Monday, October 31, 2011

The Birthday Party

He called the young lady at 11pm, so his wife would not hear his phone call.
She was asleep, dreaming of a different life.
The message asked if she could stop by at 9am.
The young lady awoke. It was her birthday. 27 years old and stuck. A scorpio with a heart of gold and a temper.
Sensitive. Moody. Jealous. Passionate.


She called him back. "Yes, I can come over. See you soon"
She walked the four blocks in the crisp, cool morning.
She arrived at his house at 8:58am. Punctuality was her strongest trait.
He opened the door, smiled widely and said, "Good morning" and greeted her.
She smiled back, hesitantly. He was almost a stranger. Those eyes, so intense and peering, unnerved her. But she needed to be there.
She walked in slowly and carefully, assessing the house and feeling the discomfort all over again.
So many feelings washing over her.
There was a moment where they acted like nothing happened.
He gave her orders and she followed.
She started by cleaning the dishes. Old espresso cups, crumby plates and stained forks.
She stayed silent while washing. His presence was there, watching over her.
After the dishes, he complained about the tub.
"The tub is not clean. Maybe to your standards, but surely not mine".
Her stomach sank. Tied in knots.
She muttered an apology, half out of pain and half out of shock.
She went to his room to put away his clothes.
"Remember, don't put away socks that don't have a match. I have no use for single socks"
She saw his shirts with the names of all the exotic cities he had been to.
The picture frames of his wife, and four lovely kids were placed all over the room.
What an intimate little venture.
She thought about what his life was like before. What his life was like now.
What did he do? He was like her, but he had the power.
Money can buy you anything.
She moved to the bathroom to deal with the dirty laundry. His stained underwear and sweaty shirts disgusted her. All in a day's work.
After getting lost in the maze of the house and dizzy with the work, she became numb.
No one knew it was her birthday. It was as if she were hiding a secret from the world. To keep inside of her everything-- to share with no one. She wanted to be alone.
Instead she was cleaning his house. He complained some more. Things were not good enough.
Her OCD which had been a source of amusement for all her friends, was not enough to please him.
He was no longer happy with her. With a look in her eyes, tearing up at the non-existent future she saw for herself, she uttered with all her might, the words that barely came:
"I don't think I'm right for you"
She got her money. $40. He wanted 5 bucks in change, but she lied and said she didn't have any money. She thought to herself, "what a fucking cheapskate"
As she left his building, the avalanche of emotions caved in on her. The tears were unstoppable. She walked home, past the stay at home moms and the dog walkers. Picking up some vodka on her way home, she decided to create her own birthday party.
To celebrate what, who knows.
The day was drawn out, in long intervals, interspersed with waiting and watching.
The sigh of relief came, once the clock turned 12.
The birthday party was over.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ant-Bird with Rob Andrews

A case study of endurance and commitment.
An exchange of voices among chaos.
Pushing more, with fear unfolding.
Crescendoing to the future.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Collaboration and Magic

I honestly believe I can learn something from everyone. I've worked with many different people in a variety of different settings over the past 10 years, and believe because of these meetings and collaborations, I have become a richer person for it.

Sometimes as adults, we get caught up in routine. We get caught up with thinking we know how the world works. Our days play out through mechanical motions, our minds rarely ever breaking above water to complete consciousness. The world becomes insular. Collaboration actively disrupts this solipsism.

Today, while in my collaborative theatre project in Red Hook, a moment of magic occurred. The group, which is comprised of three adults and three youth were talking about the idea of protest.

What does a protest look like?
How do protests occur?
What sparks the action of protest?

We agreed that to protest, is to say that we wish for a different world. A world in which things are better. We agreed that to protest, is to fight against something that we want to change which usually occurs from an inciting action. After discussing for a while what protests look like and how they are presented in the world, the eleven year old next to me paused and said, "What we are doing right here (motioning to the circle, the group) is a protest. Writing our play about our ideas and what we want to change in the world is a form of protest".

