Monday, May 16, 2016

l'heure bleue

I love, love, love the concept of the blue hour... I discovered it a couple years ago thanks to a poetry collection, but even before I knew it was a thing, I've always felt that dusk especially has an energy about it, a feeling of potential, of possibilities -- it's such a relatively brief transition between day and night, but so much can happen during that change... the same thing happens as dawn breaks, but I'm so rarely awake to experience it. These paintings are by an artist I found named Evgeny Lushpin. He has some others that are absolutely incredible. Now that the semester is over -- and as happens to me so often in the spring -- I don't have any words left to write, so I'm turning to painting again. I want to explore this concept more in my own art.

I've been dealing with some loneliness and some depression that I haven't really wanted to admit, to myself or to others. Some of it feels like unrealized potential, some of it feels like just a general weariness of being in the world. I'm trying to look for meaningful moments instead of distractions, but the distractions are so much easier to find. Painting is one thing that makes me come back to the moment, and I don't have to articulate my feelings in words -- just colors.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I feel... boring.

It's probably just the midwinter doldrums, coupled with the fact that today is the first NICE nice day of the new year. But I'm feeling like life has become too one-dimensional.

I love school. (That in itself might make me boring to some.) I love learning and I'm starting to cultivate an enjoyment of teaching as well. This semester I'm a TA for a brand new Broadway Musicals class which, though still a 100-level gen-ed fulfiller, is also generally full of people who have a real interest in the subject (instead of taking it solely for the easy art credit, as is the case with so many of my Theatre 101 students). Never mind the fact that I don't know much more about musicals than the students do (and in some cases, I know less) -- I get to learn as I prepare my lessons.

The thing is, as with writing -- in fact, maybe even more so than with writing, which gives me an excuse to basically research any subject I want to -- theatre only represents one facet of my interests. This semester I'm super fortunate to be taking classes outside of the department, including a children/youth lit class and elementary French II, and in fact one of the things I love about this degree program is that it is so flexible. But not all of my interests are academic and, as I'm getting older and honing in on things I actually have a passion for (as opposed to a passing interest) it's harder to put those things aside once the semester starts. It's also harder to find the mental energy to pursue those things when I do have downtime (but such is life in grad school).

I really need to learn how to deal with and eliminate clutter. Mental clutter, clutter in my physical space -- even in conversation, I think, with making small talk instead of pursuing conversations that actually have depth and meaning. I take some pride in having become a person who can make conversation with almost anyone (I used to have a hard time speaking up) but now, I think, I need to find the line between just talking and actually saying something.

In my activities, I think the same thing is important. I waste a lot of time (in 10-20 minute intervals) doing nothing of consequence on my phone or online throughout the day. Some of it serves as a sort of mental break, but some of it is just clutter.

I guess all this is to say that my daily sphere of existence has become too narrow, and I want to open it up more. I guess recognizing it is a good place to start.

I also recognize that now is as good a time as ever to actually learn and practice the art of meditation.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Survey Returns

After a hiatus of a couple years, I'm bringing back the New Year survey.

1.What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before? Visited New Orleans; got hired for a job I applied for online (at a public library); ice skated; played the lead role in a play (August: Osage County); saw an opera and the Russian ballet (live in both cases); taught a class...

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make more for next year? I don't even know if I made new year's resolutions. The last couple years, instead of setting hard and fast goals, I've had some vague concepts of things I'd like to work on over the coming year.

3. What countries did you visit? Just the U.S., but hopefully this year will be different.

4. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? A new stamp in my passport.

5. What was the most memorable moment of 2015? I think either announcing that I was quitting the stage management program or having my petition accepted to transfer to the Theatre Studies program. It was an interesting experience to discover something I know I was not meant to do.

6. What were your biggest achievements of the year? A new (fully-funded) degree program, and a trip to St. Louis/New Orleans despite being fairly poor over the summer.

7. What was your biggest failure? There were a couple of narrowly-averted crises, but no outright failures, I'd say.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury? Mostly minor and stress-related.

9. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jake's and a few of my friends and schoolmates at UIUC for being so supportive.

10. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Donald Trump -- how can anyone take him seriously? Also, the Republican party for continuing to waste government time by voting to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn the Affordable Care Act. 

11. Where did most of your money go? Besides the usual bills and rent, I'd say toward Fiona, my new-to-me car.

12. What song will always remind you of 2015? Hm. I think "Sugar" by Maroon 5, "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars, "Goodbye" by Who is Fancy and... many songs off of Hozier's album -- all songs from summer and that I listened to while trying to write a play.

13. Compared to last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? I'd say happier. Or at least of sounder mind. Last year was tough, particularly with school.
ii. thinner or fatter? I think I've more or less leveled out. (I don't have a scale, so it's hard to be sure.)
iii. richer or poorer? Richer, at least in the sense that I'm living off of money I've earned, instead of student loans.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of? Exercising; creative activity; traveling

15. What do you wish you'd done less of? Procrastinating; needlessly worrying about things 

16. How did you spend Christmas? We took a trip to Green Bay to visit Jake's parents; a couple of his brothers and their ladies also came. 

17. What was your favorite TV program? I think I'd have to say Top Gear -- it's one we watched the most of. Also, Broadchurch (come on season 3!) and Smash, though it was admittedly bad.

18. What was the best book you read? I'd say Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was up there; I also started a couple of really good mystery series -- the Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman and The Yard series by Alex Grecian.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery of 2015? The CD collections at the public libraries.

20. What did you want and get? A car, a new (rented) house (with a fenced-in yard!), a new program of study.

21. What did you want and not get? A road trip to the Pacific Ocean.

22. What was your favorite film of this year? As usual, I didn't see many "new releases." In fact, I think I only saw 1. Trainwreck; 2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens; and 3. The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 29. I had class and rehearsal for February dance until about 8, but then Jake and I had a tasty dinner at a local restaurant called De Stijl.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?A more exciting/eventful summer (though there's something to be said about hanging around a small town).

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Transitioning from a "fast fashion" tendency to a more unique-to-me sense. Also, trying to move away from basics and cheaply made clothes/shoes to higher quality stuff that will last longer. 

26. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Probably David Tennant.

27. Who was the best new person you met? That's tough. I met a few good people in class and working on shows at school (Nick, Tyler, and Stephanie among them), and a couple fun coworkers at the library. I don't know that I could list anyone as the standout best.

28. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015: You can't be good at everything; you have to eliminate certain hobbies/pastimes in order to make time for/get better at the ones that are important to you. Also, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there, even if you don't think you're "ready" yet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year, Same Me

Rather than use this as an archival space (which is what I'd started doing -- I'm guessing by the lack of activity here that no one's any more interested in reading that than I am in typing it) I'm going to start using it as a place for things that are on my mind, or that are more current. 

In exactly two weeks from today, I turn 30 years old. I've been trying to come up with different ways to commemorate it, to make it "special," but I think I have to face the fact that I'm just really not good with ceremony. I made a list of "30 Things to do by 30" on a cool website that I found, but given that I only made it this past summer, I didn't have much time to plan for/do anything too outlandish (though I did sort of cheat and add some things that I'd already done). And yeah, a few of the other things are leaning more toward lame and aren't particularly noteworthy. 

Not to mention, my birthday itself is on a Wednesday, one day after the spring semester starts. I'll have class from 9am-5pm. It doesn't really leave a lot of time for adventure (though I do have tickets to the Russian ballet which will be on campus for a few performances that week).

I realize the value of reflection, and I realize that milestones like this are good times to do so. But I'm much more future-oriented, and I think I always have been. I like making lists and setting goals, and I think looking ahead, beyond the immediate future, is important for perspective. But the further you look, the more of an effect unforeseen circumstances can have. To me, the as-yet-unknown opportunities are way more exciting than any plan I might outline. 

So I guess the point is, I don't really have a point. Or a plan -- one of my "30 Things" was to write one for the next 5 years, but I can almost promise I won't stick to it. Maybe I'd get further if I did, but then I'd miss some of the fun detours that will come up along the way.