Wed. March 24, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 306 — Trudging Onward

image courtesy of Free Photos via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cooler

Yesterday was warm and pretty enough so we could have the windows and the door to the deck open for a bit. Only about a half hour, but it was nice to get in a spring breeze. It still goes down into the 30’s at night, so we wake up to frost, but there are a few hours during the day when it’s lovely.

I was up early. Got ahead on some client work. I’m trying to work ahead, at least roughing out a few projects, so that we get closer to deadline, I can refine them.

I’m spending hours every day house hunting. I’m not going to go into the details here, but it’s discouraging. The number of scams is appalling.

Got out some LOIs. Worked on contest entries. I’m almost done with one category. One of the digital files was blank, so I asked for a replacement. I’m hoping to get the finalists sent off by the end of this week. Working on the other two categories, too.

Reviewed the assigned book. I have another from the same company to review, which I will start reading today. Hope to get the review out by Friday or the weekend.

Did an early morning grocery run. Decontaminated.

Did some sorting, but not much packing. I will do a big push tomorrow through Sunday.

Did some work on GAMBIT COLONY. I’m not writing enough every day, and that’s making me more stressed. So I have to go back to the early morning writing to get my centering for the day.

Heard about a call for horror audio scripts. Paid. Thought it would be kind of fun, but their formatting is so out of any audio formatting I’ve ever done that it’s too much to take on right now. If it was one of the standard formats, no problem. But to have to learn a new format and create a 30-minute piece in a few days? While I’m under all this stress? Too much, and, while it’s great that it’s paid, it would be on spec rather than contract, so I’ll have to pass.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Everyone’s working hard, Stressed about schools reopening too soon and without everyone being vaccinated, even though my kids will not go back to in-person learning this school year. It’s too dangerous. Plus, ALL their grades have gone up this year. There are all these “studies” about how not being in school is hurting kids. It might be true in certain cases, but WE are making it work for them. The fact that they like learning helps. And resources from museums and other cultural institutions adds so much.

I’m reading Nicholas Hytner’s book BALANCING ACTS about his years at the National Theatre. He was the director on MISS SAIGON. Although the show was five years into the run when I joined it (for its last five years), he stopped by to check on the show every now and again. I didn’t know him well by any means, but we had some good conversations. I liked and respected him a lot.

It’s fun to read about his work with people I worked with, and also people I didn’t work with, but admired.

Reading it makes me miss theatre even more.  I wish the US funded theatre (and all the arts) the way the UK does. The way Europe does. Although, re-reading Peter Hall’s diaries about his years at the National, the amount of time spent appeasing various Councils definitely interferes with creation.

I need to get back to reading more Dorothy Parker and Dawn Powell material to do the play about them, and I need to do more research on Marie Collier for that play.

A couple of interview sources turned down the request for interview for the article, so I’m looking for other sources. I will get out some requests today.

I have to be onsite at a client’s for a few hours this morning, then do a curbside pickup/drop-off at the library. After decontamination, it’s Remote Chat, and then some other work.

Onward.

Mon. March 8: International Women’s Day

image courtesy of Alberto H. Fabragas via pixabay.com

Instead of the usual intent of the week, I’m going to tell you about some of the extraordinary women about whom I’ve written for the 365 Women A Year playwrighting project over the last few years.

Imagine if society didn’t just pretend to value women on one day of the year? Imagine if they actually took action that proves they value women, including equal pay for equal work and non-toxic work environments.

Imagine if a woman’s value wasn’t tied to whether or not she CHOSE to have children, and both choices were given support?

Imagine if all the “administrative assistants” (who are mostly women) were given the recognition for the jobs they actually do and given the titles and pay of the do-nothing, useless executives for whom they work?

For many years, working my way up to Broadway, I worked as a temp in offices all around the country. Well over 200 companies over the decades. In all that time, I only met THREE ‘executives’ who actually did any work and weren’t a total waste of space, money, and time. Two of those individuals worked for the same company (and I worked for the pair of them).

Imagine what we could accomplish if the truly talented and those who did the work were given the money and support to do said work, instead of propping up those who don’t?

Now, to celebrate some of the extraordinary women about whom I’ve written:

Kate Warne. She was the first female Pinkerton. She walked into Allan Pinkerton’s office and told him she wanted to be a detective, and that women could get information that men couldn’t. She proved it, and became one of his top and most trusted operatives. She and her fellow Pinkertons often did large, theatrical, undercover operations. Among the cases were the Adams Express Embezzlement case (the case around which “Confidence Confidant” is based), where Kate posed as the wife of a forger to gain the confidence of the wife of an embezzler, and retrieve the money; a case where Kate posed as a medium to help kill a pair of lovers who’d poisoned the spouse of one of the pair, and was planning the murder of the other (I’m writing about that case this year in “A Rare Medium”). Kate was so popular as a medium that her clients were disconsolate when she solved the case and closed up shop. She helped smuggle Lincoln into Washington for his inauguration and thwart an assassination attempt. She helped bring down the Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She trained an entire division of Pinkerton women.

