At the light at the light at the light at the light

What’s happening isn’t about me.

What’s happening isn’t not about me.

I’m neither in the crosshairs nor holding the gun, but I’d be naïve to consider myself safe and irresponsible to consider myself uninvolved. Everyone shows up to each moment from their own particular position, and this is mine: as a queer, femme, POC first-generation-by-birth/fourth-generation-and-further-by-family citizen of the United States who has both had racial harassment hurled at them personally since the age of six and benefited greatly from this country’s foundation of white supremacy.

I’ve seen the declarations of “This isn’t us” and “This is us.” I agree. This isn’t what we should be, but it is what we have been. We can’t reject this is some sort of foreign aberration without flat-out denying both history and present-day reality. To want things to “return to normal” is simply to want to return when other people were suffering out of our sight and, thus, remain untroubled by their pain and our own complicit inaction.

We see again the bland calls for moderation and “everyone” and “all sides.” As someone who does have many people to both the right and left of me among my friends and family, it burns me to see “moderation” used as a word for “passive neutrality,” where everything is thrown into one pot and melted together until it becomes a flavorless muddy sludge. Perhaps a better word to use would be “balanced,” despite how that word, too, has been co-opted to mean “false equivalency.” To the contrary: being balanced requires recognizing the different weight of things. You can’t balance a scale with a feather on one side and a bowling ball on the other. A balanced meal isn’t equal serving sizes of vegetables, meat, candy, and poison.

It does mean something to say “This is wrong.” It doesn’t mean that you get brownie points toward being a Good Person. But as much as in the past I’ve scoffed at #PerformativeOutrage and commemorative Facebook filters and other trends to display how woke you are without actually taking any action, I was surprised by my own emotions as the white terrorists roiled Charlottesville, Virginia. The volume of people denouncing the Nazis and white nationalists brought me comfort. And the silence of others, rather than coming off as dignified, stung.

I partially worked through this for myself in a friend’s Facebook post, where someone was asking if all of these general, should-be-a-given disavowals of Nazism by white people meant anything to those who were more likely to be the targets of these home-grown terrorists. Again, I could only speak for myself, but I realized that there was a power in letting people know “Yes, you have been seen.” After all, even worse than heatedly disagreeing with someone about something passionately important to you is when the other person doesn’t even care. At least if they hate you, your life means something to them. If the response to something that you feel threatens your very life is “it’s not that big of a deal” or “there’s nothing to be done,” particularly from someone whom you consider to be a friend or family – well, that can make a person feel mighty small.

Although the subject matter is very different in both nature and scope, I keep thinking of the lyric from the song “Telephone Wire” from Fun Home: “This is where it has to happen! There must be some other chances! There’s a moment I’m forgetting, where you tell me you see me… Say something! Talk to me! Say something! Anything!”

While it isn’t everything, to say “I’m with you” is not nothing.

Of course, context and relationships matter. No one is obligated to make some sort of official statement. And what someone says or doesn’t say can have a different impact on a person depending on how close you are to them or what your history with them is. There are those who simply aren’t very active on social media. There are those who you know have your back with action, even if they are sparing with their words.

But I find myself remembering when my dad died. It’s difficult to feel like you have the right words to say to someone when they’ve lost a loved one, right? But you still at least say “I’m sorry.” You still show up for the damn funeral. Even better, you drop off a fucking casserole at their house. And you aren’t the edgy asshole who puts yourself above such expressions because you’re too busy sniping about how others are fake – even if they goddamn are. Because for the person who has suffered the loss, it can feel like they’ve been dealt a life-changing blow but the world keeps marching on as though nothing has changed, like no one can see what has happened to them. And it means something for other people to acknowledge the cause of their grief and that, despite how the world may seem to go on without them, what happened is not nothing.

And of course, backing up talk with action is important

This document, which has been being passed around on Facebook, contains a helpful compilation of immediate in-person actions to show up for, Charlottesville-related donation drives, long-term actions to practice, and further reading.

There are a few more donation links here that are focused specifically on local efforts that support the residents of Charlottesville.

It has also been suggested that one thing that really helped in Ferguson was supporting their library. The Charlottesville Jefferson-Madison library has a wishlist for books they’d like donated to the collection, including a lot on race relations: they can be supported here.

Bring the fucking casserole.

Sweetest tune I know is

I’m almost near the end of my string of quick switches. After finishing up my show in New Hope, I landed back in my apartment for a whopping 30 hours – enough time to repack my suitcase, go on a Caribbean dance party cruise on the East River (highly recommended), and sleep once in my own bed – before heading upstate to visit family for two weeks. After that, I arrived back home on a Sunday evening ahead of starting rehearsals for a two-week workshop on Tuesday morning. Right now, I’m starting the second week, which ends on Sunday – and then have rehearsals for my next show starting on Monday.

This is hardly a complaint. Maximizing time with family and having jobs booked back-to-back is pretty much the ideal. But it can be a little hectic, and specifically, it didn’t give me a chance to really unload about my time back upstate.

I’ve made my professional career in theatre, and I love it. I’ve made my home in New York City, and I love it. But what made me into who I am was the local theatre scene where I grew up.

The first professional show that I ever saw was the national tour of Meet Me In St. Louis at Proctor’s. I have no fucking clue why we went to see Meet Me In St. Louis. Probably because I was finally old enough to attend a Real Show, it was there, and it was age-appropriate. I couldn’t tell you a thing about it, but, judging by the results, it was a positive experience. For living as literally in the middle of the woods as we did – they still don’t offer cable to our area, there’s not enough people – it is amazing to think that we have a huge national touring house just a 25-minute drive away. As a kid, I had no idea how lucky I was to have Proctor’s. I do now. I was able to see so many professional productions of current theatre. I was able to see the touring casts of shows that I had seen on Broadway. I was able to talk to people who did “the real thing” at the stage door, see that they were just other people.

(In a “small world, isn’t it” moment, I once struck up a conversation with a man I met while I was running through the park near my apartment. We’d come together in common cause when we’d both spotted another man lying unresponsive on the path in an ambiguous context and been concerned, and he hadn’t had his phone on him, so I called 911. He recognized the theatre logo on my this-was-somewhere-I-worked t-shirt, and we, of course, discovered mutual acquaintances via becoming Facebook friends. And in hindsight, I am pretty dang sure that I saw him as Javert at Proctor’s when I was a kid.)

