Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh, Art!

After a delicious bite at Mission Pie yesterday, Land Dog and I got into this discussion about our art! We're both involved in theatre, writing, visual art as well as some musical endeavors...
And this is the case with many of my friends (which makes for some really good times!) but there is this feeling of insecurity that seems to come with being an artist. There are all kinds of ego-trips to worry about, there's money (or rather the lack thereof) and there's the motivation. Why do we do it?

This morning, at our weekly breakfast, I sat and guzzled coffee with a few friends. After our orders had been placed Char set down his cup and said, "so guys, how's everyone doing with their quarter life crises?" Ha! I laughed to myself, (it's something I reference often), Land Dog said she's not in it yet and has a few years to go and Alex just changed the subject. Well, Land Dog, it seems to me this questioning of art and what one is doing with one's future might just fall under that quarter-life dilemma...

The thing is, for me, it's becoming more and more clear that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing! I've spent so many years driven by specific goals and these self-imposed goals have kept me moving forward. At a certain point I started to realize that I might be becoming overly ambitious, that these goals were starting to cause me a lot of suffering and that I was too one-pointed! This became especially painful to me when I failed to achieve one of my biggest goals and had to re-evaluate everything. So reaching that point and having nowhere else to go, I decided to let the pendulum swing in the opposite direction for a bit.

I stopped thinking so much about the future and totally indulged in the present. I stopped pushing myself forward with goals and instead started looking deep within myself. This was really beneficial to me in a lot of ways but now, all of a sudden, I feel like it's time for another change. It's time to mobilize again. And maybe it's time to set a few goals...just a few!

I have some auditions lined up and a couple of my friends and I are going to start setting up figure drawing sessions that suit our schedules. I've been working on some music and of course, writing. But where will all of this get me? I don't know. And sometimes, I start to question the importance of my art. This is where my personal dilemma lies: When I attend my weekly meditation and listen to the Dharma talks that follow I start to crave a completely different lifestyle. I imagine myself devoting my life to service and renouncing materialistic things, I hear stories of people working in prisons, in hospitals, with children and in other countries with people who are far less fortunate and I forget all about art.

I grew up on a Yoga Ashram and when I took a semester off from school after my first year in college I went back for a retreat. When I was on this retreat I basically got to live like a hermit; meditating and doing Hatha Yoga three times a day, practicing Karma Yoga, working in a kitchen or garden and analyzing ancient scriptures. I never thought about doing my hair and makeup a certain way, never watched TV or went on the Internet and I didn't even really make any art. I was totally blissful and relaxed. But like all things, this experience came to an end. When I came back to "reality" I was a little shell-shocked for a minute but quickly got back to my old world. And this time I came with a renewed dedication to my art! I found that my break from painting had actually allowed for a new wave of art to come to life. When I returned to acting I found myself a completely different presence onstage and I felt, in some ways, unblocked. Basically, I found new meaning in everything.

There are moments when I question what I'm doing as an artist but what I try to remember in these moments is how art has inspired and affected me. How it can open the mind, show us the world in different ways, inspire all kinds of feelings and spark discussions, how it can provide relief from pain and suffering and how it can teach us about ourselves. I hope that I can continue to challenge myself and my peers and I hope we can all work together as a community. If we don't know what we're doing or why, let's figure it out together! There is potential to make meaningful change in this world and we are the ones who have the means and good fortune to do just that!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Keep On The Sunny Side!

Lyrics to an old folk song say;

"Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life"

Well, I've been on the sunny side, I've been on the shady side, I've been in almost complete darkness and what I've learned is that I can't just keep on one side! Trying to be happy when I'm not seems to backfire in a big way and just when I feel I've totally overindulged in sadness and melodrama the sun comes out! The world is my school right now and I guess this my personal lesson for today.

I used to think that I had some kind of control over all of this flip-flopping. Like if I wanted to I could will myself to be happy, just look at things the right way or put things in perspective. Well, this is true (to a degree) but it just doesn't feel right all the time. What I keep re-learning is that life is full of opposites. Not only are things double sided, things are multi-sided, multi-dimensional and constantly changing.

I can't predict when I'm going to be up or down. I don't know if it's chemical, circumstantial, intellectual, emotional or just a combination of these factors and more. Today I feel like I'm on the sunny side, and it's not because of anything outside of myself. I'm carrying out a normal work day, I'm broke as a joke, I didn't get a ton of sleep last night but I feel clear-minded and strong. The weather is nice, I have everything I could possibly need and more and I have the means and capacity to learn which is the greatest thing I can think of.

