Whatever happened to… Figure Skating…

Ok.  I love figure skating.

A lot.

Or used to love it at least.

I have been watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi and it’s just not the same for me.  I don’t know any of these people.  I’ve been out of the game so long.

Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, Kristy Yamaguchi, Brian Boitano, Oksana Baiul, Scott Hamilton, Victor PetrenkoSurya Bonaley, Tara Lipinski…. Sure, throw Tonya Harding in there…

I would say that Michelle Kwan was my all time favorite.  I watched pretty much everything that she did.  Maybe it was an age thing, we were around the same age and she was just so spectacular.  Nancy Kerrigan and Kristy Yamaguchi were women I could look up to as a little girl, Oksana Baiul was so delicate looking, yet so strong.  I loved watching her perform “The Swan”.  By the time Michelle came along, I cheered her on like a would a best friend that I would see the next day at school!

Tara Lipinski seemed to be in and out so quickly, we are the same age, AND she trained in Detroit, so I should have seen her as a hometown hero, but it was all about Michelle Kwan and for me at the time, Ms. Lipinkski seemed to rain on her parade.

The Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding incident happened in my hometown, Detroit, so needless to say, it was even more scandalous and awful.  Bad enough that Tonya did what she did, but Detroit… really.  The city didn’t need anymore negativity, Ms. Harding… Thanks.

I had pretty much stopped watching by the time Johnny Weir came on the scene, but I did see his documentary and would definitely add him to my list.  He’s a pretty funky guy and a phenomenal athlete for his generation as well.

My daughter seemed to enjoy it when I turned it out and started spinning around the room.  Since she loves dancing, Figure Skating and Ice Dancing was definitely fun for her to watch!

So while it’s time to cheer on another generation, nothing beats the forever stars in my heart like my Figure Skating Olympic Champions.

What are your favorite Olympic memories?

Mourning Motherhood : Sex and the City Style

Dressed in Black, they headed to a baby shower, to mourn the loss of Laney, a friend who had left the single NYC life behind, married a Wall Street banker and moved to Connecticut.  Charlotte was of course excited and respectful of all the baby shower duties, so it only made sense that she felt the sting of her baby name being stolen. Which is exactly why you don’t tell your baby names to other people…

By the end of the episode, Mama Laney, facing a mommy-crisis, was near her infamous strip tease, but couldn’t get her supportive pregnancy clothes off, leaving her fumbling on a pedestal in a room full of semi-drunk strangers.  Instead of being the life of the party, she was the pregnant woman who should have just stayed home with her hormones, ranting about not recognizing herself in the mirror.

This anti-motherhood sentiment spreads far and wide as young independent women fear being tied down to anything or anyone, desperate to be what they dreamed of as little girls.  
Maybe I witness it more in New York.  I am one of the few of my friends having children here, and of those women, I am the youngest at 30 years old.  Women here either work at their career longer or do both, work and raise children, which is exactly what I had intended to do (in that life plan that I am still working on) …doing both.

Never did I imagine a spell of unemployment so long, carrying me from the birth of my daughter and through another pregnancy…

My plans included the working mother balancing both and loving it.  It is what I feel I was made to do… And in this city, no less.  

I distinctly remember that one of the semesters I had the best GPA in High School was when I was doing multiple activities.  Although the work got harder over the years, that type of juggling worked and still works best for me to a degree.  It is stimulating and gets me moving.
After trying for nearly two years, I know that I am not a housewife.  But I’m not purely a career woman, either.  I love the idea of working on a home, but crave a job that gets me in the adult world, if only for hours a day even. I am a woman that desires both… needs both or else her psyche will burst.
While motherhood always seems to signal the loss of something in most mainstream media, (like the 

women in black heading to the baby shower), I have only felt a strength since embarking on this journey that was unknown to me in my single mingle days.

So instead of mourning the loss of life, I would love to see having children depicted not as a burden, but a celebration – an extension of your life with your partner.  I understand that it is difficult to express that within a culture that is mainly one side or another.  The in between is where I feel there is much exploration and where that discussion truly lies.  The capable and educated women who cannot afford full-time or part-time childcare, the families of two-parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet. We loss this in-between exploration with the dawn of Reality Television and The Real Housewife, who did everything and looked perfect while doing it.  

So let’s raise a glass to being a mother in all it’s many forms!
What do you love about this job?  Do you / Did you mourn your pre-baby days?

