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.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This I Believe Essay #3

Same approach, third week:

Please post your essay here before class on Tuesday. Remember to bring a printed copy of your essay to class and practice so that you are prepared to read it aloud.


  1. I think of Lola often. I think of her colorful stuffed horse, Beef Jelly, and I wonder if she has played with him yet today. When Lola was born I was 16 years old. When I was born, Lola’s mother, my sister, was 16 years old. Will I have a child by the time Lola is 16? Will she be geographically closer to me by then, and who will be the one who moved? Sometimes I think of her and I feel very sad. This sadness comes from the knowledge that she will never know me as I am right now, in this moment. She will never appreciate my youth and confusion and exploration of self. Lola will never associate any of these things with me. This is not only because she lives in Georgia, but also because she is only four years old. Age definitely has something to do with it. She’s too young for me to try to connect with her from this far away. I suppose I could send her packages, but I do not have a disposable enough income to afford that, and letters would fall on impatient and easily distracted ears.

    I have three nephews by another sister, aged 10, 12, and 14. These boys are old enough for me to foster a real connection with, but even from the beginning two out of the three very obviously preferred my older brother to me when visiting. I follow two of them on Instagram, only one of them follows me back. To his credit, the one that follows me likes a lot of the things I post, and I hope he’s aware of who I am. I hope he knows I’m in college, but I am his 40-year-old mother’s sister. I hope he has seen pictures of her cradling me when I was a baby, how she was the age I am now in those pictures. I hope he understands that I am his aunt when he likes pictures of my friends on swings, of my late nights, of my bright, sunlit days.

    Lola is ten years away from high school. I will be 30 years old. Thinking about this I am reminded of my relationship with my own aunt, my mother’s sister. It is one of the strongest relationships in my life, and it began when I was in high school. She was always part of my life, but around that age is when I started really trying to talk and hang out with her, and now she is one of my best friends. Will Lola one day want that with me? Will she be disappointed that I do not have more of her keepsakes? She does not think of me, so she does not include me in drawings, or make any specifically for me.

    I believe in the power of familial friendships. If it makes me sad that Lola will never see me as I am right now, then the least I can do is make sure I’m there to watch her reach this age. I want to be there when she discovers the subjects she is passionate about. I want to watch her light up when talking about a book she recently fell in love with. I want to sit on a couch with her and share my favorite movies with her while we split a plate of her favorite snack foods, because when I am an established adult with a furnished house and stable income I will stock up on the things she likes when I know she is coming to visit. I believe that one day Lola and I will be friends. I just have to wait another decade before it’s truly feasible. Give or take a few years.

    1. You pass quickly through a moment of beautiful and painful clarity when you say that Lola does not include you in drawings. This is the kind of statement that allows us to feel your pain without needing additional words.

      And you think of Lola often. Surely she will know this one day.

  2. I believe in Matt Berninger, Matt Berninger is 43 years old, gets anxious when he smokes weed, drinks way too much wine, has a wife and has a single daughter, he writes poetry, he’s from Cincinnati and went to school for graphic design, he lives in New York City and the most important thing about him is he is the most ruggedly beautiful encapsulating front man of the indie rock world in the great band The National. I love The National as a band; they encapsulate the brooding elements of post punk with the freshness and melodic grooves of pretty much every other indie rock/pop band. They’re by no means a band that breaks any music barriers, they sit in their space occupying and filling the much-needed void left by 90s bands like Yo La Tengo. Mercury Rev, Built to Spill. But I really, really believe in Matt Berninger.

