Log in


Your Daily Digest: Trees



It was a simple enough task to remove the tree from the egress window in our basement. I jumped down in my old coat and my new shoes and pulled. The tree clung, roots covered in clay and gravel, and it took all of my strength and several strenuous minutes to get it to let go. Then, I put it in the street for pickup with no small sense of sadness. I still do not understand why the tree grew there, under the plastic cover meant to keep too many leaves and too much detritus from collecting by our window. But it did. It grew tall and strong and was soon to burst from the cover. For practicality, but also for aesthetic, it had to go. Not seeing it there, balanced symmetrically between the pane edges, has made the room where I spend most of my time feel less alive.


My uncle called, and texted, and called others and texted others. Could I help him with a tree job? That is, would I spend a day with him so that, in his weakened state, he could make some money on the side in my home town, tearing down a tree? For many years, he made his living as a ranger and a tree expert. I would only be needed as a second pair of hands. I made excuses for my late responses, and lied that I would not be able to fit it into my schedule. Fortunately, after my refusal, he responded that he did have a backup. My relief lasted only briefly. My younger cousin would act in my stead. Only my feelings toward my uncle, my fractured sense of generosity, kept me from helping. I need no compensation, save gratitude, but for all my talk of willingness to help anyone in need, I refused his call. Why? I did not want to spend any time with him. He reaches out so often, and we, waspishly, recoil from his maladroit approach. Where did I learn to distance myself from my family? If I have learned so much about myself, and I dislike these habits, why do I not change them? I have no such immunity to this bullshit, as I deceive myself that I do.


More so than ever, I am starting to understand how I warped my own empathy to be analytical, rather than emotional. I needed it, at first, to cope with my own pain, then used it, as artists do, to create work of greater accessibility. Today, during meditation, I started to understand how one must activate empathy; that is, the feeling needs access before the brain fully processes it. Initially, I understood the feeling, but I allowed my brain to respond to it statically, in its typical fashion. Autopilot empathy. Now, thanks to some choice descriptions of motivating one’s meditation to focus on others, I felt myself open those channels again. Have I perfected this new use? Of course not. The meditation did act as a mental version of a Feldenkrais ATM, however, and brought me to increased understanding of a less helpful mental habit that I had written off as always correct, when it qualifies more as triage.

I see trees, where once I could only see forest.

As an interesting side note, I have accused people so often of losing themselves in detail and missing the forest for the trees. I don’t know better yet, but I have opened the book and begun to read again.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Your Daily Digest: Trees



Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Apt.


Your Daily Digest: Time Well Spent

I took on the directing job for Bridge to Terabithia in Racine. The new knowledge and the possibilities have to outweigh my own brain. Fantasy, depression, guilt, family issues, escapism, music… that’s a lot to delve into, YA fiction or no. If I feel too suburban about it all later, I can tell myself it’s on the challenged book list. I’m glad they offered me the job, even if I am the last minute choice.

In addition to that, I will be filling in as board operator for a few days on Upon a Midnight Clear, which has charmed me more than I thought it would. Liz created a mythology that speaks to me, and used accessible language to fill in the gaps. I would like her to try a new style, perhaps, with the next play, but I also don’t want to command her to do anything. That’s not a good way to create art, under dictation, but I like the Oulipan notion of foreign strictures as a means for growth.

After 10 years of solid training — as I write of growth — I am now teaching at the workshop where I started learning. I always say that I have 20 years of training, because teaching, writing, and producing the madrigal dinner taught me a great deal. I learned from myself, of course, but when I observed that my ability to self-assess began to falter, I sought new mentorship and testing. Now that I have proven myself, I must not allow my self-doubt to weaken my resolve. I gave myself a mission. I finished boot camp. Now, I will train others, as I have trained myself.


Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Your Daily Digest: Time Well Spent


Your Daily Digest: Words and Loops

Gratitude is not always easy.

I had a brief discussion with Marcee about her position on marijuana. I am grateful that we were able to disagree without having a fight. I am too strident too often. Righteousness should be reserved for the right fights.

We have friends and colleagues who support Theater RED wholeheartedly, who tell us frequently not to give up or give in, because what we do is important, even if it’s only to them. That’s enough, I think, and I am grateful for them and their words.

