i'm a white writer. in new york. original, no? i've been blogging since october 2002. this blog picks up in october 2008, when i moved from DC to NY...(and then I moved to Maine in 2012)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hermit Win

Hello Kitty on 53rd, 12/24/10.
So we're at the close of 2010. It's Thursday, December 30, and I've been home from work since Wednesday, December 22.

I took a break from documenting my every thought and action on Twitter. So here, for myself mostly, I've written down a diary of the last nine days. Had I tweeted, below is the mundanity you would have consumed. I'm so sorry and you're welcome.

WED 12.22
  • Hot chocolate
  • Chocolate milkshake with Tarker
  • Final playwriting class of the semester
  • Taped up Christmas cards to the wall by the door


THU 12.23
  • Built a spreadsheet of the habits I want to strengthen like working out, eating veggies, etc.
  • Burger, sweet potato fries, and a milkshake
  • Laundry--tipped the guy an extra $20 since his wife just had their first baby on Tuesday
  • Bought and installed blackout/insulation curtains from Home Depot


FRI 12.24
  • Learned the blackout/insulation curtains can't be opened w/out yanking down the spring rod they're on and decide that's just fine
  • Paid bills
  • Balanced checkbook to penny on first try
  • Figured out new budget to live on 600 fewer dollars a month due to pay cut at work
  • Moved rugs around
  • Saw King Tut exhibit at Times Square, then meandered home, stopping to take a picture of the Rockefeller tree:


Each year I snap a pic from the same corner.


  • Colored in my mandala coloring book
  • Watched "Vanity Fair," realized I had seen it previously, watched it anyway
  • Watched a few episodes of "Weeds" no need to watch more


SAT 12.25
  • Called Mom
  • Called Dad
  • Organized apartment
  • Took down Christmas cards from wall by the door
  • Went to a diner with upstairs neighbor who wants to find a hot rich boyfriend. Eventually stopped stifling and openly yawned after her third mention of the private school she went to.


SUN 12.26
  • Learned I got straight As my first semester of grad school FUCK YEAH I WORKED HARD FOR THAT SHIT
  • SNOW:

Snow.


  • Bought a new coat at Macy's to replace the hand-me-down w/the torn lining
  • Watched "Passing Strange" fucking amazing
  • Watched "Zandy's Bride" love those '70s flicks
  • Bought a front row balcony ticket to see "John Gabriel Borkman" at BAM


MON 12.27
  • Woke up and thought Wow I have seven whole more days of rest
  • Saw "Pee-wee Herman Show" on Broadway and loved it


TUE 12.28
  • No idea


WED 12.29
  • Woke up and though Shit only five more days
  • New shelves delivered from Container Store
  • Assembled new shelves
  • Watched "Moon" (intense) while eating a big salad (less intense)


THU 12.30
  • Watched "Fat City" freaking awesome
  • Realized I can't see "In the Heights" on Friday because that's NYE
  • Realized I don't have the energy to go out on NYE
  • Ate sushi w/friend I haven't seen in probably two years
  • Started to rewrite play that was due 12.22


The whole point of the time off was to recover from a semester that saw increased responsibilities at work, three visits to my mom's around her knee surgery, an asstastic case of bronchitis, and a ridiculous amount of homework for my first semester of grad school. To wit:

This was the reading for just one class. The BlackBerry is for scale.

It's Day Nine and I still have bloodshot eyes. The plan for the next three days:


FRI 12.31
  • Visit the submarine museum on the Intrepid and make headway on my play


SAT 1.1
  • Playwriting


SUN 1.2
  • Keeping my options open


MON 1.3
  • Mosey on back to work here and learn when we're merging with Comcast:

30 Rock, where I am a loyal cube rat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Cup of Ocean

This post is a branch from a blog post I'm writing for NPR that will be published later today about the Wasserstein Prize controversy. The larger issue of women playwrights is so sprawling and personal for me, that I thought it would be simpler to place this tangential chunklet over here.

I have never thought I would be able to support myself solely through my writing, and in that sense, I suppose I'm lucky because I'm less regularly disappointed. Like many theater artists, I've had my share of financial and health issues (most of my artist friends don't have health insurance, or if they do, it's through a job that takes time away from their creative work). While not every writer struggles to the same degree, I believe that many writers who've been through such struggles observe society from an outsider's perspective and then try to transmute their challenges into work that resonates with a larger audience (or at least "an" audience).

I don't look at grants or prizes as things I'm entitled to, but I know that the decision to withhold $25,000 from a young female playwright triggered such a large outcry precisely because each and every one of us who bargains away our art for security or our security for our art knows how much a prize like that would mean to a struggling young artist. It's not just the money, it's the idea that someone values your art. That's enough. That's more than enough.

Below are some thoughts that relate to last year's study on women playwrights. I had a few issues with the study at the time, but wasn't sure how to present them.