    I believe in his sweet baritone voice, his sleek pulled back hair, his full beard, his amazing lyrics and all the stories he tells. Intimate stories about love, loss, anxiety for the future and apathy for the past, he harnesses these aspects of life and constructs them into powerful stories that seem to pierce straight through me. Most of his songs seem to be some sort of self-medication, he seems to wallow in his own sorrows only to build himself up, and the band just works within that constantly building up emotion until you come to the climax of the song or lack of a climax only to fade out into another painful song. Because sometimes the conclusions leave you where you were at the beginning, sometimes you find yourself weighed down even more, but going through these things seem to only make you stronger the next day. I believe in all of that. The way Matt speaks these feelings through music makes it a powerful form, stories about his lover how they break down in weakness together but he stills need her presence to build him up. Talking himself out of thoughts that hurts others, finding ways that eventually only hurts himself yet still being strong enough to love his family. Maybe all this emotion is just Matt understanding his bands aesthetic, but seeing this band live puts it into perspective.

    At concerts he walks across his crowd, he falls onto his knees and he picks himself back up. I left one of their concerts exhausted and on the way home listened to them the whole way. The way he moved through the music was the same way I sung his songs as I broke down after breaking people off, or after a long night of work, after writing down a poem of my own, when I thought I couldn’t pick myself up why would I come to his music? Because I’m convinced we feel things the same way. I truly believe that Matt Berninger is an INFJ like me, I’m convinced that if we hung out we would write some songs together too, I believe in Matt Berninger lead singer of The National.

    1. I kinda love that you write all of this about someone you believe in and then crystalize it into his being an INFJ like you--without explaining what and INFJ is. I like the assumption that we all know.

      ( in the case of a Transy student/faculty audience, we probably all do)

    2. I love the amount of detail you use when talking about this. It impacts the reader more and allows for a larger amount of emotion to come across.


    Though I had no idea precisely who Stretch Armstrong was—the advertisements for his toys in the comic books I earned once every six months with a trip to the dentist said nothing about who he was, just that “YOU CAN STRETCH HIS 13-INCH BODY UP TO FOUR FEET! —I did know this: I was much more interested in his green scaly nemesis, Stretch Monster.


    The villainous Stretch Monster was released in 1978, two years after the do-good hero Stretch Armstrong and exactly in the year I turned 5—the recommended age for the mysterious gel-filled dolls. Somehow, my parents abandoned their commitment to making all of our Christmas gifts long enough to drop $9.44 on Stretch Monster and give me a gift that proved once again Santa did exist even if he continued to refuse my request for sea-monkeys. I suspected he had a policy about trafficking animals, especially the ones that came to life with a few drops of water—what a mess that could cause when the heat from a chimney melted the snow collected on his sack of toys.

    Tonight I read, on the internet, the story of a child who became addicted to sugar by sucking dry the body of his Stretch Armstrong on a day when it was pierced at the navel due to an attack launched by Stretch Monster (my 5-year old self would have hated this kid because he owned both characters). The red blood that oozed slowly from the wound was a thick, latex-infused corn syrup.


    My Stretch Monster melted in the sun when I left it on the bottom of the metal slide in my backyard. The gel ate small holes through the metal in a single afternoon.

    Because I believe intensely both in my own memories and in the collective memory shared on the internet, I did further research to reconcile these two experiences. Why didn’t the blood of Stretch Armstrong—when drained by this vampire child who gleefully told his own story on the World Wide Web—eat through the tender flesh of a stomach if Stretch Monster’s blood dissolved metal? Here is what I found:

    • High Fructose Corn Syrup is known to contain dangerous levels of Mercury
    • The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the levels of Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Mercury dissolves some metals, including tin
    • Even in low doses, mercury may affect a child's development, delaying walking and talking, shortening attention span, and causing learning disabilities.

    At first, I believed the vampire child who sucked dry his Stretch Armstrong made a poor decision. Now, I believe that all of us who consumed our sugar-filled toys are doomed to a lifetime of bad decisions.

  4. My prized Sipper-saurus, a bright green bottle featuring a straw attachment, holds approximately 3 drinks of liquid. The age recommendation on this product had been sorely underestimated. Every morning before I caught the bus to high school, my dad would fill this T-Rex-shaped container with white grape juice, a Zoo-Pals Aquatic Edition plate with scrambled eggs and hot sauce resting always by its side. My dad was very sick at the time, and still is. But before that he had always been very goofy and childish, in a good way. He was our best friend. He loved to cook for us, and he loved to play games we were all too old to play. We did too.

