Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dear World, I love you but you're crazy

I have a few drafted posts that I've been meaning to polish up and post for a few weeks.

You won't be seeing them today.

Instead I just wanted to share an e-mail exchange I had with my mother, who called on the evening of the election just so she could talk to me because she was scared. My mother who described herself the next morning as a "miserable mess of protoplasm". The following is my response to her very broken-sounding message she sent my yesterday morning. I wonder which of us was more scared. I felt like she needed more comforting than I did, but in sending her a message to re-assure her, I wound up making myself feel a whole lot better too.


I haven't watched any coverage since I heard the news online. I can't. It's blasting all over social media and I can't.

And it's okay. The more love and gratitude I pour into the world, the less room there will be for hate and fear, right? I keep telling myself that, though I'm very unsure of it's validity. Historically these times of great adversity provide an exceptional background for making some incredible art, so that in the very least excites me, though it doesn't make it any less scary. Him being president sucks. It sucks so much more that a whole country that I was pretty sure I liked a lot elected him. I heard your voice echo in my head several times last night, "But I don't know anyone who voted for him." I guess there's a lot of people I don't know.

I'm scared for my friends. For people who aren't white. Who aren't heterosexual. Who are weirdos. Who aren't men. But I still oddly find faith and joy in people everywhere. Something I find as satisfying as I do confusing, being a woman of no religious association. I do believe in people. They're awesome. I've seen it.

I'm including a picture I took on a walk over the Ben Franklin bridge that I tweeted today. This city speaks to me through graffiti regularly. Sometimes in scary-accurate ways. I love it.

I love you. Don't apologize for anything. You and Dad have given me ambition, intelligence and a moral compass that cannot be swayed. Those things will serve me so well over the next four years, and I hope I'll be able to serve others with them too.

One little foot in front of the other, even if everyone else seems to be stumbling backwards.


I don't know why I'm sharing this. I really don't. I just want to throw a voice out in the dark in case someone needs to hear it. I just want to keep sharing things that are important to me.

I have the next few days off from school and while holing up in my apartment and being sad sounds a little tempting, instead I intend to make stuff. And love people. And laugh loudly.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Man Who Stares

My neighborhood is not a quiet one. I live on a main thoroughfare, just on the boarder of hipster-land, about to topple into "keep-your-gentrification-to-yourself" borough. My neighbors are friendly, there are urban dogs who have likely never seen a patch of grass spanning more than a block in their lives that I know by name. My landlord stops by regularly to check on the units. He has a warm smile and a lazy eye. The woman who lives upstairs is a story for another time.

I'm a stoop kid. I love a good stoop, and mine is pretty excellent. During the Summer I've spent long hours sipping yuenglings and passing the evening invested in the neighborhood bustle and how it evolves. People running the last of their errands in the late afternoon phasing into people  jogging into dusk, transferring over to squeals of laughter as small groups stagger home drunk.

I don't remember the first time I noticed him. Directly across the street from my safe and warm stoop, a hulking man. At least six foot five. Standing, his frame nearly taking up the entire front picture window of the brick building across the street, just looking out. Staring with his whole body. It was dark enough out and there was just barely enough light in the apartment he was looking from that he was just a silhouette. He could have easily been one of those life-sized cardboard cutouts people get at party stores of James Dean or Elvis or Jean Luc Picard. But he was not. No facial features, no color, arms at his sides and with a massiveness that was enrapturing and a stoic, breath-taking stillness.

At first I thought he was waiting for someone to come home. He had a sort of "waiting for his daughter to come home from a first date" look about him. But no one came. And he didn't move. He stood motionless for about fifteen minutes and because he was just a silhouette, he could have easily been staring directly at me. Or not. Or maybe.

This was months ago, when I first moved into this place. I still see him. Very frequently. He stands in his giant picture window at the level of the street and stares out of it, blinds open. Still. Watching. It's a beautiful image, though still disconcerting. I've yet to wave at him and I don't think I will, though I know he knows I see him. I've yet to see him outside of his house.

I try to fathom what he's up to. What he's looking for or at or to. Is he nervous? Waiting for someone who will never come home again? Protective? Curious? Angry? Paranoid? Appreciative?

I've come to taking a great amount of comfort in looking up and seeing him there. A watchdog of sorts. There's a good chance his brain works differently. Maybe in a way that isn't so okay with the outside world. A way that allows him to stare, intently, motionless at a window presenting unchanging scenery for an extended period of time. His consistency has become part of my scenery, part of my expectation, part of the stories I watch unfold in an evening.

