Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A true story about a uterus

Whooeee. 2017. What a year. Amirite?

The best things about social media are:
1. Reconnecting with old friends. I have friends on Facebook that I would have zero idea how they are doing in real life, but now I know they are nice people doing good things and that makes me happy.
2. Photos. I love the photos of your kids. I love the photos of your dogs and cats. I love the photos of your food. And I love the photos from your travel. Thank you for sharing.
3. Those end of the year books. Facebook in particular will make you a whole "look at your year!" book and it's kinda cool. This year I traveled a lot. It's not like I forget that, it's just cool to see it in one 30 second slide show. Chile to Mexico (twice) to Spain to Uganda to Poland to Holland. Excellent.

                                                                  More Spain, please.

Goodbye 2017. So many terrible things happened in 2017. SO MANY TERRIBLE THINGS.
Let us not speak of the monster who resides in the casa blanca on the hill. He is evil and he and his minions are ruining all the things. Too many things to say about that and since I am still in recovery mode and this is my first blog of 2018, let's table that one.

Good is happening all the time. Why is it so much harder to see the good things? I made a resolution to try to balance the good with the bad. Read some horrifying articles for 15 minutes and then read a list of 15 times a dog saved someone. Counter. Balance. Match. One time, a dog lay on top of a man who fell in the snow and was injured. He would have froze to death but the dog lay on him to keep him warm and barked until someone came and found them.
Good doggie.

More good, less evil. More rebels, less empire. More things I want to do, less things I feel obligated to do. More rest, less stress. More dogs, less assholes. I have big plans for 2018. I haven't been this excited about the future and a new year in quite a while. It was weird to start this new, exciting year spending the whole day in bed, but that is what surgery does.

                                                           Everything will be okay.

Here is a surgery story and sometimes it is a little bit gross so feel free to skip it.

On December 20th, I had a hysterectomy. They removed my uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix. My ovaries look very healthy so they stayed, which is good. I don't have to deal with hormones or menopause and ovaries do good stuff for you so that's nice. They looked around at other stuff in there and things look good. Apparently my liver looks great which is SHOCKING to me. Thank you liver for hanging tough with me. I take much better care of it now, in my 40's, but still. Shocking.

I had the surgery because in my late 30's I developed fibroid tumors. They are non-cancerous tumors which grow on the side of your uterus. I had surgery to have some of them removed when I was 40. I should have had the hysterectomy then, but I felt weird about it. I felt too young. Why is it weird to not have a uterus? Why does it make women feel weird? Even with this surgery, I felt like I was supposed to be quiet about it. People would say, "Is it okay that I told so and so about your surgery" which is totally good manners, health is private and you should ask people that, but it felt like because it was a surgery around my reproductive organs, it was extra hush-hush.

Here is also some information that is super personal so if you just checked back in, feel free to continue skipping.

My uterus was a pretty good uterus for most of my life. It was normal and did all the things it was supposed to do. It did not grow a child to the point of being able to birth it out into the world. It held an embryo for a very short time once. A long time ago. It never did again. Other than that, it did what it did until it became full of tumors that were hurting it.

Aaron and I decided a while ago that we were not going to have kids. It is a long story as to why but it had to do with health, family history, our work and finances, and really it came down to desire. Did I really want a kid or was it just assumed that I should have a kid because I am good with kids? I love me some babies. I love babies so much. But babies become toddlers who become second graders who become teenagers who become adults. I like people. I like myself. I love Aaron. But we are challenging people. We are selfish and busy and we have some fucked up shit in our lives, in our heads. I don't want a kid. I know for so many people it is the greatest joy and I am so happy for these people. I feel genuine joy and love when I see my friends with their kids. I love these kids. I am so happy to share this earth with small people. For Aaron and me, it was a decision we talked about thoughtfully. When he looked at me and said, "Do you want kids" I remember thinking to myself, "I don't." When we first got married everyone was like, "When are you going to have kids??" and I thought, "Yes, that is a thing we should do." but when I think back on that time I remember being stressed and scared. I am suspicious that I actually never wanted my own kids. I think I just wanted to care for other people's children and I have done just that my whole life.

I am lucky that I have a lot of adult friends who do not have kids themselves. My friends with kids are cool people who let non-kid-having people do their thing without judgement. But I know some people are weird about it.

You'll regret it! Will I? What an absolutely idiotic reason to have a child then. If something happens as we get older and we want a kid, we can adopt or foster a teenager. There are a lot of ways to have children in your life.

You're so selfish! Yes, I am. I already addressed that.

You will never know love! You know, fuck that. I am certain that the love a parent has for a child is like nothing else. I have never had that feeling. I am celebratory about that love for my mom and dad friends, but I know other love. We all experience love in different ways. I say that am pretty sure no two people love each other as much as Aaron and I love each other. Because we love each other a lot and I am very dramatic and say shit like that. But I would never say that to other people. How rude. What do I know? ( I just said it here in this public blog instead.)

