A Body at Rest

In the first few months of summer, I finished grad school (second masters degree), directed my first professional production, got married, and started a new job.

After all of that, I wanted rest. And it felt good. I read a bunch of YA fantasy books, got to spend all the time I wanted with my wife, and found a few new hobbies. After that break, I said yes to doing a few short term acting gigs (some professional, some academic), dabbled in graphic design again, and then… lulled again. Which is where I am now. 

I’m not reading anything consistently besides the Washington Post, I’m not writing anything (not even tweets or FB statuses), and I’ve let my new found hobbies slip away. Without rehearsal warm ups or the need to walk to work, I’m not particularly active. 

I think part of my hang up is that I haven’t stopped living like a full time student–like my time is not my own, but normally absorbed by school, or rehearsal, or work. During grad school, I worked at least 2 jobs the entire time while managing classes, rehearsals, friendships, and a burgeoning relationship with Kendra (all at different levels of success throughout the year).

Now I have one very low stress job, a beautiful marriage, friendships (but many moved away post graduation), and… a fish? It used to be I had to hoard my free time carefully, and use it to recharge my exhausted introverted soul, usually in the form of feel-good television. Now that I have all the time I need, I continue to do my “recharge” activities even when I don’t need it. I don’t start new projects or plan activities for myself; I just… dwaddle. I dwaddle on social media, I dwaddle on my phone, I dwaddle around the house. 

I’m not unhappy; I’m directionless. My focus is nonexistent. And because of that, I’m focusing on useless or even harmful things. 

I’m becoming more critical of myself and a nasty internal voice I haven’t heard for years is back. 

I’m spending more time on social media but simultaneously creating less content.

I’m procrastinating the tasks I do have to do, just because I can making me more listless and disheartened. 

What’s a soul to do?

Well, I just need to do things. Intentionally, not accidentally. One of those things, is get back to writing; hence this blog post. A few more things: 

  • Cut back on social media. This might mean deleting accounts, but I haven’t yet decided. 
  • Get into my hobbies. Again, I’ve got a few I started to look into, but they’ve fallen away. I’m definitely committing to work on my new fish tank more though. 
  • Read more. I want to find away to get my voracious pre-grad school reading habit back. First on the docket, My Own Devices by Dessa Wander and Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough.
  • Incorporate physical activities into my daily/weekly schedule. K and I have recently gotten into rock climbing, so we are gonna keep that up, but I’d also love to rediscover yoga as a daily practice, even if only for a few minutes. 
  • Cook and bake more. I used to make my own meals a lot, and I think I liked it. Its time for me to find my own recipes and figure out how to get all the components of a meal ready at the same time. 

I recently saw somewhere–twitter maybe?–that motivation comes from action. That whole “a body at rest stays in rest; a body in motion stays in motion” thing apparently applies to the likelihood of me sitting on my phone all evening as well as how our physical universe works. 

The rest has been good and much needed, but its time to get this body in motion again and see where it takes me. 

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I have a Nightmare

Last night, I had a nightmare.
I’ve had “bad dreams” that when I wake up in the morning I muse that it was creepy/scary, but in my adult life I cannot remember a dream that woke me up scared and kept me from going back to sleep. This one was the latter: a nightmare.
 
The dream:
There was a massive humanoid deep blue monster, with bulging muscles and veins, that was roaming through our house/space ship (classic dream scenario) terrorizing everyone, but also there seemed to be nothing we could do to stop it so most people ignored it–it had become normal.
 
Some of us tried killing it–someone broke its neck–but it came back to life. So we killed it a second time and this time chopped off its head, but I knew it wouldn’t stay dead. Some of the group took the head far away to keep it from coming back, but, again, I knew it wouldn’t work even as I watched the head disappear.
 
A young girl went into the room with the body of the beast and tried to use it to play the piano. I hid behind a column in the other room but could hear the classical music she was playing. I knew the beast was going to come back but stayed hidden. The piano music shifted from lilting classical to discordant saloon style playing and I knew the beast was back. I screamed at the other people in the room something like “We have to do something!” while staying in the corner.
 
