Couldn't think of a cool title…

September 11, 2011

Coming back here, for awhile?

Filed under: Memories, Personal — me @ 6:19 pm

I remembered that I had written this post on this day five years ago so I went back to re-read it and was kind of surprised to see that the last thing I had posted was just after Christmas this year. Things were just beginning. It’s funny how months can go by and people feel like nothing ever happens to them, and then sometimes a week happens that changes you forever. Today I also read this beautiful article from Colin MacEnroe and thought today is as good a day as any to engage in that exercise. What has happened to me in 10 years?

Ten years ago I had been living in my first apartment for about six months. I was just learning to balance bills and was living a starving artist freelance lifestyle. I was excited to be getting work as a teaching artist and doing a lot of overhire electrics in local theatres. I had been living off savings, more or less, for some time then and the challenge of paying bills, especially student loans, was probably starting to catch up to me. Today I have a lot more financial stability but still go through periods (like this week) when I live far closer to the edge than I would like. I moved out of that apartment five years later, to where I am now. Today I struggle with loving the place I live in but knowing I need to leave. I took classes to become a foster parent last year. Things got put off a bit during the difficult months after my last post here– in an ironic climax I spent about a week wondering with great seriousness if I was going to need to take custody, unofficially or officially, of BestNieceEver. Instead I ended up taking her every weekend for 3 1/2 months, with great support from some friends and not-terribly great support from some members of my family. It all also resulted in a painful conversation with my landlord that hit the nail in the coffin that, foster care or no, it’s time to move on. It’s just taking me longer than I would like to make it happen.

If you had asked me then what I most wanted to do I would probably have said direct. Today I want to direct, with my whole heart, but I want to have the income to finance my future a bit more. Mainly I continue to want to be a part of the field I love, and contribute as much as I can. Ten years ago I might have jumped at the chance to take my Old Job. Today I look back on the 3 1/2 years I had there fondly but know it was better to have moved on.

Ten years ago I was trying out yahoo personals and going on a date every now and then. Today yahoo has gotten out of the personal ad game but I still belong to eHarmony. I struggle with whether to continue to spend money on a service I only sporadically use, but I feel just as terminally single today as I did then, and after over 10 years, on and off, of therapy, I’m pretty frustrated that this issue has not gone away.

Ten years ago I was in lust with a man. He had a girlfriend at the time. They broke up for awhile but are now married and have a baby girl. My lust has not gone away, it just– is what it is.

Ten years ago I had a CD case full of music in my car. It was 98% music that either I had found because of shows I was in or BestFriendfromHighSchool had introduced me to. My car, and all the CDs was stolen in 2002 and until recently didn’t listen to much new music at all. Only in the past year has music been a major part of my life.

Ten years ago I didn’t belong to a church. I had church shopped a little bit and felt like I wanted to belong somewhere but everything with my friend’s death and all that made me very cautious about where to go. Today I went to the annual picnic for the church I’ve attended for 9 years.

Ten years ago I was starting a long process of getting off of antidepressants. Today I’ve been back on them for almost six years, and the Doc says it’s likely I won’t go off of them again.

There have been many funerals, some of which have reached down inside me to the point that I thought my head would never feel screwed on properly again. Too many taken too soon.

There were some births, the most touching to me, of course, being BestNieceEver, my 29th birthday present. I’ve honestly never loved anyone more.

Ten years ago, my relationship with my family held me back from fully realizing my dreams– although I would never have been able to articulate it that way. Today, things are better. But not as better as they ought to be.

Ten years ago I think I would have hoped that by now I would have it all figured out. Today I wonder if it’s possible ten years from now I could even hope to.






August 13, 2010

The year AFTER the year after college

Filed under: Memories — me @ 11:30 pm

I think about writing in this blog often and have had trouble getting the confidence to just put thoughts on screen. So thought tonight I’d try adding to my memory collection, getting closer to my real age now. My twenties blend together a bit more for me than other memories of my life.

The year AFTER the year after college I directed a production of Once on This Island, Jr. that I was very proud of. It was really satisfying to see my vision come to fruition and also to hear really genuine praise from people who had not expected they would enjoy it.  