You're just afraid. Maybe. What if my child died before me? What if he became a serial killer? What is she hated me? Parents are brave amazing people with super hard jobs. I admire my parent friends so much. But it's okay that I do not want these things. I am brave in other ways that involve zip lines and driving in jungles on roads that are not roads and making art and teaching kids and speaking about my work to a big crowd of strangers and so on.

This whole being a woman and having kids and having organs that make humans and how that is our identity and hysterectomies are taboo and blah, blah, blah- the whole thing is really absurd. I had a hysterectomy because after 45 years my uterus was diseased and I was in pain and bleeding all the time. I was miserable. Even just this past summer while we were in Africa, Aaron had to help me deal with a particularly bad spell and it was terrible. I was all done. It had been 7 years of pain and bleeding. I found the best doctor in Albuquerque, took advantage of my Obamacare, asked my colleagues to cover for me, and I TOOK THAT FUCKER OUT!

New year. New me. Uterus free. One tumor was so big, my body couldn't supply enough blood to it so it had started to collapse on itself. The surgeon told me that one tumor must have been horribly painful.
It was.
And now it is gone.

                                                 Tumors-bad. Coffee and ice cream-good.

In this year, as we women continue to find our voices, I hope women continue to feel empowered to want the things they want, be the person they want to be, live up to their own standards and not what is painted outside of them by others. I hope that new generations continue to change the norm around what a woman is and what a woman should be. A woman is not a uterus. The words "woman and mother" or "woman and wife" do not necessarily go hand in hand. The words woman and heart and power and love and courage and freedom--these words do indeed go hand in hand.

This year I moved into the cultural job I have been wanting and building since 2013. I took a graduate class to see if I could do it and keep up my work load (I can, so maybe I will take more.) I traveled to Uganda to start a brand new project from scratch and it is actually happening. I spent time with my awesome friends. I directed and acted in shows. I taught amazing students around the world. I met incredible people. I sat in the sun on the tip of a Mexican island and watched iguanas with my mom. I spent every chance I could staring into the face of the most beautiful man I know who lifts me up everyday and is truly the greatest life partner.
I took in deep breaths. I lived. I did the best I could.

                                                                      Hi Aaron!

Happy New Year. Hold my hand, 2018. I think we'll be good friends.

                                            This lady at the Entebbe airport speaks my truth.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Miss Cultural Manners

I’m back in Uganda. I am a little surprised at how at home I feel. I am truly so happy to be here. The next 10 days are jammed packed with a trip to a village in the south to begin archiving some of the cultural dances, checking out a school that is being built, and meeting with folks about bringing a student delegation here in 2019. I am going to teach some workshops and we are meeting with the embassy about future collaborations. And that’s just the beginning!

All of the work we are doing is assisting the desires and ideas from Ugandan artists and friends. Whenever I begin international collaborations, I try to think a lot about respect and reciprocity. I never want to assume people want or need what I have to offer. I never want people to feel that I have taken advantage. It’s a fine line and takes constant awareness. I am learning all the time and I mess up all the time. I just keep trying to do this work the right way and hope I am close more than I am far.

How does one navigate different cultures thoughtfully and respectfully? There is no real exact plan one can follow because each culture is so different. Of course, there are the obvious ways to do it very, very, very badly. I watch other travelers a lot when I am traveling. I am often very aware and watch how other US citizens behave. It’s not always bad but I do see a lot of loud and obnoxious. Ordering people in the hospitality service around. Making a big deal about how all you want is a damn steak and you’ll pay whatever is costs to have it. It bums me out. I assume they didn’t have a mom and dad like I did who scolded me when I was rude. One time, when I was little kid, we were at a Texas steakhouse with the extended family. I ordered my steak rare and apparently, I told the server, “I mean bloody.” My mom didn’t scold me in public but later she told me that was not appropriate. First of all, it’s gross to order something bloody- don’t say that. Also, I think maybe my tone implied I thought the waiter wouldn’t know what rare is (this was not my thought process as a kid, I think I just wanted to reiterate that I wanted my steak bloody) but she made it clear that you do not patronize people who are waiting on you. Both of my parents have always instilled in me a respect for ALL people. You are no better than the next person. You never look down on someone. This is not an acceptable way to behave. I mean, my father has strong judgments about people who partake in criminal activities. He and I do not see eye to eye on the death penalty but one should form their opinions on a person based on their actions. Not their appearance, their job, their home, their car, etc. My father taught me this early on. I mean, seriously, I got scolded for being obnoxious in a Texas steakhouse. If you can’t be obnoxious there, where can you be?

Okay, back to manners. I was recently in the Cancun airport (twice in fact) and the behavior of the travelers in this airport was fairly atrocious. It’s shocking to me that people don’t check their manners while traveling. I am a loud, opinionated, talk-before-I-think-it-out, bossy, adult beverage loving, middle aged woman. This combo seems ripe for problems but I work hard to check myself. Is my volume acceptable? Am I making assumptions? Do I know the proper way to move through this situation? Have I researched or asked about the cultural norms for this situation? Am I talking too fast? I am no expert on this. I get it wrong a lot. Sometimes people let me know and I am ALWAYS grateful for the help. Yes, it can a little bit embarrassing or a humility check, but I always want to hear about it. Recently we were having breakfast with our dear friend Ritah. She is sort of like the Administrative Director at the Cultural Centre here in Kampala and we were asking a bit about customs and she said, “Oh don’t you worry. I will tell you if you are doing it wrong.” Yes. Please. Thank you. 