    My dad was unreasonably shy in public, but a boisterous trickster at home. I remember the first time he taped down the sprayer attachment resting beside the sink... Mom was the unsuspecting victim of a surprise water-bomb when turning the faucet handle did not go as she planned. Dad pleaded the fifth. We all repeated the incident regularly.

    Several catch-phrases often littered his speech: "whad'ya step in?" for a catch-all response, "wrong number" after ending a long phone call, and "going to Bunkham" as a substitute for "going to sleep." I still don't get that one. Of course, he was a very eloquent speaker despite having only a high school degree, with an emphasis on great spelling, so he always had a lot to say. Mostly jokes.

    Dad worked at a construction company before he got hurt and sick, and he was always really great at doing everything with a smile and a song. But about a decade ago that started to go away. He hurt his back carrying a heavy hospital door. And for someone whose livelihood was a physical craft no longer available to them, it's not hard to imagine how this incident would affect them psychologically.

    He blames himself - for a lot of things that've happened in our lives. But mostly for "missing out" on our growing up during the time he first began to be severely depressed. I don't remember a lot of good from the past ten years, but I do know that I love my dad, and there's no way I could ever be mad at him for the way he reacted. It makes me sad when I look at him and see how tired and sad he still is today, and when I remember how energetic and healthy he used to be. Just being around him a lot of times is enough to make me start crying. Definitely if he's able to talk to me.

    My dad has become a very different person from when I knew him as a child. But I love him even more than I ever did. When I come home nowadays and he says in a tired voice with a crooked smile, "I bought you guys some construction paper," my throat wants to explode into tears. When I read his letters that say, "I wish you didn't have to grow up, I'm sorry I wasted all that time," my throat does explode into tears.

    I believe in my dad, even though he doesn't.

  5. You need to watch this video before you read my This I Believe for this week. It's a little less than 7 minutes. Go to YOUTUBE and type this in: Paris, je T'aime (2006) - 14e Arrondissement. Then read this when its ova -> My mom was born and raised in Croatia and France, and I remember when this collection of films first came out and she bought it and we watched it together, and neither of us liked it very much. I think it had something to do with my age, and the fact she was doing laundry while we were watching it, and neither of us were really into short films so our attention was not really all there. Then I remember watching it with her a little later, while we were both doing laundry (again) on the couch and I was home from school for a few days my senior year of high school. This veiwing changed me for some reason, and now this short film forever has a power over me and I connect it heavily with my mom. This past Saturday morning, I got a text message from my dad letting me and my sister, who lives in Philadelphia, know that my mom was in the hospital and something was wrong with her heart. They didn’t know if she had a heart attack or not yet, but that he and my little brother were there and would keep us updated. In that moment I got the message, I realized that I couldn’t hug my eight year old brother and tell him it was going to be ok, and I couldn’t be waiting for my mom with my dad because I was getting ready to go to work that day in a whole other city and state. And I couldn’t just be with my mom. She is my best friend, by far. And going away to college was the first time my mother and I had been separated for more than a week. We have done, literally, everything in my life together.There are many ways to see Carol in the film 14e Arrondissement, and many ways to interpret what her story is trying to make an audience feel. Carol just makes me want to hug my mom, and let lonely people know they aren’t lonely because at least I am always thinking about them. And it makes me want to violently hurt ignorant, mean people who make fun of other people for anything that involves people simply just being themselves. I rant and talk, very often, about how much I “hate people” and I have very strong opinions on a lot of people because I think selfish people, and stupid people, are easily identifiable. But truly, the only reason I say these things and have these opinions is because I know that I will never be able to help all the people who need it, and not all ignorant people want to be educated, and not all mean people want to feel better. And people will be lonely. And sad, and that scares me even though it is natural and even though some people like it. I just want people to be happy, and treat each other equally and that is so far from happening all the time, or even most of the time, in this world that we live in. And I know that I will not always be able to be there for my mom when she is alone and when I am alone and we should just be together, and I know that my mom is going to die one day and that scares me. So basically what I am getting at, is that I miss my mom a lot, and I hate lonely people and I feel lonely when I am not with her and I believe in this movie because it is the one thing that can always make me feel something and in a really sad way, reminds me that our human perception of life is a very complicated place, but that we are here living it and can feel things and that is beautiful, and we should just appreciate that we have moms that we can miss and love and that people are lonely sometimes so be nice to everyone when you first meet them and say hi to strangers because you don’t know if that is the only time they will talk to anyone in a day, and remember that everyone can get lonely and feel sad but people also feel happy too and that’s ok.