Join me on Thursday! February 13, 2014

Thursday, Feb 13, 2014, I will be co-moderating with Howlround (Howlround.com) a weekly howl about Raising a Family while in the Arts at 2pm ET

I am hoping the discussion will be a success, so please join-in or tell your friends.
I feel as if parenting in the arts is not talked-about.  Parenting in General is a juggle for the average person, but when you have few resources and have writing deadlines or you have to give-up a child’s event or event of your own etc… What is that like with Tech rehearsal and rehearsals etc…
So join-in the conversation with the hash-tag #newplay
I can’t wait!
Regardless of your location, I really hope you can join!
The Weekly Howl is a peer produced, open access discussion about theater culture and contemporary performance that happens in real-time on Twitter using the hashtag #newplay.*
This week’s conversation topic is “Raising a Family While in the Arts” and will be moderated and peer-produced by Garlia Cornelia @garliacornelia.
This Howl will take place on Thursday, February 13 on hashtag #newplay at 11am PST – 12pm PST (Vancouver) / 1pm CST – 2pm CST (Austin) / 2pm EST – 3pm EST (New York) / 19:00 GMT – 20:00 GMT (London) / 8pm CET – 9pm CET (Berlin).
On Thursday, get heard in the conversation by searching for #newplay in Twitter (sort by “all”) and by putting “#newplay” somewhere in your messages. Spread the word!

*The hashtag #newplay in Twitter is a commons tag (i.e. non-proprietary, community-invested tag) for aggregating global knowledge, information, and conversation related to new works, new performance, and new strategies in the theater.

Learn more about Howlround!  Visit Howlround.com

How much is too much: Facebook at 10…

With Facebook turning 10, we have a unique opportunity to examine what has happened to our lives over the last decade whether we use the social media site or not.

The NYTimes is even collecting 150 words or less about your experience for a future post.
It is without question that Facebook has changed our daily lives.  From the way we make announcements to the way we get our news.  I will admit, that since the dawn of Twitter, I find Facebook’s newsfeed too cluttered.  I would rather not see long dissertation status updates on a daily basis, and prefer the quick status updates and real important news that is much more accessible to me on Twitter.   Twitter’s 140 character limit is ALWAYS such a relief. 
This begs the question, How much is too much? 
After 10 years, Facebook has made me a much more private person.  Which begs the questions, Why private?  Wouldn’t you want to share every waking moment of your life for everyone to see???

Well… No.  

But I wasn’t always this way.

I began Facebook like many in the beginning, it was about college, friends and events on campus.  It was all very private as shown in the image below.  We owned our information.  PERIOD.  Then we graduated from college, so grad school or jobs and travel adventures were being posted, and then the weddings….. At one point, the babies started, but it wasn’t like now… Now it’s babies and bellies.
Don’t get me wrong.  I love seeing the baby photos and the belly photos of my friends and people I went to high school and college with.  It keeps me connected and maybe gives me a false sense of friendship, which is pretty much what Facebook is about… A False sense of Friendship and intimacy with a great deal of acquaintances.  
The repercussions of all of this sharing is a feeling of comparison that many might have.  It may be no different than fitting in or attempting to fit-in as we might have done in high school.
If Jane is getting married, why haven’t I?  Or Have you seen Shauna’s new house!?
Need I go on… It’s contagious.  Facebook stalking is a part of our everyday lives, whether we do it consciously or not.
For the longest time, my husband refused to go on Facebook and is now on with no image or personal information.  We are not listed as married and I respect his wishes not to blast our private life all over the web.  My eldest brother is actually the same – no personal photos or information.  They are both in IT and so from both of their points of view, something like Facebook is pretty dangerous.  
Over the course of 10 years, a lot has changed, and thanks to Facebook, your decade or less is summed up in a lovely video tribute.  I love the idea, but for someone who loves details as much as I do.  So much is left out.  
No one wants to re-live photos of exes, so it seems common place to complete obliterate that relationship from your pages if it finished before a marriage or civil union.  So while the videos are a lovely tribute for Facebook they are not necessarily the best representation of everyone’s 10 years or less.
But it’s the thought that counts.

What do you remember about  “the facebook” when it first began?

Dinner with Baraka

Before I was a mother, I was a mini-revolutionary. I say was, because I currently feel as if my politics are lost in a world of Elmo and potty-training…  That is another story for another post, but after the loss of such a great writer in early January, I have been trying to form the most appropriate words to honor a man who’s work encouraged my own in the theatre and a man who later encouraged me personally, Amiri Baraka.