I've been thinking lately about this. How to travel. How to be a good guest.
I suppose there is planning. A person can do research before they go. There are some simple things one can check out, like how to dress.What is appropriate attire? We do this at home, we ask our friends, “Is this party like a dress up party or can I wear my jeans?” Why would we not do the same when visiting somewhere new? Should I be more covered up? Dress nicely? Closed toe, hard shoes?

Here is my routine back home for deciding what to wear:
Open closet. (After the walking the dog and, if I am on top of my game, the gym.)
Get the sleeping cats out of the closet. (How do they always get in there when the door is closed? I swear they have taught themselves doorknobs.)
Stare at the mess. (Why can’t I keep my closet clean?)
Think about my day. (Okay it is 7am right now and I have to work at the office, go to a meeting , teach, and then rehearsal. I am back home at 10pm. I need movement clothes to teach, nicer clothes for the meeting, what is the first thing I have today? I’m tired.)
Pick out 1 of my 10 standards outfits, usually some combo of a skirt and a “nice” t-shirt. (Nice t-shirts are a lie but in my middle age, I chose comfort over fashion every time.)
Pack yoga pants in my bag for teaching. (I love yoga pants more than I love yoga.)
Stare at my pretty shoes but almost always default to my flip flops that I have convinced myself are appropriate for all occasions.  (They are not really, but living in New Mexico allows a certain leeway.)
Lint roller everything. (DAMN CATS!)
DONE. There. How hard was that?

What are other questions or quick pre-travel searches that can be helpful? What is the food of the region? The economic situation? What is the dominant religion? I try to watch my mouth. Probably it’s no big deal to curse out loud in, oh say, the heart of Paris but in general I try to watch it. It’s super rude. Check your environment. What is the main language spoken? Just because Google says English doesn’t mean it’s the native tongue, it may mean it’s the colonized tongue. It still may not be people’s first language. Slow down a bit and enunciate well. Not in that obnoxious comedy routine way (“THIS IS A FORK! UNDERSTAND? TWO SYLLABLES FOR-WORK!”) Just in that, this is not your mother language so I will speak thoughtfully. I understand a lot of Spanish but if you talk too fast it’s gone for me. Más despacio, por favor. Of course, one can really do the homework. What is the history? What is the government system? What are some films or music coming out of  where you are going? Just knowing a bit more can create a more thoughtful and easy-going experience.

I feel like I learned how to travel from my dear friend Byron Laurie. He is the master of etiquette. He always starts high- he wears nicer than perhaps necessary clothes for a good first impression. He is full of please and thank you and sir and ma’am. He waits and assesses the situation. He sees things, little nuances I never notice, that give insight to a person’s economic situation or their possible political opinions. He is always a gracious guest, offering to help and never really making himself at home. He would never open a fridge and help himself (Helping yourself to food in the fridge at a home that is not your home is something I have since learned, from my deceased grandmother-in-law, is a common trait of white people.She had a whole list of things Gringos do that bugged her. I do most of them) Byron is the ultimate guest in a foreign land. I know his parents and I KNOW they raised him with serious manners but he also just sees more than other humans do. He has a knack for it. Some of that may come from his being an African American man. His alert is always on high. One time, we were in Budapest, Hungary and there were a few women, Tricklock actors, and Byron and we were all riding on the train. This was a long time ago. The people on the train were quiet but we were not. We were loud and excited and Byron pulled us aside and basically told us to check it. He was a black man, in  a country in Eastern Europe where we had never been, and he was the only man with a gaggle of American girls. He was pretty confident that everything would be fine but we needed to KEEP. IT. DOWN. I have held onto this lesson my whole life. I have a Byron in my life all the time in the form of one husband named Aaron Hendren who is pretty good at letting me know when I am too loud, too excited, too drinky. But I spend a lot of my travel time thinking What Would Byron Do?

WWBD. I’m making myself a bracelet. As I continue to learn along the way, I can always have a way to check it. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A little travel nonsense before we go

I haven’t been blogging on this trip because one, it has been really freaking busy and two, I am writing articles for the Weekly Alibi along the way (Yay! Check out tomorrow’s article about Mexico!)  I decided to do a blog today, our last full day in Spain. Tomorrow we have a late check out and then we head to the airport because we are off to UGANDA!

NEW MEXICO-MEXICO-SPAIN-UGANDA-NEW YORK-NEW MEXICO. I calculated it a while back and it’s something like 23,000 miles including in-country travel. It’s bananas.

The Alibi articles are about the work I am doing out here, but here’s a blog about nonsense. It’s just me writing about traveling around. No business stuff, just ridiculous crap.  

                                                             Look! A castle!

