Monday, July 10, 2006

A creature of habit

I get an apartment, I lose an apartment...that's just the way my life feels lately, incredibly topsy turvy. The apartment I loved in Coolidge Corner fell through and I was devastated (trust me, it takes little for me to get that way). That same day, after seeing three more places, and feeling extremely discouraged, I saw a fourth and took it. It was as expensive as most of the other apartments I had seen, plus $50 more for a parking space behind the building, BUT my insurance costs are cut in half because I'm moving from Brighton to Brookline (see ya, bye, Boston College students), so that pays for the car (plus you can't GET parking spaces for $50 in Brookline, but I got lucky), and I'm really glad I don't have to give it up. I've had a car for 21 years, since I graduated from college (eek, 21 years), and it would be hard to give up the independence of owning one, though most of my friends don't. The apartment is a little further out than the one I'd originally taken, but it's a bit closer to Boston, only about a five minute walk from the subway, and it's the second floor of a converted house. It has bay windows, hardwood floors, and, as I recall, is very large for a one-bed, probably 700 sq feet, maybe larger, with laundry in the basement. It all happened very quickly, so I'm not entirely sure what I'm getting, but it felt right, and I just felt as if I had to take something I liked, so I did.

I'm trying to get familiar with the apartment (I've lived in this one for eight years, since I'm a creature of habit, and it's tough to think about living somewhere new, even if it turns out to be nicer than my present situation), so I have both walked and driven by it, and will continue to do so until August 15th, move-in day. Alas, that is also the first day of course registration at the BAC, but I have no choice; the landlord wouldn't let me postpone it (he will do repairs/touch ups the first two weeks of August, and then I'll move in), so I have to move that morning and work that afternoon. Major stress, but I have been given the okay (I think) to start moving in that Sunday, and it should help a bit. My sister in Florida advised me not to rush into taking a place, but I couldn't live with the uncertainty of not knowing where I would be come September 1, so I took the plunge and I hope I found made the right decision. I guess I'll find out come August 15th. I have begun the necessary phone calls (got a mover, contacted the insurance agency and my bank), and need to do the post office stuff and call the cable company this week (the latter only schedules one month out, so I can't call before Friday). I feel very relieved but also inexplicably sad this evening, and I think it has less to do with the move (though that was the case this past weekend, when I had yet another meltdown) and more to do with the this month's playwrighting meeting, where I was once again reminded of how I did NOT get into a local playwrighting festival, nor was I given the courtesy of an email (I only found out b/c I went on said festival's website and noticed I was not on the list). Sometimes, I think these playwrighting meetings are not for me, b/c the hurt outweighs the benefit. I have to consider this for the future.

On the happier news front, I won tickets to see the Dave Matthews Band/Sheryl Crow at Fenway Park this past Saturday night (just a chance thing, as I was the fourth caller to The River, and had I really been trying to get through, I wouldn't have). It was by far THE BEST CONCERT I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. It was beyond wonderful. Saturday night was perfect (light breeze, not too warm but not chilly), Sheryl Crow was terrific (I knew all but one song, a new one, and sang along to them all), Anna and I had tickets above but right near the stage, and DMB blew me the hell away. I could not believe the musicianship. I danced like crazy, and would not hesitate to see them again (my sister in Florida is going in a few weeks--she got lawn seats, and I told her to go, b/c her husband has never seen them, and EVERYONE MUST SEE DMB). I will remember that concert for a very long time. I also saw "No Exit" at the A.R.T. in Cambridge on Sunday afternoon. It was a fantastic performance (and I am usually not a big absurdist/existential play fan, though I also loved "The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia" at the Lyric Stage in the spring). For me, there's only one answer to why I enjoy some productions and not others: THE ACTING MUST BE SUPERB. When I saw "The Play About The Baby" a few years ago, it was pretty bad, and I think that was at least in part due to the weak acting. You need experienced actors and a very skilled director to interpret Albee or Sartre's intent and bring the audience into their world, and most can't get there. (This was probably the best play I've seen all season, and I've seen a lot of them.)

