Friday, May 30, 2008

This just in

Within the next couple of weeks, I'll be doing two neat performances that you can see. 

1) Barrel of Monkeys performs the annual Celebration of Authors. This year, we'll be in the gorgeous and huge mainstage theater at the Athenaeum. As always, this will be the public premiere of some of our favorite adaptations from the past school year, roughly two from each school. And the show is FREE!

Among other things, you need to see Geoff Rice and me sing the bluegrass "Tommy and Sandy's Swim Day." "We're mostly like cousins, but not cousins. Teaching each other and having a great time!" What's not to love?

Athenaeum Mainstage
2936 N. Southport Ave.
Call 312-409-1954, or reserve online

2) I'll be in Barrel of Monkeys' performance on Arts Across Illinois, CenterStage on WTTW, Thursday, June 12th, at 8pm. You can be in the studio audience by calling 773-509-5614, or you can watch us on TV, channel 11!

Today, I've been working on lots of little revisions, and a more substantial one of around 1,600 words. About to start reading: Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Daily dystopia

I saw the most freakish thing last night -- two guys on the street dressed as dogs and hidden among real dogs. They had their faces painted, and one seemed to have his hands modified to look like paws. They had the posture down, and it took a long time to realize they weren't dogs with very human faces; they were weird humans posing as dogs.

This was only the first part of an epic dream. In the dream, I decided I needed to blog about the fake dogs, so here I am. I followed one of the fake dogs into a warehouse space where a group of guerrilla artists were composing a performance art extravaganza to heal a broken world. Seriously.

The space had a murky river running through it, full of slugs and trash. Overhanging this was a decaying shelter of sorts that the arts group hoped to have preserved as a historic site. Surrounding this were twilit garden spaces full of fake, giant plants, and organic cottages. These spaces could be rented by the exceptionally rich in a world with limited natural and open spaces.

When I became a character in this world, I worked for the Corporation that seemed to control and assign duties to all but the wealthiest of citizens. I wanted to escape, and discovered I had flying powers like the kind I've always had in my most vivid dreams. Inhale and I sort of rise, as if through water -- the flying's a cross between swimming and gliding, and I have to glide in wide circles to avoid a heavy landing. I soared around the ruins and gardens, trying to land where I wouldn't get spotted by the Man.

One of my weirder dreams this winter inspired my friend Scott to do a freewrite, which you can read here.

Good stuff, y'all

Accomplishment. Sigh.

I spent many hours revising this morning, the major overhaul on a 2,500 something section, and then lesser touches on two more big sections. Sigh.

After that, I ate some food -- I did do that, didn't I? Maybe not until dinner, but I did spend the following seven hours cleaning my apartment. It's amazing how much I still need to do, but it felt sooo good. I didn't rush, took breaks to file my nails or cut flower stems or burn incense or whatever, and I stopped to eat dinner while catching the latest Top Chef, but that was a concentrated effort. And fun. Sigh.

It did not escape my notice that part of what made the cleaning fun was that two guys were moving into the building at the same time. We kept passing each other on the stairs, them carrying all their worldly belongings; me making endless trips to the dumpster and outdoor drain. Cleaning's nothing compared to moving, and work always feels more fun when you know other people around you are working as well.

I have the teeniest hope that me posting my endless word counts and Sysyphian efforts at getting my life in order will be motivational slash comforting to someone else, sometimes. This is the hope of the blog.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I'm pretty sure this isn't interesting to anyone but me, but it helps me keep a sense of progress, so bear with me.

Okay, update. I revised only 559 tonight -- challenging. I'm working on a section that's written well, but my characters have changed so much since I've written it that I should perhaps be working from a blank page rather than trying to salvage what's there. I'm on the fence about that. Sometimes I get good stuff by working within an existing doc and then cutting the old after the new stuff's in place.

Yesterday was better. I worked one section into another and revised what's now about 2,500 words, and I wrote several short linking bits for a total of around 1,000 new. The linking bits are exciting and feel strange. I'm up to six that sort of feel like proper chapters. That's a fourth of the total pages I have right now. I anticipate adding and taking away a good bit before I'm done, but it's starting to feel like a book!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Get her done

I'm having trouble getting started today. Yes, it is almost 6pm.

