Tues. July 26, 2022: Protocols, Performance, Persistence

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

Friday wasn’t quite as hot as Thursday, mostly because there was cloud cover, but the humidity was oppressive. Once the plants were watered on the front porch, we closed it off and let it be a greenhouse for the day, which helped keep the rest of the house cooler. And we kept the blinds closed on the east side of the house, and the lace curtains drawn on the south side. The lace lets in enough light, but blocks some of the heat.

I did some admin/organizational stuff, noodled on my article, and then turned around the script I had in the late morning/early afternoon. I made a pasta salad in the morning that could cool in the fridge for dinner, so we didn’t have to think about cooking or preparing anything.

I rehearsed my portion of the poem, working on rhythm and voice placement. What made me smile is that we just moved into Leo season – a season to shine, to share, to perform – and here’s the performance date.

I finished reading the next book for review.

The request for mail-in ballots arrived, and we filled them out and returned them. The mail-in option makes it easier (and safer) for this year’s voting.

I was invited to an artists’ resource meeting, but the day and the date didn’t match up. I emailed them for clarification. If the day of the week is correct, I can’t make it this month. If the date is correct, I can. At any rate, it’s a group with which I’d like to work, and if I can’t do it this month, I hope I can next month. They even are meeting outside this month, to make it safer.

It was tough to get to sleep Friday night because of the humidity, but I managed,

I should have worked on the Topic Workbooks, but I was too hot and tired and grumpy. I am very much a Winter Girl, not a Summer Girl.

Started feeling all kinds of doubt and uncertainty on Saturday morning again. Part of it was stage nerves for that afternoon’s performance. I am not a performer; I write for performers. I am a behind-the-scenes person. But there are enough of us in this event (50) that it’s about collective creation and collective experience, and there isn’t pressure on me to do more than be in the moment (and get my first & last words right, to keep the flow going).

Another part is also with the Topic Workbook and the serial launching in the upcoming weeks, there’s the whole pressure of now it’s out in the world, and no longer in my control. It’s 50-50. Some people are going to love these pieces & find them helpful or interesting; others won’t. There will always be those who are condescending and make nasty comments. Not that they ever create anything themselves; but they talk about what they’ll do some day while slam others. That’s the reality of the business.

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

I remind myself: The previous negative reality is not my current positive reality. I am building something new here. That means taking risks, creatively and personally. Not all of them are going to work the way I want them to. But I still need to do it.

Because the alternative is a day job outside of my field, and that is the ultimate last resort.

I cut out a rant from this post about wanna-be writers who think they know more than those of us earning our living in the industry,  because I don’t feel like focusing on them today.

Saturday morning, I had to run out and get a hat. Early, when it was easy to stay ten or more feet away from anyone else in the store. There’s no way I could make it through the event without a hat. I have a whole collection of wonderful hats – in storage. So I ran out to a store that was likely to have workable hats. I couldn’t decide between two in the store, they were both affordable, so I bought both.

I did not go to the Farmers’ Market. I knew the heat would wear me out; I also didn’t want to risk exposure to anyone who might be sluffing off virus, and then bringing it to the event. I missed it, though. I missed the beautiful produce and the friendly, engaging farmers, and the other market regulars I chat with every week.

Took the rest of the morning to rest, read, rehearse. Packed my bag for the event. Took a shower, slathered on sunscreen, braided my hair that I wasn’t able to get cut in time, the whole thing.

I was proud of myself for breaking the usual pattern, which would have been to work myself into the ground all morning, and then feel frantic and unsettled when it was time to go. I gave myself time and rest. I knew it would be hot and humid and challenging, so I made sure, for once, not to sabotage myself.

I left around 2:30, to give myself time in case I hit tourist traffic. I did vocal exercises in the car, and rehearsed my little bit (all those years working musicals have application in the real world). I made decent time to get to The Mount, and got there around 3:30. Walked through the gardens to get to the house, where we were meeting. The sun dappled through the trees in nuanced light that was both beautiful and spooky. The phone’s camera made it look lighter than it was.