Jeanne de Clisson. In the 14th century, she became the pirate known as “The Lioness of Brittany.” The King of France wrongly accused (and executed) her husband for treason (I think it was her second husband; it might have been her third). At forty, after giving birth to seven children, she sold her land before it could be seized. She bought three ships, painted black with red sails, and became a pirate, only preying on French ships. She later fell in love with an Englishman, and retired to England. Her son, Olivier, became known at “The Butcher” and built the Château de Clisson in Brittany, which still stands today.

Giulia Tofana. A 17th century herbalist, she developed and perfected Aqua Tofana, a poison used to free women from their abusive husbands by turning them into widows. She had a tight circle of apprentices, and they are thought to have poisoned at least 600 people. The formula has never been recovered. Supposedly, Mozart thought he’d been dosed with it. Stories differ as to whether the fanatical Wilrich von Daun actually killed her while she was in sanctuary, or whether she escaped and retired to a convent.

Lavinia Fontana. She was a painter in Renaissance Bologna, one of the first to negotiate commissions like a man would. She was supported and promoted by a cadre of powerful Bolognese society women, several of whom ran their husbands’ businesses. She married a man who took her name and took care of their many children while she worked.

Canaletto’s Sisters. The Venetian painter Caneletto had three sisters: Fiorenza, who married, and whose son became a court painter in Austria and Germany, his work often confused with Canaletto’s; Francesca, and Viena, who never married. Not much is known about them, other than they were smart, lively, and devoted to their talented brother. Canaletto started his career painting stage sets, part of a family renown for theatre stage design.

Isabella Goodwin. She was the first female NYPD detective, and her work was as much about improving women’s lives as fighting crime. Like Kate Warne, she enjoyed theatrical undercover work. She was widowed young. Her husband was a cop, killed in the line of duty, and she went into police work to provide for their children. By all accounts, she was much better at it than her husband. Later in life, she married a younger man, a singer, and her final case involved medical fraud.

Susanna Centlivre. She was one of the most popular 18th century playwrights of her day. She posed as a boy to attend Cambridge; when she was discovered, she joined touring theatres as an actress, and then became a playwright. Her satires were popular, and she was part of a lively group of writers and artists. She married a “yeoman of the mouth” – one of Queen Anne’s favorite cooks, and the stability of that marriage supported her writing.

Who am I writing about this year? More Kate Warne plays, dramatizing some of her other cases. A play about Dawn Powell and Dorothy Parker, two of my favorite writers (who weren’t particularly fond of each other). Marie Correlli, born Mary McKay, a popular Victorian novelist.

Among my earliest heroines were Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They are two of the reasons I became a writer.

Who are the women who inspire you?

Tues. Jan. 5, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 230 – Riding Into the New Year

image courtesy of Brent Olson via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

11th Day of Christmas (11 Pipers Piping)

Rainy/sleety and raw

Happy 2021! I hope you had a joyful transition into the New Year, while you stayed the F home.

Thursday was fine, although I got frustrated by the lack of room in the kitchen as I juggled the cooking. To think, when we first moved here, this kitchen seemed so big after all the galley kitchens in small New York apartments!

Quiet night, watching videos, burning the bayberry candle for prosperity. We tried to watch the ball come down over Times Square, but the camera focused on the Kia ad rather than the ball drop directly above it, so we felt cheated.

In the years I lived a block from Times Square, it was cool to watch the ball drop from my window. The years I had to work on the Eve and couldn’t come home until after one a.m., forced to go out to an overpriced night after the show, weren’t so much fun. The years I worked a show on the Eve, then had to go up to cut through Central Park to get to Grand Central Station to catch a train, and then spent midnight on a train – not so much fun, either. I like being home and quiet.

Went to bed a little after midnight. Was up fairly early on New Year’s Day.

Performed the Fire & Ice ritual to get us off to a good start, using the last of the jasmine oil on the candle. Will have to source jasmine oil again soon.

Traditional Eggs Benedict for breakfast, complete with hollandaise sauce and prosecco. It was really good.

Wrote a bit, noodling with some ideas and working on the 12 Days of Christmas stories. I’m mostly roughing them out at this point, and then will go back and finish, revise, polish, over the next few months. Letting my mind percolate the idea for a proposal that needs to go out no later than January 18. It would be a big, big project.

Received an invitation to write for 365 Women again this year – any woman I want! I could even write more about Kate Warne. Maybe this will be the right venue for the Dawn Powell-Dorothy Parker piece I want to write. There’s also another woman about whom I want to write, but I’m not sure I can do all that this year and move. I’m thinking about it.

Percolated some ideas for article pitches.

Started reading my first book for the new year, one of Nell Simon’s memoirs. I go into more detail about it over here on A Biblio Paradise. The choice of first book in a new year is a big deal for me.

