Thursday, April 29, 2010

Something jack Said

So, the other day, Loyal Readers, your BloomingtonGirl was talking to her son about going into fourth grade next year. The school year is winding down (his school gets out on May 20!!) and he is visiting the age 9-12 class next week, which is sort of a big deal for him. (He goes to a mixed age classroom Montessori School.) I asked him how he felt and kidding him, asked if he felt old.
He replied:

"I don't really feel old, but going into fourth grade, I feel closer to dying."

I was a little alarmed by my nine year old expressing such a sentiment. I asked him to explain.

"Well, first I'm in fourth grade, then high school, then my driver's license. Then, I'm forty, then, I'm ninety. I probably won't make it that long ..."

He wasn't morbid or upset, but simply stating the facts as he saw them. It was something to hear a kid that young talk about life this way.

I remember that right after I got married, I felt the same way - closer to dying. (Not because I was unhappy with my choice, but because it was such a huge milestone and I was older when I did it.) Somehow, having passed the marriage milestone made me realize how mortal I was. I know I am not doing a good job explaining this, but believe me, it was very real. And still, almost thirteen years later, I lie in bed each night, drifting off to sleep, and the thought crosses my mind that this life is finite.

But, for Jack at age 9 to think these thoughts? Wow. Is this a harbinger of his development into an angst ridden artistic type? Stay tuned.

Manifesto


I wrote this for a playwriting class I am taking.




BloomingtonGirl

My Manifesto April 29, 2010

(Okay, it’s really the ideal of my manifesto, but still.)

There is enough room in the world for many different kinds of theatre and so it follows that there is enough room for many different kinds of playwrights.

Some playwrights have to write very serious and lofty works. If such a one is skillful, a great play may result. If such a one is in love with his words or premises, and is not keenly insightful, an exhausting or stupid play may result. There will be audiences for both, though I steer clear as a rule of reading or seeing the exhausting play. I also steer clear of writing serious and lofty works because I’ve made peace with the fact that I am not interested in doing it.

Some playwrights have a heavy hand with which they hold forth their opinions – comic or tragic - through their characters and rather obviously. I hope I am not one of these, but I might be and not know it.

The best playwrights have a light touch and a deft hand. The writer is invisible – there is only the drama itself. The audience is invited into the play unawares and is richer for the experience, whether it is light or heavy, silly or tragic. Even in a large house with a proscenium stage, one finds oneself in the play, not thinking about the play. I aspire to be in this group of writers. Though I may never be skillful enough, I hope I never give up trying.

Some playwrights think that their work is terrible, but they keep writing anyway. I am often in this group.

For every five minutes of accolades I get about my work, there are days of self-doubt and self-criticism. I will savor those five minutes of praise each time and take it as true. Why not?I never doubt the truth of the self-criticism, do I?

It is absolutely okay that I take myself seriously as a writer, whether or not I write consistently or well by whatever standards are said to matter. I need not apologize to anyone for my work. I still will, of course, but I ought to remember that I don’t have to.

I am allowed by the only person who matters in this – ME – to enjoy writing on my own terms. I strive to be a more skillful writer so that I can craft a play that reflects my ideas, so that I can write what I think is a good play. I am not required to strive every day to be a serious writer, though. There are other things and people in my life that need my attention, too.

If in the future, I no longer wish to write plays, I never need be embarrassed that I thought that this was the thing for me. Life is like that and too short for such silly conceits.

Manifesto

I wrote mine today.
I'm just saying.
It was empowering.
It probably will need editing.
Maybe not.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday

I miss Chinese Food, Loyal Readers. Good Chinese Food, that is. As far as I can tell, there is quite a bit of Chinese Food in this town, but I have yet to have any that is good. I also miss good Italian Food. What passes for Italian here is criminal. There are several very good restaurants here, but being back East reminded me how much better the food is there. How is it, then, that I am not the size four BloomingtonGirl who moved here? Perhaps it is better not to ponder such a question, especially on a day like today - a rotten horrible day.

