April 1, 2015 | 10:36 am
April 1, 2015 | 10:36 am
This past week I’ve been experiencing writer’s block, which I never really comprehended as a condition. I sure do now! This will be helpful in practicing compassion for those who suffer from it. Sometimes I need to walk and walk in someone’s stinky shoes for a long time before that soaks in.
I developed empathy for those who fear roller coasters by having one single, random, harrowing experience on the “Top Gun” ride at Great America in the 90s. I discovered that when I am really really scared, I make a totally ineffectual squeaking noise.
I also developed empathy for those with stage fright. A vast majority of the time on stage I am shamelessly strutting and soaking in the spotlight. Then every once in a long while, the cold clammies come on, complete with tunnel vision and thoughts of “this is a dream, right?” So cliche, yet so terrifying.
By the way, brain? You don’t have trouble writing now, do you? But when I’ve tried to point you at this article, when the deadline loomed like a funnel cloud, you shut down. Traitor.
Yesterday was the worst bit. Imagine the most boring movie montage: Becky, opening her laptop and Word, business as usual, then going stock still. Becky, getting all the other work done, then going back to the Word document. Staring. Swearing. Going for a walk. Canceling the evening’s commitments. Staring. Burning pain in the stomach as “friendly” reminder emails come in. Staring. Frozen yogurt!
At some point in the wee hours I managed with lead-filled fingers to get something word-like down on the page. In the light of today, the article doesn’t sound like me at all. It’s an piece about improv, but there’s little humor nor lightness of tone. I wrestled with it as best I could then sent it off this morning, a solid “C” effort.
And it did feel a lot like my high school days, speaking of grades. For a long time I did not apply myself and saw a lot of “C”s which compelled me to try even less. It was a self-hating, self-perpetuating cycle, made extra toxic by my truly troubling skills at denial and procrastination. (Yes, I went to Berkeley, why do you ask?)
But now I’m an adult, and a pretty good one. I honor commitments and promises. I try hard. The only things I’m consciously procrastinating about are my taxes. Yet here I was, feeling 15 again, so mad at myself. But unable to do it. Scary. I don’t want that to happen again.
“Block” is a good word because obviously the block has been pushed out and now I can’t stop writing. Insert bowel joke here. Okay. We’re done.
March 16, 2015 | 4:28 pm
Way to go, 1990s Becky, for saving the chits from a rousing/legendary game of Maltin with friends Danny, Alison, and not sure who else.
Maltin is a game similar to Dictionary (or Balderdash, to those of a certain younger age), in which someone picks a title from the ubiquitous Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, a title that no one has heard of. Everyone then makes up a Maltin-esque synopis and review of the movie. The title-picker writes down the real review, as well. The whole group, sans the one in the know, choose what they think is the real review. Hilarity and the awarding of points ensues.
The one pictured is from the mind of Danny P., from a movie titled something like “Journey of the Heart.” This paragraph made it into friend-lore — the phrase “big-eyed baby turtle” is inserted into the occasional conversation to this day.
While in the midst of the most recent purging of possessions, I came across time-capsule/envelope stuffed full of these snarky bits from 1994-ish. I was instantaneously overwhelmed with nostalgia. Danny, Alison and I, already friends for years at that point, were as thick as thieves. They lived in the Mission and I lived on Nob Hill, and most weekend nights I crashed on their couch, too wiped out to make the endless trek northeast to my lonely little apartment. We played games, we overdosed on pop culture of all kinds, we created, we read so much. Music and film were everything. Play was king; I can’t believe* how many photos I earthed up of our pumpkin patch excursions, road trips, parties, camping trips. I found a stack of postcards from Danny that were just so hilariously rude; I’m sure Danny received similar missives from me in equal quantity.
So I sent the Maltin pack to Danny, who is recuperating from an operation, along with a handwritten letter penned on 1990s stationery, with postage made up of 1990s stamps. Did I mention I saved everything? 1990s Becky sure created a lot of work for c. 2015 Becky.
I’m glad Danny got to walk down memory lane, too. I am not sad that the 1990s (and 80s and beyooond) are so long ago. Instead I’m proud that I have maintained so many friendships with so many good people; that is not easy to do.
Yeah, I’m talkin to you two.