Aside from that I pined deeply over a long time lust. And I tried valiantly to stay afloat financially. In some ways it was my first “real” on-my-own year, when the novelty of a first apartment had worn a bit and the question of what-do-I-do-now-with-this-adulthood? loomed large for me. I was still in graduate school and looking forward to getting credits out of the way so that I could student teach. A lot of my life felt awry for some of that year, but it was also the year I found a church and a gym, and a small group of friends that were growing more important to me– so in some ways I suspect I was, at times, happier that year at times than I’d been in a long while.

March 8, 2010

20 years ago yesterday

Filed under: Memories, Personal, Sister — me @ 10:49 pm

I started menstruating. I was not happy about it. I cried that whole night and stayed home from school the next day grieving over it. How dare my body defy me by growing up against my wishes?

Twenty years is a L-O-N-G time. I think if I could change one thing, it would be to have someone find out why that little girl was so determined to stay little and coax her out of the notion, if possible. If I could change two things, it would be that my parents had found a community of their own to help them navigate the strange world of parenting teenagers. And if I could change three things it would be that Sister would have found her way into a therapist’s office somewhere along the way.

How did you feel about growing up twenty years ago? Are there things you would change if you could?

December 31, 2008

I’m not sure I trained enough for this particular marathon…

I love Christmas. And I have loved the Christmas-ness of this Christmas. Every night for the past week has been a joyous special thing that only the glittery soul of Christmas can create. My apartment is clean and sparkly with Christmas lights and candles and I’m hopeful that this little step of having a pleasing living space is a sign of more pleasing living to come.

Twice I visited my friends in the Christmas show I had been a part of for the 6 years prior. I miss it, and I miss them, but I guess it may be better in this season of change in my life to have had less of the running around that particular gig required. I needed the time. I mourn missing out on what was special there, in the same way I have mourned my leaving the Real Job– but I’ve been better for it, I’m sure.

I was part time through December 20th, and on that day a party was held in my honor. It was an odd collection of people but a very sweet little gathering that left me feeling cared for and more hopeful/less sad than I had expected. Not everything was done that needed to be done, so the loss was dulled by the fact that I still had my keys and a few files– it wasn’t like I wouldn’t be back. But I am coming to terms that I need to face this- finally, and really– and as I was driving around yesterday I found myself repeating aloud, “I don’t work there anymore. I don’t work there anymore…” My sleep has been filled with a sort of anxious self-loathing collection of dreams, in which I’m often late for appointments, unfairly accused of wrongdoing, and consumed with feelings of guilt. Apparently there is still shit to work out…

My week overall, however, as I mentioned before have been very special (if distracting,) and gratifying– but exhausting. An overview:


  • I did my very gift bag/candy run and then saw the Christmas show. HIGHLIGHT: Playing Santa handing out candy to everyone and my friend C’s reaction to his Christmas present. LOWLIGHT: I miss them.
  •  After a quick stop over at my parents’, I went to dinner with Soon- to- be- in- the- Navy-Cousin for Christmas Eve dinner, of which I only had time to eat a little bit before running off to be late for Church. HIGHLIGHT: Hanging out with Cousin. LOWLIGHT: There’s only so much I can take of one particular relative’s arrogant talk.
  • Church. HIGHLIGHT: The music and candles made the rushing back worth it, and my Minister’s grabbing my arm on my way out to see if I was working and how I was made me feel noticed and cared for.
  • Stopped back home and said hi to my landlord’s family, and then drove BACK to my parents, tossing presents under the tree and then sleeping in the guest bedroom upstairs. HIGHLIGHT:  Landlord’s son (who used to live in my apartment) was very impressed with my apartment, which I was so proud of . LOWLIGHT: I wanted to spend more time with them but it was hard not to feel like I was intruding on a family moment.


