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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Job, vol. X: the First Night Off edition

I have been officially off-duty since 6 pm! HURRAH!

The first two full days has been absolutely insane. I can't even describe it. My time is literally delineated by the hour here. Here was my schedule yesterday:
Breakfast from 730-830
Morning check-in from 845-9
Class from 910-1020
Class from 1050-12
Lunch from 12-1
Dorm group from 115-145
Free time from 2-315
Meeting with Resident Directors from 315-415
Free time from 415-530
Dinner from 530-630
Evening check-in from 7-715 (last night included a fire drill)
Main Event staff from 730-11 (last night was a Boston hip-hop group; it was GREAT!)
On-duty in dorms from 11-12

Today's schedule was almost even crazier, even though I have the night off:
Breakfast by 830
Class from 910-1020
Class from 1050-12
Lunch from 12-1
Dorm group from 115-145 (which went badly and ruined my day; teenaged girls are mean, plus we went through the activity missing one girl and my co-RA didn't notice on the attendance and I didn't notice until I got back to my room...GRRRRR!)
Free from 2-315
Duty in the gym from 315-415
Improv activity group from 430-530
Staff meeting from 545-615
Dinner till 7


I am:
trying to stay upbeat
excited, mostly, about my classes
scared of 17 year old girls that are beautiful and foreign
amazed it's only the 2nd day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Job, vol. IX: the Dogs are Barking edition

Good lord, my body hurts.

Things I did today:
Went to Walgreen's to fill the backpack for my afternoon position as "Staff Morale" person (more on that later);
Worked as part of a human conveyor belt to empty a room literally full of blankets and fill another room with said blankets four stories up (I love my job);
Met and greeted families as they unloaded what seemed like YEARS' worth of luggage;
Spent three hours lugging aforementioned luggage from street to campus;
Walked someone's grandmother to campus from the car, carrying a suitcase in one hand and a Klondike bar in the other;
Ate a lunch on my 10-minute break I had packed at breakfast;
Spent three hours roaming campus as the "Staff Morale" person, and by "Staff Morale" person, I mean Snack Person, also known as Candy Woman;
Met and greeted 22 high school senior girls who are living in my building for three weeks;
Tried to engage 22 high school senior girls in name and get-to-know-you games before dinner;
Led 22 high school senior girls around a campus tour;
Tried to engage 22 high school senior girls in name and get-to-know-you games after dinner, while also introducing rules;
Somehow managed to get online before 11 PM.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Job, vol. VIII: the Impending Doom edition

The kids arrive tomorrow. DUN DUN DUN!

This morning and part of the afternoon were spent cleaning up the campus and organizing the offices in preparation for what will apparently be an insane day. I did big and important things like set up a water station, pick up trash on the Quad, finalize our dorm decorations (our dorm group is a "time warp," with each building a different decade--we're the 70s, and each student's dorm door bears either a record, a platform boot, or an Afro; our door is decorated with lava lamps), and alphabetize trip permission forms. It was a glamorous day.

We spent the early afternoon and evening on a "trip," as part of the training for how we spend our weekends here. We took over a park overlooking ALL of New Haven and had a cook-out, which was so camp of us, I could hardly stand it.

I took some time this evening to do some final prep on my classes, since I know I won't have time to concentrate on them tomorrow and Monday is the first day I teach!

I can't believe I was celebrating birthdays less than a week ago. Time has certainly shifted while I've been here. I have best friends and boyfriends for a day and then it feels like I never see them again. At the same time, I keep expecting to feel particularly connected to people here, but I'm not positive that will happen. There certainly hasn't been time this week to feel at all like what we're talking about is meaningful.

Still, I'm proud of myself for how calm I've been and how prepared I feel, at this moment. At this point, that's about all I could really hope for.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Job, vol. VII: the Talent Show edition

Honestly. I don't know where the days go. It's so, so, so strange to not be connected online all day long and to have the first time I do get online be at 11 PM.

Quickly (and I know I'm spoiling you with these daily updates--I'm JUST NOT SURE how much longer I'll be able to do this), today was virtually our last day of training. We have duties and activities and supervision that we must do during the students' free time in the afternoons, so we were informed of those and given a tour of the duties sites and then spent the afternoon dealing with issues of difference and diversity, as they've come up here in the past.