The beast called from the other room for a family (I don’t remember their name) and I saw them walk into the room. From a distance, I furiously shook my head and mouthed “no” but they smiled and walked in anyways, thinking they could quell it somehow? Or maybe it would be different this time?
 
A moment later the room erupted into horrible screams. The youngest boy (three years old?) ran out of the room, screaming and crying. I grabbed him, put my hand over his mouth, telling him “Shut up! Shut up! He will kill you!” as I ran towards escape. 
 
Then I awoke.
 
The worst part of the whole dream was the fact that I knew the monster was coming back and that it would hurt that family and that it wasn’t safe to play the piano, but I was paralyzed by my fear. I felt minuscule. The most I ever did was make weak suggestions. I was a (horrified) bystander.
 
Naturally, after such a vivid and disturbing dream, I did some research on dream meaning. (In the past, I have actually solved problems through dreams, mostly small stuff such as a particularly difficult video game level.) What does an unkillable monster mean? Most said it was some aspect of myself I feared or more generally something that made me feel “out of control.” Helpful.
 
My day started and I forgot about my nightmare.
 
After rehearsal, I was scrolling my news feed, my stomach roiling reading the headlines about the families being separated and the children taken away from their parents, and suddenly my nightmare was in my head again; that sense of horror and terror mixed with powerlessness in the dream was the same I felt reading headlines.
 
I still don’t know what to do, but I thought sharing this somewhere might be a place to start, a way to begin figuring out this terror that has seeped into my subconsciousness and find meaningful action. 

I Love Valentine’s Day

I do. I really do. So, WARNING: this is going to get sappy.

And while it has been nice to have a romantic partner on Valentine’s Day, my appreciation for this day of Love does not come from that connection. I love Love. I love Loving people and being Loved by people.

Feeling valued, seen, appreciated is the best feeling in the world, and all those things are wrapped up in Love. I have been fortunate enough to be Loved by many people throughout my life, in different ways and varying degrees, and they have been Loving enough to share that with me on Valentine’s day along with other days through out the year.

I spent most of my life very single–or without a romantic partner of any kind to be more precise. I didn’t learn Love from romance.

When my curious friends and relatives would ask if “there was anyone special” in my life some of my favorite responses were:

  • Oh yes, I have my best friend Alison!
  • Yes, I’ve actually fallen for this guy named Will… Will Shakespeare.
  • Well, I have you guys, so of course there is!

And while I delivered these quips with a hefty amount of wit, there wasn’t sarcasm–I meant what I said. My family, my friends, my studies–they are special because I Love them all.

Because I did not have anyone romantic to celebrate for 22 out of 23 of my past Valentines, I learned to celebrate the Loves I did have: my friends, my family, my passion, my faith, my self.

Of course, now that I get to add Kendra I enjoy celebrating her, but I don’t want to lose celebrating all the other parts of my life that I Love.

So, happy Valentine’s to you!

Celebrate the Love in your life, no matter how big or how small. Spend today giving out Love! Tell your friends and family “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Buy yourself chocolate and a card, not because you are celebrating “Single’s Awareness Day” but because you can Love yourself without any shame (and do that even if you do have a romantic partner)! Give your pet a special card and treat! Drink that wine you have been saving for a special occasion!

Find the tiny joys you Love–your favorite novel, bubble baths, a clean house, a messy house, your sexiest clothes, your comfiest clothes, the first buds of spring, cloudy-not-too-cold days, even just making it half way through this week.

I know not everything is sunshine and roses. I know there are times when I feel unloved or that there is nothing I can Love in my life. But today I am choosing to celebrate Love.

And if you are reading this, I can’t say I Love you (though I very well may), but I can say I hope you are Loved and I hope you Love. I hope you find joy in the small things and in the big things. I hope you can celebrate Love in your life today, as well as beyond.

“Certainly Not Harmed”

On December 19th, I (finally) got my first tattoo.