I am taking on another fight direction gig in Julius Caesar at Arrowhead, and directing Bridge to Terabithia at Racine Theatre Guild in February. With these creative projects, and the prospect of learning even more about how to create art in this difficult medium, I also get to ping away at the looming debts my lifestyle demands. I’m grateful I can write this on an afternoon at Colectivo, rather than trying to squeeze it in between the idiocy a day job often forces on people.

Thanks. Thanks and thanks again. It’s not the season that puts me in this mood, though that never hurts. I have merely come to realize how selfish I have become. I want to reach out more. Allow my empathy to serve its intended purpose. Serve the higher good in my minuscule way. Make a dent. The place to begin is inside, give over to service. One step closer. And ignore the dark part of my brain screaming, “Cliche, trite, simple, complacent.”

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Your Daily Digest: Words and Loops


Your Daily Digest: Alchemy

Our production meeting last night for Bachelorette filled me with hope again for theatre. As Aaron and I geeked out over our nerdy obsession with stage magic, Mark and Marcee and Erica plotted out the necessaries for us to go forward boldly into a dark and hilarious show.

I performed a few sleight of hand card tricks for Aaron, who, despite my unpracticed clumsiness, showed genuine appreciation. We have so much in common, I’m surprised that we haven’t ever connected more meaningfully. Maybe our mutual cynicism bars it, maybe only mine. Regardless, I think Bachelorette will continue to show us how similar we are as people, even if his is the greater share of talent and wisdom.

This afternoon, I introduce myself to a new high school theatre program to which Leda recommended me. I continue to feel undervalued, even as I make these inroads; nonetheless, it seems that I might actually make my living doing theatre, even as I prepare to abandon it. If I can make training workshops pay, and swallow the times when people rudely suggest that my craft needs so little time to perform, I may be able to fight direct as a profession. Wasn’t that always the goal? I must learn to accept small victories on the way to the greater battle.

I promised Doug at Racine Theatre Guild that I would respond to his request for me to direct for him in February. I’m torn about the project, but the opportunity to learn goads me into perhaps taking a hit. Again, I can make a living doing this, if I focus on directing, working backstage, and offering training opportunities. I still wonder if getting my MFA would make all of this simpler, despite the obvious trouble it creates in everything else. I have to decide soon, I suppose. I wish universities would not bar someone based on that piece of paper. I offer as much, perhaps more, than many who have that degree. Do they value time in academia over real-world experience and training? I definitely have proven my stage combat abilities to be greater than most. Why should that not suffice? And will I win this fight, or is that paper an insurmountable obstacle?

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Your Daily Digest: Alchemy


Your Daily Digest: Bevakasha

Last night, I helped out as interim stage manager for Boulevard Theatre’s production of Handle With Care, a sweet little show given great life by its actors. I stole a little life force being around people who had no choice but to appreciate me. Marcee was very kind to me, watching that I dealt with a very stressful situation without losing my cool. The lights were not working and it had nothing to do with my aptitude or ineptitude.

Luckily, between Mitch and me, we were able to figure out the problem (a poor address on the dimmer packs), and we moved forward with not trouble. The technical things are never a problem; my stress always comes in having to keep other people from panicking. Whether I know the answer to a problem or not, I always keep a level head, and run several “what if” scenarios at once. Typically, people’s suggestions are a few steps behind me, but I feel like honoring them with a second attempt allows us all to feel secure that every option has been exhausted and that everyone has been heard.

I was asked to direct a show at another theatre for a reasonable rate, but I’m not sure whether I’m interested. The script shows promise, but I balk at the necessity of casting pre-teens and adolescents. I can control them, obviously, but would I find merit in working with them? I have to decide by tomorrow.

Tonight, I get to meet with the folks at the Alchemist, who are some of my favorite people. Even if conversations never quite sync between us, I know that we share a perspective on theatre, particularly in Milwaukee, and it has been too long since I have spent some time with them. With every meeting, I grow more excited for this next show, and it does help to buffer me against so many people who seemingly want to use me for their personal gain, while granting not even the smallest kindnesses in return.

I have to remember that my people exist out there, and I have only been removed from them temporarily.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Your Daily Digest: Bevakasha


Your daily digest: Fuck you if you don’t like Christmas

I had the pleasure of attending rehearsal — as I’ve been contracted, like a disease, to provide sound design — for Liz Shipe’s holiday play, Upon a Midnight Clear: A Tale of Jack Frost. I use the word pleasure sincerely, as the cast is hard-working and understand her play, and the play itself is simply delightful. Simple. Delightful.

