Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays!!! I hope you all have fabulous, low-stress visits with friends and family.
As for me, I am currently waiting for my brothers to wake up-- in case you were wondering, it is 11:30 AM. Christams time always causes me to revert back to the age of 12, possibly 16. The three of us have one car to share and it is a manual--only I can drive the car. Yet again, I am at their mercy. Well, there is one other reason I am at their mercy...
My parents moved to a new city two years ago. Since they moved, I have only been to this new city twice. My brothers, however, have both lived here for a summer and now know their way around. I am clueless. So, when it comes to driving around, I need my two navigators for without them, I am completely lost.
Ah, they are finally we can go exploring.
Anyway, happy holidays. Take a deep breath and just enjoy each moment for what it is.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Baking for pleasure is a First world luxury--one I take advantage of and appreciate. For me, filling my kitchen with sweet smelling, pretty, tasty confections fills me with pride. My American need for immediate gratification along with my taste buds' desire for sweetness are always fulfilled. I just put on the radio and bake until my little heart's content (or begging for mercy). Smells of ginger, cinnamon, chocolate and mint perfume my kitchen, filling my soul with bliss. As I survey the fruits of my labor, reality sets in, and I think," Why the hell did I make all of this food?" The moment ends, I wrap up my creations and ponder who will receive a tasty treat from me tomorrow. Forgetting the logical, the next time I am so moved, the process begins again.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Yesterday, I was writing a little list of all the simple pleasures in life--thinking of about 45 pleasurable things in 10 minutes or so. They are just a little too private to share, but here is one kosher example: drinking a cup of homemade hot cocoa on a cold day.

Today, however, that toasty warm, mushy feeling has passed so I want to talk about a couple of the annoying things in life.

Who invented the plastic window coverings that keep out the cold and hold in the heat? Who created these very helpful, but nearly impossible things? Some require a blow dryer, some require two-sided tape, but all require a person with at least 6 arms and tons of extra time.

Why do people have to be reminded to be respectful of other people's space? Why does an office whose mean age is 35, at least, have to post rules about how many times you can knock, how open your door should be, not yelling between offices, etc.? People, we go through the hell of junior high and high school to learn how not to it is time for those lessons to come into play or we went through hell for nothing!

Public transportation is a beautiful thing and I support the movement wholeheartedly. I do think, however, that people would be a lot more likely to rely on public transport if the schedules were accurate. Online, you see one schedule, on paper, another schedule...which do you believe? Can you risk getting stuck somewhere, missing the last bus home and being left in the bus/train station like I was yesterday? Please, unify the schedule system! Please?!?

Who created really large, light up fictional characters? What is more scary than a five foot tall, fully lit Santa smiling maniacally through pasty cheeks and an untamed beard? Basically, he is David the Gnome (subject of many a child's first nightmare) magnified, illuminated and dressed in red, creating a parent's nightmare when they see the electric bill.

Why do southern New Englanders have to move so quickly all the time? I fear that the pace we set for ourselves leaves us open for mistakes, nervous breakdowns, and inefficiencies. Let's all just take a breath, relax and function properly. This lesson was in Aesop's fables, remember? Slow and steady wins the race!

Why doesn't snow clean itself off my car? While the scraper-brushy things are very helpful, they do not reach all the way across the roof, hood or windshield and therefore, I inevitably end up with a soaking wet mid-section, snow up my sleeves and seriously cold hands.

Why is it that the people we fall in love with, don't always love us back? I mean, we take the big risk and place our beating hearts on the table and sadly, it is often beaten with a meat tenderizer. Helena says,"I will be your spaniel." I say,"Am I tender enough yet?"

As a cruel twist of fate, and biology at its best, we all get zits--big ones in the middle of our faces--when we feel stressed or sad. So basically, at the time when you most need to impress, or you feel just plain crappy about yourself, you also know that Rudolph has misplaced his nose right in the middle of your cheek/forehead/nose. And, to top it off, that everyone including cute little old ladies and cherubic children, stare at your face in horror as you walk by feeling anxious, bloated, fat or sad. A cruel joke--one that I hope somebody out there is enjoying.

