up the courage
to speak with more specificity and openness
about who I am and where I've been in person, onstage,
outside the veil of fiction.
Fiction can tell the truth in magical ways.
More powerful is its ability to get me to accept where I've been
and to name it out loud.
To learn from my mistakes and to see my failures.
Enduring humiliation and failure is important for everyone.
What we do with that is important.
If we didn't accept our failures and successes, we wouldn't learn.
Terrible mistakes get made and they should be acknowledged.
There is a big difference between "I failed" and "I am a failure."
Celebrate those failures.
Those are my teachers.
They are for me.
Successes are for the audience.
I watch my breath, my frame.
I think worldwide of
people hungry in the mud
faces in cages
families capsizing in escape.
When I was young,
hearing my first tragic events,
my response was massive guilt and shame.
I had it okay while lives cracked apart across the world,
in my neighborhood.
And then I hurt myself.
And got addicted to hurting myself.
Now, here, globally, in this country,
cruelty happens daily.
I am healthy. I have enough. More than enough.
I want to help.
Instead of saying,
they suffer so I must suffer,
I want to say
I am at peace, how can they be at peace?
Instead of my limbs paralyzed,
instead of acting against myself,
I can reach out and take care of me
and thereby reach out stronger.
I don't have a lot.
I have enough.
I can be here for you.
I can sit in the same room as you.
I can listen to your story.
Open up the world for you.
Help you tell your story.
Get people to listen. Or try.
Bring communities together. Try.
I sometimes feel so young.
I doubled my gray hair the last ten weeks.
Still breathe, still be.
Open. Continue to open.
I wrote myself out of abuse,
out of disorder,
out of homelessness,
out of numbness.
in every moment
because we say so.
We create meaning
That's where I find beauty, elegance.
Simplicity is my way to wholeness.
I am already whole.
I feel my back pulse.
neurons can rewire
brain chemistry can shift
said I was hardwired
to need antipsychotics forever,
that I would never be stable not really.
I learn daily my neurons' plasticity.
All thanks to repetition.
Yes I get tempted to work longer
to stay deeper in screens
but that doesn't help me.
I'm learning to stop sooner.
take time to breathe
a ringing bell
resist the urge to control
hear the music of stillness
I'm captured by cremated energy.
keep it small
your day will thank you
I know you're addicted
will thank you
I invest in the edge between brutality and beauty.
I write until I run out of ink.
I work until I run out of life.
I want to perform confidence.
It's no longer a luxury.
It is what I need in order to do the job I must do.
I need to pull in the authority and believe I know what I'm doing.
Say what is on my mind. Listen. Let that be enough.
I give away my time a lot
to help others with little things
because I feel I should.
This is a distraction.
I need to hold each activity in my palms and sit with it.
Marie Kondo it.
Ask, does it give me joy?
And if not,
and especially if it also doesn't feed my belly or build bridges,
I can let it go.
Each thing I take on has several elements inside.
Going deeply into them takes me away from other things.
I don't want to do any of it halfway.
I want to immerse in each job, not fall apart, not take it on the surface level.
I want to aim higher, go big.
Survey for New Play
My next full-length play, see in the dark, will explore how we handle the threat of outsiders and ask the price of suspicion versus compassion.
As research for see in the dark, I'm asking some anonymous questions in the survey below. I'd love your input, as in-depth or quick as you'd like. You don't have to answer all the questions, but I appreciate your input toward any of these topics.
You can also write answers to any/all of these questions below in the comments section, over email through my contact page, or if we're connected on Facebook/Twitter.
I'll embed the form below and here is a link to the survey.
Thank you for your insights! By posting answers, know that your ideas, experiences and words may be used in this new play.
Happy New Beginnings, everyone! Here are some of my highlights from last year. I'm very glad to be in 2019, but there were some sweet moments to look back on from 2018, for sure, some that I'd forgotten.
Here are my three big goals for 2019 and 2020:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
2019 is my year of compassion, generosity and gratitude toward myself and others.
Why do you do what you do?
From 2015...still relevant, and I'm still evolving...
I do what I do to find firm footing.
I need art like air to survive and I know others do too.
I seek groundedness.
I write my story so I can speak it.
I share it so others can do the same.
I act with courage, write and speak with courage
so I can stop my constant shame cycle and change that narrative.
I share so others may do the same.
I expose my vulnerable bits to connect with others.
I experiment with empathy so we can find mutual connections
between everyone in a room together seeking how our lives aren't so different.
I'm skilled at bravery. Go deeper into that. Be bolder.
I write to connect my fractured parts.
To put my story into characters' bodies. And physicalize them. Make them seen.
To feel how everybody hurts sometimes and to find strength to move on.
I write to show stories of the silenced, the before-me and others,
to reveal the humanity of people we believe to be unlovable,
impossible to connect with,
a character who fits our definition of un-relatable,.
Can we connect with humans we shut out as the other, as unnecessary, a number?
The homeless on the street, the schizophrenic in the hospital, the jailed in prison, the sociopath with a cause, the kid who has a hard time in the holiday months.
Love them not by showing only the good they do despite themselves,
but by seeing with exactitude all their parts,
the brutal and the beautiful.
Parents, friends, teachers, family of children ages 6-12, would you help me with a bit of research?
I'm starting a play where two 12-year-old kids living near the equator (and some animals in the north and south poles) work together to save their homes, help their planet, protect polar bears from drowning and penguins from losing their land. They'll break impossible odds to accomplish more than the adult humans around them even try to do. I'm not sure they win their fight or even get close, but they do above and beyond what we imagine possible.
That said, would you ask the young people in your life -- if they could do anything to help out the planet, to stop the poles from melting, to slow down the disastrous effects of climate change on all living beings, what they would do?