It wasn’t just the big professional shows, though. After having been hooked by my grandmother’s vinyl cast recordings and my mom’s Premiere Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection on CD (which could only be played on the high-tech stereo system in the house), my favorite time each year would be mid-spring: high school musical season. My grandmother would save the listings in the newspaper for me, and I’d plan out our viewing itinerary. And that was how I got to know so much of the musical canon. I saw Grease when I was way too young and really didn’t understand why I was told not to sing “Greased Lightning” in public or to call somebody a hooker, but I wasn’t really a rebel, so I just went with it. I saw too many productions of The King & I that never should have happened the way that they did. (You know why.) I saw Annie Get Your Gun with a cast of upwards of 50 people, all under the age of 18, because everyone who auditioned was given a role. I saw The Goodbye Girl. Who sees The Goodbye Girl?!

There was also life outside of high school. I accompanied a friend’s highly inappropriate audition for a local production of Blood Brothers. It was inappropriate merely due to the fact that both of us were no more than ten years old, but they were very impressed that she brought her own accompanist. That audition was for the Schenectady Light Opera Company, which was another vital part of my childhood arts exposure, ranging from Jesus Christ Superstar to Follies to The Robber Bridegroom. I honestly couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of the productions that I saw there – there are a few wisps of memory floating around, but the moments are too insubstantial, more impressions than images, to be described to another in words – but the proof is in the peas pudding and saveloys.

As I got older and finally reached the fifth grade, I began participating in shows myself. My summers were filled with NYSTI theatre camp and performing with the Timothy Murphy Playhouse in the incipient years of its revival. (Shout-out to mom for driving me back and forth between the absolute opposite ends of the capitol region within the same day.) It’s no small or coincidental thing, I think, that a number of us who were doing community theatre out in the central New York farmland, with the five-minute set changes and completely illegal script changes, are now in the field professionally, in New York City and all across the country. One might view that as basis for saying “Mama, don’t let your babies grow up in the theatre.” But for whatever challenges the shapes of our lives might bring us, just from superficial observation, I’d say that we’ve all managed to end up pretty darn happy and fulfilled, and via bringing happiness and fulfillment to others.

If you don’t mind negotiating the poverty line, it’s not such a bad deal.

I saw two local shows while I was home this July, both of them free productions presented outdoors in a park, one of them an 100% amateur Fiddler on the Roof by the Not So Common Players and the other non-union/semi-professional Ragtime by Park Playhouse.

Continue reading “Sweetest tune I know is”

By Monday I’ll be floating in the Hudson with the other garbage

Wednesday – is it really Wednesday? There’s a reason that I have post-it notes with the days on the week stuck to the wall above my desk in my bedroom with a smaller post-it that I move to mark which day of the week that it is. When you not only aren’t on the standard Monday-through-Friday that is reinforced as the temporal norm but also do scheduling as a large part of your job (meaning that your brain is often working on a day other than the one that you’re in), there’s a non-negligible risk of losing your place, so to speak.

My current disorientation, and tardiness, however, is due to a more specific occasion: starting a new show.

A stage manager is generally involved in the rehearsals and performances for a show. The week of lead-up to the first rehearsal is quite the busy one, as one might expect for the launch of a new project. The last couple days before starting (and the morning of), in particular, tend to be very full, as in an ever-evolving work, you want information to be as up-to-date as possible (which means that front-loading or evenly distributing the workload isn’t always best), and oftentimes the physical rehearsal site is not yours until the day before (or even the day of), so all preparation of the space must happen then.

And, of course, I need to have my standard miniature nervous breakdown the day before.

I am a professional stage manager. I have a terminal degree in my field. I’ve accumulated, if I do say so myself, a respectable resume. And yet in most instances as I approach the first day of rehearsal for a project, I am seized with the panic that I have forgotten how to stage manage.

Having discussed the feeling with a couple other friends (a director and a translator), I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not an uncommon aspect of the freelance experience. Although I’ve been fortunate enough not to have many gaps in between projects, when it comes to theatre, the job changes dramatically depending where you are in the process. The job that I’m doing at the start of a rehearsal process is very different form the job that I’m doing at the end of a run of performances. And if it’s a long-ish run, with maybe a small break afterward, it could have been a couple months since I was last in rehearsal. Not only that, but the nature of the work can vary greatly from project to project. (Is it a physically-challenging large classic musical, with almost everything set and mostly a lot of people wrangling? Is it an experimental art piece with a lot of non-traditional problem solving? Is it a straight play with a small cast but a very intense emotional toll?) And going from employer to employer, the organizational environments can differ greatly as well. (What is the budget like? What is the scale of expectations?) Given all of these variables, even though the position may technically be the same, it actually is not dissimilar to starting a new job… every couple months.

Being the professional that I am, I generally go absolutely neurotic for the 36 hours preceding the first rehearsal, frantically switching back and forth between being obsessively focused on my job and obsessively focused on anything but my job.

My kitchen looks amazing right now. And the writing that I planned on finishing one day late is now instead two days late, due to my collapsing into uselessness on Tuesday night, after two days of insufficient sleep.

For all of this rigmarole, the job that I started yesterday is lighter than many for me, as it’s just a two-week workshop for the writers – there isn’t any performance, and thus no production elements (props, lights, etc.) to manage. However, it was an instance where we did not have our own office space (so printing had to be done via Staples and picked up the morning of) and got our rehearsal room only two hours before starting for both all of the room set-up and all of the assembly of the aforementioned printing. Did I mention that this is a music theatre piece? There was music printing. Those who have been there know what I’m talking about.

None of this was unreasonable on the part of the producers. The theatre is based outside of the city, and for a short development workshop, you want to work in a central location to most of the team rather than shipping everyone out somewhere. And real estate in NYC is not cheap, so it would have been nonsense for them to have rented the rehearsal hall, which is now completely ours straight through to the end of our workshop, starting any earlier. But it was simply a set of circumstances to be tackled. Were the results a textbook-perfect example of stage managing? Hell, no! Especially since I hecked up understanding our printing capabilities within the room and, as a result, small-batch printing didn’t get done until after rehearsal actually started. But was it a disaster? Did the world end?

No. No, it did not. The planet spins, and the world goes ’round and ’round.

The needs of and expectations for this project are vastly different from what has become my usual. But I still have the foundational skills. And most of all, I still care about things being done correctly and well. I still value people being treated with courtesy and compassion. I still believe in the importance of creating good art.