I think I am done for now. Hope this brightened your day a little!

Friday, December 02, 2005

A lot of people are embarrassed to admit they have profiles on online dating websites. Men and women alike smile sheepishly when discussing online dating and through gritted teeth, change the topic of conversation. Because people are so private about online dating, what should I do when I see a friend's profile online--a friend who never mentioned they are online dating? He/she never said that they had set up a profile online, I never asked, but now I see their smiling faces on my computer screen. Do I drop them a line through the dating site, so they can see that I also have a profile, and therefore they have no reason to be embarrassed? Do I email or call them and say," Hey nice profile and picture online!" Do I not say anything, but squirm with knowledge and curiosity next time I see them? I have given this a great deal of thought on the treadmill and rowing machine, but no answers have come to mind. Of course I would hate to embarrass anyone, but it would be nice to have someone with whom I could share the trials and tribulations of online dating. This is a great dilemma, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!
We all have our nervous habits--those pesky quirks that pop up at moments when we want to be calm, cool and collected. When I am in a group of unfamiliar, new people, I have great difficulty speaking. I follow the conversation, think of responses or comments but never speak them. Friends look at me strangely when leaving these parties or get-together's wondering where their talkative friend was hiding. For some reason, in large groups, I get completely overwhelmed and can't talk. My tongue feels heavy and thick, my palms sweat and my heart rate quickens when I walk into a club, party or concert. If I can find a person or two to converse with in a corner, I am fine. If not, I just stick closely to whoever I came with and watch them magically fit in, laugh and converse. As soon as my friend and I leave the party, I start chatting away, or we just walk in a contented silence--I am comfortable again.

The odd thing is that when I am with a person who makes me feel nervous or intimidated, I can't shut up. In this case, I blabber on and on about pointless things because silence, well, silence would be terrible. My brain creates thoughts at maximum speed and because I am incapable of hiding my feelings, he would know everything I am thinking. At least if I keep a steady stream of blather going, he can't see inside of me...or so I tell myself. The people who cause this reaction tend to be friends (mostly guys)) who look at me and see things. They unnerve me with their intuition and perceptiveness. While I am no woman of mystery, I am a woman who is very much in control of herself and what people see of me. My true self stands across a wide moat, choosing who can cross and enter, but there are a select few who have crossed uninvited so blabbering becomes my personal armor. These people could hurt me because for some reason they get me in profound ways, but they have never made the promise of friendship, the promise that they will protect the secrets they see and so I babble--it is my last line of defense.

Sadly, these seers of my soul are people I would love to know better, intimately even, but they never see the true me--the open me, the quiet me. The person I am on my own and with my closest friends is so very different than the person I am in crowds or with these uninvited intimates. I am quiet, thoughtful, pensive, open, warm, funny--all things I am proud of, things I love about myself. But when I am with him, I become a person I don't like, a person incapable of enjoying silent companionship or substantive conversation. I lose my sense of humor, which is an integral part of me, and hear my laugh as shrill and forced. Before I go on stage I have almost paralyzing fear, but then I take a few deep breaths, shake out my legs and arms and I am ready. With the seers, there is no trick to end the nerves. I have known one seer in particular for six years and have tried numerous techniques but as soon I see him and we make eye contact, I lose myself--my quiet self. I fill the air with inanity and when I walk away, I feel sad that I was not brave enough to be just me. Perhaps I lack maturity or harbor insecurities of not living up to my public persona, but I had hoped that by 26, I would outgrow this nervous habit of blathering. It tires me, and I am sure the receivers get tired, as well. Perhaps someday I will outgrow my Chatty Cathy tendencies and show these seers the grounded, quiet, intense, low-key person that resides happily inside.
You know you are at a Northeast liberal arts college when ...

you can sit around a table with the president of the college, provosts, professors, and staff members discussing pornography and sex toys in public bathrooms without anyone blushing, laughing nervously or responding angrily. This happened to me just the other day.

