Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Here's the closest I get to a holiday card...


Wishing you the best!!

You can't catch me!

I've been meaning to put these photos up for a while, and I finally had a free moment. Brian's semi-dying of what looks to be strep throat, so I'm being quiet while he sleeps as much as possible to get better for our trip to Montreal that starts tomorrow!

Anyway...a few weeks ago I was asked to do some storytelling at a winter wonderland event put on by one of the preschools I work with. I really wanted to use puppets, so after wracking my brain for a good puppetworthy story, I chose The Gingerbread Man. It's actually kind of a weird tale, since the main character gets eaten in the end, but he was kind of an ass anyway. And, as I found out, little kids do NOT CARE. They just like seeing puppets run around chasing each other.

And what funny puppets they turned out to be! Of course I procrastinated, and of course I had to make elaborate puppets, so the night before Brian and I stayed up late, making ears and noses and getting high off of craft glue fumes. In the end, I fell in love with my little handmade darlings, and the storytelling went very well.

Here are two of them, the horse and the rabbit, both characters that try, and ultimately fail, to catch the sneering gingerbread boy.



And here are the others. The clever fox who, I am well aware, looks perhaps a little bit more like a mouse or maybe a ferret, but I couldn't for the life of me find a redder sock than that...and of course, the unfortunate gingerbread man, who falls for the fox's helpful ruse and gets unceremoniously devoured in the end.



Ahhh, the holiday spirit.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Peeps.

Brian and I are now back and recovering from a wonderful, long weekend in New York. Brooklyn specifically, since we only spent a couple of hours in Manhattan. I must say, we did a fantastic job of seeing everyone and balancing culture with brunches and partying. The good Dr. Science beat me to the descriptions of Annie's party and our evening at the Brooklyn Museum. He did a better (and more thoughtful!) job of describing it than I could, so I suggest checking it out here and here. The sculpture by Ron Mueck? Blew. Me. Away. It seemed to have a similar effect on everyone else there too, apparently, since volunteers and security guards kept asking people to stay back and not get so close to the artwork. It was just so hard not to want to examine every hair follicle and vein on these astoundingly lifelike (and giant and miniature) sculptures. Go check it--and the other current exhibits--out at the Brooklyn Museum if you're in the area.

I got to spend lovely time with my sister and her nanny charges...three tiny little fashionable Manhattanites who live in an absurd townhouse on the Upper East Side (someday I will do a blog reflection on how that kind of upbringing must be). We saw a sketch comedy show, partied with Abbey, Brendan, Zack, and the Grahams, and had sushi with Andrew. My only regret is that I picked a weekend when my hetero-life partner was only in town for a short while...Susie and Josh went to a wedding in DC, so we had to resort to staying alone in their apartment, hugging their teddy bears. Sniff.

And upon our return, we were given a classic Chicago welcome of snow, ice, and wind chills of 0 degrees. The good news is that I got a new coat and hat, and also it turns out that our apartment is particularly cozy when we can look out at the snow-covered roofs of the neighborhood. The bad new is, it's snowy and icy and the wind chill is zero.

Time for some hot chocolate and clementines.
Brian and I are now back and recovering from a wonderful, long weekend in New York. Brooklyn specifically, since we only spent a couple of hours in Manhattan. I must say, we did a fantastic job of seeing everyone and balancing culture with brunches and partying. The good Dr. Science beat me to the descriptions of Annie's party and our evening at the Brooklyn Museum. He did a better (and more thoughtful!) job of describing it than I could, so I suggest checking it out here and here. The sculpture by Ron Mueck? Blew. Me. Away. It seemed to have a similar effect on everyone else there too, apparently, since volunteers and security guards kept asking people to stay back and not get so close to the artwork. It was just so hard not to want to examine every hair follicle and vein on these astoundingly lifelike (and giant and miniature) sculptures. Go check it--and the other current exhibits--out at the Brooklyn Museum if you're in the area.

I got to spend lovely time with my sister and her nanny charges...three tiny little fashionable Manhattanites who live in an absurd townshouse on the Upper East Side (someday I will do a blog reflection on how that kind of upbringing must be). We saw a sketch comedy show, partied with Abbey, Brendan, Zack, and the Grahams, and had sushi with Andrew. My only regret is that I picked a weekend when my hetero-life partner was only in town for a short while...Susie and Josh went to a wedding in DC, so we had to resort to staying alone in their apartment, hugging their teddy bears. Sniff.

And upon our return, we were given a classic Chicago welcome of snow, ice, and wind chills of 0 degrees. The good news is that I got a new coat and hat, and also it turns out that our apartment is particularly cozy when we can look out at the snow-covered roofs of the neighborhood. The bad new is, it's snowy and icy and the wind chill is zero.

Time for some hot chocolate and clementines.

Monday, November 27, 2006

And I can peel them all in one piece.

I've spent the last couple of days slowly emerging from a turkey, stuffing, root vegetable, pie (thanks, Aunt Eileen!) and chocolate meringue cake (thanks, Brittnye!) haze...wondering what month it is and what exactly I do for a living. Thankfully, this weekend represented the commencement of one of my favorite times of year, where we're surrounded by little colorful things that give us great joy.

Clementine season!!

We have absolutely no food in the house (I just ate the last of our leftover couscous with questionable broccoli), but no matter! I could subsist entirely on these little glowing orbs of sweet deliciousness...my mother gave me a large bag of Clementines yesterday and I skipped home in delight. No need for groceries, I'm covered until I decide to buy an entire crate of my own.

I hope everyone's holiday was lovely!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

All I've got at the moment.

Here I am again.

And here are some funny things that I found out through Brendan's blog. It may seem lazy or lame for me to have a post that rips entirely off of a friend's postings, but he's seriously been entertaining me lately.

First of all, I really like these comics.

The guy who writes them is a friend of my sister's ex-boyfriend, but oddly enough, also happens to be the ex-boyfriend of a friend of a completely unrelated friend also. Most of them are just normal, clever, and interestingly-drawn comics, but my favorite is when, instead of writing the story and having the artist illustrate it, he makes up stories for her pictures:



See the rest here.

Also, Brendan himself made a brilliant short film that should resonate with anyone who has ever tried to decipher Ikea's non-verbal instructions...



Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to see if this new "Blogger Beta" dealie is all that it claims to be.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Estaba el senor Don Gato...

I'm actually sitting right next to the bowl of Halloween candy I've reserved for trick-or-treaters, and eating straight out of it. Awesome.

Halloween pretty much happened over the weekend for us, as it did for many people. Despite my ass-kicking cold, we had a great time. Brian and I had some trouble thinking of costume ideas, so we ended up going with our original concept of Kevin Federline and pregnant, brunette Britney Spears. It turned out great, if I do say so myself. Brian managed to look like a total trashball complete with tight wife beater, blazer, chin scruff, and pinstriped fedora, while I somehow became unrecognizable using only a long brown wig and small pillow. Random people guessed our costume, and familiar people didn't recognize me, which I say fits the criteria for sweet Halloween getups.

Finally, the "real" photo:


This week I'm more immersed in the Day of the Dead. I've been working on an arts residency with several other artists in a local elementary school for the month of October, centered around Dia de los Muertos. It's so fun, and because of it I am now the proud owner of a dancing skeleton puppet and various other crafts, several sugar skulls, picture books, and I can sing an entire ballad about cats, cemeteries, and skeletons in Spanish, with accompanying gestures. Next time I see you, remind me. I'll give you your own performance.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'm not dead yet!

