on rehearsal

It's been a long time since I've been in a play.

Well, really not that long, I suppose. "Clue" was only last July, but it seems like eons ago.

I cannot adequately express how good it feels to again be a part of a cast I respect, to be spending hours of time working on a piece of ephemeral art, to obsess over the minutiae of text and character. I spent about four hours a night for four nights at rehearsal this week, and on the fifth night, I was regretful that we didn't have another.

There's something magical, too, in sitting in a park on a blanket night after night, having people come by and watch us, their dogs running through the grass, the stars warm and misty above. The words themselves are beautiful, and they echo over the hill that serves as the amphitheater in a way that regular, unscripted speech never could.

I am nourished and happy in a way I haven't been in a long time. And while it's impossible to tell how good a show is until it goes up, the feeling in the pit of my stomach says we've hit on something good.

(Merchant of Venice opens in three weeks at Himmel Park. Would love to see you there.)


welcome to the information age

There was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia today. I was alerted because my sister texted me about a half hour later with "And we just had an earthquake." (She was unharmed and more concerned about her recent Russian class placement.)

Some people, apparently, were alerted even more quickly than that:
One Twitter user, @allisonkilkenny, a blogger and contributing reporter for The Nation, wrote: "Weirdest moment: Seeing the people I'm following in DC tweet 'earthquake' seconds before I felt it here in NYC."
(from USAToday)

Apparently, Twitter moves faster than earthquakes.


things I like this week, vol. 15

Our friend Justin has been doing these little segments on Sonoran Living, and they're awesome (if you can get past the obnoxiously fake comments of the host). They're great if you like wine but don't know enough to speak coherently about it.

. . .

A fun personal essay on wine pairings.

. . .

It's a father (the artist) and son. He's done several. I love this one the best, because somehow their eyes seem to have the same emotion in them; I want one of my sister and I.

. . .

Everything about this cover amuses me.

. . .

Cleopatra (on the left). A National Geographic photo of the day.

. . .

Awesome because it was taken in a studio (a good lesson on how photographs can lie), but also because it embodies the spirit of something that was missing from my summer.


a day in potential facebook updates

How to spoil a Tasha: Bailey's AND amaretto in her coffee.

Little kids made the best dancers. They're so unselfconscious. J came in when I was playing a slow song and crept fantastically across the floor, doing weird things with her arms, and it was wonderful. She dances when almost any music comes on, even if it's just a theme song on the TV.

Colin, on needing more space while washing his hair: My elbows need to be free to fly. (pause) I once took out an entire murder of crows that way. (pause) There was only one that lived. He said he'd be my spirit animal. (pause) I turned him down, though. He was asking for too much in royalties. (pause) I wonder if the other crows would have called him a war profiteer.

I bought red lipstick yesterday - a brighter color than I've ever used. It makes me happy.

Still remarkably unconcerned about school starting tomorrow.

My fortune cookie: "Your mind is quick and sharp today. Do something dramatic." I suppose a surprise milonga in red lipstick is dramatic enough.

Colin's fortune cookies: "More art in your life at this time will help you feel better" and "The star of riches is shining on you this month." One of those requires the other; and combined, they would be the attainment of a dream. In the interest of that, go buy his book.

Just bought a new booster seat so that Colin can start taking Joley to school. She fits the weight requirement, but she looks so tiny and frail in what is essentially just the regular seat belt.

I haven't been able to find my glasses all day.

I feel like a tattoo of something's logo automatically qualifies you for the title of corporate whore. You've turned yourself into free, permanent advertising. And yes, I think less of you.

In the interest of being well-rested tomorrow, I am hoping that I continue to be teacher-nightmare-free this evening.


on class reunions, pt. 1

So apparently my ten year class reunion is coming up.

I wasn't surprised - my best friend, who graduated the year before me, had hers just recently. Their event was $65 for a hotel ballroom and some appetizers, so I was hoping, when the time came, that it might be suggested that our reunion be something a little more worth the investment.

A week or so ago, a member of my class started a couple facebook groups in order to try and organize at least a committee to start working on it (since clearly no one had started any work so far). In the intervening time, as perhaps could've been predicted, people were apparently offended by her initiative and willingness to help, and started calling for the "right" people to be on the committee (namely, student government - only one of whom has even participated in the discussions, so far as I can tell). Eventually, someone else commandeered the group and said that *she* was going to take control, "not to step on any toes." She was applauded.