    1. This is basically just a big reminder to me that everything is gonna be ok. One of my favorite quotes is by Steven Pinker, and he says, “We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naive to work toward a better one.” I believe in this movie because it reminds me of that, and gives me something to work towards and keeps me in line when I am not being the best me I can be and is basically the reason I am the person I am today and am studying what I want to do as a career.

    2. I am absolutely in love with this. I love how honest you are about what you feel and how well you understand what and why you feel that. It is impressive.

  6. He thrust his finger in my face and asked gruffly, “And your name is…?” He looked vaguely familiar, as all East Europeans do: a tall body wrapped loose in a black-leather jacket; a three-day beard crept up his face. I hesitated before saying “Kremena.” “Kremena! This is Bogdan!” The train took off towards Philadelphia’s West suburbs.

    In that instant, I could remember only one moment of the history Bogdan and I shared: the instance I bring up when I am pressed to explain why I distrust East Europeans. Years ago, I found myself in the back of a small car driven by Bogdan. Ana, his girlfriend, sat in the front. Due to no reason I can remember, Bogdan decided to give us a lesson in testing a car’s tires: “You step on the break when going 30 kilometers an hour.” He demonstrated enough times to prove this was his attempt to show off, one aggressively green feather after another.

    Ten years later, I faced Bogdan with a big smile. Though I remembered nothing more about the time our lives intersected, I imagined Ana and I must have been friends. Now I could not even remember what she looked like. Bogdan reported that she taught philosophy at a nearby university. Then he comforted me where comfort was not needed: “You live in Kentucky? That’s ok. . . You have two kids? Nothing wrong with that.” By the time he got off the train, I had delivered a vague promise to find him on Facebook.

    That evening, Bogdan sent me an email: “Let's go for coffee or you're welcome to visit at 7421 Sprague St. Let us know.” I decided to wait until I was back in Kentucky. I had no desire to see him. Ana emailed a few hours later: “I know you will be leaving soon, but please let's get together for coffee. I would love to catch up.” Her email eroded my certainty that I had no time to visit. For her sake, I agreed to stop by for a few minutes on my last day of vacation.

    Bogdan’s language was no different during my visit. “Look,” he delivered nuggets of wisdom, “why hire help when it’s cheaper to do it yourself?” In his kitchen I felt care behind these questions. While Ana made crepes and caught me up on the last ten years of their life, Bogdan inquired about my house, my kids, my vacation plans—and offered advice. By the time I left their home, I knew I wanted to come back. Their kitchen’s smell of mint tea and Nutella followed me the rest of the afternoon.

    I believe in saying yes—even to invitations laden with East European memories. They might be just what you need on a cold afternoon in December.

