So, I am cutting back on “media” this week as part of the assignments for this week’s Artist’s Way chapter. In the book, (which I think was originally published in 1992, before the advent of widely-used internet)it is called “reading deprivation week”, where you are not supposed to read anything extracurricular for a week (which means stuff you need to do for work is okay).
It has been updated to “media deprivation week” and while I can’t go on a complete hiatus from “media”, I’m doing my best to go on a diet. For me, this means
I think those are all the perimeters. I have been at it since Tuesday, am nearly midway through Day 3 now, and I have to say, it is HARD for me. I am a media WHORE, an ADDICT in capital letters. I have eagerly sucked down my hour of tv the past two nights, and no catching half an hour of the news in the mornings before work – luckily, only 2 work days to deal with during this – it’s hard to implement this while sitting in front of a computer all day, so I will be glad when I can be free to do other things. Am looking forward to going for a walk after work, if the weather holds – apparently, it is not looking so good, so I will have to throw my heart and attention into making dinner. But conveniently, I also have some edits to the Arts Gumbo poster I am making for SEED Arts, so that should carve out some time.
Anyway – this is where things stand as of now – we shall see how it unfolds with 4 days away from work.
So, I have been doing an Artist's Way course facilitated by my friend and sometime colleague, Kate Gavigan. More info about these courses HERE.
Now let me explain. I have a little bit of history with The Artist's Way and my feelings about it.
Take One: I first heard about it sometime around fall 1998 when a classmate of mine was going through her reading deprivation week...then shortly thereafter, I was on a day trip to Bainbridge Island and found the actual book while browsing a local bookstore. Since I felt I was in the midst of some kind of creative awakening anyway, I purchased it, then read a little of it while I was on a trip to visit my parents in Brazil. I read some of it, did some of the exercises. I didn't really attempt morning pages, but I did revamp my journal, and since I was going through an awakening anyway, continued to allow that to unfold organically, from Spring 1998 through Summer 1999, realized I wanted to get back into theatre again after a 6-year hiatus, went about implementing that to see what it was about, and ultimately decided, after an *amazing* and life-altering Shakespeare Intensive at Freehold Theatre, that I needed to jump in with both feet.
Take Two: Summer 2001, after spending two years taking classes, and finishing my first production outside Freehold, I had a little time on my hands and decided to try doing Artist's Way again. This time, I got a little more serious, not only started to read the first few chapters, but also started doing morning pages every day...which pretty immediately became a dream journal. Artist's Dates are and have been something I've done since before I ever heard of the book, though I didn't necessarily call them that, so that was nothing new. A month after starting this process, I began taking a non-fiction writing course, and a few days after that, some terrorists flew some planes into some buildings in New York, which was kind of a big deal. About a month after that, I looked back over some of these morning-pages-turned-dream-journal, and discovered I had had a dream on September 8th where I was in New York and looked out the window just in time to see one of the WTC towers collapse. By this time, I had abandoned the book again, and just spent time analyzing and recording my dreams.
Take Three: Fast Forward to late Spring 2014. I have proudly called myself an artist without wavering for at least 13 years now, though sometimes it is hard to carve an authentic path for myself in the face of everyone and their opinions: peers, colleagues, instructors, extended family members, often popular culture and the magnetic pull of society at large. But yes. I am a Theatre, Literary and Visual Artist, have actually made a few bucks at all three at this point, even managed to support myself at times as an artist. I am also a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre now. I have written plays, poetry, pr materials, press releases, short stories and essays. I have acted in comedies, tragedies, classical and modern plays. I have devised and collaborated. Yet still, I feel like I am less than. I feel like I am not accepted in "the scene", feel like people think I SUCK, but I continue to make art anyway, because I am compelled to. So, though I don't feel like I'm necessarily fully blocked, like I have been at times, I feel like there is some blockage there, and knowing Kate to be an open and inclusive person, decided to take her class and finally complete the book once and for all.
That said, I must say I take some issue with a few things Julia talks about in her book...perhaps she has another one I am not aware of, where she discusses being in different parts of the process...but the whole "recovery" angle feels a little ooky to me. Though I suppose it is an addiction and an obsession if you choose to look at it that way, I've never received anything but positive feelings while immersing myself in making art, and the idea of being "in recovery" feels victim-y to me. I have a tendency to go into victim archetype anyway, so I certainly don't need any help with this. Ultimately, I am responsible for all my own choices...so yeah, even though I had a dick uncle who made fun of my writing when I was 14, I'm the one who ultimately decides if I'm going to allow that to stop me or keep writing anyway. Easier said than done, of course, and perhaps this comes out more in later chapters of the book, but these are some of the reasons why I had trouble continuing it in the past.
I'm not crazy about the "God" stuff either...but that I can at least replace with "Universe" and find it works for me. The other thing she does which, as someone who is not at the beginning of the spiral is a little troublesome is that she says, more than once, about people who call themselves artists that they may not be very talented and are just audacious. I realize this is probably meant to make the person "in recovery" feel better, but someone like me is going to see that as "Oh. I don't have any problems admitting I'm an artist. I've been making art for decades, despite what other people say about my work. Maybe this means I don't have any talent and am just audacious?" Because my inner critic is sneaky and crafty and will say whatever he needs to to beat me down. And since he doesn't have all that many opportunities to do that anymore, whenever he gets an in, he hits HARD.
At any rate, I am trying it again. We are in week 4. So far, I am noticing multidisciplinary ideas starting to come to me unsolicited again, which I love. Also, my dreams appear to be coming back, and I'm actually sleeping a little better which is amazing. I have made at least TWO fairly large discoveries/epiphanies during my morning pages, and it is kind of marvelous to be doing this while I am juggling several artistic projects of various disciplines and in various stages along of development. I have an instant "canvas" on which to work in some of these new ideas and some of these new habits. And I definitely can't stubbornly poo-poo any of that. So I am hoping I will make it all the way through this time.
So, this may not come as a particularly big shock to anyone, but I have something to confess: I am obsessed with mythology…and mainly, Greek mythology at that, and particularly as a writer, those darned Greeks are my main muses…even when I TRY specifically to write about other things, some goddess or other ends up wriggling her way into my script in one form or another. I just joined a playwriting group recently, and I just presented the script for Fate Demands It for the first time…they have no idea they are about to be absolutely inundated with ALL THINGS MYTHOLOGICAL every time I present. This is my apology in advance…SORRY. I can’t help it. I have tried to help it. It doesn't work. Well, unless maybe you throw in a couple ghosts, but that's a story for another time.
For one thing, those myths are universal. There’s always one aspect or another that speaks to our current, modern life. They deal with Love, Conflict and Dysfunction Families (yes, with capital letters). They deal with Courage and Loss and Magic…and who among us couldn’t use a little more MAGIC in our everyday lives?
Myths are also ripe fodder for interpretation and adaptation. When I write about a particular myth or character, I don’t need to be limited by what Homer, or Euripides or Edith Hamilton wrote before me – I can add my own two cents!
This is particularly awesome, since so many of the female characters in Greek drama are reactive rather than active protagonists, even of their own stories (Antigone is one of the only ones who actively takes a role in her own destiny). Not only can I make them more active, but I can also CHANGE THEIR FATES. If I want. I can make them hang out with people they never hung out with, and I can make them speak the way I want them to. I can even pull them out of their own time and bring them, kicking and screaming into the present…or the future.
I am lucky to have some amazing collaborators (Persephone Vandegrift, Machelle Allman, Rebecca Goldberg and Jen Smith Anderson) who are similarly obsessed, and we joined forces to put together a mini myth-based festival. We are in the midst of our last couple weeks of rehearsals, and I’ve been amazed & thrilled at how our characters have leapt off the pages in a most satisfying and visceral way. MythFest will debut in March, and we would love for you to come and experience the fruits of our labor. Here's the "official" blurb:
It's all just a myth, unless it's your own story! A bloodthirsty warrior leads her people to near extinction. A woman who has lost everything prepares to execute her final act of vengeance. The most beautiful woman in the world finally speaks her mind. This mini myth feast packs a Trojan wallop, exploring the bonds of friendship, the complexity of revenge and the universal nature of things we do when pushed to our limits. Three new plays based on Greek myth by local playwrights Machelle Allman, Persephone Vandegrift and Carolynne Wilcox, woven to gether in a ritual offering to gods long-forgotten. Be careful what you wish for...