Mexico City was awesome. The traffic is a little crazy for my taste. We were on a schedule with our hosts who would pick us up in cars but I wish I had found time to take public transportation because I think that would be the way to go there. One time, it took us almost 2 hours to go 7 miles. It was a fun group so the ride was enjoyable but…the traffic is not my favorite. I like to go underground in the dark with the rats and ride a tube that smells funny to get to where I am going. That’s my jam. I love the food in Mexico. If you know me, you know that I love all things made from corn and will eat salsa with a spoon. Every corn tortilla tasted homemade and the salsa was spicy. We stayed in a neighborhood called Zona Rosa (the pink zone.) We asked Lorena why they called it that and she said, “because it is the LGBTQ part of town.” Ahhhhhh. Zona Rosa. Excellent.

Now we are in Madrid, Spain and we are also in the LGBTQ part of town. It’s not called the pink zone, but there are rainbow flags in all the bars and stores and same sex couples are everywhere. I was asking Aaron what is the most respectful and thoughtful way to describe this part of town and he said it’s the gayborhood. I told him I didn’t think that was what you should say but he stated that is what Byron and Brandon call it and we defer to them on all things gay. So in both Mexico and Spain we have lived in the gayborhood. And it has been rad.

***Sorry if I have offended anyone. That is never my intention. I will happily take all suggestions for proper descriptions. Also, I warned you this was nonsense.

Madrid is a big, lively city. We’ve been taking advantage of the time to work a lot after the World Theatre Congress (more on that in the Alibi article but let me just say that the TCG delegation was full of the coolest people ever. Every one of them is an inspiration to me.) but also wandering around, doing touristy things- having a beer on Plaza Mayor, visiting the cathedral and Museo Nacional del Prado. It is nice having a little break. Also, I love the churches. I am not religious, but the art inside churches is spiritual for me. Churches are holy. No matter your views.

                                                               Now that's a door. 

                                                                 So beautiful

One thing that is often difficult in Europe is the street sign. Street signs in the US are prominent and bright green. In Europe, they are usually on buildings and a little hard to find. In Madrid, they are plaques with pictures. OH SHUT UP, how charming is that? I still get easily lost but I am so taken with the street signs.
                                                                 Here I am!

Madrid was a little expensive but worth the 3-day break. This whole trip was a labor of love, especially financially. I was invited to Mexico City and Uganda and there is host support with both of these expeditions (accommodation, food, local travel, etc.) but on the whole this was a self-funded trip. Taking extra gigs, saving up, and the help of my amazing and generous parents, who for the past year and half every holiday when my mom would say, “happy (random holiday) do you two want anything?” I would say, “can we just save anything you would gift us as help towards our summer trip?” And she would. Of course, as an accountant she would keep track and we basically cashed in gifts for a plane ticket. That coupled with airline miles and a bit of credit and here we are! Living the dream. I know it isn’t the most responsible way to live but it is the most joyful. At least for Aaron and me. I love this work and it’s important to me to continue doing it, even when there are no outside funds to support it. I’m envious of my colleagues with company money set aside for travel and networking but wasting time on envy does nothing. Just keep pushing forward. Do what you can.  Use what you have. It’s always a pleasure to be invited and I am grateful for the assistance in order to come.

                                                          Beers on the plaza.

Also, my parents rock because they are watching our house and most importantly our little creatures which saves us a TON on housesitters and our peace of mind is huge when we know our little pup is on my mom’s lap while the cats are being brushed and fussed over by my dad. The creatures really have it better when we are away. Spoiled. Rotten. Thanks Joyce and Adren. You two are pretty great.

Likewise the Tricklock team holding down the fort, even now as we are fundraising like mad. They work hard and check in and Hannah and I continue our daily texts of ridiculous photos and random thoughts. We text “hahahaha” a lot. It’s a good time.

Okay y’all AFRICA is up next! The project we are working on is too much to go into right now but stay tuned. It’s exciting and new. I really, truly have no idea where it will take us. We’ve got our gear (well, Aaron has his gear-the project is a lot of filming) and our hearts and our tenacity. I always say I am woman who makes things happen. Let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is.

See you soon New Mexico loves. 


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017

Here comes a new year. A time to make resolutions. A time to start fresh.  A brand new, clean calendar to fill up with all the things. I love my new dayplanner. Empty and clean and ready to go.

                                                                Sunset in Bogota

I was looking back at the year through all the photos on my phone. 2016 was a full and exciting year. Tricklock had a wonderful Revolutions with old friends and exciting new work. We toured to Colombia, Poland, and Ukraine performing and teaching workshops and making lovely connections with artists and students. Hannah and I had a great time at the TCG conference in Washington DC. Elsa and I participated in a clown and mask intensive at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance in Canada with the amazing John Turner. I was able to attend the Boska Komedia festival in Krakow. I had the best time with my travel companion Dominika as we also made a rockstar, whirlwind trip to Szczecin and Wroclaw to see more theatre, meet new people, and connect with old friends. 
                                                          Friends in Amsterdam

Aaron and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. I am so grateful we found each other again. I love this man more than anything else in the entire world. 