  • I got to sleep in and Sister, Brother-in-Law, and BestNieceEver showed up sometime in the early afternoon, better than last year. I got a cordless phone I’d been needing and knew I was getting. BestNieceEver wasn’t real interested in the whole sitting around opening presents thing but otherwise it was a fun time. My presents were well-received overall.  I had gotten BestNieceEver a magnadoodle and her first pair of jeans, both of which seemed to go over well. My dad seemed simultaneously mystified and impressed with his new iPod Shuffle and my mom has been reading the books I got her, so those seemed to have been a hit too. HIGHLIGHT: Playing Let’s-Throw-Wrapping-Paper-in-the-Air with BestNieceEver. LOWLIGHT: Brother-in-Law was freaking out about being late for the party with the other side of his family so he spent most of the time there looking at his watch.
  • I headed back to my place in the evening and enjoyed a quiet night with my Landlords, exchanging presents and eating Christmas cookies. HIGHLIGHT: Peace and quiet.


  • Friday afternoon my friends J&J came over with their 3 kids and we had ice cream sundaes and played Apples to Apples. The kids seemed to enjoy the books I got for them but it was clear they weren’t as cool as the seven million other presents they’d gotten in the past few days. J&J are probably going to hate me for the Joke Book I got their middle child– she has taken to reading aloud from it nonstop and the jokes are, well, pretty bad. HIGHLIGHT: It was wonderful just to be with my friends.
  • My parents came over later that evening before heading off to see the show I had gotten tickets for them to see, and then I was off to a Christmas party with the Christmas show people. HIGHLIGHT: My dad called me later just to say he loved the play. I rule!


  • The Big family party at my Dad’s Cousin’s house. HIGHLIGHT: BestNieceEver was the hit of the party. LOWLIGHT: My Great Uncle cried– he has lost 3 siblings and is so depressed… and no one really knew what to do.
  • After I got back I turned around and went back out to see Urbanblight and some of our old friends from high school. HIGHLIGHT: It was great to talk to them. LOWLIGHT: I wanted more time, and one of our friends seems particularly depressed.


  • Sunday was my friends J&J’s daughter’s 13th birthday. HIGHLIGHT: The little time with them I had before running off to the next thing. LOWLIGHT: The holiday was really beginning to wear on my at this point.
  • After that party I was off to a reunion of sorts for my high school at a local bar. HIGHLIGHT: Talking to people I really haven’t talked to for ten years. LOWLIGHT: Wishing my Life’s Transition wasn’t the main story I had to tell.


  • Went back to the office and did a bunch of stuff I wasn’t paid for and won’t be sufficiently appreciated for. Cynical? Maybe. But it was my choice and I still feel if I hadn’t done it I’d be worried about those things.
  • Sleep deprived and barely functional I did  something truly crazy. I had the kids I used to babysit– now 12 and 15!– to sleepover. We watched THREE episodes of Quantum Leap, played Scrabble and Apples to Apples, and I somehow managed to stay awake to just past midnight. HIGHLIGHT: They fell in love with my favorite TV show.


  • After the girls left I fell back asleep for several hours, despite really needing to tie up a bunch of loose ends at the (former) office of mine. OldBoss sent me an email officially announcing my Replacement, who had confidentially told me of their offer last week. Still sorting out how I feel about all that.
  • Went off to a Holiday Dinner for a scholarship foundation that gave me an award in high school. HIGHLIGHT: Good food. LOWLIGHT: Not really having much to talk about to anyone, except the kid I used to babysit– who’s now more than a foot taller than me and in seminary school. I feel old.
  • And now, back at my parents’, where BestNieceEver is sleeping over as well.


So yeah. Kinda tired. Somehow supposed to go to two parties TOMORROW too. We’ll see if the weather– and my stamina– cooperates.

November 29, 2008

On a Day After Thanksgiving Ten Years Ago Today

Filed under: Memories, Personal, Spirituality — me @ 4:32 am

I was at a funeral I could never forget. Sitting in the surround-sound call-and-response of a Baptist church as the preacher talked about how God created them Male and Female, watching and hearing the outrage (and approval) around me, my head spinning- not fully able to comprehend what was happening. The preacher droned on, saying “and the Bible says…,” “because the Bible says…,” “remember the Bible says…,” — and I sobbed, embarrassed of my Christianity, angry to be part of a human race that could desecrate the dead, ashamed to be a witness my Dear Just-Turned-20-Year-Old friend be attacked even in death.