And, if you are also similarly obsessed, please contact me. We are hoping to make MythFest an annual offering and invite more playwrights/artists, so…let’s have a conversation.
MythFest will be performed Friday evenings March 7, 14 and 21 at 7pm at the Seattle Creative Arts Center in Ballard at 2601 NW Market St. Tickets are $10 online or $14 at the door. For more information please visit www.thepocket.org. For tickets, click here.
Piggybacking off Lindy West’s article on Jezebel, I find myself
musing on my name. While I am unlikely to ever get married (fundamental distrust/disagreement with the institution; but never say never – it could happen, if it needed to, for financial reasons), I have given my name within that situation a great deal of thought over the years.
It took me a long time to get comfortable with my name. I didn’t
really start to settle into it until I added a couple letters to the end when I was 14, transforming me from the mundane Carolyn into the much more elegant and unique Carolynne I am today. Still haven’t gotten around to changing it legally, but I totally should. I don’t even know who Carolyn is, and she always looks
like an impostor that’s stolen my identity when I see her name (on my driver’s license, passport and bank statements). Carolyn is okay, but she’s basic; Carolynne has that little extra somethin’-somethin’. They both sound the same coming out of people’s mouths, so I am still honoring what my parents gave me, but I’ve also individualized it to suit my own needs and personality a little more.
Now we come to the last name, which is potentially more fraught and has the potential to offend more people (generations of them, even!). If Ian and I decided to get married, I actually prefer his last name to mine, and I feel like it actually goes better, sounds more artist-y. But SHEESH. I’ve spent 44 damn years being Wilcox. I have mostly kinda hated my last name. Too much potential for nasty little kids to make fun of when I was little, and they did. Since leaving the bully-land of grade school, I have tolerated it, and after a lifetime, I am used to it, have grown into it and own it.
But if I had the chance to change it? I dunno. Torrey does sound better with Carolynne, at least in my opinion. But…I have no real connection to that lineage, other than it’s Ian’s…but I’m not sure he especially has a stake in it, and I know he would totally leave it up to me. He might actually even be one of those rare dudes that would consider taking *my* name. So we come to the real meat of it: why would I want him to be saddled with “Wilcox”?
The most compelling reason for me to keep it is purely and simply, my father. He is and has been a good one, and he unreservedly deserves that honor. But if I consider further back than that, and really ruminate on how connected I feel to that side of the family? Erm…not so much. While I have always felt loved and provided for by them, I have also felt mildly judged and never quite understood. Maybe even a bit of an embarrassment for my OH SO RADICAL life choices.
And if I am considering that side of the family, it bears weight to consider taking my mother’s maiden name, Sabetay, as well. Just as a name, I prefer it to Wilcox, it also sounds better with Carolynne, and easily explains my jewfro. Also more exotic and less anglo than either Wilcox or Torrey, which is a plus in my book. Also, there are a hell of a lot more Wilcoxes running around on the planet than Sabetays, so losing one won’t hurt the clan. Then there is the matter of just feeling more like them…and this is despite the fact that I was raised in a different culture and speaking a different language than that side of the family. When visiting my Uruguay relations, I've always felt included rather than judged, that they were proud to have another artist in the family tree rather than treating it as something weird, unmarketable or frivolous. Also, I would probably be the ONLY CAROLYNNE SABETAY IN THE WORLD, NE or no NE.
But, I am lazy. And as previously stated, I have grown into Carolynne Wilcox and OWN it now. It would be REALLY WEIRD to be called something else, or see a different name – even weirder than when I see Carolyn Wilcox. It’s mine, at this point, and it’s who I am…I really should get off my ass and legally add the extra NE though.
