Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love & Grief

Happy Valentine's Day. As poetry editor at Escape Into Life, I celebrated with the annual mini-anthology of (often unusual) love poems. This year it is called Parted from Love. Poems by Karrie Waarala, about a busted marriage; Michael Meyerhofer, about a cleaving; Kristin LaTour, about a seafaring lover; and Jennifer Finstrom, about a divorce (a darn good one). With art by Eric Finzi.

Then my heart broke again at the news of another school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida. My broken heart goes out to all in woe, fear, and grief today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For the Loyal

Well, the play is up! Yay! For the Loyal, by Lee Blessing, at Heartland Theatre. I never would have imagined myself directing a football play with a pedophile in it, but it has been a marvelous experience, working with a great cast and creative team and a rock star stage manager and her fabulous assistant. Good stuff all around. If you are local (I almost wrote "loyal"), come see it!

The play was written in response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State and has similar but different circumstances. It was awful to have the Larry Nasser scandal in the news at the same time we were working on the play, reminding us that this keeps going on and nothing fully protects kids from it. What should we do about that?

The local paper did a great feature story on the production, and the review is up today. Many thanks to all who have been working on the show and helping to get the word out. It takes courage to work on this one, and to see it!

Friday, February 2, 2018

M&Ms for Breakfast

1) I don't recommend M&Ms for breakfast, but 2) I was sure glad to find some in the top right drawer of my desk at work this morning. Apparently, I forgot to eat breakfast. This may have been because I accidentally washed my hair and had to dry it before going out into the resumed bitter cold. (Italics to emphasize bitterness.)

I needed to leave early for work to have time to take  about 100 letters to the post office so they would arrive 1) before the March 20 primary election (plenty of time for that!) and 2) before a local candidate forum on February 6 (less time for that). I think I made it, even though our letters now go to another town before returning to our own. I am on this particular ballot, as Precinct Committeeman,* and we have candidates to choose to run for Governor, Attorney General, and state and county offices.

In the wee hours, before I accidentally washed my hair, and when I could have been eating breakfast, I was instead finishing up an enthralling book, The First Bad Man, by Miranda July. I had read one of her short stories recently and liked her movie Me and You and Everyone We Know (our family's kind of quirky comedy), so it was time to read her novel.

*"man" is part of the official name of the office, but we like to think of ourselves as people

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Blue Blood Moon

I have been observing the moon this week and will gaze up again tonight, but did not go out in the early morning today to try to glimpse the super blue blood moon in its full (but locally cloud covered) glory. I did, however, imagine a blue blood moon for this poem, "Blue Blood Moon," published in Stirring in December of 2011. The last super blue blood moon was November 30/December 1, 1982, and I probably noticed it but without all the hype way back then. The poem's blue blood moon is milder, not super, and apparently connected to the speaker's mood. So that's a random coincidence for a Random Coinciday in the blog.

Here's another one:

Nancy Heather Brown, a retired public television producer who now writes for Escape Into Life, wrote about women's rights and the state of the union as she sees it, among many other related things, for instance, "[p]atriarchy at is worst," in this piece, "Life in the Box: Venus Marches On." Summing up the 20th-century book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, she said:

One of my main take-aways from that book is that men tend toward hierarchical relationships—where people are one-up or one-down from each other. And women tend to believe everyone’s equal.

My other reading this week included various articles and stories in old New Yorker magazines that now need to be recycled. I was taken by a piece on the artist Laura Owens, who, the New Yorker writer Peter Schjeldahl tells has had "a keen interest in whatever her peers were up to, eschewing competitiveness." That makes sense to me, and I take a keen interest in what my poet peers are up to, and my fellow theatre artists, because mutual support is important to me, and we can inspire and motivate each other without needing to be rivals. Imagine my delight to see Laura Owens quoted as saying, "It's debilitating to think that this person is above me and this person is below me. I want to be in a conversation with someone." And it would be a conversation of equals, evidently, and Owens seems to be a Venus, and Nancy Heather Brown might also enjoy this Random Coinciday in the blog.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Secret Sisterhood

I've been reading my Christmas presents and watching Veep. I'm busy, and I need downtime, and Veep (recently discovered and loved by my kids, and thus by me) is funny, short, and addictive. And I can borrow it from the library. The books engage me, distract me, and bring me back to the world.

I love books that show how people's lives intersect, and that's what's going on in A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa & Emma Claire Sweeney. (Part of the fun of this book is that it was written by a literary friendship!) Turns out each of the writers in the subtitle had a special woman friend who tends to get ignored or overlooked in literary history, so these two writers have improved literary history. I knew about the "rivalry" part of the literary friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, but I did not really know how friendly they were. They were!

I've known that Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco was on the bestseller list, and I keep watching for it to appear at the library. It hasn't yet, as it is available in electronic and audio forms. But I got it for Christmas, and I do love reading hard copy. It is a funny and informative book by the former White House Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama. It goes really well with Veep.

When not working, editing, reading, or unwinding to Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President, I am directing For the Loyal, by Lee Blessing, at Heartland Theatre, so my head is full of football, acting notes, and sound cues.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Baby Shampoo

Today I washed my hair with baby shampoo. It's my husband's shampoo, as he has baby-fine hair, and I used it 1) to empty & recycle the bottle and 2) to smell and feel again that baby-fine feeling of washing my babies' heads. My grown-up babies have gone back to their grown-up lives after a lovely holiday visit, and I miss them. As Kim Kishbaugh puts it in her blog entry about her adult son leaving after the holiday, I am bereft.

I am also busy, working and directing a play, and that is helping me through. But today is a day of rest, in which I am doing heaps and heaps of laundry and changing the sheets on all the beds. (But not taking down the Christmas tree.)

Over the break, I read a few books, including The Awkward Age, by Francesa Segal. It's about a second relationship for two people in midlife, parents of teenage children from their first marriages. The kids are at "the awkward age" and the complications put quite a strain on the adults' relationship, not to mention making the teenagers' own lives full of, well, angst. I know I had an awkward age as a teen and plenty of angst, but, as parents, we did not encounter any trouble from our teenage children, who got through adolescence with quite a bit of grace! We all got lucky there.

Francesca Segal also wrote The Innocents, a re-telling of sorts of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, something my book group read and I enjoyed. It made me re-read the Wharton novel and long to re-see the movie. Reading provides me with comfort when I am bereft, or anticipating my grief, as well the downtime I need as an introvert during the socializing of the holidays. This year I was reading as my family played Parcheesi. There I sat in the same room, cuddled in a blanket, watching and listening to them play as I read my novel. Parcheesi crams my math-challenged head with numbers and counting. I was probably closer to my kids and husband reading than I would have been playing, stressed out, rubbing my forehead, madly counting. It was a quiet bliss.

Happy New Year!