29 February, 2008
Actually it starts with last night. I went over to my beau's apartment & told him that the ASM* on our show at the theatre (where I work) would be out for a performance next week & since we needed an Equity** person to cover, I was gonna step in.
My proud pro-union gent challenged me, asking if it was really right for me to do to the job when there could be some actor out there who could actually use this one week of work to secure his/her health insurance.*** I felt immediately guilty and distraught over the fact that I wasn't pro-union enough myself to have realized that - and then that smart guy I'm dating says, "I mean, D. could even get his Equity card by doing it."
And my jaw dropped - of course! Why didn't I think of that?! How could I not have thought of that first?!
D. is one of my closest friends - a companion though many things and quite a talented actor. To have the opportunity to present him with this simple, yet honest way of gaining his status as a member of the Actors' Equity Association allowed an excitement to creep up within me that could not be contained.
Long story short, in the span of just a few hours, D. agreed and is now on his way to becoming a Professional Actor... just as soon as he pays those initiation fees.
That's a pretty cool day. Congrats, D!!
* ASM - assistant stage manager
** Equity - the professional actors' union
*** AEA members need the equivalent of 12 weeks of work to gain 6 months of health insurance, 20 weeks for 1 year
28 February, 2008
She looked to be in her mid-40's, short & shaggy salt-and-pepper hair, bejeweled glasses hanging on a string around her neck.
I knew her name was Joy because she was sitting across from me - and introducing herself to each new person that happened to sit beside her.
191st: I got on and so did an intimidating, large black man. He sat next to Joy. She said, "Hi there, friend. What's your name?" After he mumbled something, she said, "I'm Joy. It's pretty cold out there today, huh." And thus preceeded to have a successful & pleasant (if begrudgingly at first) conversation with him.
125th: The man got off and a small, frail, and extremely old Korean woman sat down. I know she was Korean because she and Joy talked about it. They also talked about how they both had only daughters, and what might it have been like to have had a son.
59th: The Korean woman bid Joy a good day, got off, and was replaced by an average young-ish man in a suit (who might have worked in an office in Anywhere, USA - but instead, I now know he works for Morgan Stanley). He even had his iconic white ipod headphones in when Joy started talking to him. I thought for sure he'd ignore her... but miracles happen every day.
14th: Joy and Mr. Morgan Stanley were still chatting away when I got off the A train. I started to think how that woman must either be crazy or doing some sort of project. I mean, why else would she just start talking to all those people. And then I thought, perhaps I'm going crazy - for she was merely being a Human. More so than anyone else on that train. And even if just for a few stops, she brought out the Human Spirit in a few lucky souls.
27 February, 2008
"The hurrier I go,
the behinder I get."
New York seems to be a city full of "hurriers".
We hit snooze so many times on our alarm clocks that we then have to hurry to the subway. And if we hear a train coming - look out! - we'll run in four-inch heals and three-piece suits to catch that sucker - old people and mothers with strollers, get outta the way! But if for some unlucky reason we miss that train, we'll look at our watches too many times, and sigh and pout and peer down the tracks, trying to force the next train to "hurry up" by sheer willpower. And boy do we get angry if that train makes us later than we already are... I've seen perfectly decent looking people curse those subways with words that would make Tony Soprano blush.
Now, I'm sure it's not the case that we just can't wait to get to our jobs. It's just that we can't wait. We must hurry!
Bound up the stairs, out of the subway station, and push past the person asking "Can ya spare one penny?" to get to that Starbucks - so we can wait 20 minutes in line for a $5 coffee that's not even so great.
Rush through projects at work just to get them off our "to do" lists, so we can feel like we've acomplished something - even though we end up having to do it all over again because we were in such a hurry we misspelled "accomplished".
Leave work early to beat everyone else to happy hour, or the restaurant, or the train - even though everyone else has the same idea, so no one's really beating anybody... if we just waited an extra 1/2 hour, that subway car would be a lot less crowded and we might actually find a seat to sit down and enjoy a good book on the 45-minute ride home.
And even if you don't feel any "behinder" at the end of the day, you must admit that we spend a good chunck of our time in the mode of "hurry up and wait". And if waiting is so unappealing to us, then why do we hurry at all?
26 February, 2008
I find you can really learn a lot about a person (in a surprisingly short amount of time) by bringing up one of these two taboo topics. And what I find interesting is that you mostly learn about them from the things they are quick to mention that they do not like. You learn about their dislikes first - and then they tell you (or you might infer) what it is they do like.
Why is it that we immediately point out the things we don't like? What about us as humans is so often "glass half empty"? We say things like "that guy's too crazy to be the president" or "how could anyone believe that polygamy is a commandment from god"; we feel out the other person by asking "how could she possibly know for sure what happens when we die" or "didn't you think his policy on health care was lame"... and even if we're not so sure ourselves, we want someone else to agree with us. Misery loves company, right? It's easy bonding.
