Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Busy List

I was looking at my name on a list of ushers (my current work-study assignment) last week. Next to people's names were various designations: jobs they held, year and department. Next to mine was an asterix and the words "The Busy List." I have no idea what the Busy List and am only moderately interested in finding out. Now that I know it exists, however, I'm feeling quite justified in being on it. In addition to ushering, I'm directing a show at the Cabaret, on top of all the regular classwork plus TAing plus thinking about next year stuff. Life (as defined by regular exercise, sleep, church, and reading novels) bit the dust around mid-September and hasn't returned.

It's tech week, though, and I'm having all kinds of directing flashbacks. It's been about 6 years since I've done this. Scratch that. It's been exactly 6 years since I've done this -- I always have a play going up the weekend of The Game -- and it's amazing what's faded (many, many useful skills) and what's remained (my emotions). During tech week when everyone's digging in and hunkering down and fighting for what they want and crying in the corner, during tech week when it seems so life-and-death, I always become weirdly detached. It's the moment when I suddenly go, "You guys, it's just a play." I tend to do this about 48 hours before we open. It's not particularly helpful.

So, everyone's running around and doing things and asking my opinions, and no one's slept and everyone's on edge and I'm continually asked if I want to either:

A) Tell someone I like very much who's exhausted to work still more on something


B) Tell someone that I like very much who's exhausted that I don't want to use that thing they stayed up all night making

The only way to get through these moments, I think, is to have a clear sense of vision. A perspective that "I don't care if you plucked single hairs off a thousand llamas, this is sweater doesn't look the way I want it to." And I just don't. I kind of go "I dunno, what do you think? Sweater? No sweater? Meh, it's only a play."

This is the same me who will write for months, years on "only a play" or rehearse tirelessly, convinced that a single missed word or comma or realization or breath will inexcusably alter the course of the piece. But put me in tech week, and I'm suddenly the captain of team, "why are you guys so worked up about playing dress-up?"

Anyway, it's extremely late and I can't sleep because I'm afraid of making decisions that will make people that I like very much who are exhausted upset.

And, for the past week, whenever I do get to sleep, I just dream about the play anyways.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Sometimes you come home from rehearsal and you have a giant to-do list, featuring things like homework, producing chores for the show that opens in 12 days (aaaah), making a giant cardboard circular sign (actually that technically falls under producing chores), applying to various schmancy playwriting contests that do things like require a CDR with all of your documents when you are ALREADY SENDING THEM IN TRIPLICATE.

And, instead of doing one or some or any of the things on your to-do list, you start cooking because . . . well, you're starving, and there are things in the fridge that can turn into food, but very little that can be eaten w/o being cooked. So, now it's an hour and a half later and the to-do list is still as long and you're busy pretty much all of tomorrow, but . . . you have made a tuna casserole (complete with corn-flake crust) and are roasting a chicken and cooking greens so as to have meals for the rest of the week. Because that's the other thing. I kind of hate eating out around campus. Whatever you eat for dinner (barring Mamoun's or Noodle which are absurdly cheap) will cost around $10 and be thoroughly unexceptional. I have a high/low relationship with food . . . either it's homemade and cheap or it's a restaurant and nice and better in some way than home. $10 worth of lousy Pad Thai is a week's worth of dinners, or a couple used books, or a fifth of a haircut.

And I'll figure out the damn playwriting contests once the chicken is done.

Postscript for all you feminists out there: Beloved Husband is actually in more rehearsals than I am, and won't be getting home till midnight. But he made linguine with tomatoes and cannellini beans on Sunday, so we can't be too mad at him.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Good things

The best pie crust recipe I have ever tried. Why? It involves vodka. For serious. Sign up for the free trial and steal this sucker. Or else just buy the magazine.

The best piece of theater I have seen in a long-ass time. Why? Chuck Mee and Tina Landau are awesome and able to bypass mere "relevance" (one of my least favorite program-note terms ever) and achieve import.

The show that is currently consuming my brain, but making me very happy.