*yes I can
March 6, 2015 | 2:11 pm
This is the last part, sort of, in this cryptic saga. Kind of. You can read the cryptic saga starting here if you wish.
Three weeks ago a long-time friend, colleague and co-worker took his own life. That there is a whole lot of stuff. I was (and continue to be) freaked out, broken hearted, and sad, sad, sad.
An added stressor to that first, horrific week was that a relative of his got crazy and used the internet to attempt to seek and destroy a person that was close to my friend. Lots and lots of internet comments, emails, voicemails. Police, lawyers, bosses, doctors got involved. It was brutal. Another former associate of my friend added to the pain by doing their own spouting off of opinions publicly. All polite requests of these people to bring it down a few notches only inflamed them more. Proof that one should never feed the trolls. What a delightful reminder of that! Especially to those of us in the front lines, who are responsible for monitoring many of the online outlets they used.
This whole ordeal started off on an extra horrible foot. People who had been told of my friend’s death started posting the news, including details about his death, to Facebook, almost immediately. Without considering that, since the death had just occurred, many of his relatives had not been informed yet.
So, yeah, finding out about a close relative’s death through a stranger’s post on Facebook ain’t a good start. Which may have contributed to the level of hysteria exhibited by the relative mentioned above. I get that. Grief + shock + surprise is a hard combo and can make one act in all sorts of ways. But the ugliness, the lack of common sense or timing, the cruelty. Wow.
I’m no stranger to the internet. I realized the way of the troll way back in an AOL chat room in 1993, when I called out someone’s assholery, which only ramped it up and up and up. I didn’t understand it but definitely grew to understand it exists.
As I’ve gotten older and more informed, I’ve understood a bit more about the mechanics of all that. Typing horrible words and pressing “send” is a hell of a lot easier than saying those words to someone as you look into their eyes. I’ve learned about how the internet is built around exploiting humans’ lack of impulse control. I’ve heard about studies showing that empathy is a learned trait.
But this experience was the first time I got a front-row seat to how the internet can feel evil. It became this entity on its own, attacking and devouring and depleting. In reality, it was just a couple humans working out a whole lot of pain/rage/neuroses/what have you. With powerful and far-reaching tools.
I maybe also got some insight into the people that are always dramatically pulling back from the internet with their “goodbye Facebook” posts, their “I’m taking some time for myself” blog entries. For them, the internet becomes a timesucker, a stealer of emotion and souls. Who is devouring whom?
In coda, things have calmed down. Now I can just grieve to my heart’s content, using the internet in whatever way I want to aid in that process. Like now.
I’m keeping the comments open for a day or so, because I’d like to hear some insight from some of my closest friends, if they so desire. Then I’m closing comments, forever, to keep those monsters outside of the gate.
March 2, 2015 | 1:44 pm
East bound (not down): After our night in PHX, Molly and I headed to Quartzite, always a fave of mine. I think the longer M lives in the rarified artisanal bubble of SF, the more she is appalled by the way the rest of America eats. Initially she was psyched to go to one of the vast jerky palaces Quartzite is known for, but was quickly turned off by the shrink-sealed, decidedly not locally sourced-looking packs of jerky. She then got appalled anew at the thing called a “latte” down the road (“what, honey? You don’t want flavored coffee with that??”)
On the other side of things, I have resided in my distinctly non-twee town long enough to understand that low-quality grub is an evil necessity to po folk like me. (usa, usa)
On to our third groovy, hippie, wind-chimey stop of the trip: The Integraton.
Savvy, savvy sisters now own the Integraton, originally built as an interstellar airport (YOU HEARD ME). Now it’s a lovely area, very crafty and desert-artist, but not too Burning man. The sisters host regular Sound Baths at the Integratron now (yes, you heard me). From my description to friends:
One lies down in a beautiful domed room. Several bowls carved from white quartz are laid out. As the player runs an instrument along the lip of the bowl, the most amazing sound generates. She will set several bowls going and the frequencies fill the space. Very relaxing and mind-expanding. Afterwards, go back downstairs and enjoy the pictoral history of the Integratron.
Probably due to my raw, emotional, bare-bones state, I think I was in the perfect frame of mind to let myself go during the sound bath. Full on hallucinatory spiritual experience. A fraction of the things I saw/felt/heard:
L: looking up at the domed interior Integratron Ceiling. R: Outdoor space perfectly synching with the colors/shapes of my current living indoor space.