I've spent my entire life in school and when I graduated from college (in May 2007) I began discovering my non-school education. Life is full of opportunities for learning and some of the hardest things to learn cannot be taught in a class. For me, now is the time for challenging the way things have been and carefully observing the way that they are in the present. Part of this is flowing with the ups and downs, the sun and the rain. My mistakes are my lessons, my surroundings are my classrooms and the people in my community are my fellow students. When nothing else makes sense my dreams show me parts of the mystery and my art is my way of interpreting it. Some days will be dark and some days will be sunny but on either side there is always something to be learned. Cool.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I woke up feeling foggy. The week has overwhelmed me. I wonder how restful my sleep can be when I sleep with my eyes open? Last night I had dreams of my family, of Olympic swimmers, of a favorite teddy bear getting stolen, of a lake... and I talked in my sleep. Over the past few days I convinced myself I was getting happy, came crashing down, fell into old habits, didn't sleep enough, didn't eat enough, felt OK again, did some performances, went through the motions, talked with friends and tried to come back into myself. Yesterday I meditated and this was satisfying. Later, I contemplated the word should with a friend. We decided not to use it anymore. Today, I spent an hour reading the New York Times in the park and started to feel depressed again. When I got to the Arts section I started to feel inspired. I saw a woman breastfeeding her baby, I bought some sheep's cheese at the market, I tried to go to the library but it was "closed for renovations". I saw people line up for an AA meeting. Last night the teacher at the meditation talked about indecision. He said that when you feel indecisive you can't force a decision, but you can sit with what you're feeling. They talk a lot about being present in Buddhism and it's something that interests me. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to avoid the truth of the moment. I like being present with physical pain and pleasure but I usually do anything I can to avoid emotional pain. This seems to create more. My mind is constantly jumping around all over the place and since I can't seem to get a hold of it I have a hard time feeling present. But today I have decided to ride the choppy waves that are my thoughts. I will spend this day being in the moment and observing all of the chaos that usually overwhelms me. I am surrounded by strangers in the "Women's Building", a man works on a desk with drill, a little kid screams, I can smell my bread and cheese in my bag and I want to eat it. Tomorrow I'll go back to work.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Love Schmove

Maybe it was due to the bad weather last week or the fact that we just started running our show... or maybe it's just another part of the "quarter-life-crisis". Whatever it may be, I've been feeling emo lately and I can't stop thinking about love...

This pesky-fucking-word has been giving me trouble lately. I can't quite define it but I can't get it off my mind either! This problem is keeping me up at night and taking up my precious dream-space so I've embarked on a mini quest to find out more about the word as well as the concept of love.

Part I: The Problem with Love

How can one word be used in so many ways? Why aren't there more words to describe all the different types of love? The only thing I can think of is that it would be impossible for this to happen because as far as I can tell every time "love" is spoken it's completely new! At least for me, I can't love anything or anyone the exact same way, so I guess I would have to make up a new word each time I wanted to say it. Needless to say, this could end up confusing a lot of people...

"I looe you mom"

"I lev that book so much!"

"God, I lof nachos" Seriously, I couldn't live without them.

"I luuuux the way I feel after good sex"

And yes, I do realize that there are other words in other languages, but they all mean the same thing right? How can we even begin to define this word? I want answers! So I started asking people, and of course, no one can pin it down.

Ia: Love, the word

Because I'm an actor I have a love/hate relationship with words. In theatre (and of course in life) words can be beautiful, powerful tools for communication. When used well words can do things. They can convey as well as evoke feelings, they can paint pictures in the imagination, they can hurt and they can heal. But sometimes words just mess everything up! Sometimes the best communication happens without words and sometimes words are abused.

When it comes to the word love I guess it all boils down to intention and understanding. In acting we try to communicate something to the audience using words, tone, inflection, context, movement and intention. These areas of focus can help make something more clear; but ultimately everyone will interpret the work in their own unique way. People communicating with each other in life can only get so far using these same devices, often unconsciously. How can you ever know if you're truly connecting though? It seems to me that all you can really know is your own intention and the clearer that is the better you can hope to communicate it.

