the last day of break.

Today is Saturday, January 20, 2018. It is my last full day of winter break; I head back to campus tomorrow night. It is 3:37 PM and I am sitting at our kitchen island. I am listening to the sounds of my laundry in the wash while my brother plays Breath of the Wild and my mother works on her sermon in the next room over. Sunlight streams through our dusty windows creating a beautiful dispersion effect through the room and I am eating kettle corn.

I’ve done and thought about a lot this week; after lounging around at home for the whole break I spent this week working full days at my school’s costume shop. Though it was a lot of work, I learned a lot and enjoyed meeting and working with the people there. I am no longer afraid of sewing machines, riding the metro alone, or asking for help. I have an appreciation for waking up early, working hard, and doing creative work, and I think I have gained a better understanding of the daily working grind that comes along with an awful commute as well as priorities outside of work life.

There are a lot of occurrences from this week that I could write about, but I probably will not because I feel that they require a much greater depth of reflection than I am willing to give right now. Perhaps eventually they will make their way into something I create.

What else did I do this week? I started reading webcomics on Line Webtoons and Tapas. To be completely honest, they are kind of trashy – but reading them is like indulging in an overly dramatic reality show or two extra slices of pumpkin pie. I read one this morning about a girl who was sent a human boy hatched out of an egg so she wouldn’t be lonely… heh heh heh.

Anyway, on the topic of school starting up this week, I don’t feel very anxious (which is good). I’m more just hoping that I will embrace discomfort so that I can accomplish my goals. I often gravitate towards comfort (for example, sleeping in, snoozing my alarm, laying in bed watching YouTube, eating sugary snacks) but I’ve realized that even during a week like this past week where I had to wake up at 6:30am and got home so late that I had only one or two hours to indulge in lazy Internet video watching, I felt no less satisfied than when I had 12 hours of sleep and 9 hours to lazily watch Internet videos. In fact, I probably felt more satisfied because I had more time away from screens and that helped me to be more mindful and present. Furthermore, I found that no matter how many videos I watched or hours I spent doing comfortable, entertaining things, I didn’t feel happier or more fulfilled afterwards. While I do get inspired from watching YouTube videos and looking at new things on the Internet and whatnot, after a certain threshold, I experience no increase in satisfaction, happiness, or inspiration.

All this to say, when school starts, I hope that I wake up early and instantly and embrace discomfort whether through eating healthily, working out, or choosing to work on homework or side projects instead of mindless media consumption. Woohoo.

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Here’s a screenshot of an enlightening tweet for no reason other than the fact that I think it’s INTERESTING!!!!! Okay goodbye and have a nice day.
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Accessible Theatremaking

Hi. So I just watched a Casey Neistat video and it inspired me – nay, motivated me – to create something. I’ve been kicking around this idea of utilizing YouTube to kickstart or propel me along in my career (though what that career is, I don’t know).

In Casey Neistat’s video, he talks about how his lifelong dream was to be a filmmaker. He chased the traditional path that he believed was required to become a “proper” filmmaker – red carpets, awards, film festivals, names on posters – and ultimately discovered the beauty of the Internet in that the power of filmmaking and storytelling lies in the hands of everyone with access to a smartphone or computer. It’s a spectacular thing. And it makes me think about my own aspirations for my creative career.

I aspire not to be a filmmaker, but a “theatremaker” – someone who creates meaningful shows. There are perhaps similarities to filmmaking, though Neistat seems to emphasize storytelling through film and I don’t think theatre is always necessarily about storytelling. Theatre can also be about relationships and connections and it is overall much more deeply personal than film. So many shows have steered away from the proscenium approach and I think that speaks to how people are increasingly buying into the value of theatre not just as a pretty, entertaining show to see but as an experience evoking presence, mindfulness, and connection.

And I don’t really know what kind of theatre I want to make. Sure, I believe there is value in telling stories on stage. I think it would be really cool to tell stories with perhaps ordinary, linear plots in ways that are more avant-garde, postmodern, and experiential. For example, consider the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It’s simple, it’s a tale that most of us are familiar with, the plot flows and makes sense. But what if it was presented in a way that confronted the audience to not just observe the story, but actually be immersed in it? Maybe the audience walks through the theatre doors to stumble upon the corpse of an old woman mauled by a wild animal, blood and gore and all. Then perhaps the mortified audience continues walking only to find more and more scenes from the familiar story presented in a grim and grotesque light. That’s surely going to leave an impression on the audience member who was expecting a quiet night out to see a show that is satisfyingly average and then head home to bed. But in reality, it would be really hard to put on this kind of show by myself. I would have to develop the concept, design the scenes, create the sets, design the lighting and sound, and make sure the whole production has a tone consistent with my directorial vision. Furthermore, I’d have to obtain the space, funds, and team to create this.