Before asking, you can find out what they know about climate change and/or share any details you know, whatever they should know to help answer this question, whatever can prepare them.
Then, would you listen and share any answer(s) you're willing to share with me? Click HERE or comment below to share (or tell me in person or over the phone, if we know each other and that's our best method of contact). Feel free to share this request far and wide!
If the young people in your life are a little under or over 6-12, that's okay too.
Magical, superhuman, fantastical answers welcome.
The more impossible the better.
Though I'd love to know what they think by early December, there's no deadline to respond -- I'm happy to hear whenever, even after the play is written. Maybe it will start your first conversations with your children/students/favorite kiddos about climate change and conservation. So much the better!
Again, no answer too big (or small), too weird or outlandish. I want to problem-solve this play for young audiences about climate change like someone who can't reach the top of the refrigerator without climbing onto the counters (or someone who doesn't speak human, but those are harder answers to gather -- however, if your cat or dog or whatever has ideas worth sharing, I'm all ears).
I may or may not use these answers, or parts of them, in this play -- called Polar Opposites: An Impossible Tale. The main purpose of asking young people's ideas is for inspiration, to help me see from their perspectives, shed an adult brain attitude of what's possible and allow in sparks for dreaming beyond my everyday habits and patterns. However, if I end up using your young person's idea(s) and they are not submitted anonymously, I will let you know.
Whether or not I use the ideas tangibly, they are all useful. Moreover, I am interested in hearing these ideas beyond their specific usefulness.
What am I not saying about this request that makes you curious? Feel free to ask me, either by commenting below or clicking HERE.
Thank you! I so appreciate your time and help! And big thanks to the little ones for their gigantic imaginations.
If you're interested in seeing the play and live in Boise, Idaho (or can get there easily), there will be a staged reading of Polar Opposites February 17, 2019 at Boise Contemporary Theater, through their Children's Reading Series.
This is the third play in my Animal Trilogy, a trilogy of plays for young audiences that use animals as a way to work with big subjects like grief, displacement and climate change. If you're interested in reading the first two, Rajpurr: Tale of a Tiger and Slap: A Beaver Tale (and/or Polar Opposites: An Impossible Tale when it's drafted) contact me HERE, or read more about them HERE.
Thanks again for asking, listening and sharing, and Happy November!
I think about the way the universe is made up. And what I heard on an NPR break the other day, with a scientist an astrophysicist I think, saying this is how he is going against the grain--
I believe we matter as human beings in the universe.
Not a popular opinion, after Copernicanism.
The universe with its stars, all of them,
more and more discovered to have planets,
and it gets more likely that these planets have life.
And so we matter not because we are different,
because we are unique and the universe revolves around us,
but because we are part of the tapestry of life.
Beings who can protect life.
And we matter,
our responsibility in mattering is to take care of life.
To keep it. Protect life and guard it.
That is huge responsibility.
One we are forsaking.
(A paraphrasing, original source forgotten.)
looking back on looking back
From September, 2015 (and I'm still working on becoming)
Feel how the emotions change now, heart rate and face tension, after reading the entry I wrote the day after Dad's spinal surgery. Time is all now.
I feel the tingle.
When I'm in lows, I focus my writing less on process and why I do what I do.
I think less about the big picture.
More about what's happening on my insides.
Less about sensory detail.
More about raw emotion.
Usually the right here right now vague feelings and cyclic thoughts.
And I record. And I process. And I sit. Observe.
And I think -- at the core, this is why I do this.
To take care of me.
To get the notes out about what it's like right here right now.
To get more exact, articulate and less desperate.
To trust my mind. To let go and share.
There are big picture thoughts that go with it, that have to do with audience and what I'm trying to communicate why with whom for what purpose. But at the base, this is the foundation. I write to connect with me.
It doesn't always make me feel better, but it gets the howling more manageable.
When I do this every day, it makes me stronger, more powerful as a human.
Yes, I don't make much money as a writer.
I have to think a lot about how can I squeak by.
I spend a lot of time doing this practice, completely financially unpaid work.
Yes, my logical brain tells me it's important: to practice as an artist, and then my panic practical brain says but so much? It's important to get financially stable and how can you with this? And what are you contributing to the world?
But in a larger term scope,
in taking in the truth about my history and my trajectory,
I see that this is what it takes for me to get through the day.
The alternative, I see, is me in hospital, me medicated, me living dependent, me out late every night making bad decisions. That me is contributing a whole lot less and spending more. Or...Here.
I need to write and I feel it these days
when there is burning in my chest
and I notice the tension build and fall in shoulders.
When I see the weight. And hold it.
And it draws my mouth downward.
When the throat and the gut and the head dive.
When I open up my brain to exposure and I get caught wrestling inside.
When I read about the day Dad's results came back,
detailing all the organs where his melanoma spread:
brain, spine, liver, lungs, kidneys.
When I notice how panic and overworking shielded me from feeling for years. Everything task oriented. And now I'm unleashing.
When I got back from the M.E. experience of homeless abuse and un-me-ing,
I didn't want to show any awful side of myself.
I wrote about it yes, but didn't speak about it.
The way I wrote about it in pieces I released veiled the truth enough
that yes I felt exposed but the art felt separate from me.
There was my work and my private life. Fractured. Compartmentalized.
This left me cold and armored, still denying myself.
Now this, this is hard too, this pure feeling, but it is real. Unmasked. Familiar.
And this is my reason to write as much as any lofty ones.
I can only get to the point where I am opening up connections,
speaking to the silent if I allow myself to speak and listen, too.
I exist. I matter.
And so do you.
Process notes on a work in progress. This page serves to invite you into the way I work, with intermittent posts to show you the hows and whys on the whats I make, as well as prompts and ideas I bring to certain workshops. There will also be some raw, rough content found in notebooks written years ago, previously posted on: