I've passed through it once again.
It won't be the first time and won't be the last.
This time, it seemed to drag out, linger and leave its stench.
I have to remember, I am a fighter.
This is not the beginning or the end.
I can now think clearly, focused and enjoy what is.
Not was, not will be.
No more revisionist history.
No more fantastical futures.
To be present and to practice gratitude and patience.
I can think of nothing more that I want to do.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Last night I performed Work to Welfare with Living Stages theatre troupe. The show, a composite of experiences from the troupe was presented to the community as a forum play based on Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.
The rehearsal process was a bit grueling- emotionally speaking. We started by sharing stories about ourselves, our families, our loved ones. Each story about unemployment, the lack of work, food stamps, homelessness and more fueled our work into creating this play. The piece examined the oppression that can happen with families and relationships while people are struggling to find work.
The characters were so real, yet they were not rooted firmly in our stories. In an age when the recession has impacted everyone in some way, we were looking for ways to create characters that were relevant to struggles that might be particularly salient.
Breadwinner mothers, long term unemployed father, younger generation saddled with debt, unable to escape the trap or fulfill childhood dreams, grandma who can't afford to live alone on social security, the sister who IS successful and thus should be point of comparison for other failures, friends with privilege and parental help who don't have to worry about paying rent and working.
These characters created the play. The play was about the shame, humiliation, depression, loneliness and all the gamut of emotions that come with struggling to find work. We live in a culture where work is tied into our identities. We ask, "what do you do?" not who are you. Work defines us and can control our life, creating a hierarchical system of haves and have nots.
The play hit very close to home. Sometimes too much for my liking, but like any strong art, it should. I knew that I could not be feeling alone in this. Of course, after months of sharing with the troupe, I knew that I was not alone. That others had similar stories. The same themes kept coming up, again and again.
Performing last night reminded me of the power and beauty of Theatre of the Oppressed. The audience was not only a receptive audience but a willing participant in creating a dialogue. Many interventions happened in the play that were interesting, touching and alternative. Theatre of the oppressed proposes new realities and alternatives to situations--it gives the audience and the performers a chance to "rehearse for real life". Within the living, breathing form of theatre, we are able to comprise these experiences and thoughts and create a new, living, breathing thing.
TO reminds me that Reality is not static. It's malleable, just like people, just like our thoughts. Though the world and many of us are stubborn, sometimes it is only because of our ignorance or lack of foresight that we think otherwise.
Performing last night made me feel engaged and alive--and most of all, inspired!
Monday, April 2, 2012
Trains howl in the middle of the night, reminding me of the emptiness in the city.
The sun comes up, just barely as I rise and I get the feeling that something isn't quite right.
I am not sure what this distress could be, other than a massive unsettling and lack of attachment.
My heart is with a person, but not with a place. I feel torn on my decisions.
Hindsight is 20/20, things were always better in the past and certainly in our future, but the present tense brings so much pensive gloom.
Portland reminds me of pensive gloom. It's a smart city that is perpetually grey. People come alive once the sun rises. People crawl out of their caves to live their lives once forgotten in a winter's past. The rain renews the green and the blue sky is better than any anti-depressant and these two dispositions mingle amongst the watery fronts, beards, beers and bikes to make a place. This place. Where I live.....
I crave more sunshine and friends and art and culture. I crave a sense of belonging.
I ask the universe for some peace and harmony. And some rest. Throw in some more blue sky too.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I can't help but wonder, what if I stayed?
Would I be happier?
What is this idea of happiness and success that I so long for?
Ideas that are so foreign to my complicated brain, I would need a passport to get there.
The definition confuses me and the feeling eludes me.
Time evaporates into pores relishing into sun stained souls.
Sometimes I feel too much and I long for days I can find peace.
Is someone interested in social justice ever at peace?
I want to imagine a better world for myself-- for everyone. I think at the heart of the Occupy movement is the desire to see the change, be the change we wish to be--in this lifetime. To create alternative histories and radical futures that we possess with our bare hands. The ability to see our hard word lay the ground work for the pavement below us. To keep the sun rising everyday with our happiness and joy.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I saw Famished at Portland Playhouse a couple of days ago and was moved by the first piece of theatre I've seen that delves right into current, relevant issues with food. Some thoughts post-show:
How does food control our relationships? (to ourselves and others)
How do food politics (dis)connect us to our communities?
What are the ethics of food production?
Can't afford local, organic.
the hunger within
the depravity and excessiveness of food.
the pleasure and pain.
food and memory
food and culture
food and control
food and love
food and hate
How to nourish the mind and body, in a healthy, sustainable, viable, productive, affordable way?
After being a "west coaster" for most of my life, and spending about 2 years on the east coast, only to then come back to a different part of the west coast, I am pondering the idea of geographic orientation.
How does where one live affect their personality? Lifestyle? Outlook on life? I know for a fact that if I was born anywhere else than Southern California my life would be completely different. For example, diversity, and working class people were "normal" to me. My cousins from Michigan however, were literally shocked with the diversity and homelessness present in Socal. I am glad that I was born in such a diverse, enriching place. And now only because I have left that place, can I look at it objectively. I understand (now more so than ever living in Portland) the amazing high that comes along with constant sunshine, the benefits of diversity and the general laid back feeling that permeates Los Angeles' air. (I've heard many a NYer who comes to LA and complains that everything is 'so slow')
Reflecting on my time on the east coast, I must say I am no expert. But also people claimed I would have a hard time with the "fast pace" in NYC and "east coast attitudes". What does that mean anyway? I did not have a problem adjusting to NYC. I was actually thankful for the fact that so many people enjoy working and getting things done in the city. I enjoyed people's honesty, heartache, pain and stress that parades itself across the whole city. The city is resilient and so are the people. The city and the people force you to hustle, to make it work. A study in perseverance and endurance.
I miss the fast pace energy and diversity of NYC. And now I find myself in another place. West-East-West. ((Orientations made up for convenience, with a whole lot of meaning. Makes me think of the useless labels we ascribe to race, geography and sexuality. Exclusionary forces. ))
Portland is very relaxed. Upon not being available for a meeting with a new acquaintance, I was told that he was hoping I was a "typical Portland slacker" with lots of free time during the week. Nope, definitely not one of those.
Because I am getting to know people at work and in the theatre, I have rehearsed my own little geographic story. LA-NYC-PDX. Some people get more details than others, about what brought me to each place. With the consistent recitation, and reactions to my geographic journey, I wonder how much does a city thrive on its people? And vice verse? It's as if we should put down on job applications if we are a West Coaster or East Coaster.
I have also gotten familiar with one particular reaction. "Why did you leave New York for Portland?" I get asked with an incredulous tone. I get asked this in such a way that eludes to my sheer idiocy for leaving "the center of the universe" for Portland, Oregon. Some people say it more politely, inferring that I went from one hip place to another and that I must be ok.
The answer: A man. I moved for a man. Is that dumb? The feminist part of me feels uneasy with this answer every time I recite it. Not because I am ashamed, or not in love. But because it is the first time in my life that he has really affected my life decision. I made a choice to move. So far the choice has worked out better than expected. I am embracing the journey. Who knows where we will end up? SF? NYC? Stay in PDX? The good thing is I am open.
I know a lot of people who have never left their hometown. They have no desire to leave what is safe. And now I know first hand, the sheer exhaustion and emotional toll of moving back and forth. But it can be thrilling. Sort of like an anthropologic study. A study of the self and the will to survive. To adapt to consistently changing environments.
I know that during my stay here, Portland will be come a part of me. Just like the morsels of Los Angeles and NYC have ingrained themselves in my thoughts, my actions, my nostalgic daydreams. The thing about this is I can't quite put my finger on it. I can't exactly describe how place affects me, or why I miss a certain place. I do believe cities and people have a symbiotic relationship in which each are breathing in and out of each other, affecting and changing. I am just fascinated by the divide and thought process behind East coast and West coast. And yet, I intellectually understand there is a difference.
How have you been affected by your geography?
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Be consistent. Something I have long known that I needed to adopt, but seems hard to put into place. I like to think of myself as a wanderer, wonderer and nomad, but even those questionable labels need some stability in the real world.
Creating routines in new places. Attacking new goals and failing and falling back only to move forward again. My discipline in running is proving faulty and time keeps slipping out of my hands like dissolved sand.
How to create consistency in fluctuation? Changing jobs, changing cities, changing friends. The trite but true phrase, the only consistent thing in life is change permeates my current state.
A will to determine the way things I ought to want to sought to be.
Looking forward to the evolution of myself, looking back at the past with near-sighted nostalgia. Improving and living fully every step of the way. And most of all to be able to relax amidst the fluctuation.