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it’s a crazy beautiful life we live AKA the dream

So, today for me was one of those days that would seem insane to other people, but for me, it’s insanely energizing. Hence the reason I am typing this at 11:34 PM from Espresso Royale rather than from my couch. Anyway.

9 AM: Up and at ’em!

10 AM: Yogurt and YouTube.

10:30 AM: Arrive at Helen C. to pick up midterm exams.

10:50 AM: After fighting the wind, arrive at Bascom to proctor the midterm exam (BASCOM HILL ASCENT #1)

11:00 AM: Proctor exam.

12:00 PM: Return finished exams to office in Helen C. (BASCOM HILL DESCENT #1). Hang out in office answering emails and stuff, forgetting to eat lunch.

1:15 PM: Teach first class of the day.

2:15 PM: Upon leaving first class, realize that I do not have what I need for the third class I have to teach today. Guess I gotta run home at some point.

2:25 PM: Teach second class of the day (BASCOM HILL ASCENT #2)

3:05 PM: Dismiss second class 10 minutes early because I have to run home and get stuff I forgot (but they don’t have to know that). (BASCOM HILL DESCENT #2)

3:20 PM: Arrive home, proceed to tear up apartment. Just when about to give up, locate papers needed to give to third class. No time to celebrate: gotta run back to teach third class.

3:30 PM: Sail into third class exactly on time, almost face planting in front of the desk. Teach third class of the day.

5:00 PM: After stopping at Fresh to pick up sushi, fruit, cookies, and coffee, head to Helen C. for office hours.

6:00 PM: Office hour done, go home to drop off backpack.

7:35 PM: Arrive at salsa class in Van Vleck only 5 minutes late (but actually on time, since they started 10 minutes late today). Salsa for an hour, dance dance dance (BASCOM HILL ASCENT #3).

9:00 PM: Arrive at home, check in with parents. (BASCOM HILL DESCENT #3). Just enough time to drink some water, change my pants, and pick up my Latin shoes.

9:40 PM: Arrive at Latin dance class, 10 minutes late, but it’s a full hour so I didn’t miss that much. And today of all days is Samba stationary walks, bota fogos, and whisks, nonstop, at a dizzying pace, with a new teacher, an awesome tiny lady who threatens to kill us all if we stop dancing. Since no one wants to die, we all dance for most of the full hour. I get complimented by her on my hip movement.

10:40 PM: Walk home, but run into a friend who is heading to the library, reminding me that I have some stuff to scan there.

11:00 PM: After a short debate with myself, decide I’m on a roll, drop off shoes, pick up laptop and scripts to scan, and head to library.

11:25 PM: Leave library having scanned script to email (only 11 pages) and decide to reward myself with some snacks.

11:40 PM: Arrive at Espresso Royale, which is the only coffee place on State that is open until midnight to enjoy coffee, jellybeans, fruit, and Goldfish crackers and type this post.

It’s a good thing that the gym is closed or else I might have ended up there too. Call me crazy but I love days like this.

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1

Cleaning 100!

So, ever since my birthday, my life has basically devolved into grading, doing massive amounts of forgotten laundry, stressing about my writing, sleeping too little, waking up again, and doing it all over.

Today I decided to take a break from it all – well, most of it.

Since I was off from school today, I spent only a small part of my day grading, and most of it catching up on emails, getting some pleasure reading done, and in a moment of inspiration, did a 100 clean.

This is a game which I invented some time ago to get myself to just get up and clean. It can be done anywhere, but basically, my floor was getting to the point where I couldn’t walk in my apartment without tripping over something or other, and something needed to be done about it.

How does the game work? You count each time you pick an object, or handful of objects up off the floor. It can be as large as a pile of clothes or as small as a pen or a coin. Once you have placed said object either in a drawer, on a table/counter, in the trash, or anywhere other than the floor, you repeat, with the next number. I went through my kitchen, hallway, living room, and part of my bedroom, and ended up, by 76 or 77, picking up small pieces of lint. So I basically just rearranged things, and got some things further back in my bedroom off the floor. Now, I have a lovely, clean carpet.

Of course, there is stuff on counter tops, but that’s for another day.

53

My First Post as a 29-Year-Old

Kind of felt apt to follow up the previous post with this title. So how are you?

Today was a busy day, if anything. I woke up at about 8, stayed in bed until 9. Took a shower, then treated myself to a birthday breakfast of pancakes, eggs, greens, biscuit, and ice coffee at Short Stack, then went to see a panel at the South Asia Conference at the Concourse. Then headed across campus to my office to meet up with Jenna to talk about APO stuff, and after that, to the Semi-Annual Library Book Sale where $16.50 got me a brand new pile for my apartment. Once home, I checked my blog stats, read some blog posts, replied to a bunch of emails, and watched some YouTube videos. Following that, I had planned to run a few errands but ended up only getting to Metcalfe’s for groceries. Had no time for gym, so I went over to Hanna’s for a dinner she was preparing for me.