We assembled. They had us on chairs on either side of the path that wound down around the side of the house, odds and evens. We lobbed our parts of the poem back and forth across the path, with the audience on the path. I was number 9 (being one of the early poets to sign up and create my bit). So Number 7 was next to me. He lobbed the final word of his poem to Number 8, across the path, who started with the last word of his poem as the first word of her poem. She lobbed back across to me. The last word of her poem was the first word of my poem. I lobbed to number 10, across the path, whose first word of her poem was the last word of my poem, who lobbed it to Number 11, next to me, whose first word was the last word of the previous poem, and so forth and so on.

The audience moved through us as we spoke. They moved through us in waves, so when the first group reached the bend (about half way through), the next group started with the first poet again, so there were multiple vocals happening at any given time, and we had to be present to the poets around us, while aware of what was going on above and below us on the path.

There were a few poets who couldn’t be there. The agreement was that, if someone couldn’t be there, that individual was responsible for sending a proxy. There were several who did so, and that was great. There were a couple of people who didn’t, and a couple who didn’t show up or let anyone know, and that put unnecessary pressure on the poets who were there. Someone early in the poem couldn’t run down and cover for someone late in the poem, because by that point, the next wave of audience was coming through. So the organizers had to work out who could move a few chairs to read a missing poet’s bit, and then get back to their original chair to perform their own bit again in time.

It worked, mostly because there were enough experienced performers to flow, and the first-timers like me, who were trying to get a handle on what was going on and feel the rhythm, weren’t put under that additional pressure.

In other words, the organizers took care of the performers, instead of expecting the performers to fix things that happened at the last minute.

And the overall poem did build a flow and a rhythm. It was amazing. Somehow, even though we didn’t know anything about the poets and their poems on either side while we wrote, it all came together.

There were poets of all ages and from all over the place. I walked in with a poet from Northampton (who used to be a production coordinator for the Boston Ballet, so we had a good talk about backstage). The woman next to me and her daughter (numbers 11 & 13) were from Gloucester, MA, and each wrote a segment as something fun to do together. There was a family of six – wife, husband, two teen daughters, and their dogs – who each did a segment (they were spread out amongst everyone. And only the humans created poems, although the dogs performed with their humans). I think they’re from upstate NY. They told me they love to “poem together” and grab any opportunity to be part of public art events like this. There was a woman across and down a few who’s stage managing a show with a theatre company with whom I had contact awhile back, and I hope I get to see the show. The guy who led the playwrights’ workshop I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t in it (he’d planned to, but dropped out when he couldn’t be there, so another poet could step in and take his place with their own work, instead of someone reading as a proxy). But one of my fellow playwrights was there, and we had a good catch-up natter. There was another woman who’s a part of a poetry group that creates and performs social justice public art.

It was great to be part of a group that had NO Trumpers in it, and no both-siders and right-wing apologists. No one pursing their thin little lips claiming they “don’t do politics” when in reality, they support extremists.  In fact, a good deal of the poetry was political. Quite a few of the older poets, men and women, a few years ahead of me in age and experience, were talking about how they’d fought/marched/voted/protested for Civil Rights and Roe the first time around, and here we are again.

It was a dog, kid, family inclusive event. Several poets brought partners or family members who set up camp chairs nearby and watched/listened or read a book or worked on their own writing.

No one was told to tone down their language, and the audience was warned of the possibility of strong language. As far as I know, no one complained.

They’d put out a buffet for us up at the Terrace Café (it’s a spectacular view). They’d told us they’d have snacks for us, but there was real food to make sandwiches (and gluten free options) and salads and fruit and lemonade and raspberry tea and all that. They watered us well throughout, to make sure we were hydrated and didn’t faint. The chairs were in the shade. The audience was kept in the front courtyard until showtimes, with lemonade and cookies.

Originally, we were supposed to do the full poem 4 times through. However, so many people signed up that, for both vocal projection’s sake and safety’s sake, they split up the audience for the first couple of shows; hence the waves of audience members. So what were originally scheduled as the first two performances turned into four performances.

Each performance built a unique rhythm and flow. As the poets got more comfortable with each other, we could try different inflections with the same words, and lob the bits back and forth more easily.