It's much more difficult to say "Because I think she's the best candidate" when all of your collegues are voting for the other guy. It's much more difficult to say "Yes, I do believe that Jesus died for my sins" when it's not the PC thing to state outside of church.
But I find the people who are able to positively state their own Truths - with pure conviction - to be the most facinating. Even if I don't agree with them, there is always a bit of envy, of admiration in me - to believe so strongly in something that you are willing to risk being too "taboo".
I missed a day.
Now I feel the need to write two entries in one 24-hour span. And the OCD part of me is sorely dissappointed that the automatically generated dates will skip from Feb. 24th to Feb. 26th... and the 25th will be lost forever.
Okay, okay. I know it's not that big a deal. Nothing much was even going on last night - I just spent a really comfortable night at home. Lots of reading, with a warm cup of mint tea nearby, on my couch curled up in a fuzzy red blanket. (Mmmm... that sounds like an activity I'd like to repeat right now.)
Well - so anyway - if you're a bit "Type A" like me, let's embrace this double-entry day together. A small reminder to those like me who may sometimes put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect: the world did not (and of course, will never) fall apart just because of one missed blog.
24 February, 2008
This verse was given to me by a good friend a few months ago - when rejoicing in my suffering was the furthest thing from my mind, (I was more content to wallow in it, thank you very much). But I believe in God. And I believe he has a plan. And I know that while it may not always be clear to me, I choose to trust in his goodness.
So I read this passage. Every day. And another one my friend gave me along with it. I carried them both around in my purse on a pink index card. I read it on the subway. I read it at work. I read it when I woke up and before I went to bed. And pretty soon reading led to reciting what I had unknowingly (or at any rate, without meaning to) memorized.
And pretty soon, although I wasn't quite rejoicing in my suffering, I had at least climbed out of the wallowing. And soon after that, I realized my adament perserverence. Which led to an embracing of my Self, my character, (which I'm stll continually recognizing). And that finally allowed me to see the hope... even if it quite often slipped away through my fingers, at least I knew it was there.
Hearing this verse again at church this morning was a pleasant surprise - one that brought quick, flash-back memories of the not-so-distant suffering... and a longer-lasting recognition that that elusive idea of hope is now a permanent fixture in my heart.
And although that aching is not completely over, I am now a bit more willing to rejoice in it, because I have lived that perserverence and grown in my character, and I know that hope (although not always immediately apparent) is always abundant. It does not disappoint.
23 February, 2008
A Pisces is affectionate, sympathetic, loyal, idealistic, kind, and forgiving - especially if he understands what the Great Teacher meant when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The Pisces is considered a dual sign, one fish battling odds and swimming upstream, and the other fish being nonresistant and drifting along with the current. A Pisces loves peace, almost at any price. He cannot stand a discordant, inharmonious atmosphere. He is sincere and truthful, and sometimes gullible. The Pisces often devotes his life to the cause of truth and justice. He should cultivate the spiritual and beautiful part of his nature. He must learn to always search for facts and not let his life be ruled by emotions or idealism. This sign claims writers, poets, idealists, religious leaders, doctors, nurses, lawyers, all with the divine motivation of helping humanity as their objective. A Pisces, if he will develop confidence and self-assurance, can attain his ultimate happiness: "For he who can master himself can master the world."
Chinese Year of the Monkey: very intelligent with a very clever wit, extraordinary nature and magnetic personality, always well-liked, usually has success in any field he tries. Other Monkeys include Julius Caesar, Bette Davis, Annie Oakley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betsy Ross, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor, Harry S. Truman, Leonardo da Vinci.
22 February, 2008
21 February, 2008
A dear, dear friend's musing from last night's amazement:
"Tonight there is a total lunar eclipse. Did you see it? Was your night sky clear? Did you take the time to stand out in the cold and appreciate the beauty of God's creation? Sometimes in life, you can take a break from all the busy-ness, and find that one moment when you can truly appreciate that there is something out there that is both literally and figuratively bigger than you. In that moment, as you stand quietly and watch as nature shows you something truly remarkable, you can find this strange inner peace that you didn't even know you were looking for; you get that feeling, that the one person you love dearly (and will spend your whole life wishing she was there for the big moments) is right there with you, even for this one small moment. So for this, one of those moments, I am grateful."
20 February, 2008
I don’t think any of us can sit in judgment of another human being.
We’re incomplete creatures, barely scraping by.
- from Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller
19 February, 2008
It makes me feel excited - well, excited and scared.
Better get a good night's rest.
Send good vibes to lower Manhattan in about 12 hours.
18 February, 2008
It makes them smile more.
It makes them hold doors open for other people.
It makes them walk to work.
It makes them give up seats on the subway.
It makes them dine outside (in the winter!).