So if Internet videos are the accessible form of filmmaking, what is the accessible form of theatremaking? Sure, many people post skits on the Internet or create webshows with characters. One of my favorites is Chris Fleming’s “Gayle” which has a wonderful way of breaking the 4th wall to establish a connection with the audience. Furthermore, Chris Fleming’s amazing humor always seems to draw me in and really make me think. So that’s kind of similar to theatre – it evokes presence and connection and the experience of watching it. So that’s one option: creating a webshow.

Another option would be writing short scripts and reading them on camera, or perhaps pseudo-acting them out on camera, or even bringing in friends to read parts of scripts. I feel like this format would do best with scripts that are humorous and comedic in nature. I’ve never tried to write comedy before, so that could be an interesting foray. This format might also work with scripts that are aggressively postmodern in addressing the audience (viewer) and prompting the viewer to really think and consider whatever topics are addressed. These videos could be more “artsy” with b-roll, filters, and background music. I don’t think this format would work with melodramatic scripts because I feel that melodramas heavily rely on the audience to invest in the story – emotionally or otherwise – and this wouldn’t work so well with Internet users who are clicking around for entertaining or interesting videos. So those are two more options for accessible theatremaking: reading or acting out comedic or postmodern scripts on camera.

Another option would be more “behind the scenes” in nature. For example, I might make videos of me pitching ideas for shows while showing sketches, concept art, inspirational images, or reading drafts. Additionally, I could make videos showing the process of me building or writing something. I could also make vlog-style videos showing my journey to become a “theatremaker”. I could use the vlog series to set creative and career goals and keep myself accountable for working towards achieving them.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I have stuck to the format of Internet/YouTube videos for all of these. Well, I think YouTube is a great platform because it allows you to create a huge amount of content and the more you put yourself out there, the more discoverable you become. When you have a wealth of content behind you, it lends credibility to you as a creator. By making videos I would work on improving my skills and my craft as a theatremaker which would help me in my career. Furthermore, YouTube has an existing audience which is incredibly motivating when it comes to content creation. And finally, YouTube videos can be monetized.

So these have all been some really interesting ideas, but what it ultimately comes down to is hard work. If I want to create anything, or if I want anything to come out of this, I have to put in the hard work to actually make this stuff happen. I don’t really want to commit to weekly YouTube videos, but I can try for monthly? I’d rather under-commit and then over-deliver than overcommit and under-deliver. So I’ll commit to do 3 videos… this year. Haha. I’ll keep you updated and edit this goal as I deem necessary….

Failed Resolutions

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2018 was to write and upload a post to my blog every week before Saturday at 11:59pm. Well, I’ve already failed. That’s ok though – I’m all about grace and second chances and working with imperfect processes.

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This is Coco. She is completely adorable and completely unrelated to this blog post.

When I set my resolution to write a blog post every week, I also made a list of 32 potential blog topics that I could write about. I thought I was off to a great start – there are 52 weeks in a year, thus 52 blog posts I would have to write for 2018, and if I could think of 32 ideas in one night I would be golden for the rest of the year. Surely, I would be blessed with a wealth of topics and ideas to write about. So why didn’t that work for me this week?

I did start writing what I expected to be my first blog post of 2018. It was to be a review of 2017 and the events that I experienced in it. I felt that this topic was important to write about because 2017 was quite a transformative year for me – though lots of crappy things happened during it, I also grew tremendously as a person in learning to listen to my intuition and getting to know more about myself. I went from being quite hopeless to being inspired and full of hope and peace – something I hadn’t experienced in a while. But as I went through writing out all the events that transpired in 2017, I grew tired. I didn’t want to detail all of these things even though some logical part of me knew that it would be good to document them for the sake of posterity. So I didn’t. I also didn’t choose another one of the 31 topics on the list to write about, and I missed my 11:59pm deadline.

Essentially what it comes down to is this: the way I work currently is sporadic and unstructured, especially when it comes to writing. I want to sit down and write about whatever interests me at the moment, even if it doesn’t make sense or offer a ton of value to readers. For now, I would like to work towards writing more consistently in 2018. Even if the topics I write about end up being random and disconnected, at least I will improve at my consistency and work ethic. I want to write and publish a post on this blog every week in 2018 before Saturday at 11:59, so I will do it. Here’s to 51 more crazy blog posts.

An Ode to October

I maniacally hammered this out with my thumbs while waiting for class to start on October 31, 2017. I decided that now (as November draws to a close) would be a good time to post it on this blog.

Today is Halloween. I’m sad to see October go; she has always been good to me. I firmly believe with all of my heart that October is the best month of the year for many reasons, most of them baseless.