No, I did stuff. I did the Orchard Place show this morning. That was amazing. I got to play a punk rock mermaid with a pink mohawk named Natalie, the seductive leader of the Russian army Natasha, and Kathi the fighting chihuahua. All that made me tired. Imagine.

I read a chunk of a Lady's Home Journal on interior design from the 50's that a friend lent me, so I now know the difference between trumpet-shaped and vase-shaped turnings. I can distinguish between Spanish, Dutch, English, and French Empire claw-feet. Remember how I said I wasn't going to turn into one of those people who know those things? Hm.

I booked a plane ticket to my Vermont College residency, and took care of some other stuff like that.

So, the only thing I'm really having trouble with is writing. I have an hour before I get to go check out a prospective entertainment center. Turns out if you send out an email that you're redecorating, all of your friends will offer you entertainment centers. I will sit here for that hour, and some writing will take place.

It doesn't have to be good. It doesn't have to solve all my problems. It just has to happen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Poker dots are so book

In working with kids stories for Barrel of Monkeys, we often come across fun misuses of words -- the recent ones that stuck in my head are a dress with "poker dots" and a guy who says, "It's hot! It's 99 the grease outside!" Of course, our job is to bring out the funny in the story so that the kid who wrote it will feel good, not to make fun of things like this for the benefit of adults.

The kids can think it's funny when they're older, like my friend Annie who used to think the "Caution: Delayed Green," sign at a certain intersection meant that the foliage on that block took longer than usual to bloom in the spring. There's something great about those moments of recognition when you understand something for the first time. Maybe you feel a little dense for not getting it all along, but it's almost better to have it come in a flash. It's a little bit of proof that you're living.

I tried to think of adult moments of discovering something new. The best I could come up with is "book." A friend heard this for the first time recently meaning "cool." If you don't know why, take a look at your cell phone. Those crazy UK kids have taken a mistake and adopted it as slang. I heard it for the first time in a Streets song.

And then there's my mom, who's only recently learned how to email. She adorably asked me the other day, "When that message pops up and it says, 'You are the 100,000th visitor. This is not a joke!' that's not real right? It's probably not a good idea to click that, I guess? But it sure is tempting."

We're always going to have those moments. There's never going to be a time when we get so smart it doesn't happen. I really hope there's at least one adult reading my blog who still doesn't know what's wrong with the phrase, "poker dots." There's a good chance. If you search google for "poker dots," the first thing you'll see is an image of a polka dot purse. If you're only just now going, "Ohhh, polka dots!" I'm a little bit jealous.

Around 1,000 revised today, plus some rearranging, and 89 new.
Currently reading: Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Colonial touches and autumnals

I'm starting Apartment Therapy, using the book by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. I don't think I'll ever post pictures of my home improvements on the website or get into an online chat about colonial touches and autumnals, BUT, I work hard, and I deserve a space that makes me feel at home and helps me get that work done.

Did that sound like an affirmation? It is. And I'm writing it out here, because this is an area where I have shaky confidence and low to no motivation. Compared to home decoration, writing is like breathing.

My parents used to tease me about having blinders on, being so stuck in my head that I wouldn't notice a rearrangement of the furniture unless said furniture caught fire. Maybe not even then. But I do believe that your environment affects you, and not just subconsciously.

It affects you pretty consciously when you step out of your room and are horrified to see that your dog puked all over the kitchen floor, and start gathering what you need to clean it up, except, wait, hold the phone, that's not dog puke, that's a hair-tie made of orange fishnet stockings and a safety pin that's been on the floor, in a less middle-of-the-path position for longer than you can remember. It's been worn all of once, and weren't you supposed to give that back to your sister last time you visited? And aren't you both a little old to be wearing hair-ties made with safety pins? And is it super ugly, or is your lighting just really bad that you mistook it for dog puke? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Good bye hair-tie. Good bye other crap that has no business cluttering up my life.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In the Realms of the Unreal

I went to a show last night where the entire audience wears these:

This is the last weekend for As Told by the Vivian Girls from Dog and Pony, and it's definitely worth seeing. The performance takes place throughout the enormous Theatre on the Lake space with simultaneous action in different rooms. Watching epic battle scenes from the queen's box really did feel like entering another world.