Queen of Knives
Mother has been weeping for three days. Each time I go outside to
pick blackberries for supper, or even to take a dip in the pond, she looks at me as though she’s seeing me for the last time. She thinks I don’t notice – just tells me not to catch cold – but I see her wiping her eyes. I hear her at night. She always turns her back.
Mother, why are you crying?
I’m not crying my love, I have something in my eye. Allergies.
(laughs, brushing it off)
(shivering)It’s cold in here. Why is it so cold?
Autumn must be coming.
What is Autumn?
(sighs deeply) You don’t remember, do you?
It is like this every time. Always like it was the first time.
The first time?
You’re going back to your husband, my love.
Husband? I don’t have…
But then something stops me, because I remember…something…someone. I remember being afraid and I remember dark kisses and promises…I remember dead people and six pomegranate seeds laid out carefully
before me. I remember a choice…
She turns around to look at me and in her eyes I can see the memories that flood back are not simply dreams but the truth.
Your duties my dear. As a queen.
Queen? But I’m just…
More memories…darkness. It’s dark there, but not without its majesty. Rooms…caverns? Tunnels, and…ghosts. Parades and parades of ghosts, and I, next to my dark paramour on my throne…
He wants me back, doesn’t he?
He always does. As I’ve said, you and I, we have our duties.
You have your throne.
Autumn. Go dress yourself in something warm. The messenger will
be here soon.
It’s only while I’m in transit that I remember everything, and the memories build. When I reach either destination, I have no memory of the other place. I get there and it’s like I’ve never left…and my memories of the other place become cloudy and disappear and my time int hat place is untainted…until I’m travelling again and everything comes flooding back, is put into context.
Every six months, I do this. Follow the messenger up, or follow the messenger down. I am a rope, a sinewy, knotted rope, growing frayed with age as millennia pass. A rope in an ancient tug-of-war between stubborn and unyielding siblings. My mother. My husband. Six months here; six months there.
Neither of them has every asked me what I prefer.
He’s formidable, my husband, and the air perceptibly changes as I spiral closer and closer to where he is. Each time I see him, it’s like the first time, and he takes my breath away – why anyone would ever want to be blond and hale when dark and gaunt has such a profound sway –
My love. (breathing)
And my life up there starts to disappear again. There’s something so intoxicating and present about being here, being with him that it makes everything up there seem like a dream as I deal with the ever-present reality of the state of things here: The truth of the matter is, the dead pester me with their attentions. As though I could do something for them.
Queen! They call me, as they prostrate themselves at my feet. Mistress!
And it all comes flooding back to me, all the many names they have called me for millennia and my little life with my mother in our cottage by the pond is laughable, trivial and so very innocent!
Mistress of the Damned! Snow Queen. Spirit of Winter. Lady Ice. I slip my mantle on and the ice, like a thousand tiny knives settles back inside me as I hold court for the legions of ghosts who are my subjects with my dark lord by my side…and the tug-of-war begins again.
So, I went to undergrad at one of those BFA programs in theatre where the modus operandi is to tear you down to build you back up as a "better actor". Some of my professors did this in a *slightly* more compassionate way than others, but whatever, most of us were young, unformed little zygotes. Also, I won't even get into the "male gaze" aspect of my undergraduate actor training, because that warrants a blog post (or EPIC NOVEL) all its own.
Anyway, I don't so much want to dwell on those times, just suffice it to say, I'm not sure they are the most effective means for all interested parties to become the best actor they can be. Don't get me wrong: I don't think sunshine needs to be falsely blown up anyone's ass, either. What I AM saying is there's a way to deliver the important information in a way that actually HELPS the actor in question become better at her craft without completely shutting her down. I call it the compassionate asskick. Because we all, especially when we are young, unformed little zygotes, definitely need that asskick. But acting teachers, take note! There is a way to do it without completely destroying the little zygotes. The teacher I went through 9 months of Meisner training with has the compassionate asskick down to a SCIENCE. I will always be grateful to her for it.
