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, April 5, 2015

This I Believe Essay #11

The final week of CETA: It has been great sharing beliefs with all of you. One more essay, due before class on Tuesday, April 7


  1. I believe in the
    of a metronome.

    the same
    time after time.
    Communicating: guiding
    horse hair over taught sheep intestine.
    Comfortably wound tight
    with a music-box turnkey
    Shark bites,
    freezing rain,
    small children,
    stuck drains, and
    curiosity twisting a screwdriver.
    Warrantees voided.

    Set aside mid-repair, cherished possessions collect dust and disdain, while eyes weakened from looking within too long lose track of the slightest parts.

    Phantom memories
    of a driving rhythm
    embolden anxious
    fingers numbed
    by the pressure of silence.

    I believe in removing covers, peeling warning stickers away, and pulling out deeply recessed screws to reveal the workings within. Hands too thick to paint fingers of children are aided by patience, tweezers, and magnets.

    I believe in fixing
    before they become hazardous.

    I believe in keeping time.

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  3. Her name is Kay, Kay Tanno.

    I lied. Her name is Kathryn, just like mine. I lied because I love closing my eyes in order to hear her fellow 83 year old friends call her Kay. She has tiny, toothpick legs and a hunched over upperback. She once told me that she used to call her mother every morning at 7am to tell her everything she was doing for the day. Once her mother died, she started to walk 3 miles every morning with a group of ladies. She still does it to this day.

    The level of consistency and structure in her life is something I hope to have at that age. She joined a garden club and even won an award for making a water pitcher out of a pumpkin (She actually uses it to water her flowers). She goes around, house-to-house, painting welcome floor mats on the wooden porches of her friends. She has even been known to paint an entire area rug on a back porch.

    My grandmother does clay pottery in order to help her arthritis so she can still hold the paint brush. She makes tiny nativity scenes, mugs, bowls, lampshade bases, flower vases, and jewelry holders all out of clay. My mom and I finally convinced her to sell her stuff at a local vintage shop.

    With all the flowery qualities of my grandmother come rugged edges that make her uniquely human. First, she has three daughters that have all recently decided to hate one another. She now has to spend time with each one of them and their families’ separately, never together. She does not like to confront the situation, yet avoid it. She doesn’t like the gruesome, reality of anything; She only wants to hear the noteworthy, positive side of every situation and person.

    “I just don’t understand,” she said while getting increasingly tense, “Why people just sit there, at a table of four, with their laptops!” “Claire, laptops and work are for your home, not public. I really do hope you never take up that much room and time with your laptop in public.” She was referring to coffee shops. I have grown up with coffee shops and do ¾ of my schoolwork at them. I value her perspective because it reminds me that this world and the constructs within it change. Although my grandmother has obviously stayed fabulous her entire life, I find comfort in the fact that things can and will change. Whatever you enjoy, hate, praise or despise, the world changes.

  4. Not long ago, an American Facebook friend visiting Hungary commented she didn’t realize Communism ended as recently as 1989. Her words instantly brought to mind two things:

    First, in Bulgaria we don’t call it the end of Communism. Instead, we talk about when “the changes took place.” The changes were many and mostly for the worse, at least in the short run. Stores ran out of the basics. Milk and bread were rationed, each family getting a loaf of bread per three people per day. I don’t remember ever being hungry. I do remember my grandparents—both retirees in their 60s—spending hours in grocery lines. Gradually, the clothing stores filled with cheap imports from Turkey. (To this day, I look at anything made in Turkey with suspicion.) Gradually, we learned that the higher-ups had led lavish lives while the rest of the population made do with one outfit a season. I still remember my all-red ensemble one winter. I was proud of my red boots, red jacket, red sweater, and red skirt (my tights were blue), and I wore them cheerfully every day of the week.

    Years after the fall of communism, many regretted “the changes” for depriving them of a decent livelihood. After 1989, most of the population sank in poverty. The traditional 2-week seaside vacation shrank down to 7 days before disappearing altogether. As did Bulgarian hospitality. Boxes of chocolates were replaced with a cup of coffee. Bulgarians hung their heads in embarrassment. A few drove brand-new BMW’s and vacationed in France. Everyone feared them.

    Second, the year 1989 doesn’t feel so recent to me. In 1989 I was in seventh grade. My world consisted of a pair of grandparents, a mother, a step-father, and a best friend. Rossi, my best friend, and I studied English, ate cherries in season, and competed to see who would lose more weight. When the changes took place, we wondered what was there to change and why bother. It took both of us years to begin questioning. Years later, I distrust authority and worry about misusing my own. Years later, 1989 seems like a long lifetime ago.

