Friday, February 14, 2014

A letter to my first love, on Valentine's Day, thirteen years later


Dear you-know-who-you-are,

It's been thirteen years. How are you?

I'd like to say that I rarely ever think of you, but that would be an egregious lie, especially recently. You're married now. The only reason I know that is because of a few clumsy social media searches, which was hard to accomplish as you're quite hard to find. You were always hard to find. I keep finding you by mistake. I don't know how much you know about me any more. I know you found my linked-in account and had a look. I'm sure it was probably rather typical - theatre, teaching, graduate school - all the things I set out to do in college; I'm doing them. I've spent thirteen years doing them. I'm proud of that. I hope you're proud of me, too.

I'm not entirely sure as to why I'm writing to you, except that I've been thinking of you a lot, more than I have since you left. I keep asking why, I keep trying to remember if anything particularly eventful happened at this time in 2001, if there's some chrono-fingerprint left on my memory that I can't shake. But I keep coming up empty.

I'm single now for the first time in eight years. That might have something to do with it. I've been rather happy, I'm leading a pretty great life. I don't feel discontent or bored or sad. I'm not stagnating. But somehow, here you are; a ghost anchored to my heart. I realize that in the faint omni-presence that is your memory, I miss the magic we had. And I realize thirteen years later that falling in love truly is a magic. And love at first sight - that's down-right arcane. But we had that, didn't we? And that's pretty special.

My scar, the one you left, is fine. It doesn't hurt, it doesn't throb, I wear it as I ought to - as a badge of life experience that I survived proudly. Did I leave a scar on you? It shames me to say that I honestly don't know. Would it be gauche to hope that I did? Would it be heinous to hope that I hope you've been thinking of me as often as I have been of you?

Thirteen years. You were supposed to be long erased from me by now. You were supposed to be a faint memory that I recalled while listening to Coldplay, or the odd moment caught in the rain. But here you are, with so much space in between. I realize that I legitimately don't know you any more - the 31 year old you. And I don't know if you'd recognize me either. I've some ways, quite a lot. The irony is that you had a lot to do with that, though you weren't around to see it.

Before I go getting sad and pathetic and the tears start slopping into my beer, let me just say that if nothing else, I hope you're happy. Truly happy. I hope you're living a life that you love, that you're with someone you love - with every small particle of who you are now. And selfishly, I hope you remember me fondly.

Could you do me a favour, though? Would you release me? Would you please vanquish whatever homing device you left? Because I can't keep returning to the thought of you every time one of my relationships end, thinking "Well, that wasn't it." Would you please? I'm not passing the buck, or relinquishing my responsibility - I know what I've done wrong in my relationships, and I own that. I'm working on being better for the next time. But somehow, you have something to do with it too. And until I figure out how exactly, I won't be able to lose myself again, I won't be able to let a new magic take over. I've tried now, a few times, but when I reach down inside, to let the magic take over, it's gone. Because it's still with you. So if you could just let it go, I'm certain it would dissolve.

And then I'll be able to start over.

With love and fondness,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Old wounds


I don't let go of things easily. This has always been a problem for me, and I've spent the better part of my life trying to make the opposite true, but sadly to not much avail. I'm really good at moving forward, and coasting along for awhile, forgetful of the event, the person, the words - until I'll catch a bad wave, and tumble into the dark cold sea of remembrance, and the memories flood in, unwanted. 

That's a terrible water metaphor, but it's apt. I ran across someone's facebook page tonight, and past hurts popped up all over again. I think the two things that anchor me to this pattern are when I have a lack of closure, and/or miss the loss of the person and the relationship. And all I want to do is ask why. Why me? Why did you say/do what you did/said? What did I do?

Perhaps it all comes back to shame - the shame of failing, or feeling as though I've failed as a human being in some way, though without knowing how or why. 

