Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Contentment

As we approach the end of 2011, most of us are reflecting upon the year we leave behind.  For me, 2011 was filled with an abundance of change, quite a few lessons learned, and the entrance of some new and wondrous people in my life.  For that I am grateful.

In the last few months of this year, I am learning to find contentment in my life.  It is sometimes a challenge, but for now I am pleased with how things are ebbing and flowing.  Life can change on a dime, just like the weather here in Portland, and we can't always be prepared for what comes our way.  But with a positive outlook and faith that things will turn out the way they're supposed to, I continue to travel on my merry way.

Ups and downs.  Bumps in the road.  Obviously life is not always easy.  But I look forward to 2012 with an optimism I haven't felt in a long time.  There are new friendships to forge, new playwrighting opportunities to undertake and unexplored roads yet to travel.  It should be an interesting year.  But, aren't they all?

Happy New Year everyone. Peace, love, prosperity and health to us all in 2012! 

Cheers!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Planting Seeds

I know first-hand how important it is to plant seeds for young people today.  Whether it is through the arts or some other medium, giving these kids confidence and allowing them to express themselves is so important for their future productivity and success.

Please read the guest post below by my cousin Mike B.  He happily shares the story of a woman who is helping to plant the seeds for young people in her community.  Thanks Mike B for contributing this great post!

Fun Learning for First Graders
When I was young, I used to love reading a feature in Reader’s Digest magazine called The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Ever Met. Some of these “characters” were famous, others were not, but I always enjoyed learning about them.

Over the years, I’ve met a few unforgettable characters of my own—ordinary people who impressed me with their meaningful contributions. One of these people is Kelli Pearson—or Miss Kelli, as I knew her when I began volunteering over nine years ago as a homework tutor in an exciting after school program at a community learning center in my hometown.  

At the time, Kelli was the director of the K-5 program at the center. I watched as she taught and engaged kids, introducing them to the fun of learning. She also had a knack for handling difficult situations, making the environment a welcoming and safe place for children. I was impressed not
just by her ability to teach kids, but to reach kids.

Now that reach extends farther than ever before. Earlier this year, Kelli launched www.SmartFirstGraders.com, a web site devoted to making learning fun for kids. While plenty of teachers find exciting ideas here, Kelli’s main goal is to give parents ideas for helping their kids learn.

Since kids have a way of resisting being taught by mom or dad, the web site’s learning activities feel more like play than work. Who would have thought that playing card games, making bubbles, going on scavenger hunts and baking cookies could be used to teach math and science? But it works, and kids love it. I know because I have used some of Ms. Kelli’s ideas with my young grandson.

Success in first grade sets the stage for young kids to develop into good students, and what better way to do this than by making learning fun. With the help Kelli offers on  www.smartfirstgraders.com , parents can help their first graders reach this goal.

From articles on fine motor skills to tips on how to deal with bullies and mean kids at school, from cool science experiments to lists of classic books for first graders,  www.smartfirstgraders.com is a valuable resource for parents and teachers on math, science, reading, child development, and more.

I am happy to call Kelli both colleague and friend. She taught me how to reach kids on their level, and this has made me a better tutor. If you have a first grader and want to give your child a learning boost while you and your child have a great time together, check out this site. (You can say you heard about it from Mike B!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ScratchPDX


Back in October I had the great fortune to work with Eleanor O'Brien; a fantastic Portland actress and artist.  I came on board to help create a whimiscal piece of theatre for a local fundraising event.  It was a terrific experience, because not only did I get to work with Eleanor, the entire cast of seven other beautiful woman were delightful to work with as well.

Last night, the piece we originally created for the October fund-raiser was featured again at ScratchPDX. Scratch is an experimental performance space for acts of all kinds to try out their stuff in front of a lively and friendly audience.  Anything and everything including spoken word, performance art, improv, play readings and dance can be featured here.  The warm and welcoming people that host and volunteer for this event made the evening infinitely enjoyable.  There was such a strong sense of community sitting amongst the audience and it was so fun to be a part of this amusing and entertaining evening of theatre.

If you are in the Portland area, I strongly encourage you to check out ScratchPDX.  It runs the second Saturday of every month from October through May at Hipbone Studios. You never know what you might see and experience.  I'm hoping to have some additional work featured in the upcoming months...I'll keep you posted!

Hope everyone is enjoying December.  It's mighty cold up here in Portland, but my heart is full and warm.

Peace.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Return to the Blog

Google Images

Is this my official return from my 10 week hiatus?  I cannot say for sure.  But I have missed writing for this blog, so I thought I'd drop in and see if anyone was still around and reading!

The past couple of months have been interesting, to say the least.  Full of highs and lows and lots of work.  I enjoyed a delightful Thanksgiving with some new and wonderful friends, and, as they say, the beat goes on...

In January, I will be having a reading of my newly revamped short play, "This is Temporary."  The reading is part of the Fertile Ground Festival, and I'm pleased and excited to be part of this new works extravaganza!  A big thank you to PDX Playwrights who gave me the push!  I've also cast some terrific actors and cannot wait to start working with them.  First read-through is next week and I'm looking forward to it.

Still working diligently on my most current play commission...stay tuned to hear more about that in the next month or so.  And just so you know, I do plan on returning to writing for this blog regularly in the new year.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.  I'm actually hosting a party this year and really looking forward to that, believe it or not!  Not usually a fan of the holidays, but this year I'm embracing everything that comes my way.  I've turned over a new leaf...why not!

Please chime in with your comments...let me know how you're all doing.  I love hearing from you.

Tis the season and all that jazz. 