I still feel as though the water level of my own busyness keeps rising (right now, I'd say it's at about mid-shoulder). On the other hand, I've reached a state of Zen-like calm about the fact that I might not finish my big homework projects for the semester (full-length original screenplay, new biography play, among others) and I'm okay with that. It seems like a sort of mental transition has started, and suddenly the fact that I'm going to graduate is provoking a weird sort of senioritis. Not that I shouldn't do my homework because it doesn't matter, but that I shouldn't do a half-assed, just turn it in to be done with it job, because it does matter. Some lightbulb went off October 1st and I'm not writing for my teachers anymore. I'm writing for me. And, you know, God willing, some other folks, too, eventually.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Life and shoes

Unlike many ladies, or at least many ladies on the TV, I am not a big fan of shoe shopping. This stems largely from the fact that in addition to being concerned about consumerism and the environment, blah blah blah, I also have a bunion. Like the Golden Girl I am. (Related: I was going to link to WebMD, but their site claims that bunions result from wearing tight shoes, which is UNTRUE. I have worn high heels for a total of 90 minutes in my life and still have weirdo deformed feet. So phooey on you and your sexist ersatz genetics-avoidance, WebMD).

Anyway, I'm not so into shoe shopping, but faced with one pair of hole-riddled red Chucks, I figured I was going to have to face up to the impending New England fall. And I went to DSW, where I found this . . . a shoe called the Playwright. Which, shockingly, are actually pretty comfortable and kind of what I was looking for (in "cigar" if you're curious). Not too casual, not too dressy, nice cushy arch support; they are flat enough to fit in my bike's toe clips, and stretchy enough to accommodate said bunion.

And, I have to admit, I was feeling pretty stoked about wearing shoes that matched my chosen career right up until I went to look for them on Zappos, in case I wanted to order another pair in black. Turns out the style got discontinued in 2005. . . except for children.

Apparently, they're the only ones interested in playwrights. Sigh.

Monday, September 17, 2007


1) I did the career meme . . . ooh, a meme, like a real blogger. Top career recommendation? Anthropologist, which, although I've never considered it, is not all that far removed from playwright, when you think about it. At least playwright as I tend to be. They also gave me psychologist and teacher . . . somehow, I don't think anyone puts playwright on a career counseling website, for good reasons.

2) When I went outside tonight to take the laundry down, it smelled like fall. And the first smell of fall always makes me incredibly happy.

3) I finished last week's Sunday Times crossword ON SUNDAY, which was a life first. And, probably a sign of a very relaxed summer in which I got to perfect my crossword skillz. Of course, this Sunday when I sat down to polish it off, it was hard again, so I got all pouty and put it in the recycling.

4) The Wonder Dog had a "hot spot" last week (no, he was not receiving T-Mobile wireless) and had to be taken in to the vet, who informed us that -- A) he has going to be fine and B) it was a really good thing we had brought him in because his lymph node was getting all swollen. Went home with a bunch of antibiotic pills and some spray (weirdly, the same stuff I was given when I had pink eye). Luckily, the WD will eat anything, so getting the pills down is no trouble. Hot spot is fading into oblivion, and, after the Winter from Hell f/ the Wound that Would Never Heal, I'm remarkably sanguine about things like vet visits and the Elizabethan Collar.

5) Almost done with The Known World and ready to move on to either New Haven England White or Pictures from an Institution, both of which I'm predicting will be speedier.

6) I love that they call it an Elizabethan Collar.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Books n stuffs

Last first week of school down, and I'm still going (moderately) strong, although I'm kind of staring into the abyss of overwhelmedness that is to come -- my guess I lose it early October, barely hang on until Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, become despondent that the winter will never end in February and then freak out that I'm graduating in April-May. But, you know, just a guess.

I'm thinking mostly today about books. The fantastic Sarah just started a book blog which is funny and smart and makes me feel really inferior about how few books I read this summer, but that's okay. I'm in the middle of The Known World which is fascinating, but surprisingly slow going, with a lot of characters and time and place shifting going on. I'm feeling ready for something a little more linear. . . and maybe not so sad. I just finished working on a sad play, and I could use a novel where everything more or less works out in the end.