  7. Megan sat across the table from me, enthusiastically eating her birthday cake flavored ice-cream. I asked her about her months spent in Italy and she filled me with even more stories of my favorite art in our favorite country. I have known Megan since I was fifteen, since the days we used to spend on roof tops talking about God and Kurt Vonnegut, just trying to figure it all out. I was so broken during those years of my life, but for some reason Megan valued me and befriended me, she has been a gift to me ever since. In high school and in my life now I have had the fortune of having friends who are a few years older than me. Every time I would get to visit Megan in her college apartment and observe her life I would be filled with a sense that the next few years of my life may not be an abstract void, but something similar, this gave me peace as a high schooler. Her few years of experience and similar struggles with uncovering meaning and purpose in this life she has also given as a gift to me. This time as we sat in an ice-cream shop in downtown lexington I was again fully taken in by our conversation. I had not seen her for a while and was excited to see how far she had come since we last talked. She seemed more balanced this time, a kind of balance I am still a stranger to. I told her I was struggling with finding meaning in my life, I had been thinking about death too much again and worrying my family. She told me that she has uncovered more good in her life by living through what she believes. This advice caused me to think deeply about my own life, what do I believe? I realized that there is no difference between finding yourself and living a life you can believe in. Since that day I have been urging myself more and more to do the things I believe are best for me. I have found so much more satisfaction. I cannot hate myself if I do what I believe is truly good, when I eat a vegan diet I will not feel guilty for death of other beings, when I exercise I do not hate my body, when I help others I do not feel alone. I feel that this may be one of the most honest ways of cultivating happiness in this life. I would not have found it without Megan.

  8. I believe that dentists are truly trying to be helpful. They go to school for years to make people healthier, to help people with bad teeth. They are still one of the most hated professions in America. Studies have shown that healthier gums lead to healthier lives. There is less of a chance of ailments such as arthritis, or diabetes. Somehow they correlate, which makes the dentist, unfortunately, very important. They mean well, they do. But when they stab your gum and say "you don't brush well enough" while it is bleeding, it just sounds condescending. They shine the light into your face, blinding you. They have to use this, to see into your mouth, but it always seems to find the perfect angle to shine right into your eyes. Though, personally, my least favorite part is the scraping. Mentally the thought if the sharp tool scraping my teeth drives me insane. But also the sound of my dentists new tool is the same as the sound of the drill coming from the next room. His new scrapper has water that helps to clear the plaque, and it sounds exactly the same as the drill. I cringe. I want to cry from the sound alone, but I know it is more effecient. It is easier for the dental hygienist, it is possibly more effective. But that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it. Thw good news, it takes less time, so that the sore jaw might not last as long, and you can bolt out of the chair a bit faster. I truly believe that dentists just mean well, but they have a funny way of showing it.

  9. I believe in sometimes not writing anything deep or profound, but instead writing something shallow. Imagine the endless amounts of interpretation just three sentence may have only to not mean anything. So let us paint a self-portrait in a convex mirror.

  10. I do not like staircases. As someone who has limited grace and carries too many books in my arms (blocking any view of the ground below me), I find going up and down stairs too dangerous to waste much time on. I always take the stairs two or three at a time and run if I am not overburdened with texts, tea kettles, and food. Though it is not logical, I feel like going up the stairs quickly decreases my chances of injuring myself or just making an embarrassing fall.

    To the annoyance of my friends, I run ahead of them on the stairs and then hang over the balcony of the top floor just to grin at their sloth like movements that keep them two flights behind me. “Why do you always do that?” one will ask, but I never give a real answer. I just shrug and smile.

    After a year of using the stairwells of Forrer, I became thankful that I can run up while skipping steps. One of my best friends, Tyler, woke up early on a Saturday morning complaining about an annoying pain in his side. Within the next five minutes, the pain went from annoying to agonizing and he clutched at his torso and screamed and whimpered and needed to go be taken to the hospital.

    Neither he nor I have a car. I did not even have a working cell phone to call a friend for help. Instead, I ran to the dorms of my friends. Up and down I ran, skipping over steps and pushing myself off walls to make my sharp turns easier. Down the stairs. Knock knock knock. No answer. Up the stairs to my friend. “Drink some water. I’ll try someone else.” Down the stairs. Knock knock knock. “Are you okay to drive? You don’t have your keys? Crap. Okay. Bye.” Up the stairs. Check on Tyler. Down the stairs. More doors. No cars. No rides. Up again. Down. Up.