Went through the paperwork for the contest. The first box of books has shipped. This week, I have to clear old eBook files I no longer need out of my Kindle, so next week, I can download and start reading the first of the entries sent digitally.

Set up 2021 files.

I need to set up information on all the plays that I can cross-reference – the play, the logline, characters, length, submission/production history. It makes the most sense to do that in Excel. Sadly, I loathe working in Excel (although I’m perfectly capable of doing it).

Most of Friday was about giving myself the physical and emotional space to think, to daydream, to allow the internal creative process room to actually create.

Saturday morning, I jerked out of sleep from a dream about someone trying to kill me. So I guess August is going to really suck.

Got work done on several article proposals. My trusty architect lamp, that I’ve had since the late 1960’s blew up – something with the switch. I need a lamp on my computer desk, so I went ahead and ordered another from Staples. It should be here by the end of next week.

Sunday morning, made biscuits, did admin work.

At noon, I joined the Table of Silence Project’s weekly meditation. This week, it was rooted in 12 Repetitive Gestures, that were taught first, and then the company, in their socially-distanced private spaces, led us through them. It was beautiful and powerful. It also made me realize how much I miss working with people dedicated to their craft.

I’m tired of those who are always moaning about “not having time” because they put their “day job” first, instead of remembering that the only function of the “day job” is to make their survival to create art possible. They do so because their art is NOT their first priority. I’m sick of being mired amongst people who won’t make the commitment. It’s fine to have art as a “hobby” but it’s also toxic to perpetuate the myth that artists deserve to starve and shouldn’t be paid for their work. Too many hobbyists in the arts continue to perpetuate that myth, because they don’t have the courage to pursue it full time, and it gives them joy to punish those who do. I made my decision in high school that I would build a life in the arts, that my art would always, ALWAYS come first. It has, and I have no regrets. I also made the choice, back in my twenties, that I did not want fame. I wanted respect in my field, but not fame. Especially around here, the derision aimed at me for that decision (by people who make excuses not to do what they claim they love to do) is enormous.

Apart from that realization (and isn’t one of the points of meditation to gain clarity?), the meditation itself was wonderful and powerful – movement, because it’s a dance company. Movement with meaning, and it felt good to be in my body and ground again. The morning had left me feeling grumpy and unsettled.

In the afternoon, I cleaned out five boxes from the basement, catching up to my goal for that point. I found some really cool stuff that will get integrated into the household (until it’s packed for the move), found other stuff that needed to be repacked, and tossed a good bit Also did 15 minutes on the exercise bicycle. Only half of what my 96-year-old mother does every day, but it’s a start. One of the things I found is one of my favorite patterns for comfortable pants – only three pieces, and it only takes two hours from the time I start laying out the pattern on the fabric to the finished pants. They’re casual pants, but I found some fabric in the clearing-out I did a few months back that I want to use.

One of the late packages arrived: a pair of dusky rose velvet ballet flats, which are wonderful (but I can’t wear in the rain), and two pairs of pants that are both comfortable and stylish.

Sunday into Monday, I dreamed that someone was lying to me, so I guess I need to be cautious in October (10th day of Christmas). The story for Day 10 is centered around Morris Men (Ten Lords A-Leaping). I still have no idea what to do for Eight Maids-A-Milking.

Got my act together, dropped off two bags’ worth of library books at the drop box, went into the office. I was the only one there, which is as it should be, and got a lot done. Also managed to send out all four article proposals I’d written over the weekend.

By the time I got home, one of them had been accepted. Good way to start the first official workday of the year!

Did a curbside pickup at the library, decontaminated, did 15 minutes on the bicycle. After lunch, I did some admin work, got out some LOIs. Wrote some blog posts.

I’d put dinner in the crockpot before I left for work in the morning, and it smelled delightful when I got home. Slow cooker chicken and vegetables, over leftover jasmine rice. Quite yummy.

Watched some videos, did some reading.

Good dreams of baking set up a happy November (11th Day of Christmas), although I have no damn idea what story to build around 11 Pipers Piping. I have a feeling, as I work on the earlier stories, it will start to come clear, since each story stands alone, but is also linked.

If the weather improves by 9 AM, I will do a quick grocery run to Trader Joe’s. If not, I’ll put it off until Thursday. Otherwise, there’s writing, client work, and I’m getting out the interview requests for the article. Then more admin work, and I want to go through at least two more boxes today, to stay on mission for the clearing out.

So much is on the line today in Georgia’s election.  I’ve done what I could; now it’s up to the voters.

The Sociopath should be impeached again for trying to overturn the Georgia results. And every single Congress person who plans to squawk against certifying Biden’s victory tomorrow should be removed from Congress and exiled. Not allowed to set foot in this country EVER again.

It’s time we had some actual consequences for trying to shred the Constitution. There will be no healing, no rebuilding, until there is justice.

Let’s get this done, people.