Tuesday, June 10, 2008

See ya, bye for a while

I don't really have much to say on here anymore. I have decided to stop writing until my body heals and my head is back in the game. I did get a laptop (Dell), which will help me type, etc. at home (I couldn't use the desktop b/c it hurt my back too much,and how tired I am of saying that?!). I really wanted to get an Apple, but it was about twice as expensive and I couldn't justify it. I am considering an iPhone when the new ones come out next month, b/c they are down to $300 and my Nokia is pretty sad. Since I already have AT&T, it won't be that expensive, relatively speaking, and could be handy (GPS system, for example!). But we'll see. In the meantime, I knew it was time to take a total writing break when I got accepted into a festival in MD and I started crying! I wasn't unhappy about it, but it just said to me, look, you need to take a total break. The highs and lows were just too great, and if I couldn't even enjoy success (probably for eventual fear of failure), then there really wasn't any point, was there?

It's not like I'm happy to stop writing, it's that I feel it's necessary, and I've made peace with it. I got off the binge listserv I was on (I had stopped reading the posts, anyway), and I won't be attending any more writing meetings for a while. I'm not even enjoying going to the theatre anymore, partly b/c of my back (okay, a lot b/c of my back), and since ushering is really painful now, and I can't enjoy the show b/c of it, well, that's another thing I'll have to put to the side now. I feel like so much of my life is on hold now, and if it weren't for walking, I'd just give it all up. Fortunately, it's gotten warm (check that: hot as hell) in Boston, and since I'm not afraid of sticky weather, I'm plugging on. It's the only real exercise I can get (I don't have access to a pool), and it's healthy for the body and mind (it's always good to get fresh air, of course, and it can be meditative). I am actively meditating now; I'm at 20 minutes a day, which isn't much, but I'm planning to up it to 40 minutes (both parts of the CD I listen to), starting tonight, and I just keep trying to go as deeply as possible into the relaxation area where you just don't feel, you just focus on breath. It's completely healthy, and if it doesn't help my body physically heal, and I desperately hope it will, it will certainly have positive impact on me emotionally. A

side from that, and doing some reading in that area (and in general), watching the Red Sox, and blogging for So You Think You Can Dance (http://bloggingsytycd.blogspot.com/), which is just for fun and not to be competitive (and it's nice that readers enjoy my reviews; I enjoy writing them!!), my life is pretty dull right now. When I get well, I would love to take a dance class AND get back to writing, but I can't say when that will be, only that I am exploring EVERY option.

So that's it for now. I guess I won't blog again for a while unless something interesting happens (one can hope!). Read my musings on the So You Think You Can Dance website (coolest website ever), and I'll be back sometime soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've got pretty much nothing positive to say

Isn't that a great title? I would love to have something better to headline this, but honestly, I just don't. I got three rejections this week, including one from Asphalt Shorts in Canada, and it's getting really, really tired. I also can't type at my desk (though I am right now) without pain, and it's costing too much at the moment to buy a laptop (donations welcome ;-)), so I am confined to writing at work, which is not the most conducive atmosphere to write in, let's be honest. My back just throbs and throbs, and my latest deep tissue massage, $45 for a half hour, did not help ONE BIT. (Maybe it will in the future, but not yet, not even a little bit.) I have taken two classes as part of my 12-week session at the Mind/Body Clinic in Chestnut Hill, MA, and I would love to say that I have gotten some relief from it, but I have not. I know, two weeks is FAR TOO LITTLE TIME to reap results, so I will keep meditating (can't hurt, of course), though it's hard to lay on my back while my back just throbs, and sitting hurts, too. God, I am getting depressed just writing this!!! :( I can imagine how you feel reading this (if you still are!).

What do I enjoy at the moment (as there has to be SOMETHING, right?):

Watching American Idol (favorite singer is David Cook, by a mile, and I think he's going to make it to the finale);

Paying attention to the buds on the trees and flowers on the ground, b/c we are having spring in Boston this year, and it's a wonderful thing. It smells so nice, and it's wondrous to walk in the city on a nice, warm day. It hurts so much to hurt, but I just barge ahead, b/c if it's going to hurt anyway, I might as well get some exercise and make my heart and head feel better, in any case;

Listen to music, as always. I'm switching it up these days; I listen primarily to Mix 98.5, which means I got from Leona Lewis to Daughtry to Natasha Bedenfield (my current favorite) to Rhianna to Jack Johnson. It's nice to change it up. Just mellow music was getting boring to me. I prefer the djays on the River, but the music has left me wanting more. Maybe because I'm getting older I want to get more hip (45 now, kids; unbelievable but true), but I like to hang with younger friends, Anna (who also seems much younger than she is) excluded. My birthday was last week, and it was underwhelming, to say the least (though the surprise birthday at work was nice and very unexpected). My parents did their very best to make it nice for me, but my back hurt so much (driving to their house, then to my sister's in Western MA, back to their house, and then home) that it just took me out. I can't drive anymore with excessive pain, so I feel very trapped. My friends are going to NYC to see the Daily Show in June, but I can't imagine taking a 3 1/2 bus ride to NYC. Who knows in two months, right? I'm just not envisioning it.

Watching the Red Sox. Though they've lost four in a row, I'm so excited by Jed Lowrie, Clay Bucholz, and of course Jacoby Ellsbury, and Manny is tearing it up, that you can't help but get excited by being part of their run at a third World Series. I think it's unlikely--the pitching is decimated, and there are a lot of injuries--but it's so early in the season that you are glad the problems are taking place now (and they are still in first place) and hopefully not in July and August. I'm also reading LOOK ME IN THE EYE but John Robison, Augusten Burrough's brother, and it's fascinating (it's about Asperger's) and inspiring. We should all be so articulate.

So, um, that's about it for now. I cannot write creatively, b/c I am too depressed and it hurts too much mentally and physically and I couldn't be less motivated. (Oh, and getting continuous rejections, and I am, trust me, does not help my mood.)

IF you are reading this, and want to send some good vibes my way, I'd be very appreciative. I can't muster the strength right now.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Boston Theatre Marathon: sadness and resolve

Well, it's easy to go from extreme happiness to extreme sadness in about a week, if you are me. The high of SWANDay has been replaced by the low of being rejected yet again from the Boston Theatre Marathon. Now, to be completely fair, they get about 400 entries, and solicit about 20 plays from writers like Israel Horowitz, Robert Brustein, Gary Garrison (who's a god in the theatre world), and others, so there aren't many spots for other lesser-known writers, and it's very competitive. In addition, Kate Snodgrass, an extremely nice (and gifted) writer/producer/director, writes something personal on every rejection note (I think; at least on the three I've received), so I'm not bitter by any means, just saddened. It's so prestigious, and it would be such an honor to be included. As I wrote to Kate (who kindly wrote back; she really does care), I don't see how I can get included in that I submitted my very best short piece, WEDNESDAYS, the one that was produced in NYC, San Antonio, and other locales, and it was still rejected. I guess I don't write the kind of work they want, or I just don't hit it right, and I know it's subjective (Kate said as much). But I can't seem to hit the big three: The Marathon, SLAMBoston, and the Dragonfly Festival (which wasn't held last year), and these are the ones that get a lot of attention. I have been produced locally, but these are the ones I really want to crack, and...so, no, it isn't happening.

Part of my sadness does have to do with last week's exhilaration. Having a play receive a positive reaction validated me and my work (I liked the piece, don't get me wrong, but it was thrilling to see it on stage and have such terrific feedback). The only other time that has happened is when WEDNESDAYS was produced by the Two Spoons Theatre Company last March, when everything came together: the actors, director, script. I just *knew* it was right, and that was the case with WAKE UP CALL. Having the chance to collaborate with Lau, Joey, and Robyn was awesome(I am dying to work with them again; I want this piece to get a full production, dammit), and then to get such encouraging feedback (and from a staged reading, not even a full production!) made me so very happy. It's like a drug: you crave more, and feel very empty without it. There are so few opportunities for work to be produced, unless you self-produce, which is bloody hard--I can't believe how wonderful SWANDay turned out, but Debbie nearly killed herself doing most of the work for it--and I can't put the time, energy, strength (the back is still in horrid shape, and I hope the acupuncture takes this time, b/c I am at wits end, I really am). In fact, I am at work writing this, b/c I can't sit at my computer anymore :-(.

So...that's where I am at. I received the letter from Kate, an encouraging one but a rejection letter nonetheless, after a day spend at acupuncture (not painful but expensive, damn you, back), then watching a new play reading at the Boston Center for the Arts, briefly volunteering for work at an exhibit next door, and having dinner with Debbie and her husband at a cafe across from the BCA. By the time I got home, I was tired (again, b/c of the back) and the letter was a sad surprise. I felt disappointed, and listened to James Morrison all night (b/c he is the only singer that I can listen to when I am at my lowest point), after I watched Step Up and Dance, a new reality dance program at Bravo. The good thing about the latter is that I saw these dancers who are so passionate about their craft, and I thought, Dammit, I can write (decently, at any rate), and so instead of bitching and moaning and crying, I should just start writing again!!! And longer pieces, as Edd and Debbie and Lau and others have encouraged. So: here I am, on a dreary Sunday, staring work on a new play (after I finish this post, obviously). Maybe it's a good sign that James Morrison is now playing on Pandora Radio. So off I go to write, and we'll see. All that can happen is that I get nothing substantive accomplished; if I don't write, I get nothing in return.

Friday, April 04, 2008

WAKE UP CALL: happy, happy, joy, joy

The SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day Festival was last Saturday from 2-5pm at the Boston Playwrights Theatre in Boston (of course), and man, did it go well! I was in heaven watching my play and then taking in the response. I usually feel so uncomfortable watching my work, and maybe the reason I didn't this time is that I was at two of the rehearsals with Lau (director), Joey (E-Man), and Robyn (Shannon), and that helped ease the discomfort or whatever I typically experience. The first rehearsal wasn't that long, the previous Saturday, and was a good introduction to the piece, but the second rehearsal, last Friday night (only a week ago? Really?!), went so well and I felt so stoked!!! Now, it's hard for me to get excited about pretty much anything, given the constant back pain I'm in--I can only hope tomorrow's acupuncturist is more successful than the last one (he comes highly recommended, and is near my apartment, two major pluses)--but this time I DID get excited. Joey (the djay E-Man) was just so limber, so creative, so INTO it, and Robyn (the CVS employee listener) played off him really nicely, bringing a sincerity that was appreciated. And Lau is just a genius, bringing a new play to life in ways I couldn't have. She just *got* it, and that's hard to be on the same page with a director. God knows I haven't been in the past when I've been part of the process (okay, just once, but still...), but this was different and wonderful and exhilarating. It's not so surprising, given all of Lau's experience (I've seen her work before and was so happy that she wanted to direct the piece), but still...she was just THERE with it.

Joey threw himself into the part (he was hysterical and also vulnerable), and he and Robyn, who have known each other for many years, brought real emotion to their roles, both comic and serious. This is the play I am most proud of. It is something I worked on all semester at Harvard Extension, of course, but it's a topic I've tried to write about since I was in grad school in the early 90s at Emerson, and I couldn't get there till now. Maybe I finally brought perspective to the idea of two lonely people trying to connect and only doing so when they were real and not part of a persona (b/c, really, aren't we all, most of the time, trying to fit in?) So I was kind of part of the rehearsal, giving some feedback, making a couple of line changes, but I was also just taking it in, and it was amazing. And then on Saturday--wow. WOW. They were so great (Lau couldn't be there, but I have pictures on a disc I'll mail to her after I get them from Debbie) and the response was amazing. It was kind of funny when the audience applauded before the play was over (the lights went down and everyone thought the play had ended, and I kind of cringed and went, Uh, no, help!), but then lights back up for the final short scene (the serious one that brings the two of them together) and when it ended there was so much applause and cheering. WOW. And at the end of the festival, I had so many people come up to me to congratulate me (of course, will they put on any of my plays?! Seriously. Will anyone? Please?). And I knew that the play was successful (not flawless, but what is?) and I felt so bloody proud. The song Undiscovered, that is at the heart of the play, has these lyrics:

I'm not lost, I'm not lost, just undiscovered
When we're alone, we're all the same as each other
You see the look that's on my face, you might think I'm out of place,
I'm not lost, no, no, just undiscovered.

And that is just how I feel. You need to find someone to feel connected to, someone who understands, and that is what the play tries to reveal. Does it fully? Well, no, it can't, it is impossible to truly open up your heart to someone and have them be there with you (at least that's my experience, but then again I've never had a soul-mate, like my sister Stephanie and her husband Andy), but you can try, and that is what the play tries to express. It's also funny (I hope) and I hope that helps, because for once I didn't want to write something moribund. I wanted something that showed who we are (funny, lonely, scared, vulnerable, giving) and I hope the play hints at that. A number of people have suggested I make it longer (it's currently 20 minutes) and I might, but for now I'm happy. But I'm open to the possibility. I just need to continue writing, and I want to work on something else, to become engrossed in it (horrid back pain or not), and then see how I feel about this. I am far too obsessive about my love for James Morrison, whom I've been listening to far too much lately, and that's partly b/c I'm really sad the play is over (I always get a real low after a real high), but I'm moving on, b/c I need to, and I'll get back to writing and see what happens.

But I can keep the great feeling of accomplishment I had last Saturday (it was a great festival, probably the best short play festival I've ever been involved with OR have seen, and Debbie gets huge props for putting it together) with a full house and a terrific reaction to an un-produced play. And I need to keep going, and I will. I am off to see my instructor Ken's reading of a new full-length play at the Boston Center for the Arts now, and that, along with watching another play there with Anna tomorrow, should also encourage me to write more. Because that's what I do. I want to dance, like the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance, but that's not what I do, bad back or no. Writing IS what I can do, sometimes well, sometimes not, sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes not, but I'll always have it. Sadness, loneliness, and all of these other emotions often overtake me, but maybe I can return to the joy I felt last week and can feel motivated to keep going.

Monday, March 24, 2008

WAKE UP CALL (it's a play, a song, AND my entrance back here)

Well, so, yeah. Still here. My new play WAKE UP CALL is going to get a staged reading on Saturday, March 29th as part of SWANDay (Support Women Artists Now) at the Boston Playwrights Theatre on Comm Ave in Boston from 2-5pm. The director is Lau Lapides--very experienced,,really talented--and the actors are Joe Orrigo, who just finished up a gig at the Devanaughn Theatre as Sean in SUB-ZERO, and Robyn Nook. They are both going to do an awesome job--I can tell--and I'm so excited to see a new piece get seen by a number of people (capacity is 99, and because the artists are well-known and we are getting a mention in Sidekick, the Boston Globe's arts supplement, we could have a pretty full house). I feel really good about this, and it's been a while (like A REALLY LONG WHILE) since I've seen one of my plays performed, so I'm ready for it. It was a bit weird to see a rehearsal, b/c it's always weird, but cool at the same time. Because it's new, I could really listen to the dialogue (for the most part, I think it works, but I'll have to think about it more at the final rehearsal on Friday night). Lau really got it (she's close to my age, I believe). It was harder for Joey and Robyn, b/c they are in their early-to-mid 20s, and you don't have a lot of perspective at that age (I didn't, anyway). I can remember how I felt, but I couldn't write about it then.

The theme is loneliness, and I'm guessing that neither of them has had the deep seeded lonely pain I've felt, but how would I know? As long as they connect to it, I'll be happy. I also started a new play about kids and their problems that manifest during their book club (shocking that I would write a new, bleak play; what were the chances?!). I was trying to collaborate on it with my 11-year-old niece, Jami, but I don't see it happening. The themes (primarily divorce) are just too mature and dark for her; as my sister said, when she has to study for an exam, that is a frightening and anxiety-ridden prospect, and going any deeper is not probable but certainly not necessary at this time. My well-adjusted niece. :) Oh that I had been at that age (but I've never felt young and carefree, as my plays indicate). It's hard to write with my back continuing to throb continuously--I can't even write at home anymore, b/c I cannot sit in my office chair anymore--but I want to try, b/c I haven't work on anything since the end of January, when the total revamping of SHOOT was due (no word yet from Heartland, where I remain a semi-finalist; fingers crossed). So most of my time is spent trying NOT to think about how bloody much my bloody back hurts and looking forward to the Herbert/Benson Clinic's 12-week session on pain management (it begins on April 16th, fittingly the day before my, ugh, birthday, ugh). Let us hope and pray because I am pretty much out of options. Maybe my guided meditations will help, eventually, though they haven't to date (of course, I've only been doing them for a few weeks, so it's way too soon to tell).

Okay, so that's a bout it. My parents return home next Monday--I'm looking forward to seeing them--and really hopeful that we get some nice weather soon (it's the end of April and still damn chilly out). I'll report back after the staged reading or after some playwrighting news (if it's good; if not, I won't post until I've recovered from the disappointment).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yep, still here

I'm completely embarrassed at not having posted for over a month. *slapping wrist* Some of this, I have to be honest, is attributed to my back, which is getting worse rather than better. I have another doctor's appointment at New England Baptist on Tuesday, and I can't say I feel very optimistic, but I'm back at the gym, doing light workouts on the bike and several exercises from physical therapy, along with frequent icing, so I'm doing all that I can. We'll see what the doctor says on Tuesday. I realize this is going to take a long time. I just wish I knew how long. I also spent nine days in Florida with my parents. They are renting a wonderful condo on the water, and you can have the waves from every room in the condo. It's amazing. We had a very nice together, and it was *much* needed respite. The cold, the snow (we're in the middle of a snowstorm in Boston right now, like *that's* a surprise), my back, getting through Registration and the beginning of classes: all took a toll on me, mentally and physically. I can't remember ever needing a break as much as I needed this one. The only problem was that I was in pain so much of the time. I can't really sit comfortably anymore, and that is, of course, a huge issue. But I ended staying there a few days longer, when I realized I just wasn't ready to come home (two days of high winds, rain, and tornado watches were in effect, and I needed more sun and more time there), and my dad generously paid for me to stay longer. I am incredibly grateful.

That being said, I need to keep on top of this thing, and I am simply not doing it. I will try harder. There have been only two items on the writing agenda. The first is that I didn't get into the Turnip Festival (the American Globe) in NYC, and I desperately wanted to. It's so prestigous, and I had a director for my piece ONE LAST FIGHT, Jack from NYC and SD, and he and I were so helpful. But it wasn't meant to be, and that hurt. A lot. This play is the one that had a three-week run, favorable, I was told, in San Diego by the Candy Shoppe producers, Jeff and Summer, so I know it's a sound play (they thought so, at any rate), and the rejection was very disheartening. Debbie got in with her really strong play ONE MORE TO GO, and I was so pleased for her, but I wished we had been able to celebrate together. Then while I was in Florida, I received another rejection (though I didn't send the right piece, so I can't say I was very upset about it). It made me think, Geez, why do this when the rejection is so great? Doesn't it feel better NOT to get any? I pondered this while I continued to rest in Florida.

And then...as happens so often...when I am just about to give up (for a little while, at any rate), I got news that the Heartland Theatre in Normal, IL put it through to the next round (I'm a semi-finalist for their national festival). This play is a complete revision of SHOOT. Changing it up with the help of Debbie and Anna (moving it from a convenience store to a cafe and completely changing the focus from a homeless man to the 20-something photographer; I had meant this to be the case from the beginning) allowed me to create a new, much stronger piece, and it meant so much for me to 1) do the work I needed to in order to get the piece to work, and 2) have a festival satisfied enough with it to keep the reading going. I may not get in (please, please, say yes), and it would feel WONDERFUL for them to say yes (Debbie got her piece, one of only eight, in two years ago, and said they treated her with tremendous respect), but in any case, I know that with due diligence, and some faith, I can keep going.

