Sunday, October 30, 2005

hey, my art is showing!

Originally uploaded by sassylittlepunkin.
recently i was invited to participate in a group show curated by an art collective on campus. i installed my piece a couple of days ago, and last night was the opening reception. the show is called "textnological" and it is focused on the use of text in visual art. my piece is a set of 100 4x6 photographs (prints of digital photos) arranged in a 48x48 grid. i've been 'collecting' these word/text photos for a couple of years now, and i've used many in my writing projects last year, but i've never been hung in a gallery before! what an honor! i'm in fine company, as the other artists in the show are extremely talented. it was a lovely evening, and the show will be up for another three weeks or so. i suppose i'm even more well-rounded than i thought! there's a full set of pics that go from installation to reception.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

in search of time to waste

this morning i find myself wishing i could cut the ties of the obligations that bind me. i want a rainy day that i can look at at leisure from behind a windowpane. broad stretches of empty time with no required components. i think i'm feeling like this today because lately i've been taking myself off the more aggressive paths in life. i tell people i'm not going up north this weekend for some academic forum and their eyes widen. i can hear their thoughts processing--things like sputtering "b-b-but!" and how this was just the sort of thing they'd expect me to want to attend. i'm the one with the brains. but these days i'm not feeling like my output has any enthusiasm. instead it's weekly chores, chores that seem so tedious and monotonous and fail to engage me. every thursday they come around again--funny how i can't be bothered to work on it sooner--and every thursday i wake up wishing for available time to waste. and i can take myself to the neighborhood starbucks, face on and laptop whirring, knowing that it's not so much that i'd be there to force myself to do this hideous work, but that i'd be hoping to run into a notorious distraction, a fellow time waster. and as i lie here, wasting my time thinking scandalous thoughts, i know i should be up and running, following the path of the healthier lifestyle i've adopted, or burying my face in a stack of articles i have no choice but to wade through and regurgitate in response format. today i'd rather meander down to the coffeehouse, trade the articles and the laptop for a good book, and take long, indulgent breaks for staring off at the white-gray clouds conjesting the october sky. i want to be able to get lost in thought. to remember a small errand and to take my time doing it--not those rushed weekend crowded sunny errands, but something small. little steps. window shopping. people watching. trains of thought. but that's got to be some other day. i wonder sometimes if that's some other person, too.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

the copy cat quiz

this morning i cruised over to esther's corner of the web, and wound up taking her quiz (and scoring a paltry 50!). because i am thoroughly unoriginal, and love talking about myself, i too have crafted two quizzes about myself. so knock yourselves out:

take my quiz (part 1) on!


take my quiz (part 2) on!


Monday, October 17, 2005

a kind of major existential crisis brewing

when i was a kid i would beg my family to let me perform a number from annie or to let me put on a little show i wrote after dinner. i thrilled in the gussying up and shaking off the nerves process of being in a dance recital or a school play. during my star turn in the fifth grade as "the girl who didn't know about hanukkah" i got to sit on the stage in a spotlight for the entire telling of the jews getting that darn oil to burn for eight days, and i loved every moment of it. i had my favorite movies in constant rotation to the point of almost wearing out the videocassettes. i studied episode after episode of carol burnett and friends and wondered what it must be like to hop into those characters' skins and to make people laugh until the tears ran.

for a while i thought my destiny was ballet, and i set my sights on a career dancing. of course i was a round little ballerina, eating my mcdonald's meal before dance class and subsequently not making it into the national ballet of canada's prestigious dance school. no matter, there was still jazz and musical comedy class--the absolute fun of putting together routines to pop songs and showtunes. there was that strange, intense fascination with kirstie alley.