I remember seeing Urbanblight’s stone face in the back of the church as several people began walking out of what he would later describe as the most offensive thing he’d ever seen. I remember Uccellina somehow magically appearing next to me and somewhere in there after the fifteen thousandth chorus of “the Bible says” I reached out and found the Bible in front of me, running my hands through the pages until I found the sex laws in Leviticus and tore that thin paper out and found a tiny fraction of relief. In my grieving mind I could live with “the Bible says” being shouted ahead of me, so long as in my head I could reply “well THIS one Bible doesn’t.”

People often say they don’t remember their 21st birthday and the drunkness it often involves. But I remember that when I turned 21 a few months later, I realized it was a blessing he would not get. The finality hit home as I realized that to turn 21 was not a Given. I was blessed with these past ten years, and I’ve done my best with them. My Friend would have been 30 this past October, and I often wonder where his life would have taken him. I imagine it is hard the first time ANYONE goes to the funeral of a young person, particularly one who had been close. It was inconceiveable to imagine that someone so strong and healthy, someone who had been such a friend to me– could suddenly be gone.

But Friend’s passing left me with more than an increased sense of the Fragility of Life.  It changed me as a Person of Faith. Neutrality was no longer an option. I have tried to remember him well and to tell his story when it mattered most. It is in this way that I have come to some meager peace over such tragedy, to find some comfort that the tale of his passing could make a Difference, and that one day it would be unimaginable that such a thing might happen to another. May he, and the others whose tales are far too like his, rest in peace.

January 15, 2008

Senior Year in College

Filed under: Memories, Workaholism — me @ 3:03 am

Figure make up for lost time and continue with these stories. Let’s see. Senior Year was a very busy one at school.  I directed four shows and choreographed a dance piece. I also wrote a 108-page thesis and discovered the Writing Center on campus, promptly wishing I’d taken advantage of it the rest of my four years there. Oh and I completed a minor in my spare time. So yeah, fully embracing my workaholic-ness at the time. I wisely gave up on living on-campus and was totally at SecondFamily’s house that year, to my BestFriendFromCollege’s chagrin. The man I was in lust with got engaged, which I found extremely inconvenient (although he didn’t actually marry her until several years later, so I guess it was nice — in a way– to have time to get used to the idea).

In some ways I think I entered adolescence late, and I remember being more “difficult” in this period of my life than I ever was in high school. One incident that stands out, was being in a show, which received mixed reviews on campus– and was required to write a paper for the professor/director about what a good play it was. The style of the director had been very oriented towards creating an ensemble of people that would feel passionately about the work and making autobiographical contributions to a larger social theme in the play, and on a level I did both– but I got hung up on certain aspects of the whole project I found unprofessional, and on a sense that my life was being exploited in a way. I felt a strong sensation that this professor was trying to understand me, and that the conclusions she was drawing were incorrect– but instead of revealing myself more fully it closed me off further to her. What I wrote in the paper was honest, but taken to be hurtful, and I do regret it. It served no great good to burn that bridge. Unfortunately the professor was also my thesis advisor and that whole incident created a distance that did no good for that project either. My grades weren’t really affected by any of this, but the whole year had an energy of discomfort that really was unnecessary. In a way, it was my first experience with politics, and the first strongly negative reaction I’d received to stating my opinion–and it took quite a long time to sort out where I had gone wrong and what had happened to what could have been a meaningful professor-student relationship.

BestFriendFromCollege and I had a graduation party together in a rented tent on campus, and I was so happy my SecondFamily and my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and Cousin’s Wife were able to come out. There was definitely a sense of relief, being done, and a sense of good adventures to come.

I spent much of the summer in Europe, first on a “business trip” with my family in Germany that then turned into visits to Brussels and Paris as well. Then I went on my own trip studying directing in Italy and marveled at the scenery every chance I got. It was all rather heavenly.

Back in the states I felt great trepidation, having worn out my welcome to some extent at SecondFamily’s house and needing to earn money to get an apartment of my own.