I don’t know many people, and especially not many stage managers, who enjoy making mistakes. But I’ve said before that I feel like knowing how to make mistakes is one of the most important skills for a stage manager to develop. Because no matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes. Knowing how to recover, how to make things right, how to learn, and how to move on are invaluable. Like when you’re at the piano and giving a concert, the worst thing you can do is get hung up on a mistake. Of course don’t fucking make it again. Life isn’t going to stop moving forward because you made a mistake, though. So you have to let it go and just be better. You don’t win points by punishing yourself. Anyone for whom punishing yourself earns points isn’t someone worth earning points for.

I heard that it rained today. As lovely as our rehearsal space is, there isn’t any window access, so the stories of weather happening and time passing seemed strangely distant.  (“It’s raining,” one person commented. “Where?” another asked. “Outside,” the first replied.) After rehearsal, I tried to get part of my work to-do list done tonight, but the person ahead of me in line at Staples turned out to be buying about 20 gift cards and I had a dinner reservation with friends. So I moved it to my to-do list for the morning, and I left. I had a delicious meal with a couple of friends (one of whom I was meeting in person for the first time – the excitement of internet-based hobbies!) at The Eddy And on my way home, with two cocktails charming me (the Sherry O’Cherry and the Honey Badger, both highly recommended), I encountered three darling friends playing as a portion of The Good Morning Nags in the 2nd Avenue F train station.

There are times when “I’ll do it tomorrow” is procrastinating. And there are times when “I do it tomorrow” is absolutely the right answer.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. But all the more reason to take the time to enjoy a song tonight.

Work up a new appetite

We live in such an interconnected world now. Progress speeds forward at a dizzying rate. It’s wondrous, but sometimes we must ask ourselves: have we pushed the boundaries too far? Have the wheels of change spun out of control, unraveling the threads of civilization? Do we sit here dumbly as Rome burns to the ground around us?

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I picked those up at the grocery store the other day. I haven’t tried them yet because I’m actually not that big of a snacker, but I simply couldn’t let them pass without judgment. Truth be told, it was also a moment of pause for me as I can’t not think about how things have changed. There these were in just a regular old display with all of the Normal Stuff, while it was just a few years ago that grocery stores in this area still had an “Oriental” shelf, which is where you’d need to grab your small bottles of sesame oil and soy sauce.

Times used to be that you’d need to head to Kim’s grocery for anything much beyond that. Fortunately, Kim’s did exist as I was growing up, even if it was the only option and did require a special trip that was a half-hour drive into the city. While I believe that it did close at one point, it has now reopened. That’s more than could be said of the rare Korean restaurants in the area. I can recall a total of two existing during the first two decades of my life, and neither lasted more than a handful of years.

But change has been reaching even the most average city in the U.S.. Over the past few years, Korean restaurants have been popping up and actually not shuttering immediately. I’m already looking forward to lunch tomorrow, where I’ll be meeting a friend at Sunhee’s Farm & Kitchen in Troy, a hip fast-casual Korean place that’s about positive food culture and immigrant empowerment and all that jazz. I’ve been mostly trying to avoid eating Japanese and Korean food in anticipation of eating all of the things during my trip, but it was suggested to me when we were making plans and I’m only human.

This will be my second time eating there, as the restaurant had recently opened the last time that I was visiting home near the end of 2016, so we went there to try it out for my mom’s birthday —and ended up with an embarrassing white people story.

We’d had a rather sizable order and had to wait a bit for our food, so I wandered around to check out the place’s hipster decor. There was a second room, which had their not-yet-open bar, and I went in there and poked around like the nosy person that I am. As I loitered under the archway connecting the two spaces, a white couple headed out and the man, spotting me standing around, waved to me and said, “Thank you!”

Well, my grandmother was sitting right across from me and had a front row view of the whole thing, and she started cracking up while I stood there frozen with a zombie smile of awkward politeness. The others at the table began asking what was happening and my grandmother was so openly entertained that I figured the couple had left at that point, so I pushed out a strangled, “I don’t work here.”

…as it turned out, the couple hadn’t left yet and they heard me, so they hurriedly turned back, with the man exclaiming that this was their first time here, they had just been so excited to try it, and they proceeded to talk to my family about how good the food they’d had was, presumably to prove that they were really nice people, while my grandmother continued to choke herself with laughter and I just kept on standing there in the archway with a twitching eye and no way to extricate myself.

So yeah, you decide whether “embarrassing” is an adjective or verb up there.

I’ve gotten somewhat spoiled now that I live in NYC, where I can easily shop at an actual H Mart and pick up pre-made Korean dinners if I’m feeling lazy and have to choose which Korean BBQ restaurant we should go to. But even if I now live a life where my refrigerator is constantly stocked with kimchi and gochujang, that doesn’t dim my amazement at the changes I see growing back in the land of my childhood. Even if, clearly, not everything has changed.

…and maybe some things shouldn’t change, but you’ve still just got to give those Korean Barbeque potato chips a try.

Oh god my mouth has no idea what’s happening to it.

How it got here, I haven’t a clue

As a kid, I was never a morning person. I have vague memories of my mother dragging my bodily out of bed and dumping me onto the floor to get me to go to school in the morning. And that wasn’t about an aversion to school – I’d also need to be dragged out of bed on Christmas morning. (I mean, it wasn’t like the presents were going anywhere.) But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more enamored of getting an early start. There’s just so much that I want to do, and my focus wears down as the day progresses, creating diminishing returns time-wise as it gets later. Of course, this naturally has developed as I’ve now entered a profession that often has me working nights, where getting home from work past midnight is not unusual.

And that’s how I’ve become the person who is going “I’m between jobs and don’t have to go to work? Score! I’m going to get up at 6:00am and nobody can stop me!!”

It certainly was an asset these past couple of days, which have been a minor whirlwind without really feeling like one, thanks to always having ample time to get things done. On Saturday, we closed the show that I’d been running for the past few weeks, and I left Pennsylvania early Sunday morning. It was important that I was back at my apartment before noon, you see, because I had a high-priority event that afternoon. Namely, I had a ticket to a Caribbean dance party cruise on the East River, and wasn’t nothing going to keep me from that serious business.

(I have concluded that all clubbing should take place on a multi-level boat with an open top deck sailing around the Statue of Liberty on a beautiful summer afternoon.)

And then I was up this morning early enough to squeeze in one run in Fort Tryon Park before, just barely more than twenty-four hours after getting back to my apartment, heading down to Penn Station to hop on an upstate-bound Amtrak to visit family.

