Monday, September 27, 2010

Social Grieving

The recent passing of a well-loved theater friend has sparked a lot of thought and reflection for me.  Not just the usual 5 steps of grieving.  This is not a story about her or grieving for her.  Just the spark.  So, don't think this is in any way related.  Keep in mind, I'm a people watcher and enjoy taking an introspective look at social habits and behaviors.

In the past couple of years, Facebook has obviously become a phenomenon.  I mean, you can friend your parents.  That automatically makes it a world-wide phenomenon that probably isn't going away for a while.  Since Facebook has exploded, I've learned about the deaths of two who were, well, more than just Facebook friends.  No, this is not about learning about their passing in such an impersonal way.  Maybe another time, but this is not it.

Instead, I'd like to focus on how social media has influenced how we grieve.  In fact, I'd like to give props to Facebook for actually having a way to memorialize someone who has died.  Look it up.  Basically, they take the profile private so only confirmed friends can see it and still post in remembrance.  I guess it's a nice way for people who, due to distance or whathaveyou, can't... be there in person(?) to grieve...

And I guess the way I wrote that last sentence is perhaps a bit telling as to what I've observed and think.  Maybe not.  I'll explain...

I completely understand the need to express your memories and grieve for the person who died on their wall.  And please, this is not written to condemn anyone who grieves and remembers a person in such a way.  Perhaps this  is really just a comical observation to help me heal.

But, as I look over wall postings of these friends who died, I wonder who are they written for.  Are the deceased capable of checking their Facebook?  Most are postings are along the lines of, "Soandso, I love you and will never forget this one time," or, "I miss you everyday."  (Perfectly valid feelings and sentiments, by the way).

Do we really think the person will see it in the afterlife ethereal?  We must, right?  Well, if they are so capable of checking their Facebook from the other world, surely they are powerful enough to be sitting next to us when we post such memorials.  And, if they are sitting right next to me when I post such a memorial, well, shoot I might as well just tell them.  If they can read their Facebook, I'm sure they can hear my words or read my thoughts.

So, I guess Facebooking is becoming apart of the grieving process.  And well, selfishly, I'm not sure if I like that.  For every friend me and deceased have in common, I get to see one of these memorial posts.  And, again, I get posting them.  But, does that help me grieve?  I don't know... Maybe so.  I do my own grieving in my own way and it's my own personal process.  I guess it helps others to know they are not alone in the grieving process.

Which brings me to my real point.  Why can't we just tell people that we love them and let them know they are not alone when they are here?  Why is that such a difficult thing to do?

I am quite the guilty person when it comes to that.  So, I guess do as I say, not as I do?  Or how about I just tell or show or express or do something every time I see you so you know that I love you.  Then, you won't have to worry about checking your Facebook when you die.  I'm sure you've got way more important things to do in heaven.  Like playing the harp or ironing your linen robes...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Something's Coming

I hate to say it, but things have been going so well right now that I'm just about expecting the bottom to fall out soon.  The past few weeks or month, I've been riding this wave of, well, just good things going on.  The big project at work went over well with nothing but success.  Not that I was in danger of losing my job, but I definitely reminded the company of my value with that video.  A month of my life put into it and I knocked it outta the park.

The theater is getting more and more respect.  We finished our first full season in the new space a little over a month ago.  And, we got a shit-ton of nominations.  The show I'm working on now is going just about as swimmingly well as a show can go.  Everyone is working hard, but it's not hard work.  I'm exciting about the show I'll be directing for Christmas.  People whose work I have sat in awe of are wanting to work at this theater now and I'm starting to really feel like I'm actually respected for, not just the body of work we've turned out in the past year, but on a personal level - like these people who I feel are so much more talented that I am (having seen their work, I can attest to that) are giving me props.  That's obviously really nice.

I'm blogging on a... well, much more regular basis. Not a consistent basis, but getting better at that.  I'm slowly starting to write more and feel comfortable with my songwriting and lyrics.

I've got a great family, wonderful friends and know that I am loved.

Yeah, I definintely am walking around with some swagger in my step and attitude.

Still, there's a little something whispering in my ear - brace yourself 'cuz something is coming.  A nagging little seed of a voice.  Maybe that's just me subconsciously psyching myself out.  I mean, geez, how long can I ride this wave of Swaggerliciousness (I got so much swagger, I'm making words up).  That's what I intend to do.  Keep pushing forward and not let life knock me for a loop.

But, something is coming.  I don't know what.  I don't know when.  But, something big is coming to test me.  Need to talk to God and prepare for that.  Until then, I'll be hanging 10 on my swagger-board.  Ok that was a very lame was to say I'm going to ride this good feeling until I get knocked down.

UPDATE:  So, guess what happened the very next day after I posted this?  Half my department at work was laid off.  I survived.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What It's Worth

I just want to say that for about a year and a half I have busted... my... ass... running this little community theater during a very turbulant time in it's history.  It has been anything but easy.  At every turn, another hurdle popped up to get in the way of achieving goals.  I have lost a lot of sleep in that year and a half to various things like stress, anxiety, and, well, needing the time to finish the job that needed to be done - like cleaning toliets or setting 120 chairs out for the next night.  I can't recall the last time I was in bed before midnight (midnight is a good night).  A nice chunk of my disposable income goes to little things the theater needs, like lightbulbs or ink pens.  Hell, my sanity probably checked out around March.

Through it all, the one thing that I thought was completely necessary to maintain was quality.  Producing good quality theater was all that mattered.  That's as it should be.  It's about the best danged art we can put on that stage.  The best show we can with the (little) money we got.  You got quality, you gain respect from your audience and build from there.

All the heartache, all the lost sleep, all the off-stage drama - doesn't matter.  The art - the quality, that's where it is.  That's what it's about.  That's what matters.

Today, this little community theater - more accurately, its productions and its casts & crews - that was expected to rollover and shut its doors received what I believe (if I counted right) to be the most Encore Award nominations it has ever received in the theater's entire history.

Granted, I don't place a lot of stock into these awards or nominations.  It's not why we do it.  The show comes first and if something is still Encore eligible, well that's gravy.  The creative process and the product are what drives me, not the nomination.

But, excuse me, if I say that I am very proud of the jump in quality this little community theater has made.  I am extremely proud to think back over the last season of success.  To remember the friendships made, the memories shared.  That's worth so much more than these awards and nominations...

Still, it feels like a nice redemption.  Thank you to all who made the past season of good... quality... theater possible.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I ran across this statement/saying on the internet:

 I'm not sure I can agree with this statement.  Probably because if you ask me how I'm doing, I'm likely to respond with, "I'm okay."  To me, being okay conveys a sentiment of contentedness.  There's nothing bad or negative going on and, conversely, there's nothing super fantastic I can mention either.  I'm just ok.

For some reason when I say that I'm okay, people follow that up with, "What's the matter?" or something like.  Honestly, nothing is the matter.  Nothing is outstanding either.  I'm pretty good, thanks.

But, the above statement sees it much more pessimistically, no?  It implies things are, or at least, were, kinda screwed up.  They are maintaining despite these setbacks.

I see the point of the statement, just not sure I like the pessimistic outlook.  Lord knows I don't always rise above my faults and emotional problems.  And, I'm certainly don't think I'm letting my fears paralyze me.  At least, on most fronts.  But, I'd like to think I'm doing more than "okay."  "Okay" is like a C; it's average.  I think we need to strive for at least a B minus.

Are you doing okay?  What do you think?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Words coming out of my fingers

For five or six nights now, I've tried to sit down here and write something. Anything.  But, nothing seems to come out.  Not sure what to write/talk about.  Writer's block already?  Eh, it happens, I guess.  So, let's go all stream of conscience with this one.

Currently listening to Del Amitri's "Roll To Me."

Can't complain a whole heck of a lot right now.  Life's pretty groovy.  The kid has a job now.  Working at Little Caeser's.  That was good timing because he needs to not just be at home.  Seems like he's starting to get his life together right now.  Not that he needs to get things together and figured out at 17.  But, I think he's finally realizing the true meaning of being a "troubled kid" and he is not that.  Bored, perhaps.  But, not troubled.

We've had a friend of his staying with us for about 2 or 3 months now.  I believe is mother passed away some time ago.  And his father has a new family and doesn't want him to stay there.  So, he's got nowhere to live really.  This one is 20 and had some indiscretions in his past.  He came into the house on probation.  But, he, too, is a good kid getting his stuff together.  Unfortuneately for him, he didn't get the message about a meeting with his probation officer and ended up missing it.  Really through no fault of his own.  He didn't have a phone, so when the probation officer called the number he had, the people there never passed on the message.  Well, a few days ago, he had a court hearing for missing his probation meeting.  And, well, for the next 45 days, he won't be staying with us, but in jail for violating his probation.  The system sucks that way.  But, when he gets out, he'll have a phone, so that won't happen again.  He's on our family talk plan now and paying me for his phone.  Hope to make the time to go visit him - either my kid and myself or just the kid and friends - about once a week.

Ryan Adam's, "Come Pick Me Up"
"I wish you would/Come pick me up/Take me out/Fuck me up/Steal my records/Screw all my friends/They're all full of shit/With a smile on your face/And then do it again"

Why the hell do I like this song?  It's one of those songs you listen to after drinking a healthy amount of wine.  Oh.

Ok, I think I'm attracted to songwriters' who write really peppy, almost happy songs, about the most fucked up things.  Ryan Adam's is one.  Steven Page of BNL fame wrote some really depressing stuff that I enjoy maybe a little too much.  Maybe this is part of the reason I'm in tune with Liz Phair, and developing a fansination for Sylvia Plath.  Why are the most brilliant... expressionists... usually jam-packed with manic depression or have experienced extraordinary low points in their life?  Follow-up question:  If that is the case, why am I not writing more? Or why isn't writing lyrics/poems flowing more easily?  There's a thinker.

Here's another.  I've started writing some lyrics or poems but at some point I get out of the moment they are being written in and can't seem to finish them.  It's like the moment is past and it's difficult to get back into that frame of mind or... feel that same emotion... and let it come out on the page.  Something I wrote a few weeks ago, well, it just doesn't feel the same today.  Feelings changed and it feels almost like I'm betraying the original raw emotions behind it.  I said a long time ago in my youth that my songs are shit when I'm happy.  What I think are my most creative expressions have usually come out of times of pain and/or depression.  Would I trade a lifetime of happiness if it meant I'd never write a good song or poem again?  I have to say that I wouldn't.  I need those valleys just as much as I need the mountains.

I also think that I need my guitar again.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Odd, But I Like It


I guess it's not a surprise that I'm anxiously anticipating a new album by Liz Phair.  This is apparently one of the new tracks.  Very odd.  But, I like it.  Looking forward to seeing what direction this album is gonna take.