I was born in October and I remember having birthday parties when the weather outside was crisp and cool in a tender way. I remember sitting in our old rusty screened porch, now replaced by a streamlined, white sunroom. I remember inviting childhood classmates to my party simply because I liked them and wanted to be friends with them without doubting or second-guessing myself. It used to always rain on my birthday, but not in a depressing way. It was a gentle rain that stopped by to celebrate my completion of another year.

October is the month of change. The fall season itself is representative of change as leaves turn orange and the air turns chilly, but October is the month that truly ushers in these changes. Here in College Park we have a beautiful blue sky that somehow turns deeper blue and deeper orange with the turn of fall, providing a beautiful backdrop for red orange leaves rustling in the wind. I go outside and breathe deeply and the air is distinctively October air. This air will continue to evolve into November air and December air and pick up the scents of muddy ice on asphalt and cinnamon notes and gingerbread spice and dusty Christmas decorations that get taken out of their boxes every year when the days become shorter and darker.

October is the month of creativity. Perhaps you would say that March is the month of creativity when the sun comes out and plant life makes a reappearance. But October is the month when people carve playful yet elegant designs into gourds. They look around their rooms with intelligent eyes and see endless potential in old t-shirts or ordinary scarves and create costumes. October is the month when people remember how to wear sweaters and scarves and zip up their jackets while holding a cup of hot coffee. College students decorate the doors to their dorm rooms and get excited over free pumpkins.

October is the month of making art. Consider Inktober, or consider the coziness of snuggling up with cat butt socks and a mug of Trader Joe’s autumnal spice tea and a notepad where the world is your oyster to create, create, create. Consider the shows that open in October as the performance season begins.

In October, anything is possible.

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October sun on October flowers on an October afternoon.

bernard.

smoky days when i thought i knew myself but it only drifted farther from me and I, inhaling the fumes of euphoria couldn’t stop laughing and sprinting towards that infinity of something Unknown and yet Grand. Head bowed the whole time, unaware of who or what or when or safety or logic. Only feelings. Only excitement. Only perceived passion and jumping and clapping and yearning, oh, yearning for that which I could not name.

everything seemed to disappear into a haze and I, eyes open, forgot how it looked to be nothing but feeling, feelings. What sensational tactility it was! To venture out into uncharted lands knowing absolutely nothing but guts. Viscerality. Broiling emotions that landed in a thick, murky broth – indigestible.

Yet, I have not changed. My gut is larger than ever and I, eyes glazed, press onward towards the inexplainable tugs of feeling. Illogical, unsound, indescribable, completely absurd. Let me be this, this is all that I am; all that I know how to be. A formless mass carried by the wind into places high and low, unable to control any of it, enjoying all of it. When the wind blows past in teasing tendrils, open your jaws and try to catch it. Feel the breeze on your face, your skin stretched taught and pores thirsting for moisture. I can’t help but be carried on the wind so I might as well enjoy the ride.

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Things, Vol. 1: Fall & Feelings

Welcome to volume 1 of Things! Aka, things that I’ve encountered/experienced that I feel describe my current state of being. 🙂 Actually, this title brings up some interesting philosophical questions about who we actually are – am I just a union of my experiences and senses? That’s a subject for another day…

Current Obsession: Steven Universe

Music:

Life:

  • Wearing scarves
  • Mobility in my cervical & thoracic spine + scapulae – it feels loooovely and I recommend it.
  • Drinking tea instead of coffee – what a difference. Tea feels so much gentler on my body.
  • I am STUDYING what I LOVE and it feels SO fulfilling. #findyoself #followyodreams #butconsiderrealityaswell #whatdidieverseeinstem #itsachitariverareference but actually though if you’re stuck in a rut in terms of your major or career direction I think you should start with something you love or are passionate/excited about and study it broadly. Explore things related to it, look at what people are doing related to it, take classes related to it. And keep an open mind and pay attention to the things that make your heart go loopy and reflect on why they do. I will probably write more on this later…

Things to Work On:

  • Being okay with being seen
  • Putting myself out there and being okay with being vulnerable and embarrassed
  • Just talk to people…
  • Allowing myself to do what makes me happy
  • Taking care of myself (aka not running my body into the ground (aka actually going to sleep at a reasonable hour))

What’s Bothering Me:

  • Digestive issues. Wtf, dairy?!?
  • My own scrutiny of my own inauthenticity
  • The fact that the approaching winter means I can no longer wear my Chacos
  • Sadness

Next Steps:

  • Give and request more hugs from people. Human touch is lovely.
  • Make EYE CONTACT and DON’T LOOK AWAY! Own that eye contact. Own your space.
  • Actually talk to people and hang out and make friends.
  • Go to sleep at a healthy time, and maybe eat breakfast in the morning.
  • Expect dissonance, expect to be nervous, learn to work with it.
  • Practice grand jetes with attitude back en tournant, and figure out how to not bruise my knee all the time.
  • Make more art.
  • Buy some winter shoes.