There were several things that conspired to make my day horrible and rotten but the biggest one was slipping and falling (hard) on the floor in our foyer. I slipped on and - horror of horrors! - landed in, a rather large puddle left by our poor dog who is starting to stand on the threshold of the great doggy beyond. The indignity of it all. When I was mopping it up and then shampooing the carpet (our thoughtful pup is no stationary urinator - no! - she walks around while she does it, leaving a large area to be cleaned by my lucky self), I was feeling entirely defeated (and sore from the fall) and I sobbed uncontrollably, racked in waves of self-pity. It was PAH-thetic and yet weirdly cathartic. It's good, every now and then to have one of those nobody-can-hear-me-no-holds-barred cries.

After I cleaned the floor and myself, I went about my day, feeling that things could only look up. I was wrong, Loyal Ones. I picked Jack up and brought him (and two of his friends) home for a playdate. I fed our pup and while she was eating, went to get some laundry done. (I know, I know, your BloomingtonGirl's life is very glam). I figured I would take the dog out right after she finished eating. (She has to be carried down the stairs to the yard and back up again...something I said I would NEVER do, but here I am, doing it). I heard a yell from the living room. Jack and his friends screaming "Gross!" She did it again, this time, in an arc over the carpet and across the best Oriental Carpet in the house. Suffice it to say that I did not give her a treat for her accomplishment. On the other hand, you can't really punish her because she is a million years old. If it weren't for Jack, she would have been voted off the island some time ago. I find myself dragging my feet because I don't want to face how grieved he will be. Why does anyone have pets or children? Why, Loyal Readers, why?

In other news, I cannot wait to climb into our huge soaking tub tonight and fill it up to the brim with hot water to soak out all of my ills. I am going to pour in large amounts of these wonderful lavender scented sea salts, sink in, put on my reading specs (ah! middle age) and read Othello. It is SO good. Iago is so skillfully written and so wonderfully evil and devoid of guilt. A juicy read indeed.

In other other news, Jack is out playing with the neighbor boys again tonight and Chris is working late. I love the quiet of an empty house. And I deserve it after this kind of day.

In other other news, there are only 24 tickets left for the Cincinnati reading of Over the Moon on Tuesday, May 11. Let me know if you want me to reserve one for you. I am very excited about the cast (they are stellar!) and having a pretty good sized audience for the talk back afterward. This reminds me that I need to book a hotel!

I'm off to clean up the kitchen, put my (not so) little (anymore) guy in bed, and book a nice hotel for Cincinnati.

I wish you a good night, Loyal Readers, and a good tomorrow, devoid of any unseemly accidents.



Monday, April 26, 2010

My New Favorite Actors & Other Things

Loyal Readers, during her Heart Zone workouts on her bike in the basement, your BloomingtonGirl has been watching an old movie called That Hamilton Woman, starring Vivien Leigh and Sir. Lawrence Olivier. It is, except for an interminable and dull battle scene toward the end, terrific. It has started a new obsession with these actors. I'm embarrassed to say that I am woefully unfamiliar with Olivier's work and only recall seeing Leigh in Gone with the Wind. I'm hooked on both of them, Loyal Ones, and I also find their own love affair very interesting and tragic. Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?

I am writing to you while dinner is in the oven (from the Moosewood Cookbook, Bulgarian Pepper and Cheese Delight) and Jack is outside playing with the neighbor boys. Chris is working out and I have a little time before dinner to write my blog. When I first started blogging, I wrote just about every day. The blog was called "Life in Bloomington, Fairfield County Girl Makes Good in the Midwest" . My first post was on December 31, 2003 (!!) and it was this:

So, before today, I really didn't know what a blog was, exactly. I would read about them and I sort of knew but felt stupid to ask. Today my friend Michelle mentioned the term and I broke down and asked her. We decided I should have a blog for our move. So here it is.



