Friday, January 29, 2010

where the hell have you been?

Well, if I had the energy I'd write some ragingly witty telling of the wedding monster that took a chunk out of my ass shortly after the new year, and has been battling me ever since. But the truth is, I'm distracted by the class I'm teaching, the class I'm taking, and the writing I have to get done for other people and other things.

And I really do feel like I fell underneath a giant, tulled and be-ribboned thing, a thing of registries and rehearsal dinners and formalware and invitations that just made me forget I was a person with a life outside having a wedding.

There is some normalcy to my life now: I am back to teaching, and sitting in on a class is going to force my writing in a way that I haven't felt in years. There simply are more important things for me to do than obsess about crafts and parties. This week I gave a reading at a bar on Chicago's north side about the woman that I accidentally became through a series of missteps in my early 20s. Here's a taste.

You ever heard of that frog in the pot of water that slowly boils to death because it can’t feel the water temperature getting hotter? I was that frog: the CEO of my job puts up a racially offensive poster, and when I complain about the message it sends to our kids, he refuses to take it down; temperature goes up three degrees. A kid at one of my schools blatantly ignore my instructions, picks a fight with another kid, and gets expelled, temp goes up two degrees. When I ask my boss for guidance, she tells me that if I“affect a blacker attitude” my kids will listen to me, four degrees. One of my students suffers from heat stroke, and instead of calling 9-1-1, my superiors slap wet paper towels on her and force her to drink water until she’s responsive, five degrees. I was confused, insecure and desperately unhappy. But somehow I just couldn’t harvest enough initiative to do something about it. Devon and Natasha did
whatever they could to take my mind off how unhappy I was, which generally involved pot and booze. There was always something to drink or smoke in the
house, and they were willing to share.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day Laborer Theatre Without Borders

A dear friend of mine has been at work using theatre to make the world a better place. This past Sunday, the LA Times decided to write about it.,0,2370702.story

When I graduated from undergrad, I remember thinking that as powerful a medium theatre is, as evocative and moving, that somehow I just didn't have the thing, the thing that an actor or a director needed, to make it what it could be. I lacked the vision to project it out of the box, or the patience to listen to the story under the story, or something. I consider myself lucky to have people in my life, no matter their distance, who can use this elemental and timeless art to reach everyone.

Art is magic, my friends. It is a power and a gift, and we should put as much of it into our lives as we can hold.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

it never rains in southern california.

things I saw while in san diego/los angeles for the 2010 new year:

  • a woman walking down the concourse hallway with a curling iron in her hand. She had a full face of makeup and freshly flipped ends, and looked not like her bag had just been searched, but like she's just gotten made up in order to get on a plane.
  • a light-skinned African-American woman pacing various gate areas working security. She had small eyes behind coke-bottle glasses. She was big: at least 6'2'', broad shouldered and hipped, the kind of girl who got called Sasquatch in middle school by her "friends", who now feels like the odd one out when she goes out to the club with her girlfriends.
  • sign for a hotel: "Kelly's Stake House & Sing Along Piano Bar"

  • The Ohio State University Buckeyes stomp on the Oregon Ducks in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
  • Brutus the Buckeye spell out O-H-I-O with his legs while in a headstand (that mascot's god skills).
  • dozens of people--no exaggeration, the minute we stepped off the plane, for four and a half days--giving my fiance and me the stink eye. The look that says, "he's asian, and she's black... wait, what's going on here?" When you look back at them, they either smile, so you know they're friendly, or they look away because you caught them staring at you in all your mulit-culti glory. Evidently, interracial dating still a pretty significant anomaly in southern cali.
  • a discarded crab claw in the parking lot outside the Newport Seafood Restaurant. Inside, teeming with Asian Americans of various generations, tables brimming with turntables, and more annihilated lobsters, stir-fried with ginger and scallions, than I'd ever seen in my life. Tasty, but a little difficult for me to eat just the same.

  • farmers' market: featuring olive trees (which thrive in climate), rosemary (which can grow wild), and a booth that sold gluten-free, sugar free cookies. I bought two.
  • Satsuma, at $3 a pound. I asked the guy if I could buy one, and he just gave it to me. It's like having a ball of sunshine in your hand, and then eating it, juicy sweet piece by piece.

  • The Lakers absolutely shellac the Dallas Mavericks, 131-96. It's either a testament to how little I care about the Lakers, how quiet the fans are during play, or how poorly I slept the night before to say that I fell asleep during the first half, and some of the second half, too. My sweetheart, however, was fairly coming out of his seat with joy at having attended his first pro game of his favorite team. I wish our seats had been better, or that it would have been a closer game, but in between cat naps, I could tell how much he was enjoying himself; the delight on his face was totally worth it.
  • (FYI, there were more black people at this basketball game, than I saw everywhere else I was: san diego, pasadena, the Rose Bowl, alhambra, hiking in la jolla. Nobody can accuse southern california of not having a diverse population: incredibly international, huge asian american and latino populations, as well as citizens from other parts of the world. And yet, there were just so few black people around. They must all really be in that localised part of LA that everyone says they are.)
  • a domestic disturbance between an interracial couple on the street. While walking from the Staples Center to our hotel, a leggy blond in heels and jeans stalked after her date, a black man in pointy-toed shoes and a nice sweater, and reamed him out for evidently abandoning her on the street. "Excuse me! Excuse me! What the fuck is wrong with you, when you're just gonna walk away from your woman on the street! You're the only guy on the street without a girl here, and you're just gonna leave me back there? How about having some fucking manners? And being a fucking man?" His volume was considerably softer than hers, but not soft enough for her not to hear him answer back, and respond, "What the fuck did you just say to me?" The two of them disappeared through a side door of a high-rise, on to what I can only hope was a less violent interaction than the display we witnessed.

Traveling is always so full of information for me; I feel like I return home with a brain brimming with ideas and material, and this trip is no exception. My body feels like shit, because despite our host's best efforts, the food I ate wasn't really great for keeping me healthy, so I see a detox in my immediate future, just so I can behave like the healthy individual I know I am. I really need to get back in the gym, and I've probably eaten enough fish to last me all of January. But I got a chance to get to know my future brother-in-law better, and I've learned about my fiance based on seeing the two of them together, and maybe all this time and energy will pay off relationally. I know it'll show up in my work.

Happy New Year.