    We finally went to DPS to get help and despite running around so much, I could still speak clearly and without gasping for breath. An ambulance was called and Tyler got the treatment he needed. Luckily, the pain was just a kidney stone--not appendicitis like my friends and the paramedics feared--so my rush did not solve his problem any sooner. But if it had been something threatening, then I think that speed would have been important. Because of this, I now believe in running up stairs two or three steps at a time.

  11. I believe in making clay pottery
    I believe that clay pottery has helped my family and I emotionally, financially and physically. My grandmother and grandfather were married for 61 years before he passed away. They were total opposites and yet loved and supported the other one in everything they did. My grandmother is the artistic one. She paints floor mats on people’s front porches. She paints the side of houses to make it look like trees and flower arrangements. She makes water pitcher out of a pumpkin for a contest. All of these things have been wonderful, but clay pottery has been the avenue for her happiness.
    She creates anything any everything: bowls, mugs, mugs without handles, lamp shade bases, plates, bowls, nativity scenes, angels, flying pigs and so much more. She has been doing it for years, except in the past 10 years she does it not just to produce beautiful works for art, but for her arthritis. She pushes and molds the clay in order to release not only the clay, but the tension in her hands. In the past 5 years she has started to do it in order to sell some of it and earn a few extra dollars. In the past 3 years she has done it in order to try and bring our family back together.
    After my grandfather died, all hell broke loose. Everyone thought they deserved more money, respect, and many more things that were emotionally causing distance between everyone. My grandmother is left with her three daughters, her cat, and her clay. She tries to make these pieces of pottery with her daughters, and with me in order to make us understand what is really important. What is really important is spending time together as a family, and creating happiness, and respect through these wonderful pieces of pottery. Once it is her time to visit her husband again, people will walk all throughout my house and houses all around Kentucky and Florida asking who made these beautiful pieces of artwork. When they ask that, I will know that her clay pieces have served their last role: to keep her alive in the hearts of those still living.

  12. There is little better way to start a day than watching steam roll off the surface of a lake and join the deep purples and bright oranges of an Appalachian Sunrise. The birds pick up the song where the crickets and cicadas leave off, and the deer come to the water for the first drink of the day. The dew resting on the bluegrass cools bare feet that ache from the previous nights dancing and playing. There is a certain stillness in the air that eases you into the day.

    There is little better way to spend an afternoon than walking trails that have been etched in the mountainside by the years of would-be Lewis and Clark’s. The clouds are suspended like feathers and the light cascades through the canopy of oak and pine trees before splashing on the smiling faces around you. Jokes are forgotten, but the laughter is remembered.

    There is little better way to spend an evening than on a wooden rocking chair, watching as the clouds melt, the sky mellows back to red and orange, and the stars slowly return. The deer once again come to the water, more for the company than the drink. The birds give their last chorus before returning the song to the crickets, and rest until they perform again the next day.

    There is no better way to spend a night than by the fire. Dancing barefoot until your feet long for the soothing dew of the next morning. Listening carefully to the same stories that have been told for years. Watching as firelight flickers on the faces of friends, and moonlight shatters on the lake. Sitting in sacred silence while the fire crackles and burns to embers.

    I believe in the summer, and I believe in camp.

  13. I believe in my idol, and yes I am not saying her name because she is very busy right now I do not want to risk her current success. I believe in her and idolize her because of how strong, resilient and relatable she is. She can stroke the ball with finesse, precision, and power. When I was younger I was very little, one of the shortest kids in my class and obviously in my family. So, when playing sports I could not just rely on being taller or stronger because I was not, much like my idol.