Then we ended up in what is called “North Palm Springs” at a surprisingly hip little Motel 6. Molly and I could not drive to Sherman’s in Palm Springs for dinner fast enough.
Next AM, we hit some Desert Hot Springs thrifting/junking then I ran her to LAX before sitting in Sunday traffic for 3.5 more hours.
High class trip, through and through.
Random things seen:
L: The teal of that garbage truck is ON POINT. R: You are invited (Integratron mini-museum)
February 24, 2015 | 3:13 pm
As promised, here is a brief travelogue in between the two shitstorms that have defined mid to late February 2015. Before I start, I want to mention that the siege (to be discussed in the last part) has ended, hopefully forever, and that I can properly eulogize my friend without the fear of getting attacked by, truly, the worst of the internet. But no more of that talk right now. I went away!
I have no idea why my four-day jaunt seemed to appear to be some kind of multi-week vacation to so many, but quite a few people have approached me (in person and online) saying a version of “oh! you’re back from all your travels!” I love this and I don’t know how I pulled it off — to seem like a traveling, experience-having fool without actually spending the money and taking unpaid time off!
So, my dear Molly has jumped from a non-profit to a for-profit life in the hotel industry. So when she suggested a mini Southwest vacation with sweet and discounted boutique hotel action — over Valentine’s weekend, no less — I said “yes, darling, a thousand times yes!” So we got engaged. In the business of eating, drinking, relaxing, and driving the open roads. A little throwback to our fantastic 10-day road trip, almost exactly 5 years ago.
First stop, Sedona. A bit of irony here, as we blew past this town as fast as we could the last time. My drive from my town to Sedona was insanely long; though I was in the right zombie state of mind to endure the travel (having lost my friend a couple days before), it did not afford me a lot of time there. I got at night in just enough time to have a surprisingly delicious bite to eat in the only restaurant open past 10pm. In the AM, we had some good hipster artisan resort breakfast then hit the road. Though this was a resort, I was not in the frame of mind to dawdle in the pool area and do some resort-ing, while red rocks towered above, though it looked very nice. Fortunately M had already had a couple relaxing days there (including a massage I am not allowed to talk about), so I could scoop her up and we could head due south.
First stop, Arcosanti, “focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. Our goal is to actively pursue lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on Paolo Soleri’s theory of compact city design, Arcology (architecture + ecology).
This project was planned in the mid-60s and started being built in 1970, so it is the best of the best of retro-modern utopian hippie excellence. People live in the complexes, and the whole Arcosanti/Cosanti (another area closer to Phoenix) empire makes serious bank from their silt-cast ceramics and their bronze wind chimes (the ceramics studio is the second picture above). It’s beautiful, it’s crumbling, it’s sort of forgotten, it’s a little spooky. In other words: it’s perfect.
I can’t wait to see Cosanti next time I’m over there. I have vague memories of going to Arcosanti as a child and I’m wondering if Cosanti was also a stop.
I am dying, dying to purchase a 1964 silkscreen print of Soleri’s original drawn plans, which are groovy, colorful and organic. Hot undeniable desire. While I was wrestling with myself about this, Molly and I developed a new grading system for my object lust. The yardstick by which all other objects are measured is the Navajo crown, spotted by me at a Trading Post in NM on our last SW road trip:
[A] sterling silver, turquoise-studded crown that was inscribed “Navajo Queen.” I wanted it so badly I got a little dizzy.
That thing is, even 5 years later, is a shiny, quivering, expensive, beautiful/weird ultimate symbol of pure desire — desire to own the living daylights out of it. Which I do not.
Working the complicated equation of desirability, usability, attainability, and jenesaisquoisbility, the Soleri print ranks 50% on the Navajo Queen grading scale. This is a high number, trust me. The percentage may actually rise soon, as the sustained desire is not flagging and is in fact increasing. This is thanks to the attainability (it’s a decent price and mine with a credit card number and a quick call to the gift shop). However, framing, wall space, and thriftiness are keeping the print at bay. For the time being.
Woof, I went on a tangent! Anyway! After tromping around in the noble experiment, we continued to Phoenix and had a glass of wine with my family friend Jo Ann, who is a delight and who is recovering from some health problems and who is dearer to me than any damn Navajo Queen crown.