The stage was also very unique and odd--it tilted in all directions about 95 percent of the time, to indicate instability, I think, and a world (aka Hell) that was askew and unfamiliar and it WORKED (though I might have cut some of it, b/c the actors looked slightly uncomfortable at times, and clearly had to work very hard at talking and moving at the same time). OTOH, I learned they had a chance to work with the set before they even spoke any of their dialogue in rehearsal (and they are, as noted, extremely skilled actors), and that probably made all the difference. The actors in my one-act play at the Five Festival did not have a chance to work with the blocks that covered the stage, and...well, you know where this is going. I try to get my play's production out of my head, but it keeps rearing its ugly head. As Stephen Colbert would say, Moving on. I am writing again, and have just finished two one-minute plays, with a third to come. But a one-minute play, you snicker? How hard could THAT be? Did it take you, say, ONE MINUTE to write it? No, do not scoff, my friends. It can take up to two hours (maybe more) if you actually want to do it write. A one-minute play is simply a compressed version of a longer one. You still need to include characters, tension, and dialogue. You are forced to compress your dialogue and situation, so you must be brief, concise, get right in and out, and really focus on a brief moment in time. But it's a fun exercise, very good practice for longer pieces, and in fact you can write pretty interesting plays. I've read some strong ones (my friend Edd writes terrific short pieces), and hopefully mine are relatively decent as well. I submitted three of them to a one-minute play festival (yes, they exist), and hope to have at least one more to write this week.

Finally, this Friday I am involved in the "Plays Written Yesterday" marathon in Billerica, MA through fusionworks (, where I have eight hours to write a 10-minute play that will be performed the next evening. I am both excited and terrified by the opportunity, and I'll be back with more information after it's over (and good luck to me, cause I'll need it). In the meantime, I'm off to Western Mass to visit my sister and nieces tomorrow, and then I'll be back to write, pack (well...think about packing, anyway), work out, and try NOT to check my work email (very stressful, since I'm not actually there to help out the students). More updates coming soon, and congratulations to Stephen Colbert, whose show just won four Emmy nominations (I don't know about The Daily Show, but I'm sure it received several as well). Long may you wave the flag, Stephen (and if you tumbled with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, your "Strangers with Candy" co-stars, on your show EVERY night, like you did tonight, I would never miss an episode). I'll try to survive a night without Wendy's chicken strips combo and my Starbucks green tea frappucino while I'm away. As I said, I'm a creature of habit.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Thank you for coming, July; I need you.

And I say that because June was one of the worst.months. ever for me. I've already gone into some of this in my last entry, so I won't repeat what I've already posted. The Five Festival ended last Saturday, and I was quite relieved. While pleased with the p.r. job I did and the four (!) sold-out houses and the strong plays (well, except for mine, IMHO), I couldn't enjoy it more b/c I was so unhappy with the production of my play. That's about all I will say about it, except to note that my director and I had a "debriefing" which mostly consisted of him telling me everything that was wrong with the process and blaming everyone (including himself). I *know* I have to be far more careful (if possible) in selecting a director next time. There is a chance it will quite some time before "Uncharted Territory" gets produced again, b/c many festivals/theatres won't take produced work, especially for one-acts and full-lengths. But I did make some changes after seeing it up on its feet four times, including a slight but *key* revision to the end, and so I will patiently wait for the time it can get produced again.