    Growing up I would go outside and hit a tennis ball against the garage, to the point where dents were being made, because I wanted to be just like her; at the time, it was not because of what she was accomplishing but because I just enjoyed playing tennis. Now that I am older and can understand the types of things she has overcome, I can now believe in her. She was a little african american girl, with her sister and father, in a rough neighborhood trying to make it big in a sport predominantly played by wealthy caucasians. She was depressed and withdrew herself from the game in 2003-2004. She was on her death bed just a few years ago. She continues to comeback in matches and from losses stronger and better. Currently, she is number one in the world and watching her play brings me much joy and comfort.

    I believe in my idol because she has been through so much yet continues to perform at her best and the best level seen in women’s tennis. If she can overcome and achieve what she has then I ask myself, “What can I achieve?”

  14. Before I was a Hanna I spent a short length of time as something else – first as an Addie (Almstead) but that was too precious, something more likely to be the moniker of a flighty kid lit character than the serious academic my parents felt sure they were in the beginning stages of raising. I’ve heard that the week after Addie, I became a Nora (though to be honest, this may have been my older sister instead). They liked Nora, she sounded mature and cool, but ultimately, the unit chose to revise in case the name set this most recent daughter down the wrong path – toward black clothes, clove cigarettes, and the dusty vinyls of French crooners. The year that my parents named me Hanna(h), it was the 16th most popular name for American girls born that year – a poor showing compared to the three year reign it would hold at #1 around the millennium. Having two other siblings with what would invariably qualify for internet lists of “unique” baby names, it’s always been a source of weird ire that my parents seemed to cop out and go with something established and predictable for kid #2. It’s a little biblical, pretty approachable – a perfectly good name. In fact, I once played on a rec soccer team with four other girls whose parents wholeheartedly agreed on the perfect agreeableness of the name Hannah. I have memories from preschool of a mischievous (and palindrome obsessed) phase when I would replace the docked H in my first name and hand in Crayola masterpieces with the new identifier – sure that I was hiding behind the anonymity afforded by the possession of a commonplace label. I guess I didn’t really have much faith in my teacher’s ability to distinguish between my work and that of the other Hannahs I conspired with in this craft time prank. I guess you could say that I was a bit of a problem child. Sometimes I wonder who I could have would have been – how my story has been altered by the way I introduce myself to a room full of strangers. In many ways, I do not feel like a Hanna, do not see myself reflected in the many women, more everyday, that share my name, but that is not to say that I’m not glad to have it. It seems now that much of my life has been a subtle quest to distinguish myself from the people around me, to find my small place to stand apart. And maybe Nora would have done better, but I believe that Hanna’s still doing just fine.

  15. I believe in Cave Country and the tourist/traveler (Bobby)

    My Americana relic, home of concrete wig wams, dinosaurs, and the world's longest tunnel system. Although your claim to fame was through exploiting the mummified remains of Native Americans and having a carnival above ground while a man was stuck and dying underground, time has healed the ignorance of the past. And new life will soon be brought to your decaying back drop in the form a show cave museum and taking the 'guns' out of "Guntown Mountain" and replacing it with 'fun.' While this will bring wealth to a poor person's land, I am afraid of the tourists it will bring.
    Having been a guide for a cave close to Mammoth, I have experienced both the traveler and the tourist. Now, a traveler is one who respects the local culture and has a genuine curiosity of being in a new surroundings. Thankfully, travelers seem to come a plenty and leave with a newfound sense of wonder after leaving cave country. Whenever there is a holiday or weekend, the tourists come out to play.
    The tourists are the ones that come in and assume their home is the only home. The tourists are the ones that do not understand why drinking cave water is a bad idea. The tourist does not understand that the oils on their hand can destroy formations that have been eons in the making. Most importantly, the tourist does not get that taking a wallowing baby inside a cave is a good idea. Just because you birthed the child of Satan does not mean that you have to take it to its subterranean home.
    Although the one star trip advisor reviews and negative guest registry remarks has left more than a chip on my shoulder when it comes to tourism, I can't help to admire the blips of humanity I have experienced as a tour guide. There were moments when I could see young scientists in the making, the 'touristy' photo I took of a couple that transitioned to a proposal, or, to be shallow, families giving a $20 tip after a tour well guided. I had a child randomly add me on Facebook just to thank 'mustache man' for how awesome and knowledgeable he was (for reference, I had a fully waxed handle bar mustache last summer). Actually, writing this has cured me of my previous worries. Even though the Ugly American likes to peek it's head every now and then, the traveler seems to prevail which is why I believe in Mammoth Cave and it's future.