I'm also thinking about books and the way that they can worm their way inside your brain, and how it can be great -- like, it's okay if everyone thinks I'm an eight-year-old freak, because Matilda could make people fly. It can also work not so well, when a book takes over your brain and won't give it back. I think that my innate anxiety about being a loser when I started playskool was infinitely heightened by reading Prep the week before I began my first year. The novel brought all my miserable eighth-grade emotions to the forefront and reduced me to an insecure fifteen-year-old. I don't know how quickly I would have felt comfortable in my own skin had I not read the book, but I have to say, if you're at all suceptible to private-school, not-having-the-right-clothes angst, don't read this book moments before diving into an all-new academic setting. In New England.

Finally, I'm thinking about books because Madeleine L'Engle died today and that makes me sad. Because she was an awesome writer and because she wrote books for an audience that NEEDED them. I remember walking around my second grade classroom trying to get people to read A Wrinkle in Time and nobody would because its first sentence is "It was a dark and stormy night." The books you read from age 8-14 are so important, such a lifeline -- partly because everything else is so hard -- and I feel nostalgic for that intensity of readership. I miss staying up late to find out what happened next. I miss wanting to read just one more chapter. I miss books that made sense of things that nobody I knew personally could explain to me. I want a book like that.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Year 20

Tomorrow is my last first day of school. May something-or-other be will be first last day of school.

I'm a little bit freaking out.

I've been going to school for nineteen years now, and I'm about to begin Year 20. I've been going to school longer than I've lived in any city, longer than I've known almost anyone except for immediate family. There have been breaks and gaps and lousy years and sick days and all that, but it's school. It's familiar. And, as per usual, I'm working today to finish up my summer assignments, totally unsatisfied with any of my first-day-of-school outfits, and basking in pristine new school supplies. ( is a new addiction) Oh, and of course because it's school photo day, I have a new giant pimple on my forehead.

But this is it. Barring an unlikely late in a life desire for a PhD or a sudden, desperate shift to law school, I'm filling out my course registration forms for the last time. I wish I could say this new-found perspective filled me with wisdom or an appreciation for every fleeting moment or something, but instead I'm a little bit anxious, a little bit excited, a little bit afraid I won't be able to sleep very well tonight. The usual.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm baaaack

Hi world! Back from the land of bloglessness, which, you know, okay, I only visited for 10 days, but that seems like a reasonable time period for a vacation. Right?

Things that are new:

Based on the increased productivity, and (probably more important) decreased consumption/appearance/why-don't-I-live-in-New-York anxiety, I am choosing not to register my new computer on the campus wireless server. To call it a decision actually gives me a little too much credit, since, when I went to the library today, I did my darndest for the first half hour to find an alternate server, but then, shockingly, I actually got some work done on my play. And I gotta say, I think those two are related. According to this plan, if I really need to check my email, I can always go to one of the terminals, but not while writing. So says I right now, we'll see how it works in practice, but it feels like a baby step in a good direction.

I think I'm going to sign up to be a lector (sp?, feeling like Hannibal) at church. Father Dan suggested it last year, along with teaching Sunday school and generally jumping into parish life. I was a little freaked out at the time commitment, so backed away from all of it, but this seems like a reasonable way to be a little more involved without being all-consuming. It was weird, though, when I talked to Fr. Dan on Sunday, he responded, somewhat surprised, "And you're comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people?" and I came back pretty quickly with "Yeah." I mean, I never would have thought of putting it on a resume or anything, but enough high school theater and college improv, and reading the Word of the Lord doesn't seem like such a big deal. Again, we'll see if I follow through, but putting these things in the Internet makes them more true, yes?