I've come to be thrilled by most things I see that are not ultimately pedestrian. The Man Who Stares is no exception. Often I imagine we stare at each other and weave the most passionate and incredible stories about each other. I know I do. I at my stoop and he at his window. Never the two shall meet, so long as the street parts us.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pulling a Gardner

Last week around lunch I was passing through the lounge and overheard one of my classmates in conversation say, "Yeah, I pulled a Gardner last night."

There are several reasons this made me feel bad ass. Allow me to present:

First. I didn't play a lot of sports growing up. I mean, I played some sports, but I was never very good. I was a fair swimmer but there was no swim team in high school and I loved soccer but was really terrible at it. Other than that there was marching band which I absolutely hated. What I'm getting at here is that even with a first name as common as it was, frequently leading to three or four Sara/h's within a vicinity to looking up expectantly no one called me "Gardner". (Bonus info: the "S" sound is one of the few syllables you can hear when people are whispering, no matter how quietly. This led me to a paranoia/self-importance as a child that people were whispering about me regularly). I tried to get people to call me by my last name for quite some time. Lack of friends people who needed to get my attention regularly and not being a part of a sports team delayed this for thirty years, apparently.

Second. Your very existence being literally verbalized (by that I don't mean spoken, I mean turned into a verb) is pretty great. Since this first classmate said it, I've heard it thrown around the cohort on several occasions. It makes me feel like a total rock star.
Keystone & Crossbones. For badasses only.
Are you dying to know yet? What "pulling a Gardner." is? It's a very bad ass, rock star thing to pull. It's so insanely cool. Are you ready? Here it is:

Mike was telling someone he went to bed at 9:30. You know, like Gardner does. That Gardner sleeps SO HARD! She's always getting 8+ hours. She sleeps like she's got something to prove.

Which brings me to: Third. I think most of my friends pre-grad school (meaning most of my friends) would consider almost anything else in the world "pulling a Gardner" before going to bed early. Here's a few thoughts:

  • Saying yes to every project someone asks you to participate in.
  • Consuming a pint of Ben and Jerry's for lunch.
  • Getting three hours of sleep before working a double.
  • Getting three hours of sleep before going into a tech weekend for two shows.
  • Getting three hours of sleep be fuck you sleep, I got shit to do.
  • Hoping on a plane and not telling anyone where you're going.
  • Leaving anywhere without telling anyone where you're going.
  • Being secretive for no apparent reason.
  • Working 4-5 very part-time jobs.
  • Consuming an entire pint of Jameson.
  • Climbing trees at 2 am. 
  • Picking drunken fights with strangers that kind of deserve it.
  • Sending postcards to people with no reason.

Please understand: I know that none of these things are Gardner-specific. I get it. Just as going to bed at 9:30 is not relate-able to only me. And some of these things I still do. One of the reasons it made me feel like such a bad ass though, is it speaks volumes to what being in grad school has done to my life so far. I've prioritized my own well-being in a way that I always thought was selfish before. My program is highly physical so not getting sick and being fully present/rested is a safety concern first and foremost. Not to mention that getting a shit ton of sleep has improved my general mood immensely.
Gotta get up pretty early to conquer this city.
Don't misunderstand: I don't go to be at 9/9:30 every night. There are even nights when I'm up until 2 am still (but never on a school night, kids). Though, they are less frequent and it's pretty rare that I see the back side of 11 pm lately.

I don't have huge amounts of judgement for the person I was a year and half ago (I certainly have none for anyone who chooses to live their life similarly). She was pretty delightful. Likable, charming, all that stuff. But she would not have done very well in school. She likely would have been miserable and tired and sick all the time.

I'm beyond grateful to be studying here. These people. This place. Even with the seemingly never-ending changes that it's bringing into my life, and feeling like I'm in a constant state of re-adjusting, I'm learning things about performance and myself at an exponential rate that brings me so much joy and excitement.

So if you're feeling run down or overworked or a little lame and need an extra dose of bad assery to your life, try pulling a Gardner: for true rock stars and bad asses.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

How I Made My Father Uncomfortable. Part 2 Feat. Simon and Garfunkel

Part 2 out of an infinite amount. I have a knack for making my father uncomfortable.

We were a Simon and Garfunkel family.

Also a Tina Turner, The Beetles, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell family.

Simon and Garfunkel was one of my favorites though. The first vinyl I purchased for $1 at a thrift store that when I was in middle school. Wednesday Morning 3am.

My dad loves Simon and Garfunkel, probably leaning heavier towards the Simon. They filmed part of One Trick Pony (a highly mediocre to terrible film that was vaguely reminiscent of Paul Simon's career) in my Dad's home town and he proudly talks about trying to be an extra in a bar scene. "I was almost in that movie."

We listened to Simon and Garfunkel in the car often. We sang along a lot. Loudly and joyfully. I love the group more now because they make me think of hanging out with my dad.