It focuses on a cobbled mythology of different Pagan and Christian magicks, and I couldn’t help but be swept away in it. Everyone involved, with the possible exception of the one person I didn’t get to meet, invested pieces of themselves I rarely see, and the entire atmosphere gave me a warm fuzzy.

We’ve cast our show, Bachelorette, with some truly stellar Milwaukee talents, most of whom I’ve never worked with before. Marcee’s superior hosting and organizational skills made the whole process a massive success.

I’m curious to see how this Thanksgiving will turn out without my grandfather. More importantly, I wonder what Christmas will be like. Will I need to assume a leadership role, paterna familis? I can do it, I suppose. Maybe it’s a good thing.

“You can’t just think of yourself, just this one time. ‘Cause it’s Christmas.”

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Your daily digest: Fuck you if you don’t like Christmas


Don’t look back, only look.

As part of my therapy for depression, my prescription has been to journal, workout, meditate, etc. That all makes scientific sense, even if it does become difficult to keep up with all the daily “meds.”

The one prescription I have the most trouble with is seeking joy. I have always been moody, of course, but I find that to be a more genuine experience than actively searching for something as ephemeral and indefinable as joy. When it comes, I am prepared for it. I think the harder part for a depressive is not to analyze happiness. Accept it, in whatever quantity or form.

So, in accordance with my prescription, my last few days have had some moments of contentment and even happiness that I will log here.

Marcee, with only minor prodding, played Star Wars Battlefront with me, and seemed to enjoy it. It was a lot of fun to play a co-op game with her. Discovering the game, rather than predicting it, comes easily to her, since she doesn’t and hasn’t played that many games. Watched, yes; participated, no. I tried not to bug her about it, but I insisted that she tell me whether she enjoyed it, and she said that she did.

I also got to play the game split-screen with Mike, and he did not suffer his usual motion sickness, so we have a new game to play together. When we played WoW or CoH together, I always felt too far behind to have much fun, but this game doesn’t rely too much on time spent, unless you count practicing. I enjoyed laughing with him as we both crashed and burned in the dogfighting.

We also shared a bit of nostalgia about Star Control, and I was able to recommend FTL as a reminder of how much fun we had playing that.

And at night, I watch Newsroom and Peep Show and enjoy them both immensely and for different reasons. I’ve taken up crosswords using the NYT iPhone app, and when I’m bored, I spend more time with a deck of cards practicing my sleight of hand than I do with facebook.

I am looking forward to having my workstation back for using this laptop, but I have some calls out to places to send me the money they owe me, so that’s not far off either.

Now I will log off and play some games before getting to do some sound design for some people I really enjoy working with. All in all, a good day.

See you tomorrow, little blog.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Don’t look back, only look.


Prompted writing – A Second Renaissance; draft version

You wake to find yourself in an alternate universe much like our own, but our technology has advanced while our style of living has devolved. A mix between the renaissance and sci-Fi.

“The time is 10:30am. You have asked that I awaken you.” Serf’s voice, as I had programmed it, insisted gently.

“Thank you, Serf.”

“It is my pleasure, sir.”

Pleasure. It sounded like pleasure, but the orb-like surface of its head bobbed impassively. Still, what could it hurt to be kind?


“Yes, sir. Today, you have several appointments.”

I rose from the bed and stood in the UV bath, in the usual cruciform. I imagined I could hear the screams of millions of microbe societies, replete with relative millennia of histories, burning away in the hissing lasers.

“You are to meet with the Marquess of Bayview to discuss the approval of the use of her lands for the new Rose Theatre. This afternoon, you must inspect your landholdings, and select which projects you wish progressed overnight. You and the Countess are also asked to attend court early this evening, as the Magistrate of Milwaukee wishes to have his entire entourage in attendance as he signs the charter to abolish all human labor. And then, of course, your duel —”

“Big day.”

I stepped out, and shivered in the manufactured breeze of the climate control.

“As you say, sir.” Serf held out my suitcoat and hose.

“For breakfast today, sir, Chef has initiated several warm choices, awaiting your decision.”

“Granola will be fine.”

“Chef insists that your dietary needs will be better served by a warm meal. OVERRIDE?”

“No, fine. I’ll have whatever option A is. Include an extra shot of espresso in my coffee.”