Finally, in much more trivial news, "Hey There, Delilah" by the Plain White T's is the single worst song ever. Really. In my book, it beats "My Humps." It's awful.
I think it's important to note here, that I freaking love pop music. I was rendered incapable of dinner conversation earlier this week because a Justin Timberlake song was playing in the background of the restaurant. I saw "Crossroads." In the theater. So, hatred of this song is not coming from genre disdain, but genre love and genre pride. The fact that this piece of uselessness was the number one song in the country last week depresses me almost as much as the current session of Congress. America, what are you thinking? You invented pop music, America! Don't let this song triumph! And, above what? "Umbrella?" "Suicidal?" "BARTENDER!?!" These are great songs, America, or at least, fun summer anthems to sing in a car with the windows down while drinking milkshakes. "Hey There, Delilah" is a ballad with no purpose, beat, or melody. It's only redeeming quality is that it's not "Hey There, Jessica" but that's only because the guy in the band actually met a woman named Delilah whom he thought was cute. No Biblical overtones. No overtones at all. Frankly, I don't think there are even tones. Whew. All right. That's it for now.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not a break-up, just a break

Dear Internet, I kind of need to break up with you. Or, maybe not a break-up, just a break. For a couple of weeks, to clear my head so I can figure out what's important to me. It's not your fault, Internet, it's nothing you've done, it's me. You make me kind of insane. Love, Dorothy

So, as you may have noticed, I haven't written very much on this thing recently. For a while, I was blaming the lunacy that is school, but it's almost August, so I feel like that explanation probably can't be leaned on right now. I think, actually
, it was a bunch of stuff -- sudden concern about the privacy thing, energy expended on writings elsewhere, and generally getting out of the habit. But, now, I'm going to use this final (-ish, for a while, oh hell, I'll probably be back in a month) post to talk about why I need to break up with the Internet.

It occurred to me today as I was sorting through worm poop -- a hazard of the whole 'compost your own vegetable waste' thing -- that I spend a quite substantial portion of my awake hours consuming media that has no direct bearing on my life. I know this isn't a particularly new revelation -- not everyone who buys Vogue is a skinny billionairess, not everyone who reads Pitchfork has an annoying complete music collection, they're about fantasy, they're (made-up word alert) aspirational -- but the particulars of my own reading habits hit me upside the head this afternoon. Perhaps it was the poignant contrast with the poop. Every day, barring electrical catastrophe or errant delivery person, I read The New York Times, New York Magazine, the New York Observer, and I frequently read Time Out New York. What city do I live in? You guessed it. Not New York. A quite reasonable 2 hour MetroNorth commute away, but still. Why do I know how much an apartment in Boerum Hill costs? Why do I care?

I also read Gawker, which is about publishing -- a field I am not in, and Defamer, which is about Hollywood -- again, not so much. The only Gawker media blog I can legitimately claim as my own, is Jezebel, but then again so can 51% of the population. There was a whole thing today about single women's refrigerators, which I followed (don't ask me why) through several websites, culminating in my realization that: I have a very full refrigerator. And I'm married. And I've never been a single, living-alone adult, so I have no idea what I'd eat under those circumstances. My default guess is Popeye's fried chicken and lemon ginger tea, but, who knows? Also, related to above, who cares?

Also, while I'm double-decker navel-gazing -- see, I'm looking into my own navel as an individual, but I'm also looking into the navels of blogs while I blog, ooooh -- there's the whole consumption thing. Which is I think where Jezebel gets me down. I really don't go shopping very much. I would like to. I like clothes. Every time I go into a New York city clothing store, I touch lots of things and imagine a life in which I could wear them and then leave, in my flipflops, empty-handed. Stuff's expensive, and I feel like even if I could afford one shirt or dress or whatever, it would just sit in my closet, because the life I live takes place quite efficiently in jeans and t-shirts. But I read magazines, because they're wicked fun and I read blogs and all of a sudden, much like New York real estate and nanny trends, I know all about Kiehl's and Phillip Lim and things which, really, am I ever going to purchase? Unlikely. But I know. Daily Candy's in my brain, telling me when the Catherine Malandrino sample sales are, despite the fact that the last clothing purchase I made was at the Salvation Army. This is why I freaked out at the end of Friends with Money, when Jennifer Aniston's in bed with the dude and he says that he wants to buy nice furniture, but he doesn't know where to go, and she says "I know where." Even though she's a school teacher (and then a maid), she's been sitting on the knowledge of where to buy nice furniture for years. Which is why she goes to the makeup counters and steals all the little free samples and -- okay, look, if you haven't seen this movie, go do it, because it's fantastic, and it's also a more eloquent and funnier exploration of what I'm trying to get at here. Whew. Anyway . . . .