The song Cecilia came on one day when he was driving me to one of the many waspy extra curricular activities I got to partake in. I was probably 8 or 9 and I needed some clarity regarding this relationship between our smooth-singing narrator and this lady Cecilia. The following is by NO means a transcript, who knows how my memory has morphed and changed this conversation over the last few decades but this is roughly how I recall it:

It may be useful to know that there was never a time in my memory that I didn't know what sex was, or in context of this song, making love. Mom just made sure we knew way more than we wanted to.

Young Me: So, he finds her cheating on him.

Dad: Yep.

Young Me: And then he's happy she takes him back?

Dad: Uh-Huh.

Young Me: I would think that he would have to take HER back, because she's the one cheating?

Dad: I guess not.

Young Me:... He just went to wash his face and he comes back and she's already cheating on him!? How long did it take him to wash his face?!

Dad: I don't know. Maybe... poetic license?

Young Me: And why is he so excited when she loves him again? Don't they have some talking to do if she replaced him so quickly? And what's that he says after?

Dad: "I fall on the floor and I'm laughing."

Young Me: That doesn't make any sense! Why isn't he more upset? She slept with another man within, like, minutes! That just sounds like a really bad couple. She doesn't treat him very well. But I really like the music.

Dad: Wanna listen to the next track?

Young Me: Is it The Boxer? What's a whore and why is it on Seventh Avenue and comfortable?

Okay, that last one was a leap of artistic license, but you get the idea. I preferred posing these questions to my Dad because I could gain not only literal meaning, but also social standing of the topic by gauging his comfort level. Mom was comfortable talking about anything and often told us more than we wanted to know about a given topic. Mom and I would have had a discussion about how it's not really any of our business who Cecilia's sleeping with because we're not in a relationship with her.

I think it's worth mentioning that while pulling an image for this post, I did some light reading on the song and found that Simon's intent was a song for St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music in Catholicism. This makes a lot of sense and I'm willing to bet that my dad wished he knew that when I asked him more than two decades ago, but the conversation would likely not have been nearly as memorable.

Cecilia. Patron Saint of Music and fickle, fickle mistress.
Tune in next time when I ask my Dad why the SNL skit where Southern women get really excited when "Colonel Ingus" comes back to town.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

From A Concerned Friend

Something a little more uplifting than the last post. Please enjoy.

Dear Fellow Humans Who do Not Remove Their Pants Immediately Upon Arriving At Home,

I have some questions I'd like to ask you. I don't mean to pry into your personal life, goodness knows I'm not trying to pick a fight or make anyone uncomfortable. But after many months of living in a new place, full of humidity and a thick, oppressive heat I've become increasingly concerned. Are you okay? Do you posess all the nerve endings necessary to properly care for your legs? Are you, as a patient in an episode of House, unable to sense pain or perhaps, heat, in your body so you are unable to react to it? I'm concerned about your physical well-being. I have a few theories that I'm interested in running by you to spare you the possible embarrassment of whatever condition you may have that binds you so closely to the tool of the devil himself: pants.

Are you missing the skin from your legs? Are your pants substituting for skin in a way that were you to remove them your legs would collapse into a heap of muscle and sinew and bones once you removed them? I know the shape of my legs changes once pants are removed, which is one of the main reasons for removing them, but perhaps you lack the skin to contain your legs beneath you without the aid of pants.

Are you punishing yourself for something? Did you do something so terrible that even in the privacy of your own home, somewhere that it is completely socially acceptable to wear whatever you choose or choose not, you would choose to wrap and confine your entire lower half? What was this unspeakable crime that you committed? And surely whatever it was, we can come up with a sufficient and far more humane punishment than the terrors of being confined to a private pant prison. Surely. 

Are you a completely unfeeling human?


Are you a robot, whose circuits need to be concealed and hidden beneath two tubes of confining fabric?

Are your pants special somehow? Do you shop in a special section of the store in order to purchase pants that feel as though they are not touching your body at all? Do you perhaps treat them with something which caused them to feel light and airy instead of  something akin to a snugged-up sausage casing?

I'd certainly like to believe that I am the exception. That perhaps the norm is to remain fully pants'd until bed time and then transfer into the evils that are full, button-down pajamas. I have considered this fiction and would like to present how this cannot be the case with the following scientific research*:

Pants are belt ruin-ers. You know that cool leather belt you just scored at a thrift store? God, it's so cool. Can't wait to wear it with those awesome pants every day for the next week and get compliments on it everyt day. Time to wash the pants? Cool, just take the belt out before... What the what?! Why is my sweet new belt completely bent and morphed into a crumpled snake? Of course. Your pants were jealous of the attention your belt was getting and so it set out to destroy this thing of beauty you once loved.