These memories for so long seemed to be not-that-long-ago and lately I’ve been realizing how distant college seems. I’ve been missing it, or parts of it, as I’ve wondered about my suddenly seeming uncertain future and even toyed with the idea of getting a sixth year degree or PhD down the road. There certainly is something insular, and attractive about the little world of a college campus, pursuing one’s own research and stretching the mind. My master’s experience was very different because I was even more detached from the college itself, commuting in for a class or two each semester. It’s now been two years since I’ve had to write anything for a class, and after SO MUCH school for so long it’s kind of striking to realize that. It’s also been about seven years (I think) since I’ve been in a play (other than a couple brief performances at church a couple years back), and about nine years since I’ve been in an acting class myself. Is that what I want? I guess a lot of my work these days feels like I’m GIVING a lot, and I don’t have much that is giving to me. Something to think about.

August 18, 2007

Sophomore Year in College – New York, frustrations, and drunken-ness

Filed under: Memories — me @ 7:06 pm

I haven’t written one of these memories in awhile, had to go back to remember where I was at. It may be sad when I actually finally reach my actual age– or maybe I’ll come up with memories I have of other people at different ages, that could be interesting. Blogging is such a strange mix of conversation, semi-public journal, and self-indulgence– luckily all the people who care to even read this are well-versed in putting up with me. 🙂

Sophomore year started with my semester in New York City, in some ways my “real” move-in-to-college moment I guess. I lived at a Y on the 9th floor (as I recall)– and just so I wouldn’t be homesick for my previous dorm experiences, someone was thoughtful enough to pull the fire alarm a couple times at 3 or 4 in the morning. As my normal “day” at the time was running about 8:30AM-1:30PM, the sleep distruption did not sit well with me, and even less did the forced marches down 9 flights of stairs to wait in a lobby with 100 other pyjama clad strangers. You can’t take an elevator when there’s supposedly a fire, you see. Of course once we would be given the go ahead to return to our mattresses, the mad rush at the elevator made it impossible to get back up to my room without waiting another hour in line– so I would turn around and have to crawl my way BACK up 9 flights. Talk about character building.

It was Urbanblight’s first fall in NY too, and it was nice having someone I knew to catch up with on the phone in the middle of the night and see a show or two with.

My classes were a mix of really interesting and disappointingly basic in my view, but I was thrilled to be back to immersion in theatre and dance, and had by then fully committed my brain to the notion that I was a director as much as an actor. There was this one guy in my group, G, who turned 25 that fall and was the second oldest, with me being the baby at 19. He was a dick. He came from some midwestern liberal arts school where he was the star of his theatre department and pretty much felt that every show we went to see or class we took was beneath him. We did a lot of dance work that usually made him uncomfortable and when we would have history classes or critiquing sessions regarding dance performance he made a point of saying he thought it was all a waste of space and his time. I tried really hard to like him and finally pretty much gave up one day when he point blank told me that he thought I shouldn’t be there at 19. I remember I got him a Christmas card. Cuz that’s the kind of person I am. Or the kind of person I was then anyway.  Outside of my discovery of instant messenger friends and the occasional Midnight call from Urbanblight, it was definitely a lonely time. I was coming into my own in some ways but, just as with my 9th grade year in 10th grade geometry– I never quite fit into the social realm of the group I was with, either in class or at my internship. We had a final paper due our last week and this dancer C who I always loved came by my room to use my computer a few times. As she typed we talked about our common distaste for G’s condescension and our experiences seeing more performances in three months than we’d seen in our whole lives. Its striking to me that it was two and a half whole months before I latched on to someone as a friend and not an acquaintance. And then suddenly we were in a taxi on our way back to the Y for the last time, my father was knocking on my room door at far too early an hour, and I was dragging my CPU through the elevator doors for a trip back home.

The transition back was difficult. Students who go back abroad for a semester or a year are often warned about reverse culture shock, and NY life is as much a different culture as anything I found. I had one professor I truly believed in, and I rather unfairly based all of my happiness on him. I was disappointed, first to be dropped (for administrative reasons) as his advisee, and then to find out (as stage managing for a director often does) that he had faults. Adolescence had finally kicked in and I was furious at the situation and at him.