The world is that of outsider artist Henry Darger, a reclusive janitor who wrote the longest known work of fiction, In the Realms of the Unrealat over 15,000 pages, not counting illustrations. This is a case where the stories this man created are somewhat less compelling than the fact that he created him, that he enmeshed himself for so long in a strange world of his own creation. The production includes a really beautiful image of the artist entering his own work; there's a compelling juxtaposition of the love he has for these characters with the violent impulses he acts out on them.

One of my friends asked me if I related to the show as a writer, if I ever feel like I'm doing this reclusive thing that no one else can really access. That's the fear, I think, that you spend so much time in your own little world that you lose it, that you become the crazy artist who's more interesting for their craziness than for their art. Still, there's something heartbreakingly beautiful about this man's dedication to his work in spite of any speculations about the impulses that inspired it.

I had a great writing day yesterday: 2,186, part of the new piece I turned in for workshop at the VC summer residency. For my next packet, I'll be moving forward with Manatee and turning in all that I have of the novel so far -- daunting but exciting.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Alley Giraffe

I did the boring chores today that pile up on the to-do list. So I won't blog about that.

Instead, a couple of photos (taken by Lauren) from my weekend, which was much more interesting:

Run, Dean, run! Don't let the dogs get you!

Oh, speaking of dogs, tonight in rehearsal I got to say this line: "Can I pet your dog? It's okay, I'm a vet. I will drink your dog's blood." So I guess my day wasn't entirely boring.

At night, after all the workings, I wrote 570. Not bad for late night.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Here, kitty, kitty

Creativity killers -- a nice collection of hindsight is twenty twenty remarks

John Green on writers vlogging.

Funny food art.

You never know

What people are searching for . . . Someone in Brazil just found me by searching for "Russian tweens." I fear I might have disappointed them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fill the well

My college acting teacher had an uncanny way of knowing when someone was missing. We'd take our seats in the black box theater where we held class, and she would sit straight upright in her chair as if picking signals out of the ether. Then without turning to look at us (she always sat at the front, closest to the stage), she would say, "Where's Justin?" sounding like she wanted to eat him.

My father met her once and said, waving his hand in a circle above his head, "She has a lot going on up here."

It's always easier to recognize a presence than an absence. Or, even when you sense an absence, it can be hard to identify exactly what's not there. I'm sorry to report I've got that feeling right now.

That same teacher used to tell us to be "unfillable wells." I think I spent most of this weekend trying to fill mine, which might explain why I'm dragging.

I did 1,032 today -- slow going, but I stuck with it.

How I know I'm a writer

You're back in high school, and you have to write a report overnight on something to do with the representation of sea life in literature. You choose The Island of the Blue Dolphins, even though it's way below grade level, because you're short on time, and hey, there are dolphins in it.

But whenever you open the book, another story starts playing on screen -- a TV screen, the computer screen where you're typing your paper, the dream screen in your head? -- yes, that's probably right. This story's called Feedback, or something like that, something ominous and hinting at a technopocalyse.

Two Russian tweens -- twins? A boy and a girl run over a sand dune, kicking up clouds of sand and wearing costumes fit for Commedia dell'Arte. The girl has on navy bloomers and a floppy red collar. The boy's hair's cut just like the girl's. They're running away from something, or are they just playing?

Back in high school, this variation on a recurring dream continues. You've failed to attend one class all year -- usually history or science. You need to visit the office to see if it's not too late to drop a class (and is that even allowed in high school?) so that your negligence won't wreck your GPA, and by extension, the rest of your life.

Feedback's way more interesting. You leave the framing dream of high school behind, returning to it only when Feedback reaches a point of high suspense. Turns out some robber baron on a yacht got surrounded by police boats on the water. They killed one of his men, and the callous joke he made at his dead man's expense showed he's not someone you want to mess with. He takes the children onto his boat. From this point on Feedback's a nightmarish fight for survival. The boatman's a sadist. He wants the tweens to suffer before they die. The details are many and gory, but this isn't a nightmare, because some part of your brain's still in charge of the dream.