Okay, alright, okay. I took a little break from blogging because I was busy enough that I didn't have time, nor did I really know what to post about. And now I'm back. Interestingly, the couple of weeks that I didn't post were a period during which I was constantly looking forward to a different time. And I think that I felt, somehow, that if I wrote about them they would not change as quickly. Strange, I know.

I spent a large part of those two weeks as a substitute teacher. Shudder. As much as I know that there are plenty of competent, interesting people who work as substitutes, every time I hear the words "substitute teacher" I still think of the weirdest, most awkward, least qualified individuals ever, and as a result I don't really respect subs. So I didn't like to think of myself as one. The circumstances around my short stint as a substitute were very specific, however. In August I interviewed for a possible job as a theatre teacher in an elementary school. It was complicated, however, because although I have a degree in Educational Theatre, I do not currently hold a teaching certificate. So the principal told me to get my transcripts evaluated and look into certification programs, and in the meantime to acquire a substitute teaching certificate, since he might be able to have me teach theatre as a sub in the meantime. So I did all that. And once I got my sub card, he said "I don't have all the theatre details worked out yet, but I really need a sub in this one classroom for awhile." Turns out their teacher had randomly retired, they didn't have a new teacher, and I was really starting to need the money. Yarrr.

So I did it. And on the first day, I found out that it was a class of 7th and 8th grade special ed, which in this case meant an awful-sounding, puzzling category known as "trainable mentally handicapped." There were only 13 of them, but it was the widest range of abilities and special needs ever. Two were non-verbal, two could read and multiply, and everyone else was at a different place in between. It was a wild two weeks, but I have to say, quite entertaining. This was a very funny group of kids. There was none of the usual maliciousness and self-hatred that you might find in a typical group of 12- and 13-year-olds, and a healthy dose of crushes and sexual urges. Classroom management was not difficult (thank god), though enforcing the "no touching each other" rule was not so easy. Also, there was no "curriculum" to follow, nor textbooks, so every day was sort of up to me. Some funny shit happened. Burps and farts were totally commonplace, hilarious to all but not grounds for ostracizing anyone. I had glue puddles on desks, some pretty major odor-control issues, and a kid who cut a one-foot-wide hole in the crotch of his sweatpants one day. And not everything went wrong-- I had some of the most successful impromptu dramatic storytelling sessions I've ever done in that class, and we did some wicked collages and M&M math lessons.

Aaaaanyway, so that's over now. It wasn't a horrible couple of weeks, but the principal ultimately dragged his feet for a long time, and in the meantime I got another job. So there! Now in addition to my high school theatre stuff, I'll be working on a grant project with the Chicago Teachers Center, helping to enhance early reading initiatives by modeling and training staff in ways to integrate the arts into their curricula. Fun! The people are great and I like the work already.

In other fun news, Brian and I went to Traverse City over the weekend to visit my dear friends Andy and Lizzie, who both should have blogs but don't. We had such a good time, hiking on sand dunes, admiring pretty leaves, seeing movies, and eating, eating, eating. Best. Hot. Apple. Cider. Ever. It was so nice, in the midst of all this, to get out of town and relax and have a good time. I've never been so happy to not get phone calls!

Now I have to go...valuable Halloween costume planning time is being wasted!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Time to take a stroll.

This week I began teaching a theatre apprenticeship for students of a specific high school. It's done through Freestreet, a well-established youth theatre company, and After School Matters, a city organization that pays students to learn and create in the arts. It's a pretty sweet deal, because since they're paid, we got to interview kids in order to "select" those that will participate in our apprenticeship. (Never mind that we let in everyone who interviewed...the fact that many of them made it to an interview outside of their high school on a half day of school was enough of a demonstration of committment for us.) And we've gathered a pretty great group. I haven't worked with high school kids in a while, and it's very refreshing to teach a group that you can actually reason with, and who I don't have to trick into doing every single thing. Who knows what they will eventually do--the idea is for them to learn many aspects of performance and writing and then devise their own play--but in three days they've already become so comfortable with one another and in being creative and (somewhat) uninhibited for three hour stretches. And they seem to like it! And they're pretty decent writers! So, while working until after 7pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays is not the most ideal situation timewise, I do look forward to it each time.

Also this week, I went to New York for 24 hours to help my sister move. My mom was there too, and we made a lot of progress in a couple of days. Annie, of course, found a lovely apartment on the most beautiful block in Brooklyn Heights. And in a matter of days. It has tons of character, a sweet lofted bedroom and massive high ceilings. It was sort of a last-minute move, and it was imperative that she get the majority done before Thursday, because that is when she left to GO TO PARIS FOR FASHION WEEK. Yes. Mais oui. To clarify: she is a nanny for a family in Manhattan, and the mother owns a designer boutique in Soho, a job which necesitates trips to fashion shows and meetings to scout potential buys for the next season. This mother also just had another baby two months ago and he's too young to leave at home, so Annie gets to accompany mom and baby, strolling with the little guy through the streets of Paris until the designated times when they meet mom for feedings. They also stay in an exquisite hotel and fly first class, and at the end of it all she gets paid for her "work."

Speaking of jobs, I still definitely don't have another one! Teaching theatre after school is definitely not going to cut it. And it's very stressful. Today is an absolutely gorgeous Saturday, and I'm sitting at home worrying about credit card bills and loan payments. How messed up is that? I have get out of the house!

Oh, and another thing to distract me from my woes: I'm reading Interpreter of Maladies, the new One Book, One Chicago pick, by Jhumpa Lahiri. It's really good so far! And I feel such civic pride!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Don't put me in a box, man.

Unless of course, it is because I am smaller and can fit in the box in order to more efficiently screw in the runners for the drawers that will eventually be in this box, which is not actually a box, but the beginnings of a lovely new buffet/sideboard thing for the dining room!

Me in my jammies with screwdriver

Putting this thing together was not so encouraging, since all Ikea pieces tend to reveal their utter flimsiness as soon as you get them out of the conveniently flat-packed box. I looked skeptically at the wavy, paper-like piece of particle board (which actually featured a piece of duct tapeholding it together) that was supposedly to become the back of this piece. But Brian and I set to work, and got it together in record time. And I love it! It's exactly what we needed in that space. Now we can mingle with guests over artfully arranged platters of cheese and crackers. And most importantly, we don't have to throw the mail on the floor.

More pictures of little apartment details to follow, as soon as I borrow Mom and Dad's camera again...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

That's right.

So we're just trucking along...Brian's had class all of this week and last, but it's finally over as of today. Tonight we celebrated the end of it, giving ourselves heartburn and delirium with Bite's delicious Thai green curry and chocolate cream pie. Ouch. Hopefully this weekend we'll be very nearly done with the additions needed in the apartment, like a kitchen table and living room chairs. It's looking good though. In the meantime, I've also become completely addicted to thrift stores. I've always liked them, and in high school went all the time for clothes, but nowadays I'm finding myself seeking that treasure hunt all the time. You know the one; the feeling that the perfect armchair or dinette set is always just around the corner. And along the way I've also discovered a previously untapped desire for funky painted plates, weird coat hooks, and colored glass vases. Who knew?