And let me just say, I was not expecting this.

I get to Hanna’s place, there’s a ton of people there, and even more show up, until we’re roughly 20. 20 people! We ate out back in her sukkah, and then sang and danced around the campfire. Hanna played keyboard, with Edi on sax, Ken on guitar, and Jennifer on the drums. I sang along with Baobei, Esty, Gidon, Bonnie, Bobbie, Jessica, and Andrea, while Haruki watched from the side, and Mohamed, Roger, Judy, David, and Larry watched from the sukkah (I think that’s everyone!). Andrea cooked most of the dinner, which was fabulous: chicken and rice, edamame, lentils, and veggies. And for dessert, Hanna brought out not one but TWO birthday cakes, an orange-and-lemon cake made by Judy, and a tangy, zesty tangerine cake by la Andrea. Judy’s cake was moist and warm, while Andrea’s was juicier, with a little kick to it. After hanging around the remnants of the fire with Baobei, Haruki, Bobbie, Roger, Jennifer, and Raimund (who showed up out of the blue), it was time to go home.

So now I’m sitting on my couch at 11:30 PM on my 29th birthday, Friday, October 21st, 2016.

Jameson invited me out to Plan B, but I might just call it a night, since I have to be up tomorrow around 7 and my bed is covered in books.

Thank you to everyone who made this normally anxiety-inducing day into an amazing one for me.

And for the last time until 2017…

Happy birthday to me. 🙂

5

Tales From Elementary School: To Vladivostok and Beyond…

Day two of Tuesdays at the elementary school, check. I also led a lesson on Thursday, but today’s turned out to be pretty epic.

In going along with our theme of Russia for social studies, I began where I left off last week, at the end of the Czars and the beginning of the Soviet Union. However, I wanted the kids to get some perspective on just how large Russia really was, so I introduced them to the Trans-Siberian Railway. I know that these kids love anything that has to do with transportation, so it was perfect. We went around the room and made guesses on a) how many miles of train tracks there were, and b) how much time it would take to get from end to end, Moscow to Vladivostok. Some of the guesses were silly, but most were pretty on target. Miranda (again, all names for privacy), one of the youngest students, guessed that the train was 6,000 miles long, which was the closest of anyone; the actual distance, according to my source, was 5,772 miles, but I checked a few more places, and the number seems to be closer to 6,152. Still, in the ballpark. The actual time it takes to travel the whole way is 8 days, and two students got extremely close in their guesses, choosing 7.5 days. Those two? Kate, and…Miranda. I don’t know about you, but if it involves guessing numbers, I want to be on Miranda’s team.

Next, I wondered aloud how long of a trip that would be, so it was time for a class trip. We all lined up in a train, and I used my phone’s stopwatch to time how long it took all of us to march around the block and back to the school, and then see how long it took, and then see how many trips around the school it would take to equal a one-way trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The answer? 1,152. That’s a lot of walking for little legs.

After a quick break, we headed into the Multi-Purpose Room for Part II of the lecture. We left behind the train and fast-forwarded to the 1950s/1960s, the birth of the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and the Space Race. Crystal surprised me by knowing what the Cold War was, and explained it to the rest of the class. We then talked a little about the first people to go to space, and the first to land on the moon. Then, it was time to do…a space dance!

First, I instructed everyone to find their own space in the room, and crouch into a ball. Then, I turned on “Cold War” by Janelle Monae – a perfect backdrop song for this activity – and we went through the stages of space flight. We built our rockets, attached our engines, put on our seatbelts, flew through space, landed on the moon, experienced zero-G, re-entered our pods, strapped in, and flew back to Earth, landing just as the final drumbeats hit on the song.

Then, we reconvened in the classroom to talk about the breakup of the Soviet Union, and I broke the kids up into five groups of three, and each group got a packet of info about a country which came from the Soviet Union, and were assigned to make a poster about it, following the diagramming plan (a satellite diagram) that I did on the board about Russia. For this project, I did research on five interesting countries: Azerbaijan, Latvia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Each group got an info packet and an iPad to look up pictures of things like national symbols and flags. Marla helped the Ukraine group with their poster, which included horses and the Chernobyl disaster. The Azerbaijan group worked on their own to draw an incredibly detailed Azeri flag, and made a border of flames, and a cup of tea. I flitted between the three other groups – the Latvia group had a slow start, I think they ended up with a flag and a few other shapes; the Kazakhstan group, consisting of three kids who I wasn’t sure would work together well, came up with a cool poster full of apples and eagles; and the Kyrgyzstan group drew flags, airplanes, snow, tulips, and their national animal, the snow leopard. We only had enough time for Azerbaijan and Ukraine to present, but we’ll finish it up next week.