                                                              True love

I got to spend time visiting the greatest of friends. Karen and Carla in Baltimore, Byron and Brandon in Phoenix, and Kerry, Joe, and Eric in LA. These are friends I have had for 15, 20, 25 years. I also just got back from a wedding in El Paso of two amazing women. I am surrounded by such amazing people. 

                                                    Young and beautiful forever.

This year I had knee surgery after 5 years of pain and trouble with movement. I am still recovering and it will get better, but I am pretty sure it will never be the same. It is a weird thing when your body changes because of time. I have a damaged knee and that is just how it is now. People ask me what happened but I think it is simply 20 years of being a physical theatre performer. Training and performing take its toll. I am not complaining. I am so pleased my body is still pretty strong and my knee was awesome for 39 years. Now I just have to do things in a different way. I can still move and that is what counts.  

Overall, it was a fine year. Really. I know a lot of people had a hard year but when I look back, it was pretty good. 

                                                            Baltimore in the summer

The bad thing about 2016 was Donald Trump. Warning: this paragraph is really unpleasant. I do think my heart and hope will lighten up as time goes on, but right now my feelings are very grim. My country voted for a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic bully. The hate and terror this man wears so boldly on his sleeve means that EVERYONE who voted for him is a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic bully. Or they are some version of that. There is no way they could vote for this man unless some of this hate runs in their blood. I realize this is a blanket statement but it is where I stand right now. I have no desire to "connect" with these people. I have no desire to unite. The people who voted for him clearly do not want a united country. They had no thought for what is good and safe for the majority of the people. The evil side of me slightly looks forward to the downfall of this country because it will hit these racist assholes hard. Trump is not going to save jobs. He is not going to help the middle and lower class. He is not going to keep our country safe. He is not going to bring prosperity. He is not going to lift this nation up. It is going to be a terrible four years and I am horrified and humiliated that we voted this man in. Shame on us. I am still unsure what to do next. 

I am holding some light and love as I look forward. There are some exciting and good things already planned for this year. More travel and exchange. More theatre and festivals. Big plans and ideas. Clear focus and also a sense of mystery as I just dive in. My hopes and dreams for the year are simple and also huge. I was recently told by a theatre colleague that I needed to think of the biggest and boldest plan, a plan that seems impossible and then pitch that idea and make it happen. 
I have a few of those so that is what I will do this year. 

                                                      More Colombia in 2017 please

I recently saw Rogue One. I very much enjoyed it for reasons I won't go into right now but I keep thinking about the character Chirrut Imwe. As he walks through the battle to the master switch he says, "I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me." I have decided this is my mantra for 2017. 


Holding onto light and love. Pitch the impossible. I am the force and the force is with me. 

Happy New Year! 💗

                                                         Relaxing at Tent Rocks
                                          Here is a picture of a bunch of salsa. I love salsa.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Polish theatre holiday

Hey Poland, I'm back! Aren't you beautiful? All full of holiday lights and a great big theatre festival. What a delight you are! 

I wrote my last blog the day before the election. It was a blog filled with fear and anxiety. It turns out that if you add in some anger, this is often my state of being now. Except for the past five days. I am in Krakow, Poland at The Divine Comedy Theatre Festival. I haven't thought about the future of my nation for at least three whole days (until I turned on BBC yesterday. Ugh.) It's been a nice break. 

The brief description for the festival is "A theatre holiday where the best Polish shows are presented in a true Polish showcase. The most dramatic part of the Festival is the Polish Contest INFERNO within which the most provocative and exciting productions of the past season compete for the grand prize. 'Inferno, comprises the most distinguished and widely discussed performances, that showcase the wide range of talents and artistic aspirations of Polish directors. Its main purpose is to present the diverse landscape of Polish theatre life as well as to expose audiences to the latest trends and areas of artistic exploration and experimentation that our directors have to offer,' enthuses Bartosz Szydłowski, Divine Comedy's Artistic Director." 

If I was a zillionaire, I would bring most of these show to Revolutions. Not because they are perfect but because they are brave and exciting experiments. As I often encounter in Polish theatre, performers have a fantastic mix of both bold courage and natural ease. It's like watching a charismatic tightrope walker. A performer who is wild and electric but also in complete control and in their element. Self awareness goes away. That "Look at me! I am acting so well!" veneer does not exist. The check in. All of it is gone. What is left is skilled bravery, which is captivating to watch. And that is just the actors. The minds of the directors, writers, and designers run wild. Again, not all is perfect. The editor in me often goes on overload. The writer and director in me has a lot of notes but the sheer imagination and creativity is inspiring and joyful. 

It would be too much to write about each show, but here are some thoughts on a few that I enjoyed very much. 

Lars Jan's The Institute of Memory (TIMe) is a multimedia show about family and history. It is a detailed and sharply performed investigation that starts with a desire to understand an absent father and turns into a discovery of identity and culture. The actors have a lovely mix of wonderful technical skill and deep emotions which allows the storytelling style of repetition, pieced stories, and grid based movements to come alive in a deeply felt way. I am fascinated with memory and I loved the way the show dug into that.  I really enjoyed this piece, and I am hoping to bring it to Revolutions. 