You go through variations on this theme. Should other adults help to rescue the tweens? Or does the girl do it by her own cunning? Should we recognize the boatman's malice before the tweens or discover it with them? How about that scene where they ran over the sand dunes? What do sand dunes have to do with Russia? Maybe they should run instead through a red brick square with climbing gardens. Just before the boat arrives, they do a dance on a red-black checkerboard built into the walkway. They're street performers, dancing for cash. Probably they're orphans. Stories about orphans are always good.

Yes, I edit my dreams while I'm having them.

I did 1,488 yesterday on a NEW project. Sort of new. I'm taking one of the screenplays I wrote while I lived in LA and writing the story as fiction. This will be interesting for me since I've rarely had as clear an idea of the story going in. I expect it will change -- a lot -- and that's good. I think it will be fun to work on though since I know the ghost of a story at least is there. It's called, incidentally, The Storybook Girl, though it's not autobiographical in the slightest. We'll see if I can deal with using that title for both a work of fiction and my blog.

Currently reading Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On top of it

I need some good judgment. I feel like I'm approaching a turning point in how I handle my day-to-day. Like maybe I'm ready to take ownership of building better habits, creating more stability, but how much is too much? At what point does a healthy amount of grown-up structure and responsibility turn into self-sabotage, prioritizing other work above my creative projects and creating excuses to jump ship when the creative work gets hard? I know I'm not alone in asking this, but it's an intimidating question.

I like to think there's not a wrong answer -- that it's about finding balance -- but I don't really believe that at the moment. At the moment, I feel like in order to be a really "good" person, I should not only earn money doing something that's good for the world, follow a regular exercise routine, and spruce up my apartment, but that I should also have a greeting card file with a year's supply for every occasion so that I'll always be the one who's on top of special days and not the one who puts off doing nice things for my friends until the last minute -- or later.

But Rachel, don't people who are really on top of those things, and, say, send you an Easter card, make you feel bad about yourself?
Why do you want to make other people feel bad about themselves?
I don't.
But you sort of do.
I want to not feel guilty.
So you want other people to feel guilty?
I'm just saying, there's a fine line between being endearingly easygoing and whimsical and being a bad friend.

Why can't everything be as clearcut as a Bollywood dance number? Bollywood dance number = good time.

Lacy took this pic of McKenzie, me, and Dixie rehearsing for the Chalmers Monkey show.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A last even of last times

The packet's in, the Chalmers show is done, and I am weary.

I spent a long while today writing a sort of tribute post on the Monkey blog to two guys who have meant a lot to me, Jonathan Mastro and Eric Silverberg. They performed their last Monkey school show at Chalmers on Thursday. It made me remember doing my "last" show of That's Weird, Grandma! (which I'm back in, come see it!) before I moved to LA. Leaving Monkeys, not knowing whether I'd be back, made me so sad, but doing the"last" show was a blast. I put aside melancholy thoughts and just celebrated the present moment. I get better and better at doing that over time.

That post title's from a Samuel Beckett poem my acting teacher made our class learn in college, "Cascando." I loved that poem in college, still do, but it's not all so desperate. The present surprises us by being nicer than the past. We do things for the last time without recognizing them as the last, and by the time we realize, it doesn't hurt as bad. Or the last time turns out not to be as final as we thought.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Forbidden things

I'm finishing up work for my packet and have just wrapped up another Monkey-filled weekend (rehearsal for Chalmers, Grandma, company meeting) -- hence no posts of late -- and no word counts, though I assure you, they've been up there. I so exhausted myself by Sunday evening that I set my alarm for a two-hour nap at 5, and woke up at 10, feeling completely upside-down and disoriented.

