Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crazy like a Greek Polar Bear

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Occasionally, though not all the time, I am a wily, outside-the-box thinker. I would love to be able to claim this as being a continual and thriving part of my brain, but I just can't. Sometimes I'm down-right obtuse. BUT! For those glorious moments when I solve an odd problem so ingeniously, so cleverly - no one is ever around to see!

For the sake of hubris, I suppose this is as it should be. I think I read/saw too many classical plays in my formative youth - I am all too aware of the catastrophic repercussions that the gods create specifically for mouthy mortals who tout their brilliance too loudly, too openly, too ungraciously. I won't lie. I really don't want to end up like Oedipus. or Lear. or Cassiopeia.

BUT - sometimes an idea is birthed so fabulously, it should be shared! (as I thank the muses/deities/spaghetti monsters above) One such solution happened to me today, and I won't lie, I feel a little bit like Odysseus.

I'm spearheading a ticket project for Shakespeare Orange County. Essentially, we've been living in the Paleozoic era for the last 19 years, and have not utilized online tickets sales. I KNOW. So I've found a program and a company that will help us, while not taking $5.00 per every ticket sold. Good, right? Part of this process requires sending all manner of paperwork to them. Like a seating chart.

Since we've never had any legitimate on-line ticket sales before, we haven't needed to use many seating charts. So when I went to our box office to search for this mythical file, it was (typically) no where to be found. But what kind of a quest has an easy answer? "You know who does have our seating chart?" I asked myself, "Seat Advisor!" I replied. So back home I went to have a phone meeting with our ticket company's representative.

I explained that I couldn't find a seating chart file on our computer, but that seat advisor had one. What should I do? "See if you can print the webpage," she replied, "and scan and email it." Okay! I printed it not once, but  twice. And while my laptop screen displayed our theatre's seating chart, no seating chart printed on the paper. Next, I tried a screen grab - no go. Save page as? Nope. What the hell am I going to do? Make a new chart by hand?? I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

But then ... from the dark, dry abyss where all my best ideas come from, I heard a calm, reassuring voice say, "Use your digital camera."

"Use my digital camera?! How am I going to use my - I'M GOING TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THE SCREEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Yes. I took pictures of the seating chart on my laptop screen and sent those in. It was so simple, so deliciously simple. And it took two minutes. Okay - I have to say it - it was a thing of beauty. I will now go make an homage to the goddess of crazy great ideas, lest she think I claim the genius for my own. But it's days like this that make my gray matter feel a little more awesome than normal.

Wouldn't it be cool if our brains could glow like this? 

BOOM!

What a good day looks like to this Polar Bear...

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10:00 a.m. wake up
It's my day off! go back to sleep.

10:45 a.m. check the mail
Oh, HELLO PAYCHECK!!!
do a happy dance

12:00 p.m. deposit aforementioned check in the bank!
happy dance continues

1:00 p.m. pay bills at Starbucks while drinking cappuccino, which I can now afford!
happy dance is altered for chair sitting

1:45 p.m. meet with fabulous friend for more coffee
happy dance is moved inside

3:45 p.m. arrive home, turn on laptop again, check email discover OFFICIAL ACCEPTANCE INTO GRAD SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy Dance gets bumped up to a 9.9

4:00 p.m. tell everyone I know about grad school!
The happy dance goes viral!

4:30 p.m. purchase plane ticket to Portland for Spring Break next week!
HUGE PACIFIC NORTHWESTERN HAPPY DANCE!

5:00 p.m. go to the dog park and watch happy dogs in between texting friends long distance
Happy dance turns into the doggy dance

6:15 p.m. arrive back at home, check on the viral happy dance once more.

6:45 p.m. pick up a friend for dinner, drinks, hockey game, and general celebration
Happy dance x's 2

7:15 p.m. order celebratory drinks, cheers, hockey!

7:45 p.m. joined by another friend for more dinner, drinks, and general celebration
happy dance for hockey - we're winning!

9:00 p.m. pay my bill, because now I CAN, hockey game = success, Polar Bear drives back home.

9:30 p.m. calmly happy dancing my way through the front door
---------------------------------------------------------------

In summation: Patience repaid, assassins called down, stress level dropped to a minimum, life moving forward, gratitude abounding.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy belated 150 posts, Polar Bear!

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So, apparently I passed the 150 post mile stone 6 posts ago. OOPS!

To celebrate this un momentous occasion, I thought I'd post some nuggets for you. Because you take the time to read this blog, God love ya, and I should be entertaining. And really, who doesn't want an excuse to look at awesome things on a Wednesday???

I totally want to give a whale a high-five someday.

Word.

Every creature deserves their own security blanket and teddy bear.





Admit it! You totally wish you could do this right now!

My personal motto. As supplied by StumbleUpon.


Little known fact: Polar Bears like to frolic in flowers, but only if they are purple.

Looks like someone drew the short straw...


Oh Art! Transforming "derelict" into "urban chic" since 4000BC.





Thanks for reading, my peeps. Here's to a 150ish more.

I heart my cosmic family

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Let me say this straight off: I love my family. I really do. 


But since I was a little girl, I've adopted people. I didn't always feel as though I belonged to the people I was related to. My childhood was kind of chaotic and unpredictable at times, and I didn't always feel safe. In fact, I felt down right alien - I was from another planet, and not many people understood my language. But there were a select few who did understand, and I would cling to them desperately - my life preservers on a planet I didn't fully comprehend. 

The problem with this practice, as you might expect, is that I am who I am; heart on my sleeve, all too loyal, and too ready to feel wanted - multiplied by 50 as a child. And I was hurt a lot as I flung my heart here and there. Turns out 5 year olds are not always the best judges of character. But I learned, and became much more discerning, much more careful. 

And 24 years later, I have a very wonderful, very amazing cosmic family. A family comprised of kindred spirits, parallel souls, and like minds. And they've stayed. These are not people that I talk to every day - I don't have to talk to them every day. They're just there, in my life. And when they need me, I'm there. And when I need them, they're here for me. They are my family, just as much as any of the people with whom I share chromosomes. 

I've been increasingly grateful for my cosmic family over the last few weeks. And I don't always get to tell them how much I love them, or what they mean to me. So I'm tossing this out into the cosmos. I'm grateful for you, you know who you are. I'm grateful that I'm lucky enough to share my life with you. To know you and laugh with you and stumble around with you in this dark room called life. Thank you for all that you do, and all that you are. Thank you for helping my world make sense, and for translating rough passages and mixed messages. Thank you for always making me feel valid and loved and appreciated. 

But most of all, thank you for finding me. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Money ain't got no soul, money ain't got no heart...."

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This is the anthem of artists everywhere. We don't work for money. We work for enjoyment, for fulfillment, for the notion that we are contributing to the betterment of humanity through whichever medium we happen to work. And we do this not because of the money, but to spite it. We'd do it for nothing! We were those poor suckers in college who dreamed of an Utopian Bohemia, where everyone wears recycled clothing and lives on Top Ramen. Where everyone shares their art, their food, and their books, and commerce is too bourgeois and degrading to be concerned with. But instead of snapping out of it a year or two after graduation, like everyone else; after the real world has had some prime opportunities to slap some stupid sense into us - we are the ones who keep living the dream...on breadcrumbs, occasionally living back with our parents when we can't afford rent.

But we can't live on nothing; and our society knows that. They know it, and they exploit it. Society begrudgingly agrees that the arts are "important" - not in an immediate, foundational kind of way like garbage collection or sewer functionality, but in an abstract, "we-know-it's-good-for-our-kids-but-won't support-it-ourselves" kind of way. So they hire us to instill artistic appreciation and aesthetic into their children. Sometimes, depending on the funding, we get paid well for this. Sometimes, it's not enough to get by. But teaching is the artists' bread and butter. I suppose that's what GB Shaw was getting at when he wrote that loathed idiom, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

Yeah well, George Bernard, most of us do both.

I do both. And I'm actually getting paid rather well by my school - in theory. I say "in theory" because I haven't been paid yet. I've been working there since early January, though to be fair, my proposal wasn't approved by the school board until January 24th, which means I wasn't official until the 26th. HOWEVER. It is now March 23rd. MARCH! I submitted my invoice EARLY, though invoices are not allowed to go to the district until the last day of the pay period, in this case February 26th. What does a reasonable amount of processing time sound like to you? Two weeks, if we're giving the District leniency for dealing with dozens of schools and artists-in-residence?