The phrase comes from the concluding words of Edwin Ginn’s autobiography:

“The rules that have governed me in the conduct of our business have been strict adherence to principle, punctuality, and the improvement of every moment; and if you will follow the man who has succeeded in this world you will find that his idle moments have been few, that when the hour struck he has been at his post, and that he has rigidly followed the path of duty. The policy of this house has been along strict, arbitrary lines. The life of a (publishing) house depends not upon the amount of business secured, but upon the principles which guide its conduct; and so far as I am able to judge, financial success is almost sure to follow the lines of uprightness. This world, as I have studied it, is governed by the law that good must prevail in the end and that evil contains the sees of death. For a time we may vary a little from the right without apparent loss but in reality decay begins the very moment the tiniest seed of corruption is sown; and the man who has not been actuated by principle in the accumulation of wealth enjoys but a short-lived triumph. The true business of this world is to make men, not money. May it be our purpose in the future, as it has been in the past, to see to it that every one we come in contact with, if not made better, is certainly not harmed in any way because of us.”

A few words about Edwin Ginn and I why I decided to get some words of his on my body, even though he is not Shakespeare or even an author of anything besides his autobiography and a few incendiary pamphlets in the 1880s against the American Book Company .

When I began writing my Masters thesis, I was curious about paperback Shakespeare–where it came from and how it ended up looking like it does today. I started investigating the 1960s but rabbit holes led to rabbit holes and I stumbled upon Edwin Ginn: a fiery publisher who used his built from the ground publishing company to defy the strongest conglomerate of text book publishers in the name of defending students.

After going toe-to-toe with the text book monopoly, Ginn spent the last few decades of his life leading the peace movement through philanthropy. He also began and ended his career by publishing groundbreaking formats of Shakespeare’s plays, hence the connection to my original inquiry.

In his editors notes at the front of his company’s text book version of Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare he remarked:

“It seemed wise to omit the portion of Lamb’s preface especially applicable to English schools, as the following quotation would indicate: ‘Instead of recommending these Tale to the perusal of young gentlemen, who can read them so much better in their originals, their kind assistance is rather requested in explaining to their sisters such parts as are hardest to understand.’

Such a recommendation would be hardly appreciated in our schools, where the misses have equal advantages with their brothers, and do not feel the need of such assistance.” (published 1903)

A champion of literacy, independent businesses, peace, and girls reading Shakespeare without help from anyone–how could I not love him?

After almost a year of studying him, and another six months missing studying him, I decided that his life had played a crucial enough role in mine to warrant a tattoo. (If anyone is wants to know more Ginn and/or my thesis, just buy me a drink. I could talk for hours.)

Now, about the quote itself:

When I first read those closing lines of his autobiography, they got stuck in my head like song lyrics. There was such hope and conviction in them–I wanted, and still do, to believe everything he saw in the world. Sure, he is a dead, white, rich guy, but after a year of researching his business I can confidently say he put his money and energy where his heart was: reforming the textbook system in the United States and campaigning for peace.

The line “certainly not harmed” seemed like a pure and clear goal: I pray that I only improve the life of those around me, and at very least don’t make anyone worse off. Of course, there are days, weeks, months even, where I am sure to fail.

I become petty, lazy, vindictive. But, thanks to some very permanent ink on my arm, I won’t be satisfied being there. I can remember who I am in this moment: someone committed to peace and to serving others.

Getting the tattoo at the end of 2017, a year mostly defined by moments of violence, anger, and prejudice seemed especially appropriate. No matter how dark this world gets, I am committed to actively advocating for peace and believing in good by being the good.

Meet My Girlfriend

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There is someone you need to meet: My girlfriend, Kendra Wright.

We met through work–an office romance, one might even say (vegan-organic eatery romance doesn’t have the same ring to it).

For the first few weeks though, I was in a sleep-deprived induced stupor and, completely unbeknownst to me, Kendra was an emotional-turmoil induced stupor. I wouldn’t learn about that chapter of her life for six months.

As my show closed, and sleep let me have the energy to see the people I worked with I noticed a few things about Kendra. While everyone got along well enough with everyone else at work, Kendra was friends with everyone at work.  Her universal friendship was not a facade–she didn’t talk poorly of fellow employees. She never let inside jokes become exclusive or mean spirited.