===========================


When the Primary Stages all-female season caused a hullaballoo in May 2009, I tried to stifle my gut response and blogged statistics instead.  It left me feeling exposed, foolish, and just plain weirded out by the sheer impossibility of ever thoroughly addressing the issues. When the dust settled, my takeaway was that I could never write objectively about anything to do with women playwrights, and therefore I shouldn't even try, because emotion nearly always decimates even the most solid of arguments. I can only write of my own experience, which is anecdotal but feels viscerally connected to a larger, unvoiced experience.

It's been almost two years since then, and I wish every day that I could find words to cover everything I think and feel about being a woman playwright. It's overwhelming. 

As I said in the NPR post, it's like trying to write an ocean.

All I can do is scoop out a cup and go.

So when the results of Emily Sands's survey of literary managers and artistic directors came out in June of that same year, I kept quiet, even though I had taken the survey, and had struggled particularly with this question in it:  "On a scale of 1 to 7, what is the likelihood of Mary winning a prize/award for this script?" I noticed the question wasn't "On a scale of 1 to 7, what is the likelihood of you recommending Mary's script for a prize/award?" This question seems especially relevant today, with the Wasserstein Prize hanging in the balance.

To answer that question, I first had to acknowledge my own prejudices so that I might set them aside--the script samples weren't much to my taste, and the names on the scripts suggested white playwrights. Then, I had to ask myself what Mary's chances of winning a prize were; where the first adjustments were positive, this adjustment had to be negative, because I knew full well that a script written by a woman would be less likely to win a prize. 

I was working three jobs and didn't have time to do battle with the way Sands's results were presented in the media, which was something along the lines of, "Women are holding back women in the theatre." Other people took up the fight and outlined their issues with the survey and its interpretation. 

(One of the questions was "On a scale of 1 to 7, to what extent is Mary's script an example of artistic exceptionalism?" My understanding of the word "exceptionalism," which I had to look up to confirm, had to do with something not being subject to certain norms [see "American Exceptionalism"]. In retrospect, I suspect Sands meant to ask whether we thought the play was exceptionally good, not just different.)

(Also problematic was the fact that the theater I was working for at the time only produced classical plays, so I had to answer questions like, "On a scale of 1 to 7, how eager would your potential audience members be to see Mary's play?" negatively.)

Anyway, there just isn't enough room in one 500-word piece for NPR (which currently stands at 1300 words) to say everything I feel about this subject. I dream of someday having the time to be able to just write, to try to write eloquently, but at the moment, it's 4am and I have four meetings at work tomorrow, and I haven't finished my homework for class tomorrow night, and then I have fourteen more script pages to write for Wednesday night's playwriting class. 

The reality of my life as a playwright, female or otherwise, is that I have to just keep going, and not be afraid to be untidy. 


In my post for NPR, I mention the rippling impact that my MacDowell Fellowship had on me. The gifts from my time at MacDowell were many--the career boost, the material support, the friends I made, even the room to face my darker demons. The biggest gift was simply knowing that such an esteemed organization chose me, believed in me. I was so grateful for the opportunity that since then I've done everything I can to honor their choice through my work, and to pay it forward.  I recently wrote a letter of recommendation for MacDowell on behalf of Kate Tarker, a young playwright I met three years ago and who I greatly admire. She emailed me the other day to let me know that she was accepted.


ALL-AROUND WIN.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One-Minute Play Festival in Astoria This Weekend

For the third year in a row, I'm participating in the One-Minute Play Festival. About 80 one-page plays will be presented this weekend, and I've written a trilogy of plays that will be sprinkled through the first part of the evening. It's kind of insane and awesome and always a good time. The event got written up on Broadway World. 


It's Saturday and Sunday night at 8pm at the Astoria Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased here.

I wrote a guest post for the festival blog. 

Wow. I haven't posted in a long time. I've been busy! I redesigned my website over the summer, and I created a web series, called Seconds. You can watch a trailer for it here. I also started grad school in Tina Howe's new MFA playwriting program, and it's amazingtastic.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tiny Theater in Brooklyn This Weekend

New York continues to treat me well. I'll be going to grad school in the Fall as part of the first MFA playwriting class at Hunter College, taught by Tina Howe.

After having quite a few 1-minute plays produced at various festivals around NYC the last few years, I now have a 10-minute play going up this weekend! It's at the Brick Theater in Brooklyn, and the festival is called Tiny Theater. You can learn more here.  It apparently sells out each year, so you may want to buy tickets ahead of time. (If you use code LISTDISC at the checkout, the price drops from $18 to $15.)

I'm also in pre-production for my web series. We start shooting this weekend and go into early June. I'm so lucky to have so many talented actors: Josh Barrett of HBO's Generation Kill, Jeffrey Cranor and Eevin Hartsough of the NY Neofuturists, James Meredith of Steppenwolf Theatre, and Kelley Rae O'Donnell of LAByrinth Theater. You can see the first episode on my YouTube channel.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

If you've ever wanted to hear me sing a hymn...

So I'm working from home today, and it's a light day, and so I'm taking some time to tidy up my iPhone, netbook, iMac, and iTunes, which have been all randomly used at various points for various things and were not very coordinated. (Actually today is the first day I've ever synced my entire music library to my iPhone.)