Now, on to recipe comments...

The chicken so far smells wonderful. More as it develops...
Today I sent in the contract to the moving company. We are officially moving during the last week of January. Wow. This blog will be all about the move, settling in & freaking out. Oh, and I will of course include some recipes.

It seems a million years ago. Sometimes I still cannot believe that I live in Indiana. No offense to any Hoosiers, especially Bloomington Hoosiers, but I am really an East Coast girl through and through and I probably would not live anywhere in Indiana besides Bloomington. I continue to miss easy access to Manhattan - I can never get enough of that place - but I don't miss living in Connecticut. I like going to visit CT and I have to admit that the amount and variety of amenities far outweigh those here. But, there is an insidious "keeping up" that happens when the average home price in a town is north of a million dollars. There is an enormous amount of wealth there that I took for granted when I was a resident. Now, when I go back, I am a little dazzled by it. It is all very gorgeous and grand. I don't think I would have the energy for it anymore. I like the pace of life here and the kind of people in this town. Who knew I would ever feel this way? I would like to retire in Manhattan (alas, my husband does not) but I'm happy we moved here.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

BloomingtonGirl Brews Tea to Elevating Her Life

I recently visited a Tea Store to purchase some good green teas for my green tea drinking husband. The lovely woman who ran the shop was happy to tell me all about the teas and how they would elevating my life. She had a clear glass pot containing a light tea and in it, this beautiful and strange looking flower thing - very similar to the photo at the left . She poured me some and I was hooked. It was delicious and delicate and floral. It was, Loyal Readers, Jasmine Tea. I was very excited to take some home and brew it, drink it and enjoy the visual of the beautiful flower thingy in my cup or tea pot. Well, Loyal Ones, your BloomingtonGirl has only been able to recreate part of the experience. The tea was lovely but the flower thingy, not so lovely. Here's a shot of how mine looks below.
How did she do it, I wonder? I followed the directions and I even prodded the thing a bit to make it open up more. Alas, this was as close as your BloomingtonGirl could get to the beautiful flower thingy. I hope it doesn't mean that this tea won't elevating my life. I need all the elevation I can get to fight off the literal gravity of middle age. The nice tea lady recommended that I even put the flower thingies in my bath, but I am going to decline. Soaking in a tub filled with multiple things like the above thingy isn't my idea of soothing. Besides, at about fifty cents a thing, it could get a little steep, no pun intended.

In other news, my leg of lamb dinner was sublime, I am happy to report. I served the lamb with black quinoa and freshly picked spinach from my husband's garden. I exaggerate not at all when I say that it was the best spinach I have ever tasted.

I like the early part of the garden. There are little harvests, just enough for a meal here and there. But the tyranny of it will befall me before too long and I will be up to my elbows in large quantities of things such as chard, kale, cucumbers and tomatoes. Worry not, though, because your BloomingtonGirl will be more efficient this year. I am going to get me one of them pressure canners so I can put things up more quickly. Stay tuned and keep your fingers that I don't blow the place up.

Beautiful Food

I wish that I could share the aroma of this paste right here on this page. I suppose at some point we will have the technology to do that, for better or worse, but for now, Loyal Readers, you will simply have to imagine how gorgeously appetizing this smells. It is a paste made from fresh lemon zest, rosemary leaves, kosher salt, garlic, black pepper and olive oil. Otherworldly, if I do say so myself. I just finished rubbing it all over a leg of lamb, which I put in the fridge to marinate. I will roast it later to perfection and make my husband the happiest of all men.
Don't you wish you had a BloomingtonGirl cooking for you every night? Of course you do.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm a Pokemon


Check out my awesome attacks!

Ethereal & Bloody Bloody & Fat Girl

Loyal Readers, you see at left an open bag of LuckyGuy Bakery Double Chocolate Delights. Your BloomingtonGirl should not, I repeat, should not, have opened said bag. There are three fewer cookies as a result and a slightly fatter - yet still somehow attractive, I hope - middle aged woman as another result. Ah, desire! You were simply too much for the demure and delicate BloomingtonGirl!