There has been a slightly surreal quality to the past couple days. One month is enough time to start to get a bit lived-in at a place, particularly in a small town. I’m generally too antisocial to become a “regular” anywhere, but on my last day in New Hope, the front desk at the gym greeted me by name. (Obnoxious or the most obnoxious of me?) And then just like that, away I go, and while I hope that I made a good enough impression to be hired back, there’s a non-zero chance that I may never return to that place again.

New Hope did hold one last mystery for me. Back when I first arrived, I was so struck by the perplexing statue of a beast of unknown identity that I included a photo of it within my rant about the overall bemusing nature of the town that was to be my temporary home. When I was running along the Delaware Canal towpath weeks later, I took the opportunity to have a closer look at the thing. While I doubt that what I saw will shock you, it certainly shocked me.

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I still don’t have a clue what the hell that creature is supposed to be, but apparently its name is Boomer.

Which just so happens to have been my late father’s nickname.

Reading the statue’s placard, I flashed back to my freshman year of undergrad. Our windows featured a sort of decorative balcony – far too small to actually accommodate a person but well beyond what would be necessary for a simple window grate. At some point, some months into the school year, something drove me to actually stick my head out the window and peer around.

Wedged in between the metal bars was a small plush NY Giants football.

The NY Giants, which just so happen to have been my father’s favorite team. The one for which was trained to yell “Go, Giants!” before I understood how to tie my shoes, let alone football.

For that one, the cut was deeper and fresher – the last time that I’d seen my father had been about a year prior, when he had dropped me off at school with the check for my application fee for the only college to which I’d end up applying, as him dying ended up being a bit of a distraction from the admissions rat race.

It’s so easy to see the signs.

It’s so easy to want to see the signs.

The instances of apparent significance stand out… but those are really just an absolutely minuscule number of instances compared to all of the other moments when some symbolic gesture failed to appear. Cherry-picking the notable incidents can create a confirmation bias where surely it must mean something for these items of personal meaning to appear. However, with all of the objects that one encounters in all of the moments, probability would logically lead one to eventually end up with something of “meaning.”

And yet… why not construct narratives from the objects and incidents that our lives encounter? Aren’t our lives themselves merely stories?

I’m reminded of the tarot readings given by a friend of mine. (She offers them through her Etsy site.) I’d never really understood tarot and how people would say things like that the cards were talking or that they liked to use different decks. But she explained to me how her approach to tarot is one of storytelling, where the cards provide the plot points to a story that is then fit to the life of the person receiving the reading and different decks have different narrative voices.

So in the end, does it mean anything that the giant pointy-tailed hellbeast guarding the entrance to the town shared my father’s nickname? Well, it meant something that it struck me. It meant something that it made me think of him. It meant something to be reminded that one of the reasons that the gym knew me by name after a few weeks was that he died of his third heart attack, likely due to the strain on his body caused by climbing the stairs to his new apartment, and the controllable factors of health are never very far from my mind.

And now it’s the end of the day. I’m back in my childhood bedroom. It feels a little like I’ve never left, which is maybe a little bit true.

Except that there’s still so much to do. And I can’t wait to get up and do as much of it as I can.

A transmission on the midnight radio

I came pretty close to a different career trajectory that had a decent chance of landing me in a similar position within the same industry. There was really only one graduate program that I was interested in for my field, so I applied to that program only, with the very real back-up plan of saving money by living at home while working part-time and going to the local community college part-time to get the actual papers to back-up my years of music experience. As it turned out, that little school in New Haven said yes, and so the rest is history. But music has always played a huge role in my life…

…and yet somehow, I am the most uncool about it.

Until I was a teenager, my music consumption consisted of basically pre-1980 Broadway musicals, the local classical radio station, and the Beach Boys. When my mom finally got sick of listening to the same Broadway musical cast recordings ad nauseum and insisted that we listen to the radio in the car sometimes, we added 1970s-1990s soft rock to the mix, which made me sure that I was pretty cool now that I was listening to Celine Dion. High school and the early days of Napster added a bunch of god-awful anime music into the mix, along with a smattering of actually good but totally scattershot J-pop. And then, college finally brought me high-speed internet and being on a network where you could do that thing where you listen to other people’s iTunes libraries. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.

I do have a memory of watching some video about Korean music as a child. I can’t remember if it was at Korean culture camp or something we were watching at home. But it featured a pansori singer, and I remember thinking, “Oh wow… that sounds like screeching cats…” because it was so foreign to me and truthfully, I just couldn’t handle how metal it was. (I am the person whose ears were shocked – shocked­ – the first time that I listened to Hedwig and the Angry Inch as a teen.) But I filed it away as something that wasn’t really interesting to me.

I wouldn’t encounter Korean music outside of the requisite drummers until years later when I was working on a show with the marvelous Jen Shyu. She was doing her Solo Rites: Seven Breaths piece, which featured pansori singing. It was the first time I’d seen pansori live, and I loved it. The combination of storytelling and vocal power and expression was everything that I love.

I’ve since casually browsed through youtube to expose myself to more pansori and traditional singing, especially as it exists within contemporary culture. An incredibly talented but also accessible performer I’ve fallen in love with is Song Sohee, who specializes in minyo, traditional Korean folk songs, where I find much of what I love aurally about pansori, where incredibly strong technique also has an exhilarating sort of raw edge.

Song Sohee -자진 뱃노래 (Jajin Boating Song)

But because I can’t like normal things, my other main interest is the cultural exchange between Asian and Black cultures. Hip-hop has found a home in Korea and Japan, and when I wanted to explore more about Korean hip-hop, the first thing that I looked up was U.S./Korean collaborations.  The one that drew me in most was a track by Joey Bada$$ and Korean Canadian artist Tablo.

Tablo + Joey Bada$$ – Hood [lyrics on Genius]

This led me to seek out more of both Tablo and Joey Bada$$. The latter released his second studio album just the year, but Tablo’s career has much more backstory to it. While he’s done solo work, Tablo is mainly part of the group Epik High. I could happily link all of their songs, but for starters, here’s one of the group’s most recent tracks, a super fun diss track to the world that features a number of notable guest artists.

Epik High – Born Hater [lyrics on Genius]

And another version where you can turn on the closed captions for English subtitles

They’ve done songs that are more on the “alt” than “hip-hop” side of things.

The group has been around since 2001, and they’ve definitely evolved over the years. I’ve loved both the new and old music that I’ve found so far, though!

(The music video for this one just gives me the giggles because of peak #relatable.)