It was cloudy most of the day and then, as the afternoon waned, the sun finally broke out and it was perfect weather. My co and I spent a bit of time preparing dorm tags for the girls, and, literally, within the hour, it was dark and purple out as a thunderstorm arrived. I hadn't been in one in so long!

The evening was training for Main Events, which happen here every evening, and the night culminated with a Staff Talent Show, at which I read this. I wasn't sure what the tone of the evening was going to be or how people would respond to it, but I got several appreciative and genuinely emotional comments, which was lovely.

The show, in general, was apparently the best they've had in years. I actually felt myself getting emotional a couple times during the evening, thinking about a) how intense the rest of the summer will be, b) what good hands these kids will be in, and c) what my summer experiences were like when I was of camp age.

My heart seemed to grow a little bit, and it's only the fourth day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Job, vol. VI: the Kicking into Gear edition

First of all, a moment of silence for Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett....

Secondly, I should count how many times I start my blog posts with "I'm exhausted." This was a very long day, focusing on the role we have as RAs, living with and spending living group time with the 22 girls we will be living with. 22. That's a lot.

At this point, I don't even really remember anything that happened today, except that we heard all about the bad things that can happen to students while they're here (there are a lot), and we did some role play of dealing with difficult situations with students (trickier than you might expect).

Our evening was spent with our dorm group and working on our residential curriculum. My co-RA and I planned some good, fun, probing activities for our first week of living group time (we get a 1/2 hour each day with them and an hour at the end of the week with the whole dorm group), and then we actually went to the curriculum workroom to do some prep work on our lesson plans. I didn't stop working until about 10 PM. There are only so many hours in the day. It's kind of insane. (But I did just watch the dance clips from last nights SYTYCD--GO EVAN AND RANDI!)

So, I must sign off now and go to bed. Tomorrow, we hear all about the OTHER duties we have on-campus (besides teaching two classes and a workshop, planning living group activities, and dealing with kids in the dorms). At some point, we also have to find time to decorate the dorm. Luckily, I'm living with an artistic co-RA. I told her my artistic skill is limited to writing names.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Job, vol. V: the Is It Raining? edition

I survived my first dorm shower in 7 years today, after sleeping only 6 hours last night (still haven't settled into my sleeping rhythm here). Actually, it was pretty painless, considering the water pressure wasn't terrible and the water was warm. I'm pretty sure I can start sleeping a tiny bit later, since it doesn't take me long to get ready and breakfast is pretty quick.

We spent the morning with our curriculum groups, getting questions answered and playing some student-centered learning games. After lunch, we had the unpleasant but oh-so-camp-like task of sorting over 200 boxes of supplies by course number in the rain. It's amazing how one forgets one is getting soaked after a while. Good thing it wasn't freezing out too, or I would have been miserable.

I got to tour my classrooms today too, both of which are associated with the Yale School of Drama, which is ridiculously exciting. I texted S and SE at one point, "Sometimes I am in the Yale School of Drama Paint Shop." Who knew I'd ever end up there? It was a lot of walking around in the rain and a lot of trying to remember logistics.

Thankfully, I had some of the afternoon and most of the evening free. I had a 1/2 hour meeting with DR, who also happens to be my curriculum advisor. Luckily, we've already established a good working relationship, so I wholeheartedly trust him to get me through these next crazy few weeks.

The saying about this place is that a day feels both like a minute and a week. I can't believe this is only my third night here but I also can't believe that it's already after 10 PM.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Job, vol. IV: the Happy Birthday edition

After sleeping for MAYBE three hours last night (a combination of a loud street, open windows, and being in a new place), I was mildly miserable about the day. We sat through about 9 hours of lectures today, getting generally oriented and hearing a lot about rules, security, health practices, and professional expectations. One day I'll get into the logistics of what my six weeks is going to be like. The gist is that I'll be teaching in the mornings, have early afternoons off, have duties in the afternoon around campus and in the evenings in the dorms, and every other night off. Plus, one full day of the weekend on-duty and one off.

One of the early activities we did today was get to know those around us and share fun facts about ourselves, then announce them to the whole group (120 on staff). I spoke for my group and self-promotingly announced it was my birthday. Before we broke for the afternoon, two administrative staff members busted into the lecture hall and sang The Beatles' "Happy Birthday" to me, then the whole group sang the Birthday song. I was SO TICKLED. It was hilarious, especially because it meant all evening, people I didn't know came up to me and said, "Happy Birthday...what's your name again?" Now, I guess they all know. Plus, whenever anyone asks how old I am, and I say "26," they unfailingly go..."OHHH!" (Like, "damn, that's old.")