I made these treats for the wonderful and creative people in my playwriting class yesterday. I bagged up the rest to give as a gift and then neglected to decide upon a lucky recipient. There the cookies sat, on my island, staring me down, eroding my willpower. I caved at last and I am here to report that these might be the finest cookies I have made in many a baking moon. They are deeply chocolately, yet delicate in texture. The flavor is not too sweet, not too bitter, but juuuuuust right. There is a perfect amount of salt (essential for a baked good, I don't care what anyone says) and that perfect amount really brings it all home. Heavenly they are and I do not exaggerate. I think that I must make a few more batches for mailing to those on the LuckyGuy Bakery A-List. They are a bit delicate for shipping, but I posit that even humble shards of these would be welcomed by the most discriminating of LuckyGuy Customers. Hold on a second while I reseal the bag. Four would be simply too much of a good thing.

There.



Now, on to other topics. If you are in NY, I highly recommend the show Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. (Here are a couple YouTube Videos for it: Interviews with the creators/current relevance and another one.) It is up for a limited run at the Public, so you will have to hurry. It is a 90 minute whirlwind of a play with lots of EMO Rock and irreverent humor. It tells the tale (duh) of our nation's 7th president in a most innovative and entertaining way. It is hilarious and moving and quite thought provoking. If you are a parent of a high school or college student and don't mind if he or she hears the word Fuck lots of times in an hour and a half, you might want to take your kid to see it. It will provoke interesting conversation about the state of affairs of our country. The take home message for me was that things haven't changed all that much since then. Bloody was one of the best things I've seen in a long while. I wish I could say the same of A Behanding In Spokane by (usually fabulous) playwright Martin McDonnagh. It was a dreadfully weak play made okay by the amazing Christopher Walken (Hey...I'd pay to hear him read the phone book) and the charming and talented Sam Rockwell. Rounding out the cast was Anthony Mackie (making the very best of his role) and Zoe Kazan who was pretty dreadful. Shame on you, Martin McDonnagh. You are so much better than that. (Apologies to my friend Larry who liked the show.)

I lament that I do not live closer to NY because I could see a couple shows a week and never tire of it.

Well, I am off to do some rewrites of Fat Girl. I hope I get it right. Maybe I can look at my three cookie binge as method writing...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Culinary Heaven, A Stellar Reading and Some Encouragement

Loyal Readers, the identity of the woman in the photo has been concealed in case it is me. Will you look at the size of that Dosa? Masala Dosa, that is. Crazy, right? This was the luncheon portion of said dish at Tiffin Wallah, a delicious little place in Murray Hill. My friend Cindy and I stumbled upon it while there last week and were rewarded by the most excellent Indian Food I have had in years. Outstanding. Run, do not walk there.

You are all wondering if the woman in the photo finished the entire thing, aren't you Loyal Ones? I'd love to tell you but I must protect her privacy.

In other news, I was Over the Moon about the reading of Over the Moon at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis last Monday night. The cast was nothing short of stellar and they made my work just sing! (The actor who played Andy Levine literally did sing some of his role. Ben Rosenbaum is his name. He was an outstanding and believable Andy. I wish I had links to the other actors who read, but alas, I do not. Suffice it to say that it could not have been better.

The audience was modest, but the talk back was quite fruitful. Besides some people I knew from Sewanee, there was a small group of students from a local college that attended as part of a class requirement. I was a little uncomfortable when I saw them enter because the females in the group were black and I was worried about how Andy Levine's stage name - Big Black Cock Daddy - would play. I hadn't tested that demographic yet, so...

One of the young women, I put her at about age 20 maybe - was rather effusive - to put it mildly. At intermission she immediately turned around and said to me with great enthusiasm:

"You gotta make this into a screenplay. I can just see it as a movie, you know. Are you gonna make it into a movie?"