We poets also kept moving our chairs back. We knew we were all fully vaccinated and had tested negative that day before showing up, but there was no way to trust that the audience was the same. Since the audience didn’t pay attention to the social distancing, we made it happen by enlarging the distance.

After the first four shows, we had a break to eat. One of the poets was bored with saying the same thing over and over, so he rewrote his poem in the break (keeping the first and last word, per the agreement). A couple of people joked that they’d never remember everyone’s name, but they could remember everyone’s content. For instance, I became “Lilac” because I had lilacs in my poem, and the image of “frothy lilacs” stuck in people’s heads. So, you know, any event I do from here on in, I’ll be “Lilac.” I can live with that.

After the break, we had two more shows. Because of time, the groups couldn’t be split up this time around. They were larger; we pulled our chairs back farther from the path and projected more. The heat and humidity were taking a toll, even with all the precautions.

During the final performance, as we completed our bits, we folded in behind the audience (at a safe distance), so that we were all together at the end and could celebrate.

We were all pretty much hurting by then (even the puppies were tired), but we celebrated each other, and were invited to a couple more of these creations, given our travel stipends, and then headed out.

The walk back to the parking lot seemed to take forever. I managed to get home in only 40 minutes (not much traffic), but as the adrenalin wore off, it was a challenge.

Dashed up the stairs, ordered Chinese food for delivery, and jumped in the shower to hose down and decontaminate. Even with some protocols in place, there were still a lot of people involved in the day. My throat was raw and everything hurt, and I knew I’d put myself at risk.

Popped the prosecco, though, and sucked down a couple of glasses along with the Chinese food. It took awhile to unwind. As a non-performer, and also as someone who’s used to writing by myself and then it either goes into the world, or, in the case of a play, it goes into rehearsal with a finite group before going out into the world, it was quite a new experience. But that sense of excitement, creating with others, trusting in them, and then INVITING the audience to experience it with us instead of PRESENTING TO the audience as pretty incredible.

Even if I don’t participate in the next couple of events (one of them, a haiku contest where content is created in the moment, is not something I could even consider doing), I might go as an audience member and support my fellow poets.

I finally collapsed into bed. I woke up around midnight and drank a bottle of water. My throat felt awful. I woke up again at 3 and did the same. Sunday, I rested. I drank tea and water. I took Slippery Elm (which I should have taken before I left, but I didn’t think of it). I’m not used to talking that much, or projecting outdoors. Of course it’s going to leave my throat and voice raw. I read.

Again, the usual pattern would have been to push myself and run myself down even more, probably winding up sick with a cold, if I managed to avoid the plague. At the very least, running myself down would give any exposure to the virus more traction.

So I rested.

I had to run out mid-day for a few errands – pick up my mother’s prescription and get her a new blood pressure monitor, get in some groceries, since I didn’t go to the market on Saturday. Just that little bit wore me out. The heat and humidity were oppressive.

I managed to do another read-through of the next chapters I have to upload for LEGERDEMAIN. I did some work on my article on Saturday morning, but didn’t do any work on Sunday. I put some hooks up in my mom’s closet, hung up some of the copper molds in the kitchen, and hung a quilt on the living room wall.

That was it.

Went to bed at the normal time. Tessa got me up early on Monday. I was still a little tired, but overall felt decent. Still just not loving the heat and humidity.

There’s a post on the GDR site about enjoying the week. There’s a lot going on, and I want to enjoy it.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS released on Monday. I’m proud of all the Topic Workbooks, but I think this one will help a lot of people who get scattered among too many projects.

A ridiculous amount of email piled up over the weekend, so I slogged my way through that. Did the postings of the daily prompt on the site where I couldn’t schedule the posts. Wrote the thank-yous for the event. Signed up for a yoga class. Signed up for an online cooking class at Kripalu, with my beloved Chef Jeremy, and even received a scholarship to attend. Checked in with my friend about my upcoming visit, provided I test negative the morning I’m supposed to leave. Packed for the trip.

