Friday, 20 December 2013

"Passing Faces"


A song written nearly ten years ago, which, with a slight lyrical tweak, is featured in the musical Lady Sunshine, co-written with Travis Leland.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Contemplation on Ram Dass

There is this feeling which exists between presence and transcendence where the world is real and unreal at the same time. The mind is bigger than the brain that holds and beholds it, its consciousness reaching just beyond to where we cannot see in order to call and recall, to create and recreate. Some meditate to get there; some medicate, or somewhere in between. But to be seen on that level, to be grasped by someone else in that moment and share the word "believe"—there lies God. (6 May 13)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Car trouble

In my twelve years of driving, I have had relatively good luck with cars. My first car was a blue Chevy Corsica with many... idiosyncrasies, shall we say. But, regardless of its flaws, it never failed to start right up and get me where I needed to go. Then I got a new electric blue Honda Civic which performed admirably. (It was my fault that, on the day I was trading it in, I backed into a tree. Those are the breaks, as they say. And the brakes, as my then-girlfriend said.) My next car was also new: a black Dodge Caliber, my first stick shift, which did what I needed it to when it needed doing.

And, for the last two years, the pre-owned, well-driven Volkswagen Jetta I've been driving has really done remarkable things. It never ceases to amaze me how well it accelerates up hills, how reliably it gets around the sprawl that is Los Angeles County. That is, until recently.

I'd noticed little things before, like how, for a brief moment, the accelerator would cut out, but come right back as if nothing had happened. This never bothered me, since it happened infrequently, and it never caused more than a momentary "huh?" to stir in my mind. But then one day, it went out and stayed out. I was on the interstate, moving at a brisk pace up through a mountain pass, and all I could do was coast over to the shoulder and wait.

And wait.

The car took some considerable time to start up again. I'd popped the hood and taken a look, as if my ignorant perusal of the inner workings of this advanced machine would solve things. (Granted, if I'd seen something spewing or some kind of smoke, I could have guessed something was up.) I'd sat and watched as a motorcyclist up ahead had pulled over to adjust his saddle bags. Then, I decided to try one more time before giving up and calling AAA. And there it went, as if nothing unusual had happened.

This occurred infrequently at first, but then it began catching me at inopportune moments. And then, at a dead stop, the car stalled. On an interchange between two freeways. In rush hour. Lucky for me, it only took a few moments for the car to restart. It was a foretaste of things to come.

Fast forward to yesterday. I've learned that, if the accelerator cuts out at high speeds, all I have to do is shift out then back into gear to keep things running. I've also learned that it takes about five minutes for the engine to decide it will start up again after stalling out. So, when it stalled out about a mile from home, I knew what to do: push the car over to the side, wait five minutes, and restart.

Except this time, it took longer. Long enough for me to call AAA. After which... it started up again like a charm.

Later that night, on my way to an important rehearsal for which I was already late, it stalled again. I was two blocks away from the rehearsal studio, so I pushed it through an intersection to park it on the street. (Lucky again; there was an empty spot I could just ease into. I don't know anyone who's ever successfully parallel-parked by pushing.)

After rehearsal, all I was thinking was, please don't let there be traffic. If I could avoid stopping, especially on the freeway, I could have a smooth ride home, and then I could bring the car in for service in the morning, and all would be well.

Ah, but of course: there was an accident. Going through the pass. It was going to be a long night.

I was in the left lane. This was good because there were no trucks and, since it was stop-and-go traffic, no one was travelling very quickly at all. The car would stall, I would wait five minutes, then restart and go for as long as I could (about three minutes) before stalling again. I took solace in the fact that, five minutes later, there would be new people behind me who wouldn't be as mad at me for stalling out again the next time. I was most of the way up the pass when, suddenly, it seemed that the accident up ahead had been cleared. Now I was the one causing the traffic. And drivers, who give up all civility when they're enclosed in a few-thousand-pound vehicle, begin zipping around me on both sides. Patience was the game; I just had to wait the full five minutes before I could restart. Time passed slowly. I thought, well, if I get hit, at least I'll probably get a new car out of the deal.