Of course, Korean America rappers are also a thing. On that front, I’m more of a Dumbfoundead than Jay Park type. Particularly topical with the Hawaii Five-O casting/compensation dust-up showing that people aren’t going to be quiet about the issue of how Asians have been fit (or, as is more often the cast, not) into U.S. culture…

Dumbfoundead – Safe (cw: Caitlyn Jenner deadnaming, brief mention not dwelt upon)

There are also Korean American collabs with Korean artists.

Dumbfoundead (ft. Dok2, Simon Dominic, Tiger JK) – Hyung [lyrics on Genius]

I have found some artists that I enjoy who you’d call “K-pop,” even though they’re not necessarily who comes to people’s minds when you mention “K-pop” around these parts. But naturally, there’s a lot going on outside of the girl and boy groups (who just aren’t so much my thing, personally).

I stumbled upon the adorable brother and sister folk-pop duo Akdong Musician a.k.a. AKMU.

Akdong Musician – 얼음들 Melted

And thanks to technology knowing me better than I know myself, I ended up inadvertently coming full circle by semi-randomly youtube stumbling upon this fun little number that consists of part of Akdong Musician and features Bobby, who was featured in Epik High’s “Born Hater.”

Hi Suhyun (ft. Bobby) – 나는 달라 (I’m Different)

It’s also been fascinating to me to following the growth of the Broadway musical industry/culture in South Korea. One of my favorite personal discoveries so far as been Hong Kwang-ho, who is a big musical star in Korea but has also been seen in the West End revival of Miss Saigon. It was a bit of luck that a friend who was talking about the Death Note musical – yes, based on the manga, and yes, featuring music by Frank Wildhorn, of Scarlet Pimpernel and Jekyll & Hyde fame – happened to link an old video of Hong performing “Hurricane.”

I’ll leave it to you to get stuck in that youtube rabbit hole.

And that’s just a random smattering of my Korean musical explorations. If you have any recommendations, particularly in the hip-hop realm, please let me know! Let’s all listen more!

America, you great unfinished symphony

Aside from being just barely twenty-four hours out from running a 102-degree fever while fully medicated, this evening is about as perfect as can be. I’m once again in a rocking chair on the porch, with fireflies starting to glow in the twilight. A neighbor across the street has country music radio playing. As much of a city slicker that I am now, I grew up a moderate country bumpkin, so it does make me feel nostalgically at-home. I was from the sort of area where one could reach a decent level of suburban civilization (for instance, a grocery store) within a half-hour drive in the correct direction, but ten minutes in the other direction would land you in a cornfield. Summer was about county fairs. Autumn was about not getting shot by deer hunters. I was about a generation and a half removed from shooting squirrels in the backyard for dinner. And I could probably count the number of black people I’ve ever observed in town on one hand.

(The Asian population felt more prominent, thanks to a couple just down the road who had both an adopted Korean child and an adopted Vietnamese child, as well as the number of mirrors in our house. I couldn’t have pointed out any other Asians in town, but proximity and frequency can be hella amplifying.)

These days, I feel much more comfortable in non-homogenous spaces. The tyranny of the majority can be truly insidious, having a negative effect even when there is no active malice or ill intent. Nevertheless, I do have great fondness for my hometown. Established in 1772, it was originally envisioned by the eponymous leader of its original settlement as the possible capital of New York state. A bit laughable now, given that it still doesn’t even get cable, but I do believe that growing up in a place with history can affect you.

Pretty much everything I ever dreamed of came together in the musical Hamilton.

Not that Hamilton fever had gone away, but you might have noticed a definitely spike this week. First, a new Prizeo fundraiser sweepstakes was launched, where donations are rewarded with entries to win tickets to the opening night of the U.S. tour’s Los Angeles stop. The #ham4all viral campaign took hold, with people donating and singing their favorite song from the show, then challenging others.

As if that weren’t enough, they also dropped a music video for “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” a track (and my personal favorite, actually) from the Hamilton Mixtape album.

My own Hamilton story risks being yet another tale of my unbelievable good fortune, but that’s pretty much been my life, so why not lean into it?

Colonial and revolutionary U.S. history had always been a favorite of mine. In addition to my general interest in political and revolutionary history, it was also local history to me. It wasn’t until I was older and more exposed to the world that I realized that my awareness of things like the Battle of Saratoga or the intricacies of the French and Indian War were geographically-specific and not general knowledge. I also was, quelle surprise, a huge theatre geek from a very young age. One of the highlights of my amateur theatre career was playing the Anti-Federalist murder victim in a site-specific interactive murder mystery dinner theatre piece called “It Spoiled His Constitution.” (For you fellow Hamilton fans, the specific site was Schuyler Mansion in Albany.) This shit was running through my veins.

So when I heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer and star of the recent In The Heights, was working on a project that was a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton, my favorite founding father?

I immediately refused to get my hopes up so that my heart wouldn’t be broken when the show got mired in development purgatory or, at best, had a critically-acclaimed and very short off-Broadway run, becoming a piece of elitist theatre nerd trivia. Even as the project expanded and each new bit that I heard excited me, I purposefully tried not to get too involved.

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It was surprising and joyful to me, then, when I heard that it was being produced at the Public and selling very well.

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Selling too well for my freelancing ass, in fact. One of the downsides to being a freelancer and working on a gig-to-gig basis is that I generally only know my work schedule a few months ahead of time and don’t have the luxury of being able to take time off. This can make being able to commit to future events, such as buying show tickets, quite difficult. With Hamilton at the Public being sold out months before it even opened, I pretty much gave up hope of ever seeing it.

And then one night in late January, I was alone in my bedroom of my apartment shitting around on the internet like the antisocial millennial that I am, when  friend messaged me, asking me if I was busy tomorrow. Well, I hedged, I was meeting another friend for brunch that day, which was way up on the Upper East Side, so that would take a while, but other than that, I wasn’t doing anything, what was up?

It turns out that her girlfriend had misremembered the dates of when she would be visiting family in California when she had bought them their Hamilton tickets. Her being in California? Now. The date for their Hamilton tickets? Tomorrow.

I threw myself into my computer keyboard to tell my friend that I was actually free as of six hours ago and would be so for the next week.