one summer, when i was visiting my mom and step-dad in l.a. i forced her to take me on the tour of the paramount studios lot. 5555 melrose avenue. i will never forget that address, because i'd been sending silly fan notes for so long, and then there i was, passing through those gates. there was the parking lot in front of a blue wall that would get flooded to be used for a set calling for a body of water. there's lucille ball's old dressing room. there's the high school from the brady bunch. and then we got to tip toe in to a rehearsal of cheers which was at the time my favorite tv show ever. i remember what each cast member was wearing, what scenes they ran. i wanted to breathe in deeply and hold it in my lungs as long as possible. this is what it's like, i thought. this is acting in progress. this is rehearsal, craft, work. this is what i want in my life. i am more than a fan. there's a place inside me that is lit up and alive because i want to be a part of this, or something like it. i have never lost that feeling.

by high school i was spending my down time devowering biographies of all the actors and actresses i admired so much--how did they figure out how to follow their hearts? what struggles did they go through? what did they learn? what is it really like to be a performer? and of course, by this point i was in the 'burbs of los angeles, just a freeway or two from the living, breathing pulse of Where.It.All.Happens. you know, where tv shows are taped, and where actors live in hills and dells (some even in valleys) and come out en masse occasionally to pat each other on the back. i waited in the crowds to watch the stars arrive one year at the emmys and took pictures of all my favorites. when i got them developed the people were just tiny thumb sized spots, so i circled them all with a red marker, reminding myself "i was there. i was close." and i went to my weekend workshops at the pasadena playhouse, and i took part in every single play and show put on in high school. by senior year i'd landed two major roles--character parts, leads. and then graduation came and things fizzled out; i wasn't ready for college. but i wasn't ready to go after my dreams, either. i think it was because so many people were telling me it wasn't practical, it wasn't wise, it wasn't prudent.

so i fled to new york to a minimum wage job, a diet of ramen noodles, and no money to pay for heat in the apartment. i wandered the streets, thrilled to be there. but i pretended i was in a movie, or a show, or being interviewed. in my heart of hearts i was still an actor. but i moved back to l.a., to a string of occasionally satisfying and mostly horrific jobs. i tried school, but it didn't stick. i got my own place in hollywood, and i would stay up all night watching the independent film channel. i watched ab fab one after the other and then over and over again. i pictured making a movie or doing a show with jennifer saunders. heck, bunny and i even wrote a screenplay together.

in 2001 i got a bee in my bonnet about acting. i'd taken a walk through my neighborhood--one that's full of tiny theatres and acting workshop spaces--and realized i'd been off the stage for over six years. it seemed criminal, and i needed to fix that. i passed a theatre with a poster advertising improv classes; improv was what i had been most afraid of in high school, so i figured that would be the best thing for me to try now. and i fell madly back in love with performing. by the spring of 2001 i realized that my job was going nowhere, and i applied to university. this time i wanted it to stick. and it did. of course, along the way i had to sacrifice my improv classes--it was a community that had moved and shifted and changed, anyhow, and it seemed a good time to part ways--and i wound up with a bachelor's degree in english. but all the while i was thinking of ways to get back to acting. when would i have time and money to take another class? could i try voice lessons, maybe? at what point could i try to get headshots, or go on auditions? could i ever really live without acting?

but i got sucked into academia. for one thing, i was amazingly adept at it. i was a natural writer, and once my master's program began (which i started because i wasn't ready for the real world) i realized i was a natural teacher. after all, i likened teaching to performing. a captive audience. and i taught through entertaining. make 'em laugh, you know? i was the perpetual entertainer, in every job i had. i'm the entertainer in the job i have right now. "you're so funny!" i'd be told constantly. funny voices. mannerisms. bit of a drama queen. and i'd watch movies and tv shows not as a spectator, not as recreation, but as passion. just today i told someone that i don't get in to something half-assed. and i watch the commentaries on my dvds and the blooper reels because i want some insight on what was a part of making the show or movie. what was it like? what went on? and i feel that light inside me, like i did watching mary poppins for the sixty fourth time, or sitting in the bleachers in the cheers soundstage. but it would hurt, because i'd told that light to shhhh and shut up for so many years. it's not practical, it's not wise, not prudent. you're a scholar now. you're one of the brightest in your department. you're winning awards. you're getting ready to apply to phd programs...