Robert Robur is a performance based on an unfinished novel called "The Unusual Adventures of Robert Robur" by Miroslaw Nahacz. Directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski, this show is epic. It is a science fiction/adventure/love story utilizing live action film. They had a set behind the set where they performed and filmed scenes with a GoPro type camera and we witnessed this film in real time on a giant eyeball shaped screen. As the play went along more of the live action moved on stage (and all around the theatre.) This four hour play was full of magic. Of course I have a million notes, things I would fix or change, but what a crazy night at the theatre. It tapped into issues around the media, reality tv, disconnection, desire, culture, and technology. It was wrapped up in a weird murder mystery, changed gears in the third act, and used fabulous 1980's style graphics and synthesized music. It was bananas and I really had a good time.

And then there was We Get What We Believe In. I arrived at the theatre to find an enormous table had been constructed with seats all around for the audience. In the center of the giant table was a man in a bathtub. At your seat was an electronic voting device and piece of paper and a pen. interactive piece. Yes, please. As with all these shows it is complicated to explain, but this show was described as being based on the novel "The Master and Margarita" (and it was, kinda) but it was really an exploration into democracy, choices, classism, politics, and modern Poland life. I was very taken with these actors who made direct contact with most of the audience, using the audience's interactions as part of the work. We voted on questions posed to us and were able to see the results. They had videos of the Warsaw actors experimenting with the themes out in the world. My favorite was one of the actresses in a store sobbing in front of the diaper section because the choices for diapers was overwhelming. Her interaction with an older woman trying to help her was hilarious. The show had many elements of bouffon and it was used well. Taking the piss, exposing the bullshit, pulling back the curtain. I appreciated this work very much. I am certain this show is too large and expensive to bring to Albuquerque, but I plan to check in with the director. It was funny, strange, and fascinating. I liked this show very much. 

There are four days left and they are packed! Tonight I am going to see Teatr Figur Krakow's new piece Huljet, huljet which we are bringing to Revolutions in 2018. How much do we love TFK??? I can't wait to see this new work. It is an installation inspired by the memoirs of Jewish Krakow citizens in the Ghetto. I saw Daga the first night I got here, but I can't wait to see the rest of the gang tonight. There are more shows on the schedule, a tour of the Kantor museum, a few more meetings with directors and curators, more pierogi and zurek, more vodka, more castle and Krakowian magic. I am having a fabulous time with Dominika and Greg. It is so lovely to spend time with brilliant artists who you admire and connect with in your favorite city in all the world. 

Dominika and I have a crazy last few days travelling to Szczecin for a show and then to Wroclaw for more meetings (and Hubert!) so I hope to write again soon with more adventures. Love from Krakow to Albuquerque. 

Oh hey. I just looked outside and it is snowing. Magic. 

Monday, November 7, 2016


I'm having a hard time focusing. 

Mondays are mostly "work from home" days. Monday evenings are always filled with company meetings or trainings, but the day is spent working from home. It's a nice way to start the week. I can wear comfy slippers and my dog always wants to be close to me while I am emailing. I have a lot to do. We have to raise a lot of money for the festival. I'm working on a new solo show that has an Excavations in early December. Hannah and I have an artistic retreat in a few days. But I just can't seem to focus. I am distracted by the election. 

What if he wins? 

I know that somehow we will all carry on. The president does not have ultimate power. Hopefully my people in Congress will put up a good fight. Our nation is big. It's divided. Really, it's hard to get anything done. In moments of despair I think, "I don't have any kids. My husband and I love international travel and we are both hard workers. We'll just take off and see what happens." Of course I am committed to trying to make our country a better place but... who are these people?

My first presidential election (that I could vote in) was 1992. I was twenty years old and super excited to vote. I was young and my knowledge of the world was minimal but I liked my candidate. He was young(er) and charismatic but one thing I especially liked was his wife. She was smart and strong. She dressed sensibly and stuck up for herself. Nothing against any previous First Ladies but Hillary was different. Various people gave her a bunch of shit because she kept her maiden name and she was like, "FUCK YOU, WHAT A STUPID THING TO TALK ABOUT!"  She was a tough woman with an important and interesting career and I looked up to her. Hillary has received an enormous amount of shit throughout her career and I truly believe a large part of it is because she is a woman. I know that a portion of the hate is simply that. If she was a man, it would not be like this. It just wouldn't. Do I think she is perfect and never made a mistake? Of course not. Do I think US politics are fairly corrupt and that she plays that political game too? Yup. Just like I think all US politicians do.  She plays the game and it drives people crazy because it shatters their view of what women should be. The mother, the wife, the pin-up, the lover, but not the president. It may be subconscious, but it rubs people wrong. They feel deeply disgusted by her. Seriously? But not by all the men out there doing the same or worse? Nope. Because that feels normal. People may not like it when male politicians behave that way but it is familiar. This is not. It make people feel weird. If Hillary was a man with the same expertise and experience (and mistakes) she would have this thing in the bag. 

But wait, you say, I think Hillary does play the game and the game is corrupt. I want change! I wanted Bernie! I want the system to be different! I want more options! We need to change the system! Cool. I am jaded and don't believe the system will ever change too much from what it is now. Sorry. But what if it could...?