And so the next day, my friend and I caught dinner at Duck’s Eatery, which I highly recommend for Public-proximity dining, and just barely slid into our seats as the lights dimmed and the now ubiquitous first seven notes played. We didn’t even have time to read our programs or scan the audience around us, which would have told us that we were seeing Javier Muñoz (the current Broadway Hamilton) performing the role for the very first time and that Lin-Manuel Miranda was in the house with us, his first opportunity to see his work from the outside. The show wasn’t yet open – they were still in that preview period where they would rehearse during the day, integrating any changes from the writer or creative team, and perform the updated version of the show that night. So what we saw was not quite the finished version of the show’s off-Broadway incarnation.

Finished or not, it was one of the most moving, electrifying theatrical experiences of my life.

Shortly after seeing it, the production’s third and final extension was announced. My upcoming work schedule miraculously had one performance that I would be able to attend, so I sneakily bought a pair of tickets while at work and later called my mom to inform her that she was coming to see a show.

It was important to me for her to see it. Not just because I knew that it was a brilliant work of theatre that would be historically notable to have seen. But also because in many ways, the show was me.

I had been obsessed with immigrant stories as a child. In my American Girl phase, Felicity’s Revolutionary War and Kirstin’s immigrant stories had been my favorites. I heavily favored historical fiction of tales of coming to America. Fievel was g-ddamn important to me. I would scream that Neil Diamond song at the drop of a hat.

And yet, despite there being the obvious commonality of, you know, coming to America, I had never considered myself an immigrant.

But Hamilton made me realize that maybe I am, and that felt right.

The night that my friend had messaged me had actually been the day after my arrival day, or the anniversary of my arriving to the United States. Maybe making the journey hadn’t been  my decision, but had it been for other young immigrant children? I just hadn’t had anyone in my immediate family who shared that particular experience. In hindsight, now that I’m older and understand more, I wish that I could have spoken more with my maternal great-grandparents, as logically impossible as that would have been. (I was either very young or not yet born when my great-grandmother died; I was still barely more than a toddler when my great-grandfather passed.) They were Armenian and had immigrated in the early 1900s, as one was wont to do. I wish that we could have shared more of that.

And that was a slightly more specific personal epiphany on top of the more general sense of reclamation of American history and identity that has been expressed by many.

Which isn’t to say that I discount criticism of Hamilton or its place within our culture. I can’t blame those who have no wish to claim part of an identity that was violently forced upon them. I understand those who would prefer see the stories that truly are untold (Hercules Mulligan smuggling information? more like his slave, Cato) rather than recasting the ones that are already floating in the American historical consciousness. But I think that Hamilton is just one exceptionally well-crafted show that has never intended to be the one answer. It’s not the show’s fault that the collective culture enjoys seizing upon a singular answer to all of our woes. Hamilton has clearly had a positive impact on many people who haven’t generally been the beneficiaries of such artistic, emotional, cultural bounties. What we need, then, is to treat this as the opening of the door to more stories.

I’ve written before (at great length) about the impact that Les Mis has had on me. Among other things, I recollected how I had unironically imagined a future career for myself in which I graduated through all of the roles in The King & I. Seeing Lea Salonga in the Tenth Anniversary Concert on PBS changed all that and literally changed my life. That was my first huge epiphany of identity, immediately and directly concerning my theatrical pursuits but also seeping into my overall being in more generalized ways. Having a place is something that was neither destined nor has always been expected. With my life of good fortune, I’ve always had that little bit of constant immigrant awareness of gratitude for simply being here. I know that the dice have not rolled so favorably for everyone, including those with originating circumstances similar to mine. But the elements of chance and change involved have left me all the more incredulously thankful for how my story has played out.

And so yes, may America sing for you. It’s a dark time for many who live here or are otherwise impacted by this nation’s actions. And it’s certainly not the first dark time, or even the darkest. But I claim this identity in defiance of those who would challenge my legitimacy, and I am determined to continue to strive toward those ideals that mean so much to me, even when we fall lamentably short of the very words declared by no less than the Statue of Liberty. We’ve always fallen short. We always will. But let’s do so while striving for something higher.

And that’s the story of tonight.

A weekend in the country

I sit here typing this from a rocking chair on the covered porch, bird song dwindling as the pleasantly cool summer evening air darkens into night. I confess that I’m still wearing my gear from the hot yoga session today at the walking-distance gym (where I get a job-related discount), because I really splurged on some real yoga pants this afternoon– i.e., they were new and from the actual adult section of Target – during my day of tooling about town, completing errands and also just seeing the Pennsylvania countryside.

Under the light of the oversized Edison bulb hanging lighting fixtures, I threw together a simple dinner of some salad and a couple of eggs, which I had fried ’til runny using the professional gas range, on hearty multi-grain bread. The weather is so nice, I opted to eat outside, rather than at the marble kitchen counter with the rustic wood bordering. Despite it being almost July, the central air conditioning isn’t really even necessary.

In other words…

RECORD SCRATCH: WHAT HAVE I LANDED MYSELF IN??

I had not been expecting to spend my summer job living in an issue of Town & Country magazine. As of a few months ago, I was going to be working a project in the city over the summer. Then, that fell through. There was a week of job anxiety, but I ended up being connected to this gig (friendship is magic, kids!), which rehearsed for two weeks in NYC before going into tech and performances in New Hope. I’d never been to the place before, but everyone I talked to said that it was lovely.

It’s almost a little too lovely. I’m half-convinced that I’m going to die because this has to be the set-up for some thriller novel where there’s a dark secret concealed beneath the postcard-perfect surface. It sure doesn’t feel like real life!

Even on the day that I arrived here, when I still had all of the work to get the show open, I arrived in a thunderstorm, but after getting dinner in an amazing local eatery, I emerged to the skies having cleared and a rainbow arching over the theater, which sits on a river. It matched well with all of the rainbow pride flags and banners hung about town at the highest density that I’ve seen outside of Fire Island.

Or let’s talk about yesterday morning. A canal runs through town, with a walking/running/bicycling trail beside it. I awoke before my alarm, still feeling a wee bit of something from the opening night party, but apparently subconsciously very eager to spring into my post-rehearsal life. I popped a couple of ibuprofen and took off on the canal trail. It was sunny and moving toward hot but not quite there yet. Canadian geese floated on the water. I paused upon seeing a deer standing in the canal, nibbling on a fallen tree still covered by greenery; she wasn’t bothered in the least, and just began meandering toward the bank near me. I had to pause at another point because a mama duck was crossing, trailed by a line of ducklings. A brilliant red cardinal flew across the path right in from of me. At one point, someone must have had outdoor speakers on their house, because there was background music of gentle guitar strumming. I felt like a very sweaty Disney princess.