and it's not what you want. it's second choice. anything but performing has been, and will always be second choice. i know what it's like to regret not pursuing acting. i've been regretting it for the better part of eleven years, since i was set free from high school. and i know what it's like to think about performing every single day of my life. no lie. every day. it's what i think about when i'm driving to school and singing along to something. it's what i think about in the shower. it's what i think about when i surf the net, go to a play, watch will & grace, get dressed to go out, talke a walk, order a cup of coffee, put my makeup on, get under the covers at night. it has never gone away. and i don't want it to.

i think i need to give some serious thought to what i really want to do with my life. because, seriously, something's gotta give.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

unmade, but with clean sheets: a weekend spent almost entirely sitting on my bed and proud of it

i am down to my last paper to grade, and my last snatched episode of will & grace left to reward myself with. for some asinine reason i kept myself up last night until just about this morning--in the neighborhood of three a.m.--doing basically jack all. it was a delightful melange of nothing with a dash of diddly squat. well, unless you count watching a movie then immediately re-watching it with commentary and all the little extras something. or making itunes playlists. or surfing an obsessive wave on the web. yeah, didn't think so.

despite the fact that i spent most of my weekend in sweats and in some form of a recline, i did manage to get a hell of a lot of crap done, and a staggering amount of that crap was totally crap. i am a brilliant time waster. i've learned so much about things that have absolutely no value. but this is america, and we're all about amassing excess wads of useless junk in our heads and in our garages, so i'm not apologizing. i will, however, admit that at times i did scare myself. but then i put on my cute new shoes and got over it.

it's a small life, i know. and it was a small weekend. that's all i needed. i'll do great big things on plenty of other days. i promise.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

weekend becomes eclectic

this isn't one of those weekends in my life when i'm bouncing about from one fun shindig to the next, laughing into the wee hours of the morning with my favorite people on my arm and a drink in hand (wait--do i ever have one of those weekends? why not? and where can i get me one?). instead it's one of those quirky weekends that serves to balance the productive with the utterly lazy things on my to-do list. for example, so far this weekend i have changed the two lightbulbs that have been out for, oh, let's say weeks now. i've played the part of the left coast hippy-dip cliche when my housemate's out of town guest asked me what i was cooking and i replied: "tofu and broccoli." i've dorked out so thoroughly that i actually clapped and squealed with delight when i successfully downloaded and installed some freeware (ack--geek speak!) that allows me to convert avi files into mov files that play in quicktime. i've realized that in this day and age of technology and the internets, i don't need to put myself out being all obsessed with celebrities, because some other freak show out there on the world wide weirdness web will gather up all the sound bites and photos that i can't be bothered with. and, just now, i reacquainted myself with my old pal mister thirty minutes on the treadmill. all this before i've even taken a shower. mind you, i'm sporting a hefty stank and it's getting close to dinner time. but still...


Thursday, October 13, 2005

a little sick a-bed

as soon as i felt that tell-tale scratching in my throat i knew i was on the road to sickville. i made it through my tuesday, arguing back and forth with myself: "you're getting sick." "no, you're not." "yes you are." "no, you're not." "yes you ARE!" "no you are NOT!" until finally i gave up in an exhausted heap and admitted the "YES YOU ARE!" side was right. somehow i managed to weave my way through the grand-re-opening celebration of my favorite local grocery store (hats off, vons burbank, you're looking h-o-t-t!) deftly enough to snag the sicky's happy double-fister: dayquil caplets and nyquil liquid. so while the smiling clerks were pushing samples of salads and soups and breads, oh my!, i was looking forward to pushing some heavy meds down my gullet and calling it a night.

have you ever taught a freshman composition course on dayquil? i don't recommend it. nor do i endorse trying to assume a semi-comfortable position on the couch in the office you share with 12 other people and call it "office hours." it is, however, totally fun to tell students "i don't want to hear it!" when they try to hand in their handwritten homework with some story about computers and problems. but that's fun without the dayquil, too. i like that a lot.

what i like the most, though, is after wrangling the later part of the afternoon off work, and then depositing a long-awaited check in the bank, is to go home to my bed, several illegally downloaded episodes of will & grace on the laptop (which i promptly erase after watching chiefly because it eats up the hard drive, and also because i made a promise to the big brothers of copyright and entertainment royalties that i would still purchase seasons 5, 6, & 7 when they were released, which went without saying, but still helps ease my conscience), and my new best friend nyquil. i was out like a west hollywood queen on gay pride parade day.

today is about naps, a little theory of composition reading and home-working, more pirated tee-vee, and a hot tea with lemon toast to getting well soon.