In other items, I like this article in Dwell magazine about Chicago. Maybe it's because it's an interview with a Chicago architect, but journalistic pieces about the city rarely mention such specific, cool things. Also, he talks about scullers rowing in the Lincoln Park Lagoon at dawn-- holla, Dad!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ow.

Let me first preface this post with the assertion that the vast majority of my move-in process has been great fun, and not at all painful. Brian is back, and we've had a hilarious time moving our crap in and finding furniture and other cool things. We've broken down and disposed of most of the boxess, started sanding the kitchen table and hanging artwork today, and our office is the coziest. I wish I didn't have to ever find a job, so I could spend my days arranging things.

However, there are a few things about moving in that I could live without. One is the absurd amount of stupid stuff that refuses to budge from the living room. Another is the fact that every time I run an errand to a store to get all the "things we need," I inevitably forget several important items. And finally, there are the injuries. It's kind of unbelievable how many times I've yelled "ARRRRGGGGHH!!" during the last week. Here are a few examples:

1. Awhile ago, I (think I) broke my pinky toe, and it pretty much healed. Not much you can do to speed that process. But I banged into Brian's foot and broke it again. Then, the very next day, I ran over that same toe with the shopping cart at Target.

2. I kicked a drill while wearing flip-flops. That was just dumb.

3. Moving the couch up the three flights of stairs was the hardest thing ever. That whole fiaso resulted in bruises on my shoulder from banging it into the hallway wall, an ouchie foot from momentarily setting the couch down on it, and a scraped ankle from kicking the corner of a wall while shimmying the damn thing in the door. But the couch was such a great find that it was worth it.

4. Brian and I decided to use a sander in the kitchen, which was not a good idea and which caused sawdust to gently float in the air and settle on top of everything, and also to clog our lungs and invade our eyes. Awesome.

But, in the end, there is very little visible evidence of my injuries, and very much visible evidence of a happy apartment. So I think it's worth it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Something so special about that phase...

My life is in flux! Transition! Upheaval! It's one of those times where I think about certain things all the freaking time, and then other, more important things, just slip my mind. Like what day it is. Or to stay at home to let the painter in at 3:30. Or to call that potential employer back.

Here are some things that make my mind go all wacky:

- I don't have a job. Although I have several possible options simmering, those options are all very uncertain and hard to imagine, and I sort of wish I could do all of them at once (although it's unclear whether I will get any of them).

- I have no furniture at all in my apartment except for a table and chairs (which are, admittedly, quite cool).

- I am really sick of the look of my blog, and I just want it to be pretty, and I don't understand CSS.

- I miss my sister and Susie and Abbey.

- I have not seen my boyfriend in six weeks.

Here are some exciting things!

- I very well might get a really cool job soon, and in the meantime it's also pretty fun to not have to go to work or generally do anything.

- I got a haircut that I really like. One of those that make me go "hee!" (And also part of that whole "my life changes, hence my look changes" thing.)

- Even if I can't redesign it, at least I have more time to post on my blog. Which is the important part.

- My parents have been so wonderful and hilarious.

- Our new apartment is so cute and bright and airy, and I can't wait to fill it with awesomeness.

- Brian gets home in less than two days!!

Strangely, when I'm feeling at my nuttiest, things are also so easily definable somehow. Clearly Brian will be back, I will find some furniture, some job. In the meantime, there's something comforting about being able to chalk up every forgetful blunder, emotional reaction, or skin breakout to everything that's "on my mind." Sweet.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

How did they do that?

I love Ok Go already, but this made me love them so much more.



Thanks, Brendan and Annie!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I have an assignment to finish...

...and yet, Abbey got a new MacBook with a built-in camera and effects. Which would you choose?

Seriously, I am thisclose to being completely done with everything related to grad school, and I am fascinated by nothing but how utterly creepy I can make myself look.

There was another one, but Brian said it made me look like The Predator, so I refrained.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

And I even scored bootleg Baile Funk CDs.

Well, Senhor Boal made very sure that we had plenty of extra things to do before and after his daily workshops, so updating has been a little tough. I'm still in Rio, the program ended Sunday (Woohoo! Done with grad school!), and I'm now in a charming little hostel with free internet and free time.

I have very few plans for these last few days. I've been hanging with friends of mine from the program that stayed also, and we've been stumbling upon some pretty great ways to spend time. Yesterday we took the bomde (streetcar) up to Santa Teresa, a gorgeous old neighborhood high in the hills. The bomde itself was an experience in and of itself, because it's so much more than just a streetcar. It was part charming San Francisco open-sided, wooden-benched, "ding-ding" streetcar, and part amusement park scary rollercoaster ride, complete with sudden stops, dizzying heights, and frequent losses of electricity. It starts in the business district and immediately travels across the Lapa Arches, which are extremely high above the street and no wider than the car itself. It was hilarious. Here's a very tame picture of it:



...it's so much freakier and more fun at night.

Anyway, today was unexpectedly great as well. A friend of mine from the program has a Brazilian friend who has begun an NGO in one of the favelas (slums) here, and he took us with him to visit a famous NGO/community arts organization called AfroReggae in another favela. It's the organization that the movie "Favela Rising" is based on. We got to see their facilities and watch young kids singing orignial samba compositions and doing Afro-Brazilian dance, all in these crazy centers whose walls are covered in the most beautiful grafitti art, in the middle of the favela. Apparently AfroReggae--which started as a music group and branched out to arts education--has made unbelievable progress in bridging the divides between rival factions in the favelas and reduced what was basically a war zone to an almost violence-free area, giving youth alternatives to gang and drug activity, which is pretty much the only other option in favelas. I kind of couldn't believe that I had somehow ended up there today, it was like we were still in our class doing a site visit or something, but I was just having a day hanging out in Rio.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rio-diculous!

....Aaand, Brazil. I have arrived for the final leg of my ridiculous summer journey, and it's going rather well, not that I ever doubted it would. I arrived here on Sunday morning without issues, and since then I've been balancing some really stimulating workshops with a fair amount of relaxing beach time.

The reason I'm here is to do a course with Augusto Boal, a pioneer in the educational theatre field. Just a little background in case you aren't someone like the good Dr. Science who knows this already, and I'm sorry if it's a bit too verbose...Boal developed a methodology called Theatre of the Oppressed, in which a group of people examine their specific ideas of oppression and dialogue about ways to break the oppression through the language of theatre. In this form of theatre, spectators become spect-actors by offering alternative solutions to breaking the oppression, and actually trying out their ideas onstage. The entire thing becomes what he calls a "rehearsal for change." There are many, many facets to his practice, which includes a massive body of games and image work, but that is the absolute most basic gist of it. This week we are learning about his techniques called the Rainbow of Desire, which attempts to explore people's more internalized oppressions (or "cops in the head") and ways in which they and others would deal with them. It's all quite fascinating, as is the opportunity to work in Rio's Theatre of the Oppressed Center. I've found Boal to be quite accessible, as well as committed to challenging us and engaging in constant dialogue.

He's also the cutest ever. He's in his seventies now, and he's this spritely man who wears flowered shirts and jeans and grandpa Reeboks. He has always been known for his huge mass of curly gray hair, but now he seems to have cut it in some sort of longish layered dealie (the "Rachel"?), which is even better. He is as articulate as his books, and full of stories. He also has an amazingly trained staff of "Jokers," or facilitators of this kind of work. So it's going well.

As for Rio, it's incredible. I don't know if it's the beach, the mountains coming straight out of the water, the music, the people on the beach and running by the water, or any other of a million things that have stood out to me, but I'm loving it here. I need to come back for a longer time very soon. And I NEED to learn Portuguese, because even though a mix of English, Spanish, and mutilated Portuguese words has served me fine, I hate how mute I feel here, and how pretty the language is when people who actually know it speak it. I have to say though, I'm getting a lot more today than I did yesterday.

So yeah, that's me. I'm here until the 24th, and I have several days to explore after the program ends. More later!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dublin, Week 3 (and 1 and 2...)

Okay, so I am still in Dublin, and the program is, unbelievably, coming to an end. It's been both the quickest and most packed 3 weeks of my life, which made blog posting difficult, besides the fact that my internet access was always about a 3-block walk away. When you have time for the 3-block walk only at midnight and the choice is between blogging and talking to Brian or sleeping, I think the decision is obvious. But I feel like I need to just do a general overview of what I've been up to, even if it's a bit longer than I might like.

My time here is also really hard to synthesize. We've been staying on the campus at Trinity College, in the building where Oscar Wilde lived when he studied here, and we get to work in the Samuel Beckett theatre. Trinity is the most beautiful place, it's this 400-year-old walled campus, full of cobblestones and right in the middle of the city.

I think I've interrogated theory and looked at my own practice during these 3 weeks more than I have throughout my entire master's program. The whole program is focused on community-engaged theatre...and there's no one definition of that. Much of the first week we got to see many different examples of community-engaged theatre in Ireland, meeting tons of people and seeing their programs. We saw shows in Dublin, got to see kids perform at their famous children's theatre (The Ark), traveled outside the city to Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire where we got to meet people who run Heritage Centres, and spoke with artists who draw the most amazing stories out of people and then, somehow, have them render those stories artistically. And at the end of it all, we made up wee performances with the help of the Upstate Theatre Company at the top of a mountain in Cooley.

We've worked with the most amazing tutors. We created our own educational workshop projects around specific plays, learned about facilitation skills, and began devising original performance pieces around a number of themes. In the middle of it all, we spent an entire weekend in Belfast, which was a really intense experience. We worked mainly with the Educational Shakespeare Company, which showed us an unbelievable amount of work. We were able to visit a prison and have a workshop during which a group of incarcerated men did a reading of their original adaptation of Macbeth. We were able to see work with homeless youth and kids, and beyond the ESC, we were able to look at how people just go about doing theatre in that city. As for Belfast, we were given a pretty complex picture of the place, and saw how the community is still very much divided, and how it has worked to heal itself in many ways. It wasn't easy to see-- to not understand the context and to try to piece together what you think, while being plopped in the middle of where the Loyalist/Republican conflict happened. There were times when I didn't understand the work and when I really connected with it, and still other times when I felt I was a spectacle in the middle of it. It's hard also to feel like you're being barraged with the conflicts and sub-conflicts of the place, and to try in the midst of that to observe how the city itself is really very vibrant, and for the most part people are still going about their lives.

Aaaaaanyway...and then this week we came back and everyone worked their asses off to devise original performance pieces, which came out beautifully. My group used the campus of Trinity College as inspiration for a site-specific piece, which involved text and movement and singing and traveling audiences. It was the best! I can't describe it, and I don't have pictures of it yet to post (because of the whole can't take pictures of yourself while performing thing), but I will as soon as I get them.

So I'm almost done, and right now I have to finish my final papers and all that. I really wish I could have had a witty, pithy way to sum up my experience that would make everyone laugh. If I had had wireless internet in my room, it might have worked. But there's always Brazil...

P.S. I am trying to insert a bunch of pictures and I've even uploaded them, but for some reason this persnickety Irish computer won't let me insert them into the post right now. I'm working on it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just wanted to say that I'm alive...

...and extremely intellectually and artistically stimulated, and very, very, busy. Dublin is amazing. I promise I'll write more later!

Friday, July 21, 2006

So, apparently I'm still in school

I'm such a deadbeat. No, I'm not still in Amsterdam. Annie and I made it home and I even got to stop in Queens just long enough to say hi to Susie, Zack, and Graham, and to hear all of Astoria erupt at the ending of the World Cup final game. Since then I've had a wonderful two weeks at home, during which Brian and I found a sweet apartment (September 1st, get ready for cuteness), and even celebrated at my lovely friend Kelly's wedding in Savannah! We kind of couldn't believe how hot and humid it was down there, but nevertheless we had a great time.

Dare I say it...I'm packing for my other ginormous trip right now. I'm off to finish my grad program on a study abroad trip in Ireland, after which I'll just zip over to Brazil for week for another course. After that I'll be decorating my new apartment and hyperventilating daily about my lack of employment and my plethora of loan payments. For the time being, however, I'm psyched!! I can't wrap my mind around the idea that I'm leaving for a little over a month. I've had a little trouble deciding what to bring...



...so I'll probably overpack just a tiny bit. Updates to follow, for realz this time.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Euro trip?

Aaaand...I'm not home yet. Annie and I are stranded in Amsterdam for a night. We don't even know how it happened, just suddenly we were in the airport in Amsterdam and some expressionless lady from the airline was telling us that we wouldn't make our connecting flight because our first flight was delayed, and the next thing we knew, we were given "overnight kits" and shuttled to a hotel. A couple hours later our bellies are full and we are the proud owners of wooden shoe keychains. Both of those things helped immensely, since before that we were pretty much a wreck.

So that sucks. The only good thing about all of this is that we were bumped to business class. So much for my funny return post filled with pictures. All I'll say is that my birthday celebration with my cousins on the boat involved some very, very hilarious (and well-documented) karaoke. Now I have to make some phone calls.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nouveau message.

Bonjour!

Okay. I know that I made this big deal about this being a travel blog and all, but here are three legitimate reasons why I haven't posted yet:
1. Internet service on the cruise is 50 cents a minute. Highway robbery!
2. We have had almost no free time when on shore.
3. I have been sick with some fierce, um...G.I. issues.

But now I'm in France for the first time, which is quite exciting! My parents and sister and I had the most amazing lunch in a teeny bistro in Nice. And tomorrow I finally get to see Aix-en-Provence, which Brian has been raving about. Before this we went to the Amalfi coast, Rome, and Florence. It's lovely to see family that I don't often see, and to go to so many cool places. However, cruise travel is also very strange to me. If I had to attach a general theme to it, I would probably pick "Buffet." That applies, most directly, to the food situation. What's up with the constant food? I mean CONSTANT. The only reason I haven't gained 10 pounds on this trip is because I literally have been too sick to eat. But the travel part is also a buffet of sorts too, since you just get a little of everything. I find it a little stressful to have to spend such a short amount of time in one place each day, but whatever. I'm certainly not complaining. The positive side of a buffet is that there's something for everyone. And it is kind of amazing that my 6-year-old cousin is just as occupied and entertained as my 83-year-old grandmother. And my whole, 26-person family on this trip is highly, highly funny.

Barcelona was absolutely stunning, we spent about four days there at the beginning, just Annie and I with Bridget. We saw tons of stuff, and had the perfect mix of seeing significant things like museums and architecture, and doing relaxing walking around and having sangria on the beach. I need to go back there.

Alright, family is gettintg antsy, as usual. Time to find un cafe, I believe. More later, and pictures when I get back, for sure!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Afloat.

So a year ago (or maybe more) I updated my blogger profile, and in the "About me" section, I wrote "Packing and unpacking." Funny how that's still totally true. And with that...

Welcome to my TravelBlog!

It's just becoming a travel blog by default, since I will be blogging while traveling for the next few months. I just spent a lovely week at home in the Chi, spending QT with Brian, running around getting ready for my trip, seeing my parents. And now it's far too early in the day and I'm in my sister's apartment in Brooklyn. You see, tonight she and I leave for Barcelona for a few days before our entire family gets there and we all go on a cruise. I've never been on a cruise before, let alone Conway Family Boat Extravaganza '06; I'll let you know how it goes. Anyway, right now Brendan and I are sitting across from each other on matching Powerbooks, having coffee and tooling around on the internet before we both go get Mystic Tans. That's right, yo.

So yeah, Barcelona here we come! I'm definitely excited for that, I've never been there. More when we get there, I promise. I've been berated enough for my blogging laziness. This is it, folks.

Crap, I forgot to download that Catalan podcast so I can brush up...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Crap.

Leaving is hard.

More on that later.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The unclassifiable.

Some things:

1. Danielle Gasparro is wonderful. Check out her music, and also try to see her live. Fun fact: she's Andrew's temporary roommate.

2. I am packing to move again. Already? The good thing is, for some reason I actually seem to have less crap than I thought! This is amazing, since every time I've moved I have been completely and totally floored by the amount of useless shit I own. This change may have to do with my impending divorce from my hetero-lifemate of six years (something I cannot yet actually face, let alone talk about), or it could have to do with the fact that said housemate and I, when packing to move to NYC a year ago, made some last minute, er, deposits, in the alley, of some very large piles of stuff that we simply didn't know where to stash at the last minute. So the last move was productive. But don't get me wrong, the amount of useless shit I still have is astounding. Astounding! Why on earth was I ever sentimental about Disneyland postcards? Why do I mysteriously have so many of my sister's high school pictures? And why, oh why, have I never organized my photos and continue to lug around torn, disintegrated envelopes full of them? The other good thing, however, is that I'm becoming less attached to crappy things and so very much more willing to chuck it all. God, it feels good.

3. Remember a few posts ago when I posted a picture of me in a scooter helmet, looking coy? Well as it turns out, I didn't look quite so flirtatious the entire time I was wearing that helmet. I also, apparently, did dances. Like this:

I just thought you should see that.

4. Back to this: Holy crap, I'm moving again? I don't even have a truck reserved and my stuff is supposedly being taken back to Chicago this weekend. I'm going to try to focus on how well I'm doing at throwing out crappy knick-knacks.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Fleet Week 2006: Success!

Well kids, I am now about to expose my real reason for relocating to New York City...to snag myself a sailor during the much anticipated yearly celebration of Fleet Week, when all those ships dock in the NYC harbor and the Navy lads go looking for fun. And did I ever bag me a seaman! Check him out:



Okay, okay...he's not really a random naval officer I picked up in a bar, and he may not actually have taken me to the Fleet Week ball. But we did have lunch at Cafe Bar in Astoria, Queens, while he was all gussied up in his dress whites. Doesn't he look sooo Top Gun?! "He" is my dear friend Andrew, a rabbinical student here in NYC who has worked as a chaplain in the Navy. He had a special meeting with an admiral, so he got to get dressed up, and we decided to make an afternoon of it. Hey, those creases take time!

Turns out it was a weekend of Andrew fun, which is a special brand of fantastic. Today we spent all day at his sweet place, reading Hebrew children's books about where babies come from, cooking a meal of fajitas, mango salsa, and peach-apple pie, and watching many of our very favorite episodes from the Buffy box set.

But that was only the end of my day. After a night of salsa dancing and a slumber party with Annie and Brendan, we got up this morning and walked around Fort Greene with our coffee mugs. Then Annie whipped up a brunch of pistachio french toast and ricotta fritatta muffins.



You know, just your typical Sunday morning spread.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hold your breath!

Brian says that even when he visits, he checks my blog and is very often disappointed that I haven't posted. Even though I think he's sort of setting himself up--it's not as if I could slip away from his company and secretly write a blog post, after all--I have to agree that I've been lax.

But lots has been going on! First off, Anniepalooza 2006! That's right, our li'lest Conway graduated from NYU amidst much fanfare and an entire week of festivities. Even David Blaine showed up and was unsuccessful in stealing her thunder, even though he set up his little bubble literally outside the building where Annie's commencement happened, and attempted to break the world record for breath-holding pretty much at the exact moment she walked across the stage. (Seriously I'm not kidding, after they called her name and I realized there were still 150 names to go, I went to the bathroom and watched, from the balcony of Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Senor Blaine being dramatically pulled from his tank after seven minutes. Pretty freaking weird.)

My parents were in town for an entire week for this, which was way fun. Both my sister and I realized how little our mom and dad get to see of our actual lives here, since whenever they visit it's only for a weekend. They got to see where we worked--and in my case, got put to work themselves helping with the kids activities I was running at the time--and we all ate very well for much of the week. At the end of it all, we were rewarded with the NYU school-wide graduation last Thursday, which is a somewhat ridiculous affair conducted in Washington Square Park. It involves a full hour and a half of students processing into the park, which I had the privilege of watching on closed-circuit TV in a nearby building, because there isn't enough room for more than two guests per student in the park! It was a nice ceremony, however, and several of the speeches were pretty good, and I was so proud of my little sis!

Brian also arrived for a short visit on Friday, and we actually stayed quite well-rested while still managing to do new/fun/cultural stuff. That's kind of a feat for a short weekend, but it's becoming more and more important to me to fill my time with the experiences that this city offers, while I have the time. We saw an amazing documentary that was part of the Sundance festival at BAM called American Blackout, which was about U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who challenged the disenfranchisement of black voters in 2000 and 2004. We also finally got to hit up Barcade, which is the simplest and coolest bar concept ever: good beers (including hand-pulled), and tons of classic 80s arcade games! Seriously, we're talking Galaga, Frogger, Tetris, Super Mario Brothers...I would not recommend going if you plan on talking to anyone but the person in the "2 Player" game with you, however. Once you start slamming those buttons and feeding those quarters, there's no socializing happening, unless it involves competitive, one-syllable yells.

And lastly, my sister and her BF, the newly birthday-ed Brendan, got themselves a pretty blue Vespa. I got to go for a ride on it, but don't worry, I was safe.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Updates.

I am so ready to be done with this semester, for so many reasons. I'm trying to finish up two final assignments, and it's taking me waaaay longer than it should. It's frustrating. I need to have time to think about other things.

I'm currently in huge limbo right now about the decision of where I'll be next year, NY or Chicago. I don't want to think about it right now, but since it's consumed my thoughts for the last week or so, I thought I'd mention it.