One day, I attended a meeting about strategic planning over the next 10 years or so. I sat down at a table amongst the people listed above and waited quietly for the meeting to start. A nice lady from HR introduced herself, and then an English professor did as well. We were all chatting about the weather and other such inane things when the professor asked me what year I graduated. My response of four years prompted her to ask what I had been doing between graduating and coming back as staff. So, I told her that I had been working and attending graduate school for theatre history. The prof perked up and asked what era or genre I had studied. My answer happened to coincide with her area of expertise, so then she asked about the particulars. Well, the particulars involve the history and development of pornography in relation to the history and development of theatre. Generally, this is a conversation killer and someone immediately asks about sports, the weather or some other safe topic. Today, however, it sparked a large discussion about how porn has affected mass media and the arts, how it is now the biggest addiction in the US and how it makes us desire sex toy vending machines in public bathrooms. Within two minutes, the entire table of about 10 people, including the president, were participating in this conversation--furrowing brows, nodding heads, rubbing chins, not blushing or shushing. I even got invited to give a lecture to an English class on 19th century porn!

Overall, this was a great lunch meeting, reminding me that I was home now at my NE liberal arts college where theatre, pasta, porn and strategic planning are appropriate discussion topics around the dinner table.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tonight I went to see a theatre production--a good theatre production-- at the Gamm theatre in Pawtucket. It was a festive version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with a minimal set and a true grasp of the old English. One of my former profs from college invited me to attend (for free) with her class, so I rode to the show in a yellow school bus filled with college students. In case you missed it, I just need to reiterate that, yes indeed, I rode a yellow school bus to a trendy theatre in Providence.

While on the bus, I conversed with my prof about what has happened in our lives since we saw each other last and eavesdropped on groaning college students wondering how long this God forsaken play would run. On the ride home, as I eavesdropped again, the students sounded surprised that they actually enjoyed the play--finding it humorous, touching and entertaining. The shock and awe in their voices saddened me because they are so ignorant about the stage, about the joy of good writing, about the art of conversation, about sitting still without a constant bombardment of sound and sight, about history. Now, I am not claiming knowledge of all the things above and I clutter my life with sound and sight just like the next person, but tonight the reality of losing wit, dry humor, quiet, art, theatre and conversation deeply affected me.

Over time, schools have siphoned off all the programs that sap them of money. These programs include, but are not limited to, drama, music, art, poetry, creative writing--the programs that take education to the next level. It is very important for students to be well versed in history, math, science, English, etc, but isn't also important for students to understand and appreciate what all of this information has helped man/woman create? The knowledge of the basics is what allows us to take our thoughts to the next level--to imagine a hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, to pen the Gettysburg Address, to sculpt the Thinker, to compose Handel's Messiah, to sing Handel's Messiah, to paint the world in blurred, bright blotches and lines. The basics create a foundation but the arts form our humanity. Through the arts, we learn to communicate, to desire, to create, to design, to emote, to feel--and these are the features that truly separate humans from other animals.

On the way home, my concern lessened because the students responded so favorably to live theatre--and Shakespeare no less; however, if K had not offered to take them, would they have had this experience? Probably not! The majority of people at the show this evening were 60 and older, which is fine, but why were no young people taking advantage of a cheap, fun event on a Thursday night? Because people think of theatre as a cultural experience where you have to get dressed up, put on your thinking cap, be bored and then talk intelligently about the feminist perspective offered in the piece. We have taken the fun out of watching theatre--because I can assure that making theatre is still fun. While I know some scholars would disagree, theatre is not always meant to be analyzed and intellectualized. Instead, theatre rests heavily on feeling--listening to the words, watching the action, using your brain--allowing yourself a moment to reconnect with feelings and emotions in a visceral way. I fear we may lose theatre as we lose the K's in the world, people who make kids see theatre. The theatre is a place for us to be human and feel a range of emotions from anger to love to lust to passion to sadness. It is one of the loveliest forms of expression for performers, writers and audiences alike--it would be a tragedy to let it go.