As for me, I learned a lot today as well. Dealing with the train game taught me to handle outdoor activities with care, and that I need to figure out more about how rocket ships work. Also, when doing guessing games, everyone gets one shot, no answer-changing. And of course, make sure the kids know why Azerbaijan is the Land of Fire, and not just what it is.

Oh, and someone in the class wants to be me when they grow up. So that’s kind of a big deal.

2

The Long-Awaited ATHE Recap

Now that I’ve recovered from what was an insane week of travel, here’s a recap of this year’s ATHE conference, my 7th and the 30th to occur, overall.

Day 1 – Thursday

Caught the 10:30 AM bus down to Chicago, and once there, waded through the heat to the Palmer House. Within minutes of stepping into the hotel, I saw Iris and her daughter, Angela, who had just flown from Taiwan and were trying to caffeinate. I checked in, rode up to the 14th floor, put my stuff wherever I could find a spot, and changed outfits for the Dramaturgy Business meeting. So many regulars were there, and a few new faces. Bryan and Carrie led the meeting, and I sat between Natalie and Martine. After, I went upstairs to change clothes again for the keynote and opening reception. Lydia Diamond, the playwright, spoke very well, and they had FREE WINE AND PIZZA at the opening reception, where I got so many hugs from so many folks I hadn’t seen in forever, and of course Iris and I got our conference selfie with red wine, which we’ve been doing since before the word selfie was invented. Also at the reception, I finally met my roommates for the weekend, Kate, Carrie, and Rebecca. I made it an early-ish night to get some writing done, along with Rebecca, while Kate and Carrie went out to a social.

Day 2 – Friday

Early rise for 8 AM panels. We managed to get ready for the day without getting in each other’s way, and I started off what would become the motif of this conference, choosing the wrong panel to go to. I started off at a panel on theatre of the Middle East, which ended up being not so interesting, so I stole out for an Asian theatre panel and just missed Jasmine’s paper. At least I got to say hello to her and meet her new baby. Then, I saw Jill Dolan in the hall, and she asked if I was going to the panel on Pulse, but I decided to go to a directing panel on Brecht instead.

Note to future self: always listen to Jill Dolan.

I got lunch on my own over at Freshii, and then headed to the All-Conference Plenary. I could only stay about half the time though because I needed a break. I ended up skipping the next round of sessions, which in hindsight was a good thing because the one I was planning on going to ended up getting cancelled. So, at 4 PM, I went to the Debs Panel (where I was actually on time for once, go me!) and saw three wonderful dramaturgy presentations. Cindy and co. really do a great job at picking quality panelists – after all, they chose me 7 years ago 😉 Next, I went to a panel on food and performance led by 3 alums of my department, Niccole, Kristen, and Megan, and had a great time there. It ended up being another pack-it-in night. I can’t remember where I had dinner (or if I even had it).

Day 3 – Saturday

Panels started at 8:15, but I was fully attentive at Natalie’s panel, “Babies R Us: Laboring Bodies in Academia,” in which female professors and grad students talked about being a mother and academic at the same time. It was a really warm atmosphere in the room, and it was great to hear personal stories that you wouldn’t normally hear on the day-to-day. After the panel, Natalie was officially finished with her duties at the conference, so we escaped the premises and took a walk to the Chicago Cultural Center, where we saw some really cool art exhibits, and then had lunch at Peach and Green. It was so nice to be able to catch up with her; we talk online all the time, but I hadn’t really gotten to sit down with her since probably Orlando, which was 3 years ago. We got back in time for the 30th anniversary celebration, and I sat with Bryan, Carrie, Cindy, and Rachel as we toasted ATHE with champagne and a delicious layer cake. The rest of the panels that day were a blur – dramaturgy follow up meeting, a panel on theatre and TV, and then a quick lie-down before one of the best parts of every ATHE, DNO (Dramaturg’s Night Out). It was huge this year, and we practically took over Berghoff. The food was really good, and our waiter was hilarious. Thanks to our table pic, I now know who all was there: me, LaRonika, Annalisa, Cindy, Jim, Bryan, Karen Jean, Martine, Brad, two faces I can’t quite make out, and newcomers Jessica, Rachel, and Alex. I sat between Annalisa and Alex and got to know them better over salmon and spaetzle.

Most importantly, that night I sat down and resolved to finish my prelim writing. At 1 AM, in a corner of the 4th floor of the hotel, I passed the 20 page mark, and hit save on my final draft at 1:30 AM. I didn’t carve my name anywhere, but I did take a picture of the spot, which is why there is a random photo of a table on my phone.

