Recently, numbered


40. bye bye suburban house
June 8, 2012, 11:00 am
Filed under: Lists

This is the house I half-grew up in, middle school onward. My parents plan to move out soon. And so, I took some pictures in and around our suburban oasis.

Dad refused to remove this teenage punk scrawl. Our house has said HEY SHAWN since 1991.

Speaking of Dad, here he is.

Oh, there he is again – view from the upstairs bathroom window. They’re building a mansion oasis across the street.

1991 again, a list from my diary. Didn’t remember I had grandma writing at so fresh an age. I was gonna treat Mom real nice. Like the “hot rolls” part.

Cooking school books. This is the technique behind a hearty Sweeney dinner. You want lamb? We got it. Gravy. Uh-hah, we got it. PIE CRUST! Yeah, we got it. Thanks, McCalls.

How ’bout this early eighties hoodie? I love that hoodie.

More of the color yellow in this original oil painting. Mom describes this as “that starving artist art we bought when we couldn’t afford anything.” Note it’s hung in the garage, the only place Mom will allow.

I know there will be more of these at the new place in SC, but I’m beholding the glory of the TX tomaTOES in the back garden of our suburban oasis.



39. Quotes du jour
June 7, 2012, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Everyday

Double entendre for the morning: “Wanna screw?” – on the t-shirt of the contractor who works near my office building.

Thought crossing mind  while walking down B’way between Howard and Grand: “I have no idea what I’m doing writing amateur writings, but that’s okay, I will do it anyway.  Practice.”

Mom’s words at 7:46 a.m. after I returned her 7:38 call: “My phone must have done that on its own.”



38. james joyce exercise
May 23, 2012, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Exercises, Literature | Tags: , ,

[task: no punctuation and repetition of “maybe”]

maybe you will roll me up and time will pass and it will be so warm I’ll never unroll or maybe if I unroll I will find nothing maybe and maybe I’ll be old then or I will know more maybe but maybe when I unroll there’s  some love some curled up love maybe maybe it’s a lump maybe it’s more    a baby maybe it’s wrinkled and waiting maybe I have forgotten in my big space cloud that     soon               maybe there is no unrolling maybe i’m holding and softening offering my hands out maybe  I would like  to stretch and in my stretch shudder    shudder maybe as my muscles flex and fold and flex and fold  maybe I’ve gotten bigger soaking up sun  my cells have grown old and died and come back to life maybe      i hope    i hope they have come back again those cells those cycles maybe I’ve shed too much hair in sinks maybe the grime I feel is only natural the sickness the sadness the unidentified mess maybe   maybe my blood is overclotting and that is nothing maybe        maybe i will shave my legs or maybe I will hide my legs  wear pants maybe maybe  they’re not really there    my legs   I don’t know maybe   or no    they’re there    silly me      maybe I’ll be fresher maybe cleaner in the water maybe this fog this shroud this ghost coating my day with grim and grime maybe it’s waiting for a cleaning      maybe I will poke a finger through it or maybe I’ll stick my tongue  out to taste some light and it’s caramel and maybe the burnt pieces the brittle pieces fall into my eyes and maybe flecks of gold will rise      so I have to look up      so I see oh yes     there’s blue sky     maybe the clouds have gone away to visit their grandmother       maybe she will have a bowl of caramels the ones I tasted before and maybe she has a bundle of blankets rolled up in the closet    maybe her grandmother  made them and maybe she’d never unrolled them and maybe they smelled like lavender those lavender sachets   maybe they’ve unraveled   I could hold them in my hand maybe      maybe this is just the thing for me to hold



37. Song obsession
May 21, 2012, 11:00 am
Filed under: Everyday, Music

How They Want Me To Be” on the new Best Coast album

I walk down the sidewalk with IT in my ears, and girl group nostalgia snags me.

Every time I listen to it.

I lip-synch the song all the way down Sullivan Street.

First chorus:

“I don’t wanna BE how they want me to BE

I don’t wanna BE how the want me to BE”

Last chorus:

“You don’t want ME to be/how they want ME to be/I don’t want ME to be/how they want ME to be.”

IT goes swing to circle. And YOU shows up mid-way through

Turns a selfish revolution into YOU loving ME.

That’s all that matters.

Songs will point that out.



36. Make a point to write things down
May 20, 2012, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Everyday

The point is to write things down.



35. “Don’t get too lost for too long”
May 20, 2012, 11:49 am
Filed under: Everyday, Scripts

an Irishman tells us from the Will Eno play.  The play ends. The lights go out.  The lights come up.  Clapping. Bowing. Standing.

The elderly woman sitting next to Jeffrey asks him if he’s Irish.  She wondered because Jeffrey understood where all the funny parts were in the play.  And she was grateful for the laughter.  She knew it was there but couldn’t quite catch it.

I am reminded that misunderstandings don’t always beget blame.  I am reminded how to smile.  How to compliment without being a complement to a room.

How I like Jeffrey there beside me.  How I love him so.



34. Evidence (why I’ve begun to practice meditation)
March 25, 2011, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Everyday, Lists, Literature

You  must catch up on some fiction.
Atkinson, Bowen, Krauss
Rearrange the living room.
Acquire a hanging light for over the table.
Remember the radio talk show
(where the host brought up assimilation).
International human worries
International human worries
The cat knocks the tv remote off the mantle.

Exercise your memory (the names are starting to slip).
Add to your story-plot diary
(where you record plots to test that you remember them).
Beginnings, middles, ends

To the grocery store
Smoked gouda, bananas, kitty food
A text about “crazy human archetypes” arrives and it is delightful.
Handless Maiden” and “Bluebeard” now come to mind.

Don’t kill yourself over details please.
[pause]
That book – what’s it called?
Something with Einstein
(It talks about memory palaces.)

