Tomorrow, my favorite person and I drive to San Francisco. Sunday, I walk the line to celebrate completion of my MFA degree in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts from California Institute of Integral Studies. Then we travel through California, Oregon and Washington to let go of the mutually intensive projects that overtook our last year, two years, then some...
We reset. To return with renewed outlook on the art, work and lives we both love.
What does that mean? It's time for gratitude. For:
Working with wild, radical, sensitive artists these last two years
Teaching playwriting in three different programs this spring
Teaching adults in several workshops that make me glow
Unbelievable support from family, friends, colleagues, collaborators and loves
A longtime companionship that's evolved several states to reach this perfect YES
The writing and art that saved my life and continues enriching me forward to here now
Regularly creating with artists I admire deep deep fully
Teachers who push and pull and reach and allow and release
Jobs that offer understanding flexibility as well as challenge and reward
This moment to catch my breath and get back in my feet and skin
A return with recharged inspiration, curiosity, imagination, energy
These moments looking back at how my life is exactly what I need right now
I didn't used to see living long as a good thing. Things got heavy and dismantled for me.
I figured it could only get worse the older I got.
I see differently now.
Starting in 2010 most bigly, I started to find the joy in being that my dad always said he wanted for me. From there it's gotten more true every year, despite major losses (including my dad), until now I'd like to be a Leonard Cohen or Carla Bley kind of artist, turning out new work at 80, and not goodbye albums, either.
Maybe I won't make albums, but now I'd rather be a longterm artist/writer/playwright/ whatever than a dying young rockstar, so I think the analogy fits. Like Mr. Cohen, "I never liked it fast. You want to get there soon. I want to get there last." For that reason, these next two weeks off are integral to my practice and life and work, and not a turn away from it.
Still, I have to remind myself that it's okay to take a minute away. When I hear other artists say things like, "I can't take time off, I'm an artist," I know I'm not alone.
All this to say, it may be two or three weeks before I post here again. If that's the case, know I'm refueling for creativity's sake. There will be music. There will be ocean. There will be forests and camping and stargazing. There will be family, friends, strangers becoming friends. There will be roads, where I always feel most at home. I'm grateful for all that. And for you, for your reading, and for whatever it is you're making right now.
Emotional investment is a beautiful, ragged thing. I care about the work I do. Sometimes that makes me better at it. Sometimes that makes me shortsighted in tunnel vision. That goes for writing, theater, teaching, any vocation to which I devote my time.
PS: Due to a scheduling shift, until further notice, Notes will take on a weekly Friday posting instead of Wednesdays. Thanks for reading!
Reflecting toward graduation at the end of this month from California Institute of Integral Studies MFA Programs in San Francisco, I'm going to miss...
A support network of people, all asked to fall in love with someone else's work as they create together. People who advocate what I have to say in reaching ways. Mentoring relationships with my professors. The small classes. Assigned readings and viewings that provoke me, challenge me, ask a lot of me in a deep listening way.
A group of artists who truly seek to listen for understanding. Who pay attention for when to step forward, when back. Those who judge systems, not people. A nurturing community that pushes me in new directions, asks me to experiment and cross boundaries.
The more multicultural environment where I am not surrounded by so many other white bodies. The largely female population of artists, students, professors who are richly schooled on the dynamics of gender, class, race barriers, on oppression against those marginalized in these categories and also orientation, preference, ability, religion, origin, and and and...
Thoughtful, provocative discussions on how our individual art can help create the world we want to see/live in/experience. On where people come from, honestly, honestly, and how they can reach beyond themselves.
The Zen Garden on the 6th floor, the Mad Men/Frank Lloyd Wright feeling library. The events and workshops in Area 5, in the gallery. The long days of art absorption. The MUNI rides, BART rides, walks over urban cement canvases. The murals.
A view from my nearsighted eyes on the people who need great compassion set up against rich buildings of operating wealth prosperity, extremes side-by-side. Seeing the problems in my face, I can't ignore it like in pretend-land Boise. Boise is real. Boise is beautiful. Boise is not a prime subject of diversity. Boise has so much gentrification in its midst it is barely aware what that word means.
There is a big need for open outlets where people can speak their personal truth here, and not just the privileged well-off majority. Perhaps I can help with that. There are great people working toward that here too, I know it, setting up those opportunities, making great relational art. There can be more.
I'm going to miss the push to make art beyond pretty pictures. I can help push for that here, too. There are great people doing that here now, I know it. There can be more. We can go further. We can make art that moves, speaks, thinks, cracks, connects.
I'll miss mouth-open dialogue over food. The humid air. The human air. The laying down of egos.
I get many of these things in other places, Boise too, among incredible artists and loved ones, but I will miss them there all the same.
There I could bring my whole self, presented first through my work, then introducing all my guts. I have never felt so accepted among a group of people. One on one, yes, but never at home en masse until I studied and made art with those weirdo radicals. I was no longer the strangest in the room. I could let go, take of my mask bit by bit, and then we were altogether there, all together. I found my people. I miss that.
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: