Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cuts like a knife, in good AND bad ways...

Well, I'm back from NYC. It's always nice to come home, but I did have a good time there. The location, right by Central Park and Times Square (Sheraton Manhattan), was ideal, and I had some amazing meals, the like of which I rarely enjoy in Boston (mostly b/c of the cost, and also b/c of the calories). I already spoke about the mouth symphony on Tuesday night w/ Susola; well, last night equaled that. Tuesday night, we went to Becco--last night, Tyler, Dave (two improv friends), and I trekked 30 blocks to Amsterdam Avenue, where we feasted on cheeses at Celeste Ristorante, followed by dessert (just tea for me) at Cafe Lalo (where they have the coolest t-shirts ever, and I now own one to prove it ;-)). The latter is a small restaurant tucked deep in the neighborhood, so not at all touristy, but wonderful (and that's why, of course).

We began with a FIFTEEN cheese platter, which the owner cultivated and discoursed on (and which we ate counter-clockwise and with dipping sauces for each, from honey to currant jelly to figs and much more). Tyler, Dave, and I ritually ate each, with one of us cutting the small piece of cheese into threes (some were larger than others, and a couple pretty crumbly, but we managed), and then the three of us picking up the cheese with our forks, dipping into the appropriate accoutrement, and then eating and discussing. YUM. I don't drink wine, so this is as close to a wine tasting as I'll probably come, and it was just right with me, and worth the $10/person. My and Dave's gnocci dish, large and tasty, was only $9.99, a real steal for NYC, so we did just fine overall. We also walked the 30 blocks back to my hotel after dessert/tea, so much of the meal vanished into the warm NYC night air, but the delicious aroma of pungent cheese remained. Amazing. Thank you, Tyler and Dave, for a wonderful night. I will miss you both and can't wait to see you when you're back in the Boston area.

Today, after a nice long workout (thank you, left knee, for finally allowing me to do the elliptical machine again!), Karen and I headed back to JFK for our flight home (TGI Friday's is never good, and esp. not at JFK and also after such a wonderful few days of marvelous meals). I am grateful at such times not to have kids, as Karen had to go to a parent/teacher conference later in the evening, while I got to check work and personal email, unpack, and unwind. Sadly, one of the new emails was from the Devanaughn Theatre, informing me (no shock this) that my play had not been accepted into the Dragonfly Festival. Or rather, noting those that had, and knowing mine had not by omission. What bothered me more than anything was that a few of the playwrights had two plays included AND that most of the playwrights are well-known to the Devanaughn. I knew it wasn't a blind read, but please, be real. If you honestly don't intend to include works by unknown writers, be forthright about it! Neither my friend Debbie nor I were chosen (she submitted two plays, me one), and my friend Tahnee and I were not chosen as actors (and SHE is DAMN GOOD). Not that we've heard, but at this point can assume as much. Rejection cuts and bites and all of that, and no, it never gets easier. After each, you swear you won't go through this again, and then you do, and wonder why (I have an audition for a cool local theatre company next weekend--my chances are *thisgreat*). Thank God I don't have to depend upon either my acting or writing success for sustenance, or I'd be homeless and living in under a bridge somewhere.

Still, I had a good time in New York--it's too big and fast-paced for me to ever consider living there, but a lot of fun to visit--and hope next time to get to the Village and into MoMa, which I've never had the chance to tour. And tomorrow I return to work, caught up and happy that it's Friday, rain on the way and all. For now, I'm off to watch a documentary on HBO about Air America, the liberal radio station (w/ Al Franken Janeane Garafalo, etal), followed by The Apprentice (I walked by the Trump Hotel and Trump Towers--pretty swanky, both of 'em), and then bed. I will try to deal with rejection with my non-customary aplomb ;-), and look forward to the next opportunity and the possibility of a positive response in forthcoming days and weeks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Update number two from NYC

Well, I am finishing day three of the AACRAO Conference. I just answered a lot of work email--always tough, because it's hard to problem solve remotely, and I always feel badly about that--and am now putting in a brief entry before I meet a couple of improv friends for dinner or a show or whatever.

It's been a pretty good conference overall. I have to say that some of the presenters were not as well-informed, prepared, or polished as I would have liked. That makes me feel that I could do as good a job, if not better, than them, and that maybe I ought to propose a topic for next year's conference (which just happens to be in San Diego! :-)). The 3:45pm session, for example, was on diversity, a really important topic. However, the speaker, from Eastern Washington University, spent more time telling us what he wasn't going to talk about (the survey his school conducted on diversity) and how the students didn't respond (without getting into specifics except they thought it was too long) than anything else! He gave us the handouts and told us to read them later! Er...what?! We were also supposed to discuss our own ideas or what we were doing on campus, but that never happened. What the session did inspire me to do is ask Tawanya and Jenifer, the advisors on the Diversity Committee, if I could join it or at least attend the meetings. As Director of Student Services, I really need to know more (and I would like to sit in on the At-Risk Students Committee, or whatever it's called now, too, though that might not be as possible, as it's not a task force but a working committee and it might be large enough w/out my participation).

What this conference has also convinced me of, once and for all, is that I really, REALLLY want to do advising and not registrar work. GAH. I am so much more interested in student progress (and retention) than I am in record keeping (IPEDs? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? STATISTICS? BAH, HUMBUG!). When my supervisor said that I could spend more time helping her with IPEDs if we go to an online graduation audit system, I cringed and sighed and thought, Nope, never gonna happen for me here. I looked in the Chronicle of Higher Ed for positions during a break at Starbucks (where else?! ;-)) today, and found nothing that applied to me. I am either overqualified or underqualified for many positions, and I think this is due in part to my being a generalist, rather than a specialist. Also, I am moving more into registrar-related functions, and away from advising, and this is disappointing at best and a bad career move at worst. I need to find employment with more advising opportunities, and I'm not sure how I will find such a position, but looking at various job searching sites online is a good start, I guess, since The Chronicle only advertises higher-end positions.

As for the fun part of the trip, I had the most delicious meal ever last night, at a place called Becco on 355 West 46th Street (don't ask me where that is, but it's somewhere near Times Square, as my hotel is). OHMYGOD. Soooo tasty. The pasta was fresh, homemade, newly cooked, and, as my companion Susan said, "a mouth symphony." Lordy. Three kinds of pastas, including a ravioli with mushroom that was to DIE for, antipasto, and heavenly bread sticks (trust me, they were). We also had Pelligrino Sparkling water (the best) and I tasted her coconut sorbet (so sweet, so creamy, so delectable). The price of the entire meal was about $44, including tax and tip, but so worth it. Of course, I felt horribly guilty afterwards (weight-wise, not money-wise, or not as much the latter as the former), so I went down to the pool and swam laps for a half hour (this after working out over an hour on the elliptical and treadmill earlier that day, along w/ a great deal of walking). Today I was better, and had a bagel for breakfast, and soup and two kudos bars for lunch, and that's it. I also did nearly 50 minutes, 3.10 miles, on the treadmill, along w/ floor exercises, so I got some exercise in.

So all in all, it's been a good trip. The room was quiet, if small, and very convenient, and the conference has had its moments. It's always good to hear what other schools are contending with, and to see that every institution has its own set of concerns. I also spent virtually no time worrying about plays and the like, which was very healthy for me. I have one more session tomorrow morning, followed by a keynote address by Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, and then Karen and I make our way back to Boston. While I would have preferred to have been at an advising conference, this had its benefits, and it was good to get away and yet get work done.

I'm off to dinner. Happy Hump Day and I'll be back in Boston tomorrow with a wrap-up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Brief update from NYC and the AACRAO Conference

Well, as calm as it was Sunday night is as hectic as it is here in NYC on this Tuesday morning. I got into town yesterday with a colleague--first time riding on a shuttle (gotta say, I prefer larger airplanes, but it was a short, easy flight, and we did get a beverage)--and we checked into our hotel right away, after a couple of cab rides. Alas, we didn't get the nice hotel, the Sheraton New York--it was booked, so we ended up across the street at the Sheraton Manhattan, which desperately needs updating. It has that old hotel smell, and the rooms (or at least *my* room) is cramped, with chipped furniture. It feels decaying. However, I do have a quiet room (my colleague does not), and that is all that counts. In addition, the hotel across the street has a really nice health club facility ($20 for the duration of my stay), so I worked out for about 75 minutes yesterday and may today (IF my clothes dry!). Otherwise, I'll use the pool in my hotel, which isn't too bad, and I do have a bathing suit with me.

The AACRAO Conference (for Registrars, Admissions Officers, and various Student Affairs personnel) has been okay so far, but nothing thrilling. I wasn't enthralled with the US Army Corps gospel choir (they rather sucked and I would rather not hear them sing about Jesus for 45 minutes), and the opening speaker was okay but didn't say anything revolutionary. Today's first session, at 8:15 am (when I normally wake up!!!), was about first generation students, an interesting topic, but the presenter had nothing with him: no handouts, no a/v, nada, and it was hard to keep up w/ him and take notes. He also only spoke for a half hour and I asked a question, along w/ a few others, but that was it. I hope other sessions are more informative and I can listen, rather than scribble notes I can't read. ;-)

I also hope I get to see a little bit of NYC during this brief stay (I leave Thursday), though I kind of doubt it, since the sessions run til 5:30pm and they are tiring. I am planning to meet up w/ friends tonight (possibly) and tomorrow night (definitely), hopefully near the hotel, so that will be nice. I prefer smaller conferences in warmer, less hectic climes (like the one I went to on advising last year in Norfolk, VA--that was awesome), but you do what you have to do, and at least I'm not paying for it! At least I have a quiet room. That is key.

Finally, my friend Debbie's 10 minute play was not accepted into the Boston Playwrights' Festival. I feel so badly. I had hoped so much it would be. We still haven't heard from the Devanaughn, and probably never will, and aside from the one rejection I received, I've heard nada from nadie. Ah, well. Better to stay busy and not worry about it, I guess. I plan to get to more creative writing when I get home.

Well, almost time to go to another session. I'm standing at a 17 inch flat screen (that's nice, at least) in the middle of a large conference hall, aka the Cyber Cafe, and I'm getting sore from writing (it's been at least 45 minutes), so I'm going to sign off now. I hope to have a nice lunch and dinner, and am stocking up on free beverages. ;-) (I am also checking work email, so I'm not just fooling around. Second half semester classes started today, so I really had no choice.) I'll write more tomorrow or Thursday. Ciao from NYC.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sunday night's alright for relaxing...and seeing plays

There's nothing that feels better than settling in on a Sunday night with a bowl of microwave popcorn, some Diet Coke or Starbucks iced tea, and the Sunday paper (if I haven't read it yet) or a novel or The New Yorker or what have you. I do like watching "Six Feet Under" when it's on (which hasn't been for a while, and won't be again til June), and I really enjoyed "Unscripted" during its brief run (about struggling actors, mostly improvised, and pretty engrossing, to me, anyway), but I really prefer just hanging out on Sunday nights. I count the minutes and hours, or count them down, thinking, Yes, but there's still four hours left, or three, or two, and savoring every second. It's the same as sleeping in on the weekends; it's so nice to lay in bed and listen to the birds chirping (if they've begun) and think, No, I do NOT have to get up yet. Ahhh.

That is not the case tomorrow, as I have to be up at 7:00am (not early for some, but an hour early for me), in order to get the airport in time for my 9:15am shuttle flight to NYC and my "big adventure" at AACRAO, the Registrar's/Admissions/Student Affairs Conference I'll be attending til Thursday afternoon with two co-workers. I would DREAD going alone, as New York terrifies me when I'm on my own, but with colleagues and friends, it's a-okay. I'm also planning to meet up w/ a friend improv friends and catching a show or taking a trip to the Village or just hanging. Whatever. I'm flexible. It'll just be fun to see Dave, a former member of my former improv troupe, TBD, and others and chat. The conference should be interesting, and I'm staying at an awesome hotel, with an indoor pool, so I can relax on my off-hours AND get some good-for-me exercise. I took a long walk into town today w/ Anna, and my knee did just fine, but I want to wait until the end of the week before I begin bicycling or trying the elliptical machine again. At least I see a lot of improvement (thank God), and know the icing and rest does work.

Before I settled in for the remainder of the weekend, Anna and I went to see the New England premiere of "Living Out" at the Lyric Stage Theatre, and it was very good. I don't know what the Boston Globe will have to say, and they are usually pretty harsh, but Anna and I were impressed, finding lots of layers and strong acting throughout. (One of the main characters, the husband of one of the two main characters, was poorly acted, I thought, but the part wasn't particularly well-conceived, IMHO, so I couldn't entirely fault the actor.) At least we found the characters empathetic (so often this isn't the case) and cared about their stories, and the language was nicely naturalistic, another element I often find lacking. I try to write that way (well, I ought to do it more, actually, b/c I know how to, I just don't often bother), and prefer theatre that allows characters to speak the way we expect them to. Stylized language rarely works for me, and the author had a wonderful ear for dialogue.

The play was particularly interesting in portraying the relationship between employer and servant (in this case, nanny), between classes, between genders, nd between ethnicities (Caucasian and Latino/a). While I found the Latinos more sympathetically portrayed--and the artistic director of the Lyric noted that this possibly the playwright's choice, a point of view she chose to take, which is entirely fair--I wasn't upset by the depictions of the whites, and found it often accurate. I just wish they had been given a bit more to work with, though in fairness, this was Ana's story, first and foremost. Not surprisingly, 99 percent of the audience was white (and probably upper to upper middle class, me excepted, as a very middle class, half-price ticket denizen ;-)), and so I think it was an important story for them to see (well-heeled comes to mind), although one ignorant man in suspenders kept disputing everyone and just being irritating, and another, an elderly woman, nitpicked over what a Latina character in mourning wore (as if she would know!).

At any rate, it was a worthwhile endeavor, and I'm very pleased I had the chance to see it. Thank you, stagesource, for letting me see theatre I couldn't otherwise afford to experience. I still hope to get to "Top Dog/Under Dog," Suzan-Lori Parks' acclaimed play at the New Rep, but if not, at least I got to see this production--I hadn't been to the Lyric for several years, during my 'all improv all the time' phase--and there is another play, "Den of Thieves," that Anna and I are getting to see for free at the Boston Center for the Arts next weekend. YAY!

So, this may be my last post til Thursday night, as I'll be out and about in NYC and won't have much time to write. In any case, I'll have a lot to write about when I return.
And it's almost April...booyah!

(And no, no word from any theatre festivals...maybe when I get home, I'll have heard from someone. Dare to dream.)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Auditoning CAN be fun...and Goodbye, Tobias! :-(

Well, we'll start the happier news. Today's auditions for the Southcity Theatre Ensemble was actually fun! I was 10 minutes late, but the other woman (Marley? I'm sorry, I forget your name! *sigh*) was later, and no one else made it, so I actually was earlier, I guess. ;-) I came running over from the gym (and finding parking is NO EASIER MATTER in Boston on a Saturday afternoon, so I was parked a couple of blocks away from the gym), but had time to stop sweating before we headed over to the audition room, aka a classroom at 50 Vassar Street at M.I.T. The auditions were painless and fun. We started with wordball (toss any word that comes to mind around a circle, though in a random order, looking but not forcing patterns), then did honest monologues on the topic of just about anything (not surprisingly Starbucks iced tea, dating difficulties, and Sobe Power Beverages, along with "Dark Shadows," the TV show, were my topics). I love those. We moved on to Ten Scenes About..., improvised scenes, with the inspiration an article about war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it should shock no one that death was a recurrent theme (although it became funny after a while, b/c we knew someone would die in just about every scene, and it was only surprising when someone didn't), and that went pretty well, I thought. After that, the other auditionee (dammit, what was her name?!) and I did cold reads of a couple of scenes the ensemble has performed in the past, and we ended with a short interview.

I can't say I LOVE being on, I mean auditioning ;-)...mostly b/c you're never sure if you're WHAT THEY WANT if you say or do something stupid that makes them groan. Also, as much as you say that you don't care if they choose you, it's a lie, b/c you wouldn't be there if it didn't matter (or it would be strange if you did, b/c experience only goes so far, and it isn't a great idea to turn down a casting offer). That said, this was one of the more fun auditions, b/c Mike and the three other members of the ensemble are all nice, funny, smart, and down-to-earth people, and they treated Marley (hay, it COULD be Marley! :-)) and me as if we were equals. Also, it was good experience. What was most hopeful for me was that Mike asked if I could return for the second round of auditions (since people no-showed or couldn't make it today), and if he and the others weren't interesteed, I'm sure I wouldn't have been asked to come again. I said I definitely could, and I'm looking forward to it. In the meantime, Mike said to bring along any writing I was working on that might fit the group, and that was good impetus to get back to the writing board. :) I definitely enjoyed working with Mike and the others, along w/ Marley, and hope this works out. Their next shows will be at ImprovBoston in July, which would be funny, since the last time Mike and I played together was with ImprovBoston's sketch troupe, The Mumbling Prophets. I would love the opportunity to work with him again.

As for bookclub, it was a bit of a sad meeting, because member Tobias is moving back home to Sweden next week, and this is the last time we're going to see him (unless he comes back to Boston...OR the bookclub goes out to Sweden for a meeting, which I proposed ;-)). Tobias is such a friendly, intelligent guy, and every meeting was better when he was in attendance. (Not that meetings weren't good when he wasn't there; I really like this bookclub, that began thanks to Angela and Yahoo Groups). Ironically, Angela couldn't be there today, because of Easter, but Tobias took digital photos and she was certainly there in spirit. Karen Z suggested we try a Polish restaurant in South Boston. It was suprisingly easy to get there and a nice place, though my stomach kind of bothered me and I decided to forego eating (not a great idea before an audition, and before a workout, but I just wasn't hungry, and the food did look very appetizing). I hope we head out there again and I can try a patouche or whatever the doughy pastry is (man, I am bad at names, as noted earlier). Today's books were "Brave New World" and "1984," both of which I've read, though many years earlier, so I didn't re-read them and didn't have much to contribute. Well, for me. ;-) The timing was apropos, however, given Bush, both Dubya and Jed's, interference in the Terry Schiavo case (let the poor woman rest in peace, for the love of God, and instead focus on the war in Iraq, the tsunami victims, and the poor in America...oh, wait, "compassionate conservatives" don't care about that stuff. Never mind. Silly me.) . It was an interesting, albeit short, discussion, followed by a short work out at the gym. (Thankfully, my knees are getting better, day by day, and I walked on the treadmill for 40 minutes, using 3 lb weights.) I really, really wish I could use the bike or elliptical again, but my body isn't ready, alas. At least there will be a pool at the nice Sheraton I'm staying at in NYC! YAY.

So, today was a good day, overall, and I'm hoping the sore throat that has crept up will go away (I have no problem sleeping in tomorrow, as I did today; it's pretty nice), because the last thing I want is to be sick during a busy conference in New York. I'll knock wood hard and see what happens. Oh, and go to bed early, no question. I did tape "Buena Vista Social Club" off IFC today (don't get me started on how much I would love to have tiVo...), but I think I'll watch Thursday night's "The Daily Show," as soon as the Illinois/Arizona Elite Eight game ends (currently in overtime), and call it a day. And tomorrow, Anna and I will see a play, and I'll hopefully work out and then pack for the trip, along with reading The Sunday Globe.

Of course, I'll keep you posted re: auditioning and play submissions (no word's hard to wait, but it's better than finding out you weren't accepted, that's for sure).


Friday, March 25, 2005

Always Look On the Bright Side of Life (especially on Fridays)

Well, it's high time I wrote an uplifting post, is it not? And it's a lot easier to do that on a Friday night than a Sunday night; what a difference a couple of days makes! Anyway, it's been a pretty good week, made better by the fact that I'm off to New York for a Student Affairs Conference Monday morning. Swanky hotel, all expenses paid, networking, meeting up with improv friends; it's all good, or I hope it will be. It was also a fairly easy week at work, since it was Spring Break and few students came into the building. I love 'em, but it's easier to love them from afar. ;-) Actually, a nice thing happened: a student who is about to graduate brought me back some delicious chocolates from Ireland (yes, he's Irish, and has the nicest brogue). It was completely unexpected and just thoughtful. I may not get paid a ton of money in my job, but it's moments like that keep me working in higher ed.

I was also pleased that I was able to complete a yoga class today. I let Jess know that I was concerned about my knees (and showed her the left one, still bruised and yellowed, which must have thrilled her to no end), and she asked if I wanted to take the week off and rest. Naturally, I said no--as it is, I haven't worked out since last Saturday, save 50 minutes on the treadmill with weights one day (and plenty of icing of the knees that night)--and so I modified and it worked out fine. In fact, and this could just be coincidental or a placebo effect, my knees, esp. my left one, are bothering me less tonight than they were last night. It was a pretty rigorous class, too, but I got through it okay, with lots of deeeeeep breaths, and felt tired but happy afterwards. A few more hours of concentrated work and I was outta there and on a bit of a break til next Friday.

Tonight, I just watched "What Not to Wear," a guilty pleasure, and am going to read "Hypocrite in a Pouffy Red Dress" before bed (or start it--again--in hopes of actually finishing it at some point). Tomorrow, I have an audition for a local improv/sketch/theatrical troupe, and while my chances are minimal, for reasons I'd rather not get into, I do have a little material they might be interested in, and the audition is 2 1/2-3 hours, so that will be good practice, if nothing else. (Of course, I'd love to be chosen, b/c Mike, the founder/director, is so aggressive, not to mention talented, and those affiliated with him get on stage ALOT. He is as determined as anyone I personally know in Boston.) This follows brunch at a Polish restaurant with my book club. Sunday, Anna and I hope to see a play, and then I fly off to NYC on Monday morning. Oh, and of course there is the business of sleeping in. Very nice. Oh, and there is little snow on the ground, it's supposed to get into the 50s again by Sunday, and in five weeks I visit my sister and niece and nephew in Florida. So I have things to look forward to--not birthday, but we won't go there right now--and I feel more hopeful that my knees actually will heal in the near future.

No word from any of the festivals regarding my plays, but most of the deadlines haven't come yet. I can only hope and not get unnerved if the answer isn't favorable.

Every night should be Friday night.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Rejection's a Bitch...

as if you didn't know. Chortle. I fear that there will be many more posts like this, but I will try to keep them upbeat or at least not too downbeat, for fear that you will stop reading (assuming you're *still* reading). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the first "Thanks, but notonyerlifesucka!" email came my way last night, not the kind of pre-bedtime reading one enjoys getting. Granted, it was from a little-known festival in Somerville that few have heard of (I just stumbled upon it this year), and more importantly, it involved my play from last year, WORKIN' PROGRESS, which is no longer working or in progress, aka is on an extended hiatus. Still, it hurts to be rebuffed, and that's what my play, and by natural extension, I was, though of course I don't know this guy Greg, nor does he know me, aside from the few pleasantries exchanged via email. I want to say I don't care, and honestly, I don't care deeply--there have been far greater losses in my life, and rejections, and hurt, and those have been both emotional and physical (read: my bloody left knee which is not bloody but still hurts a lot and remains swollen and bruised, dammitalltohellandback). Nonetheless, it would have been nice to have gotten the opportunity to work with a new director (as my last one resigned right after a show I did at ImprovBoston in Cambridge) and show my work to a new audience, and that won't happen.

What I fear, to be frank, is that this is just the first in a long list of rejections to come, and that that is disheartening, to say the least. A co-worker, Sativa, showed me the rejections of one Abraham Lincoln, and they were plenty, but I, fellow blog people, am no Abraham Lincoln, to paraphrase John Kennedy in the worst way possible. I don't want to go through many defeats to come out on the winning side. I want to win NOW! No, it's not a competition--well, actually it is--but it's not about winning but about that damn V word (not victory, people, VALIDATION)--and just about the joy of sharing my work and having it appreciated and feeling as if I deserve the self-proclaimed label "writer." God knows, none of my short stories from grad school were ever published--I'm not saying any deserved to be, but others succeeded with comparable material, I'd wager--and so it's hard to justify the classification. Yes, I write, therefore I am a writer? I could say that, but frankly, just b/c I sing in the shower doesn't make me a singer, and if I act in the privacy of my bedroom (not sayin' I do, it's a hypothetical) but am not chosen to do so on stage, I would be hard pressed to call myself an actor. One writes b/c one must, but one is a writer b/c one can. Yes, I made that up. Brilliant, no?

In the meantime, I watch my email (and boy, do I watch it) with baited breath, hoping some fool takes pity on me--no wait--hoping someone recognizes the poignancy in one of my plays, or the humor, or the je ne sais quo--and selects a piece, even if it's just for a simple reading or for a two-minute shorts festival. It would be a start, and a real motivator, just as being cast in SLAMBoston's January Slam did wonders for my self-confidence, if briefly (not to mention my resume). I had a nightmare last night about being in an impossible situation, where I couldn't communicate and couldn't succeed and was berated by my current supervisor. I can only think it was related to my fear of failure and my desperation to be heard, and hope that the dream doesn't return or come true.

One down, eight or so to go...let's hope I have better news soon. In the meantime, I'm happy to report that Boston received virtually no snow (You were wrong, Weather Bug, and I laugh in your face, ha ha!), it's nearly TGI Friday, I have a trip to NYC to look forward to after a nice weekend (and an audition, but let's not go there now), and The New Yorker awaits. And with any luck, there are no rejection emails in my inbox this evening.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Happy Spring? It's Snowing Out!!!

Need I say more? Of course, I will, or this wouldn't be a valid entry, but how the HELL can it be snowing out again??? Mercy! And not just a few snowflakes, mind you, but a boatload of snow, 6-12 inches worth. I got suckered in yesterday, thinking, Yes, at last, Spring is on its way. I walked around the Public Gardens, noticed a few budding buds here and there, even felt *warm* for a few moments as I walked round the area in the 50 degree sunshine, and then...spiteful trick, Mamacita Nature! I took my gloves out of my winter jacket for the first time today, and put them right back in this evening. The snow has begun falling, and whilst never pretty to these eyes, it looks particularly bleak tonight. There will be more shoveling, scraping, blowing, and blasting, and maybe we'll see bare ground again in..oh, I don't know, May, perhaps? Tragic? No. But frustrating as all hell? You better, you better, you bet.

Meanwhile, I worry needlessly over things like my parking permit, fearing it's about to expire, and rushing out to my car, only to find it does indeed 2007! At least when I ran out last night in jammies and slippers, there was no SNOW ON THE GROUND. Oh, I can't help it. I detest the winter. Yes, like all faithful New Englanders, I complain about the weather constantly. However, unlike many, I adore summer. It can't be hot enough for me (unless it's 95 degrees w/ 99 percent humidity--only then do I crave some respite), and there are always cold, frothy, frosty drinks and air conditioning to see you through. The heat doesn't cause you to miss engagements because the roads are too slick, and you don't trip on the sidewalk because the sun was too strong. No, the summer is full of warm, bucolic days that last well into the evening, surrounded by greenery and outdoor concerts and birds and ice cream cones. What's not to like? Unless you ski or snowboard, what the hell is there TO LIKE in the winter? Yes, I'm a big fan of black ice and hypothermia. Silly me.

Let it NOT snow, please, for the love of God. I cannot take it anymore. I need to put away my shovel and my scarf and put on shorts and t-shirts and Birkenstocks. And I don't want to wait til my trip to Florida in May to do so, though I probably will have to.

My suntan lotion SCREAMS to be used...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Waiting and Anticipating

Happy Spring! I am sometimes frustrated by the weather, sometimes technology, and sometimes both. For example, I did attempt to publish something similar to this a few minutes ago, and was sadly told by Microsoft Explorer that something awful had occurred, some fatal error or the like, and it was shutting down. HOW DARE YOU? I silently raged, shaking my fist invisibly. I just wrote something brilliant! Of course, that's not true--I wrote something mildly amusing and informative, at best--but I can dream, can't I? 'Damn you, technology!' I silently rant in my best Jon Stewart voice. (Sigh. I love Jon Stewart. I'm too tired to watch The Daily Show tonight, but I'm taping it for tomorrow night, when I'm more alert and can appreciate his humor better.)

Oddly enough, I was writing about waiting for someone, ANYONE, to accept one of my short plays for their competition. Odd b/c here I am, waiting again for the blog to finish, sending something else out that may or may not be successful (one would think self-publishing would be safe enough, but not where technology is involved!). Of course, I'm not going to reject myself; I'll leave that to the millions (okay, tens or ones) of people who read this and think, Eh, she's not so clever or Wow, she's got a lot to say and she does so in such a perceptive, thoughtful, and eclectic way! Or those in between who have their moments of amusement in between fits of boredom. In any case, this is as close as I've come to being published so far. That could change any moment, of course, if the Dragonfly Festival--wherefore art thou, Dragonfly?--decides to accept my 20 minute play entitled UNCHARTED TERRITORY (chances: slim to none, considering it was a fairly rough draft AND others have already been accepted), or if the One - on - One Festival likes my one-woman show, WORKIN' PROGRESS (I was supposed to have heard by now, so that's not the best sign, but they are running behind, the producer told me), or if the one to two minute festival in Rhode Island thinks COMPUTER GUY is worthy of a quick entrance.

Oh, yes; there is also the Lumina Festival, to which I submitted both CHAIR, a five minute monologue about an emotive woman projecting onto an inanimate object, and PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES, a 10 minute suicidal mother/outcast daughter relationship piece. I know, I'm nothing if not full of fun. ;-) And there are a couple other festivals sprinkled in as well. I figured, Send it all out and see what sticks. You can't win if you don't try. The early bird catches the, that cliche doesn't work. Anyway, you get my point.

I frequently fantasize, particularly before bed, about all of them choosing to produce my pieces, and my being able to boast about it on my favorite bulletin board and in the Emerson and Mount Holyoke Alumane Magazines (as I rarely have anything of interest to report; make that pretty much never). And then I could say to friends and family, Well, I may not be Suzan-Lori Parks, the Pulitzer-winning playwright whose brilliant play TOP DOG/ UNDER DOG I hope to see in Newton this weekend, and whom I trained at the Mount Holyoke radio station a hundred years ago, but I have some talent. I can call myself a writer. I've written AND I've been produced! Clearly, one shouldn't need external validation to feel good about one's writing, but clearly I do. Plus, it would be fun to see my work staged (or read), and I think it would be ample impetus to keep writing. In the meantime, I have this blog to turn to, and perhaps it will inspire me to continue my literary efforts. If not, I can honestly say, I've been published, and no one can disagree. I will not be dissuaded, even by Microsoft Explorer.

Full disclosure: I hope some festival says yes. Just submitting is not enough. I want external validation! External validation rocks!

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Don't Fall on Me

Well, I'm back, and in relatively decent shape, considering that I fell down the stairs Saturday night, as previously mentioned in THIS HERE BLOG! My left knee, after much icing, feels a lot better, though it's still sore (as is the right knee and the right knee, unrelated to the fall), and I'm still not able to work out (it's been two days...mercy), so I'm becoming cranky. I don't like not being able to work out. It's very good for my body AND mind, and what I do when I can't eat is fee sorry for myself AND start eating more. Damn you, taco chips at work (so I brought them in--it was for Fabulous Friday and there were some left, and you can't just throw them out, can you?!). I decided to take a walk at lunchtime, despite the 35 degree weather (no snow or rain, however), and get 5 lb weights at City Sport to use at home, and that cheered me up a bit, along with the fact that I could walk without hobbling. Stairs are becoming a bit easier to navigate, and if I can't work out tomorrow, I should be able to do so by Wednesday, and hopefully can handle yoga on Friday.

Friday's yoga class with Jess is wonderful. She is a very calming presence, and she pushes you yet not too much and is very inspiring. She is also not skinny--she looks like a real person!--and that is encouraging to those of us who are also not skinny, although far from fat. I loved Dave's class--he taught Thursday nights at 5:30pm and Fridays at noon for a couple of years--but Jess's class is a nice way to start the weekend. At the end of the hour, you are tired but refreshed. This is the best way to feel after any kind of workout. I don't want to be bored, but feeling winded isn't such a great thing, either (though it's often the case after I've chugged away on the bike, level 10, hills, for 45 minutes, followed by floor and weight work). I really hate having any kind of routine interrupted, and I so look forward to my daily workout. When I can't, I begin to feel extremely sorry for myself, believe I will never be well (yes, I *am* a bit of a hypochondriac), and develop invalid tendencies. Whatever that means. I just know I am going to be an awful old person, what with my moaning about what I can't do anymore, my fear of memory loss (I'm already experiencing some word loss--or I think I can, and of course I can't even think of the proper name for it, so there you go!--Oh, wait--it's word retrieval issues--but still...), and my lack of use for gin, mah jong, poker, canasta, and all other card/tile games. If I end up trapped in my body, please do not torture me the way poor Terry Schiavo is, thanks to the U.S. government in part, as she continues being forced to live in a vegetative stage. Just end it. I hope it's fast and painless (but never happens, of course, as I have a morbid fear of mortality).

Some of this clearly comes from my years of extreme depression and suicidal feelings. What, you say? How does this connect? Well, if you spend your first 30 plus years feeling miserable and trapped (emotionally), and then finally begin to appreciate life, you also mourn for those 30 plus years you can't have back, and the relationships you have not yet had with men and may never, and you want the time back, and you dread middle age and the onset of illness and senility (which could, granted, be 50 or more years away, but STILL, it encroaches). And in doing so, you try to live in the moment, as any good improviser will tell you to do, and yet wish for more time, knowing it's not yours to have. Do I sound like a spoiled brat? I really don't mean to. I am grateful for my family, friends, health (KNOCK ON WOOD), job (MORE KNOCKING), and so on, but I have not yet reconciled all the years of discomfort and worse (the tears, the vulnerability, the feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing), and until I do, I may always fear death. When I have finally come to terms with the past, I will probably accept the inevitability of mortality...but they may never happen. It's something I'm working on, particularly when I'm *not* working out.

Meanwhile, if you're a nice, artistic guy between 35-45, I'm still looking for you...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Falling Down Is (Not So) Hard to Do

Well, I fell down the stairs today. I've done things like that before, but rarely has it been so scary. I've been working out too much--naturally--and as a result, my left knee has been pretty sore lately, along w/ my right heel (I think the latter is plantar fascitis, or however you spell it). I did my 45 minutes on the stationery bike today (level 10, hills), then situps and other floor exercises, and at the end was pretty tired and a bit achey. I went to the movies with my friend Anna to see Academy nominated shorts, animated and live action (it was okay, not great), and when it ended, we headed down some pretty steep, though carpeted, steps. I'm not sure what happened, but I think my left knee buckled, and I tumbled down four or five of them. It was frightening, b/c I *really* tumbled, and I couldn't stop myself. When I finally landed, I was pretty shaken up, and the conscientious managers grabbed a garbage bag of ice for my knee and a raspberry smoothie shake (pretty yummy, I have to say), and helped me recover my bearings. After about 15 minutes, I got up of my own accord and Anna and I went to Finagle a Bagel, where I age a hummus bagel and iced it more.

I was on the verge of tears and thought how lucky I was to have just bruised (hopefully not sprained) my knee (and as far as I know, the rest of my body is okay, though we'll see tomorrow). At the same time, I thought, as one is prone to do after something like this happens, how everything can change in an instant. What if I had sustained a concussion (as one of my sisters did earlier this week when she caught her foot in a chair and landed smack down on her head) or had broken my leg or my glasses or nose or far worse? Sure, my knee is uncomfortable (I'm icing as, type), and I attribute that in part to it already being weak, which seems incredibly unfair, as I'm trying soooo hard to lose weight and keep having setbacks in my workout progress. Still, I *can* walk, I can work out (or will be able to again in a few days, after rest and icing and Alleve), and many cannot. But of course we don't appreciate what we have til we lose it, or nearly do, and have to step back (or sit back, in my case) and think about our situation.

What doesn't get easier for me is engaging in a relationship with a man. Granted, I'm 41, but it wasn't much easier when I was 21 or 31 (or ll, for that matter). There were more available men then, true, but I wasn't ready to commit, or was too scared. I'm still scared but a lot more ready, and now there are very few men!!! Anna, who is also single, and I discussed this as I iced my elevated knee at dinner. Where do you meet these men? Online? Hardly (I've tried, trust me.) Personals ads? (Not successful for me.) Classes? (Women take classes; men seem to write on their own, and don't take acting classes unless they are gay; this is fine, of course, but of no help when looking for romance.) So where? Singles events? Well, there are a few, but they are usually disappointing? Work? Maybe, but I can't date (and wouldn't) students, and I don't meet many faculty (and many are already married or involved). So...where does this coupling happen? And when you've had few relationships, how can you tell if you meet the right (or potentially right) person? Should I give up? Should I risk injury, the way I have with my body when I work out (or just GO out!), or be content with my female friends and few male acquaintances? There is no right answer, of course. I just have to go about my week, working, working out (when I can), sending out plays, trying out for theatre groups, and hoping that somehow, someway, I meet a man if it's meant to be. In the meantime, I have to be more right with myself, including the stomach that isn't as flat as I'd like and the knee and heel that are sore and can't be pushed as hard as I'd like them to be.

But no one said this was going to be easy OR fun.

Back to the freezer...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ah, the ABSURDITY of it all!

Well, I saw two plays tonight at TheatreZone in Chelsea as part of Actors Revenge (where the actors pick the plays, the parts, and the directors), "A Woman Alone" by Dario Fo and Franca Rame and "Self-Torturous and Strenuous Exercise" (stupid title but rather interesting work) by Harry Kondeoen (nope, I haven't heard of him, either). Both plays were absurdist but worked, and my friend Anna and I tried to figure out why. We had seen "The Play about the Baby" by Edward Albee several months earlier, hated it, and wondered why these plays were more effective than that one. It suddenly hit me that it was b/c these both contained humor. "...Baby" is nothing if not extremely earnest; these plays didn't take themselves too seriously, particularly the second one. If you're going to deal with themes of adultery, attempted suicide, lack of faith, and death, you damn well better make include some humor if you want the absurdity to work. Otherwise, what do you have to go on? (Of course, the opinions expressed here are mine and mine only; your mileage may vary.)

Afterwards, as Anna and I weaved our way through parts of Boston unknown (what the hell is Route 99, anyway?!), I thought, Geez, why don't I try some humor in my plays? It seems so damn obvious, after four years of improv training and a stint in a sketch troupe, and I've included the wryly amusing line here or there, but that's it. Why not try black comedy? God knows, I can think some pretty disturbing thoughts, but my plays tend to be so HEAVY, and are not tempered by much humor. It can't hurt to try. I feel so lonely and sad so often, and I often use humor to compensate, and yet...not in my writing. So if I return to the short play about the father who buries his young daughter to teach her lesson in self-reliance (Freudian allusions, anyone?!), why not bring some more humor into it? Will it be successful? I have no idea, but I have to try. If Suzan-Lori Parks, a former schoolmate of mine at Mount Holyoke (not that she remembers, but I did train her on WMHC, the campus radio station), can win a Pulitzer for her work, I can come up with dramedy, surely. Or fail trying.

And no, not a word from any of the festivals I've applied to. DAMN YOU, FESTIVALS! I shake my fist in your face. Who holds auditions before plays have been chosen? (You know who I'm talking about, particularBostontheatre.) Rather absurd, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Am I ever going to get cast?! or Rejection SUCKS!

The answer--not so much. It's pretty disheartening to keep auditioning and to keep getting rejected. Aside from SLAMBoston at the Devanaughn Theatre in January (and it was a blast!), I haven't been cast in anything...well, EVER (or at least not since I was 15, my stint in "The Mumbling Prophets" sketch troupe notwithstanding, and that had OPEN admission!). Why, one wonders? Well, for one thing, I'm 41 years old, and most plays do NOT call for women who are in their 40s (unless you get to play someone's mother, and trust me, that is NOT the part for me). I'm also short and not skinny (though not heavy) and I'm not *in* with the cool kids. So what to do? Keep auditioning, of course!!! In the meantime, I booked a flight to Florida in May to visit my sister, niece, and nephew instead of sitting around waiting for the elusive role. It's just so much FUN to act, and I don't know why it all has to be so cliquey. Why can't you just do it? Lest you think I'm all complaining, no action, I did found, direct, and act in a longform improv comedy troupe at ImprovBoston called TBD, and we performed a number of shows, but the shelf life was only a year and we had to disband. I also co-founded a three-person longform troupe, SOCK, complete with sock puppets, which was a blast. Alas, Rick and Mike got older and I did, too, and they focused on applying to college and I regretfully moved on. I hope we'll do a reunion show this summer.

I also haven't had any of my plays produced, but in fairness, I only started writing plays during the past year, and only began sending them out to festivals this year (my one-woman show excepted). I'm not holding my breath, but I am going to keep writing and submitting, and maybe someone, somewhere, will think I have something worthy of saying and will put it on.
My dream is to be accepted into BU's Playwrighting program (guess I need to apply first, eh?), learn everything there is to learn, and then get my work produced. It could happen, right? I do have my MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, but when I attended ('92-'95), I was more interested in short fiction than plays (not sure why), and my 150 pp Thesis consists of short stories that are, to put it kindly, not that strong. I guess I needed 10 more years to find my voice AND find my topics that had nothing to do with me, and now I have. At last. I'm ready to write, people. Watch out! Rejection is inevitable, and unavoidable, but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like hell.

If anyone wants to take a look at one of my plays, let me know. In the meantime, I've got a new play to write and the Hovey Players are looking for short plays for their summer festival...time is awastin'.

Monday, March 14, 2005

My first post!

Well, this is pretty exciting! My first blog entry ever. Remember this date: March 14, 2005. It's not the Ides of March, but it's the Ides of Soobee!!!

Anyway, I decided to blog because I'm a writer and I have lots of things I think about. No one may care or many may, but I'm putting them out there and seeing what will stick.
If you're wondering about me, I work for a small design school as Director of Student Affairs. I am an advisor, a writing center consultant, and a gym-a-holic by day, and a would-be dramatist by night/weekends (as well as the proud aunt of four nieces and one nephew, ages 2-8). I am trying to get one of my short plays produced and I frequently try out for theatrical productions, to no avail (save for the SLAMBoston Festival in January at the Devanaughn Theatre). Endlessly hopeful (or at least persistent), I continue to audition, hoping *someone* will be interested in casting me (or accepting one of my scripts).

As far as my personal life, suffice it to say I'm seeking a creative, artistic, but down-to-earth guy who likes to do stuff and isn't insane. That seems reasonable enough, but somehow isn't. Don't ask me why.

Things I can't live without: Sobe Power Beverages, my mp3 player (a Blue Creative Zen Micro, with 1,500 songs on it--I kid you not), The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, my gym, my family and friends, humor, fun, the ocean, my computer, and The Boston Globe. Things I COULD EASILY live without: snow, ice, cold, cancer and all forms of disease, the war in Iraq, mean or thoughtless people, rape, murder, and sausages (ick).

Sometimes I feel so small and meaningless in this large, vastly uncaring world, and then I think about my family, especially Sammi, and smile. Sometimes I want to stop eating until I weigh virtually nothing, but then I remember how much I love microwave popcorn or nachos (temporarily on hold) and allow myself to eat. I think I have something to share with the world--my love of expression and my need to create--and I just have to keep on going until I'm satisfied. Mostly, I have to remember that without inner peace, nothing is possible, so I persevere and seek. And wait for Spring.

Peace out.