It makes them go to the green market.
It makes them wish they wore layers.
It makes them break out their spring jackets.
It makes them wear open-toed shoes.
It makes them nicer.
I know it won't last, but a glimpse of spring gives great hope.
17 February, 2008
Conversion does not have to mean being "born again" or re-inventing all your beliefs and ideas. But it can be an intense personal experience... if you let it. It's a moment of union with God - God the Father, or God your Self, or being at One with the Universe. That union can come about suddenly, unexpectedly, fiercely in one singular & defining moment - or it can subtly & calmly emerge in a day-by-day, gradual evolution.
Either way, I find that this personal conversion has less to do with the head and more to do with the heart. In a recent particular sudden & unexpected moment, I found myself grasping to understand with every intelligent thought in my head what was going on in my life - and why at that time it felt like everything I ever knew was being turned upside down. It was not until I embraced what I could not comprehend and opened my heart to acceptance that I was able to truly know that that time was a moment of deep conversion for me.
I like the idea of turning something around. Even when you're sometimes unprepared, you can come out on the other side with a new perspective and a fuller appreciation.
16 February, 2008
"Are you doing good in all the interactions you have with the people you see everyday in your own neighborhood?
Do you act courteously to the drug store employee that rings up your potato chips, even though it's 3 in the morning and she's crabby and short with you? Do you hold the elevator door for the frazzled-looking guy rushing toward it, even though you're just as late for work as he is? When someone is upset or disagrees with you, do you listen and try to understand their perspective, or simply think of them as the antagonist?
If you don't take every opportunity to promote community in your day-to-day struggles, what makes you think that becoming an activist is going to save the world?
I doubt fundamentally that the Peace Corps, Children International and the ACLU are going to save the world. It will take billions of businesspeople, politicians, farmers, actors, fast-food workers, bike messengers, doctors, and others respecting each other and understanding a symbiotic struggle for the experience of life.
Try asking the McDonald's lady how she's doing. Then listen to her answer. That's how you start to make things better.
If gifted actors who care deeply about the human condition keep dropping out for alternative careers where they can make a 'real' change, then the profession of storytelling - which Joeseph Campbell and I believe is one of the most important jobs in any society - will lose its most valuable function: to hold up a mirror to mankind and explore its potential.
And then all we'll have is American Idol."
- Adam Dodds, 7th of July, 2005
15 February, 2008
"Begin each day as if it were on purpose."
Oh, how I like that line!
It's something I don't do often enough - waking up to another day in this wonderful, frightening, amazing experience called LIFE - and then beginning it not with sleepy eyes or dread for the work ahead, but On Purpose.
And I suppose the On Purpose is different for every person.
So, here the call people. And go out with your Own Purpose.
14 February, 2008
13 February, 2008
a warmth within.
even though it is raining outside
streaming down the windows
and pounding at the roof
there is a warmth inside
and it’s not a warmth from the furnace
not a warmth from the wool blanket
it’s something else
something inside my heart
inside my very being
a warmth that is hard to describe
as if the words available to me cannot hold
the feeling, the flame
this fire that stays with me always
scorching to the skies
and then just as quickly
fighting to keep the burning embers alive
but it has never gone out completely
it has never gone silent
a crackling whisper still remains
even if I can hardly feel the heat
12 February, 2008
To flirt can mean:
- To make playfully romantic or sexual overtures.
- To deal playfully, triflingly, or superficially with.
- To move abruptly or jerkily.
- To toss or flip suddenly.
- To move quickly.
But there's also the danger when flirting can sometimes go even one step too far - phrases like "flirting with disaster" come to mind. It's a fine line - to enjoy the flirt that's in each of us but to keep it always innocent and harmless. For if you do happen to go too far, that definition can easily go from "playful" to "tossing or flipping" your heart quite suddenly - and without warning.
Here are a few of the things that struck a particular chord in my heart this time around:
"Making a decision is only the beginning of things"
Yes! Isn't that so true... you think at the time of the decision-making that you're getting through the hard part. But the real work comes later, when you're pursuing your decision, when you're determined to succeed even if the journey is not always easy.
"If you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better"
To be content in the present moment is the Zen route to happiness... and I find it difficult to be content with the present and also try to improve upon it without immediately worrying about the results - if what you do today in the present moment will be right or wrong or enough to create the "later" that you want. But perhaps, if we truly live in the present moment, then the "later" will already be what we want without having to try.
"When we love, we always strive to become better than we are"
I like this idea... but if you go too far (and haven't we all at some point in our relationships - I certainly have) you risk becoming better for someone else and not for yourself. Striving to become your better Self for the good of Love or the good of the Relationship is a worthy cause, so long as you don't lose sight of You.