After our final activity of the evening, I was able to come back to the dorm and read all my emails and FB messages, which were all lovely! Then, I got ready to head out to a bar with a bunch of staff members. One person bought me my solitary birthday drink; I danced for about an hour and a half and then happily came back here to pass out.

Tomorrow is another long day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Job, vol. III: the Travel edition

After staying up til 6 in the morning Saturday night into Sunday, I slept about 12 hours last night. Woke up, grabbed some food, packed up the remainders of the weekend, and began the part of the day I'd like to call The Struggle with Seven Weeks' Worth of Luggage. The cabbie helped me in but then had to drop me off a block away from the train station. I couldn't find an escalator and had to walk around the station to get to it. Once we were finally boarding, I heaved and hoed to get my bags on the train, and the train attendant standing on the platform did nothing to help me. Then, I discovered I had actually entered the dining car, so I had to maneuver to swing around and go back to the previous car. Shoved my 90-pound suitcase in the area by the door and searched for a seat, above which I'd be able to throw my 45-pound medium suitcase. It took two attempts for me to get it above the seats...WHY DID NO ONE HELP ME?! The train ride itself was uneventful and I had the wherewithal to ask the attendant for help OFF the train.

I checked in on campus. Dragged my bags to my dorm(!) and promptly got lost. Well, not really, but I peeked my head into a room that was occupied and it took me several minutes to realize I was actually in the right spot. I am sharing a suite with my co-RA, E, who seems very chill and cool, a recent graduate of F.I.T. We chatted as I unpacked. We each get a room to ourselves, but mine has an extra bed frame in it that needs not to be, so I can actually feel like I moved in. Plus, the bathroom is dirty and we don't have a fridge (which we were promised).

I met DR as soon as I'd unpacked and he gave me a brief tour of the campus and the students' boundaries. Then I spent the night with E and some other RAs that she had already met. It's a bit like the first day of school, where you're stuck with the people you meet first. I'm proud of myself that I'm not freaking out or feeling left out or getting anxious. I feel like the elder stateswoman here, since I'm probably the oldest RA by at least two years, and I will just try my hardest to do my job and keep the drama at as low a level as possible. (What is it about 20 year olds that equals drama?)

Tomorrow, even though it's my birthday, will be a busy, long day. We have training from 9AM-830PM, but I intend on doing something at least mildly celebratory after that.

Mostly, I'm tired, but it seems like I'll have a bit of time to get some writing and corresponding done, so KEEP IN TOUCH! I HAVE NOT FALLEN OFF THE PLANET COMPLETELY!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Job, vol. II: the Excited AND Scared edition

Somehow I managed to finish packing. That is, as long as I can stuff my toiletry case, my pillow, and my alarm clock into one of my two overstuffed-not-sure-they'll-close suitcases.

I hate last nights in places I call home. I can probably name more than two hands' worth of them in my life. Seven weeks sounds like an awful lot longer than six weeks, doesn't it? Especially if you consider that fact that I'll be back in Boston in AUGUST. That is ages away.

My classmate and friend, DR, has been waiting with bated breath to be mentioned in my blog. He'll be in CT with me, and he has, and I quote, "nothing but confidence when it comes to me and [the job]."

I will let him be confident for the both of us. For now.

evidence we are going to Hell

S: did you hear about the pilot that just died mid-flight?
me: NO!
S: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2009/06/pilot_dies_mid-flight.html
me: ugh
S: yeah
so awful
we were talking about it at lunch today
and we were like, where do you put the body??
me: um
and even grosser that i imagined they kept it right where it was
S: i know right!
but i figure they must store a body bag on planes
just in case
me: right
or at least those flimsy blankets
S: hahaha
me: but like
S: nice
me: cockpits aren't that big
S: yeah, someone thought maybe they put him in a bathroom and closed it off
just like propped him up on the toilet seat

Word of the Day, vol. V

Word of the Day: FOOD
My stomach hurts. That means I’m nervous. Mostly about lugging my two large suitcases to Back Bay tomorrow, then somehow carting them to New Haven on Monday. For some reason, I foresee this being a ridiculous effort. Like that my arms will suddenly stop working or that the weight of the two suitcases and my backpack will become so overwhelming that I will stop mid-street and mid-stride and give up.