Peace.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Hiatus

Taking a cue from one of my blogging friends, I have decided that it would be best if I took a break from the blog.  I am so grateful that my plate is full and I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied through the next 6 months.  Other changes are stirring in my life as well, and I realize I have not been as devoted to this blog as I have been in the past.

So I'm taking a break.  I want to thank each and every person who has read my words, followed my ups and downs, commented publicly, privately, or simply sent good wishes along the way.

This is definitely not goodbye.  It's just a break.  I don't know when I'll start up again...there may be sporadic postings here and there, or one long silence until I feel able to start up again and write regularly.

In the meantime, I wish you all a productive fall and hope you will continue to read my posts when I resume the blog.  Thanks again for everything!

See you soon...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rhythm & Flow

Joie de Vivre by Robert Delaunay

I went to the theatre this past weekend and finally saw a play I've wanted to see for ages. I read plays all the time, but remember, plays are meant to be seen and not necessarily read. 

What struck me about this particular play was the vividness of the rhythm and flow of the dialogue.  It was heightened; not many people I know speak to each other the way these characters spoke to one another.  It was quite theatrical in many ways even though the entire play takes place in an ordinary living room.  I need to learn how to do this in my own writing.  My work needs to be heightened; it needs, believe it or not, more theatricality.  In my attempt to make situations naturalistic, I'm afraid my work sometimes borders on the mundane.  Ugh...death!

Does it seem I am contradicting myself if I say I didn't like any of the characters, but I did like the play?  In other words, I would never want to know those people...I'd never want to go to their house for dinner.  I would be mentally exhausted trying to keep up with the minutia of their conversation.  I didn't like them at all, but in terms of the writing, I found their behavior and their dialogue riveting. And of course, they were very recognizable.  I have known people like that in my past.

I am always in student mode...always learning more about how I can make my writing more dynamic.  In the scheme of things, I'm still a very young playwright--I've been writing professionally for less than 10  years, so that makes me a very young artist indeed. I have so much to learn from the many stellar writers out there.

As I move into a very busy fall season, where multiple plays need to be created, characters need to be given life, and storylines need to pack a wallop, I sit and ponder the magnitude of what I need to do.  But I also get to develop new worlds, new relationships, and that is the part of the work that is the most fun and the most intriguing.  I simply need to get out of my own way, and let the muse take over.  Where the heck is she???







Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Pile of Words


"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." ~Ernest Hemingway

I find myself sitting amidst a pile of words, wanting to string them together as if they were beads on a thread. Can I do that?  Can I randomly choose one after another paying no attention to articles of speech or context?  I believe it would sound something like the Jabberwocky or worse.

It is not my intent to create nonsense or indiscriminate writing.  I have a focus; it's simply slow in coming.

I play in my pile of words as if they were freshly fallen leaves from a tree.  I dig deep, I throw them in the air, I thrash about, I cough up the dust.  When I close my eyes I still see them floating in front of me.  Words, words, words, like Shakespeare exclaimed. Meaning nothing.  Meaning everything.  My lump of clay.  Sitting expectantly.  Waiting for me to do with them what I will.   

Monday, August 1, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Right now at this very moment, I'm in between gigs. Finished Round 1 and am ready to hit Round 2. So what do I do with my very little precious time in between? Write a blog post of course. Actually, I read and answered quite a few emails and am jotting notes to prepare for this evening's class. But I also wanted to get a post in, because it's gonna be awhile. So here ya go!

I've done this before. This sort of manic juggling of a variety of different jobs. The most gigs I ever held down simultaneously was 6 and that was back in 2003. That was a long time ago. But here I am, back up to speed and doing it again. Total gig count as of today: 4. I'm teaching, writing, teaching and editing. How's that for a juggling act?

It feels good to be this busy, but at the same time I'm finding myself yearning for a Red Bull. Well, it's 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I have miles to go before I sleep, so that seems about right.

Gotta run. Just wanted to once again thank you all for weighing in on how to survive this juggling game.  This activity should calm down for me in a couple of weeks...for a little while anyway. Then me and the D-man are gonna take a short little jaunt somewhere special before all the craziness starts again for both of us.

It's like a clown car, isn't it? You think only one  person is getting out of that car but they just keep coming. Those crazy clowns!  Well, all I can say is that I'm grateful that these gigs keep coming. I'll find a way to balance it all. I always have. I think I thrive on it.

Hope all of you are enjoying your summer. No one should be working this hard in August...enjoy the dog days if you can!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Here's the thing...


So the thing is… I have a deadline.  Well, to be clear, I have multiple deadlines because I’m in the midst of doing multiple things.  And of course, each thing has a deadline.

The big deadline is 3 months away, so you might say, “Well, hey, no sweat…3 months is a long time.”  But it’s really not.  It’s not at all.  3 months are going to fly by and before I know it, the deadline will approach.  The day will be here…knocking on my door.  “Your 3 months is up.  Over.  Kaput.  Where’s your project?  We’ve come to collect it.”

And this is not one of those things that you can quickly put together 2 or 3 days before the deadline.  Oh no…not at all.  I NEED these 3 months to accomplish what I need to accomplish.

But then I have other deadlines.  More immediate deadlines.  I have, what I call, my bread and butter deadlines. Daily deadlines that are my bread and butter.  Suddenly, I seem to have a lot more bread and butter deadlines than ever before.  Which is kind of a good thing, but at the same time they cannot be ignored because after all, they are my bread and butter.  So obviously, these immediate deadlines get my priority.  And after I have accomplished what I need to do for my bread and butter, I am absolutely exhausted, knocked out, depleted and I think about the looming deadline 3 months away.   And I think, “Well I have a little time for that one. Don’t I?”
But no.  I don’t have time.  Because now it’s the end of July, and August is already fully plotted out, and before I know it, September will be here and bring with it all that it will bring.  As October rolls around, the chaos may dissipate and some semblance of order may find its way into my life.  But then I will only have 1 month.  October.  And I cannot fully count on October being my friend and providing me with the time, focus and concentration I need to complete the BIG DEADLINE.