But then, I think, would I change anything? No, because it's not my thing to change. Am I happy with my life? Yes, I am. I'm happy with where I'm going, what I've accomplished, and the people I've surrounded myself with. Sometimes I catch myself feeling as though I'm lacking something - I didn't "make it" with a company in a way that I originally intended, or in the same way as my peers have, or I didn't make the impression I wanted to make. But that is just a bruised ego, and bruised egos don't have the best perspective on, well ... anything. 

And I suspect that the answer to my problem lies in caring less. This is a fundamental flaw, because that's just not part of my genetic make-up. So maybe I should stick to fixing the shame thing.

Easy, right?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In defense of math and science and fact-based learning.


Before I begin this quasi-rant let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not the world's most factual thinker.

That's not to say that I don't "believe in facts," or that I don't think logically. I would be labeled as one of those "creative" types. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that magic is real. There are no facts in the world to prove my knowledge, but I know it none-the-less. I guess I would be one of those rogue cops on your-cop-show-of-choice who follows her proverbial "gut." I use intuition as knowledge.

My monkey likes to make fun of me for this, sometimes. One day, I was explaining the nature of unicorns - she was laughing so hard, she was practically crying, and said, "Oh my! I love Alyssa Science!" And that's the best way to explain it. I just have my own systematic thinking on any variety of subjects.

This last week, while I was in Canada visiting said Monkey, she's finally realized that what my psyche calls "math" has nothing to do with actual numbers. She has a tendency to hog the bed, and as I was pointing this out (in an oh-so-charming way), I said, "You take up like, 2/3's of the bed!" her response? Hysterical laughter. Again. Not because of my incredible wit, but because my assertion is ridiculous - she has a double bed. 2/3's was apparently over-reaching and not factual. (I still think I'm right) Alyssa math: making shit up since 1986.

I almost failed geometry. I'm TERRIBLE with fractions. I got an A- in Advanced Algebra in high school because my teacher assigned lots of extra credit. And when I had to theorize about math in college, forgettaboutit. That grade single-handedly prevented my sure-fire accumulative 3.7 GPA. I'm better at science - at least when it comes to memorizing words and actions. But science has equations, too. Once we moved beyond the classifications of rocks and how they were formed, in geology; we had to figure out the chemical compounds. What? They're rocks. They're here! I see them, I can feel them. I don't need to know the stinking chemical compounds of the rock to prove its existence!

Now - with all of my idiocy, all my lack-of-facts theories, at least I'm smart enough to know when I'm stupid. I wholeheartedly admit that knowledge of both math and science is infantile. I KNOW that there are much, much, much smarter people who know many, many, many more things than I do. Real facts, even. As an adult, sometimes I read publications to try to understand these things - and sometimes I do! I like to know what's going on in the world around me - factually. Then I can contort it in my imagination.

Three things presented themselves to me today, and I felt something I've never felt before: The need to defend fact-based learning.

Exhibit A: Cameron Diaz wants to change public education

 "I like to cook and I like to clean so I think I would be a pretty good home economics teacher… But they don't teach kids that anymore. They don't teach stuff that you can actually use in life. You learn stuff like algebra instead. So now we eat out all the time and don't know how to look after ourselves. It's all wrong." 

Exhibit B: Miss United States hopefuls disclose their views on Evolution

In Cameron Diaz's defense, I think I know what she's saying. I think she's saying that we're not doing enough to teach kids how to take care of themselves - which I agree with. But to dismiss a subject like algebra - that is helpful and useful (critical thinking and problem solving, Cameron - and not just for equations), sounds like a really really bad teen movie. We need people to cook and clean and change oil and fix plumbing problems, I'm not knocking usefulness. But if my plumber has a higher grasp of problem solving and critical thinking because he didn't do badly in Algebra, then maybe I won't argue when he charges me $1,000 to unclog a drain, without having to take apart half of a wall.  Perhaps this is art mirroring life a little too closely for you, Bad Teacher?

