Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram

Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram
This diagram was created by the co-producing artistic directors of Rude Mechs to depict the complexity of creating and crediting collaboratively devised work for theatrical performance.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

This I Believe #8

Beliefs go here.


  1. Today, one of those moments happened. You know, the moments when everything is brought back from “it will all work out” to “it may not”. As my senior year is quickly approaching these moments are coming at me more and more often. With more and more specific details needing to be planned out to ensure that not only will things “work out”, but that they “work out the way I want them to”. I’m a big believer in “things will happen as they are meant to”, but when it comes to things that can affect the rest of my life I can’t just sit back and rest so assuredly. I have to take action, and pray that the steps I take will set me in the correct direction.

    Today’s moment was a small one. When are your law school applications due? I realized I didn’t have a specific date in my head. This started a moment of panic; I scanned my brain for images of law school websites trying to see if I remembered any deadlines. My adviser looked at me waiting for a response. I said I would like them in by Christmas, thinking that between all the other hectic craziness going on in senior year that maybe I could get strong application put together by then.

    When I realize that Christmas isn’t that far away, and that my senior year is closer than I ever imagined it could be. I freeze. I think, how in the world can I be ready for this change? How can I handle all the changes to come? Am I prepared enough to do what I really want to do? Then I remember one of my favorite quotes. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear” Even though I am terribly afraid of the future, I think about all that I can continue to do in the future. I think of all the things I know I can contribute to, and realize that even if plans don’t work out perfectly, being proactive and continuing to move forward is more important. I believe we all have something to contribute in the future; I believe we all have purpose. It just takes a leap of faith to find it.

  2. Sonnet 1200 (# of cal in 1 pint Chunky Monkey)

    Running water, scalding hot, the bubbles rise.
    A book teeters on the edge of the tub.
    I slowly sink from my feet to my thighs.
    After today, it’s time for scrub and grub.

    Removing the lid, I scrape the remains
    Of the creamy goodness and lick it up.
    Thank God for this—it relieves all my pains.
    A bath is my favorite pick-me-up,

    But only if it involves certain food,
    Along with bubbles and a book to read.
    The ritual is outstanding for mood,
    I stuff my mouth with a wild sense of greed.

    I finish the pint and I want to scream:
    I believe in Chunky Monkey ice cream!

    1. I believe in Chunky Monkey ice cream, too!!!

  3. I believe in the sound of my mother’s wedding ring. Tapping rhythmically on the stair railing as she came to tell my brother and I to stop talking and go to sleep. I knew it would hit the railing seven times before she opened our bedroom door.

    I believe in the sound of my mother’s wedding ring repeatedly smacking the side of a glass pie plate to spread the flour evenly across the already buttered surface. Then minutes later pinging on each dirty dish turning in her hands, as she scrubbed every surface more efficiently than the dishwasher—one of many targets for her suspicion of all new inventions.

    I believe in the sound of my mother’s wedding ring thumping the bottom of a yellow plastic bucket so the wild strawberries I had picked would settle more tightly allowing another half hour of picking before we returned home. This bucket, like the ones my brother and two sisters were using, was originally filled with 2 pints of chunky peanut butter and featured a single row of decorative blue and pink flowers around the rim. The flowers had been washed off long ago. Like the carved ornamentation in my mother’s ring they were casualties of her patented elbow grease that would clean anything.

    I believe in the sound of my father’s wedding ring reconnecting with the glass, gallon jug of milk from our Jersey cow each time he lowered the ladle to skim the cream off the top. We used the cream to make our own butter. I can still hear my mother’s ring, and the hollow knock it made against the wooden bowl as she paddled salt into the butter once I had finished churning it.

    This bowl was a wedding gift for my great grandmother. It was then given to my grandmother, my mother and eventually to me. I use the bowl to chop cranberries for pie and ice cream, and my ring hits the bowl rhythmically as I spin it in my left hand.

    1. are your parents still married? if you don't mind my asking...

    2. My parents are married and I expect they always will be, not because they are too old to change their mind but because they have a relationship that really works for each of them. I certainly don't mind your asking--even if I wonder what in this narrative would bring that question to the surface.

  4. I learned to read when I was 5, while my favorite aunt was dying. Aunt Kunka was my mother’s brother’s second wife. I don’t remember why she was my favorite aunt. I remember that she had red hair, which she arranged on top of her head, beehive-style. Or I might be confusing her with pictures of my mother from the early 1970s, before I was born.