I have to find a way to make it work.  I have to.  There isn’t any alternative.  I am a writer.  And I write for my bread and butter and I write for the big deadlines, and I live in the chaos and I get it done.  I find a way.  I have to.  There is no room for discussion here.  I find a way. There is no other option but to do it.
Any suggestions???

Monday, July 11, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole


Wonderland is alive and well and exists in the form of the Oregon Country Fair. Please understand, this is no ordinary country fair with folks selling apple pies and growing gigantic zucchinis and raising enormous pigs. Nope...not even close.

This fair is like entering a parallel universe where giants and other mythical creatures roam freely throughout the magical woods. There are artisans galore happily offering their wares including pottery, jewelry, candles, soaps, and artwork of all kinds. Food of every kind will permeate your senses...a veritable smorgasbord of delight. A menu for every palate: vegan, vegetarian, carnivore and those with a heavy sweet tooth...it's all there for you to partake and indulge and decadently devour!

It is not at all unusual to be greeted by a parade of colorful characters and musicians at every bend along your journey through this dreamlike world. I can't even tell you all the sights and sounds I saw when I visited the fair this weekend, but I will tell you it I was on sensory overload.

I didn't know where to look first--the Cirque du Soleil type of folks seemed to be everywhere...there were magic shows, musical concerts, puppets, vaudeville, street performers and anything and everything you can think of to delight your senses. Very scantily-clad men and women with their bodies painted in delightful colors and flowers and it seemed like the '60's were alive and well and happening in Eugene Oregon.

The hippies were everywhere because here, at the fair, everyone is coming from a place of peace and love. There are the die-hard hippies...holdovers from Woodstock...the ones that partied with Jerry and the Dead...there are the new hippies, the teen hippies, the baby hippies and even the hippie wannabes...because let's face it...at this fair, everyone wants to be a hippie.

The port-o'-potty I used (which of course they refer to as "The Honey Bucket") reeked of weed and patchouli...not a bad combination when you have to pee outside. Frankly, I was delighted not to smell piss and shit!

I enjoyed myself immensely... a big thanks to the D-man for taking me down there and tuning me in, turning me on, and letting me drop out...if only for a day. Today, I emerge from the Rabbit Hole...but I wouldn't mind staying down there a little longer. Oh well...there's always next year. Oregon is cool!

Peace & Love Everybody!
 These are not my feet!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Pillar of Salt


Sometimes I find myself missing my old life.  And then I wonder why...I'd rather make something of this new life then mourn the old one. 

If I keep looking behind me, I might just turn into a pillar of salt.  Best to keep moving forward...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Storytime with the kiddies


It's hot today.  But I have a lot of work to accomplish.  Didn't want to stay in my apartment; I'm afraid I wouldn't get anything done.  So I head on down to the local coffeehouse.  Nice vibe.  Free wi-fi.  Lots of electrical outlets.  It's crowded and I'm a little daunted, but I know it will ebb and flow throughout the day, so I find a table, plant myself, plug in and off I go. 

And then I see the sign: "Storytime today at 10AM."  It's set up right in front of where I'm sitting. And I see the guy with the tall black top hat and the woman with clown makeup and pigtails and I think..."Really? Today? Oh boy..." 

There is nowhere else to move; every other table is filled, and if this wasn't the designated storytime area, it would be a killer location.  How long can it last I wonder?  So  here I am...hunkering down, with the lilting sound of the clown-like woman providing the soundtrack to my day. "Can you see the star in the picture?  Great job!"  And little ones, little ones, little ones everywhere. 

One little girl walked in wearing sunglasses and looking like she owned the joint the minute she got here.  The clown woman said hello and asked her how she was today.  She said, "I'm great!  Saw a unicorn on the way over here."  Wow...I wish I could start my day out with such enthusiasm.  I looked out the window to see if I could spot the unicorn...not one in sight.

It's not as distracting as I thought it would be.  The kids are relatively well-behaved, and if they don't start screaming or crying, I should be able to get my work done.  And of course, they should be gone within the hour (I'm hoping.)  And really...you never know...it might turn out to be a good day after all.  I might just see a three-legged dragon or something on my way home today.  One thing about being around children...anything is possible.  Except maybe...getting your work done.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I live across the street from an over-priced hipster joint that has a line out the door every weekend with throngs of people dying to make their own pancakes.  The sidewalk is flooded with patrons waiting for a table that has it's own griddle.  Once seated, you can choose a variety of different batters and literally make your own pancakes on the table right in front of you.  It's a novel idea, but it's way too expensive for my taste and I'm not sure it's worth the wait.

Today, Father's Day 2011, I walked past the trendy cafe and saw an even bigger crowd than usual.  Lots of Dads were hanging out, clutching their cups of coffee and obviously enjoying the time with their families.  There were Grandpas with their older, grown-up kids; there were young Daddies hoisting the little ones on their shoulders; and everyone was laughing, happily and patiently waiting for their moment in front of the grill, eagerly anticipating the Mimosas and Bloody Marys that would accompany their delicious breakfast fare. 

Today, I think of my Dad, long gone now, but ever present in my memory.  I wonder what he would make of me as this pseudo grown-up person and if he would be proud of my life.  He lives in me every day; every time I crack a corny joke or have a splash of temper, he's there. 

