Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What I spent way too much time on today

I will probably tweak it some more, I seem incapable of "finishing" it. I'm using GIMP which I never used before, so I have to spend forever searching the internet to figure out how to do things.

I also made the happy discovery that my laptop's CD drive is actually not broken, it's just that apparently iTunes decided it doesn't like it anymore. I needed to burn a disc of songs to use for rehearsal and decided to try Windows Media Player instead of iTunes and it worked. I've thought my drive was broken for months...I even bought an external drive (which iTunes recognized when importing discs but not when burning).

So basically the small things I achieved today took far, far longer than they should have.

Yay, DIY theater.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Personal experience, playback, and talking to men about feminism

I read this post on Feministe called Unreality and the Politics of Experience (go read it!) and it was interesting timing, considering some other things that have been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of days.

In the post, Chally talks about having her personal experiences questioned, and how she thinks this practice helps to reinforce oppression. And I agree. In the comment section, a disagreement began over whether Chally is advocating for validation, and against "rational thought."

What's interesting to me is that the "rational thought/debate" model is the type of discussion that is more closely associated with males, and the "emotional support" model is the type of discussion that is more closely associated with females. Is this a coincidence? Nope, it's patriarchy.

The best explanation of the concept of patriarchy that I've ever encountered (and I forget where, so I can't give anyone credit for this) is "that which is associated with maleness is valued over that which is associated with femaleness." Note that it's not necessarily saying "men are valued over women," it's more complicated than that.

Recently I was trying to explain to a man who is very dear to me how I personally feel about feminism. I ended up getting emotional about it because it's an emotionally loaded topic for me, and because our discussion was frustrating for me because I felt that his focus on bringing up his points of disagreement with feminism was causing him to not really listen to me. He seemed genuinely surprised that I was upset, because he thought we were having "an intellectual discussion." And we were, but for me, it was also a discussion about my personal experiences, and talking about my personal experiences can make me emotional.

Many men I've encountered are far more comfortable with conversation that could be described as "intellectual," "rational," or a "debate." My dad is a prime example of this. He loves to argue about anything and everything. If you agree with him, he'll change to the opposite view, to try to steer the conversation back to debate. But my dad, and many other men, are far less comfortable talking about anything involving feelings. Whether this has something to do with biology, or is purely based on cultural messages about what it means to be a man, it definitely seems to be a strong pattern.

My issue (and this is where patriarchy comes in) is that emotionless, intellectual debate is often presented as the correct way to talk about issues, and personal experience and emotions are portrayed as inferior and less important. And from this comes the tendency to argue with someone's interpretation of something that happened to them.

I'm not saying we should never question someone's interpretation of their personal experience. But I think that questioning should only happen after listening and trying to understand where that person is coming from.

Most of us are taught how to debate more than we're taught to relate. I'm not sure about you, but my high school didn't have an Empathy Team. I think if there were such a thing as an Empathy Team, though, it would look a lot like a Playback Theater troupe.

In Playback Theater, we "play back" stories and experiences offered by audience members. When you're a player, you stand silently on the stage (in "neutral" position...always a challenge for me) and listen while the audience member (called "the teller") tells their story. You have to pay attention, or you'll be screwed when you try to play it back. You also can't talk at this point, so you can't argue with them. I admit, I have stood there listening to black tellers talking about an experience with racism, and felt an impulse to say something along the lines of "maybe your boss didn't mean it that way...I'm sure she wasn't trying to be racist...are you sure that's what she said?" That impulse came from a place of being uncomfortable with what I was hearing and wishing it could somehow be explained away. But, because of the nature of the form, I was not able to voice any of this (thank God), and instead I just had to listen. And then I had to validate the teller's experience by playing back their story. And you know what? I've learned a hell of a lot through this process.

I believe that learning to listen and empathize is just as important as learning to debate and justify one's position. It frustrates me that the latter is often thought of as more valuable. Trying to change that is one of the reasons I am a feminist. It's also one of the reasons I am an artist.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun with chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of those vegan wonderfoods that you find in all kinds of recipes. When I first went vegan, I became obsessed with hummus, but after a while (a year and a half or so), I became kind of sick of it. Recently on a vegan livejournal community I read, people were talking about making "tuna" salad out of chickpeas.

I was pescatarian (for lack of a better term, though that one annoys me) for a while before going vegan. I miss fish and seafood more than anything, even dairy. You can totally find a vegan substitute for ice cream, but smoked salmon? Not so much. My cat misses smoked salmon, too (I used to give her some, and she would go crazy and meow and crawl all over me like a crackhead, seeking more. Or, like I imagine a cat crackhead would act, I guess).