"I've actually had feedback before that it would be a good screenplay, but at this point, I'm going to keep it a play. Unless Meryl Streep wanted to play Elaine, then I might reconsider."

"I don't know who that is."

Seriously, this girl had never heard of Meryl Streep. It was remarkable. During the formal talkback, she had so much to say about the relationships of the characters. At one point, she said, "When Andy takes Elaine to that place - what was it? Car-something?"

"Cartier."

"Yeah, Cartier. I didn't understand what was happenin', like I was tryna figure out where he was takin' her - like was it a strip joint or sompthin."

I just loved that she had no acquaintance whatever with the world of the play - upper class CT and NY - and that she was far younger than the main characters whose relationships play out most strongly - and still, she was completely engaged in the story and very excited about it. It was gratifying to see and hear it.

That said, Sarah Slight, the dramaturg who lead the discussion did a good job at not allowing her to monopolize the discussion, which she was in grave danger of doing, and for that I was grateful.

All in all, the experience was exceptional and I really felt at the end of the evening that the script was close to being in final draft form. A year ago, I could not have imagined that I would finish a script- a decent one at that - and have it read by such amazing actors. I hope that I'll be equally pleasantly surprised a year from now at my place in the playwriting world. Who knows? Keep your fingers crossed, Loyal Readers.

I did get a rejection letter this week from the Seven Devils Conference but it was a very nice one with some encouraging words. Perhaps everyone got those same encouraging words, but I'm just going to assume that was not the case. Why not think good things rather than bad? It's all in one's imagination anyway. Might as well create my own world.

Following that thought, I just purchased some polarized sun glasses. Not only do they make your BloomingtonGirl look like a sexy rock star, they rest her eyes rather nicely. I noticed that some things - like the screen of my I-Pod, for instance - look different with the glasses on. It reminded me that if you change the lens through which you view the world, things appear different. That can be a good thing indeed if you keep your lenses a little rosy. I believe in that.









Saturday, April 10, 2010

Monday Night


Over the Moon gets read on Monday night at the Playwright's Center in Minneapolis. Make your travel arrangements right now, Loyal Readers. See you there.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fat Girl

Loyal Readers! I finally finished the first draft of a new one act play entitled Fat Girl. It isn't very good yet, but I think it has some potential. I had to write it for a class I'm taking at IU and it was hell getting it done. It is good to have a deadline to force me to break through the resistance I feel. I'm excited to refine the piece and see where it goes.

I behaved like a perfectly spoiled woman today. I had a massage today, Loyal Ones and I have to say that it was long overdue. I also went shopping and picked out some smart new outfits for my trip next week. I have gained an unsightly five pounds - all in the mena-pooch region, I think - and I decided that rather than torture myself with my current wardrobe while I pretend to get serious about losing this poundage, I would just pick up a few new things to make me feel better. It worked. I feel much better. I rationalize it all by saying that I am quite fit underneath my fat (I am indeed rather fit, if I do say so myself) and that at least I don't have to lose weight and get in shape. For a laugh, click on this link for Poo Chi.

In other horrible news, I lost my entire address book on my mac. I don't know how it happened but what difference does it make? It's too late now. Or, at least I think so. I'm taking my desk top into the Mac store tomorrow AM and making them (yes making them) retrieve it.

In other other news, my friend and writing associate Maxie is screening his movie tomorrow night at the Whittenberger Auditorium tomorrow night. Here is the trailer and information about it. Get Jak. I will be there with bells on, so look for the beautiful poochy middle aged woman with bells on.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Food Art

Loyal Readers! Your BloomingtonGirl has been on a cheesecake baking extravaganza of late. Here is one of my little beauties, all decked out in strawberry finery. I hope I'm not being too immodest when I say that it tastes every bit as delicious as it looks.

Many people have asked for the recipe, so I've posted it on my recipe blog. Here it is for your cooking enjoyment.