I miss you Dad.  I wish you were here.  But as corny as this may sound, I see you in my dreams quite often and I thank you for taking the time to visit from wherever you are.  Happy Father's Day Pop!  I love  you, you ol' rapscallion you!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Highlights


Come on...tell the truth.  You just did a double-take on the photo above, didn't you?  Well, don't worry...you're not seeing things.  That really is a guy riding his bike naked.  And that's exactly what I saw this weekend...oh the perks of living in such a silly city known as Portland.

We were driving down the road...me and D...and suddenly D says, "Hey!  That guy is naked!"  I turn to my right, and sure enough, there is one lone guy riding his bike sans clothing!  I did the requisite double-take but there was no mistaking it. 

He seemed like he was having a very enjoyable afternoon ride on his bike.  He was wearing a hat (apparently to protect his head from the sun, but obviously nothing else was protected.  I sure do hope he was smeared with SPF everywhere else!) He was wearing socks and sneakers and that my friends is all she wrote!  Just had his birthday suit on and nothing more.  Hmm....wonder where he kept his wallet?

No cars were honking or making any type of spectacle out of this spectacle.  I guess everyone here in Portland takes this type of thing in stride.  D didn't even honk because as he told me, he was too flabbergasted to even think about honking.  It took us both a couple of minutes for our brains to register what we were seeing.

I cracked up laughing.  I was highly amused.  I hope the cyclist got home safe without any incident (meaning I hope he wasn't arrested for indecent exposure or any other hassle.)  I truly believe he was simply taking advantage of the lovely weather we were having. 

Sometimes after a long, cold, rainy winter, you just have to get out there on your bicycle and ride.  Naked.  The motto here is "Keep Portland Weird."  Amen to that!  Hope you all had an equally enjoyable weekend. With or without your clothes on!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home

As many of  you  know, I moved from Southern California to Portland, Oregon last October.  The reasons behind the move are varied, and the act of picking up and moving a long distance is traumatic enough.  To say I downsized in order to move to Portland would be an understatement; though I held on to many of my cherished belongings, and put the most important things in my little car and drove north.  The rest of my things stayed in storage.

Last week, I returned to Southern California to retrieve my items out of storage.  There was more stuff in that little storage facility than I had remembered.  So there I was, once again discarding more items and repacking. It was emotional. I kept telling myself that it was only "stuff."  But it was my stuff!  Every object had history behind it.  Since not everything could fit in the car or in my new place in Portland, I inevitably had to let even more things go. Downsizing again.  But my motto has always been less is more, so I guess it's a good thing.  I guess...

On the drive back to Portland, I got to thinking about the meaning of home.  Southern California is so familiar to me.  I know where everything is; my family lives there and it was my home for many, many years.  But I never truly felt like I belonged there.  I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.  I've lived in many different cities and I've always had that similar feeling...that I was an outsider.  And so, because of that, I've moved around a lot...hoping to one day find the place that clicked.  That one day I could identify with a certain city and truly call it home.

Is Portland home?  I'm not sure yet.  I still have mixed feelings about this place, but I haven't even been here a year so it's too soon to tell.  I like it here a lot, but it takes more than that to make a place a home.  I am doing the best I can; finding ways to become part of the Portland community.  There are many opportunities here, so I have hope that I will one day hunker down and feel that this is where I belong.

For now, I simply ponder what it means to call a place "home."  Yes, now all my stuff is in one place and that feels good.  Secure.  But I need something more...yet whatever that something is, remains elusive.  I hope I find it here in Portland.  I'm not sure I have another long distance move in me.  Not for awhile anyway.  So I'm hunkering down...putting the books on the shelves and the pictures on the wall.  And for today, I am home. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shadows in the Night

Sometimes, I don't sleep very well.  Too much on my mind, perhaps.  Every now and then, the stress of life can really get to me and interrupt my sleep. I have been known to experience an anxiety attack or two in the middle of the night.  You've been there?  It's no fun, right?

Last night, I was having one of those nights.  Restless.  Tossing and turning...couldn't get comfortable.  Covers pushed off, then pulled back on as I started to shiver in the frosty night air.  I often like to have the window open just a crack to let the fresh air in, but last night it was pretty damn cold.

In that drowsy state between full consciousness and sleep, I knew I wanted to get up and shut the window. I opened my eyes and looking straight ahead, I was sure someone was standing in my bedroom.  A very tall person, wearing a hat.  Very broad-shouldered, and needless to say, very menacing.  I shut my eyes and opened them again very quickly, thinking that act alone would make "him" disappear.  Yet he remained. I felt my pulse race, I wanted to scream; I thought for a moment I was dreaming, but knew for a fact I was awake.  And I was.  I was awake.  And there was an intruder standing in front of my bed.

And yet...this figure never moved.  Never swayed.  And interestingly enough, never made a sound--not a breath or a sigh emanted from him. And as sleep fled, and my rational mind took over, the terror I felt a moment earlier seemed to dissipate.  And I was able to roll over and turn on the light.  My 7 foot, broad shouldered visitor with the hat was my jacket hanging in the wardrobe that faces my bed.  I turned the light off and he reappeared.  Clicked the light back on, and there was my innocent jacket once again.

I will never underestimate the power of light and shadow, and my own imagination.  If tonight brings the same agitated sleep, and once again the shadows fall in such a way to create a figure in the night, I will do my best to remain calm...know this "thing" means no harm...it's all just a figment of my wild, agitated thoughts.

Tell me...what do you see in the dark?



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scene and Be Seen...

As a writer, or any type of artist for that matter, it is always wonderful to have our work validated.  One of my new short plays is getting validation next week.  My heroes at The Collective Theatre Company in New York City are presenting new work at their May Fundraiser called "Scene and Be Seen," including one of my latest pieces entitled This is Temporary.