I came across several voice memos I used with the iTalk app last August. I found recordings of the leaks in my kitchen from my last apartment, ambient sounds in the subway, and me singing hymns when I had insomnia.

I'll Fly Away

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sexy Sandwich Song

Courtney McLean of the Dirty Curls, a naughty rockabilly band in Minneapolis, wrote a sexy sandwich song just for me!!!

[NSFW]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"The Auteur of Lincoln Logs"

These are the opening paragraphs for my April post for RealMental.


It’s finally happened. After nearly eight years of blogging about my experiences with and recovery from depression, I have nothing to say. Nothing that I need to say.

Over the years, I always blogged from an impulse to heal and to understand, and so there was an urgency to whatever I was sharing. But now that I’m fully immersed in what feels like a whole new life here in New York—new job, new friends, new home—it’s like I’ve touched down on the bottom of what I previously had thought was a bottomless lake. I’m no longer struggling to stay afloat.

And honestly, I’m tired of words. I’m a writer, and there are only so many words I have at any given time. I’ve kind of used up a lot of them at this point.

With the words that are left, I want to try out some new creative ways of writing.

Over Christmas, I bought myself a set of Lincoln Logs. I went to the giant F.A.O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue, searched high and low until I found them, stood in the longest holiday line ever to buy them, and then walked 20 blocks home.


To read the rest of the post, click here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear Co-Workers: This Is My Blog.

It's for my personal writing.

It's not anonymous, but I don't sign my real name to it, because I want my professional writing--plays, articles--to come up first in a Google search for my name.

I don't mind sharing the personal stuff at all--it's actually very important to me--but when it comes to clients or employers checking me out, I want to provide a little context.

The reason it's important for me to share my personal writing is because I had Major Depressive Disorder for decades, and it was undiagnosed until January 2007, when I got some support and figured things out. Now that my world is right-side out, it's easier for me to write about it because I see things so much more clearly, and it's VERY important for me to share my experience with other people who might be looking online for stories that might illuminate whatever they might be struggling with.

Because that's a big part of how I figured out how to make things right for myself.

I've been so amazed by the kindness and generosity of people I've never met in real life, but who are literally some of the most important people in my life. When I was fighting my hardest, I would turn to my blog and use it to try to sort things out, and my blog readers and commenters helped me see other ways of looking at things. Sometimes they just listened or empathized. Their compassion astounded me.

And so it's important for me to give back by sharing my stories, which I hope are sometimes interesting, or maybe even helpful to people here and there.

It bugs me when I see articles that talk about how technology is "destroying" communities. There are so many people in the world who, for whatever reason, have limited access to healthy families or relationships, and who are searching for connection that could quite literally change or even save their lives.

Anyway, the irony is, it's much harder these days for me to find the time to write these personal posts, largely because I'm so much healthier. I moved to NYC at the end of 2008, and my world has opened up with so many great people and wonderful opportunities, that I'm living life more in 3-D now, than online. I've been writing monthly posts for RealMental for a while, but even that feels like it might be tapering off. The cool thing about blogging is, it's very fluid and I can pick it back up when I have something to share.

But I do tweet a lot, if you're interested.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Sorry, Your Princess Is In Another Castle."


These are the opening paragraphs of my February post for RealMental.

I call bullshit.

I call bullshit on people saying, “You’re so brave.” Look, I know it’s a nice thought, and nicely meant, and I should be flattered and all, but the truth is, there’s no bravery involved when you have no other choices.

I simply had to find my way out of depression. Even though I was productive while I was depressed (almost freakishly so), I knew I couldn’t continue at the pace I was running at for too many more years. I’ve never had a backup plan—no parents to swoop in, no partner to stave off the hand-to-mouth scenario.

(Believe me, that’s not a complaint—you can’t buy motivation like that.)

For a not insignificant number of years, I tried to be gentle with myself. I reconciled myself with the obvious conclusion that I was doomed to be a writer-slash-artist. Rather than hide that, I tried to let it grow strong. This was when I was just beginning to get an inkling of how messed up things were; luckily, at the time, I had no inkling of the work that lay ahead. I cried to friends. I cried in therapy. I cried during massages. I cried in the car.

Oh god, all those poor ex-boyfriends.

To read the rest of the post, click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some Interviews

Hey there, horribly ignored blog.

I've been doing things. A lot of things. January was all lined up, and then I went from part-time to full-time in a snap, which is great, but it meant I was overbooked for a stretch there. But I have some fun things to show you. Things that I have made with my keyboard. And other things.

Did I show you my article for Wired.com? I don't think I did.
And I've done a few interviews recently, all theatre-related.


But the really big news is, I started creating video content! I bought two HD cameras and roped in some actors over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day long weekend.

You can see my first two short pieces on my YouTube channel.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Binary Palindrome Day--01/11/10

This is the first paragraph of my January post for RealMental.


Hi everyone. A ton of great stuff is happening that I hadn’t planned on, including a job promotion that gets me back to full-time status, and shooting my first short film.


To read the rest of the post, click here.