Among other things, I've been working on an essay on poet, C.D. Wright. In one of her essays, "69 Hidebound Opinions," she stresses the importance of the physical, of touch, in poetry. She writes,
"These are some of the things I have touched in my life that are forbidden: paintings behind velvet ropes, electric fencing, a vault in an office, a gun in a drawer, my brother's folding money, the poet's anus, the black holes in his heart, where his life went out of him."

What have you touched in your life that is forbidden? I'm still working on my list. Or, I will be, after I finish my packet . . .

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A totem and a private palace

Okay, I did pretty well. I got most of a paper onto the screen, a few written pages, several more pages of notes, and a good idea of where I'm going -- funny, how I still call it a paper, when it will be created, turned in, and critiqued by my advisor all online. This "paper" may never make it to hardcopy.

I attended a women's qigong, or chigong, class for the first time this morning. Most of my experience with qi comes from tricky use of the letter "q" in Scrabble, but I've been meaning to look into qigong for a while. I went to a massage therapist a few years back who touched my back and said, "What is this great stress?" He seemed genuinely concerned for me, told me the left side of my body was rigid. When I told him that, among other things, I was about to move to LA, he said, "Moving is even as to a house on fire." Did I mention he had an amazing Eastern European accent and enormous hands?

I was talking with a friend tonight about how often unwitting people you encounter can become totems or icons in our personal stories. We endow them with meaning, which can sometimes get in the way of relating to them as real people. I'm embarrassed to say that in my own personal fairy tale, I immediately identified this massage therapist as a rugged, brawny father figure -- like the hunter in Little Red Riding Hood, Hagrid in Harry Potter, or He Man's Man-At-Arms to name a few.

Hagrid wanted me to see a chiropractor, and he wanted me to go to Chinatown and find a qigong practitioner. Pressing on the middle of my back, which, at the time went painfully askew between two vertebrae, he said, "This is more than I can help." I trusted his opinion since he was ready to lose me as a client to other practitioners who might be able to help me more, and, of course, because he reminded me of Hagrid.

I never made it to Chinatown before I moved. Now, I'm back in Chicago, and a friend takes me to this free class mere blocks from my house (and even closer to my old place). While there, I learned about the ovarian palace, the jade pillow, produced a lot of qi, and swallowed saliva full of life force -- all my own, thank you. The practice involved a lot of visualization, but it definitely produced actual heat energy as well. The teacher claims these exercises allow women to "cut off the red dragon," among other things. According to her, after a couple years of practice, you can stop having your period, stop the exercises when you want to bring it on again, and conceive a super-healthy baby. Sounds good, but in the same way reaching enlightenment sounds good. Human bodies and minds can do amazing things, but do I have the discipline and energy to do any of them in this lifetime?

I'm always a bit overwhelmed when I encounter a whole school that people devote their lives to studying. It makes me cognizant of how little time there is to learn. And that makes me skeptical, looking for reasons to cross this new world of study off my list. Since I enjoy believing in things, I do the crossing out in pencil. The marks get erased, and then I'm reading about some new random thing, trying to reconcile it with all the other random things I read. I'll probably go to class again.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I'm new to LiveJournal, but if you're on there, you can connect with me here.

This blog has a new email -- you can reach me at

Connectivity is fun and terrifying!

Now I must go write a paper. If I do well, I'll check in later. If not, go ahead and bombard me with hate mail. I'm procrastinating like a, like a -- stop trying to come up with a witty metaphor, Rachel, and go write your paper! See what I mean?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Linkitty, link kitty, here, kitty, kitty

In my world . . .
I contributed a theatrical horror story to Punches then Flowers.

And wrote about adapting stories for Barrel of Monkeys on the blog there.

Lauren posted a fun pic from Picked Up, which you should go see other people do this weekend, because it's all new and different, and will be funny. It may not show in the photo, but my name tag reads, "Ass. Mgr."

Concerning the world at large . . .
Cesar blogged about a YA book that I'm really excited to read, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. I'm often thrilled when YA gets political, plus, it's available for remix. Bold. And cool. Both.

Author and Vermont College alum, Carrie Jones, interviews VC prof Rita Williams-Garcia about dialogue at Through the Tollbooth. Having heard Rita read from her new book Jumped, it's full of amazing voices.