If you are in the NYC area, and are looking for a great evening of entertainment, knowing that at the same time you are supporting the arts and this innovative company, here are the details:

WHAT:    
SCENE AND BE SCENE" - THE COLLECTIVE/CROSSHATCH THEATRE COMPANY'S MAY FUNDRAISER
Directed by Stephen Agosto and Emma Canalese

WHEN:
MAY 20TH & 21ST AT 8PM (7pm Cocktail Hour)
$10 AT THE DOOR (INCLUDES A SHOW AND YOUR FIRST DRINK, WHAT A DEAL!!!)

WHERE:
The Neighborhood Playhouse
340 E. 54th Street
NY, NY

It's a great deal at only 10 bucks a pop and is sure to be a fun night!  So go out and support theatre, playwrights, actors and have a lot of fun doing it!  If you get the chance to go, I'd love to hear from you!



Friday, May 13, 2011

Technical Malfunction


I was working on a really great post.  I hadn't written on my own blog for awhile since I've been busy guest posting on other blogs (that's a good thing) and I really liked the new post I was working on.

So, I needed to walk away from it for a bit as I often do when I'm writing.  Take a little brain break as it were...I saved the draft and ran some errands.  When I returned, I couldn't get into my Blogger account.  Blogger had gone down!  For over 24 hours.  I couldn't finish the post.

When I returned to Blogger today...the post was gone!  So were a couple of comments I received that had never been published. AHHHHHHH.......

It was such a good post, if I do say so myself.  But now it's gone.  Forever.  I will try my best to retrieve it from the dark recesses of my mind, but the moment is gone.  The mood is gone.  It will take too much effort to try and resurrect it, and frankly...it wasn't that good.  In the meantime, here's this little rant.  I shall calm down and afterwards, I shall post something fresh and new and hopefully fun this weekend. 

Bloggers using Blogspot are all in a similar boat today and probably as P'O'd as I am.  It could have been worse.  I could have lost the whole thing.  Now, I'm wondering if I should move over to Wordpress?  Any thoughts on that one, people?  I would love to hear what you think...



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everyday People

Opening Night! There is nothing more exciting in the theatre world than an opening night and I'm happy to say TONIGHT is the opening of the world premiere of my play Everyday People.

The play deals with bullying in schools on every level, beginning with elementary school kids up through high school. And of course, it touches upon the issue of cyber bullying which is running rampant.

Not to sound too pessimistic, but I'm afraid bullying is never going to go away.  But I do think that if parents and teachers can pass on the message of kindness and tolerance, there may be a slowing down of the horridness we've been seeing lately.  Kids have bullied other kids since the beginning of time...I'm sure little Neanderthal children were slamming other Neanderthal children into cave walls.  But with the onslaught of technology, the ramifications of bullying via social networks and text messaging are profound.  And the results will never go away.  As Aaron Sorkin so succinctly wrote in the film "The Social Network," the Internet is written in ink. You can never erase it once it's out there.

I am hoping Everyday People will bring even more awareness to an already topical issue and hoping this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated.  I love theatre.  It educates.  It entertains.  It illuminates and inspires.  Happy Opening Night everybody!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Paying It Forward...

Holy Guacamole, Batman!  I was alerted this morning that one of my newest followers,  Thom Brown, who writes the blog To Gyre and Gambol, bestowed the Kreativ Blogger award upon me.  It was bestowed upon him as well, and he, in turn, is paying it forward and spreading the honor to other bloggers that he likes. I'm so flattered.

But with reward, comes responsibility.  So I have to pass the same Kreativ Blogger award along to ten bloggers that I deem worthy, and then  I have to reveal ten things about myself that most folks might not know.

10 things?  Really?  GULP...

Well, first things first.  Let me say how much I absolutely love to blog.  And I have met some extraordinary people in the blogging world.  It's amazing the friendships that have been created here in cyberspace.  The following 10 blogs are ones I totally dig. I would love to get to read them more often, but sometimes time is the enemy and I can't get there as often as I'd like. 

In the meantime, I share the following blogs with you as I bestow upon my creative colleagues, the Kreativ Blogger Award.  Don't forget to pay it forward friends!  Here's my list:

1.  Bonnie Joy Bardos writes Bohemian Artist: Painting & Thought.  Bonnie was one of the first bloggers I met and she is the epitome of an artist.  Her paintings are spectacular. I love her Bohemian ways. She, like her middle name, is a Joy!  Check her out.

2. Absolutely Kate is absolutely a riot.  Her blog, At the Bijou, is one of the most innovative and unique blogs I've ever visited.  And Kate is a hoot.  She features lots and lots of writers...all kinds, but mostly, if you like film noir, you'll like At the Bijou.

3. If you want someplace to rest your weary head, and feel a moment of peace, please visit Healing Morning.  Beautifully written by the talented Dawn Sievers.  You will feel renewed.

4.  A ukulele player who also deals antiques.  This is one innovative blog that I love stopping by from time to time. Lots of fun to check out the Beatnheart.

5.  I know Thom Brown already bestowed this award to my blogging buddy Savira, but frankly her blog Living, Laughing Breathing! is so wonderful, she deserves the double-prize! This blog is an oasis in a desert, that's for sure!

6.  I met Erin Cole as she was just publishing her first novel Grave Echos: A Kate Waters Mystery. She's an incredible writer and a wonderful and generous woman.  Please read everything you can get your hands on at Erin Cole Writes.

7.  Sometimes as I peruse the blogging world, I find a blog that makes me chuckle.  That in itself is noteworthy.  A Moose Walked into a Bar makes me chuckle.  Check it out and have your own chuckle.

8.  Jonathan Aller paints fruit.  It's really amazing.  They look real and they make me hungry.  Do yourself a favor and have a look at Alla Prima studies by Jonathan Aller.