We had plans to see improv that night but my demeanor crumbled a bit and Molly developed a cold so we found some delicious Italian food in downtown PHX that wasn’t too romantic-couply (this was Feb 14, a Saturday, yuk) then headed to our deluxe hotel, which was outfitted with wine, snacks and valentines from M’s hotel colleague. I’m never allowing Molly to quit this job.
I’m going to have to break this account in two, since there is so much more mystical hippie fantasticness yet to come. And jerky, lots of jerky.
February 19, 2015 | 11:20 am
This has been a hell of a week (right, Kyle?) I’ll break it into three parts — the first one sad, the second one happy, the third infuriating.
My town is not a small town (100k and some change, citizens-wise) but the community within my town is tiny. And so shock waves from a big event within our ranks travel deep and strong.
I had a friend, who was also a work colleague, who was also a fellow theatre performer. He died last week, horribly. I don’t want to give any more details here because I don’t want to attract attention to this post. More on that in part three.
But this I can share: I am sad. Everyone else is sad. On one hand, I take comfort knowing that pretty much everyone I know here is feeling the same way I am, and that we’re taking time to be kind with one another, feeling free to have ugly-cries together, and helping each other out.
On the other hand, I can’t get away from it. I can’t find solace in the discipline of work, I can’t fully escape into the magic of the stage. The big fat hairy paws of grief are grabbing at me wherever I turn. (I did manage to find a few days of sort-of escape — part two of this series.)
When I’ve experienced loss of people who my local friends did not know (my father, my stepfather, etc.) I was hideously alone in my grief, and had to try hard to point out to others the pain I was in. There was much less tolerance for it, and full expectations that I was to be over it in an acceptable time frame. So that sucked too.
Grief/loss is sure a lose-lose situation. And if the mechanics of humans are any hint, I shall continue to experience grief within a whole lot of scenarios, until my own mechanics inform me that it’s my turn. And that is a part of life, sure. Okay.
And, as for the inability to properly eulogize my friend here: If you know my theatre, or the non-profit at which I work, you can go to the websites and see words I’ve written there.
And let’s celebrate the small victory of being showered and dressed!
February 11, 2015 | 12:56 pm
I had a freak accident last night that had a mildly humorous outcome. I posted a picture and the story to Facebook, then deleted it immediately. Why? Because
A. I didn’t want the well-meaning but fun-squashing comments along the lines of “OH NO WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!” and “Tea Tree Oil, trust me.”
B. I didn’t want the pure snark, which these days is along the lines of “LOL senior moment!!”
Basically I wanted people to appreciate my story in the exact way that I intended and to post only insightful comments with the appropriate level and kind of humor that aligns with my tastes.
So yeah, the blog seems to be the place for me to dump stuff like this. And since no one comments I can pretend that thousands of people are reading and appreciating in a hambox-approved, non-snarky way.
Can I tell the story now? (I’m fully aware of my total crabbiness today. My active sleeplife is exhausting. Last night, sleep-me decided to remove the toilet paper from its holder and tuck it into my bed. I awoke with TP wound around my arms. There’s another story I won’t share with FB.)
I was about to cross my street last night, mid-block. I was clutching a stack of bills and reaching for my car keys in my purse when my body misjudged the curb somehow. I stumbled and started to fall between two parked cars. I tried to catch myself with my left arm and managed to jam my fingers into a truck’s grille. That was the mail-holding hand, so the paper provided a buffer, otherwise I’d be all cut up. As it is, startling hand bruises are appearing. I’m a little sore all over but it could’ve been a disaster!
Maybe that TP story was more worth the detailed telling. Thanks for “listening,” blog.
January 23, 2015 | 11:18 am
I dreamt last night that one of my brothers — the one 10 years older that me, the one I don’t have a lot of contact with — and I wandered around our old home town. Of course, this home town was an odd amalgam of locations that presented as a small, hilly, old-fashioned village. Our old house was a fabulous mid-century modern ranch house (again based in only dream-reality), which we were free to wander through.
At times, I was an adult, having a realistically awkward conversation with this brother, complete with uncomfortable pauses and a lot of un-shared memories — since I am so much younger than my siblings, I was too young to remember anything formative that went on in their youths. In real life, when my brother and I do make a rare connection in person, it is as cordial and bloodless and vaguely pleasant as our dream encounter.