In 2000, I was in Ireland when the election happened. I had done an absentee vote (sooooo much harder back then) before I left. I woke up super early the day after the election in my tiny room at the bed and breakfast in Dublin. I went downstairs and turned on the tv in the common room. GEORGE BUSH WINS THE ELECTION! I turned it off. I was bummed out. Not surprised but sad. I went upstairs and went back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and went downstairs and turned the tv on again. AL GORE WINS THE ELECTION! 

What the fuck?

I went out to explore and later in the day I stopped in a pub. I sat at the bar and ordered a Guinness and turned my attention to the tv in the corner. NO ONE KNOWS WHO WON THE ELECTION! The bartender asked where I was from and after I told him, he said, "For fuck's sake, what is happening in your country?" I think I said something like, "I DON'T KNOW, IT'S CRAZYTOWN!" 
There are a lot of factors in the 2000 election but one thing for sure, people wanted a change in the system. They wanted more than our two party system and a large group of people wanted the option of Nader. It worked. He got in there and a bunch of people voted for him. Good for you, everyone! It worked! And then Bush won ("won") and then not much really came about regarding the two party system. There was a rally and then quiet. Bush was our president. I don't know about you, but he wasn't my favorite. Where is the constant fight for change? Where did all those Nader supporters go? During the election people were bananas and then...not so much. Is the election the only time people want to fight? Is THIS election really the time to fight the whole system? How does this nation deal with its wants and needs as a collective group?

I can NOT believe the amount of hate that is out there. I can NOT believe anyone would want to vote for Trump. No matter what you think of Hillary it is fucking night and day. What is it? What is happening for these people, these Trump supporters? Here are some things I assume:

People are afraid their guns will be taken away. I just don't know what to say about this. No one is taking away anyone's fucking guns. It's America. This nation loves its guns. If a mentally unstable person can shoot a bunch of little kids and NOTHING HAPPENS to change the laws, it never will. All the guns are safe. People can fucking keep their guns. Also, what is wrong with people that their number one priority in life is having guns? I don't understand these people and I never will. 

The most important thing to someone is something, something, blah, blah, God/faith/religion and that is how they want to vote. Again, no idea what to do with these people. Believe and worship whatever/however you want. This should really, truly have nothing to do with the government. I don't know why this is confusing. Also, everything I know of God is about trying to do the right thing and be a good, kind person. If people look to Trump as a role model for kind and good, I...I...I don't know what to say to these people. 

Fear, hate, racism, sexism.
Yup. And there we have it. If people vote for Trump, they suffer from one or all of these. I don't know what happened to these people, but I feel really sorry for them. It must just be miserable to be full of such hate and fear. How awful for these people that they walk around and spend all their time just hating other people. For no reason. Listening to Trump and his supporters hearts my heart. It's so ugly.

I feel very fortunate that I have carved out a career for myself that takes my work out on a global level. I am able to travel and my work is about connecting with people. I care deeply about trying to be a decent world citizen. I am learning every day how to be the best person I can. I (like probably everyone) have my own issues. I get excited about things and jump without looking where I am going. Sometimes this ends up impacting people as I will then have to jump back and disappoint or let people down. I try my best to be sensitive and smart but I say the wrong thing sometimes. I offend. I think I know what I am talking about only to learn my facts were wrong. I struggle to forgive. I become incensed when I feel like I or someone I love has been wronged and I hold onto it tightly. I'm selfish and self righteous. I keep people at a distance. I judge. I do a lot of things that aren't great but GODDAMMIT I genuinely try to be decent, kind, and fair and I stay open to learning everyday. Do Trump supporters think they are doing good things? Do they self reflect and think similar things to what I think? Who are these people?????

The world is a scary and beautiful place. This nation is a big, wondrous, crazy place.
I am full of fear and anxiety about tomorrow but I'm going to just keep having faith.
Love trumps hate. It really does. No matter what happens tomorrow, that is truth.

****On a side note, I was telling my husband that I was writing this blog and was nervous about posting it. I didn't want it to sound uninformed or messy. I was worried about how it would be perceived. After saying other supportive things he then said, "It's okay because you are a woman so it doesn't matter what you say. It only matters how you look."
I really, really, really appreciate my husband's humor. I suppose if Trump does win, at least I have that to get me through the next 4 years.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Well...we're back in the car again.

When people ask me what my favorite movies are, I always say the same thing. Star Wars, Alien, Breaking the Waves, Rushmore, Young Frankenstein. Great movies, a good mix for a theatre nerd type, and good representation of me. A certain comic style that I always try to recapture on stage in Young Frankenstein. A little Von Trier and Anderson (love them both.) Classic sci-fi movies that show my love for fantasy, melodrama, being scared, and Ripley. I never say Jurassic Park but the truth is I love this movie. I’ve watched it a lot. It’s exciting and scary and fun. The female character is smart and interesting and wears sensible shoes. There is this part in the movie where the young boy Tim has crashed into a tree in the car after being attacked by a T Rex (what is not to love about this movie?) Dr. Grant is trying to save him by getting him out the car and as they climb down the tree, the car falls down the tree and lands on top on them, enclosing them in the car again. At this point, Tim says, “Well…we’re back in the car again.” I like the young actor’s reading on that line. It’s not a complaint. It’s just a fact. It is what it is. I quote this line a lot. Well… I’m back in the car again. Well… I’m back at the airport again. Well…I’m back on the train again. Well…I’m back in a strange bed again. That is long story to explain the title of this blog.