Part II: That Thing

The Beatles said "All you need is love"
Stevie Nicks asked "Mirror in the sky what is love?"
Joni Mitchell has "looked at love from both sides now..."
And the Asteroid in our show has a few things to say about it too!
But really!!! What is it???
Well, being the impatient and impulsive girl I am I thought I could figure it out if I put my mind to it, asked around, did the research, talked about it in therapy. But apparently it doesn't work that way. And it's not that I've never said "I love you" or had it said to me...But each time is different and as these loves become a part of my past they start to feel like dreams I can't quite recall. I know I was there and I remember the feeling, sort of, but I can't get back. I can't identify with it in the same way so I guess I have to let it go and make space for something new.
Sometimes it feels like a silly thing to chase but at some point I hope I can rediscover love and find out once more what all the fuss is about. For now all I can say is:
Love schmove.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I'm challenging myself to write on this at least once a week but this week has been busy and I've been avoiding it. I wanted to write an article about risk-taking and I figured at least opening my blog might get something rolling. I was thinking that maybe it would work the same way sitting down with a blank canvas gets me painting. So feeling motivated today I opened my "blogger home" and found that I had my first comment!

This is pretty new to me and I'm learning as I go so I was excited to get some feedback. Apparently I have my comments set to be reviewed before I publish them so I clicked on the link and there it was:

"God, you're fucking dumb" posted by: anonymous


First of all, I wish I knew which post this comment was referring to but maybe this anonymous is just not a fan of me as a writer...

In any case, it does hurt. And although this is different, it's not the first time I've been "blog-attacked".

So, it got me thinking...

I wanted to talk about risk-taking because I've been trying to branch out and take more risks in certain areas of my life. I feel that this is especially important as an actor in terms of being able to deliver something meaningful. A lot of actors and directors will agree that the higher the stakes the better the outcome. Being able to take risks is fucking scary though! And not just on stage or in some piece of writing or art; it's scary in life and it's especially scary in relationships. But some risk taking can bring about the greatest experiences life has to offer and these are the kind I hope to take more of. Hopefully a crazy mixture of failure and success will ensue!

So, I guess putting a piece of myself out into the world in this form is a bit of a risk and I just got a taste of the nasty side of that. But I still feel compelled to continue, only now I'm a little more self conscious and I'll carry on with a slightly bruised ego. The small but noticable impact this has had on me brings me to my final thought for today: Words have power so use them well.

Dear Anonymous,
I am not dumb.
You have chosen your words and they have created a ripple in the world but instead of letting this yucky feeling spread I'm going to start a new ripple.
I hope you wake up tomorrow and have a great hair day.
I hope you find a lucky penny and use it to scratch a winning lotto ticket.
I hope you take a rewarding risk.
And I hope you find a better use for your time online.
Please don't call any other people dumb, at least for today.
And if you want to comment again please be constructive!
Thanks for giving me something to write about.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Read This

Who are we?
There is so much going on! So many interesting people, so much art, writing, music, philosophy, blogging, talking, dancing, creating, potential...

I guess reading this just makes me take a second look at myself. Of course I don't want to fit into any category but I can't deny that what this writer describes does sound like a lot of people I know and even myself. A little...

All I keep thinking is what do we stand for? I know that people like to feel a part of something and we all need and want each other but I get the feeling that no one likes to admit to that. To me hipsterness is pretty elitist, right? Us and them. What does this accomplish again? And the shallowness of it has been on my mind a lot lately. Literally "buying" into a lifestyle or culture. Here's one piece of the article that sort of touches on that:

"Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance."

This constant shifting is very apparent if you are the kind of person who likes to strike up conversations with random people (as I do)... Good luck being able to relate to any of the music or art they speak of, there's always something new, every weekend and it's always "amazing" and "oh...you haven't heard of them?"

I already had two long g-chats about this article today with friends at work and happened upon two other blogs that linked it. I'm sure there are many more.

What I know: We are a generation of smart and passionate people. We have the ability to communicate faster and faster every day and we do! We have ideas and philosophies and we want to share them. We are not doomed but we do have a responsibility [to ourselves] to challenge ourselves. We have to be willing to analyze our culture and lifestyle as it's unfolding rather than years down the line. This means listening, being open to change and once in awhile being able to admit to ourselves that we aren't in control of everything. We are extremely sensitive to advertising and suggestive selling and there are corporations who are trying to manipulate us all the time! The more we admit that it does affect us, the more potential there is for us to make our own choices.

I may know some hipsters; (whatever that even means) but regardless of what they're into, my favorite friends are the ones who keep me in check. They tell me what I might not want to hear but as long as I listen I can always learn something. And asking myself questions always seems to help!

Who are we?
What are we doing?
What do we want to be doing?
I'll keep asking myself these questions and a million others...
What are your questions?