I got drunk for the first time. I believe it was a cider and a half. Maybe two. I knew I was drunk sitting on the floor of my  friend R’s dorm room floor, when I started laughing and I couldn’t stop. In the back of my head I remembered the lecture a guest speaker had given to a certain social issues theatre group I’d belonged to in high school– his theory was that a kid drinks a beer or two in the woods with friends for the first time, and he has a mood change. He may have heard that alcohol does certain things, he may have wondered about it, but there is a moment when he first experiences it that is locked away in the memory for the rest of his life. And I remember thinking “this is the mood change.” And it’s true, that whenever I really seriously talk about wanting to get drunk (which has remained about as sad a feat as it was back then, I must say) what I’m really saying is that I want to get back to that sensation of tickling, almost floating in my head, when I have an awareness of everything around me but– softer, when I feel the pleasure of my amusement and don’t mind as I notice I can’t wrap my hands around myself to hold in or conceal what I’m thinking

July 31, 2007

Freshman Year in College

Filed under: Memories — me @ 11:30 pm

I remember there was an opportunity to watch PULP FICTION on the Quad during Orientation, and thinking that that must be weird, hearing that particular movie down the block. I was in a single room, which was quite a relief to me but did little to bring me into a college community I was pretty stubbornly opposed to bonding with. The whole how-did-I-get-here thing loomed large and I very much expected to transfer out sophomore year.

It was weird, being 7 blocks away from home but AT college. It was like I wasn’t allowed to celebrate my entrance into college or mourn the changes in my life– after all, I was just going to be down the street, right? And that sort of added to the insult of it all. The loner status I had carved out was cemented here, and I felt very much out of the loop socially.

I remember we played I NEVER that first month and my best-friend-to-be was the only one who had had sex. Everyone made a big deal about it, which was sort of odd to me since she’d been seriously dating her boyfriend for 2 years and was clearly engaged-to-be-engaged. One of the sweetest girls there also admitted to have smoked pot once in high school, and everyone was appalled because it wrecked their 4-minutes-old image of her– so I felt pretty badly for both of them. I just missed being the completely odd one out by admitting I had had a cavity before, so I wasn’t completely sheltered and there was at least one person who had done ONE less thing than I had.

Sometime before Halloween a man I liked kissed me on my neck and I liked it. I liked it so much I spent the next 36 hours thinking I was going to throw up.  I spent most of the rest of the year a little nervous that a fear of vomiting was destined to ruin any chances for my future sex life.

Freshman year was the year I really attached myself to directing. I had directed before, sort of as an after-thought or because it was something no one else had signed up for, but it was somewhere in this year that I found my director’s eye and began to enjoy that part of the process as much as performing. Someone asked me what my “concept” for a particular play was, and I asked what they meant– they replied, “What touches you about this play?” And that has sort of stayed with me in so much of the work I’ve done as an artist, exploring and cultivating what it is that touches me in a piece of theatre.

p.s. Urbanblight– remember when you babysat my friend’s fish– Sampson?– and they thought I’d killed it and replaced it with another one.  I totally forgot about that…

June 30, 2007

Senior Year

Filed under: Memories, Personal, Sister, Spirituality, Talks with the Doc — me @ 5:04 pm

There were ways I fully came into my own. Having been relieved of any obligation to take any more math classes until college, I had enough credits to just take 3 classes and a study hall at Real School. I took a semester of Speech and a semester of Urban Literature with really great teachers. In speech I sat with a friend from Arts School and had a grand time basically hanging out and occasionally writing stuff. With probably 30 kids in the class, it was a breeze for me– give a speech once every couple weeks and spend the rest of the month listening to people. In Urban Literature we studied primary sources of the history of my sometimes sad city, and read books like Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas, a book that probably would have been banned in most of my friends’ more suburban school districts. I remember reading an amazing short story about a little boy earning his father’s praise by shooting an escaped slave. Then I went to Psychology, which was taught by my Biology teacher from the year before. This teacher was one of the great ones, and taking a class with her in a subject I was actually interested in was academic bliss. There are times when I feel compelled to defend my alma mater despite its very real issues– and she is a reason. I saw my college friend’s biology and psychology homework and marveled at how easy it was compared to the standards she held us to. There was chemistry though, because my school required 2 lab classes to graduate. Chemistry was a class my father pushed me to take when I thought physics sound much more interesting and useful. I maintain that I was right to this day. Chemistry class for me represented, now and then, everything that was wrong about education today. Once every week or two there would be a test. I would memorize terms the night before, take the test, and promptly shuttle the knowledge out of my brain. I worked the system, masterfully, earning an A- in the course. After years of taking “Honors” classes in almost every subject, I purposely downgraded to an “Academic” class. But I did not then, nor do I now, have any understanding of chemistry, period– in a class that was supposedly preparing me for college level science classes. Chemistry’s entire significance was that it allowed me to pass high school.

