Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blocked at Every Turn

I know I said I would be blogging more, and believe me, I've tried. The most frequent place I blog is at work, when I'm in a class and the students are working on a project. But for the last two weeks the DU network hasn't allowed me access to the site, saying it's a "potential phishing risk" or something....and then the time I tried to blog at home, it came back as the website undergoing routine maintenance. Grr! So here I am now. Apparently DU thinks this is an okay site again, because I am in class. *shrug*

Well, my recommitment to me so far has been going pretty well. I haven't lost as much weight as I would have liked to, but I'm trying to make it not about that. I have been doing yoga with real regularity, and meditating too, and I feel like it's really helped me in terms of emotional/mental balance and physical energy.

I read an article on Yoga Journal about eating, and how craving foods (particularly sweets) is a symbol of attachment, of obsession, and can knock off your balance. I had never thought about it that way, but I know that it's true now that I think about it. It seems blasphemous to me to not have some kind of dessert with my meal. But truthfully, it's not necessary or even always good. I equated it to the interview I read with Rodney Yee, who explained that sometimes being a teacher can cause you to become dependent on students' praise and flattery....you help them achieve something, and they get all excited about you and say what a good teacher you are (as if you could actually take credit for what they do), but the downside is, once that praise is gone, you're left feeling empty. You constantly search for the next "fix" of praise. Just as I constantly search for the next sweet taste. But what that does is take away your sense of balance and poise....you can't just know you're a good teacher intrinsically. You have to be told. And heaven forbid someone tells you you're not a good teacher.

And as a teacher (not of yoga, but in general) I also feel that way. I feel so gratified when a student expresses their positive feelings about my teaching style, my personality, the class, etc. that it sometimes feels lacking if I go for awhile without hearing any praise. And it cuts to the bone when someone expresses negative feelings towards me, towards my class--even towards my subject in general. That's not balance. That's attaching my sense of self-worth and value on something outside me. And it can only come from me. Only.

They announced the new season for the Civic, and it sounds great. They're doing Cyrano in the fall, and I full intend to get cast in that show. *wink* Only one female role? Pshaw!

I'm also intending to try out for Pirates of Penzance, which Kindleberger is doing this summer. For the first time in years, I can actually participate in Kindleberger! Hooray! I've never done outdoor theater, so it should be a fun, new experience.

This actually happened a few weeks ago, but I thought I should report it anyway. I was on my way to work one Wednesday morning, and I'd gotten to the place just south of Hamilton where M-40 widens to four lanes (a blessing for those of us who hate getting caught behind the "Hurry Courier Service" car who goes as much as 20 mph under the speedlimit....hurry, indeed....). It's very busy at that point in the road. And as I approached it, I saw two dogs in the road. In fairness, there was about a foot of snow on the ground, so it's not like they had a lot of options about where to walk....but they conveniently chose the middle of the road, rather than the safer option of the shoulder. They were also completely unafraid of cars or honking, and in fact seemed like they wanted to go up to the cars who would slow down for them. Sadly, not a lot of people were slowing down, and that angered me....I mean, if you can't be bothered to think about the life of an animal, worry about your car! These were both large dogs, lab-sized or bigger, and would probably really do some damage to your front end if you hit them. But some people are just both callous and shortsighted, I guess.

So I stopped and called them over, and they came without hesitation....such sweet dogs, these two. It was obvious they had once belonged to someone; they loved people and even knew their commands a little bit. I diverted them (thankfully, a woman stopped and helped me who had dog treats and other accoutrements in her car) and Animal Control picked them up.

Well, then I learned that the county Animal Shelter routinely put animals down....they're just too small and can't handle the volume, so animals don't stick around for long if they aren't claimed or adopted. I was horrified. I couldn't imagine putting down such sweet dogs, and I don't even like dogs! I had every intention of adopting them myself and then finding homes for them personally, if no one else did. As it turned out, two separate rescue organizations took each of them, so I didn't have to resort to extremes. But I followed their progress all the way through, and now they'll be safe, happy, and in a home as opposed to Death Row.

It really makes me consider getting more involved in animal issues....I understand that county shelters have to make do with what they have, and if they don't have space....they have to do what they have to do. So why don't they get more funding to build bigger facilities? This is something I may address, since I will soon be an Allegan county resident....

Speaking of which.....

Our closing date is set: March 26! We will take possession on the 29th and begin moving then. Our official "big move" date is April 5, but throughout that week we'll be in and out, moving smaller things and painting, etc. to get ready for the rest of our stuff. It seems so strange to think it's only a matter of weeks away. 3 weeks from tomorrow!

I realized something important this past week while I was on spring break in regards to my poetry. I'd been getting pretty frustrated, not just at my lack of output, but by the fact that what I have put out seems to be coming back without results. The frustration I felt reminded me of the same frustration (mixed with a healthy dose of self-doubt) that I felt for the last five years or so, trying to get cast in plays at the Civic. Literally, five years and no casting. Granted, I didn't try out for every play available, but I did audition at least once or twice a season as my schedule allowed, and no luck. This stood in direct contrast to the praise I'd received after my first show there from the illustrious Jim Carver (whom I saw, recently, at the Civic season-announcement party--it was so good to see him!).

So after I didn't get initially cast in The Women, I asked Preston, who was directing that show, what I could be doing differently in auditions to bring better results. Obviously I didn't need him to explain himself and why specifically he didn't cast me, but I wanted to know what I might be doing that was putting me in the slush pile. He said that while I read as well as anyone, I hadn't made myself "memorable" in comparison to all the others who auditioned with me (particularly for that show--he must have seen at least 75-100 women and girls). So, in other words, good, but not exciting, not enough to etch myself into the memory of the director. I took his words to heart, and, when I auditioned for Macbeth, I went over the top. And what do you know? I got cast.

That made me think of what Bob AuFrance, who directed me in Picnic my senior year at Albion said. He told me, "Remember, they [the audience] come to see you bleed." In other words, they don't pay money for a ticket to see something bland--they come to see your heart soar or break, so they can feel along with you--almost a voyeuristic/vicarious situation. And that made sense to me at the time, and it still does.

So, turning that same logic on my poetry, I can see where the poems I've been sending in are not bad, not thoroughly rejectable (as, in my darker moments, I imagine them to be), but simply not memorable. When a contest receives hundreds of entries, you absolutely need to stand out from the rest. You achieve that by "bleeding," so to speak, on the page. Letting your gut write the poem, not your head....your head can polish it, but your gut has to write it.

This (and a deadline) inspired me to revisit a poem I'd written probably a year and a half ago, during my semester with Alicia Ostriker. It was a poem about my dad's knee replacement surgery. I'd never been happy with it--it felt lackluster, bland, and emotionless. So I went back and bled all over it, figuratively speaking. *grin* But seriously--I allowed the real crux of the issue surface. Not the literal happening--oh, he had a knee replacement, it's a really grueling procedure, and he's in pain now, isn't that sad....but OH. He's my dad, we signed him up for this thinking it would help and it didn't, and now his pain is my pain, and not just that--all the drugs and their side effects, the feeling like this is a horrible carnival ride we can't get off of now, the heartbreak of it. I won't post it here because it is up for consideration at an online poetry journal, but rest assured, you'll see it there when it comes out. :)

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