So Sus, Josh and I woke up on this beautiful Saturday morning and watched the series finale of Six Feet Under as a family. We've all been watching the episodes at different times, but we all waited to watch the last one together. How is it that the end of a TV show can seem like the end of an era? It was amazing, and heart-wrenching, and I went for a run after and could only listen to soft, melancholy music. All of us talked about how we love the characters and how this is the only show where we truly think about them like we know them. Sigh.

In other news, my parents are coming to town today for my sister's various graduation events, and they're staying the whole week! Fun fun. They've never been here for that long since we moved here, and we're both excited for them to see actual parts of our daily lives.

Back to work. Once I'm done I'll post more, I'm sure. Ha. Speaking of which, I wish I knew how to redesign my blog template myself. It's just too much work to learn it now, but I want a new look.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Where does the time go?

I actually have negative time to be posting this week. I haven't been slacking, I've been busy having fun and, well, being busy. Brian came for a lovely extended weekend, and we were also graced with the presence of our long lost friends, the fabulous ATF and Lizzie. They joined us all the way from northern Michigan, a far-off land where all they eat is almond-crusted whitefish and cherries. We took them for big city food like dim sum and, um, italian...and we hit museums and bars and the hookah.

It was awesome. And I completely neglected my work, which is how it should have been. But now I have four papers due and I should have been in bed an hour ago. Yar!

On another note, for so many many reasons, I can't believe it's almost May.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I understand a love of shoes, but come ON.

We have lots of magazines in my apartment. Only one is technically mine--RealSimple--and that was a gift, but between the roommates we subscribe to TimeOut, The New Yorker, Blender, Harper's, and Cook's Illustrated. It's a lot of freaking breakfast-time reading material, to say nothing of the tremendous weight our coffee table bears.

So it was kind of out of the ordinary the other day, while I was standing in a mind-boggingly endless line at the drugstore just wanting to buy a snack for the train ride home, that I began eyeing a Marie Claire on the rack by the register. This is the reason they put those magazines there, because people buy them impulsively at the last second, and I knew that. I knew it. But I was facing an hour long train ride home, I was exhausted and not in the mood for my novel, and I'd never really read that particular magazine. And besides, the real reason I finally decided to buy it was because the largest, most prominent headline on the front had to do with hairstyles and related ideas, and to be honest I need a haircut so desperately right now that I think about my rat's nest a lot. So I bought it, as a guilty pleasure, and I really wish I hadn't.

Ugh. These are the kinds of magazines that sociologists and psychologists talk about. It's not Cosmo, because everyone, even subscribers, knows that Cosmo is ridiculous in a more overt way, what with hot pink covers and their same "HOT sex!!" headline every single damn month. It's much more difficult to take all of that seriously, even though I'm sure people do. But something like Marie Claire, which masks itself as a more understated, straightforward fashion and human interest glossy, is what I believe is doing more damage.

The first thing I noticed that pissed me off--though perhaps trivial--was the aforementioned hair feature. The biggest part about that was this huge pull-out of different celebrities' hairstyles, meant to give everyone the perfect for their face shape. Clearly this was not going to be the final authority on hair, but in this large spread of 80 pictures (literally), there were perhaps two with curly hair. This kind of stuff has pissed me off since I was twelve, but I was just sad to see it continue.

But that's not even the worst part. The "big features" that this magazine boasts? An investigative report into the "unbelievable duties" of Japan's sex volunteers, men who volunteer to deflower women who are nearing or past 30 and are still virgins. Thank goodness these men are around to, as the article says, help embarrassed "good girls learn about lovemaking"! Next up in the Features section: "Could you give up your razor for a month?" Gasp!! And my personal favorite: "I surfed naked for a pair of Manolos." Aside from an interesting article about human trafficking, that was pretty much it. Now, I know no one expects freaking Marie Claire to be changing the world, but can we ever begin to revise our idea of who exactly reads these magazines? Am I overreacting? It's true, most people pick these up so they have a fluffy read, and that's why I bought it too. But the readers do have brains, and sometimes I feel that things like this are actively trying to turn those brains into molasses. That's all.

Sigh.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Springy-dingy.

I had several very pleasant and funny interactions with strangers in New York City today, which can only mean one thing: spring fever. When you grow up in Chicago, you have a lot of trouble trusting balmy breezes that occur before May. You are very tentative in your enjoyment of the first warm front, because you always believe that it's some sort of evil ruse and in five minutes you'll be knocked over by a frigid wind or buried in snow. This is not the case here, at least not today. Never since I moved to New York (in the heat of last summer) have people made eye contact and smiled so much, and never have I been entertained so thoroughly by random people on the street/in an elevator/driving a cab. It was the only thing as refreshing as the 70-degrees-and-sunny weather.

I thought my day was going to thorougly suck when the 6 train arrived and I wasn't able to get in any of the FOUR (4) different doors I tried, because it was so packed full of people. I was running late, so I walked outside and jumped in a cab operated by one of the funniest characters I've ever met, a middle aged man who immediately told me I smelled good and that I could have any job in the world, especially in the hotel business, which he knows because he was a head hunter once. He can read people. Then he told me all about the jobs he's had, which include owning a restaurant in Mexico City and currently owning a deli in Westchester. What was he doing driving a cab? Who knows? I didn't ask, because I was too busy being entertained by his exhaustive analysis of my "genuine" and "charming" character, and his subsequent prediction of the most appropriate career path for me, all based on what he could see by looking in the rearview mirror. I gave him a nice tip, and when I reached my appointment and got in the elevator, a very small, very scruffy little man in a green messenger outfit who could have been anywhere between 35 and 60 years old told me in a raspy voice that I looked pretty.

So there you go. And the rest of the day continued with me smiling at people and them smiling back, other people smiling at each other, lots of how-are-you's, and very few public obscenties.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Powder.

I apologize. I haven't posted in a long time, and this one isn't particularly interesting. But it has a picture! Oooooh!

As I mentioned, Brian was here for a whole week, and besides when he was following me around to various jobs and other responsibilities (like basketball games, where he became a ringer for one of our absent players and kicked ass), we did actually do fun stuff, like picnic in Central Park and see movies.

Aaaaand...then I went skiing again. In Lake Tahoe. I know, I know, I went skiing only three blog posts ago, but because of a travel voucher we had, I had the chance to fly pretty much for free and I jumped on it. Brian was there, as well as an assortment of other fun people. And I confirmed my skiing addiction. Also, skiing at well-known places with real snow and mountains with actual high altitudes and views of a huge lake is really freaking cool.

See? There's me, and unfortunately--it was taken with my camera phone--you can't quite see the lake in the background, but it's there.

I tell ya, coming back was difficult. Leaving four days of vacation, skiing, and hot tub behind, then having a layover in my hometown airport and not being able to stay there, then coming back late and jumping into everything early today...it was tough. Still, you know what? I may eat my words, but I think spring may have begun.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

At least the hardest parts of my job sometimes end up being so absurd they're funny.

Today, I had a rubber chicken thrown at me. Not as a joke.

In more positive news, Brian's spending an entire week of his spring break here! Woot!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hey guys!

Starting a class and a new internship in the same week makes Margaret a very busy girl. No time for pondering blog post subjects these past few days. However, I'm not cranky in the least, because I get to run around doing all my stuff in freakishly nice weather! Seventy degrees? I'll take it!

Anyway, recently I was able to get together with most of the readership of my blog, two wonderful people who inspire me, and this was the result:

Susie, me, Graham

I think Graham said it best, as always. I wish I could have you both around all the time!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ski bunny!