Art School, of course, was fabulous. My acting classes were wonderful, including my main one that had a great new teacher I am friends with to this day. My classmates and I were very close-knit and we enjoyed ourselves except for occasional worries about whether our presentations would be sufficiently impressive enough to the younger classes we imagined looked up to us. There were several performance events towards the end of the year that I felt proud of and I cannot begin to express how grateful I was for having been able to have had the chance to do them. I had convinced Urbanblight to forego his parochial school education (I don’t recall that took much convincing) and join me there. This made for great fun and lots of Burger King (weird now, since he’s a vegetarian), although there was a definite moment when he realized he knew a thing or two, and didn’t quite hold me up in quite the same way he used to. There were areas in which he always thought of me as wiser or more knowledgeable, and I distinctly remember feeling a little threatened when his confidence  changed.

It was a difficult year for me in terms of Sister. January 4, 1996 stands out to this day as the worst night of my life. I remember calling Urbanblight at 6:02AM the next morning to tell him how I watched her come down from what we think was pot laced with heroin, in my bedroom, thinking she was going to die and believing it would be my fault for not calling a hospital or telling my parents upstairs. He had to explain the early call to his parents by claiming my parents were so stupidly conservative we didn’t have a TV or radio to notify us as to whether Arts School was having a snow day. I told my parents she was sick and that I was tired from taking care of her and convinced them to let me stay home from school too.  I remember volunteering to shovel off and warm up my dad’s car, and putting a Blues Traveler tape in while I sobbed, the first moment I’d been able to, obsessing over the image of my 15 year old very little sister, clutching her dirty white teddy bear, confessing, “I’m not strong.” I repeated a verse that I had desperately found in my Bible that night, “The Lord is good to all and his compassion is over all that he has made.” And I remember thinking how– ironic?– it was that in the end I would find a way to tell this story but that there would always be a sort of guilt or embarrassment to admit that my religion had meant something on the worst night of my life. I remember Urbanblight coming over after school with my “homework” and the smell of his green jacket while he held me. I remember watching TV with my mom and my sister, and how my mom stared at my sister suddenly– and I knew she knew that something was up, something wasn’t right. I remember Ucellina’s reaction– “Wow, I think you finally entered adolescence.” And I remember that it was very odd how life went on as if nothing happened.

A few months later Sister was skipping school with some friends and they were in a car crash, the day a new Children’s Hospital opened in town. She had a black eye– or more accurately, a startling RED eye, for some time afterwards. My parents were embarrassed and mad, and I imagine scared that she could have been more hurt. Her Catholic school made an example of them, overtly saying “see this is what happens when you skip school.” Sister had always been at war with the administration of her school on  a lower level, but this was the moment when things got really bad there, and for my parents with her. And I remember feeling powerless to protect  her from herself or from these various adults’ feelings towards her. I longed for her to find a sport or hobby, a class she enjoyed– but she settled on a boyfriend and smoked cigarettes out on the back porch while my parents either didn’t notice or pretended not to. Mornings especially were a nightmare, with my mother screaming upstairs, begging Sister to get out of bed and go to school, Sister yelling back to leave her alone. If ever a situation called for professional help it was this, but as far as I can tell my parents sought out no real resources for themselves or for her.

