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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why I Write for the Theater

At BU, every one of my writing professors inevitably ask why we/I want to write plays. What's our passion? When were we first "touched" by the theater? What's our earliest memory of the theater?

I've been a playwright for two years, one month, and nine days. I can actually count the time. I was laid off from my last gig on December 11, 2008, working on car accounts at a large ad agency. Talk about a low point in your career. On December 12 I put my feet up on the coffee table with a laptop in my lap and started writing my first play, Red Dog, one that had been rattling around in my head for a few years, about broken hearts, adultery, dogs, writing, whiskey, guns, and redemption--all of my favorite topics. I finished that play five months later in May, and kept writing plays. That I am an actor and I've also read countless plays helped me in the writing. I understood what happens on stage, what actors need, what's possible and what's not.

But I wasn't drawn to the theater the way some are. At least, not on the surface. I've heard so many stories about people who were putting on plays for their parents when they were five or eight or ten, dressing up in their mother's clothes and performing for their relatives. And these are the guys, and I'm only being slightly facetious when I write that. The theater is an inevitable destination for many people. It's a safe haven for so many intelligent, creative people.

But the question, like the subject matter of an essay or play, kept eating at me, because I, unlike so many others, didn't seem to have a clear line, an epiphany on the road to Damascus. Or was there?

I tell this story often to anyone who wonders why I write. I always knew deep down that I wanted to be a writer. I was the kid, from little on, whose essay was read aloud in the class by the teacher as an example of good writing (and if she didn't read it I'd get mad and work so my next one was read.) I guess hearing someone in authority read aloud my words to an audience was the thing I needed to get from childhood to the next phase of life.

Do I have to connect the dots? Not everyone lives his or her life in a straight line. Writing for the theater is no different than being eight years old and handing your essay over to a reader and feeling that jolt of acknowledgment that what you have to say matters. And to take it one step further, that you matter.

The first time I heard one of my plays read aloud I was scared and nervous. For some reason I felt more vulnerable and confessional than I've ever felt before in my life, even though, as you can see from this blog, I'm not averse to baring my soul. And you know what?--as much as I'd like to say it was a terrific, life-affirming experience, it wasn't. The production was horrible, one of the actresses simply was bad, miscast, whatever, and one other actress flubbed her lines. I also had been asked to tailor the play for the festival, in other words, change my play. I never should have done that.

But the second time I saw one of my plays performed, Oh my. Playwriting is a collaborative endeavor. Only songwriters and composers (well, screenwriters, but they're second cousins to playwrights) create with the knowledge that their work is going to be handed off to someone else, or a bunch of someone elses. When I sat in the audience and saw the production of Love on the Rocks at the Provincetown Theater, I actually had a moment where forgot it was my play. I didn't remember writing it, and I didn't have any affiliation to the words or the work. I was stunned. And hooked.

I've always been one to follow my nose. Writing to acting to playwriting. It makes perfect sense to me, and if I wasn't dressing up in my mother's clothes, I was playing with my sister's dolls at a much later age than most boys my age. Does that count?

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Birth of a New Idea

So you take a piece of writing you've been working on for, oh say seven or eight months. Rewriting and rewriting. Let's say you're on 24th draft. And then, at around 2:30 this afternoon you get an email from your professor saying she needs a bunch of questions answered about your work class tomorrow (10:30 a.m.), and oh, yeah, this too:

Rewrite the first utterance/action of the play (one word, one line, one brief exchange or one image) so that it sums up what the play is about. Use sleight of hand, use magic, use trickery to tell us everything and draw us into the story in an instant. Be subtle, be obvious, be direct; be crafty; be brave. I want to know WHO it's about, WHAT KIND OF PLAY this is, and SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT THE WORLD.

And when you think the play is just where you want it, because that's what we're talking about here--a play--at least the first half, which includes the "first utterance" because you slaved and slaved over it and rethought it and rethought it again and again last semester, what do you do when you get this message. Do your freak out? Or do you rethink it again?

Survey says: rethink it. And before even being in the class I don't even know where I came up with what I came up with, but I like it. And it is going to affect the rest of the play, how I visualize it, how I'd write the staging.

I only worked on Highland Center, Indiana on a couple of days during the break, and that was only on the second half, cleaning it up, moving things around. So, I hadn't even thought about the opening since maybe the end of November when I last worked on it in class.

Our minds are incredible, how they work, how they work without us even knowing what they're working on. When this happens, doesn't it almost prove that the universe and other worlds exist simply because there's no proof that they do? Our conscious minds are so limited, knowledge is like the dark matter of the universe: ninety-nine percent of it we can't see. This is why a person can believe that anything is possible, because a new idea is just there, just out of reach, just out of eyesight, waiting.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crappy New England Weather Can't Rain on My Parade

Today was the kind of day when I always asked, why did the Pilgrims stay here? At a little past 5:30, today the day still has the kind of weather that makes you hate New England: Cold sleet is just falling out of the sky. The roads and sidewalks are thick ice, the kind that happens on a skating rinks towards the end of the day. Hard ice with puddles on top. Lakes of slush slosh on either side of crosswalks. And it's supposed to get worse tonight. Still, the weather couldn't put a damper on the first day back of classes.

First up today was dramaturgy with Kate Snodgrass, the head of our program. Familiar faces, new faces, and one student from last semester dropped out. Tons of reading. More tons of writing, and then the grad students have even more writing, plus we have to prepare and lead one class. And I can't wait.

At the theater I saw someone who I've worked with in the past--she was the director for the first play for which I had a staged reading--and she was there working on her auditions for grad schools that she'll be doing for the next two weeks. And I remarked to her how many people I know who are doing such great things with their lives--real positive actions that make you forget about the economy and politics. And I also know so many people that just want to drag people down, or drag them back into the past, and on a day like today, as miserable as the weather was, they still just fade away. A gloomy, bitter day like today can still be so bright and optimistic

Yeah, it's a weird human trait that when people are miserable they want everyone else to be miserable, too. Yes, misery does love company, it certainly does. But not my company. (Plus when I came home there were even more books--scripts actually--for me to read. How cool is that?)

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spinning for Jesus

My running days are over. A recap: Back in September, right at the time when I was just starting grad school, I suddenly had excruciating pain in my right leg. Actually, there were about three kinds of excruciating pains, along with numbness and weakness in my right leg. To make matters worse, sometimes the pain took turns and sometimes they came all at once. The clincher came on about the third night in Harvard Square T stop where I had to hang onto the wall to walk a couple of steps, then stop because the pain was so intense. People steered around me, the look on their faces wondering what brand of urban crazy person I represented. Worse, some didn't even see me.

Then came a month of dealing with today's health care industry at Milton Hospital (quickie diagnosis said it was a slipped disk, cortisone shots were scheduled before an MRI, then an MRI was scheduled when I'm claustrophobic, then the inevitable CYA antics of the doctor who tried to blame me for being claustrophobic, medications were prescribed that didn't even touch the pain, making me live with it for a month, my personal physician had to step in and prescribe more meds so I could take the MRI.) The MRI showed that my disks are in beautiful condition, just like bricks stacked on top of one another with just the right amount of mortar in between. What I have is spinal stenosis, which I've had my entire life. It explains why I can only run a certain amount of miles then I'm bed-ridden. It explains why I never got  to run the Boston Marathon before my fiftieth birthday, because every time I trained I'd get up to running fifteen milers and my body would retaliate. I've been dealing with this my entire life, and as the doctors said I have a very high threshold of pain, so I just always dealt with it. I'm also very stubborn. Or stupid. Pick one.

Which is the reason why this morning I found myself in a spin class at the gym, spinning and pumping to music I'd never otherwise in my life listen to. Dum thumpa thumpa dum dum dum. Well, except the one Pearl Jam and the one Psychedelic Furs songs. It's all to get in shape for cycling this summer. And it's part of Sue's and my commitment to stay in shape as we grow old gracefully, and to stay active. We're both going to be very busy for the next couple of months, but we're determined not to let our health go. Maybe we're a bit vain, but it's more that we don't like to sit around around our keesters and it ain't easy staying in shape in New England when the temps are in the single digits like they were this morning.

When I was selling bikes at REI, I would groan when all the good suburban women from Framinghan, Wayland, Sudbury, and Weston would come in looking for biking shorts, shoes, and tops for their spin classes. Oh, and their gel seats. And now here I am. Sans gel seat, though.

After my first class, I can say a few things. First, it's not easy. There's were a few crazies in there, but I took it easy and did my own pace though, and got a heckuva workout. I've reached the point in my life where slow and steady makes me very happy.  But it's also not cycling. They're not called stationary bikes for nothing. They not only don't go forward, they don't go side to side like a bike does, nor do they flex. So it's kind of like ride a log. It took me about three-quarters of the class to figure this out, but by the end of the class I could sustain standing on the pedals for the whole time of the drill.

I feel great right now, but something tells me my quads are going to be screaming tomorrow. Still, there's plenty of time to heal for the next class Saturday. And the instructor promised me he'd play some stuff off American Idiot.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Coming to the End of a Dog's Life

Something I tell new writers not to do is write about their pets. I know they think they're cute and adorable and there's nothing else like them (just like parents think that stuff about their kids: She stood up in her crib and clapped her hands!) but you have to understand that feeling is only in your inner circle. And what I try to get new writers to do is push to their outer circles and what's in them.

But Al took such a great picture of Bob over the holidays, and frankly Bob's been taking up more than a small portion of my attention lately, I can't not write about him. Besides, I've almost gone so full circle that I can write about my dog if I want. And if you don't like it, just click off.

He gave us a bad scare a couple of weeks ago, and I can't help but look at him so differently now, knowing what he must be going through. He's coming to the end of the line, and that means I'm coming to the end of the line with him. I don't know if this post is about him or me, frankly.

A few weeks ago, it was a Friday, Sue was getting ready for work and I was up and about. I remember we were talking about Christmas; Christmas took up a lot of energy this year, and while we were trying to sort things out, suddenly Sue said, Where's Bob? He's no longer always underfoot, but he usually is somewhere in one of his spots, and he usually gets up with Sue, knowing she'll be a sucker and feed him before me.

We found him lying on the bedroom floor, in his own shit and piss, and he couldn't move his hindquarters. We called the vet, and tried to figure out how to clean him up and get him out of the apartment. We got some towels under him, and a tarp, figuring we could carry him down in a litter, but once we started to hoist him, he didn't want any part of it. He found his legs, and lumbered down the stairs.

The short story is he's just slowly easing toward the end of the line. He's just about blind now. The vet said it's like he has maybe three pair of sunglasses on. So he's slow going just about anywhere except when it's bright sunlight. Down the stairs at night and into the backyard so he can relieve himself is a long process as he feels his way along. I tried putting him on a leash and leading him, but he didn't seem to like that. Bob is smart, and lets you know what's up.

He's pretty much deaf and responds only to the loudest, sharpest noises. He has arthritis in his hips, and nerve damage in his hindquarters, so he doesn't always feel it when he has to go to the bathroom. He'll just walk along the sidewalk and things drop out of him like goose eggs.

All this so far might seem funny or endearing, but at times at can be pretty tough, like when it's pouring rain in the middle of the night and he wasn't responding to commands like he had been taught. Or when he'd relieve himself at the bottom of the stairs before we got out of the house, or right on the porch as soon as we got outside. Yeah, I was short with him. I got mad. I yelled. I said he was bad. And, like I said, he's smart. He had a vocabulary of maybe twenty words or more. We had to spell things sometimes because he knew words like walk, truck, kibble, Rocky (a cat), Toby (a dog). What am I saying; he knew more than twenty words. So when I yelled he took it hard. And I hate myself now for making him feel like that. He was trying. He's always been so good and he was still being good, just not in the way he always had been before. He was old and even he knew it. He hated it when he messed on the porch more than I did.

I knew he was getting old, but I didn't quite absorb it all. Or I didn't want to. I'm not trying to make myself look better than I am (ever hear the saying, I want to be the person my dog thinks I am?) but I questioned if I was getting mad at him because I was scared of the inevitable decision I was going to have to make. Or I was more angry at what seems like desertion. How dare you leave me. He and I have been together since he was twelve weeks old, and now he's thirteen and a half. We went everywhere together, and I mean everywhere. If I had to drive somewhere, he came along. Most times he came into whatever building I had to go into, too. And now he can barely make it back up the stairs.

On December 26 the girls came over and Al brought her dog, Ella Mae. It was snowing like crazy that night, and after dinner we all went out in the snow with the dogs. A neighbor came along with her Lab pup, and that pup and Ella Mae just tore through the snow. And while my girls laughed and clapped at Bob horsing around too, I saw something else. I saw a very old dog who couldn't keep up any more, but who wanted to. I saw a dog who used to be a big strong alpha, get run over by a runty little Lab pup that before would have been nothing more than a chew toy.

We've pretty much come to terms with Bob and what he can and can't do. We don't get guilty when we don't take him places anymore, because we know it will just tire him out. We're patient when he takes his time, knowing he's still the good boy he's always been, still doing things better any other dog. And we've decided that the inevitable day is coming for not only Bob, but us too, and before he goes we're just going to do our best (but not as good as Bob could do it) to make his last days here on earth as good an comfortable as they can be for him.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back in the Saddle

And it feels so good. Spent almost the entire day working on Highland Center, Indiana, a full-length play and the one that I'll probably use for my thesis. Classes start next week, and my playwriting prof wrote to and wants to see some of our work by Friday. She wanted to know where we stood with it, if it was almost finished, if we were sick of it, or what. After working intently on it since around last May, I love going back into that world and dealing with those characters.

And she wants to see something else we're working on, and I'm thinking of showing her Red Dog. I haven't really touched that since the reading last March with Whistler in the Dark, and I know kind of what I want to do with it (based on some really good feedback from the audience that night) but also, just when you think something is easy, that's when you'll get snagged every time. 

I'm so lucky right now to be enjoying what I'm doing. I've written my entire life, professionally for thirty years, and there were times when I was simply writing for a paycheck, which should never happen. And now, I can't wait to get up and get working.

Tomorrow I'll be fixing up details for the writing class I'll be teaching, and again, I can't wait.

And yeah, it's all so familiar. Starting a couple of days ago I've been waking up at around 2:30, I think from the sheer weight of everything I have to accomplish. I just lie there with details swirling in my head. How to line up all the ducks for the class? What can I do about this particular sticky part of Highland Center? (Hint: if it's not character-driven, it's not the answer.)

So welcome back to my world.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gabbie Giffords Shooting Makes Me Think of this Explanation of Gun Control

Every time something like this shooting in Tuscon comes around in the United States--and it happens a lot--I'm reminded what how a visitor from Switzerland once explained gun control to me in her country.

She was visiting, and kept talking about her husband, Eddie, who was away in France hunting boar. It actually started getting funny hearing our friend speak in a French/Swiss accent about "Eddie" and "hunting boars."

Anyway, I started asking her questions, and it turns out not only Eddie but a whole lot of Swiss people have high-powered rifles that they keep in their homes and carry across international borders. "Really?" I said, amazed. "And what keeps you from all shooting one another?" I asked.

"I don't know," she replied. "Maybe we're more civilized."

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is a pretty good explanation of gun control.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Gabbie Giffords: Let's Just Put Out the Fire and Walk Away

The system is broke. Busted. Kaput. Get it? Government. Banking. Business. News Journalism Telecommunications Education Sports All Our Institutions (now say this in your best Yyl  Brynner accent) etcetera, etcetera, etcetera are all ineffectually flapping like an arhythmic heart if they're not  like some disgusting multiheaded mutant that crawled out of the local lake slobbering in your picnic basket at your family's summer picnic.

Now suddenly, all the people who caused the problems are saying, Whoa, enough is enough. All the pundits, commentators, journalists, talking heads are now giving their spin, opinions, their yakkedy-yak and filling the 24/7 talk-news-what's my agenda programs with the same useless, pointless, knee-jerk blather.

News is now agenda. News is business, not reporting or informing. And yes, there are some who are making sense on both sides of the aisle, but for the most part, all the hate and attitude and snarky personas we see and hear on the airwaves are going to stay there because, simply, they make money for those big corporations NBC CNN FOX ABC MTV etcetera, etcetera, etcetera and you think Rush or Bill or even Sarah are going to stop talking? Do you? That's how they make money, too. Say it for me: Muuuuunnneee. That's right. Money. And it's a Pandora's Box: Once they're out, they're not going to shut up and their going to keep defending themselves. I mean, excepting for Imus and Helen Thomas, both of whom pissed off advertisers. It's 24/7 baby, and the sponsors are eating this up.

Last month a man opened fired on a school board in Florida. Here's a parents' blog from January 5th: Three school shootings in as many months. Remember the rash of gay kids committing suicide from bullying? People going berserk, people who simply don't know how to treat others with kindness because all they hear and see is a pop culture of narcissism and greed and nastiness.  I think it's about time we start to realize that pop culture does indeed affect people's behavior, and I'm not advocating  censorship, I'm talking about abuses of the First Amendment where people who should know better--the journalist and the members of the media whose shoes cost more than the some people's average weekly paycheck--who hide behind the constitution and have either a political or business agenda to push.

Now some crazy person (and from all reports he's as crazy as a loon) shoots someone in Congress and kills a few bystanders including a little kid and this story becomes THE BIG ONE. Oh, it's because finally you can really pin this one on Sarah and Rush and Bill (and let's not forget the lesser voices you can hear every day on talk radio, all the wannabes.) Omigod, am I really this jaded that I think it's still all politics and business as usual?

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Morning Without the New York Times

We canceled our subscription to the Sunday New York Times. This morning was the first Sunday morning we didn't crunch up on the little loveseat by the window with our cups of coffee and divy up the fat package of paper and dive in: Travel for Sue, Arts and Entertainment, the front section, and the week in review for me, and the magazine was up for grabs.

I felt bad about it. I've been reading the NYTs for years. I used to say, if you want to a good education, read the Times every day for a year, and at the end of that year you'll be a changed person. It's great reporting--still is, that's undeniable despite many people's disdain, ambivalence, and apathy towards the Mainstream Media (MSM). If a bridge falls down, the Times not only reports the facts of the bridge collapse, you learn about the engineering and construction of that type of bridge, as well as a bio of the architect who designed it. It was, and I think for the most part still is, intelligent, in-depth reporting.

Still, we couldn't justify the $30 a month we were paying. That's $360 a year we could have put towards our travel fund. And, we're so active, and many times after a few articles were read and discussed, the rest of the paper lay on the coffee table for the rest of the week, ignored. We had the best of intentions in mind; we intended to read it all. We just never found the time.  It was just wasting money.

And it's so much easier to find the news and reporting and commentary on the Internet, including the Times' own site. The times they are a changing for the news industry. And I used to freelance as a journalist/columnist, and I loved every minute of it, but I'm not sure of the direction newspapers should take. It's not that you can even get the news cheaper (free) or easier, it's that you can look into an issue more in-depth. There's the Times, the Globe, the Herald, the BBC, NPR, CNN just for starters with the MSM. Then there are the main overseas outlets, then the alternative outlets.

It's ironic that we canceled our subscription right when the shooting in Tucson of Representative Giffords occurred. And it's even more ironic that I first learned of it on Facebook.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

To Live is to Write

I wrote all day today, and this is the first time today I've put fingers to keyboard.

I'm not saying you don't have to put down words every day. Let's get this straight: Yeah, you do. You have to actually write every day. But, unless I'm right on top of a deadline, or the deadline is right on top of me, pinning me to the wall, which is what's usually the case, I don't actually start typing until mid-afternoon. Usually the first thing in the morning I write in my journal, and that counts--sort of--as writing. I'll do a brain dump and write about the dreams I had the night before and basically orient myself (do you know we get the verb, orient, from years ago when east, not north, was at the top of the map because that's where the sun rose, and to right the map you had to "orient it"?)




So today, I was writing all along in my head, thinking about that sticky scene 6 in Highland Center, Indiana that I'll address as soon as I finish blogging. And I thought about what I'd write here, but more importantly, I lived my life, which is what all artists should do. Live it and enjoy it and wrestle with it and swallow it whole.

I talked to both my kids who slept here last night after a night out at the theater and their first jazz bar. I played dad, giving Al advice. I watched a couple of episodes of 30 Rock with Kathryn--we're peas in a pod when it comes to stupid humor and Kathryn and I talk anyway like old friends, laughing and calling each other out and sharing our experiences in the world. (Kathryn has been more organized than me at the age of three, and I've gotten used to it.) And I made red sauce for a dinner tonight and bread and I don't know how many pots of coffee to keep this crew running: Sue in court today, Al with two job interviews (and I can't even get one!), Kathryn to wake up, me because a cup of coffee is usually by my elbow until around noon.

I don't have a lot of friends--I never have; I've always been the type with one or two very close friends, but I cherish them and my small family. I've said it so many times: The most dangerous place in the world is between me and my loved ones.

So, that's how I've written so far today. Which, if you can read between the lines you can see, means writing is living life. You can't do one without the other.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Theater as Church: The Search for Community

Just noticed that StageSource ran a short piece I wrote on theaters trying to build community.

Give it a read here.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Huckleberry Finn, the "N" Word, and Hillbillies

An edition of Huckleberry Finn from NewSouth Books is going to change the word, nigger, to slave--as in Slave Jim, and the word, injun to Native American. I guess that means Injun Joe is going to now be Native American Joe. Hmm...

Fully realizing the power and the ugliness of that "N" word, I still think this is a mistake. The editors are saying they're doing this to make the book more accessible to schools. I guess some school districts have been banning the book, or making it so it's not obligatory, just optional reading. I didn't know that was happening but doing that is just as stupid as changing the word. Huckleberry Finn is not a racist book. It actually preaches the exact opposite, that we are all alike and equal. If people running a school district don't know that, they don't know much and shouldn't be running a school.

Boy oh boy, the South keeps getting us in a pickle, doesn't it? Our country continues to be racist almost 150 years after the Civil War, and we continue to try to fight it by doing goofy stuff like this. The country gets into a big stink over this, when instead the liberals should be fighting tooth and nail when the courts start thinking about rolling back affirmative action.

I find all this so funny. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city just this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Cincinnati is called The Queen City, and also the Gateway to the West. In the olden days, poor blacks (during what is now called The Great Migration) and poor whites funneled through Cincinnati from the South and Appalachia to northern cities to work in factories. They came through Cincinnati on their way to Detroit and Chicago. Some stayed. There's a lot of Southern influence there, along with the Old World German, too. Racism there is right on the surface. When I was a kid the KKK was pretty prominent. Every Christmas it would lobby to put up a cross on Fountain Square, the center of the downtown area. When you'd drive up I-71 toward Columbus, there was a farm right next to the interstate the flew the Confederate flag, had it painted on one side of the barn roof, and had a burnt cross facing the highway. Now that's racism.

Anyway, in Ohio, people in the north look down on us from the south. We're the poor relations. We're hillbillies. A good friend of mine from Toledo teases me about the way I talk--pronouncing words like warsh for wash, and saying I'm going to warsh my haid instead of wash my hair. Even here in Boston, I'm friendly with someone from Cleveland, and when I told her I was from Cincinnati she immediately dismissed me. I forgot exactly what she said, but it wasn't nice.