Ohmygoodness, I love skiing! We went to Camelback in Pennsylvania, and not counting the one time I went for a few hours at a crappy ski place in Wisconsin seven years ago, this weekend was my first real time skiing. So. Much. Fun. I feel like I learned pretty quickly--thanks to my expert and supportive companions, Brian, Sus, and Josh--and although some tumbles are inevitable, I avoided any gigantic wipeouts and achieved high speeds on some decidedly non-beginner runs. I was very proud of myself. I'm already trying to finagle a trip to an even more intense ski destination sometime in the near future...

I think I looked the part, n'est pas?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I heart the Olympics.

I love everything about them, winter and summer, from the endless colorful flags to the theme music to the teensy weensy gymnasts and the ripped skiiers, the outfits, the surprises, the scandals (speaking of, isn't Bode Miller an ass?), even the heartwarming TV profiles of the medal favorites, complete with shots of ever-supportive family members and training montages set to trendy music. Love it.

Zack asked me last night what even I would compete in if I had the chance to do any in the winter Olympics. I expressed interest in the obvious figure skating, and he said he'd always wanted to learn luge, but we both agreed that in the end, you really can't argue with short track speed skating. It's just so intense.

Back to my weekend o' work.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sad? Depressed?

Just not yourself? Need a lift? Why not look at some weird pictures of baby animals?


Click on the picture. Come on, try it. You know you want to.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Aaaaand...there goes my morning.

Ummm...I don't really have anything much to say. I'm too distracted by GoogleChat at the moment. One more reason for an unproductive day? Check.

What are our thoughts about this new GoogleChat feature? Not that I haven't enjoyed the few tentative conversations I've had with fellow gmail-using friends, but it also seems sort of strange that it was unveiled so suddenly by Google, who just seemed to decide that it's one of those features that everyone wanted, like auto-forward or the ability to create email groups. Then again, I'm sure they do focus groups on this kind of thing all the time, right? Either way, it seems like a good way to get people to never not be connected to Google. As my dear friend ATF (who I'm chatting with at this very moment) said, and I quote, "for a company whose motto is Don't Be Evil, Google sure found a good way to make sure people can't do their jobs." Good thing I don't have a desk job now. My question is, where was this feature over the last two years, when I literally spun around in my desk chair to pass time at work?

Oh, and I won't go through a lengthy description of my Chicago weekend, but it was absolutely lovely. Brian outdid himself again, and I *almost* got to stay an extra day because of this "noreaster" (why the hell do they call it that?) that dumped snow all over New York. The weekend was full of fun surprises and seeing people...so much so that we ended up cancelling all plans on Sunday and instead watched many many episodes of "Entourage." Perfect.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And I already think my job is awesome!

Today was the best day of work ever. Like, seriously. The first graders I worked with, who are already pretty much my favorite, reached new levels of brilliance, complexity, and cooperation in all of our dramatic activities, several of which I did in my most recent graduate level course. A few actually giggled with delight while doing their extended work with partners. Extended. Work. With. Partners.

Really.

Then--and this is the crazy part--the middle schoolers, all of whom I wanted to fling off of the stage headfirst last week, spent an entire hour engaged, having fun, encouraging each other, and doing some of the best improv I've seen in a while. And they were nice.

Whaaa...??!

And of course, a potential employer just called.

I just had a cavity filled for the first time in my life. (oh, the shame!) Halfway through the procedure they had to give me an extra injection because I'm such a wimp when it comes to mouth pain. Now I'm sitting in a lounge at school, compulsively biting my numb lower lip, poking my cheek, and wondering if anyone can actually see the right side of my face drooping, because that's what it feels like.

And I desperately want a cup of coffee, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to keep it from dribbling down my face. This sucks.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Coming soon to theaters near you.

Today I had one very fun and energetic experience in a gymnasium, and one that made me very anxious and hoarse. The fun experience was our 3-on-3 game tonight, which I look forward to every week. Team Friendship, unfortunately, only won one of our four games this time around, but we had a small group and we played pretty hard. (On an unrelated but interesting note: tonight we played at a very small and poorly-lit gym at a public school in Midtown near Times Square. The gym is on the 5th floor, and on the way up we passed a person who looked like a janitor, arranging bags of garbage, while wearing a very visible, large handgun in a holster on his belt. Now I know this is New York City and all that, but a janitor who's packing? Meh?)

The other gymnasium experience I had today involved a very large and psychotic group of children, ages four to nine. Some context: I run various activies at a wonderful after school program in Brooklyn. On Thursdays, we have something called "Clubs," wherein each child signs up for a club--such as Cooking, Dance, or Photography--and they stick with that club every week for four weeks. It's great. Since almost all of my activities are arts-based and I wasn't exactly full of club ideas this month, I decided to volunteer for the "Fitness" club for the youngest group of kids. I had high hopes; I was working with two great co-workers, and I just knew that it was going to be different, more meaningful than all of the silly gym activities these kids do every day. If all went well, I might have the little ones doing Down Dog and Warrior pose by the end. I soon realized how misguided I was. Do you know how children act in gyms? I knew, I really did, yet somehow I thought it couldn't possibly be that way with my awesome club. Even today, on day two, we struggled to get them to follow our supercool warm-up stations and after half an hour managed to get them into formations that could be called lines for relay races, as I muttered "I hate Fitness club...I hate Fitness club" under my breath over and over. By the end, however, we had managed several successful races, and I let them play one fun game of "Cleaning Up Your Backyard," wherein teams attempt to throw all balls and beanbags from their side of the gym into the other team's area. I allowed myself a sigh of relief as kids enthusiastically helped put the balls back into the bag I was holding. Then I got hit in the head with a beanbag. Sigh.

So it wasn't the greatest hour in the world. But fortunately, the next hour I got to spend time with my MovieMaking club, otherwise known as The Best Club There Ever Was, Ever. It's a small group of creative, considerate, committed fifth graders (who else though that kind of phrase was an oxymoron?), who are totally into planning and writing our upcoming film, "The Case of the Missing Staff." We produced a whole storyboard today, people! I felt like I was in the writing room for a big-budget film. I love my job.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And you'd think I would make time to post every day.

I am such a colossal time-waster sometimes, and I really don't understand why. Granted, I did become a professional time-waster during my last job, where I spent a year and a half in my very own office (with door that closed). During days when--if I was lucky--I would have one short meeting and/or an assigment that took approximately one-fifteenth of the time my bosses alotted, I found new and innovative ways of filling the hours, most of which involved ridiculous and compulsive internet news, oddities, and blog surfing, but also occasionally featured some great chair-spinning and window-staring.

But now that I'm back in school, I know how to buckle down. I did it last semester like a pro, writing papers and papier mache-ing masks into the wee hours, but for some reason I am most certainly not doing it now. I've spent the last five days just trying to bang out a short final paper for the intersession course I took in January, and every day I disappoint myself. I blame it on the fact that all of my free "schoolwork time" happens in the morning, before I have to depart for my afternoon job. This just doesn't work well for me, and it has nothing to do with me wanting to sleep late. I am often the last in my apartment to go to sleep, and I wake up early every day with the best of intentions and a solid plan in my head. But then I have to make coffee and eat. Then maybe exercise. Then check my email, of course. And then by the time I'm showered, it's time to leave, because it takes me an hour to get to work. Seriously. I'm not pretending that I'm the most focused person ever here, I most certainly take too much time doing little things in the morning that could wait for later. So all this, combined with my falling-asleep-at-9:30pm syndrome, and the best daily result is maybe one crappy page of notes. Ugh.