In more significant news, I had THREE meltdowns last week, all on Saturday. I worked in advising for New Student Orientation (which went really well all the way around), but it was tiring, and I had not gotten home til close to 1:00am the night before b/c of the festival, so I was beat. Afterwards, I went to my office and sobbed. Then I met my friend Anna for dinner, and all I could do was cry in Wendy's (how pathetic is THAT???). I called my mom and dad in tears and told them not to come to the play. They were naturally very concerned, but I explained why, and later called to say they were glad I called back to say I was doing better, and they offered to take me to lunch the next day after yoga (very nice of them). Then we walked to the Devanaughn, where I sat with Anna and a couple of other people, saw my play a last time, and (unwisely) went to the cast closing party in a bar. I HATE bars (too loud and crowded and I don't drink), so I stayed maybe 40 minutes and then Debbie, another actor, and I walked to the T and I got home. I was okay at this point, UNTIL I read the email that said I had to move out of my apartment b/c it was being sold (I've been here for eight years, and aside from the parking issues, it's been nice, and the rent hasn't been raised for seven years). I completely lost it again, sobbing in my bed till I finally fell asleep, 40 minutes later. I couldn't believe that after all that happened in June, this had to come about. The next morning, I was in *slightly* better spirits (SLIGHTLY), and went to yoga (despite being 60 minutes instead of 90 now--I HATE you, Boston Sports Club, for that), then had Thai food with my parents. I was alright by then, and after they left my apartment (too stuffy for my dad), I watched the Red Sox and tried to relax.

It all seemed so unfair; too much for me to handle in one month. But I started to check real estate listings on craig's list,,, and (let me say right now that many of them are bunk or expired), and that felt proactive. My therapist was not happy that I had obsessed over the play with my director (I try to get over it, but it will probably take a while, to be honest) but VERY happy that I had started real estate hunting, b/c that meant I was taking charge of the situation. I had Friday off, so I spent ALL DAY (11am-6:30pm) looking at apartments, both by myself and toward the end with Anna. I saw a place I LOVED right away; it's in Coolidge Corner (heart of Brookline), so right on the subway, with hardwood floors and pristine white walls, bay windows in the living room (sigh, LOVE THEM), a decent-sized bedroom and bath, long hallway, and a long, narrow kitchen with modern appliances where I can put my bookcases and maybe other things. Did I move too quickly? It's hard to say. Emotionally, I could not handle looking for long. Also, I have been told that if you find a place you love, you TAKE it, b/c you know it's right for you. Also, in this area, these places that you (barely, but still) afford are few and far between. I called more places yesterday morning and looked online, decided this was probably the best I could, went back to the apartment (3rd and last time), talked to two tenants who LOVED living there but are moving back home to save money before they get married, checked out things in the apartment (hot water, radiators, outlets, cable location), and decided to take it. I put down my last month's rent and filled out paperwork (but not the lease; that will be next week) and went home, very excited.

My sister Laural, while happy I had found an apartment, was very concerned about my financial situation, but...but...this is what I felt I had to do (and I BETTER get a 5 percent raise in September!). I will have to give up my car at the end of the year, and that will be tough. While I HATE IT (it's a piece of crap Kia, though paid off), it's still transportation, so it's useful. However, there is zip car, which is a great option and VERY popular around here (convenient, not really expensive, no gas or insurance required, and just an initial one-time fee of $50). I will have to get used to being an in-the-city commuter (most of my friends are) and happily, I have a 15 minute shorter commute to work (it will now be 15 minutes, tops, door to door) and much easier way to get into Boston. This apartment is by Trader Joe's, restaurants, two CVS's (key for me), a supermarket (not so key), my bank, and so on, and the subway is THIRTY SECONDS AWAY. My life will certainly change as a result, but I think it's a good time for it to happen.

Of course, my accountant was far from thrilled when he heard this, and we will discuss it via phone tomorrow. But I will make it work, and change can be very good. Now I can spend my time off in July WRITING, which I had intended to do, and not apartment hunting. And I will moving to a really nice place in a really nice location, where I can feel proud. Now I just need to chill out. Desperately. (And getting into another festival couldn't hurt, as I just got rejected from a local one that I think basically included friends of the producer and was NOT read blindly, so it stung.) My playwright friend Edd (successful and so kind) always helps keep things in perspective for me, and so he said Move on, and so I shall. Right now, I am moving onto the gym. :) And I'll try to be better about posting. I need, NEED this month to be a better one, so my fingers are crossed and I'm knocking wood. Oh, one more thing. Rich at Arlington Players would like me to stay on in some kind of role (certainly in the area of publicity), and I felt happy about that. :)