    Every morning when I was 5, my mother left for work with a promise that in the evening we would visit aunt Kunka in her home if I learned to recognize the letter A, if I managed to put together Bs and Es, if I learned a poem by heart. I spent many hours practicing my letters with my grandfather, who had just retired from a factory that manufactured toxic fertilizers. At the time, we didn’t know that the product he helped make was lethal. My family didn’t know the extent of aunt Kunka’s illness either. Most evenings my mother tested me on what I had learned during the day, before informing me that my aunt was busy, that we would have to visit with her on the following day.

    Then the visits to my aunt’s came to a stop, even though I had learned all the letters of the alphabet and knew at least a dozen poems by heart. One day, I heard that she had died. When I asked what happened, I was told it had been “the worst.” That was the only explanation I was given until many years later when, on asking about my favorite aunt’s death, I was told that she had died from cancer. Although I was in my twenties by then, my knowledge of cancer—a word most Bulgarians still prefer not to utter—was so meager, I didn’t know to ask what kind of cancer.

    Years later, my mother tells me on the phone that my grandmother, too, has been diagnosed with “the worst.” Though I know exactly what that phrase means, I press my mother to tell me what “the worst” is. As I tell her, there are many things that can compete for “the worst”: divorce, nuclear explosion, war. My mother grows audibly sad on the other end of the phone line. Having survived two divorces, she knows that divorce isn’t “the worst.” “Just don’t tell your grandmother what I told you,” she instructs. “Your grandmother doesn’t know she has the worst.”

    I believe in words chosen carefully to avoid hurt.

  5. I believe if a relationship didn’t work the first time, it’s probably not going to work the second time… or the third time… or the fourth time. So, people of Facebook, please realize this before you clog my news feed with your constant postings about how you “love” your significant other one day, and the next day you’re “single and ready to mingle”. I believe the underlying factor that causes relationships to not work after the first initial fail, is that you’ve given up on it, and once you’ve given up on something once, it’s hard to find enough trust in it and yourself to make it work again. So, you could say your relationship didn’t work because of the “distance” between you, but that’s really only a few miles of land. You can blame it on whatever reason you think of that first comes to your mind, but it really comes down to how much we’re willing to sacrifice for something to work.

  6. I believe in sharing very personal poetry:

    While Reading Adam Smith

    the wealth of nations.
    someone should SHUCK my corn.
    no, no.
    wealth of nations.
    adam smith.
    the importation of raw silk.
    corn silk,
    silk on your skin.
    no, no, no, no.
    "The hardwire and coarse woolens of England are beyond all comparison superior to those of France."

    Corn, pops in your mouth, not just in the microwave.
    Corn, prized in the south, it keeps your engine roaring.

    a maize made from the wealth of nation.
    hate to love the juicy taste of corn.
    it's like porn, but HARDER to find.
    it's all in your mind.

    1. a maize made from the wealth of nation*s*

    2. What a joy it is to know someone who lives on my wavelength.

      Also, to hell with Wealth of Nations.

    3. Beautiful and fun and funny and beautiful again. Thank you!

  7. a follow up poem:

    Gabriel, blowing his horn, but through the maize of the corn, no one has ears. or silk. to taste the milk and honey. it's almost funny. the tears are runny down my metaphysical face. we're in a race and I'm lost. I shiver at the frost, biting my nails. DAMN, I just got them painted.

  8. It was sixth grade and braces were in. I yearned to have the whites of my teeth covered in specks of color, a treasure of lime greens and pinks revealed with a simple smile. Those were the colors I wanted, carefully chosen for their brightness and cool-factor. I could not wait to tell the dentist my plan, and as my yearly check up was approaching I began practicing my dialogue with Dr. Rudolph.
    “But this one tooth feels a little crooked, I must need braces, right?”
    The plan was foolproof and it would be impossible for Dr. Rudolph to propose anything other than smacking braces on my teeth right then and there. My initiation into brace-face-dom would be quick and definitely painful, but the outcome was the only thing that mattered. With braces, I could join my fellow brace-facers in their highly complex rituals of teeth-brushing, rubber-band attaching, and screw-tightening. My moment of glory was coming, I just knew it.
    However, my adolescent hopes and dreams were stomped, ripped, and shattered into a tiny million pieces in just two sentences.
    “Your teeth look great! I see no need of braces in your future, young lady.”
    I knew what this meant. No lime green or pink. No special toothbrush in its fancy case. No small ziplock packet of colorful rubberbands. And mostly importantly, no brace-face compatriots to share my sore and slobbery trials and tribulations with.
    Since then, I realize how lucky I am to have avoided the orthodontist all those years. I also realize that I believe in Dr. Rudolph.