My stomach hurting sometimes means I can’t eat. Because I’m nervous. For a period of time this past winter, it meant I dry-heaved for 10 minutes every morning, panicked on the T on the way to class and could barely keep food down. (Want to lose 10 pounds? Get ANXIETY!) It was sad too. Because I love food.

One of the qualities I am proudest of (and most grateful to my parents for) is my adventurous sense of taste. I’ve been eating sushi since I was in elementary school. I eat it with such passion and voracity that I went to a traditional sushi restaurant with a Japanese native in college once and she said, “I’ve never seen a white person eat sushi like you do,” as I inhaled my chirashi. It was a great triumph.

I was on a cruise with my family as a teenager and tried caviar, escargot, and pate for the first time all in one meal.

I remember great traditional Chinese feasts with my mother’s family. All 15 or so of us would sit around a Lazy Susan, and I would try each dish as it rolled past. Once, I was even dared to pluck out a fish eye and eat it. It had the texture of a raisin and tasted like garlic.

My mother cooked dinner for us almost every night: baked ziti, Chinese chicken over rice, pork chops with homemade tomato sauce over them, tuna salad with celery and relish and carrots and radishes, sausage and peppers over couscous. Now, she watches the Food Network like it’s an old friend and experiments with dishes like Rachael Ray makes.

My dad cooked duck for a Christmas meal once, and I ate most of it. He’d make what he called Everything Rice, which had everything we needed to get rid of in the fridge and somehow tasted great. [Note: my brother just reminded me it's official title is Salad Fried Rice. I stand corrected.] Chinese beef and string beans, tilapia, quince. We grew basil in the backyard when I was very small and ate pesto so much, my brother and I were off it for years. I also can never eat beans and rice ever again. It’s a family joke.

Even my brother is a good cook. He makes homemade ramen and concocts fried chicken out of thin air.

I was really proud of myself once for making French toast for dinner when I was in middle school. I think making a quesadilla is a feat, especially if I put salsa and sour cream on it and eat it with a side of avocado. Mostly, I just throw a sandwich together or heat up a bowl of soup.

One of my early grad school assignments was to teach my classmate something and have her teach me something. I professed I could not cook (or ride a bike) and teamed up with someone who offered to teach me how to make a quick, easy meal of veggies and curry. It was stressful but ended up being delicious. (I still don’t know how to ride a bike.)

I actually do have a couple culinary specialties: soft-boiled eggs with bread in them and steaming edamame to perfection. (Seriously. Nobody does those two things better.)

Sometimes, my palate gets fatigued. I cannot imagine eating another Morningstar Farms Grillers Original with swiss cheese on wheat toast or another tortilla with hummus or another Columbo yogurt. This happened last week, and I was hoping there were some frozen chicken breasts left from my previous roommate, so I could attempt to put something homemade together. There was a whole bag, but they were so freezer-burned, they looked cooked. So I had some oatmeal for dinner. And went shopping the next day: chicken tenders and avocadoes and carrots and couscous and grape tomatoes.

I came straight home and marinated the chicken in a lemon Italian dressing. I dredged the tomatoes in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them for 15 minutes. I sauted the chicken, sliced up an avocado, and enjoyed what was probably the first meal I’d ever really cooked for myself. I froze half the unused chicken and cooked in later that week, making a poor man’s honey mustard sauce and eating the sauted chicken (my expertise begins and ends at sautéing) smothered in sauce over rosemary and garlic couscous.

Perhaps what my parents and brother have been telling me for years--that cooking can be fun and easy--is finally sinking in.

I guess this is growing up.

I think I'll have oatmeal for lunch.

(I’m taking the word bag to CT with me. We’ll see if I have time to do anything besides write frantic, short posts about the cat-herding I’m doing there.)

worlds apart

S: i'm going to eat lunch at the rainbow room today
me: fancy!
i'm going to eat lunch in my pajamas today
and every day
S: i want that!
me: we always want what we can't have.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Job, vol. I: the Packing is a Challenge edition

So. I'm officially packing for my seven weeks in Connecticut. And I'm officially traveling this weekend to celebrate our 26th birthdays with S. Because if I didn't, I'd be sitting on my bed waiting for something to happen all weekend and resenting it, and it would be the first time in six years that she and I were not celebrating together.