April 21, 2008 – Amiri Baraka – Cherry Lane Theatre

I feel fortunate to have had a few meetings with Amiri Baraka over the last few years in the city.  They were not at necessarily political events, nor did I experience a “militant” disposition.  I found Mr. Baraka a very kind and gentle soul. He was encouraging and funny.

The first time we met was April 21, 2008 following a Master Class he gave at Cherry Lane Theatre, where his Obie-Award winning Dutchman premiered in 1964.

There was so much he said that evening about theatre and working at the time that he had experienced.  I wrote down so much of what he said that night.  I guess his comment about Broadway Theatre being mundane was from a revolutionary mindset, but Broadway isn’t for everyone…

I learned a lot from him that evening, many things I had read in books, but hearing these words from the man himself was a completely different experience.  He spoke about being able to grade your own work, and having to be a little arrogant to be an artist.  The theatre is an exciting place and he knew that one could not write about boring topics and use boring language.

He spoke about working with music in one’s work, and being intrigued by words coming out of people’s mouths as a playwright, which is different than what happens with his poetry.  He also spoke of leaving the village [downtown, NYC] after Malcolm X died.

He referred to the race issue in Dutchman as more of a class conflict

I sat next to an older woman and we chatted a bit before he began.  I mentioned to her that I began writing because of Mr. Baraka.  She knew Mr. Baraka and when he finished and there was the opportunity to shake his hand and say hello, I went up.

I had no idea what I was going to say.  Plus, I stutter, so who knew what was going to come out!  Luckily, my new friend that evening, Vinie Burrows, made the introduction.

April 21, 2008 – Amiri Baraka –  Playwrights Master Class at Cherry Lane Theatre 

The next thing I knew, the 3 of us are at dinner in the area.  I don’t even remember if I ate.  How could I have ?!  Dinner with people that literally paved the way for what I was doing in the city.  Hard for some to believe, I know: but I did a lot of listening and not much talking that evening.

Mr. Baraka had given me his card that evening and I promptly emailed a Thank You.

I was more serious about my daily journal in those days.  Some of my notes from that evening were:
[…] I am on the train [home], it is 10:55pm – Amiri Baraka took me to dinner.  There are few people I’d be geeked to meet or who would turn me to tears… there was a moment when I almost started crying…it is so true about the serenity in my life.

“Advertisements” – he called my small plays. […]

Over the months and years that followed, I felt fortunate to be on his email list and receive a few encouraging exchanges about getting my work out there.  I was even told that he commented about me and my reading series once, which to a young playwright in this city, where many can feel swallowed whole, means a lot.

I was lucky enough to meet his wife, Amina at a production of The Toilet that I wrote a review for during the summer of 2008.  We had another interaction follow the grand funeral of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer of the National Black Theatre.
The news of his death was sudden to me as it may have been to others having not known he was in the hospital.  Some might say that we are to accept death as natural once a certain age is reached, but that doesn’t change how one feels when it happens.  No one is prepared for death and I feel we have lost a great writer and thinker who was still very active in his own Newark, NJ community.  
Mr. Baraka and I were a bit out of touch after I married and began a new life as a wife and mother, but I was thrilled when he met my husband at his Jazz Series this past fall.  He was there to support his friend, Charles Tolliver.  I emailed Mr. Baraka in October and received his usual thoughtful yet short reply, congratulating me on our daughter, and that was it… our last correspondence. 
I am not blind to the controversy caused by much of Mr. Baraka’s work, but that is not necessarily the man I met.  I had directed his work, both staging poems and a production of Dutchman with the Black Theatre Group I founded at Indiana University, Black Curtain, (on a predominantly white campus, no less).
The Black Theatre movement was because of this man and as a Black Playwright, it is important to know his work and to know the work that spans beyond theatre, as he was a Beat Poet prior to his work as a playwright.  A favorite college English Professor of mine, Dr. Margo Crawford,  really turned me on to the Black Arts Movement and I will be forever grateful.  Dutchman was one of my first introductions to LeRoi Jones as a playwright while an undergraduate theatre student at Indiana University.  
I was able to meet and spend time with one of the people that gave me the inspiration to continue in the theatre as a playwright.

Death does not change one’s past.  It further solidifies one’s legacy, and Baraka’s past is a colorful one to say the least.  I was under the weather the weekend, of his wake and Funeral.  I was very disappointed I could not attend, but I honor him here and will never forget how he touched my life.

No matter what anyone has to say, Amiri Baraka was a brilliant writer and a unique voice for his generation and the ones that followed.  He will truly be missed.

Happy Black History Month 2014