10 February, 2008
Once you're out of school, settled into your home or apartment, found a steady job... once your life has a routine, it seems a lot harder than that to make new friends. I wish it was that simple again - to just introduce yourself and say, "You seem cool. Let's hang out." But there's a strange sense of not having enough blunt self-confidence to do that at this age; could I possibly have been more courageous at the age of five than I am now?
That being said, I have managed recently to make two great new friends and I'm blessed to have them in my life. They each have that wonderful way of making you feel good about yourself and beautiful even when you don't feel beautiful - like all good friends are able to do.
It's a true gift to have people in your life that will give you back to yourself when you've gone a bit astray.
09 February, 2008
Most of the time, I need help. Someone to lean over the edge, give me their hand and pull me out. But sometimes I'm able to rise to a warmer, calmer place on my own by using the simple things that make me happy: playing my piano, practicing yoga & meditation, singing, running... these wonderful activities allow my mind to let go and see the beauty of life that's always around me (whether I'm taking the time to look or not).
Perhaps creating a truer habit of these activities will keep that rabbit hole to less of a cavern and more of a pothole. It's much easier to get out of - or even sidestep - a pothole.
08 February, 2008
And somedays there is a feeling of so much overwhelming happiness in my soul that I cannot help by fall down and cry.
Isn't it a wonder that the extremes of these two emotions that seem to be opposites can produce the same tears in me?
07 February, 2008
If home is where the heart is, but your heart is longing to live with others, then are you truly at home if you live alone?
What makes a home a Home instead of just a place to live?
If it's community and family and someone to care for, what happens when you're by yourself?
And why is it called being homesick - when you're not sick from home but longing for it (sick with longing, perhaps?) - carsick doesn't mean you're longing to be in your car.
Can you be homesick for a family you don't even have yet?
For a husband and children that you merely hope are in your future.
And what if they're not...
Will you ever feel at Home?
06 February, 2008
I got on the subway, heading into work, and wrote furiously of my self-doubts, my fears, my questions without answers.
I felt no better.
So I closed my eyes and started to concentrate on just my breath. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
I must've had my eyes closed for about 10 minutes, and when I opened them at 59th Street, a man was right in front of me and said, "Are you Rachel Ayers?" I said yes, a little surprised, and he shook my hand and reminded me that he was Dan from Firestone. I nodded and quickly searched his face and finally saw the kid I knew in high school looking back at me from behind eyes I didn't recognize at first.
As he was getting off the train, we had a lightning-round conversation: "Do you live here?" I said yes, in Inwood. "I live at 180th." And then the familiar, "Stand clear of the closing doors please." He was on the platform, I in my seat, and he smiled, shrugged, and said "I'll find you." I yelled out the name of where I worked as the doors were closing and he seemed to hear me.
Isn't it funny when those things happen? And isn't it serendipitous that he said he'd find me - as today I feel a bit lost and needing to be found.
05 February, 2008
A view of NYC from the 65th floor of 30 Rock. The Empire State Building lit up in blue. Eartha Kitt at the Rainbow Room. Bill Irwin clowning. Glitz. Glamor. Not a bad Monday, I'd say. The Vineyard Theatre's Gala was last night, honoring playwright Edward Albee in his 80th year. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, right? So, enjoy a few...
04 February, 2008
But at the end of the evening, they were BFF's and my good friend, with a smile on his lovely face, said to the 81-year-old legend, "Thank you for making my life."
To which she responded with a wild, throaty laugh.
03 February, 2008
And sent the Patriots and their almost perfect record into a tailspin.
I love the underdogs.
It sure was fun - and I know it only happens once a year - but does the party in my apartment building have to continue all night long? I think it's less a case of passionate fans and more likely just an excuse to continue playing festive music into the early morning hours.
When you live in Upstate Manhattan, sometimes you just have to embrace the soul of the neighborhood, break out your dancing shoes, and join in the celebration.
Or get earplugs.
02 February, 2008
01 February, 2008
I love the start of a new month. An entire moon cycle to go through. All the days without blemish, there to be used however I choose. Like a crisp new notebook waiting to be filled - the blank white pages stretching out in front of me inviting me to take action.
I love this feeling of new-ness. But why is it so hard to sustain that feeling for the whole month? I always have ideas of grandure at the beginning and then in a week or so, I forget my goals for that month, or "life" gets in the way, (or let's face it - sometimes I just get lazy)!
And then, instead of simply picking up and starting that Gym Schedule or Business Venture or Better Eating Plan in the middle of the month - I always feel like I have to wait for the next First Day to come along... and that waiting turns into a bunch of wasted time. Precious time that I (like all of us) can have the tendency to squander, as if I will always have more than enough.
Stumbling in the middle of the month is no cause for giving up. In fact, it's expected. In fact, it's welcomed! Because without those stumbles we would never have the chance to prove to ourselves that we can persevere.
Now - remind me that I said all this come February 15th...