Sunday, April 29, 2012
And then this crossed our path as the boys and I walked home from the bus stop:
A baby bunny. So young its eyes hadn't yet opened, but ambulatory enough to hobble onto our path, stand on its legs, and walk toward us as we talked.
To us, not away from us. Animals just don't do that. Right there in the street I decided we would rescue this thing, and to that end I took off my shirt to carry it home. (I had only stripped down to a tank, yet still, my younger son stopped, looked at me with what I think was disdain, and said, "Really, Mom."
This bunny was very definitely the cutest thing anyone has ever seen.
I learned on the internet that the mama would be coming back to call for her baby in the middle of the night, and that we should return him under the tree near where he approached us. At the time of rescue, a dog ran around nearby; this middle of the night return seemed safer.
The next morning, baby was gone, and we trust there was a joyful midnight reunion. Meanwhile in the narrative of house creatures, the four praying mantises we saved from the 100 were promptly dying. Instructions said to feed them "soft-bodied insects," which are surprisingly difficult to track down. We had found a fly, and anytime an ant picnic convened under the dining room table, I scooped up the festivities and fed the mantises. And yet they were dying. I set them all free outside.
The tally: no sea monkeys, no rabbit, no baby rabbit, no roaches, no mantises.
Which leaves us with one mouse, whose fate is unclear. Just as I stripped down in the street without a second thought, so too an unbidden idea came to me when, a few days ago, a hawk flew overhead.
I wonder what would happen...
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Practicing the slip is a standard drill. Why? Because you know the jab is coming. That's what's typically thrown first; it's a ruler to find the face. Ah, there it is. Now watch for the power hand.
I'm a beginner; it's somewhat to be expected that I couldn't get out of the way. But what was going on in my head when that jab was hitting it, you wouldn't believe.
Start back at when I was a kid and couldn't tie my shoes. Couldn't read a clock. Couldn't ride a bike, 'til embarassing late in adolescence.
I have trouble thinking straight, in a line. I am a nonlinear thinker, as you may have guessed from that last post on Cindy Sherman.
But there's nothing more linear than the line from point A (a fist at my/your chin) to point B (a fist in my/your face). The jab is coming. Probably the right is behind it. And maybe then a hook.
Boxing teaches great humility--you hit (I'm tough!) and you get hit (I suck!) There is no room for ego. Yes, eventually you have to tell yourself you are the greatest, because there's no room for wondering when you're stepping into the ring. But it's a humble process getting there. Boxing has taught me humility.
I'm hoping it also can teach me straight thinking. I've spent my life and my adult career fostering the imagination, and that is not called for in the ring (strategic thinking aside).
Thursday night, I sparred with a girl who hit me with some hard rights. My first solid clocking. But it turns out my jabs were hurting her, and she was moving in fear of what my right hand could do.
The right hand...that I didn't throw. It was too...obvious.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
"You can winkle out social commentary, if you like," he writes, "...but you will have stopped looking."
Perhaps he will allow me to explain and parallel my travels with Sherman's work, having viewed it via leaving my home in the Midwest, where I act as a wife and mother; and having traveled to Manhattan, where I became boxer, tourist, old friend, new friend, audience, passenger.
If the commentary comes only when one stops looking, so too does the real learning. I find myself thinking more about Sherman now than when I stood before her self-manipulations in the flesh. And I was a better boxer the few times I turned off my mind. When I stopped. When I relaxed. When I stopped trying so hard.
But a boxer. Am I that? I made myself one. Sherman, in her photographs, becomes whatever she wants, both lovely and grotesque.
Schjeldahl: "Sherman hammers ceaselessly at the delusion that personal identity is anything but a jury-rigged, rickety vessel, tossed on waves of hormones and neurotransmitters, and camouflaged with sociable habits and fashions."
I made myself a boxer. Even then, this persona rocked on the waves: sparring with Alicia Ashley, I was tall and quick; with Sonya Lamonakis, of the 201+lb weight class, I was low, hunched, a heavier hitter. The videos reveal two distinct styles. I'm new; I'm playing and responding. But which way is most fitting?
Travel removes you from your daily ways. Try on new habits, and yet there's nothing to do but follow yourself from your home to your hotel and back.
But present yourself as grotesque, and there is nothing more to fear. Sherman's recent series of society dames is cruel to them, and at the same time hand power to her: the photographer has chosen to portray the ravages of aging with her own body and has put it on record. Typically in our media-saturated world selected sides of oneself are presented for a constructed persona, and yet Sherman's way emerges as stronger.