(And on the subject of sweat, for anyone still stuck on me still being in my yoga clothes: I’ll admit that I was slightly intimidated by the concept of hot yoga but decided to take the class because it was offered so #yolo, but it turns out that hot yoga is just basically like intro level Existing In NYC In Summer. Small beans! I was pretty inoffensive by the time I left the gym, let alone got home. And my fancy-ass yoga pants and shirt, which do that technology thing where they dry fast, make me look pretty damn good. I’m almost tempted to buy new and/or not from the kids’ section more often.)

So here I am in the picturesque rural ex-urbs, a few blocks away from the tourist town center, with lots of restaurants and specialty stores — mostly charming-but-upscale-ish clothing and home furnishings, though there are a surprising number of magick/wiccan supply stores as well.  I’m going to the gym again tomorrow to get one-on-one training on how to use all of their fancy machines. Maybe I’ll get some writing done in the little park a block away, although I’ll need to decide whether I would rather sit next to the water garden or in the gazebo.

And then back to work in the evening, which feels like an eternity away. For those unfamiliar with the theatre industry, a standard workweek is six days (generally Tuesday through Sunday). And for a stage manager, work days tend to range in length from eight to ten hours (because you’re the one setting up for rehearsal, cleaning up afterward, writing reports, fielding emails, etc.). Once you’re in tech and previews, that goes up to in the realm of fifteen-hour days.

But once you open for a limited run (i.e., only have to deal with performances, not brush-up or put-in rehearsals to keep the production going)? And working only a measly 40-ish hours per week? It’s like being on vacation.

And I’ve somehow ended up actually in a vacation house in a vacation town to do it.

With my work for a Sunday matinee finishing up around 4:30pm and not being back in until 6:00pm on Tuesday, I am almost feeling at loose ends in this crazy more-than-48-hour void of not having to be at work. Almost. I think I’ll be able to handle it.

Although there are a couple of things that this place needs to explain about itself:

 

But like those moments when I’ve been having afternoon tea service in the West Village and chatting about the latest shows, or sitting in a bar in the Lower East Side listening to my friend’s band play after having come straight from calling a post-glam rock concept concert that was meant to be a requiem for the death of the environment, or asking the waiter for wine recommendations while eating a three-course lunch at a French restaurant on the Upper East Side, or spending a night at the world’s largest honky-tonk because Texas decided to send a tornado to the opening night of your opera about societal breakdown and cannabalism, or, you know, going to Japan, it’s just one of those things, where the thought keeps revisiting me: how is this real life? How is this my real life?

Do I deserve it? Nah. Have I earned it? Maybe. In any case, I don’t think that I’ve earned it significantly less than the general population around me. But the part that I can control continues to be what I choose to do about it. And in this case, it’s breathing the fresh air, living out my fantasies of being a writer in the countryside, and getting swole af.

And not thinking too hard about that pointy-tailed thing because I’m pretty sure that’s when it starts moving whenever you look away from it and eventually kills you.

When I think of home

Last Monday passed in something of a shocked haze. No, “shocked” is too strong of a word for it. Perhaps “bemused” or “confounded” would be more accurate. Just the night before, the news had dropped that Delta Airlines was dropping their sponsorship of the Public Theater due to the Public’s production of Julius Caesar as part of their annual free summer Shakespeare in Central Park. Bank of America also dropped their sponsorship of the production, though they did not cut off their sponsorship of the Public entirely.

There has been a lot written about the incident and its implications since then, so I won’t rehash the entire affair. This NYT article gives a concise summary of the chain of events, this NYT article analyzes the production history/context of Julius Caesar, the Daily Beast opines on the wrongheadedness of portraying the production as anti-Trump, and the Public Theater itself has a cogent statement in response, as well as video of the artistic director’s live remarks on opening night.

To deride people for misunderstanding (or having zero awareness, let alone understanding, of) the context and meaning of the imagery within Shakespeare’s play is, at best, unproductive and, at worst, intellectual self-back-patting. However, I also don’t think that the fact that the outrage comes from that specific image (a Trump-like figure being murdered) being divorced from its context (the play proceeds to conclude “oh hey maybe stabbing that dude was not such a good idea” quite unambiguously) is something to be brushed off without comment. What is implied is that the image of this authority figure is so sacred that enacting harm upon it is unforgiveable “bad taste.” This gets rather scarily into “insulting the dignity of the monarchy” and “Dear Supreme Leader” territory for me.

(And that’s not even touching upon the hypocrisy of the lack of outcry against similar imagery using other personages, notably Obama. Or the false equivalence between an image of violence that punches up and an image of violence that punches down with all of the weight of the history of a country in which the mob murder of black men has been a spectator sport.)

(There are also the disquieted ponderings about how this is not technically censorship, but at what point does a body outside of the government have enough power to become a sort of ruler? At what point is deciding for oneself to avoid getting on a ruler’s bad side due to vindictive past behavior on the part of said ruler actually the government’s hand?)

The other aspect I’ve seen discussed less is how the behavior of the corporate sponsors, who are certainly free to do what they want with their money and about whom we should not ever be deceived into thinking care about more than their own profit, demonstrates an understanding of and relationship to art that is superficial, consumerist, and hardly limited to corporations. Sponsors need to decide if they are sponsoring art – the continuous process of creation and subsequent community effect that I believe is vital to a functional society – or if they are buying a product: the theatre production, the painting, the published book. It brings to mind for me the issue of the drawing back from long-term investment in science and innovation. We need to be willing to invest in processes that, in the short-term, may create products that fail.

But more personally…

I was incredibly caught off-guard by the blow-up because I’d actually seen the show and was not particularly impressed.

The cast was strong as a matter of course (John Douglas Thompson is a living legend of classical theatre, as far as I am concerned), and the production values brought no complaint. I simply found it to be un-noteworthy to the extent that the last thing that I expected was a giant controversy and national argument about the value of art.

Was it worth seeing? Yes, I’d say so. Even before this controversy erupted, I would say that this production was effective in translating Shakespeare into something current and accessible. Was it a can’t-miss artistic event of the summer? Naaahhhhhh. I found the means by which the story was made contemporary to be by turns broad, superficial, and distracting. There are issues with how the production treats its traditional women. (Marc Anthony is played by a woman, whose funeral oration is one of the better executed moments, but Calpurnia and Portia don’t fare half as well.) But I do appreciate the civic ideal of free theater for the people that goes all-in with a big idea, even if the execution succeeds at maybe only 70%. I’d much rather see an interesting failure than the safe, polished success of a tiny idea that is intended to have no effect.