Anyway, I actually used to *love* tuna sandwiches. So I decided to give this chickpea recipe a try. The key ingredient is kelp granules, to give it that ocean-y taste. This is the kind of thing I would never buy before going vegan...I mean, kelp granules? Sounds delicious, right?

Basically you just mash up the chickpeas, add vegan mayo, and sprinkle liberally with the magical kelp granules. I also added a little dijon mustard, seaweed gomasio, and sea salt. The end result tasted only vaguely like tuna, but was pretty damn good regardless. Surprising.

Now I just need a smoked salmon substitute...

Monday, October 11, 2010

This just in: college students drink and have sex!

OK, maybe I'm a bad person, but I read the entirety of the Duke Powerpoint Sex List Thing and I found it pretty amusing. I'm sure it's an embarrassing situation for the guys involved, especially the ones who Karen found somewhat...lacking...and I'm sure it's an embarrassing situation for her, too, since apparently she only intended to share it with a couple of friends.

Still, I thought it was witty and it gave me a glimpse into a very different kind of college experience than the one I had. She seemed to exclusively go for athletes. In fact, at one point she wakes up in the morning next to a stranger, with no recollection of how she got there, and her biggest fear is that he's a townie. When she realizes he's a baseball player, she's so relieved that she hangs out with him for a while, watching ESPN.

Anyway, I was never into jocks, which is convenient, since they were never into me, either. I thought maybe I'd enjoy this oversharey list more if it were about theater majors. So I tried to imagine how that would go.

"I first noticed Subject 5 in Linklater class, when we did this exercise where one person lies on the floor and the other person puts a hand on their stomach to see if they're breathing properly from their abdomen...whoa, totally felt like he had a six pack! Later that semester, we were rehearsing "How I Learned to Drive," and we stayed after rehearsal, talking about how it just wasn't feeling genuine. So then we decided he should actually feel me up so we could use that experience in the work. Well, one thing led to another and we ended up in the lighting booth, it was getting really hot, but then he suddenly stopped and said, 'Wait, I never told anyone this before, but I think I might be gay.'"

OK, that's why there isn't a Powerpoint Sex List about theater majors.

P.S. Happy National Coming Out Day ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Messing with Chekhov...apparently a trend?

Nerve has an...interesting story about Lindsay Lohan and Stephen Colbert, based on a Chekhov short story. The author has written a whole book of this stuff. I hope Sarah Palin doesn't make an appearance, because I like to think I came up with the idea of tossing Palin into Chekhov first.

I've *finally* got a complete cast (knock on wood) and rehearsals for To Moscow, You Betcha! have just begun. We've got a smart, funny, creative and weird little group of people putting their heads together on it. It's exciting stuff.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It all makes sense now.

I'm not crazy, it's just this Saturn Return thing. Upheaval? Check. Restructuring? Check. Reevaluation? Yep, constantly.

I can't seem to stop obsessing about my upcoming 30th birthday and what does it mean and where am I going and what do I even want and...

These past couple of years, I've pushed myself a lot, especially artistically. The results were not quite what I'd hoped, but I've learned so much, and I have to hope I'm on a good path. I'm proud of myself for writing a novel, but I feel like it's not quite what I want it to be, and right now I'm stuck trying to revise it and get it to the next level. I've shelved that for the time being, hoping when I return to it I'll have some new brilliant ideas.

I've started my second directing project (since college, and my first was earlier this year), and I have high hopes for that, too.

OK, this blog post is beginning to sound like an Obama campaign speech with all of this "hope" stuff.

Although I am proud of how I've challenged myself and what I've learned, I am full of uncertainty. I want to make bold moves forward, but then I question the direction. I've found myself wanting things I previously had no use for, and starting to doubt what I thought I did want.

In the past, I've had challenging periods, full of uncertainty, but they were reactions to circumstances. Hurricane Katrina, for example, ultimately caused me to question the direction my life was headed and make some big changes. Now, it seems to all be coming from inside me. Or from Saturn, apparently.

The strange thing is, I'm not unhappy. I have a pretty damn good life these days. Best of all, I have some friends and relatives who really "get" me, which is great on those days when I don't "get" myself. So, why mess with a good thing? But I want to be better. I want to do something remarkable. I want to push boundaries, including my own.

And in a couple of months, I want a big party, and I want to have my vegan birthday cake and eat it, too. We'll see what happens next.