So that’s done now.

Day 4 – Sunday

I woke up refreshed, knowing that my prelims were done, and as a reward, skipped the first session of the day for a nice breakfast. We checked out of our room, and then I headed to some acting panels, just for fun. At the first one, we played some games I already knew, plus a few I didn’t (Hi-5 or Death and Move Me). The second acting panel was a little less interactive than the first, but it was led by Margie who is just this electric ball of energy. I capped off my conference with lunch at Le Pain Quotidien with Iris and Angela – a nice bookend to the trip.

There were so many people who were there that I didn’t get to say hi to, but there’s always next year in Vegas.

Just when I was retrieving my bag from the hotel and contemplating whether it had been a successful ATHE or not, THE Holly Hughes (!) appeared out of nowhere and we had a big hug before I stepped out of the Palmer House.

So I think that pretty much cemented the weekend as a successful ATHE.

6

Soothing Summer: Cutting Paper

I couldn’t sleep last night, so apparently I spent two hours editing one of my prelims. I have yet to reopen the file, but I’m hoping I didn’t do too much damage.

Yesterday, I got a care package in the mail from my mom. I love her, but she always sends the most random things. This time around, she sent me one thing that I actually needed – a T-shirt that I ruined in the wash that she treated with something really strong to get the stain out. In addition, she sent a huge bag of Twizzlers (but the one flavor I don’t like), some coupons, and some coins wrapped up in containers. She also inexplicably wrapped everything in little bits of glossy newspaper. So, this morning, as I was drinking my coffee and listening to Jimmy Kimmel’s interviews last night with JoJo and Jordan from The Bachelorette, I had to search for something constructive to do. Finding nothing, I found one of the inexplicably crumpled pieces of paper, a pair of scissors, and just started cutting random patterns in it. I ended up with both a lovely if somewhat asymmetrical star and a new distraction, or at least a way to soothe myself.

Here are some awesome paper cuttings I found while slacking:

paper-cutting-monogram

It might look like a painting, but it’s actually a very intricately cut birth announcement by paper artist Emma Boyes. See more at All Things Paper.

papercraft art from one sheet of paper peter callesen 17 20 Sculptures Cut from a Single Piece of Paper

Artist Peter Callesen does these amazing models, from a skeleton to a pagoda to this bridal gown, from just one piece of paper. See more at Twisted Sifter.

idea for child project

How about one of the world’s great landmarks like the Coliseum, or this nifty paper castle from PhotoWebs?

paper-cutting-ideas

This intricate 3D piece comes from LifeChilli.

scher_motherdaughter1.jpg

A scene like this mother and baby is called scherenschnitte. There’s even a video tutorial here at the website of Dot and Mae.

free vector christmas tree paper cutting different style

This one comes from Alt Free Downloads, and it looks like something I could actually do.

And hey, being a paper artist is a more legitimate occupation than 75% of the show’s contestants, so there’s that.

7

August Blog Project: Soothing Summer!

Summer doesn’t happen very often in Madison, Wisconsin, and it’s practically over as soon as it began. Today, the first of August, is the beginning of the end; prelims are due in 2 weeks, and school starts 2 weeks after that. I wanted to start a new, fun, multi-person blogsperiment or something, but I think I found something that will a) substitute, for now, and b) encourage me to post more, with better quality.

The idea? Soothing Summer Series.

Every day (or when I remember/get the idea), I will post something that eases my tension and pain and helps my mental/emotional health.

For today, August 1, I choose…The Golden Girls. Two hours every night on Hallmark channel is good for the heart, soul, and whatever bodily process causes you to laugh. My grandmother loved the show, she always said that “they always have something interesting to say.” I don’t know about that, but despite being an 80s-90s show, it’s still relevant, and, in a ironic twist, not dated for its age. The episode that’s on right now is the one where Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy all get the flu before this big charity banquet, and includes the epic line “if they can make cinnamon-flavored dental floss, how come they can’t cure the flu?” If you want to be wrapped up in some grandmotherly warmth but still laugh at jokes about sex, I prescribe The Golden Girls.

My all time favorite exchange is from the episode entitled “Stand By Your Man.”

Morning. ROSE and DOROTHY are sitting in the kitchen. SOPHIA enters, all dressed up.

SOPHIA: Come on, get dressed, we’re going to be late for temple.

DOROTHY: Ma, it’s Tuesday…and we’re Catholic.

SOPHIA: Oh. ::beat:: In that case, bacon and eggs.

Probably the funniest part of that sequence is the fact that the actresses who played Sophia and Dorothy (Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur) were both Jewish in real life.

Here’s an animated gif from the show to entertain you.

Needy Sexy People – the alternate title for TLC’s first album