Just last week, we were having dinner with friends of Sue's who live in Athens, Ohio, where I went to school. They're transplanted there, and both work for the university, one as a professor and the other as an administrator. Now, Athens is in southeastern Ohio, and in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Talk about hillbillies. But it's a university town and very friendly and laid back, and we were all laughing and talking about the same people we knew, and Sue mentioned this business about the north looking down on the south there. And before they could stop themselves, their mouths were taking them down the road that ended with the word, hillbillies, as in, "Oh yes, they call them hillbillies," and they stopped themselves quick and shot me a look and I just smiled and nodded. These people weren't racist, although they knew the word, hillbilly, is derogatory. Hilljack is probably even more so. And then there's white trash. They all mean the same. And I've been called all three, mostly based on my accent. And as I said, these people that night were no more racists than I'm a piece of trash, white, black, Southern, or otherwise.

I keep saying it: This country has to address the racism that's present here, but you have to really face it. What I find interesting is, if you read Malcolm X, you'll find that he eventually came to the conclusion that people aren't racist, that it is really our society that is. I tend to agree with him.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting a Bang Out of Life

What's a new year all about, huh? Making resolutions?  Nope, don't think I ever kept a one. Turning over new leaves? Sorry, I'm comfortable in my own skin, thank you very much. Picking up where you left off last year after all the holiday madness? Ding, ding, ding, ding. Congratulations, you won the combination washer/dryer.

I am such a Grinch, but excepting for one or two days, like when we all went out to see A Child's Christmas in Wales and had dinner afterward, or the day my kids all came over for dinner and stayed over because of the Blizzard of 2010 (what blizzard?--I saw somewhere that someone said, a blizzard in Boston is your typical day in Syracuse), you could have kept the whole business. I always keep a stack or two of books nearby, and by stack I mean stack--a veritable Leaning Tower of Pisa of books on the floor, a Great Wall of China of books across the width of the coffee table. I am so lacking, or rather, I feel I am so lacking in literature and drama, that every time one of my professors or fellow students evens alludes to a play or novel or writer that I haven't read or haven't read in a while, I go to the library and take out everything I can find.

But it is hard to get back into a real groove, when there is so much to do and the holidays were kind of harrowing, emotionally speaking, of course.  But that's what I'm doing today. Now starts that long, long dark, cold trip to June, when I think there's what?--one holiday in there? Frankly, I like everyday life, the way I've made it, over any kind of holiday. I usually have more fun in my regular every day life. I like my everyday life. Who wouldn't? It's steeped in loved ones and books and theater and the outdoors and all the things I get a bang out of in life.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Writing and the New Year

It's the first day of the New Year and we have been spending it lounging in bed drinking coffee and reading our books, flinging the windows open to get some fresh air in the apartment and the stale air out, cleaning off the porch of slush and tightening the chords on the tarps on the outdoor patio. How exciting, huh?

Sue's about ready to go out on a call. Work has been thin for her, too, and it's awful to think that we're going to benefit from someone's misfortune. Still, if you look at it right, Sue is really an angel of mercy who comes into people's lives who need a bit of help. It's weird to think that the government steps into people's lives when it concerns the family or their kids. Before I knew Sue I might have railed against government intrusion. But after knowing Sue and the job she does, society would be a lot worse--think Dickensonian--if someone like her didn't intervene. It's extraordinary to think how many people end up with kids simply because some woman got drunk one night (or two or three) and spread her legs or some guy couldn't think past his six seconds of ecstasy.

Obviously, this is the first post of the year. Last year I blogged 99 times. The year before that 108, and the two years before that 396 and 529. The high numbers are a testament of just how bored you can get sitting in a cubicle in an ad agency. This past year I tailed off because I was doing so much writing for school. It feels good to sit here, though, and type these words for whoever feels like logging on here and reading, curious of what's rattling around in my head or the goings on in my (and Sue's) life. I've said it time after time: Writers write. There's no stopping us, any more than you can stop a rodent from gnawing on a piece of wood or an electrical cord. And we write sometimes with the same disastrous results.

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