But at other times in this dream, I was a kid, and my brother was the young adult as I knew him then — open and adventurous and full of ideas, delighting in the energy a curious and precocious kid can provide.
And I found myself really feeling like a child again — not in any silly or simplistic way, but in a quiet space of pure absorption. A place a kid can get to when a loving adult gives them their attention and time and ear. I felt completely open to new ideas, free to state my own, and was aware of how important this was. This wasn’t just a mindless afternoon — I was growing and learning real-time from this encounter.
I felt like I got to time travel in the best way. I am grateful to all the kids whom I encounter through my work, and my great-niece and nephew who I spent time with this holiday. They have allowed me to feel, however briefly, what’s it’s like to be them, and it will make me a better adult.
December 18, 2014 | 2:22 pm
I couldn’t face my stupid and boring and businessy post I just posted, below, so I wrote another better one and have posted that, too. Here you go!
Have I mentioned I’m in more of a Christmas spirit than since I don’t know when? That I hauled a full-size, Silver-Tipped Birch up my stairs? That I’ve been listening to Christmas music voluntarily? Who am I?
Someone that is feeling somewhat carefree and is trying to redefine the concept of holiday, family, and happiness for herself, that’s who. And maybe it took her nearly 12 years to work through some of the deep, intense grief and sadness that this time of year brings, since, you know — mom.
Here are some proof in pictures. Maybe I’ll see you before I head out for my yearly reconnection with really frosty weather. If not, have a nice, nice time.
One of the many odd creatures that my mom liked to have around her, especially at Christmas. This one might be my favorite! Who is this holly-covered little beast with a party hat and no features? I don’t know but I love him.
The Christmas tree lot was staffed by burly, manly, bearded, lumberjacky dudes from Oregon. Happy merriment to ME!
Angel with the giant hands/Upon my Christmas tree you lands. Surprisingly not from mom but from a weird and wonderful ornament exchange party, which I’m happy to say is resuming after a hiatus in 2013. A hint to what I’m bringing, below.
I made these ornaments! They are not wooden throwing stars, you snarky internet friends. I designed, laser cut, sanded, stained, assembled and glued them, all without losing a finger or mind!
Here’s a poor picture of a completed one in action. Lots of laser wood projects going on around here!
I had a great Thanksgiving in Palm Springs. Here’s Molly in Joshua Tree.
What a trip! I get to write the coda of my dishware saga, thanks to seeing and purchasing what was juuuuuust under these decanters.
One more picture from Palm Springs, summing it all up: A one man band playing bluesy Christmas originals and singing into a red megaphone at a Tiki Bar.
December 18, 2014 | 1:51 pm
I have tried to keep on top of things, obligations, chores. So far, it has (sort of!) worked. A 4-year bootcamp of taking care of another adult yet helpless human has really changed things for me. (for the most part!)
Oh, except. Except. Yeah, except a few things, most notably a massive procrastination effort that almost screwed me, big time. It’s complicated, as anything to do with HEALTH CARE PREMIUMS is!
Really? I’m going to be a dull gasbag who is about to drone on about health care premiums? During the holiday season? When I post, like once every other month?
OK. Let’s just say:
I finally broke down and confessed to my boss that I had put off all of this crap, time was almost out, I was going to owe a whole lot of money, I’m a terrible person, etc. She paused and then confessed pretty much the exact same story to me.
So, hand in hand, we faced our worst fears, which were not that bad, ultimately (which is an outcome that often happens). With a whole lot of elbow grease, we got everything back into motion, with pretty much zero repercussions. Hooray!
Not only that, but she came over the other day and started poking around my apartment and opened a closet (I should mention here that we’ve been good friends far longer than we’ve worked together). I shrieked, because it happened to be my closet of shame where a lot of unfiled papers have been living (procrastination project #2). She actually SNORTED DERISIVELY, because it was such a small mess compared to her mess at home, generated by a home office and six children.
So, not only do I feel better, since my shames turned out not to be very shameful things in the big picture, but ALSO MY GOD the feeling of relief flooding my system!!!! So good. So good! I have missed that feeling of finally getting to something, and finishing it successfully against all the self-imposed odds, after all that heartache.
Not enough to make it a habit (again!), though.
And, with one last backward horrified look at the grammar of that last sentence, I move on.