I have approximately three lists of things I need to pack, one which was provided for us and two which I've made. Because I am a crazy. I have two large open suitcases in various parts of my house and laundry going in the basement. My brain is slightly fried. And my room is an utter mess.

Hopefully, this is the hardest part of the summer. But I doubt it will be.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Word of the Day, vol. IV

Word of the Day: BOOKS
There is a famous picture of me from when I am probably younger than 2. I am reading a book with great intensity. It is upside down.

I remember taking my Sesame Street Dictionaries with me to bed and reading them before I fell asleep. I pored over my children’s books: The Runaway Bunny being a great favorite. Where the Wild Things Are being another. I loved Richard Scarry’s big book of words, especially the food section.

I don’t remember which I became aware of first, The Baby-sitter’s Club books or Judy Blume. I wasn’t a Baby-sitter’s Club fanatic, but I remember reading the ones about Dawn’s makeover (so she can get a date), Stacy’s diabetes (she gets very thirsty and tired on her train ride home to New York to visit her dad), and the superspecial one about the group getting shipwrecked (Claudia finds a piece of glass and is able to make it reflect so that the plane flying overhead finds them) each more than once.

I’m pretty sure I learned about sex from Judy Blume’s book Forever. I was probably too young to read it, since I distinctly remember reading the back cover and not understanding what “the first time” was. Deenie was another favorite—that one’s all about masturbating. As was, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which is all about getting your period. But it was a lesser-known Blume book, Just As Long As We’re Together, that I remember reading every month for a year.

The chapters in To Kill a Mockingbird about Boo Radley kept me up at night. I still think about haints when I walk through a suddenly warm patch of air.

I didn’t read Little Women until I was 22 because I was sure Beth’s death would upset me so much I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I’ve read it again since.

My AP English class was probably the first class I ever had in which I remember loving the books we read: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier were all on our book list.

I’ve read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Sweet and Vicious by David Schickler, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, and On Beauty by Zadie Smith all twice; Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible three times, and Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True probably five times.

I have never read one word of the Harry Potter series, the Twilight series, or The Lord of the Rings series.

I have never read any Jane Austen, even though I have been carrying around a copy of Sense and Sensibility for more than 8 years.

I have read everything Suzan-Lori Parks and Amy Hempel have ever published. (I think.)

I have cried on the subway because of the book I was reading.

I have missed my stop on the subway because of the book I was reading.

Three of my favorite people have told me I have to read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and, for some reason, I refuse.

The best pop culture writing I’ve ever read is an article by Chuck Klosterman, “Bending Spoons with Britney Spears,” in his book IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas.

The best play I have ever read is August: Osage County by Tracy Letts.

I just read The Secret Garden for the first time. It was given to me by my mother’s parents in 1993. I was pleased at how true to the book the musical I know by heart is.

Tori Spelling’s memoir sTori Telling made me sob. Jancee Dunn’s memoir But Enough About Me… inspired me to write a fan letter to her.. Jeannette Walls’s memoir The Glass Castle gave me nightmares because it is about neglected children.

Whenever I move, my books make up most of what I’m packing. I only keep the good ones: the ones with the best cover art, the ones I imagine will be of use one day, the ones that left me breathless or sobbing, the ones that make me ache to write, the ones in which I see myself.

Currently, my bookshelf is overflowing.

They are my prized possessions.

There is the love of another person, and then there is a love of books. These are the two great loves of life. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider knows this.--Charles L. Mee

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Word of the Day, vol. III

Word of the Day: WRITING
Sometimes I forget how important writing has been to me for most of my life. I remember sitting at my mom’s computer at as young as six years old and typing out sentences and the beginnings of stories.

The middle school I attended was called Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented (HA!) and we had to test and audition to get in, even though it was a public school. It’s funny but I didn’t even think of auditioning for the drama program. Instead, I tried out for dance and creative writing. I was dancing three times a week at that point, if any of you can believe it, but they ended up placing me in the creative writing “major.” And I spent three years writing everything from a sitcom script to a horror story, from a newspaper article to a historical fiction text. It was actually pretty great training, even though our teacher was a nightmare and seriously scary-looking. Ms. Friedman. We were all sure she was actually a man. I wonder whatever happened to him/her.