Elsa and I are back in the airport/airplane/car/strange bed again. I’m not sure when I will post this exactly (I am at the Toronto airport right now) but we are headed to The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance in Canada for a Mask and Clown Intensive with the wonderful John Turner and Michael Kennard aka Mump and Smoot aka the Canadian Clowns of Horror. Elsa and I have been trying to come to this intensive for about 5 years and every year something happens. Usually being broke happens, but also summer schedules are hard. We made it happen this year. 
Determination and sacrifice (mainly on Elsa’s part) MADE. IT. HAPPEN. I am 79% excited and 21% scared. We rented a small cabin and will accomplish 100 hours of clown and mask training over the next 15 days. I think we are very close to the lake and I plan to swim as often as I am able. I think I will be offline most of the time but we’ll post a bit as we are able.

We aren’t the only Tricklockers continuing on with adventure. Hannah is still in Poland teaching with Teatr Figur Krakow at their summer education camp and then she heads the Summer Intensive at The Gardzienice Center for Theatre Practices. I will let her tell her story on this, but I'm soooooooo excited for her. 

***side note: I don't know why my blog did that ^ I can't fix it so whatev. Maybe it's highlighting it because it is IMPORTANT!

So that leaves Krakow. Oh Poland. Poland, where a part of my heart always lives. On the last night, Aaron and I walked back to our flat after dessert and coffee and Aaron said dramatically, “Boohoohoohoo.” I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “I don’t want to leave Krakow!”  This is how we always feel. The shows at Teatr Barakah were great. The audiences were great. Barakha was great. We saw old friends, made new friends, hung around the city, John and Bernadette joined us (John is our longest Board member and all around cool guy) and we just generally had a fabulous experience.  I ate so much Zurek, a sour soup with sausage, potato, and a hard boiled egg. Aaron calls it breakfast soup. It is delicious.

We traveled by train from Keiv to Warsaw, Warsaw to Krakow. 12 people and about 36 bags. Narrow halls, tiny sleeping cars, in Warsaw we had 6 minutes to get off the train. Six. Minutes. This group of people is just remarkable. They were upbeat, worked together, and loved each other. On the train we went from compartment to compartment hanging out, laughing, talking, drinking Ukrainian vodka (gifts from PostPlay.) This is an amazing group. No doubt about it.

                                                                          Love these people

Now I am in Canada. I lucked out and stayed at the perfect Toronto hotel for my travelling troubles. I arrived Wednesday night at the hotel at 11pm and I had to pick up Elsa the next day at 5:30pm. Then we rent a car. When I arrived on Wednesday, I was exhausted. They let me have a late check out, they had laundry on site so I cleaned my clothes, they had a restaurant with a yummy veggie omelette, they let me hang around in the big comfy chair in the lobby and use wifi, and the lovely man at the little store in the lobby where I bought my gum asked about my peppermint oil which sparked a 30 minutes conversation about practicing mindfulness. This was a particularly interesting moment. I put the gum on the counter and he said, “I don’t know that you need this gum, you already smell so minty.” I explained I use peppermint oil to help with my headaches and anxiety. Something about this opened him up to me and we talked for a long time about releasing anger, removing greed, and letting go of ego. Or at least recognizing it when it is happening.

I had a few days of emotional roller coasting riding immediately after the tour. Depressed it was over, elated it was so successful, homesick, in love with Krakow, freaked out that instead of going home I was going to an intensive training, massive separation anxiety from Aaron. I would get weepy, “I can’t believe we are going to be apart for 17 days!” Sometimes you just have to take the ride.

                                                                 This guy. I love this guy. 

Elsa and I are at the hotel in Sudbury (half way between Toronto and Manitoulin Island) and I went swimming this morning. I thought it would be magic for my knee but even swimming hurts it a bit. Kicking my leg on my first lap and I gasped in pain. Oh man. Healing sucks. It is just going to be months of recovery. I have to be okay with this. I have been healing my knee along the way.  I will admit that a crazy tour is not the way to heal a knee, but it’s what I have been doing. I will keep at it.

Okay. Off to clown camp we go! A couple of mid to late 40 year old best friends, living in a rustic cabin on a lake, training in clown and mask 10 hours a day, in an old farmhouse in Canada. This is the life.  I’m so grateful that I have awesome parents who help and support my work so much (they took care of our creatures while were gone and spoiled the crap out of little Shudek!) I’m so in love with my amazing theatre company. I’m so lucky that I get to really experience part of the world not just with travelling but with actual artistic exchange. I have great friends and an amazing partner. I have so much gratitude. I’m going to focus on all of that goodness. Take it with me into the clown work. Open the door. Up, up, up.