    I believe in change. But I don’t believe in euphemisms: smoothing over the edges of history.

  5. This I believe: I do not like New York City.

    I don’t like moving. That sounds pretty general and equally harsh but there’s a lot of truth in that statement. New York City requires a lot of movement.

    The first night I was there I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge twice. My hot chocolate lasted only a quarter of my walk. I was paralyzed for the first few minutes, the concrete had turned into wooden planks and they buzzed under my feet while I walked. Once I realized the cars weren’t actually under me, and were just to the side of the pedestrian walkway, I felt more at ease.

    I like being able to walk from one end of downtown to the other, which is entirely possible in Lexington. In New York, I once rode on the subway for twenty minutes in the wrong direction. It was my first attempt to conquer the trains by myself, and I obviously did not do an amazing job. When I finally reached the friend I had plans to meet up with, she told me I was brave and after I cried for a moment in a tiny Mexican restaurant, we had a really nice evening together. We went to a bakery and I ate an apple pie the size of my palm.

    I got to see Vir Heroicus Sublimis, along with two other Barnett Newman’s, two lamassus, seven Brancusi’s, all of which I loved, along with tons more really great stuff. I also saw like a million Matisse’s that I did not care about.

    I was and am so grateful for the opportunities I receive. But just because I visit somewhere, it does not mean I have to fall in love with that place. I went to the top of the Empire State Building at midnight my last night there. I felt so unmoved by the view.

    My first night back I cried myself to sleep. I think it was out of exhaustion and relief to be back.

    1. I too disliked the New York trip. It really solidified the idea that traveling is just a big disillusionment for me. And that I absolutely hate museums, which I don't think you agree with. But...yeah. Kara and I got stuck in Chinatown for a couple of hours during a torrential downpour waiting for taxis that would never stop. I got sick the next day and couldn't go out, but I didn't really want to in the first place. On the plus side, Nancy accompanied us on our very first subway ride, so we didn't have to worry about getting too lost...

  6. I believe in brushing one's Teeth

    My teeth suck

    Like seriously, they do. With my G,A,T, and C's not backing me up alongside with previous haphazard brushing habits, my dental pain receptors have been making it clear that my teeth are not having a good time. It does not help that my teeth occasionally like to do the electric slide at night; dancing and grinding with only a sore jaw for proof of their party.

    As of recent times, my teeth have started to riot for a petition to the dentist office. Thankfully, it is only a riot demonstration and not a rot demonstration. I have tried to make some political promises by brushing extra carefully, using mouthwash, and, what I honestly believe no one truly does besides its constant recommendation, actually flossing! Despite these new ordinances, my teeth do not seem to be sated and I am cocksure a trip to the dentist will be needed.

    The take home message for this is that there are a lot of toothaches in the world, either it being a test or meeting or any other obligation, and it usually better to just brush your damn teeth in the first place instead of finding yourself in pure unadulterated first world pain.

  7. I believe in saying goodbye. The first time and only time I have ever truly fell in love was last spring. He came to me as a stranger, but when I met him, I knew that we were meant to be together in that moment. It was like God had carved out the world and laid out all of time in a way that would lead us to each other that May. I confessed to him that all the other times I had tried to give my heart to others I had met them in the fall and watched things fall apart by winter’s end, but he was my spring. He came to me when the earth was stirring, becoming new again. We fell in love on handmade quilts laid out in parks under the shade of old trees, covering each other’s cheeks with yellow dandelion dust. We rode around in his car listening to the music that I held dear to my heart long before I met him. He felt like home, spoke like home, loved like home and soon my city was alive with memories we made together there. The time I spent with him, I am forever grateful for. Those months we had together are something I will cherish for the rest of my life, but we only had so much time. Soon our lives scooped us up and pulled us away from each other. I do not know why it had to end, but I do know that it did. I wanted to hold onto the thought that we could get back together, both of us tried, but it felt wrong. I do not know why you can love someone who is good for you and still know that you shouldn't be with them, but here I am. Finally, after all this time, I am able to say good bye and let what we had go. I know I am lighter and freer because of it, but a loss is still a loss. I know what I have done has been good for me and even though it has hurt and been scary. I need to learn how to stand on my own and that is why I believe in saying goodbye.

  8. I believe in storing things, looking back on what I have done. I remember reading some of my early essays just this morning it was interesting and nice to see what I believe in and that of course I still believe it. It is nice to look back on photographs with family and friends to still know that I have them. In my room I have a box filled with sappy middle school love letters, they are hilarious I can’t remember writing a single one but I surely received a lot.