Of course, the issue is, do I really want to, the timeless battle. What I *will* say is that I want to think of writing as *my* dance. I am completely obsessed with dancing at the moment, and have been ever since SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE began last summer and my sister Stephanie and my niece Jami got me hooked on it. I went to see the tour, taped all of the episodes (and then the ones from S2 that were on MTV), constantly check Blogging SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE several times a day (it's worth it), and am now watching the current season of the show in Australia on the web. But I can't dance, I can barely walk without discomfort, and I think some of my interest comes from a desire to do something I wish I could but can't. I never had any interest in hip hop dance until I began watching SYTYCD (and am now a devotee of America's Best Dance Crew on MTV), but started wanting to take a class around the time my back gave out on me, so I have to think there is a connection. But this evening I started thinking: Well, I can't dance, but I *can* still write. I can sit down and type, and if gets too uncomfortable, I can get up, stretch, ice the upper or lower back, and then begin again. I saw one contestant who had a serious back operation in her teens, but continued to dance with a greater passion afterwards. That's the way you go; if you're passionate, you don't stop, but you accept your limitations (that is what a co-worker told me today, in fact; he has back problems, and had to readjust his activities, but the back problems DID go away for the most part after a while, and he said if I listen to my back, I will learn how to treat it).

Anyway, if I let my writing do my dancing, well, that's an idea I hadn't thought of but did earlier this evening, and it's a thought. I listen to r&B/hip hop music now, like Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Rhiannon, and Timbaland (but also downloaded the new Jack Johnson CD Tuesday), and watch Idol and dance shows (though I can't sing well OR dance). But I *can* write and why not use that as a means of self-expression? So that's tonight. It might not be the way I feel tomorrow, or next week, so I'll have to piece it together.

Right now, though, I have to figure out a way to get my car out of the back lot, so I can get to the doctor on Tuesday.............

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Class over; play good?

Happy, New Year, all. I finished the Harvard Extension School course on Tuesday and sent off my 15-minute play and two short plays and a monologue to Instructor Ken today. I am SO relieved that I made it through the class and wrote a play that I am actually proud of. I've had a serious back problem since late July, and it was hard to sit through class during the semester. Nonetheless, I persevered, and I did what I had set out to do: write a new play. I won't say it's necessarily the *best* play I've ever written, but it is the play I've spent the most time on. I really had to consider who these characters were, what they wanted, and how their goals would be met. Ken noted that though they had the same internal conflicts, it worked b/c they meshed. I reworked some parts of the play that needed work, and in the last class my partner (assigned) said he really like the play (yay!). He basically had no issues with it, which was a huge relief. He thought maybe the monologues were a bit long, and he thought I might want to address them to the audience, but I just didn't think it would add anything (though I can think more about it before I send it off to any festivals, I guess).

We spent the last class reading (SILENTLY) our partner's play and then writing comments, which we then gave to the playwright who in turn wrote down five things he/she wanted to change about his/her play. I still don't understand why we didn't read the plays OUT LOUD, so we could see how they sounded, or why the partners didn't converse with one another after reading the plays, but I didn't run the class I just attended it. I actually didn't have anything I wanted to change (just a couple of items I wanted to think about), though others did, b/c I felt the play was done. (My partner had not revised his play at all that I could tell, so I basically rehashed what the rest of the class had said several weeks earlier. Oh, well.) The last 45 minutes were spent discussing how to get plays produced, and I did get some information, though I already knew some of it (e.g., Gary Garrison's LOOP and LOP). I don't like to think about it being discussed as a business, but that's because I don't make my living off my plays; they are just my creative outlet.

So, I guess we'll see what Ken says, and what festivals say. At least I wrote the play, thought a lot about it WHILE I was writing it, and AM inspired to write another play (or significantly revise it), and that was my goal. Now I can watch the Patriots beat the Jaguars with a load off my shoulder. Thanks for listening to my expose of the class over the last four months. Maybe I'll teach one someday. :)

Go, PATS! 16-0; 3 more to go!!!