9.  Lots of short but sweet stories for lovers of fiction at Fiction for Dessert.

10.  Great musings and anecdotes at Things My Mother Taught Me.  Have a look-see.  You'll be glad you did.

So these are the 10 blogs I deem worthy of "Kreativ Blogger Award!"  And as for the 10 things I need to reveal about myself...well, dear readers...that will have to wait for another day.  With all these new blogs, you have a lot of reading to do!  Enjoy!  And remember, when someone does something nice for you--pay it forward!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Play's the Thing...


Currently, I don't have my television hooked up.  I use it strictly for watching DVD's and nothing more.  There are a variety of reasons for this, but namely it's about distraction.  I don't want the distraction of the television.  It's too easy to flit away the hours watching meaningless images on the screen.  I choose not to do this...it's as simple as that. And I'm saving some money as well which is always a good thing!

But occasionally I do miss it so I'll get my fix from watching specific shows on Hulu.  Love Hulu.  Hope it stays free. Anyway, one of the shows I enjoy watching is "Parenthood."  Sometimes I find the show annoying with all the obvious overlapping dialogue and the sanctimonious storylines, but mostly I like it. Mostly.

This week the season two finale aired on Tuesday night, which means the latest episode was available on Hulu on Wednesday.  So this is what happened in a nutshell...I'm not going to try and explain two seasons worth of this show and all the character history, but this is what I want to discuss now--One of the characters, Sarah, is a single mom raising two teens and living with her parents in their beautiful house in Berkley, CA.  She has a drug and alcohol addicted ex-husband (the father of her children, who showed up in several earlier episodes and played by cutie-patootie hippie boy John Corbett).

I'm getting to my point, I promise.  Sarah currently works as a bartender (a noble profession) but is trying to find her path in life.  She stays up all night one night and writes (presumably) a story all about her family. (which is what the TV show is about in the first place.) She takes the story to her daughter's high school English teacher (who she used to have a crush on) and he tells her it's really good writing but it should be a play.  A. PLAY.

Here's where I come in...or rather, here's where the story starts to IRK me. Sarah rewrites the story as a play.  Now it's a play all about her family.  Ok...so writers are supposed to write what we know...but suddenly Sarah seems to know everything there is to know about playwrighting and she knows details about playwrights and suddenly she knows all about the theatre.  And of course her dad knows this quirky theatrical-type director/producer played by Richard Dreyfuss who embodies every stereotype of a quirky theatrical-type complete with ascot, hat and walking stick.

So of course, in this season finale she gets her play read at the illustrious Berkley Rep to a packed crowd and the thing is...the dialogue of the play that we, the "Parenthood" viewing audience are privy to, isn't very good.  It isn't very funny.  It just looks like some mediocre version of the TV show itself.  Which, of course, it is.

All I'm saying is that it wasn't very believable. Up until now, I've been with the show all the way.  But this?  Maybe it hits too close to home.  Maybe it's because I know how hard it is to get a reading anywhere, much less at Berkley Rep.  Maybe it's sour grapes on my part.  Maybe it's because life on television shows is almost always better than the real thing.  Sometimes.  Maybe not. I don't know.  I want a play produced by Berkley Rep.  That's the truth!

So, the show hit a nerve.  And it made me realize, that maybe...just maybe...I'd be better off without television including the shows I watch on Hulu.  And maybe I need to get crackin' on this new play I'm working on (which, by the way, is NOT about my family).  And maybe I'll meet some quirky little man who wears an ascot and walks with a cane and has connections to Berkley Rep or some equally prestigious theatre. 

The Pulitzer Prize Awards were announced on Monday.  I didn't win.  Maybe because I didn't enter.  But maybe it's because I didn't have a worthy submission. 

I gotta go.  I gotta get busy.  I have a play to write.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Everybody has a Story...

I was taking a walk and I found a small cardboard box on the corner of the street filled with somebody's stuff.  The word "FREE" was written in large block letters on all four sides of the box with a red Sharpie.

Inside the box were three psychedelic scarves that were slightly shredded and had cigarette burns throughout. There were four romance novels, yellowed with age, from another time, another place, a different century--the 20th century.  There were two small troll dolls who had seen better days, two pairs of very clean, but not exactly new white socks and a deck of cards from the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.  I counted the cards.  There were only 50 in the deck. And no Jokers.

There were some other assorted items in the box.  A weathered coin purse, a stapler (with no staples) 3 or 4 pens and a Hello Kitty eraser.  I stared at the box for quite awhile.  Longer than I should have.  I didn't want anything that was inside, but I couldn't help thinking about who left all that stuff there. 

Once upon a time, that stuff was new.  Once upon a time someone had wanted those items...perhaps even coveted them.  Now, these things were discarded...thrown willy-nilly into a plain box and left out for anyone to take and do with these things as they pleased.

Every item in that box had a story behind it.  Perhaps not a riveting story, but a story nonetheless.  People are their stuff.  Even if you're a minimalist, it certainly tells a story about who you are.  You don't want any stuff.  How come?  What's that about? I sometimes wish I could be a minimalist...but, alas, I like stuff too much.

Stuff is important.  I have certainly done my share of throwing out my stuff--selling it, giving it away, tossing it out, and once or twice leaving it behind, abandoned on a city street, not unlike this current box.  I would like to think I am more than the sum of my stuff...but the truth is, I mourn things I no longer have every day.  It's just who I am. I hope someone out there is enjoying my old stuff as much as I did.

I left the box behind.  Kept walking.  On the return trip the box was gone.  Did someone take it?  Did the owner have second thoughts and retrieve his or her beloved items?  Those troll dolls definitely needed a home.  I can't help but wonder.  It's my nature to wonder. 

