Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Hello, gentle reader, as someone once said...Anyway, I am back and blogging, at least for now. How could I do otherwise on New Year's Day? It's a look back, forward, and in the moment. My yoga teacher said yesterday that she didn't like the word resolutions for two reasons: 1) to resolve is to commit to something, and it's inflexible; and 2) solution means there is something wrong that needs fixing. Instead, she said, be in the moment, e.g., right now, I am not smoking or eating or whatever it is you are trying not to do. Not that I am a non-smoker (BTW, I don't smoke) or a succesful dieter (I try, but don't do too well on that end), but the point is that whatever I am or am not doing is IN THE MOMENT. It is so hard, but Naima is such an inspiration. She always says to take whatever you learn on the mat off it and use it in your every day life, and of course, this make sense perfect sense. You try, but you don't push yourself over the edge; you find your edge and work with it. So if it's hard, don't be afraid to go for it, but don't be afraid to modify or back off if you're just not ready to do it. That's so true for yoga poses (some things are not hard for me, others I just can't do, or struggle with), but you just keep trying and breathing and staying in the moment, and that's all you can do. It does help, too. Yoga helps your flexibility but also your mind. Whenever I can't sleep, and that's been a problem for me over the past few months, though it's getting better, I repeat her mantra--I breathe in, I breathe out--and eventually that, along with turning onto my back (maybe b/c that's where you end the practice with Shivasina (sp?)), helps me sleep. I do find this a very important part of my life, and make sure to get to every class (this is the longest, 90 minutes) every week if at all possible. I also try to get to at least one other yoga class a week, and I feel the difference.

Unfortuntely, I have had to cut way back on my exercise, after injuring both of my knees on the elliptical machine at the gym three weeks ago. This has been exceedingly hard for me, both mentally and physically. Working out was certainly good for my body, but also helped me relax or get past difficult times. I clearly overdid it (working out 5-6 times/week), and so I paid the price (even after tweaking my knee, I stayed on the machine for another 8 minutes, and that can't have helped). Since that time, my knees have bothered me, sometimes a LOT, and that has confined me to abs work, some (not much) walking, and yoga, though I did get to swim in Florida, where I vacationed during the past week (more on that in a minute). I begin physical therapy in two days, and I can't wait. I need help with my routine, and I want to heal and move on. I am sure I will have to modify, probably quite a bit, but I am prepared to do so (really, I have no choice, right?). I have gained a bit of weight (not surpringly) during this time, but more importantly, I just haven't been happy. I want and need to work out, and this has severely impinged my efforts. But sometimes your body says to slow down, and I guess this is what happened. I hope to back to some sort of routine soon. I know I need to find alternate ways to relax and to feel better, but it's hard for me. It's always an upward battle. Perhaps I'll just need to swim more, as my father does, and if need be, then need be.

As far as Florida, I was there for six days, visiting my parents, who are there for the winter, my sister, and her two children, and I had a wonderful time, perhaps the best time I've ever had. I so needed the rest, and I got it. I also walked, swam, as I mentioned, went to the beach twice, two more times than I went all summer, ate at nice restaurants, got some quality time with my niece and nephew (much needed), explored some areas of Jupiter, FL (where my parents are staying--it's beautiful there), did some shopping (just for shoes and a very cool new ring, the only I've ever bought, I think), read (David Rakoff, highly recommended), and got to chill out. And after some stressful times at work and the knee injury, along with being sick the entire time during Thanksgiving (just like last year), I really, really needed the break. I am going back in March, and am already looking forward to it (my parents were right when they said I should go back). It makes the winter feel shorter already, though it's been mostly in the 40s in Boston since late October, which is bizarre. (Global warming? God, I hope not.) It was very hard to come back to snow and 30s weather, though, when it had been high 70s and sunny as I left Ft Lauderdale, and I came back pretty depressed. Nice vacations will do that to me, and I need to keep the good times with me longer, though I'm not sure how to do that right now.

As for writing, well, it's been a bit (or more than a bit) of a struggle. I did write three new plays in the fall, and that makes me really happy. One in particular, called SHOOT, about a convenience story incident with a homeless man, came pretty easily and is perhaps the best play I've written (though I guess we'll see). I do continue to submit. I also continue to be rejected. One in particular stung a lot--18 plays were taken for ACME's festival in Maynard, MA in January, including Debbie's (my favorite play of hers), and I know 10 of the people whose plays were accepted, but neither of mine were. Granted, I didn't have the strongest plays to submit (I hadn't written the last three yet), but one, THE SATCHEL, I do like, and for some reason no one else does. I will bring it back to my writing group, Write-On, to see if they have suggestions. I hope the others bring me some measure of success, as I'm proud of them. I submitted two plays to the Boston Theatre Marathon in May (I'll hear in mid-to-late February if I've been accepted), and while I can't even begin to feel confident about this, as it's extremely competitive, I do like the two plays I submitted, so I'll just see if I get lucky. I'm reading plays for them now--30, as a matter of fact--and I've been pretty underwhelmed to date, though I've recommended a few for production. As always, it's a crap shoot, and others are just as likely to dislike mine as I've theirs. At least it's anonymous, so I don't feel badly about saying no (and explaining why).