Stole a beautiful link from Gwenda to Jan Von Holleben's Dreams of Flying series, based on children's dreams. I love that on his site, he has a series of photos children have sent in inspired by their own dreams.

And finally, Alison Morris at Publishers Weekly blogs about the divide between those who love and those who hate Robert Munsch's bestselling picture book Love You Forever, the one where the mother climbs in the window to rock her grown-up son. It sparked a fun comment conversation that goes into mysogyny and codependence in The Giving Tree. Yes, folks, the picture book is political.

And on that note, I'm currently reading a collection of essays by Herbert Kohl called Should We Burn Babar? I'll let you know.

She did it while you were sleeping

All new, all changed.

And so simple.

I loved that print in my old template, but not as the background for a blog -- for kitchen curtains when I paint my apartment with the color scheme from The Darjeeling Limited.

I want folks to be able to read without eyes going wonky. Please let me know if I haven't accomplished that.

Oh, insomnia, you're so productive.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Silent conversation

I love writing days like this. 2,131, and all of it mean -- mean to my character anyway.

Re: the Dogpile post, and ensuing comments, I love unspoken things. They're mysterious. I love hinting at what's below the surface, reading too much into things, over-analyzing body language, inventing wildly inappropriate subtext to mundane interactions. That's my imagination playing. It's part of what I love about theater -- acting a scene requires you to hash out all the subtext and hidden agendas and body language of a given moment. All I meant by that post was that I sometimes wish I could share more of what's going on in my imagination, in the moment, without worrying about it taking on inordinate meaning -- or about people calling me "a craze."

I promise I'm not passive-aggressive. If something's really bothering me, I'm incapable of not talking about it. I'm not holding back from saying anything of import to anyone.

Sometimes, I'll feel like I'm in silent conversation with a friend, not necessarily about anything salacious or antagonistic, and I wonder if they feel it too, if our imagined conversations are the same or wildly at odds. I'll wish I could do a mini, consequence-free experiment to see how much understanding is really passing between us, and how much is all in my head, the writer in me playing. Of course, the inability to put the moment on hold and run that kind of experiment, the mystery of it, is what makes the interaction fascinating.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about this, because those confusing, unspoken things are exactly what make me want to write. Writing gives me a space where I don't have to monitor myself, where I can read into things as much as I want, invent wildly without consequence.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tricks and treats

So, the votes are in. I've left my first poll, "What helps you stay on task?" up way too long. "Lists and goals" won with 7 votes, followed closely by guilt and fear at 5. Less popular were "doing what you love," because only hippy-dippies do that, right? 4 votes for "love," and "tricks and treats" came in last with 3.

My own choice, "tricks and treats," was least popular, but it's so key for me. I guess if I'm honest, I use both goals and fear. Here I am, tracking my word counts and working to deadlines, but in the moment, to motivate myself, tricks and treats win out. I don't believe in being ruled by guilt and fear, powerful as they may be, and too often, lists and goals go hand in hand with guilt and fear for me.

So I pretend the world's in crisis and that writing time is a long-awaited luxury -- not too far off the mark -- but it still counts as a trick. I make plans for a fun Wednesday night to encourage myself to work Wednesday day. I say, Rachel, no more Project Runway Canada on Youtube until you put in a good writing session.

Sometimes, the writing's so much fun that when I'm done, I forego the treat -- go to bed instead of staying up the extra hour to watch foreign reality shows online. But if I want the treat when I'm done, I take it, and no feeling guilty either. Not as long as I'm getting work done.

This, of course, means that I have to make time to watch Project Runway Canada, not always the most productive use of my time, but who said life was all about being productive? Just today, I learned there about ridiculously popular things called "productivity blogs." I hope mine doesn't fall into that category. I don't want to be anti-productivity, but I'd rather focus on process.

Oh, and as to the second poll, we're about half and half as to whether this template needs to change. Throw my own vote in there, add the silent votes of those who I suspect are afraid to voice their true feelings, give some credence to the single "Yes, yes, please" vote since I happen to know it came from a fancy-schmancy designer, and the template's gonna change. Sorry to all 5 of you who like it how it is. I value your readership, but change is good. Change is a beautiful thing.