Every piece of stuff we see every day, well, they all have their own story, don't they? What about your stuff?  What tales could it tell? Would you be willing to leave it all behind? Hmmm...I wonder...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Little R&R to Soothe the Soul...

Photos by Damian Arvetis

Yup...that's me in the upper left corner of the above photo--looking out the window of the Old Wheeler Hotel and enjoying the incredibly fresh air out
on the Oregon Coast.  The wonderful photographer of this picture whisked me away for an amazing, much-needed romantic getaway to a town called Wheeler on Nehalem Bay.  For two and a half days I was able to turn off my cell phone, shut down my computer and escape into the magical world of ocean and forest.  The Oregon Coast is amazing.  I'm so used to the beaches of Southern California and it's nothing at all like that.  It reminded me much more of the beaches of Cape Cod.  A mixture of woods and sky, trees and ocean.  I loved it.

The Old Wheeler hotel is quaint and charming filled with antiques and old-world elegance.  The proprietors treated us like old friends and the room we stayed in was quite luxurious, complete with a stunning view of the bay,  and a large and inviting Jacuzzi tub to soothe our aching muscles from  all that hiking......Ahhhhh......NICE! Here are some photos of the beautiful sitting room at the hotel.



The view from our room

We went on a really long hike in Oswald West State Park. The beauty there was breathtaking. Here are more astonishing photos of our trip from the very talented Mr. Arvetis:



 It was muddy, but totally WORTH IT!

Happy girl on the Oregon Coast!

In addition to our spending some quality time in Nature, we also enjoyed the quaint town of Wheeler itself, as well as the neighboring towns of Manzanita and Nehalem, where antique shops are plentiful as well as the town's colorful characters. 





The trip was so enjoyable and I had such a wonderful and relaxing time it was hard to return to the realities of life.  We were only gone a short time, but we were a world away and it felt like the trip lasted much longer than it actually did.  We ate very well and breakfast being one of my favorite meals of the day, I'm including this photo of my fabulous meal at the Big Wave Cafe.

On the way home, we stopped at the Tillamook Dairy for delicious cheese samples and the most incredible ice cream I have ever tasted.  If you get the opportunity to sample any Tillamook product...do it!  Their cheese, ice cream and yogurt are bursting with flavor and they didn't even pay me to say that.  It's truly remarkable.  If you live on the West Coast, look for it in your local grocery store.  Sooooo delish!

I hope you enjoyed the photos of my mini vacation.  Now, I'm back to business as usual...but the Coast is calling and I know we will be going out there again soon.  I cannot wait!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guest Posts

I am thrilled to have recently had the opportunity to write posts for other people's blogs.  It's a lot of fun and it's been a wonderful way for me to meet fellow bloggers/writers.

I've written on a variety of topics that include dating, relationships, perimenopause and exercise.  Additionally, I am happy to say that my own blog, the very one you are now reading, has been spotlighted on the blog Healing Morning.  Dawn Sievers is the writer of this blog and I am extremely flattered that she chose to spotlight me and my Confessions of a Cluttered Mind.  I hope you will all check out Healing Morning, in addition to the other blogs where I have had the privilege of guest posting.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Slowed Down by the Common Cold!

I was doing my best to keep this cold at bay.  I took precautions, preventative supplements, tried my best to remain healthy.  But ah...it got me.  First cold of the year--hopefully it will be the last.

By now, the sneezing and runny nose has slowed down to a minimum...but it feels like little imps are throwing a party in my head.  This will not be a long post...I tried to get some writing accomplished today, but it was all for naught!  I feel like crap.  In the meantime, I'm drinking tons of OJ, and trying to rest as much as possible.  Tomorrow, duty calls, so I need to get my energy back within the next 12 hours. I can do this! With Zipfizz, echinacea, Advil and ultimate determination that I can and will get through the day. 

For now, I'm going to sleep.  Hoping somehow, that in the morning, the little germs who are wreacking havoc will have left my body only to go set up house in some other poor unsuspecting person's head, nose and throat. 

Stay healthy everybody!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Theatre in Portland


I went to see a play yesterday that I didn't know anything about.  I like when that happens. What I like even more was the fact that the play was delightful.  Simple in its construction.  I appreciate that.  As a writer I realize that simplicity in a play is not always easy to achieve.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Less is always more. 

What was simple about Jack Goes Boating was that it didn't need a large cast or tons of set pieces or special effects...it's a play about relationships--real people dealing with the ups and downs of life and relationships and interpersonal connection.  I saw myself in a couple of the characters--I like it when that happens too.

I found the piece to be quite enjoyable and afterwards I found out it originally premiered Off-Broadway in 2007 at the LAByrinth Theatre Company with Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz. And apparently, Mr. Hoffman went on to make his directorial debut with a film version of Jack Goes Boating. I saw the movie trailer and I'll probably wind up renting it...but nothing compares to seeing live theatre.

So do yourself a favor if you live in Portland and go over to Artists Repertory Theatre and see this show.  You'll leave the theatre with a smile on your face, and these days it's nice to have something to smile about!  I'm really loving the theatre scene here in Portland...I'm very glad to be here!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Great Outdoors

Well, dear readers, this has been quite a gnarly week.  Life can be...well...it can be gnarly for lack of a better word.  And life sure can get the best of us, even the strongest of us. I realized I had to do something to blow off some serious stress that was literally eating away at all the acids in my stomach.  Yuck!  Not fun.

I already know this---you already know this---it has been heavily documented by all sorts of people in all sorts of magazines and such, but here goes:  NEVER underestimate the power of nature. It is truly balm for the soul.  Not to mention combining nature with good old-fashioned exercise. Gets those endorphins flowing every time.  And it makes you and your mind and body feel oh so much better.