    1. What a funny story. (I had no idea anyone ever wanted to have braces...)

  9. He was probably my first true friend. His lankiness manifest long before his height ever did. His eyes were parched dust sprinkled on moist moss. He had the biggest nose I, personally, have ever seen.


Pictures. The two of us in diapers, basking in a sand box. Squatting down in the mud, questing for earthworms. Laughing, comparing scrapes, sitting on matching training wheels. Reaching up to put his arm around me on the first day of preschool, just before he would beat up the boy making fun of me. Letting his arm fall down around me on graduation day, long after our passions had tethered us to different worlds.

    Pictures are what I placed on Christian’s casket this afternoon, after a drunk driver slipped into his lane. It was his first ride on a new motorcycle.

    The loss of Christian was my final loss of faith.

    I don’t believe that a god worth knowing would take such light from a world so dark.

  10. “Hello?”
    “You should probably come to Huntington tonight.”
    That was all she said. “What the hell is going on”? my thoughts demanded as I barreled across the Mountain Parkway at 70 miles an hour towards a family waiting to share with me any number of scenarios. Cake and cookies. The smell embraced me as I walked through the door, my mother’s way of adding a second layer to the hugs she adorned me with. I’m handed a plate of one of her own creations. She calls them Treasure Chests. I call them perfection. Bite. Oatmeal, coconut, chocolate. Bite.
    “Your Nana is on a ventilator right now.”
    There it is. The reason I’m here. I have no other reaction than
    “She had a drug overdose. Muscle relaxers and antidepressants. She is in renal and septic failure. Chances are slim she’ll make it more than 3 days,” my father, the doctor. The honest. The voice of reason. I have never been so blank in my life as I was in that moment. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know exactly what I should be feeling.
    “So you mean what? That she was trying to kill her or…”
    “She is addicted to prescription medications. She wasn’t trying to hurt herself.”
    My mind felt as if it was sinking and spiraling into itself and out again, like some kind of device that held no concept of physics. Every spiral was a question was a spiral was a question.
    “Okay…no, wait. She’s on life support right now. How do you know that she has an addiction?”
    “We’ve known. For about 9 years. Dad and all of my brothers and sisters” No eye contact. Anger boiled inside of me. It had been going on for this long and no one ever bothered concerning me with the health of my grandmother?
    “And you didn’t do-“
    “Don’t you dare scold me and take the notion that we never tried to reach out and make some kind of change for her,” my father turned fierce, his blue eyes ravenous.
    “What if you would have known? You would have thought about your Nana so differently” My mom piled more cookies onto my plate.
    That sentence stood out neon in my mind. I kept running my eyes across it. They had chose to hide the truth from me to “protect” me from it. I was livid, insulted and hurt that they had lied to me. A lie because they loved me. But it was still a fucking lie. Cognitive Dissonance and Emotional Turmoil are the names of the songs I’ve been singing all weekend. I believe that parents truly want what is best for their child. But I also believe the child has the right to know.

    1. Thank you for sharing a difficult time and a difficult realization with us, Josiah.

  11. While some people’s greatest fears include heights and public speaking, I fear that I will forget myself. Maybe the reality of object permanence never quite sank in with me or maybe I watched too much Christmas Carol movies as a child, but I’ve always thought of myself as three separate individuals: the past me, the present me, and the future me. I am so afraid that my future self will want to forget my present and past selves. This is terrifying because the only person who has the capability of remembering how I feel and think right now, is who I will become.

    This fear was slowly realized over the course of a decade as I developed and destroyed my private journals again and again throughout my youth. I recall coming to the pivotal moment of realization of how I was literally shredding my self-image when I paused in the middle of ripping out a page of a journal I was re-reading. The passage I wrote was from sophomore year of high school (just one year prior) and told a dramatic narrative of one of my crush’s new love interests. Re-reading the passage made the whole ordeal seem silly so I planned on throwing it away… and yet, the final sentence on the bottom of the page was traced over and over made it hard to overlook. The gravity of it stilled my hands.

    “Emily, please remember me. Don’t forget me,” I had carefully written. To anyone else, those words would be the closing note of the love-sick ramble, but to me, it was a desperate reminder. I couldn’t keep tearing pages and discarding my memories.

    In a sort of excited daze, I sifted through my other remaining journals. I discovered countless notes to myself tucked into the corners of the pages; all begging to be considered and left in their respective books.

    I would like to say that I never defiled my journals again, but tried as I may to be moved by my notes, I still believe in waking up with a clean slate.