    To high school and my collecting of things became virtually non existent the remnants of high school lie in scratch poetry, sketch books filled with half finished ideas and an old hard drive sitting next to the new one filled with assignments and crappy power points. An Xbox 360 sits on my bedroom floor I spent maybe 40 days playing a single video game, I was very good, it now sits collecting dust, it has for 3 years now. I go through my Chester drawers finding old band t shirts and lots of soccer socks and jerseys, I started using exclusively my closet and floor for clothes after senior year so the drawers remain relatively stagnant with early high school clothes.

    There are countless other things stored throughout my room at home, even my room at school is starting to have lots of new love letters and with the time and drive to spend on more productive things has led to books and records spread throughout the room. Luckily my past is stored in boxes and hard drives it’s extremely comforting and simultaneously weird. I believe in storing things and looking back on what I’ve done.

  9. I believe in Southern Illinois and the strength of my forbears – the hard-scrabblers and lawmen toughen under an overcast midwestern sky.

    Accustomed to a full day’s work by the age of eight, my grandfather grew strong on the dusty soil of a Martinsville farm, butchering hogs for his father while on vacation from college, and driving a team of four to cultivate a crop of sweet corn – a life of labor he worked hard to leave behind when he graduated from University of Kentucky College of Law just after his 21st birthday and moved my grandmother to D.C. to pursue a career as a clerk for the US Tax Court judge. My family still holds the deeds to the property he so wanted escape, but my only visit to the family homestead took the form of an obligatory pilgrimage of grand and great-grand kids to see an ailing relation. Geneva Hall, a grandmother of an unknown magnitude, preached at the church of “waste not, want not,” sewed spring dresses from flour sacks, and saved nickels in a mason jar under the laundry room sink – and still, she snuck a twenty, molded smartly into the shape of a butterfly, into the front pocket of my overalls before I slid off her lap that summer before she died. I could feel the brittle architecture of metacarpal and lunate beneath the skin of her hand as she held me to her that day. Never would I have guessed those same fingers, then as delicate as blown glass, had twined around the necks of Bantam and Orpington alike, with all the token ferocity that is the unusual possession of all those people who must eek out a living from Southern Illinois soil. I imagine this brutal necessity, present in the lives of both Laramie and his mother in law, is the reason my grandmother says a prayer for the supermarket butcher before each holiday meal.

    My great grandmother, I’ve been told, was as beautiful – in her day – as the city she was named for. All auburn locks and coy smiles, victory rolls and burgundy lips, her features had softened by the time my child’s hands could hold hers, sharp mind and fine cheekbones worn like so many stonier structures by a cruel 92 years of Martinsville sun and Alzheimer’s. Left on the farm when my grandmother married and moved to answer phones in the nation’s capitol, Geneva joked blearily with my father about taking the land back and “raising those churlins right.” It was a promise he’d never keep. Though we’ve recently acquired a smallish flock of chicks, these extensions of my parents locavorism are regarded as pets rather than poultry – I shudder to think what may happen when Basil, a standoffish Plymouth known for having a mean streak when it comes to watermelon rinds, quits laying. I’m sure Geneva would chuckle to see a relation of hers so squeamish about the circle of life.

  10. I believe that I'm slowly separating from my body.

    Or rather, that this is what happens to everyone over the course of their life, but that it seems it's happening a little faster for me. I am still able to spend time doing things I enjoy, but usually those things must be very absorbing, to the point that I'm almost completely disconnected from everything else. At these times, I feel the most like I don't belong in this world, in this body. Granted, I always feel that way, but I've never experienced anything like the disorientation that comes with having to stop doing these few things that I'm able to enjoy. It's also difficult for me to accept the idea of being disconnected to everything that "matters," because obviously that's such a selfish thing and it hurts me, so I don't usually play games, read or watch things, or even listen to music, even though I might want to sometimes. It makes me feel worse to enjoy those things after the fact, so there's no net gain. I used to like psychological tragedies and "difficult" types of plots the best, and I still have a deep appreciation for them. But lately it seems I only ever feel like taking in harmless things that make me feel happy, looking at places that have no problems and enjoying the happiness of the people in them. Which I hate.

    I'm really starting to wonder if I'm going to stress myself to the point of death or some kind of inescapable spiritual trap soon. At the same time that I don't really want to die, even if I don't want to be taking part in such a terrible human existence, I'm actually really worried about what anything is ultimately going to mean, and why we think that's so important in the first place. Everyone jokes about just having existential crises,'s similar to how everyone talks of stress. It's not "just" stress, stress kills people. I just don't know how much longer I'll be okay with "going about my life" with the goal of feeling good and trying to make others feel good while simlutaneously trying not to let others hurt and kill you. It's just so shitty that we have to worry about what other people will do to us. That we have to take precautions to protect ourselves, because people are so ridiculously cruel. I hate this world so much.