And that is exactly what I did this weekend.  Nature and exercise.  A delightful combination to say the least! So now, on this Sunday evening...which is usually the very night of the week that causes the most anxiety for me...I'm feeling pretty darn good.

I took an amazing hike on Saturday afternoon, which was loaded with magical scenery, clean and breathable air, and laughter and good conversation with a terrific hiking partner at my side. It's amazing what a little perspective can do to lift the spirits.

The only thing that was missing was a pair of good strong shoes.  I love the obvious metaphor here.  Life gets better when you're wearing the right shoes.  So, again with the help of a kind-hearted soul, I was able to make a purchase and acquired a great hiking boot.  I got my new shoes at REI, the greatest store for items needed for the great outdoors.  Want to see my new shoes?  I was hoping you'd ask.  Here they are...aren't they beauties?
They are Keens Pyranees.  They fit my foot like a glove, great ankle support, and provide the much-needed bounce in my step.  I love my new Keens.  And now, having these beauties, I hereby make a commitment to using these boots to the utmost advantage.  The hiking trails around here are plentiful, and every fitness expert and psychology expert will tell you until they are blue in the face the advantages of exercising. 

Now, do not be fooled...I am not tossing away my cycling shoes...no way!  But I really do like the feeling I get when I walk these trails.  On Saturday, I felt like I had  left this world and entered a new one...I know that sounds all hippy/dippy and all, but it really was an amazing feeling... I felt like I had entered some type of fairy tale world and all my worries instantly faded for the time I was there.  I mean, look at this place....isn't it beautiful?

 I certainly look forward to discovering more magical trailways here in the Pacific Northwest, but what I really look forward to is wearing my new shoes on this new path.  I look forward to changing my perspective and moving forward.  I will release endorphins, let go of bad mojo and allow the joy and laughter that I seek to resume their normal place in my life.  I like joy and laughter.  Who doesn't?  I have made a definite resolve to have more of it in my life!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ambivalence

I am a passionate person.  It's just the way I'm wired.  And yes, there have been times I have allowed indecision to get the best of me. However, I do believe indecision is different than ambivalence.

This is just my opinion and since it's my blog I can say what I want, but to me an ambivalent person lacks passion.  They lack courage.  And they lack a sense of integrity.

I have been guilty of dragging my feet when I've had to make certain decisions.  That was probably due to fear and worrying if I was doing the right thing regarding certain circumstances.  Along with my passion, I am also a great worrier. Again, this is just the way I'm wired.

But if I had been ambivalent, I never would have made any choices at all.  I would have stayed on the fence long after night fell.  I don't stay on fences very often.  I ultimately decide what I want and when I do make that decision, I go after what I want.  It's called setting goals.  It's being passionate.  It's having drive and motivation to achieve your dreams and desires in this life.

I have no patience for ambivalence.  It's the cowardly way out. These people are too afraid to make a commitment, to see things through, so they do nothing.   Ambivalent people have no lackluster and they cause great frustration to all they come in contact with because they simply will not get off the fence.

The common expression to use for ambivalent people is "shit or get off the pot."  There's no other way to say it.  It's blunt but it clearly lets them know what they need to do.

So to all the ambivalent people out there--do something.  Anything.  Don't just stand there like a deer in the headlights.  And if your ambivalence gets in my way, I'm running you over.  I'm moving forward.  I'm moving on.  With or without you.  You'd better shit... or get off the pot.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Inevitable Change

The only constant in life is change.  We've all heard that a million times, right?  Well of course it's true.  And I knew this new year was going to pack a wallop in the "change" department.  I guess I didn't expect the changes to come so fast and furiously.  At every turn.  With lightning speed.  And my head is spinning from all the changes that I've been experiencing in these past few months.

Some of these changes feel extremely healthy and for the best.  Others...well...I don't know what to say.  I cannot control some of these new outcomes and I have to say I'm not exactly happy with the way certain aspects of my life are turning out.  For now anyway.  I'm hoping that everything works out for the best and the twisty, curvy road I'm currently on will eventually straighten out.  I would like to travel on a flat road for a little while because I know it's inevitable for the curvy twisty road of change to return. But lately my stomach simply cannot take all the jolts this current ride is offering.  

It's all fodder for the work, isn't it? I have to  keep telling myself that. Even when there's a lot of emotional pain involved, eventually it will find it's way into the writing. I'll use it to tell a good tale; write a great play.  I hope so anyway.  I really do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patience...

I am finally settling into my new digs in my new city.  This place is really wonderful, and though there is no perfect place, I think I am well-suited to living here.

This move was a leap of faith and I am adjusting to my new life as quickly as I can. Doing what it takes to feel comfortable in my new surroundings.  I have begun to reach out and attempt to immerse myself into the community, and in doing so, I have met some wonderful people.  I feel very fortunate in that regard. 

On the other hand, career-wise, things are not moving quickly enough.  Not quickly enough For Me.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I want things to happen yesterday!  P A T I E N C E is truly what is called for now. 

In the scheme of things, I have been here less than 5 months and things are moving along very well given that short amount of time.  Rome wasn't built in a day and all that jazz, right?

The whole point in moving here was to slow down!  So I need to do what I can to remain calm.  Even when things don't appear to be happening, I am sure that progress is being made.  I am planting seeds and am confident those seeds will take root and grow. 

In the meantime,  I'm thinking of taking up Yoga. Trading my beloved spin classes for something more serene like yoga seems like a good thing to do. I'm not too sure about that one though.  I'll keep you posted about what I decide to do.  I will also attempt to lower my caffeine intake (though giving it up completely seems like a ridiculously cruel thing to do to myself).  I have to remind myself often to breathe.  So be it. 

Patience.  Patience. Patience. Everything in it's time. And so it goes...and here I am.