But I digress. This isn't a post on how to be a compassionately asskicking teacher, either. Just to say that if you are a teacher, you might look into it. I'm writing this because I had an experience yesterday that felt like being torn down again in a way that I really hadn't been since undergrad, and am trying to figure out how to write a constructive post about this experience that showcases the workshop it was part of, for the theatre company hosting the workshop, which I run PR for.
Since this is *my* blog, I can pontificate on the experience itself and give it its proper place, before I attempt to write a more objective, enthusiastic run-down of the workshop. This workshop in question, is on Auditioning, and we still have one more session on Wednesday night, when we will get to show our work. Last night was all about entering/leaving the room and the impressions we give, through our energy, the vibes we give off, and our headshots/resumes.
I have never had anyone sit me down and tell me what my "type" is. It has always been confusing to me. In undergrad, I played the mom/old lady roles (because I was fat, and of course, fat=age, since there are no fat young people running around in the world...), but also the hard lesbian roles. It became a running joke. When I got back into theatre at age 30, I was shocked to discover myself getting cast in leading women's roles (though they all had an edge to them). Now I am squarely in my 40's and playing roles that are all across the board. A smattering of these: 1.) aging chola 2.) ghost of dead queen, 3.) single, working-class mom 4.) crazy chick 5.) lecherous aunt 6.) pediatrician from the future. There is not necessarily a thru-line here.
And in that regard, last night's workshop didn't get me any closer to what my type is, other than NOT memorable, according to one of the teachers. Based of my headshot (above) and my energy while I was sitting at the table being a participant in the workshop. Headshot needs to convey SOMETHING (besides blue eyes) and they felt it did not, and that my energy in the room did nothing to support a feeling of any kind. I guess I just don't "pop" as a human being. Which is fine for an accountant, not so great for an actor. Then they asked us which actor/celebrity we get told we look like or we resonate with. I always get Patricia Arquette, but feel more like a Cate Blanchett. To which they replied "She's really fiery, I definitely don't get that from you."
So, I felt incredibly torn down in that moment, I could feel the lump forming in my throat. This is my greatest fear, that I can work and work and work, but basically it will never amount to anything because I just don't have "that thing". THEY SAID MY GREATEST FEAR ABOUT MYSELF. I could feel the tears starting to well up. And there it was, the CRUX. I've been going through a bit of a film vs. theatre quandry lately already, and now I am just completely forgettable. Every old tape in my head told me just to break down and quit altogether. Disappear. I don't need this shit!
BUT: I am no longer a zygote, I will not be torn down to be built into the image of what YOU think I should be, including NOT HERE. Because guess what, BITCHES? I made the decision to BE HERE FOR GOOD 15 years ago, and I'm not backing down from that. So what remains, since I am so WOEFULLY BORING AND FORGETTABLE?
Here's what remains. Be worthy of my ovaries, slap on my big-girl panties and get to work. The truth is, I have never put much work into being a good auditioner, or marketing myself, and they were right, I'm not the greatest at it. I've been lucky enough to develop several of my own projects and have worked with lots of people who would cast me again because I'm a known quantity (and perhaps they EVEN like my work!). And one thing I AM good at is work. I may not be the most talented, the most attractive or the most memorable at face value, but I DO work hard, and my tactic is to OUTWORK everyone and end up the last person standing. I just need to apply a little of that trademark Taurean work-ethic (and stubbornness) to this situation!
It is possible that I am in a constant state of being too busy. Highly possible. Because, as I am coming down off feeling really incredibly stressed out and being able to cross a couple things off my list, I realize my plate is still pretty full.
First you add the perpetual stuff: day job, boyfriend, cat, house upkeep.
Then sprinkle in extracurriculars, which at the moment include: a class at Freehold, volunteer PR Coordinator for eSe Teatro, rehearsals for Studio Series Project, Slash Artists Collective prep/planning/workshops, yoga classes, going to the gym, remembering to take daily photographs for my 365 photography/writing project, and of course, filming/rehearsing season one of Causality. Oh, and keeping up with the ridiculous number of television programs on my agenda.