I pulled sweaty headgear over my face and wore a black mouthpiece. I got punched and bit my tongue. The end of my tongue is purple. I chose this. I have this power over the 200 pound Sonya, who punched me, because I asked for it.
Sherman conveys "inner states of feeling and surmise that are dramatically out of synch with outer, assumed attitudes." Her people don't understand who they are, but we do; neither clothes nor makeup can alter what's being projected.
And of course beneath all that is Sherman herself.
I knew going to Gleason's I wasn't a woman at ease undressing in locker rooms, and that with five, six hours of training each day, the time for a shower would come.
On the last day, after six rounds of sparring, I wanted the water intensely. I stripped down and stayed in the shower long after I was clean. A fellow boxer could come in at any time to use one of the other two shower heads in the large open area, exposing me as I stood there, without any proof of my participation in the sport, naked. But no one did.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Yeah, that's right, I wrote it down. For Greg. The guy in charge while I was away. Feed the sea monkeys.
You'll recall my earlier posts on the sea monkeys and their happy swirling above my kitchen sink. The occasional staredowns. The continual coupling. They were just powder in a packet back in September of 2011, when I bought them for Theo's eighth birthday; but now, seven months later, we've moved through generations upon generations that even ancestry.com would have trouble tracking.
That is, until I left for New York. I come back, and no sea monkeys.
HE KILLED THE SEA MONKEYS.
Oh sure, he claims he fed them according to my directions. That's what he says. Do you believe it? I don't. Because there is no more swirling. There is quiet water.
Instead, I come home to this:
Approximately 100 praying mantises. Granted, I'm the one who bought the egg case from which they hatched. I wanted a hundred praying mantises. There is no creature more badass than the mantis, who can turn its head on its neck as if to say, You talkin' to me? I wanted my own.
But they're no substitute for happy monkeys. In fact, the spiritual name aside, the mantis is without morals. They'll eat each other if hungry enough.
And we all know what the female does after mating.
You don't want to upset the woman. A fair warning to Greg.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
[The body] is one big sensory organism that makes fine adjustments as it receives information. When the body does not function optimally, when muscles are tight or weak, or when joints are stiff or unstable, this information gets distorted so that automatic reactions are distorted. This can hurt performance, increase fatigue, and expose the body to unnecessary stress.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
When Gina told me she was too “bad” to be released from the shelter for at-risk girls where she lives, I had to ask: “Are you bad, or do you do bad things?”
She slammed her thin frame into the video bowling game before her. “Both.” Gutter ball.
This was our first day together in a theatre workshop, and I didn’t know her well. Was she one of the young mothers here, or one of the teens for whom the shelter was purgatory—a last stop before jail?
Over the next three days, Gina threw herself into the acting exercises, the heated discussions of current events, and the times we mixed the two. On our last day together, our class joined the other art groups for an informal closing celebration. My girls fought their nerves and showed highlights from our time together, anything from a mime of brushing their teeth to creating a symbolic sculpture of bodies ravaged by racist words. After the celebration concluded, I walked over to Gina.
“You’re not a bad person,” I told her. “You’re not.”
“I know that now,” she said. Strike, all pins down.
This is what theatre can do.
I'll be teaching theatre again at BuildaBridge Insitutite this June in Philadelphia, and you should go. Scenes such as the above are a privilege to participate in, and an inspiration for continuing the good work back in your own community. Other arts are represented, as well; check out their helpful online flyer here.
- CREATIVE ART STUDENTS WHO WANT TO DEVELOP A SKILL BASE FOR DOING COMMUNITY SERVICE
- STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS CONSIDERING A CAREER IN ARTS-BASED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
- MATURE PROFESSIONALS WHO HAVE ENTERED OR ARE CONSIDERING A SECOND CAREER OF SERVICE
- UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS SEEKING ENHANCED TRAINING FOR THEIR STUDENTS NOT NECESSARILY OFFERED IN THEIR PROGRAM OF STUDY
- CREATIVE PEOPLE LOOKING TO WORK ABROAD
BuildaBridge was founded with a mission to engage the power of art-making for bringing hope and healing to the most vulnerable in the toughest places of the world. Stemming from a trip in 1997 where a group of Eastern University creative artists engaged children who had survived an earthquake in Costa Rica, the BuildaBridge Institute was created to prepare artists for dealing with trauma and effectively teaching cross-culturally. Fifteen years later, BuildaBridge continues to research, apply the principles we have learned in Philadelphia's homeless shelter system and around the world, and train hundreds to improve their service to children, youth and adults in very difficult circumstances of poverty and catastrophe. BuildaBridge Institute is partnered with Eastern University to offer an Arts in Transformation concentration in the M.A. in Urban Studies program.