It's been an interesting but slightly off-putting microcosm of how people behaved back in high school. Equally interesting has been observing how the suggestions of activities very much reflect the types of people we've divided into as adults: one suggestion was a bar-crawl of 4th ave dressed as Cowboys and Indians; another was a family picnic so we could all get our kids together; a third was a golf tourney. Several people suggested the places they got married as nice, relatively inexpensive locations. One person has requested no events on Sunday so that the Sabbath can be observed. It seems that people are focusing on what has become most important in or typical of their current lives.

The idea of a class reunion, to me, is only mildly interesting. I would like to go if it were an event conducive to having a decent time; I am not interested if it looks like it's going to be an expensive but mediocre conglomeration of awkward silences and the reassembly of obnoxious cliques. I feel fairly distanced from most of what happened in high school; I am a very different person than I was, with more self-confidence and a good deal less tolerance for bullshit. Most of the people I wanted to stay in contact with in high school I have remained in contact with, and the people I haven't are either not likely to show up or belonged to a different graduating class.

I found this Kurt Vonnegut quote the other day, and I think it pretty well sums up how I feel (even if we're not quite to that point yet):
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.


things I like this week, vol. 14, massive edition

Play a blues song in reverse. Get your life back.

. . .

I Know I Am, But What Are You (Demo) by Kerry Roy

Music for listening while reading this post.

. . .

This is how TVs are supposed to look in your living room: not like TVs. Also, I love the portrait in the top right corner of the arrangement.

. . .

Illegitimi non carborundum
. My motto for this year.

. . .


. . .

Shoe porn.

. . .

Watermelon sangria
sounds amazing.

. . .

. . .

French insouciance.

. . .

Set designer, I commend you. (worth looking at all the pictures)

. . .

Frances Bean is all grown up.

. . .

The World Trade Center ship.

. . .

In New Orleans, where I suddenly really want to go.

. . .

Doesn't even look like Kate Moss, but apparently it is.

. . .

Worth saving to the inspiration files.

. . .


. . .


. . .

This is how I spent Wednesday morning. The assembly was quite impressive--honest about our issues (and they are many) and inspiring. I show up at about 1:05, clapping my hand on my shoulder, commenting on something to Jane, and wrapped oddly in my scarf because it was freezing cold in there.

2 seconds of fame is not a bad way to start off the school year, I guess.


a short visual lesson on statistics

Blow it up. Stare at it a bit.

Each one of those tiny points of light is a galaxy.

Not stars. Galaxies.

Inside each of those galaxies are billions of stars.


And this picture is just one tiny part of the tiny part of the universe we can observe. (Incidentally, it was taken by the Hershel Space Observatory.)

People say the chances of us evolving, of earth supporting life, etc, etc, are astronomical. So astronomical that they're impossible.

Take a look at that tiny swatch of universe again. You're staring at astronomical. And you still believe, with all those galaxies, with billions of stars in each, with the possibility of multiple planets around each star, that not one of them could, by sheer chance alone, evolve life forms such as ourselves?

You don't understand statistics, my friend.


a week (plus one or two) in pictures, pt. 3

Ben Folds concert, which was freaking awesome. I was standing approximately 8 feet from the stage.

These are the mountains as they appear from our east-facing bedroom window. They glow bright orange and pink when the sun goes down. The color was even brighter than it is in the picture.

I am cultivating the art of peeling an orange in one long, curly strip.

Monsoon. Facing west in front of J's sitter's house.

The get well card Joley made me when I got a weird flu and didn't move for 2 days. She's on the right, and that's Colin on the left, complete with body hair and muscles. I was instructed to take notice of the happy sun.

Umbrella lady sighting.

The cat, the katana, and the typewriter.

Another monsoon. Looking west from the Trader Joe's lot.

Joley, in good spirits, just before being put under general anesthesia in order to remove a bead she'd shoved up her nose 3 days prior. Total cost of bead removal: approx. $650. Hooray for private healthcare.

Stephy and baby Samantha, about ten hours old at this point. <3

Apparently we've succeeded in our goal to make J multicultural.

More monsoon. Facing north from our balcony. It was sprinkling on us at this point, though you can't tell in the picture.