  16. This I believe…silly does not mean immaturity
    Maturity is literally the weirdest construct of society in my opinion. We all see what it is to be mature in wildly different ways. It is always made up of what our external environment is like, where or how we were raised, and our own level of modesty. The similarities pretty much stop there. I am not even sure if I have my own hard and fast definition for it yet. Is it when you can finally stop acting up? Does learning to be quiet when you are told qualify as mature? Or is it more about responsibility; does being able to pay your bills and manage your own decisions make you mature? These are serious questions I have. If you know me at all you know the word that defines me is not mature. The better word for me is silly. Sometimes that is followed with adjectives like scattered brained or funny but these are always in context to how my silliness has effected the situation at hand.
    What is interesting about silly is that it is never paired with maturity. As if simply to have the quality of silliness disqualifies you of all definitions of the word maturity. To be honest…what is that squash?! How is that fair? If we are speaking in definitions, silly is only defined by the absurd or foolish. I will admit there is some merit to the fact silly is sometimes just stupid, idiotic, brainless, or witless. But I subscribe solely to the idea that silly does not take itself too seriously. It is the comic sans of personality traits. Let’s be honest all of your silly friends can take a joke and more importantly laugh at themselves like none other. On your most emotional day these are human cups of hot coco or glasses of wine, depending on your preference. But here is the issue, have you thought about what they are like behind closed doors, when they aren’t preforming, when things get hard? Here is a sad news flash, what you do not know is some of your outrageous friends may be the most depressed and you have no idea. Comedians, like Robin Williams for example, can trick the world with their seemingly fool-hearty behavior but when they are off the stage they are very ones who need to laugh the most.
    I always reference this but Alan Moore wrote in Watchmen this little antidote that literally speaks volumes to this. “Heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor...I am Pagliacci.”

    1. I am not trying to depress anyone. I am not saying pity every friend you have ever made who is silly but I am making a case that silly does not equal a lack of substance. Silly is almost never a lack of intelligence of the situation either. Coming from one of the silliest friends you will make, silly is actually a choice. It is a show we put on for your benefit and ours. If you come join me at a lunch sometime you can watch my interactions with friends and see the proof of this. When there is an awkward silence or embarrassing pronunciation, I am the first to make a joke about it and move on. Being silly gives levity to even the most difficult of moments. The most important way to harness the power of the silliness is what seems like a contradiction to the very meaning of silly. You have to be a little smart. Choosing the right words is critical. Making sure to make humor undamaging to the butt of the joke or only damaging to the jokester themselves is a serious art. You need a little brain in there to know where the line is and not cross it or it is not funny but uncomfortable. Let’s remember here that brilliant men like Albert Einstein and Mark Twain were some of the silliest and most intriguing men in history. How can you not have some kind of sense of humor to invent things like an airplane or cell phone? Those must have been ludicrous ideas when they were pitched.
      I won’t try to beat a dead horse here but I want to drive home the idea that when you catch me making vulgar jokes or acting like a wild animal, please realize that I am aware I look like an idiot. You do not need to tell me. I choose to be silly to bring joy to others. I am smart about how to use my silly. When my friend has been cheated on by that a**hole for the last time or my mother is crying because my dad has acted like an alcoholic idiot again, I will be the first to make them smile again and take the burden of hurt off their shoulders. It is the mature choice. Only a real woman can make the distinction when to give out her serious moments and when to not treat every second like it’s such a big deal.