Well, I was told three weeks. Three weeks was last Friday. I'm now on Week 4, with no guarantee it will get here by the end of this week, which would mean that I'll have gone 5 weeks. FIVE. WEEKS.

Now, I ask you: in what other work disciplines is this allowed to happen? Business? HELL no. Law? They'd sue you and resurrect debtors jail. Contracting/construction? They'll hand you over to the mob, who'll put your feet in cement blocks and throw you in the Hudson River (even if you live in California). And so I return to my original point, that artists are exploited (I would argue) the most. Clearly, we don't have real jobs, which means that we don't have real lives, which means that we don't pay bills or have cars or need to finish paying taxes, or, you know, EAT. No, no. We're make-believe people who are only needed to inspire children to learn and play in ways that might actually help their educations and futures - outside of that we turn back into faerie dust, and only need to be kept alive with claps and cheers, like in that one play written by that one English dude about boys who won't grow up, and their pixie friends who die when children say they don't believe in faeries. Yep. That's where artists live.

To illustrate how incredibly untrue this scenario is, I will now list the items that I have not been able to do IN A MONTH, because I have not been paid:

1. get my car lube, oiled, and filtered and rotate my tires
2. pay turbo tax to email my taxes (I am usually able to complete this by February)
3. pay my bills
4. buy myself actual groceries (I eat a lot of left-overs, and get creative with items long forgotten in pantries)
5. related to #3, because I cannot pay my bills, I can't apply for a school loan yet.
6. take a college student out to dinner, which I owe him for coming and performing slam poetry in my classes at school.
7. buy my plane tickets to Portland for Spring Break
8. take my golden retriever to the groomer (you'd think this was unnecessary, until you own a golden retriever)
9. buy myself some socks - like ones that don't have any holes in them
10. buy myself some shoes - again, ones without holes
11. buy tickets to the theatre to support my friends and their work
12. buy myself treats (I'm not talking big, I'm talking little things like chocolate covered graham crackers at Starbucks - things to brighten my day)
13. I have to decline invitations to go out with friends to dinner, drinks, movies, or any other social activity

I might sound as though I'm whining needlessly, and perhaps even greedily. But in my own defense, I don't spend a lot of money, even when I have it, and have made quite a science of being poor.

I've been watching Disney's Princess and the Frog a lot on cable tv, primarily because it's surprisingly good, but also because it's a sincere attempt at keeping my Bohemian perspective, and remind myself that even though I chose this life, I deserve to be treated as a valued member of society, like everyone else. Just because money is not the primary driving force of my life, it doesn't give any entity or body or bureaucracy the freedom to treat me any differently than they would any other working professional. I'm good at what I do, damnit. I am an asset, not an afterthought.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJT0uhfcCkw

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh Knut, sweet Knut!

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It has been entirely too long since I've written. My schedule has been insane, I've been sick twice (and I'm rarely ever sick), and I've just felt a lack of inspiration - whether due to the previous causes, or for another reason entirely, it doesn't matter.

But I bring to you now sad tidings.

Knut, the baby polar bear who captured the world's heart in 2006, died today. He was only four years old. Causes are so far unknown, though results should be available tomorrow or Wednesday. If you don't remember, Knut was born in 2006 at a zoo in Germany. His mother refused to nurse him or take care of him, so his handler, Thomas Dorflein cared from him day and night. Because of Thomas' care, Knut survived - and thrived! And kept growing bigger and bigger.

But yesterday, he collapsed suddenly after turning circles in his habitat, and fell into the deep pond in his enclosure.

We haven't had the best news so far this year - and this - just makes it ten times worse. I'm really, really saddened by Knut's sudden death. Thomas his handler passed away in 2008. Part of me was glad to read that. I couldn't begin to imagine the heartache that would come with raising such a beautiful animal from infancy, only to be snatched away so soon, and seemingly without cause. Polar bears typically live to be 15-20 years old in the wild, and even longer in captivity.

I like to think that Knut and Thomas are now reunited somewhere cold, frolicking in snow and reveling in the joy of being together again.

And so to Knut and Thomas, I bless and salute you for adding even a small margin of light into this increasingly dark world.