As I sifted through the poop, thinking about what was on my agenda for the day -- take down laundry, drive BH to the train station, yoga, make the no-knead bread dough, so there will be bread tomorrow -- and what was in my brain's repository of knowledge, I felt totally weird. I have somehow acquired information and opinions for an alternate life, a life that, if I were slightly different I would be leading. Same age, same demographic, same college degree -- but instead of making the many bizarre decisions I've made, I would have instead moved to New York and gotten a job in publishing. And I'd live in Brooklyn. And I'd eat out a ton. And I'd buy clothes at little boutiques with handmade sparrow appliques on them. And have bangs. And I'd know the people who were snarked about. Maybe I'd even be a professional snarker, who knows? But I chose differently. I didn't want to do that or be that. I chose the not-money, not-glamor path, I chose the cook-a-big-pot-of-chicken-and-rice path, I chose the dog and the garden and the sneakers, so why am I spending several hours online imagining I did otherwise?

Who knows? Maybe simple escapism, the same reason people put on pleather jumpsuits and play Second Life. Maybe just to keep tabs. And maybe, since it's ultimately all funded by advertising, it's all aspirational: I (in some, until recently unconscious part of my brain) want to be the chick in publishing, she wants to be her boss, her boss wants to the people they profile and nobody likes her shoes or her haircut or her handbag, so we all just keep wanting up and the late capitalism schooner stays afloat.

I guess the other answer is that I could read things more accurately geared at myself, but I don't really know what that is. Bust gets on my nerves, for reasons previously discussed, and I feel like any sort of neo-hippie homemaking blog, where they talk about things like composting and making bread is likely to be so self-righteous as to make me vomit. I mean, essentially, all I'm looking for is a magazine/ website that's Catholic, feminist, celebrity-obsessed, anti-capitalism, pro-shopping, completely irreverent, wickedly funny, featuring 10 new recipes, and amazing clothes under $100. And it has to update frequently. And have dog-training tips. And will tell me what my next haircut should be. That's all.

So, if you have any suggestions, please send them my way. Otherwise, I'm going to try and take a break from the web for a while. See if my self-esteem and perspective cells grow back. . . besides, you know who I haven't seen in a while? TV. I bet TV will totally help with all this . . .

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Good news/bad news

I've always had an intense moral relationship with dentistry. I grew in the first wave of flouride treatments and orthidonture, but, blessed with a resolutely old-school (and, actually, kind of old) dentist, I never endured anything more than a teeth cleaning. And, every year, I was fussed over: "Oh, such clean teeth, never any cavities, going to put us out of business."

I was/am strongly bent on being good, and took a great deal of condescending pride in my oral hygiene -- tooth decay was for other, lesser children of inferior, slovenly stock. This attitude lasted me all the way up to age 23 when I got my first cavity, the probable result of drinking unflourinated water for the better part of a year. Okay, I figured, everyone's human.

Well, there's no dental insurance on the fabulous health plan here, but it took me a while to figure that out, and then, it looked as if we were going to switch insurers because BH's company would cover us, and, with one thing and another, I hadn't been to the dentist in almost two years. Until Friday.

The good news: I got my teeth cleaned (damn, did it take a while to scrape off all that plaque). I got the fear of God put into me again about flossing and mouthwash. The hygienist was extremely nice and non-sadistic . . . unlike my childhood hygienist who always commented that the only way to know if you were flossing hard enough was blood. . .