Anyway, I started keeping a journal pretty consistently the winter before I moved to California. Here is my first entry:

Wow! 1997! It’s not really unbelievable though. I just finished my HW. I had a huge-ass load of math. She always gives us so much! I have the second half of a Science test tomorrow, but I’m not worried about it because the 1st ½ wasn’t that bad. AVERAGE. That’s all I am. Average. BORING is another word for that. I am and always will be an AVERAGE girl. What does “average” mean anyway? How can someone be AVERAGE? Isn’t everyone supposed to be different? No one is the same as anyone else and that’s what “average” means.
God, you know what, SCHOOL SUCKS! It really does! It takes up too much time and it’s not fun enough. School should be one constant educational game.

Don’t you just want to hug her and tell her everything is going to be OK? I reread that today and think…did I really think I was average? I’m not sure how long that lasted, but it seems a little bit like I was feeling sorry for myself for the sake of feeling sorry for myself.

I’ve filled five journals, spanning from January 1997 to May 2005, right before I graduated from college. I used to reread them pretty regularly. Now, I’m not sure why. Self-torture? Revisiting them tonight, I was very uncomfortable. I was going to type out some entries:
My last summer at the camp I attended for seven years (after weeks of complaining about feeling left out, I ended up writing it had been the best of all seven years);
My first day of high school (I feared everyone would be a snob);
When I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday (I passed by four points…shhhh);
The love letters I passed back and forth to the boys I liked in high school;
The night I got news that my mother’s father had died;
The last night I spent in my house before moving to Berkeley.

I couldn’t bring myself to actually retype them and post them on the web. Even though I’m sure that that writing kept me sane through the move to California, got me through high school, always seemed a safe haven during the heartbreak and joys of college.

I began to journal less often when I moved into Apartment 8. Because then I began writing poems and songs. I spent the entire summer of 2004 as a songwriter, with S’s brother my co-writer and musician. This is the song I started writing on a walk and had to run home so I could get it down on paper:


We turn away from what we know is real,
Disregarding all we truly feel.
We throw our instincts clear out the window,
Calling those closest to us our foes.

Truths leave us frightened or maybe it’s alone.
We avoid that to which we know we’re prone.
Our vocabulary shrinks every day
Because there are no words to say.

Stagnantly stumbling in circles,
We forget exactly what was said.
We can’t even see each other.
We look around instead of ahead.

Our eyes met once but we closed them fast.
Now we prefer to keep them downcast.
We put ourselves in the apparent dark to grope
For what we think will someday be called hope.

Breathing side by side but separate,
We know the future cannot be this desolate.
But still we stay a safe distance apart—
Never fully listening to our hearts.


Linger here a little bit too long.
Something inside us thinks this would be wrong.
Simply afraid to just jump right in,
Afraid the veil between us too thin.

Careful not to tip the scales too much,
But doing so we never really touch.
Confront each other with a velvet glove,
Hate is not the opposite of love.


I was pretty proud of myself at the time, but even it seems like it was written by someone who was very young.

In contrast, I realized I was a woman when I wrote this poem after I ran away to Reno for a night with S and our other friend:

Thoughts Mid-Flight

I need a distraction from this destruction.
Gotta take a van and just fucking drive.
Leave the rubble behind to lie under a tree,
Hum a song in the grass and chase the sun.

I ran away from you and sought solace with a drink,
Cleared my mind and tried to gamble us away.
All I needed was to dance in a storm,
But all I did was smoke a cigarette at noon.

We’re good at pretending nothing’s wrong.
It takes 400 miles for me to get angry.
Had to wail along with Janis to breathe again.
Laughed with a weight on my shoulders.

We drive and I’m not sure I know you anymore.
So I sing at the top of my lungs and dance on a hill.
Stars above and I am home again.
Who knows how long I’ve loved you?

I started writing essays and reviews in New York. Most of them are posted on this blog. In fact, I started this blog because I was writing all these essays and my friend M suggested I put them online. This is the first one I wrote, and I posted it here with my brother’s blessing. I carried a small notebook at all times, so I could mark down interesting things I’d hear or weird scenes I’d see on the subway. The blog enhanced my awareness, forced my senses to be even more receptive. It was a creative outlet for me in a time that felt very stagnant.

I’ve always had big plans for my writing. I want to write my memoirs, a novel about a boy whose name just happens to be Jesus, a play about a family like mine, short stories about the people I see on the street…

My friend SL once gave me a gigantic book of blank pages. I asked him to inscribe it and he wrote, “If there is anyone I know who can and will fill up this entire book, it is you. Every page will be you and every page will be part of the whole. On page 564, I expect an entry of collaboration between you and me. Maybe pg. 90 or 120 or 1028. Today is May 18, 2005.