Everyone’s mood improved when Kendra showed up for her shift and it wasn’t just because of her skill with puns–she was an incredible worker.

We all had our stations we preferred–I would (and still do) avoid the dish pit–but Kendra went wherever she was needed and stayed until the task was done. Working with Kendra made me want to be a better employee and a better person.

So, after impressing her with my skills in mimicking accents, I decided to take our work friendship outside the workplace: we took a day trip to Charlottesville. I had to drive a friend to the airport and wanted to explore the town. To my joy, Kendra asked off work and joined me.

We wandered around the slightly defunct mall, went to a trampoline gym, ate frozen yogurt, and visited a brewery. After the hodgepodge of a day, we returned home exhausted and pleasantly surprised at how much enjoyed each other’s company.

As the weather warmed up, Kendra and I found more times to hang out after work. We would hear about a new brewery and visit it. She found out I never had a chai latte so she showed me where the best ones were. I introduced her to Joss Whedon television shows. She showed me her favorite late night star gazing spots.

After not too long, when monthly work schedule came out, I counted how many shifts I had with Kendra –not how many weekends I had off.

If I worked morning and she came in for the afternoon shift, I checked the clock more frequently the closer it got to noon.

Then one day while watching netflix, I mentioned casually how much I loved having my head rubbed and next thing I knew our new normal involved my head on her lap and her fingers in my hair.

I never felt uncomfortable around her, whether I was feeling goofy, exhausted, frustrated, joyful, heartbroken. I wanted to share laughter with her in the good times and cry on her shoulder in the bad.

The only secret I felt like I had to keep from her was that, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was falling in love.

And keep that secret I would have. I firmly believe that I never would have had the courage to risk our friendship to see if she reciprocated. Despite our discussions of politics and faith and past relationships, neither one of us had discussed our orientation or even thoughts on same-sex attraction.

Luckily, she is braver than me. One morning she asked if I treated my other female friends the same way I treated her.

I choked out a “No” but didn’t offer any further help. She persevered and observed, “It’s not platonic, is it?”

I can’t remember if I shook my head or said anything, but we came to an understanding: it wasn’t platonic. I don’t know when that shift happened–had we moved onto Dollhouse by then?–but it did.

Since that conversation over a year ago, we have experienced life together more intimately and I still cherish every moment I get to explore another aspect of this person, whether it is seeing how she deals with a clogged sink or with a brokPhoto Oct 02, 9 16 55 AMen down car.

We have seen some really good times together–watching our fish grow up, seeing shooting stars, cooking dinner together–and some really rough times together–the stress of grad school, stalled cars on the highway, miscommunication between us, family crises.

There will be more of the both in the future. Kendra and I will navigate them together, sometimes not very successfully, but despite the difficulty we are committed to doing this life thing together.

Feel free to join us.

Summer Reading 2017

I had forgotten that this used to be at thing: reading for fun, ya know? And that I used to document it (somewhat haphazardly). But now that my (first) thesis is done along with my (first) master’s degree, it might be tenable for me to pick up the habit again.

So, welcome to this year’s summer reading scheme!

After two years of graduate school including one year consumed by a thesis on publishing practices in late 19th century American, my goal for reading this summer is to HAVE SOME FREAKING FUN. I mean, school and research has been fun but I different type–you know what I mean.

If I happen to pick up some classics or whatnot, great. Maybe after a month of just-for-fun reading I will get the urge to expand my knowledge of modern plays (which I desperately need to do) or delve into resources for my next thesis (which I also should do), but to begin I am just reading whatever strikes my fancy.

I will post a my reflections on each book after finishing it. However, if you are looking for a list of reading recommendations I suggest you read this post or just check out the “books” tag.

(Re)Search Update

Hello Friends!

I am learning exciting things and while I am proud to that I am documenting them in a properly-MLA-formatted annotated bibliography, I wanted to document them here for anyone who might be curious about textbook printing practices in America at the start of the 20th century and how it pertains to Shakespeare. Continue reading (Re)Search Update