Now add a good dash of actual stuff coming down the pipes as well as theoretical stuff to prepare for: applying for Bumbershoot and possibly more than one Fringe Festival. Upcoming readings of Don Quixote. Graphic design work for eSe and other clients. Trip to Mexico! eSe Taller workshop with Myra Platt. Developing/rehearsing another long-term theatre project with one of my good friends.
And of course, I must continue to nurture my family and friendships, because they have always been my lifeline, via email/social media or preferably in person. I hate the phone.
Somehow, I manage it all, though not necessarly always well. Things slip. I used to keep it all in my head, but now have to put it into a calendar, and thank goodness for that! I guess I will sleep when I'm dead.
So, it finally happened: someone finally recognized my true face and damned me to hell.
Perhaps it has to do with the 358 - everyone is always saying it is the scary demon bus. I like it. Maybe that shoulda been the first clue. I had just parked my car in the usual spot and was walking to the bus stop. There was a woman in a black hoodie walking ahead of me. I was catching up to her as we got to the crosswalk, and she turned to me, as if to ask a question, but instead, I got:
"LORD JESUS CHRIST!" several times in rapid succession, along with an invocative hand gesture. I ignored her and kept walking. But she followed, continuing her invocation. Not one to ignore such things, I turned to say something and was promptly damned to hell with yet another hand gesture. I shook my head resignedly and said something along the lines of "Happy Friday to you too" and kept walking. She muttered something about not liking my face, along with a fresh spate of other obscenities and walked the other way, presumably not willing to be caught dead with someone as horrific as I at the bus stop. MAN - where is Jake Perrine when you need him??? I'd have loved to say something like "Hello Pandora - don't be FRIGHTENED!" in the multi-voice of the creepy cherubim demon from my solo show. Then she'd have had a REAL reason to invoke.
At first, I felt a little hurt. But if she is one of those psychic, religious crazies and caught any whiff of my true self, she was probably right to invoke, from that fundamentalist, Christian point of view. Case in point:
1.) Jesus Christ is NOT my personal lord and saviour. Never has been.
2.) My actual spiritual beliefs are decidedly woo-woo.
3.) I have used tarot cards & ouija boards, performed rituals, astrally projected, and spoken to ghosts.
4.) I time-travel in my dreams and see things I shouldn't see.
5.) I am clairsentient and a little clairaudient.
6.) I am fascinated and inspired by the supernatural; it heavily populates my reading, writing, acting & visual art.
7.) Also, I am currently playing a vengeful ghost, in rehearsals to play one of the 3 fates, and about to begin rehearsals for a ghost play.
So yes, I have come to the conclusion that I am actually one badass demon and should hold my head high. Check out my myriad demon faces below!!!
I made my first cake today. That might surprise you, considering how much I enjoy cooking. But baking & cooking ate two different things entirely, and whe I've always been a fairly confident chef, it doesn't really extend to the alchemy of baking.
But - there is a birthday and that warrants a cake!
Also made my first chicken pot pie, which is tasty, but since it's a savory, this was not as far out of my comfort zone.
Can't wait to get home & EAT!
The whiskers are twitching ever so slightly, and I think she is in the middle of a dream. Now her front paws are moving a little, back and forth. I lie here imagining what must be the content of her kitty dreams.
Does she dream about her kitten hood? This strange time before I rescued her that will always be a mystery to me.
Does she dream about her kittens? She had 6 of them, four orange tabbies, one tuxedo, and one, the runt, a little calico, like her. Does she hear their high-pitched mewing in her dreams and wonder where they are?
Does she dream of things she does in her day, like chasing her little balls around, or bouncing off the furniture horizontally as she years back and forth, with everything in the room as her obstacle course? Looking out the window at birds and the occasional raccoon?
Or does she dream about being a wild, free jungle cat, able to roam forth and stalk her prey?
I will never know. All I know is, she's my baby, and if anyone ever tried to hurt her, they would live to regret it.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.