All I can say about the pageant contestants, is that sadly, I'm not surprised. But huzzah for Miss Washington! "I think facts should be taught in schools." Well said, lady! The revelation that struck me while watching it, however, was the reminder about how quick women are to make things okay. With a couple of exceptions (Miss Alabama on one end of the creationist spectrum, and Miss Washington on the side of evolution), almost everyone else was trying to make both sides fit into the system: "Maybe we can teach a little bit of evolution" said Miss Virginia. "I think it's fine as long as the biblical theories aren't excluded," said Miss North Dakota. "I think all views on the subject should be taught," said hippy Miss Oregon. And perhaps it's because I'm a woman myself, that ideally, that the middle-of-the-road sounds wonderful. The problem that arises, however, is the notion of public school. If public school is truly public, then everyone has the right to be represented. Which means that Buddhism and Islam and scientology, Hindi, Taoism, Anarchy, Wiccans, Satan-worshippers, Mormons, Klingons, and every other faction of the world has a right to have a say - which would be a fascinating class! except that I think several different Christian groups would protest, and public schools are so woefully underfunded that there's not a practical way to teach something as wide-reaching, no matter how diverse and tolerant.

But most importantly, you bag of overly made-up ladies, evolution is based in science. SCIENCE. Christianity is based on religious belief. And while you believe in creationism and God created the world in a record-breaking 7 days, not one bit of has any proof, any fact, and evidence. Just like my belief on the nature of unicorns. But you don't see ME demanding that evolution not be talked about because evolution never once mentions my magical, golden friends, do you?

Facts are based on evidence, and findings, and study, and research. And you can't discount any of it. There's merit in them, and hard-work, and higher thinking. Just because you don't believe in it, doesn't mean it's not true.

And finally - I do believe that math should be taught in schools, regardless of my ignorant math brain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture, baby!


Since people may be suddenly bodily ascending to space today, I thought I'd celebrate us sinful bottom dwellers by our captain, our Rogue, our hero - Banksy.  This may or may not be inspired by the fact that I'm currently watching Exit Through the Gift Shop. But I bring this to you as a reflection of one of my favorite aspects of earthly humanity: Civil Dissent. Especially in Art.

So ... push play, listen to Debbie Harry, wait for the man from mars, and scroll through some Banksy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Something's rotten in the state of Tennessee...(a blog in pictures....)


And it ain't Claudius.

In case you haven't heard, or read, here's the story:

I am truly puzzled by the notion that "homosexuality" is "taught." Nobody taught me to be a homosexual. It just kind of happened, well, naturally. No one "teaches" it. I almost wish it had been taught - I might have been a lot less confused in middle school. But to go so far as banning it? When it's not in any curriculum?

Preventative/minority legislation. You know who was a big fan of that? THIS GUY:

And these guys:

My best friend Tracy wrote a really great blog post about fear. Read it. It's spot on. Fear is the original exaggerator. It's the man behind the curtain, the monster under the bed, the wind through the trees. It's a Nothing that has become Everything. So you'll understand my confusion when I hear that a state legislature is afraid of this: 

Or these guys??

Actually, I think it's because of these guys. ALL these (gay) guys:

Because according to the latest Gallup Poll, "For the first time, majority of Americans favor gay marriage." 53% in favor, 45% against. If it were a presidential election (especially in the last decade), that would almost be considered a land-slide. Their grasp of control is slipping, their vice-grip on "normal" is fading. Especially when a guy this cool...

Beam me up, Mr. Sulu. If you're the Rapture, I want in. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

it's the end of the world, as we know it.....


On Saturday evening, I drove into downtown LA to attend a fabulous theatre piece that some dear friends of mine were in. As I was stuck on the 5 North, slowly crawling to the on-ramp of the 101, my gaze happened upon a billboard. This billboard, to be exact:

Now. I do not consider myself an alarmist. I'm not particularly superstitious (outside of hockey). And I've never considered God (Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, to be a jerky douchebag. But I will gladly admit to being anti-apocalyptic; I am staunchly, irrevocably, and vehemently against the apocalypse. And yet, this billboard freaked me out. 