I powdered my legs and pulled on my hose, then dropped the jacket over a loose-fitting blouse. Stray powder covered the carpet in a snowy sheen for a moment, before the carpet nanites collected it, and swarmed like fruit flies to return it to the case, which chirped, “Waste not, want not.”

I took my snuffbox from the vanity, and used my thumbnail to pop it open. Suspended in air, the neti-snuff jumped to my thumb as I leveled it nearby, then raised it to my nostril. As my sinuses cleared, my mind became calm and empty, the insta-meditation granules performing their duty. For one flashing moment, I saw a vision of thousands of Serf Units laboring under a hot sun, before the medication wiped the image away in a Zen haze of acceptance.

“Remind me, Serf: for what offense do I defend my honor this evening?”



“My apologies, sir, I am unable to provide an answer on the subject of HONOR. Please rephrase the question.”

“Nevermind. It’s not important.”

In the mirror, I adjusted the rapier at my side, little more than a hilt with a stretched piece of lead to hold it in the scabbard, a symbol of my station and not of the violence to come. Serf fastened a rose to my lapel, and brushed my jacket with a microfiber pad.

“Sir looks dashing today,” Serf murmured, as he pushed me from my ready room. The dining chamber was filled with the smells of  cinnamon, and warm apple. Serf tied a napkin around my neck like a bib, and scrolled through my iRSS feed as I ate my oatmeal.

“Top stories, World News: Olympian Jason Reed implicated in scandal over —”


“Politics: State of the War with —”


“Negotiations with Iran continue to fail, even as drones penetrate the palace in Tehran. Religious leaders cite the infidels’ use of machinery to neuter and weaken human fighters in the region as proof that they will be on the right side of history, having sided with God against this sacrilegious genocide.

Allied Leaders continue to claim the use of android and cybernetic soldiers as a moral victory over the inhumane emotional cost of human lives in such a barbaric exercise as war. Iranian Coalition forces continue to use guerrilla tactics against civilian targets, under the assertion that it remains their only option to fight back. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia —”



“Where is the Countess headed today?”

“Other than her appearance at court today, the Countess has no appointments. Shall I have her accompany you?”

“No. Call the coach for Bayview, and tell the Countess I have already left.”

“Ley-D informs me that the Countess remains in the sitting room, awaiting your daily meeting.”

“I’m not going.” My voice had more gravel and more gravitas than usual, and the sound of it surprised me.

“Agenda includes —”

“Override. Authorization: u-l-t-7-1.”

“OVERRIDE ACCEPTED. Your coach awaits, sir.”

I stepped out of the climate-control onto a path meticulously maintained by a dozen or so Keep-R units, who busied themselves elsewhere as the hovering coach blasted eddies of sterilized dust into the air. I tried to remember what it was like to sneeze. A loss of control and brief euphoria. A sting in the chest.

As the coach whizzed into the transport tube, I turned off the heads-up display which showed me the map and countdown in seconds until I reached Bayview. Creating a new theatre, a place where human citizens could be engaged by live performers, had caught the attention of the hoi-palloi, but to allow in the omegas of the society? Even the merchant class had long since lost the ability to read or speak the Queen’s English, in favor of moji. What art could possibly appeal to all the classes? Even if I could convince the Marquess, I remained myself unconvinced of the utility of such work. Was I chasing novelty and notoriety, rather than altruistic expansion of the class system to include our lessers?

Imperceptibly, the coach came to a stop, and the chime as the door slid open startled me from my preoccupation.

The Marquess’ grounds were lavish, dotted with ever-shifting topiaries made popular with the elite by the Japanese Bonsai animators. A fad, but a beautiful one. Her Serf units bowed deference to me as I strolled through a colonnade of shiny, steel servants. Within myself, I cringed at the effort, but an outer facade of aloof indifference put me on equal ground with my betters. Negotiation required such disingenuous focus.

When the Marquess emerged from the earth via the hoverlift, like Venus in the painting, I bowed low, looking up at her under my brow. She offered her hand, and I kissed it.

“Though our meeting takes place on schedule, my Lord, your presence always surprises me with its pleasing affect.”

Affectation would be more appropriate, I wanted to say. Instead, I rose, and delivered a smugly confident, “Marquess.” Embracing the masculine propensity for laconism, I said nothing more, and received a warm smile and her arm in mine for the walk inside.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Prompted writing – A Second Renaissance; draft version


Accept it

Gimme a stick. I’m fighting my way out of this.




Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Accept it
Next Page »