Grey-purple shirt from the Gap, nails in Smoke Screen from Ulta (OPI silver crackle accent), black raspberry ice cream with chocolate chunks. I'm not in love with this color, or anything.


on learning a social dance

There are several different ways you can go about learning a social dance, and since many people I know either are learning or are thinking about learning, I figured I'd throw out my tips.

(Social dance refers to, in this case, structured partner dancing in an informal or non-competition format - salsa, swing, and tango are good examples. Learning to dance competitively is an entirely different thing.)

Know that the awkward stage passes.

Almost everyone is awkward or awful at it at first. That's fine. You have to keep working at it. And even the most horrible, awkward dancer can become a beautiful dancer with enough practice and determination.

Eventually - and this is when things get really fun - you stop having to think about it. Your body just does what it's supposed to. Things happen that are awesome, and you didn't consciously think about doing them. That sort of dance nirvana is the reason why dancers keep coming back, but it doesn't happen your first time out. Or your second. Or maybe not for the first year(!). But all of the time investment is totally worth it when it does. I promise. You just have to get there.

Do it regularly, and make an effort to keep improving what you know.

This is often not a problem for people who have truly been bitten by the dance bug. But lots of people, for whatever reason, only attend a dance class or event every so often, and then wonder why they don't improve. You have to make a certain amount of commitment to it, and you can't simply be satisfied with what you've already learned. The best dancers (the best anything, really) are the ones who are continually striving to be more than what they already are. Don't quit going to classes once you think you're "good enough." There's no such thing.

Ask people to dance. Specifically ask people who are better than you.

Most newbies are terrified to do this. It's understandable - you don't want to embarrass yourself too badly, so you dance with another newbie or with no one at all. Or you're afraid of getting turned down, or of the pity dance.

However, the way I learned (and the way most people learn) is by dancing with someone better than you are. Especially if you dance with them on a regular basis, you'll probably start closing the gap pretty quickly.

Also, just because you're inexperienced doesn't mean people can't have fun dancing with you. All of us remember learning, and probably have some more experienced dancers that we owe our ability to. Most people are willing to pay it forward.

Alternately, don't *just* dance with people better than you.

One of the best things I've heard in a lesson is to be grateful for a difficult partner. Anyone can learn a move with someone who's good - but not everyone's good, and not everyone's going to do it perfectly the first time. Learning how to do something well even with a difficult partner means you've really learned it.

Stay for the actual dance.

Many new people stay for the lesson and then book it after the real dancing actually starts. I feel like you learn at least as much, if not more, on a real floor in a real situation. You'll never be able to perfect your dance moves while in the sterile and structured environment of a class, and the longer you stay away from the "social" part of social dance, the harder a time you'll have feeling comfortable there. And the less comfortable you are, the less likely you are to dance well.

It's a social dance.

That means you dance with several different partners. If you try to stick just to your significant other, you're missing most of the point of the activity. You get yourself into a rut, and it limits your abilities and your confidence significantly - if you can only dance with one other person effectively, you're not really a dancer. Besides, learning how to interact with all different kinds of people will make you even better when you *do* dance with your significant other.

Additionally, the social part doesn't apply just to the dancing - talk to people when you're sitting on the sidelines. People you've talked to are more likely to want to dance with you.

Social dance is not a dating service.

If you're looking for a dating service, try a dating service. I hear match.com and eharmony.com work pretty well. However, the point of dancing is dancing. Lots of people end up dating people in the dancing community (although I'm not one of them, and am glad of it), but it's incidental, not the objective.

Don't be prejudiced based on appearances.

You can have a very enjoyable dance with all sorts of people. Remember - it's a dance, not a date. Physical attraction to the other person is not a necessary part of the equation, even though you're doing a physical activity.

Experiment with different instructors.

People often seem to stick to a single dance teacher, usually the one they started out with. Different instructors have different things to offer, and one might teach something in a way that works better for you. There are so many different styles and approaches to the same move or the same dance, and taking what you like from different teachers is a good way to broaden your perspective.

That said, working consistently with one instructor, once you've found one you like and who understands you, is incredibly beneficial. Just don't settle for the first teacher you come across, get frustrated, and give up.

Don't learn a bit and start thinking you're a hot shot.

Hubris is a downfall. If you've only been dancing for a short amount of time, you're probably too ignorant to know how bad you really are. There's very little, for me, that's more off-putting than someone who lectures other dancers, who scoffs at other people, who generally thinks they're way better than they are. Socrates said it quite well: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."