Kept track to see if I’m showing any symptoms, or if I felt bad. I mean, I was grumpy in the heat and humidity, and I was tired (hey, I’m not 20 anymore), but overall, I feel fine. My throat was a little raw for a couple of days, but steadily felt better. My voice is still a little scratchy, but I don’t talk much during the course of the day, so that’s to be expected.

Turned around a script and some questions on a previous script I’d covered. Grabbed some shorts to turn around today. I’ve been steadily working on the Italian every day. I’m definitely learning vocabulary, but I’m not understanding sentence construction.

Did some work on a grant proposal, and noodled around with my article and with an idea tossed out by Word X Word.

It was hot and humid when I went to bed, but much better upon getting up this morning. I feel like I can be much more productive today, and I kind of have to be. There are a slew of errands to run late this morning, after I get some work done on the article, the Topic Workbooks, and getting the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes uploaded.

This afternoon, I turn around the three shorts. In the late afternoon, I head out to Greylock Works for a 1Berkshires Entrepreneur meeting at Berkshire Cider. It’s inside, so yes, I’ll be masked.

Someone contacted me about a content writing position. I have to take a look at the details. On the surface, the money looks outstanding, but I need to know more about it.

Hope you had a good weekend, and let’s work toward a good week!

Fri. Aug. 28, 2020: Day 100 of Dying for Tourist Dollars

wave-3473335_1920
image courtesy of dimitrisvetsikas1969 via pixabay.com

Friday, August 28, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and pleasant

The 100th day since the demand was made to die for our employers/die for tourist dollars. The number of infections is going back up, and people are running around pretending it’s over. Disgusting.

Yesterday was a hit-and-miss day. I worked remotely all day, thank goodness, because the weather was wonky.

I read and gave notes on a friend’s series overview. It’s excellent, and I was delighted to read it.

I worked on the article, hated everything I wrote, and will start over today.

I noodled a bit on my client’s ad campaign. I’ve considered and rejected at least a half a dozen storylines. None of them are quite right.

I printed out all the information I could find about the now-defunct Green Mountain College, whose property was recently auctioned off and will, no doubt, be destroyed. Since that whole situation gave me the idea for a piece, I wanted to get as much research printed out before everything online vanishes.

Freelance Chat was fun.

Read Jenn McKinlay’s PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA, which is a lovely escape. Read a bit on the book for NYU book club, and a bit of Pico Iyer’s THE ART OF STILLNESS.

Got out a couple of LOIs, did some follow-up on a few things. Did some research. It was a reasonably productive day, but as usual, didn’t feel that way.

Ordered more ink for the printer.

Still no mail-in ballot for me. Still no response from repeated requests to the Town Clerk.

I skipped the Hate Rally and all the Hatch violations.

Awake at 3:30 this morning, fretting.

Got in a decent first writing session, once I got up around 5. About 5 pages written.

Out early to drop off my mom’s ballot at the ballot box outside Town Hall. They claim it’s “secure” but it did not strike me as such. But at least HER ballot will be counted.

Went to get an oil change. The website extolls all their safety protocols. However, only one staff member was masked. The unmasked staff member was wandering around the cars (people have to stay in their vehicles), chomping on his breakfast sandwich, drinking his coffee and chatting.

No. Just no.

I reversed right out of there.

I’ll try again tomorrow morning, when they hopefully have a different crew. If they, too, are unmasked, I’ll find another place for an oil change.

It’s not masking OR social distancing. It’s masking AND social distancing. Masks are required in MA. I’m tired of these fucking dumbasses who won’t do it, and I’m tired of the lack of enforcement, and I’m tired of business LYING about following protocols when they’re not.

LOIs and client work for the next couple of hours, then I’ll run down to the library for a curbside pickup, then more writing and article work.

Hopefully, I can actually get the oil change tomorrow. The rest of the day is the usual laundry and housework, writing, reviewing a book, and finishing my article. Sunday, hopefully, will be a full day off.

I will put together my proof of voter registration and proof I completed the Census (someone was denied a ballot, supposedly, because of that) to take with me when I gear up and go vote in person on Tuesday.

Have a great weekend.

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