Pants are bad for impressionable legs and torsos. You can see the effects frequently. Some say it's just bad circulation, that some legs are just set up that way, but I know it's because the pants do it to them. The grab hold of them and push and push until they leave red marks that look just like pants all over legs. Pocket impressions on thighs, inseam impressions on young, unassuming ankles and the worst: button and waistband impressions on bellies.

"Comfortable pants" do not exist. Comfortable pants are called leggings or sweat pants and are only appropriate when the temperature dips below 55 degrees farenhight. Comfortable pants are not called pants.

Pants-less household tasks improve your sense of humor. Doing dishes. Folding laundry. Sweeping. All funnier without bottoms. Or showing your bottom. As a bonus, being pants-less will make you more cautious with things like cooking and washing pots and pans in very hot water.

Character Building. Being chilly builds character, which can happen once you adapt to your (hopefully) air-conditioned home. Being hot increases anger, discomfort and can cause dehydration and death**. 

Increased Accessibility. This point requires no additional explanation.

Decreased Circulation. Confining legs causes poor circulation, which can lead to blood clots, which can lead to strokes, which can lead to death. So pants are pretty much worse than smoking.

Separation Anxiety. Have you looked at your pants-less legs recently? Have you seen how close they are? God, they just love each other. Always next to each other, all the time. Sharing everything from secrets to the weight you put on them the the agony of your footwear choices (seriously guys, stop wearing converse to wait tables, it's just mean to your body). Why would you keep them apart from each other for so long?

I know you may wonder, "Hey, if you hate pants so much, why wear them at all? As a lady you have many socially acceptable options at your disposal." This is very true, my smarty-smart pants reader. I do. To be honest, morning me is a bit of a different human than afternoon me. Morning me says, "Oh fuck yeah dark wash denim that hugs all up on me paired with some sweet boots and over-sized tee shirt". Morning me also seems to frequently think she's in a 90's grunge band and 100 pounds. Afternoon me thinks the Armageddon is upon us and we will all be suffocated by sticky pollution air and my skin will be forever wet, salty, puffy and red. 

So I guess afternoon me is a woke pig on slaughter day?

To conclude. If you are the sort of person who gets home after a long day of work and lounges around in your home still in your jeans, or slacks or whatever you call your personal pant penitentiary, please consider letting yourself free. Just try it. Get home, close door, remove pants. 

No. I don't know why you didn't try it earlier.

You're welcome.

*Based entirely upon individual empirical evidence without control groups, formal structure or any set experimentation.

**Please google "Hyperbole Definition"

Monday, July 25, 2016

I Just Needed A Few Things

The following is a true story. Something that I just recently put to paper, though have recounted several times since it occurred. I'll likely continue working on it. It struck me. It has stuck to my guts. I think it's important to keep sharing it, even though I don't take a lot of joy in the role I played nor the events that unfolded.

It's also part of my "making other" portion of my contract. I'm sharing a work in progress:

I was at the grocery store, I just needed a few things. The one down the street from my house. The one that I always complain about the produce selection.

I stood in the check out line with my few items and waited patiently behind a mother/daughter/granddaughter checking out. I'm good at waiting patiently. I glazed over a bit, as I often do when waiting, pretending to read the cover of tabloids and gum labels. The youngest generation of the trio in front of me was 1 1/2, 2? 3? Maybe 5? I'm bad with ages, particularly of children. She was sitting in the shopping cart seat, specifically designed with children such as herself in mind, chewing on her tiny, soft and undoubtedly mushy, finger nails mindlessly, with a glazed-over look I could relate to, as the cashier rang up her family's groceries. 

No one was smiling, though grandma seemed pleasant enough, relatively speaking.

Mom said to the little girl, "Stop biting your nails."

The child looked at her with her hands stuffed into her face. Not indignant, just blank. Chewing away.

"Stop biting your nails." Second verse. Same as the first. 

Child, with appropriate-for-her-age child-eyes stares at mom, unmoved.

"Stop biting your nails." With a little more sternness. Not yelling.

Child still stares at mom. Still chews.

Then swiftly, as though something may happen to her precious offspring had she not done something immediately, Mom raises her had and smacks the girl's, nails, hand, mouth, face and all and said loudly and with the authority of using all three names, "Stop biting your nails you little bitch!"


And Grandma didn't say anything. And the Cashier didn't say anything. And I didn't say anything.

What I've Been About. Mostly Pictures.

                                      Smashed Barbie Doll in the middle of the street.
                                                                    The Rail Park



                           I'm so healthy and sustainable, eating a big bowl of fruit for breakfast!
                             Dinner. (Not Pictured, the pint of Ben and Jerry's that was lunch)
                                                       The Rail Park. Part 2.
                                                            Best part about work.
                                                   Best part about work Part 2.
                                                          Sunrise from my house.