I was taken aback. I started to tear up (apparently, I'm really sensitive). I spent 60k studying arts and activism and performance as protest and here this 11 year old girl blew my mind with how articulate and thought provoking she was. After relishing in the enjoyment of having such a beautiful moment and exchange, I realized this is why I love collaboration. Sometimes magic occurs. Age, race, sex, and difference create opportunities for genuine exchange. A dialogue that puts each person at the forefront of his or her own experience.

Between my experiences at Occupy Wall Street and my work on this theatre project, I am humbled by the beauty of people, ideas and collaboration. Sometimes there is no substitute for a life of exchange and collaboration. A book, a lecture, or school cannot compare.

I am reminded of how much we can grow if we only let ourselves.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ritual with Rob Andrews

On Saturday, I performed in the Art in Odd Places festival with Rob Andrews. In the piece, I was asked to wear a black cloth over my face which covered most of my body. I placed two jars full of water, gauze and some postcards at my feet, while standing barefoot on a grass mat. The postcards invited audience members to wash my feet, hold my feet and pray. The symbolism was strong and intense.

Initially, I had mixed feelings about the piece. I wasn't quite sure how the piece would make me feel or how it would affect the audience, but it was something I wanted to do regardless. I arrived in Union Square at 3pm. I was able to see the other cloaked figures with passersby gazing at the mysterious ensemble. Slowly and carefully, I placed my materials on the ground. For some reason, I decided to face the sun, to look directly at the audience. I covered myself in the cloth, and was still able to partially see through the black veil.

The first 15 minutes were a challenge. The sun was beating down on me and I couldn't quite find my place of peace. I centered my breath and started focusing. I saw the collection of eyes and cameras (meta eyes) peering at me, trying to make it all make sense. The echoes of voices, "what is this about?", "what does it mean?", "who would want to wash someone's feet?" swam about in disembodied voices. I could only see directly ahead of me and sometimes people with cameras came frighteningly close, trying to get the perfect picture.

I stood still. As still and silent as possible for two hours. I was unsure if I could actually accomplish this feat, but I was able to do so. The main problem was the heat, but I was able to meditatively focus on my presence and the actions of others. I got my feet washed about 8 times. I believe most of them were by my other performers, but at least two were outside viewers. It was interesting to feel the differences in people's touch, energy and action in washing my feet. Some people had such tenderness it was moving.

At one point, Rob and his son came to wash my feet. Rob's son said, "I'm making art with dada!" and I started tearing up it was so beautiful. The interesting part for me, was that I thought that this piece would make me uncomfortable, or feel degrading for me or the audience. But I had a completely different reaction. I felt peaceful and meditative--I felt a connection with those washing my feet, the touch of another human. We could not exchange glances, but only exchange energy and this was powerful to me. Hearing the comments and watching the spectators helped me focus. I enjoyed that the piece made people uncomfortable, made people question and made some participate.

About two-thirds of the way through, there was another attraction behind me. From what I heard, there was a nearly naked black man behind me. I wanted to look. I resisted the urge and stayed focused. It was interesting to watch the shift from me to him in a matter of seconds. To hear all the commotion, but not be a part of it. This portion of the performance tested me in my ability to 'stay in the moment'. After the other performer left, most people went off with him. A few more people wandered by, some taking photos, others hesitantly walking back and forth, deciding on inaction rather than action.

After two hours, I took off the cloth. The sun was still so strong and the air, and my breath and the ground felt different. I was in a haze-- something between being disoriented and being at peace. I walked home taking it all in trying to focus my feelings on the moment and in the intense beauty of the experience.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A case of love

A case of love for me and you.
I will wrap myself beside you and be present with this present.
I follow you, love, out of my own failure here.
The ghosts of turbulence will no longer linger, but provide only a shadow of what was.
We will become something great. What I have been wishing for. My fears will be assuaged by your sweet breath.
I am leaving everything behind for you.
To let go, without looking back and never questioning why.
To grow older in your arms, to know that it is you that has my caress.