Once the surprise settled, however, I found myself still feeling unsettled, in a much more personal, emotional way that, while related to the Constitution and artistic freedom and civic discourse, was based out of something much more instinctual.

You gonna come for me where I live? In my own damn house?!

It’s like that gif of the white guy blinking brought to righteously offended, earrings-coming-off life.

You’re going to go after a play? In New York City? From the Public Theater?

It flashed me back to the January evening when my friends and I were in tech in Hells Kitchen, and we dropped into a bar after work that night… and found ourselves in the middle of a white pride meet-up.

In Hells Kitchen.

(That night was, incidentally, the closest that I’ve ever come to getting into a bar fight. Many thanks again to the friend who must have seen the intention in my eyes and grabbed my arm and dragged me out of there.)

It flashed me back to a few weeks ago, when I accidentally bumped a man with my bag as I was going down the stairs in at the 14th Street subway station. As he turned around, I realized that I must have made contact, so I apologized. He just stared me in the face and spat, “Fucking Chinese bitch.” I repeated my apology with no small amount of incredulity, and he just went on his way, calling “Go back to China!”

In the L station.

(Thank you to Jonathan Larson for me not being able to take anyone saying “Go back to China” seriously.)

But through all of this, as invasive and shocking as these things are, I nevertheless feel a certain sense of gratitude. Because the reason that these things do feel invasive is because I do otherwise feel a sense of ownership. My reaction to incidents like these is not to feel displaced, but rather to feel the urge to defend what is rightfully my own place. This comes not only directly from being fortunate to have had those who have strongly welcomed me to this country, this city, this life, but also indirectly from the support and love that have shaped me to be confident in claiming what is mine.

Not in my backyard, utensils. I live here. And I’m not moving.

Dive into work, drive the other way

So here’s a first: not only did a bug decided to make an overnight feast of me, and not only did it decide to go for the face, but it went right for the eye. It was my slightly smaller eye, too, so it was swollen almost completely shut. I spent all of Sunday looking like Quasimodo. Things were noticeably better the day after – still a little puffy, able to actually open all the way – which I’m honestly feeling a bit disappointed by, because I’d decided that if it didn’t get better, I would get myself an eyepatch and rock the pirate look because the Fight Club look really wasn’t doing it for me and also I don’t actually know how to do eye make-up for a monolid.

In other firsts, this past week, I substituted for a friend who was production stage managing the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production of Seven Spots on the Sun. I’ve subbed on deck before, but this was actually my first time substituting for calling a show. My friend offered me a free ticket to come see the show as an audience member before I started actually working it, and I, of course, agreed, both for a chance to see what the show was meant to look like from a professional point of view but also just to, you know, see the show.

It turned out that the show was about the effect of war, the type that has been endemic to Latin America, on the humanity of people on multiple sides of it.  It was pretty intense. It was very emotional. There was a lot packed into 75 minutes, and in a way that affected me strongly, combining intimate personal realism with poetic language and a story whose elements became as mythic and folkloric as the enormity of the experiences that these individuals endured.

Yes, I shed a few tears.

And I thought to myself afterward: oy vey, what a week I’ve gotten myself into.

I’ve worked on emotionally (and violently) intense shows in the past. It’s different, though, when you go through the full process of constructing a show. You know it, you control it. Familiarity doesn’t necessarily breed contempt, but it does demystify the process. This is the scene that you rehearsed over and over again until you all wanted to scream. That’s the prop that was giving everyone nightmares until the props master’s cousin found the perfect item at an estate sale in White Plains. This was the moment where the lighting designer finally deleted that lighting cue because the actor could never land in the same position twice.

Coming in from the outside, I wouldn’t have that same perspective. I was honestly a little bit worried about what my experience would be that week.

And you know what? I was fine.

Which also gave me pause.

One of the characters in the play explicitly struggles with her desensitization to the suffering around her. In order to keep doing the good work that she can, she also has to sometimes tell her eyes not to see, her ears not to hear the pain that isn’t within her reach to heal – and, she says, her senses eventually start to obey.

I certainly was not enduring anything like the suffering being portrayed onstage, or endured in reality throughout the world, but I couldn’t help but acknowledge my professional emotional detachment from that which had driven me to tears mere days ago. Of course, one might say, what I was watching wasn’t real, so naturally, I shouldn’t react to it so strongly. But it was no more and no less real when I’d watched it from the audience and been so moved.

The story had not changed; I had changed.

It’s not any sort of new, brilliant epiphany to recognize how easily we can shut off our empathy, how easy it can be to just “do the job.” But I feel like I can’t have a point shoved so directly into my face without acknowledging it.

Detaching emotionally is not inherently a bad thing. Not for this specific show, but in another situation, people might actually be put in danger were my attention and focus to be. What if I mistimed an automation movement? What if I missed spotting a performer being in the wrong place and at risk of being hit by moving scenery as a result? At the very least, I would not be able to uphold the artistic integrity of the production if I were missing cues because I was distracted from my task at hand. The intentions of the creators would not be carried out, the performers would be hung out to dry, and the audience would not receive what they paid for.

And of course, I don’t know of any mere mortal who can remain emotionally engaged with every instance of suffering in the world without burning out. At some point, trying to pay attention to everything affects one’s ability to pay attention to anything.

It just comes down to self-awareness and taking yourself to task, I suppose. Not letting yourself run on auto-pilot. Being honest about what you’re doing and why. Checking in periodically to see if any of that is still true. Having to live with your own compromises. But better to have a place at the table of your own life and actively make those compromises with eyes wide open than to let the choice be made for you by a lie of your own creation.

I just started rehearsals for my summer show (also the reason that this posting comes a day late), which is a farcical comedy that is very much not about the ravages of war and the death of empathy. It is much more concerned, for instance, with throwing cottage cheese at people. I’m grateful for a brief period of just doing my job without having to discipline my heart, to say nothing of having the privilege of doing so with a team of delightful people. And I do genuinely admire the value of bringing joy into people’s lives.

But I know myself, to some degree, and while I prefer my entertainment light, for some reason, I prefer my work heavy. Is it a discipline thing? Do I derive satisfaction or validation from that? I’m deriving white hairs, at least. Whatever it is, there’s a reason that I’m drawn to this storytelling business, have been since I was a child. And if I’m going to take on the power of being a teller, then I have to take on the responsibility of how I’m being a listener.