The car did start again, and the rest of my journey home was uneventful. This morning, the car was brought in to get fixed up, and now, a few thousand dollars later, all should be well, and perhaps I can go back to having good luck with cars.

I've never been one to name my cars, but I know many people do (and I'd love to know what your car is called). I have now decided to name my car Mortimer. It just seems to fit.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Positive vibes

If you put positive vibes out there, positive vibes will come back. It's simple arithmetic. It's addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, though division is not what you seek; it's the opposite. Numbers shrink, throw larger numbers out there. Make them big and bold, in block print and large capitals. If you want FIVE, then put out TEN. It's the only way.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Reflection

When I think of everything that's happened in these past two years, I'm totally overwhelmed by how much there is: getting married, moving cross-country, visiting four countries, finding and losing work, forming a music group and a writing partnership, maintaining friendships and finding new ones. To think we've been through all that and now this is where we stand is incredible. This is what living life is about.

Travis Leland and I are rewriting our musical Lady Sunshine soon, and we hope to have a reading or workshop in L.A. to follow up on our successful readings on Long Island and in NYC. It's sort of a tragic story, in a way, and I find myself looking at the material in a whole new light given my recent experiences. Maybe that's what makes me able to retool it effectively.

I was musing on Twitter last night that sometimes I feel like a teenager, filled with angst or something. The response I got was that artists are like that. We drink, we float, we suffer, we medicate. We become an amplified version of the world we live in. And yet, we must persevere on some level; how else do we go on living?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Bookselling

It's been some time since I have posted. For one, life has that way of being busy and distracting that makes it difficult to be consistent in the realm of updating a blog unless one is very committed to it. For another, there was that existential crisis to be had: Does one exist to write, and if so, does one write on a blog? Moreover, what does one write on a blog?

For a while there, I was writing fairly consistently, at least one piece of writing, however short or long, per day. Some days there were multiple bits; sometimes, full works. Having a writer's group helped, although we focused only on writing for performance (film, tv, theatre—the latter being a strength of mine, but I do like to write a variety). Having no consistent (paid) work did not help. So I found a job working at a bookstore for minimum wage; certainly not my proudest moment, but pride was never my strongest suit.

Working at a bookstore ended up being a great experience. (I speak in past tense because I recently stopped working at a bookstore in order to pursue other opportunities to which I shall get.) Learning how a bookstore works was fascinating, but the real prize was in the people. If you want a great place to do character research (read: people-watching), bookstores are the best. There are the regular customers, who range from well-read types who dive into books like swimmers into a surf to folks who must frequent the local bookstore to appear smarter than they are, or because they have a strange infatuation with the cupcakes at the cafĂ©. There are tutors who meet their charges after-school to go over math and geography. There are students cramming for every exam all the time. There are the ones who hang out in the newsstand section because they're too cheap to get a subscription (or to buy magazines at all, apparently). Then, the non-regulars, who come in near holidays and for birthdays because their cousins love books even though they don't understand why since movies are way better anyway and books have all those sentences and paragraphs in them and never enough pictures and who would want to buy a book anyway. The non-regulars are always incensed that the bookstore doesn't have every book ever published on its shelves, and they can't order that book their aunt wants because it will take at least three days to arrive and her birthday is in two hours. Every person who walks into a bookstore is a character, no question about it. Even the staff is full of characters:  students, writers who haven't made it yet, teachers waiting for their dream job, and so on. It is a wealth of inspiration if that is what you seek.

I stopped working at the bookstore because, shortly after becoming a bookseller, I found work at a local school teaching theatre, and then a few months later became the Director of Music Ministries at Faith Presbyterian Church of Valley Village. (Nice title, right?) Doing all that and working a minimum-wage job didn't seem copacetic. So I had to leave the bookstore. But, seeing as I live nearby, I've threatened my former co-workers with becoming that favorite but most distressing kind of customer: a regular with inside knowledge.

Say, this was a good start for getting back into the writing thing, right?