A wise blogger once pointed out that no matter how early you start, you will always use the exact amount of time alotted to complete an assignment. I take comfort in that.

Crap. Now I have to hurry or I'll be late for work.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Two great things.

1) Our 3-on-3 team won all four games tonight! Go Team Friendship!

2) I find this hilarious.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sleep, round two.

Well I am just the tiredest girl there ever was these days! Every night since I got back, right about 9:30pm, I have an absolutely enormous, golden retriever-type yawn and I fight off sleep unsuccessfully for 20-30 minutes before dragging myself up from whatever surface I've been slumped on and make myself actually brush my teeth and put on PJs. Last night I actually fell asleep on the phone with Brian for about half a second, to my horror and his amusement. I was thoroughly convinced that I had responded to what he said, but I think now that it was only in my dream, since all of a sudden I heard him faintly say "babe...?"

Tonight after watching Deadwood I yawned again and put my head down on the couch. Next thing I knew Susie was putting a blanket over me, and I was murmuring that it was the best thing anyone's ever done. I woke up half an hour later with my contacts plastered to my eyes and a pain in my neck.

Maybe 2006 is the year of the nap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

PR and Pancakes


Just a little reminder to myself of where I spent the last two weeks...

The rest of our time in Puerto Rico was amazing. The practitioners and educators that we worked with were some of the most inspiring I've encountered, and their energy was simply non-stop. We performed for each other on our last day of class (there were two separate classes), and the mask-makers and dancers in the other class blew us away. After class ended we had several free days, during which we explored Old San Juan (the picture is the view of the old city from the fort, El Morro), kayaked in a bioluminescent bay at night, and, of course, went dancing.

My return to Chicago was triumphant and glorious, filled with lots of time-spending with Brian, which is all I really wanted. Here is the picture of the mango pancake we shared at brunch at The Wishbone.



My return to New York, while fine, was not quite so triumphant. I think the best part was when a drunk/crazy toothless man attempted to hug me on the subway platform yesterday...as frightening as it may sound, it was actually quite hilarious, and, I think, a completely appropriate re-introduction to the city. It was just New York's way of loudly announcing, "we're still here!" It's just wanting to make sure I know that nothing slowed down in my absense.

Beyond that, it's been so nice to spend time with my roommates again, and I'm excited about exploring all the places I've been wanting to go in the city on my Fridays off!
It's also been lovely to see the kids and my co-workers at after school, and to feel like I'm trying new things with them. Speaking of which, I am worn out and it's the second night in a row I've fallen asleep in front of my computer. Night-night.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Halfway.

Look at me, just posting away!

After another super stimulating day, I just had an incredible dinner at a small, hidden restaurant right on the beach in San Juan, with seven people from my program who are hilarious. It doesn't matter at all in our workshops, but when it comes to going out to dinner or other social activities, I feel reserved for some reason, and it can be a little nervewracking for me, since I don't know anyone all that well. Isn't it annoying when you know you can be fun, but everyone else is already doing that and you just have to kind of sit and watch and be shy? I sort of feel like that, except tonight not so much. And I found out that they pretty much didn't know each other before either. It's such a junior high feeling, isn't it? Brian and I talked about this before I left--that feeling never really goes away, even as people mature. But anyway, I can honestly say that I pretty much enjoy everyone on this trip. Another thing is how accomplished they all are; when you get to grad school, most people are either a little older or a little younger (in my case, most are a few years older), and in my program everyone seems to have started their own theatre companies and non-profits and all that. Don't even get me started on the Puerto Rican professors and assistants that are running our program!

So since this was a boring post about my social anxieties, I'll post a little something fun. Below is a picture of the director of our graduate program, engaging in some very important program administration. This was taken directly after a workshop in which we transformed our gathering space with paper art. Which sort of, in a way, explains why he's wearing a collar made out of a giant doily.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy Three Kings Day!


I've experienced several days of complete artistic stimulation and inspiration, and it's great. Our first day of "class" consisted of learning about Puerto Rican social and theatre history, and then seeing the performances of several of our instructors here, which were incredible. The first performances featured the masks you see here, part of a one-woman piece by mask maker and performer Deborah Hunt. Fun fact: in case you can't tell--I mean, duh--these masks use sea urchins as eyes. Wha...?? We've been learning about Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed, and dance, and visual art, and what it means to truly be an experimental theatre committed to resistance and transformation.

Yesterday we traveled to Cayey in the south of the island, where we worked with Rosa Luisa Marquez, the woman who runs our class here, and her collaborator Antonio Martorell, one of the island's best known artists. Besides being the most charming souls ever, they're the type of people that don't seem real...they're involved in everything, and it's hard to believe they have time for everything they do, from performing and teaching to writing books to making tons and tons of art. We did a workshop on transforming spaces, then had a big party in the tent that we had "transformed" for the occasion. After Cayey, we went to the biggest Three Kings Day celebration on the island, in the town of Juana Diaz. It was hot and crowded, but quite the experience. Everyone in the parade dresses up as shepherds and wise men and every other character in between. Several of us put grass for the camels under our beds last night in hopes that we might get gifts from the Tres Reyes, but to no avail. Oh well.

I'm exhausted, but I can't wait to see what they have for us tomorrow.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Feliz Ano Nuevo



Grrrr...Happy New Year!

Well, I think I've waited long enough to post again, especially considering that my New Year's Resolution is to post significantly more often.

Oh man, the holidays are nice, and also such a whirlwind! We had a lovely Christmas, and were graced with Brendan's presence, which always shakes things up in an enjoyable way. Then I hightailed it out of town to Arizona, where I spent a few days with Brian's extended, hilarious, and ridiculously welcoming extended family. Seriously, it was actually a lot of fun to be the new face in that group. We climbed a mountain, swam in the pool, made lemonade from the lemons on the trees outside. We even met up with Susie and her family in Arizona, where we met her nephew Trenton, who is indeed the cutest child in America or France.

We got back to Chicago just in time for a really funny New Year's, which consisted of eating a gourmet meal prepared by my sister, then going to a totally random house party, where everyone forgot to do the countdown. All kinds of people were asking each other what time it was, and then all of a sudden Brian was holding up his cell phone, which said "12:00," and we looked around and everyone was kissing and blowing noisemakers. Weird! It didn't make much difference to me, though. Pretty much everything that occurred at the party was hilarious, in particular the spontaneous dance blockade that our little group of five made, which required anyone wanting to get down the hallway to dance their way through, and subject themselves to substantial booty smacks from Annie and Brian. I personally thought that was the most festive way to ring in the New Year. And the best part of these last few weeks is that Brian and I have had so much time to hang out. It's been a dream.

And now...I'm in Puerto Rico! Yes, I'm here for about 12 days doing a course on Drama in Education for school. That's right, I'm getting graduate credits for this. I just arrived today, but I think this trip will be a very useful way for me to begin posting more--and more interesting--stories. I'm going to go finish my fresh pineapple smoothie now.