    But I also love my family more than anything. I know it doesn't really "mean" anything, but I do appreciate the deep bonds I've been able to develop with at least a few human beings. I've been trying to tell myself that just caring about my family is enough, that that's the only thing I need to satisfy my question of "why do I need to exist," but lately... I guess it could be that I don't get to see them a lot, and they're also all in danger of dying themselves from many different sicknesses at any time, but I haven't been able to feel as assured of anything.

  11. Sometimes you just have to break, bend, or slip by the rules. That is how we progress as a society. What was once a deviant thing to do can become widely accepted. The lightbulb was once a deviant, as was the wheel, the cell phone, and radar. The list goes on and on, because we as people dismiss new technology in favor of old traditions. Now traditions have their uses, and if I were to write another essay after this it might be on traditions, but they also tend to get in the way of more radical ideas that could possibly benefit the masses. I don’t have any specific examples to defend my point, but then again this is what I believe in. I believe in the innovation of humans. I believe that traditions can get in the way of something new and better. I believe that one day, all our traditions will be replaced by new ones that serve the same purpose. I believe all this because I’ve seen technology change and morph as I grew up. Just look at your cell phone. I mean literally take it out and look at it. Pull something, a picture or a video, anything. You have just made an image appear in the space where there was nothing before. Now move your phone around and you are now filling all those spaces with this image. Imagine if this was your first time seeing it. It’s hard because a lot of us always had technology like this. But if you are able to Imagine this like I am, then it is only a few short steps away from realizing that everything you have today will one day change all because of a deviant, just like your cell phone.

    1. Descent with modification man, Descent with modification.

  12. I believe in keeping journals.

    I know that studies have shown that keeping a journal is good for your mental health, but I did not know that the first time I started writing in one.

    My first journal began a few months after my dad had to leave us to scout out bombs in Iraq and just weeks after my favorite aunt died. I don't know why I began to, but I started writing every few days and filled the book with my thoughts, worries, and doodles in a couple months. I learned that putting the world into graphite words helped me understand it and myself more.

    My second journal was kept in junior high when my self esteem was at its lowest and I was afraid of my friends finding out that I did not believe in the Christian god. I used that journal to figure out what I did believe and what makes a good friend.

    Every journal I have had has recorded me grow some and has helped me with my problems. Whenever I struggle with something now, I don't lose hope because I can read through my histories and see that I have always had strength.

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  14. I have a folder on my computer reserved for This I Believe’s. I made it after our first class session, which I left barely able to hear over the sound of all my beliefs swimming around my head. I must have already written four essays in my head before leaving the door. And I’ve been able to produce many essays I’m proud of. However, my completed essays folder, now populated by 10 beliefs, is neighbored by 5 or 6 unfinished essays. Many of them have sat there since the beginning of the semester. Every week, I would try to finish one of them, but I never knew how to. So here, in my last This I Believe, I present my some of my beliefs that never got published.

    I believe in coffee. I believe in the promise each cup brings for a new day. I believe in latte art, a wedding of perfectly textured microfoam and the crema of carefully roasted essay, and its short lived existence that only Monks and sand can understand. I believe there is little else but coffee that CEO’s and graveshift janitors will wait in line together for.
    I believe in my car, a 2000 Blue Jeep Cherokee. Her dents and scratches tell stories of adventures undertaken and lessons hard learned. Her tires know the pavement of Mountain Parkway and Winchester Road all too well. The air fresheners stopped working, and the windows don’t roll down anymore. All in all, it’s not a good car. But it has character and identity that I will miss whenever I am forced to get a car that is “safe” or “drivable”.
    I believe the world is made of stories. Everyone is the protagonist of their own story. During long car rides I like to imagine the lives of people driving by, their families, their childhood celebrity crushes, their secrets. It’s tough to imagine that though I may never get any closer to these people than I did for those 15 seconds on the interstate, their lives are just as complex and ridiculous as mine. That’s wild.
    I believe in Transylvania University. When you ask a random student, rarely will they tell you that this was their first choice in post secondary education. Its imitation of Ivy League campuses fools very few, and its location is not necessarily exotic or exciting. But there is something to this campus. Sometimes, I expect to find cameras and discover this place is one big reality tv show or sitcom. There are characters and plots on this campus that are comical, tragic, and brilliant. Though I don’t always love or agree with this school, I believe in it. For better or worse.