However . . .

The bad news: I have a small cavity on my right back molar. Many explanations are possible, the most logical by far being: well, you didn't go to the dentist for two years, dingbat. Or, my current favorite: you're a bad person. Original sin has found its way into my teeth, and I'm a little nonplussed. I also have an appointment to get the cavity filled next week, and, yes, I'm paying for all of this out of pocket. Grrrrrrrr.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hello again . . .

It's me.

I feel as if I should have some kind of massively exciting reason to have been away for weeks and weeks, but it's more a combination of things:

1) inchoate grumpiness
2) frequent travel
3) lots of little miniprojects requiring the sending of emails or the attending of rehearsals or the scheduling of schedules

leading to

4) marked inefficiancy on the major projects, like, you know, writing plays. Not been so good at doing that recently.

leading to

5) inchoate grumpiness

Nothing major or life-shattering, just the feeling that, for no good reason other than late winter, my batteries are weak, and I kind of just want to stay in bed. To put this in other terms, I have read virtually every magazine on the news stand for the month of March. I have magazine brain. Lots of pictures, few words, and the belief that shopping and/or exfoliation and/or kitchen reorganization will remake me into the person I was meant to be. Except I don't have the energy to shop or exfoliate, let alone attack the kitchen -- just to read magazines.

This isn't totally fair -- I'm caught up on laundry, I've cooked a lot of yummy meals the leftovers of which are pleasantly frozen for a rainy day. I even got a thank-you note in the mail today for a package I received on Monday, and I'm seeing the dentist (of my own volition) on Friday. So, it's not depression with a capital D, just feeling . . . "meh." And "meh" makes a hard blog post.

On a break from the magazine rack, I read Julie/Julia this weekend and it was pretty great, and reminded me that:

1) I am a better cook than I was a year ago and that's cool
2) it's okay to be young and grumpy and take it all out on absurd schemes
3) blogging can be good

It also made me realize that

4) it is highly unlikely that I will have a book deal by 30

But you can't win them all.

I guess what you can do is make cocoa while the weather still demands it, knit, and be glad there are so many magazines to read.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where are they now? department

So I'm reading along in the NYT article about Drew Gilpin Faust being named president of Harvard, and it all seems pretty normal until the last paragraph.

I quote:

George Thampy, a freshman, said of the selection: “I think it’s a great step forward — a bona fide scholar who’s a woman. In some ways you could say it’s a reaction to the last president and that fiasco.”

George Thampy! From Spellbound right? He's the slightly lisping bespecacled homeschooled kid (no, no, the other one) who features Jesus in his autographs. He's the big competition, the villain (if there is one) of the movie. It's got to be the same George Thampy, doesn't it? Good to see he's adjusting well to college.

Friday, January 26, 2007


A true story:

In mid December, 2006, our heroine attends a birthday party. Since she attends after a stint as an usher (part of the indentured servitude aspect of PlaySkool), she is wearing her one (count them one) pair of black pants.

Upon returning home, she notices a bizarre stain on the bum of the pants. It is white and kind of crunchy. Our heroine recalls her behind's proximity to a candle where she had been sitting. She decides that wax stain removal is difficult and she decides to take the pants to the dry cleaners.

There is no dry cleaners near where our heroine lives. She avoids cleaning her pants for weeks. And weeks. The pants sit in a bag in a forelorn heap. She instead wears her beloved husband's pants whenever she ushers, which is, like, every day. He gets kind of annoyed.

One day, towards the very end of January, she decides to solve the wax-butt problem herself. Armed with a trusty copy of Home Comforts she lays paper towels atop the pants and irons them so as to dissolve the wax. The wax does not dissolve. At all. Our heroine begins to think that perhaps she does not have a wax stain. In a fit of intuition, she decides to taste the now six-weeks-old stain.

It is sweet. She had sat in frosting.

Our heroine puts the pants in the regular laundry hamper. She will wash them tomorrow. They will be clean in time for her final ushering gig of the year.

The end.