Words: 1,471 new, including a start to a scene I've been scared to write, not because it's scary, but because I've had a clear idea what I want the scene to accomplish and a not-so-clear idea of its content. It's more comfortable for me to come at a story sideways than to create it head-on with a mission in mind, but I'm at a stage in my writing where I have a lot of raw material and am playing with structure, thinking about the big picture. That means I have to think a little more mechanically than when I write on intuition alone. Intuition still comes into it of course -- the getting started is just a bit more daunting because I have expectations. I think what I'm getting is working. Sigh.

I loved Luna, read it straight through.
Now I'm on to Sisters by Gary Paulsen. It's a neat layout -- flips upside down to read one way in English and one way in Spanish. While he did write it first in English, the layout means that neither language dominates.


I'm confused. By a lot of things. My instinct is to tell everything, share everything, but that's not always fair to everyone else -- or safe for yourself. So you have to behave, and consciously doing anything is never as much fun or as satisfying as following your instincts. Sometimes, it's downright stressful. If you think I'm secretly communicating with you via this post, I probably am. There are plenty of you out there to whom I'd like to say more than I dare. Most of it nice. Although . . .

I dreamed last night about telling a girl off -- a fictional girl who was meant to have been an old school friend. I told her exactly what I thought of her, flicking her off, telling her she was b****y (G-rated blog), really lashed out in anger, and she took it well. I told her, "I don't think you're a terrible person, but you know yourself. You know what I'm saying is true. Most people aren't honest with you." She respected me more afterwards -- wanted to make friends.

Am I angry with someone and not admitting it to myself? Am I angry at myself? Do I think I'm a b****?

I don't think so, but I do think I need a night, or a weekend, or a pilgrimage to the desert, during which I don't feel the need to monitor myself at all, where I feel at peace with everyone and everything. At rehearsal the other day, I said something like, "Wouldn't it be fun if instead of a stage, we had a pit full of pillows, and we could all curl up and sleep in a jumble like puppies?"

Apparently, I don't want friends. I want a litter. Restful and satisfying.

Ricky said, "Rachel, you a craze."

That is true, but really, it would be fun. I'm still thinking about it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quality time

I have good excuses for not posting. Between Thursday and Sunday, I performed in 4 shows, celebrated 3 shows, did 7 hours of rehearsal, babysat the Mastro twins, and attended their inaugural farewell barbecue. One more show tonight, and then theater backs off for a bit, giving me plenty of time to wrap up packet four of the semester. I'm exhausted, but in the best way. Got Picked Up all three shows, wrapped up Wilmette in style, spent some quality time with a few of my favorite people, and started rehearsing for the brilliant Chalmers kids.

I'm currently reading a friend's manuscript and about to start Luna by Julie Ann Peters. Today's been all about recuperation, and prepping for papers, but tomorrow I'm back on the keyboard.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


1259 new, and they make me happy. Got to do a bit of work on my bibliography, make nice with my local library (they are serious about those due dates, people), and I'm off to Picked Up.

All for the children

We finished the Chalmers residency yesterday, and I will miss those kids. They were amazing. I know I must experience this at the end of every residency, but right now I want to say that was the most enjoyable time I've had in a classroom. The kids filled out a questionnaire for us about their neighborhood, their favorite music and movies, places they like to hang out, etc., and over half of them wrote something about gangbangers, bad people in the neighborhood, trash in the streets. Some of them have been directly affected by gang violence, and yet, these kids are generally positive, kind to each other, and really fun to be around. That's a huge testament to the school.

I just made my first post to the Barrel of Monkeys blog. I'll be blogging there about the Chalmers workshop and school show over the next couple of weeks, so you can check it out.

And PIcked Up happens tonight -- with me in it! Thursday is pay-what-you-can.

Writing's been slow, but at least I like what I'm getting. Yesterday, I counted up my progress for the past couple of days. I got somewhere between 1100 and 1300 words in over two days, which is less than I'd like, and more than I'd feared. I'll update later today.