Monday, October 10, 2005

faith shaking

what do you do with all those moments in your day when you realize that, despite the fact that you like what you do and are pretty good at it, and that people want you to make plans for next season, next summer, and the next five to seven years of your life, you actually wish you were brave enough to do and be something even riskier, more ambitious, more creative, less stable--something you've wanted to do pretty much since you were pulled out kicking and screaming from your mother's c-sectioned stomach?

i mean, i'm just wondering. because i get the strangest looks from people when i tell them in all seriousness that what i want to do after, if not before, i get my phd, is star in my own sticom.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

somewhere on the other side

one afternoon we stretched out on the sweet-smelling grass in the park behind the old library. being next to you was like having a thousand rounds of fireworks going off right under the surface of my skin. i'm not sure how we ended up there that day; we didn't go out all that often, instead you preferred to call me up at the last minute and ask if you could come over. and i would always say yes. i couldn't get enough of you.

being around you was delicious torture. i don't remember anything i said, but i must have told you stories about who i thought i was, and where i'd come from. places on maps that you managed to pin down and hold on to for years. and you remember. maybe that's just who you are. i didn't know who i was then, but what i liked about you was what i was missing in me. to touch you, or be touched by you, was to start to fill in my very own gaps. but you were just liquid in my sieve, passing through on your way to the rest of your life. there was just no way to hold on. but i tried.

what i held on to was the visceral print of your hands on me. things you said that were of minimal consequence, but that changed my life in small ripples. things as small as the smell-good stuff in a hot shower. you remember that we didn't make it all the way from the bathroom to the bed. i remember what it was like to wait to hear from you. i'm not sure what you would make of all the stories and poems i've written, with your words, and those memories as my springboard. i'm not sure what you'd make of the thoughts i'm having lately. i'm afraid to ask, and yet baffled that i even have the opportunity. how did i get here, to this moment? to these dying flowers to my right? to trading tales under a wall-sized photograph of a lebanon skyline? yes, of course it's surreal. you must think so too, because you asked. what else do you want to ask?

i'm not sure what i can tell you. in having come almost full circle, things have somehow shifted. the stakes are higher, but have an altogether different context. i don't need you in the same way, but i do want you. i know what it's like to live without you. and you were right; our end was harder on me than it was for you. why is it that i'm convinced we've reached an easy beginning? is this a start, or the finish? either way, i'm glad to have it.

now i remember everything you say, because through experience i know what i can hold on to. i'm not allowed to hold on to you. you once punctuated a story and initiated an encounter with the words "but when i touch you..." now when you touch me, nothing has definition. except that a thousand fireworks still go off under the surface of my skin. and, if anything, i would tell you that it only took me one second of being next to you to realize that after all this time, you smell exactly the same.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

busy signal

this is the sound of me grading rough drafts for my english class. it's the constant i-can't-help-but-think-about someone who has come back into my life and the strange parallels between the then and the now. it's the pop fizz and mellow guitar of the new liz phair and the new sheryl crow albums. it was a nine inch nails concert. it's loads of laundry i'm lazy to put away. it's coffee before the sun comes up. it's the dull ache of waiting for a bus or train. it's wearing the wrong shoes for walking. it's reading dreary scholarly articles. it's meetings and notes and the sound of shuffling paper. it's worrying about finding something "formal" to wear to a wedding. the hollow feeling of having to say goodbye to a family member who left us far too early. it's the theme song from the o.c. and it's time to go to work.


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