Build a memory palace!
String it across your arms and clavicles.
(a perfect place for a palace)
A studio would be fine, though. Or a house.

Think a thought for Dad. An Irish proverb.
“Patience and forbearance make a bishop of his reverence.”
But could you do without the thoughts?
No.
But wouldn’t you like to sleep?
Yes.
To fall like a stone.
Yes.
Wake like a stone.
Yes.



33. Clicking sound of 130 beats per minute in our ears
February 22, 2011, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Dance, Music, Sound devices

Been working with Tara O’Con and Siobhan Burke on a series of movement patterns.  We have a work-in-progress showing on March 1 (7pm) at THROW, presented by The Chocolate Factory and curated by Sarah Maxfield.  Come see us!

Carl Riehl is in Chicago doing this show.  So for now, we’re left to our own devices for music.  Enter metronome.

I have always thought about using one in rehearsal.  It brings back early memories of piano practice.  Mrs. Crenshaw (whose home-based biz always smelled like pot roast and dust) would test out my rhythmic agility with all these testy practice pieces.  Generally, she’d interrupt with a “Uh-ah, go back.”  And back I’d go, refining a rhythm sense.

So I often associate an uber-taskiness with the metronome.  It corrects; it checks.  Yet, beginning the choreographic process with this unrelenting device as the only sound source has not necessarily been about correcting.  In this new context, it’s been part sanity, part madness. How, you ask? Well, when Tara and I began to disassemble head movement from our foot patterns, we were tripped out by our bodies’ ability to find fleeting patterns without having any way of describing how we were doing it.  We began to talk as our bodies tripped — saying things like “how am I even doing this?”  What the hell was happening?  (To quote Tara’s answer — “This is your brain on dance.”)

Also, Tara, Siobhan and I once started clip clopping down the street to the ghost of the sound of the metronome’s 130 bpm clicking in our ears. That was awesome.

And the sanity part. It has been in the recognition of time increments passing and the ability of the body step into a rhythm and find gradual change. It’s something I’ve vaguely understood as a listener of the music minimalists – Steve Reich, Terry Reilly, Philip Glass, etc. – but not as a maker of dance.

**Note to self: beware the cliche waters of modern dance or rolling your head over and over and over again.**

So we find ourselves in this territory of emergent patterns (where many have traipsed) – in a rhythmic landscape of simplicity, sameness and change.  I am both humbled and fascinated.



32. Okay February, okay.
February 16, 2011, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Literature, Music | Tags: , , ,

Poetry is something good for February since the second month of the year is usually a hard one.  And poems are good during months that require more patience and kindness.  (See Dar Williams’ song “February” – “February was so long that it lasted into March” Yes, you can say that again.)

I remember sitting in a lecture room listening to Naomi Shihab Nye read one of her poems.  (a lucky girl!) The way she spoke and the way her poetry carved out a piece of understanding was a Thing.  You know, that Thing to behold.  But delicate too. A sleight of hand.  A disappearing bunny.  An untouchable.  A flicker of truth that vanishes as quickly as it disappears.

This is why memorizing poems is rather satisfying, I think.  It turns a flicker of understanding into a practice of being. The poem gains embodied meaning.  Sacred texts have come down to us this way after all.

So I’ve been putting Nye’s “Kindness” to memory, if only to let the words sink down and just be with them. (and with February)

 

 

 

 

 



31. Why I returned to this beautiful Italian aria
February 14, 2011, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Dance, Film, Literature, Music

Back in 2005, I was listening to the Diva soundtrack just one of those CDs I was thumbing through at the library. One of the tracks, “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana,” from the Italian opera hit me immediately.  I found it morbidly spectacular but had absolutely no context for it. So I watched the movie (my reaction to Diva is a whole other story) and read about the opera and the Austrian story on which it was based, the 19th century serial novel Vulture-Wally by Wilhelmine von Hillern.

So with all it’s loaded context, I decided to use the aria for a dance parody I was making.  This was all a part of my MFA thesis project about the hysterical female body (more loaded subject matter). There were handkerchiefs coming out of bras set against a huge bronzy wall, behind which loose-haired ladies would come and go.

In short, it was a study in melodrama that ultimately failed, but not in that openly embarrassing way. It was just so difficult to make, and when I watched it from the auditorium, it felt simultaneously bloodless and overwrought.  I couldn’t talk about the piece in my thesis defense without crying.  My professors were flummoxed by my stifled tears. Don’t you like what you make?, they were asking with their eyes. I fumbled for words. I was suppose to be defending my work and here I was, slightly unraveling. I did not realize at the time that trying to articulate my own sense of failure would be the healthy way to move on.

So I decided to put that piece and that song out of mind. In retrospect, I should have realized that impossibility. Denial is never a good option and also, once you study a thing, you tend to run into it everywhere. I cringed slightly when I heard the aria in A Single Man and noticed it was also prominent in Philadelphia, which I very belatedly watched several years back.  (In film, this song has become strongly attached to gay men contemplating their deaths… but moving on.)

So I’ve come back to the song, the opera and the Vulture-Wally story about a tragically heroic tomboy fighting the ice gods and the townspeople in the Tyrol region of Austria.  I’ve wondered why I’ve needed  to return to this material – to accept (un-deny) a little piece of my own history perhaps? And to have new eyes and ears to see and hear it? Yes and yes. Since it began with a song, I’ve now turned to singing. Working with composer Carl Riehl, we’re taking bits and scenes from Vulture-Wally and casting them into an assortment of song motifs from the late 19th century on into the present. So far, we’ve made a Polka (which turns into a Waltz), a smokey little Motown piece, and now we’re working on a Minimalist piece for a dance. Next is  Go-Go.

I look forward to sharing them soon, live and recorded.