This book is now full of artistic pleasures. That day is _____ __, ____.”

It’s June 10, 2009. I’m on page 369…

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Word of the Day, vol. II

Word of the Day: INSPIRATION
Apartment 8. The words are nearly legendary to a group of 20-somethings who graduated from UC Berkeley between the years of 2003 and 2007. It was a strange apartment. With two entrances separated by a hallway, a rat maze of a bathroom, large French doors between the living and dining rooms through which even I saw ghosts, a fridge in the dining room, a balcony that peeped right into the dorms across the street.

I moved in the summer before my junior year of college. And my three roommates and I spent three straight days painting it and cleaning it and building it up over Labor Day weekend. I wasn’t sure I could live with them. They all seemed so…optimistic. So creative. Like dreamers. I mean, S’s dad built us a BAR in the dining room. We repainted the kitchen a cozy yellow, the dining room a sexy red, and the anteroom a beautiful turquoise. It was the kind of TLC I’d never given to any living space. A kind I didn’t really think was necessary.

We hosted a housewarming party. It was only the first of many, many ridiculous, themed parties that we’d host over the next two years. At the Halloween party we had that year, I dressed up like a callgirl, complete with a calling card stuck in my black push-up bra that said 555-SEXX. I wore bright red lipstick and called a boy back to the party, after he had left, so we could make out in my dining room. S found a dress that had the design of a fox made out in sequins on it. She wore her hair out to here and carried around a plastic mic, as a drunken 80’s lounge singer. At the First Annual Holiday party, we dressed up, drank from martini glasses, sang carols, and put mistletoe in every archway. We hosted an 80’s Fiesta, which I only remember because I left it to have a heart-to-heart with a new friend and wore a crazy outfit, complete with bright red poncho (which I still have). Our Flappers to Rappers party was the only one that had to be broken up by the police, after the drummer from the pit of my production of She Loves Me got alcohol poisoning and had to be carted away on a stretcher. Our last party in that house was a prom, complete with formal attire, a photo backdrop and tiaras for all four of us. People talked about these parties and showed up to them from all over Berkeley.

It was a magical place. And I remember realizing very early in that first year that I was living with people who would become my best friends. I remember physically feeling myself, my life, change while living in that house.

I became the kind of girl who scribbled poems on napkins. I thought of song lyrics on walks home and would have to run back to the house to write them down.

One of my roommates was studying composition; S was doing a ton of singing, and I was juggling acting, directing, and writing. I will never forget one night when a few of us were sitting in our living room, and M was pounding out notes in her room. S started singing, to compete and compliment the music, and then I started booming out the Shakespearean monologue I was working on.

It was inspired cacophony. It was chaotic, creative joy. We had a karaoke machine, for God’s sake.

I discovered Suzan-Lori Parks during the time we lived in that house and found a quote of hers that literally became the stamp of our lives there. A poster superimposing the text of the quote and two pictures of my roommates and me hung in our dining room for almost a year and is still hanging in the apartment I moved out of in Brooklyn two winters ago.

After we all moved out of that house in Berkeley, there was a burglary in it and, separately, a shooting right in front of it. The ghosts must not have liked that we left. At some point, S and I returned to the apartment to pick up some mail that had been delivered there and we saw that the girls who had moved in had painted over all our vibrant colors. The dining room was now a boring and cold light blue. The anteroom a strange teal, and the balcony door barred by a lofted bed. We felt betrayed and grief-stricken.

S and I moved to New York, and I seemed to lose myself and all my inspiration on the flight east. I remember having a fight with her in Prospect Park once about whether or not I could ever stage a production of Into the Woods site-specifically there. I was convinced it was an impossible and illogical idea. S couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just pull my resources together and do it.

It only occurs to me now, as I write this and anticipate the site-specific production I plan to helm in the fall, that maybe I’ve finally become a dreamer. It all started with those three days of painting, which turned into two of the hardest and best years of my life.

Laughter isn’t a way of escaping. It’s a way of arriving on the scene. Think about what happens to your body when you laugh. It’s almost the same thing that happens to you when you throw up.—“Elements of Style” by S-L P.