Writing is just so hard. I have not in any way figured out how to get through the rejection portion of the process--whether in be in rejections or in having to rewrite plays that are getting there but aren't yet--and my friend and mentor Edd thinks I may not have the strength to keep writing. He finds rewriting "joyous," and I do not. So we'll see how the next year goes. I am not giving up yet, but I do need to learn how to be less reactive, as my therapist says. It's just a continual battle, really. I can only keep trying. I am applying to a writer's colony in Woodstock, NY for a four-week retreat this summer. I may well not get in--it's competitive--but it would be a wonderous chance to get away and just write (and take walks and meet other writers, but mostly to write). The president of the college I work for really thinks I should apply, and will be one of my references, so there is no reason not to apply, and it's only $25 and a short essay and samples of my work for the application, so I'm going to do it. And wait and see. I also applied for a Mass Grant for the Arts, but that is beyond a long shot. I just felt, well, it's free, and I *could* get lucky. Just to attempt it was to put myself out there in a positive way. But I can tell you that an acceptance, ANY acceptance, would go a long way toward making me feel better right now.

Aside from that, NYE was pretty eventful. My friend Anna and I went to First Night Boston, which wasn't that exciting, though we saw an amazing band, the Holmes Brothers (three 70-something musicians, all brothers), who played blues, r&b/soul, and pop music and are amazing. 45 minutes was not nearly enough time to experience their music and joy at playing it, so we'll see if they are coming back to the area and will certainly go to their show if they play Johnny D's or Harper Ferry's, two local blues clubs. We also trotted around the Hynes Convention Center (not much this year), and got home by 11:15pm, which was fine with me. I saw the ball drop and went to bed. A friend and I are going to brunch today and then I'll read more plays and watch the Rose Bowl and try to prepare myself for a tough month at work (portfolio reviews, registration, New Student Orientation, and classes starting up). As my sister pointed out, I've been doing this for 11 1/2 years, so you'd think it would get easier by now, but it doesn't. I haven't checked email the entire time I've been off, a rarity for me, so I suspect I will have over 100 emails to come back to, but I'll try to breathe deeply (see yoga above) and just deal (knowing I have physical therapy will certainly help, since it will get me back on track).

And that's pretty much how it's been with me for the past two months. Frustrations with writing, but that's nothing new; tough times at work, that I've managed to get through and learn from; plays I've ushered for and enjoyed (and one audition that didn't go particularly well and convinced me--I hope--not to audition ANY MORE); a couple of fun outings with book club friends; a wonderful trip to Florida; some depression that I hope will dissipate (it's starting to) and not return; and great movies I've seen (through NetFlix, a constant friend) and shows I've taped (thank you, Comcast DVR, and how did I go so long without you?). The Patriots made the playoffs, which always makes me happy, though my dad is in Florida, so we can't watch it together, which does NOT make me happy (we'll talk about it during the game, however, and that's always fun). The spending issues are, well, not going that well (some GAP outings; I can't get over this obsession), but I've managed to keep my finances in check for the most part, I guess. I need a new lamp for my apartment, and my sister's very cool framed print (my Chanukah gift) to go up on the wall (it won't, b/c of the plaster), and my dream is a flat screen TV (my 25-inch Magnavox is starting to go, as I expected) and then my comfy chair from Crate and Barrel (I have the picture of it above my computer, as something to look forward to). I do love my apartment though, with the convenience, the space, the nice neighbors, and so on, and keep it very clean so I can entertain friends here, as I've done. My hope for 2007 (not resolutions) are that I stay healthy (no more colds for a while!!!), happy, and calm, and have fun whenever possible. I learn to work with adversity, don't rely on food (binging in particular) and spending to get me through the tough times, and that I figure out how to enjoy writing without the accompanying devastation I often feel. These won't all be easy to achieve, but they are worth trying for.

Happy New Year to all, with health and happiness. I will try to write more often, particularly if I have good news to share. And I hope to. For now, I breathe in, I breath out, and that's the way one gets through life.