I recently was talking with the Doctor about my college selection experience, something I had not thought about in some time. It surprised me how quickly and deeply the pain of that time cut into me. Struggling and then choosing to go to Boston. Telling my parents my decision (in tears), and then telling my friends over the next 12 hours. My mom showing up at school unannounced to take me to lunch. Driving around while she told me that my father was “scared,” that we “couldn’t afford it,” that she didn’t think I “really wanted it,” and that I needed to go to school seven blocks from my house. Robbed of my decision, I sat in shock, anger, paralysis. My mother was purposely manipulating my emotions to keep me there. I think it was then that I became stubborn. It was then that I realized how hard I had to fight some things. It was then that the “outbursts” I sometimes get criticized for today (in my professional life surrounded by passive agressive types) became a survival mechanism I had determined I must learn. I had already told people. It had taken so much energy to embrace Boston and to make myself sign up– for me and my future, to choose to grow rather than to hold on to my childhood. And suddenly that couldn’t happen, because what was really important was that I protect my family emotionally, in every way.

The more I think about senior year the more I realize how complicated a time it was for me. I guess it is no wonder that 11 years later I would still be processing so much of it.

June 20, 2007

Eleventh Grade, in which I become something of a teenager three years late

Filed under: Friends, Good Moodiness, Memories — me @ 8:22 am

Junior year was the year I swore for the first time. Actually, there are three times I can remember swearing– it happened so rarely that I actually remember them individually. The first was at Friend’s Party after a Semiformal for the Arts School. I didn’t go to my regular school’s prom but I went to these semiformals junior and senior year and I’m sure loved them more than I ever would have the prom. At any rate, at this particular after-party, I was being teased for never swearing and someone said “Just say shit.” To which I responded, “I don’t have anything to say shit for.” Suddenly realizing my mistake, I collapsed to the floor embarrassed while everyone else laughed.

The second was a particularly intense day of Tech week for that revue I was co-directing. I remember gathering Urbanblight and some friends cermoniously in the hallway, totally stressed and wanting to blow off steam– to utter the word “Fuck.” I guess you had to be there.

The third was extra special. Friend was graduating after having spent the year together in classes and performing, and I had grown pretty attached. He said that what he wanted for his graduation was to hear me say “Eat shit you motherfucking cocksucker.” Uccellina was a witness, so she can attest that I am not making this up. Suffice it to say, I said it and it actually made him cry.

Eleventh grade was also the year I saw my first R-rated movie– Pulp Fiction, no less– with all my “legal” friends on my 17th birthday. No I’m not kidding. We made an event of it and I was only slightly traumatized by it.

After that I pretty much returned to my Puritanical ways until college, but those incidents, in highlighting my abstinence in all areas of being less-than-perfect, helped to solidify my identity in a way, in that “innocence” was an identity. I was never moralistic– I had no judgement on how others were living their lives, but for some reason my expectations for myself were just this side of Amish. But somehow I had found a way in my artsy group of misfits and counter-culture loving teenagers who made a point of being “different” that that just happened to be what was different about me, and as long as I was sweet about it and didn’t tell them THEY couldn’t sleep around, it was cool. Having taken on that identity I became more comfortable in my own skin around then, and really started to care as much about hanging out with friends as I did about school or shows.

And hang out I did. I spent a lot of time hanging out in parking lots, which is what you do in a state that doesn’t provide much else for teenagers to do with their time. (I actually also remember we were so bored one night that we wandered around a grocery store. Our communities were so lucky to have such good kids like us that were turning to produce rather than drugs and looting like normal unstimulated adolescents.) The Ground Round Parking lot was our favorite but it was soiled as a hang out the first time a major fight erupted. There was a time when driving through my fair state that I had a memory of some fight my friends had at practically every fast food restaurant parking lot I came across. Usually the fights were spearheaded by the girls, who were jealous of each other a good deal of the time.  I by no means mean to imply that Urbanblight was faultless but I think its fair to say that he was often a victim of his own 16 year old guy idiocy, surrounded by women (who knew?) that sometimes just totally baffled him.

But that aside, my social life was now, and for the first time, a really important part of my to do list. I was still working hard in school and spending my summers working at theatre camp followed by three hour rehearsals in the evenings– but now afterwards and each weekend I was off to eat Cinnamon Dippers and salty popcorn for as long as we all could get along. I convinced Urbanblight to audition for the Arts school and he was accepted, and I happily looked forward to the socializing and academics, if not the college searches and finality of Senior Year.

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