    So there are some of my beliefs that never got a final cut. Maybe I didn’t believe in them hard enough, or I couldn’t find the right words. But I never deleted them, because at some level and to varying degrees, I believe in all of things.

    1. Supposed to be carefully roasted espresso, not essay. I don't roast my essays. Proofread, ladies and gentlemen.

  15. I believe in sleeping until mid-afternoon, when the sun is up, everyone is out and about, and the day can greet me with full force.
    One day at work, I was handing my money over to my manager, just about to leave at 1:45 in the afternoon, and my phone went off. I knew it was on silent, but with the angry glare from the manager, I pull it out of my pocket, look at it, and show him the screen. He saw that it was my alarm, looked at the clock, and started laughing. It seems so weird to have an alarm set for that late. Regardless of what time I go to bed, I usually wake up before then. But not always. And the week prior on that day, I had no reason to wake up. I had accidentally kept the alarm on, in addition to the one that woke me up for work. My manager laughed, but it made me think. Why is it so hard to believe someone would want to sleep until 1:45 in the afternoon? Most of the week I have classes in the morning, the weekends I work, and these are all after 9:00am, which isn't ridiculously early, I suppose, but when someone constantly goes to bed at 2:00 or 3:00 am, and wakes up at 8, one day a week they need to sleep in, and when they do, there is a limit they should set for themselves.
    I am a firm believer that sleeping is the best in the morning. I don't enjoy and cherish my bed nearly as much when I fall into it at night, as I do the next morning when I am supposed to get up. At that point, the covers are right how you want them, the pillows have had 8 hours (or 4, or even 2, some nights) to conform to my head. The sounds that happen in the mornings, birds chirping and people leaving their houses in the apartments next to me have become relaxing. The morning is the best time to sleep, so I do believe when I have the opportunity to sleep well into the afternoon, that I should be able to do it, without fear of judgement from managers the following week.

  16. This I believe…Admissions is a propaganda machine
    Yesterday morning I heard something that just didn’t sit right with me. No, it did more than just “not sit right with me”. It actually embarrassed me and makes my blood pressure rise thinking about it.
    I heard it right here on campus, on the way to my first class. I won’t mention the perpetrator’s name but right there in front of the Cowgill building this young lady said, and I quote, “And you only have about two to three hours of homework every night. You have most of your classes in the morning and then you have the rest of the day to yourself to do homework and study!”
    At the time I just shook my head and kept walking because it was not my place to say something to this girl working for the admissions department. Her tour group was not aware they were being fed little falsehoods. For all they knew this was the truth, particularly because next to their tour guide stood an over excited junior admissions volunteer nodding along to everything she said.
    Before I go further, let me address to those unaware, why this statement from an admissions tour guide was a blatant lie. I don’t know about her personally but for literally every other student I know at this university, two or three hours of homework every night is an offensively low estimate. Depending on your major, that number is a little closer to four to six hours per night. But that is only if limit yourself to taking four classes and complete each and every assignment in one to two hours. Additionally, I want to make it clear that despite how well you may try to plan your class and work schedule, the probability that you will be able to take all your classes in the morning and have free time in the afternoon is remarkably low. The truth is, if you break down everything this girl had said, none of it was true for anyone except the few painfully uninvolved freshmen.
    You know, though I am making a big deal of this incident, it is not specifically this girl and her white lie that is actually upsetting me. It has more to do with the fact that the job of our admissions department is to market the university as is but instead they end up painting Transylvania as something it’s not. For example, the admissions department maintains that we have roughly 1,100 students when the numbers actually reflect something more like 960 students. This is a margin of about 140 students the admissions department is just making up, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the exaggerations and under estimations that lead prospective students to believe.
    I suppose the reason I even care is because I have seen the lying first hand. I was once one of these eager junior admissions volunteers. I signed up because I loved my job as a museum tour guide and was ready to be a part of the tour team at Transylvania. But the longer I spent time in the offices the more I realized that most of the staff promoted an over idealized Transylvania. Most of this same staff also had trouble remembering my name though I had gone out of my way to introduce myself to them. By the time interviews to be a part of the admissions team rolled around I realized I not only no longer to associate myself with the office but I also wanted to transfer. I was so angry that the school had deliberately lied to me to almost trick me into coming here. It wasn’t fair that a school could almost completely reimagine the school for the purposes of its propaganda. They ran the department like a regime hiding its starving citizens behind posters of crimson and white grandeur. It’s the kind of thing that makes you examine your ethics.