But I didn't let it get to me - I've become very good at ignoring the hysterical fear that is apocalyptic propaganda. I went to my friends' performance, and had a lovely time. I thought nothing of the billboard, or the ominous May 21st due date, until Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. When one of my little 6th grade cherubims innocently said during check-in: 

"Did you know the world's going to end on May 21st?" 

I didn't say anything. I avoid touchy subjects like religion, politics, and boyfriends/girlfriends like the end-of-days plague. But something really bothered me about my 12 year old student saying that - not the religion - but the notion that an entire generation and culture of children believe that the world is going to end before they reach 14. Eerily, Friday's check-in question was "What's something that scares you?" The second most popular answer, after creepy-crawlies (insects, snakes, spiders, etc, etc): the Mayan 2012 prophesy. At least 1/3 of my kids think that the world is going to end suddenly, violently, frighteningly before any of them can graduate the 8th grade, enter high school, or have a job. 

Depressingly, many of them (I perceive), believe this so totally that they don't really see the point of school. And they're right - what's the point of learning things if the end is going to come in just over a year?? What's the point of anything at all?! 

When they tell me this, and ask my opinion (about 2012), I simply say that there's no clear outcome to the Mayan prophesy - it really just states that it'll be the end of the third age - nothing more, nothing less. They tend to just give me a confused look, and then I'll say something like, "everything will be okay." They accept this, and go back to talking out of turn, or hitting the person next to them.

Regardless of my own vehement objection towards the apocalypse - seeing my students so resigned to accepting THE END OF ALL THINGS angers me beyond reckoning. Not because of their resignation - they don't know any better - but because it proves how much of an oppressor Fear is; how dangerous a weapon. And then I think about the last 10 years, and how much we've been told to fear - Muslims, anyone from the Middle East, bacteria, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, asteroids, our president's nationality (really?!), even Communists and Fascists (still??) - and each one of these things are seemingly beyond our control. It's no wonder that people are buying guns, stock-piling supplies, and praying for the Rapture as soon as possible -WE'RE A WRECK!  And yet, the things that we do have control over - global warming, alternative energy solutions, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, gay marriage, the economy - we do nothing about because we're so fucking exhausted from worrying about all the giant question marks, all the boogie men making bumps in the night, that we destroy logic and reason. Or we relate the fixables to the unfixables:

"You think WE created global warming?! You must be a Commie! Or a Fascist. OR BOTH!"
"You believe that people should have the freedom to marry anyone they choose?! You're going to hell!"
"It's those damn Muslims who've ruined our economy!"

I'm tired of the fear. I'm tired of the media. I'm tired of zealots. But most of all, I'm sad that my 6th graders are growing up without hope. 

So you know what? I hope the Rapture does come, in so much as it sucks up all those "deserving" and  "repentant" souls, and takes them off and away to wherever it is they'll go. Just so long as they leave the rest of us in peace, calm, and tolerance. That's what the Jews believe the end-of-days to be - not a catastrophic event, but a culture change brought forth by good deeds and understanding. Now that's an apocalypse I can support.

............I'm seriously thinking of returning to my Jewish roots.

In other news, here's the top 10 things you should know about my life in the last two months:
1. I got into Grad School! In CANADA!
2. I got a SCHOLARSHIP for grad school in CANADA!
3. I took a week-long visit to Oregon over spring break.
4. I turned 29.
5. I've been working on bringing SOC up to the 21st Century.
6. I have 2.5 weeks to get 95 children into performance mode.
7. I'm organizing volunteers for a fundraiser.
8. Because of 5, 6, and 7, I've been more stressed out than normal.
9. I've been wanting to write a blog about ethics vs. morals, but haven't found the time.
10. I'll be SO HAPPY when June 10th arrives. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crazy like a Greek Polar Bear


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?