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, February 26, 2017

This I Believe #7

Same as always - post your seventh essay here before class on Tuesday, and don't forget to bring a copy to class to read aloud.


  1. I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile now. I’ve opened the word document, typed in my name, the date, and started to type “This I believe…” but the weight of anxiety pulled heavy at my attempted thought. As if the thought was road blocked by my knotted chest; I imagined the word turning a milk white, curdling in my stomach, though not upsetting it enough to throw up, but enough to coil my body to suppress the pain. As dark as this sounds, the feeling has become familiar with me as of late. It’s hard for my mother to understand that a bubbly, glass half-full type of girl could be so lost, but believe me, it’s hard for me to understand this too. It’s amazing what not knowing what your future holds does to you. It’s amazing how easily you can be self-detrimental to yourself, thinking things about things you would never thought you’d think about. This year is the first year in my life living with anxiety, a bacteria-like troll which has burrowed in my body. It makes me make things worse than the really are on every level, it’s as if I took my car to the car wash, my car rolling out squeaky clean by all accounts, but still having the feeling there is at least something still dirty, still wrong. Anxiety kept me from finishing that sentence that I so needed to write, that I know I deserve to admit and embrace.
    In the morning, I’ll learn to wake up and say it to my makeup mirror, to my front-faced camera on my phone, to the reflective window on the street, to myself before I start my morning run, before I start a graduate application, before I start an art project, before I am asked to meet new people, and before I go to bed. I will say it until it is louder than the bug inside, eventually drowning out anxiety’s responses that are among things like: you know that isn’t true, but really you aren’t doing everything you can, they might think you’re really weird, you can never finish a sentence and they’ll think you’re not smart, you don’t know enough to do that, no one really cares. Even though I am well-loved at my art internship, that I’m turning in all my homework assignments, that I’m taking care of my body again, it’s hard work keeping all those thoughts silent. I know what I want to be in life, and I know I have the passion for it, so today I decide, and every single morning I will decide until the bug wiggles away that I will not let anxiety prevent me from something that I can truly do. I need to believe in the truth that my anxiety denies, and the truth is: This I Believe in Myself.

    1. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us, Jessica.

      There are so many great reasons for you to believe in yourself, reasons that are probably often more clear to others than they are to you--glad that you have found some of them.

  2. Sometimes, things happen, and they feel like they could've happened yesterday.
    Lately, I've been thinking about this quite often.
    Memories keep flickering behind my eyes and I try to wrap my head around the idea that so much time has passed since the moments occurred.
    I curl up into bed thinking about what it would be like to go back to the past.
    To be my current self, knowing all the things I know,
    Going back to those moments in time.
    Seeing my friends as they used to be and realize even further the progression of their change—how they've grown to be very different, as I have, and yet are somehow also exactly the same
    Exactly the same as I've always known them
    It's a strange toss-up really—
    watching people be simultaneously different from who they used to be and also the same people you always knew
    Watching the same happen to myself, as I notice some things I do now that my past self would've never dreamed of—and witnessing the reactions I get when my friends of nearly a decade see this
    I never realized just how quickly things change
    It used to feel as if nothing really ever did—but now I see that it does
    Minuscule amounts, but it still happens.
    I believe that things change quickly—
    I believe that sometimes, things happen so quickly we can't even process it
    That sometimes, we don't have time to notice at first
    That sometimes, we don't even think anything changed at all

  3. This morning, I woke up unusually early, just in time to see the light from the rising sun peek through my blinds. I’d be a morning person if I didn’t hate waking up so much, but I feel refreshed this time. As I lie on my stomach, I enjoy the soft, warm colors of the morning sun. I wish that it were warmer out so I could go outside and enjoy the light on my face, unfiltered by a water-stained window, or that there was a sofa or some other comfy chair in my room to sit in. Alas, the only chair I have is the plastic utilitarian chair, pushed under my utilitarian desk in my utilitarian dorm room. I opt to stay in bed.

    On lazy Sunday mornings such as these, I miss my family. I miss lounging on the couch with a hot mug of coffee in my hand while my dad peruses the newspaper, occasionally sipping at the black coffee in his own mug, silently enjoying each other’s presence. I prefer my coffee to be a nice light brown; I still won’t take it black. One would think college would wean me off expensive, sugary creamers, but I have too big of a sweet tooth to willingly give them up. It’s honestly a miracle I don’t have cavities.

    And I miss when my mother cooks bacon and biscuits, a staple meal in my family. She always buys the thick-cut bacon, and she knows that I like my bacon crispy, just seconds away from burnt. Sometimes, when I finish my first cup of coffee and go to the kitchen for a refill, I will help her make the biscuits, the ones she learned to make from her mother. But sometimes she will shoo me away before I accidentally eat all the bacon.

    My sister is usually absent in the mornings, at least until breakfast is ready. She’s the heaviest sleeper I’ve ever met, and I’m pretty sure she would sleep through the apocalypse. Still, I miss running into her room as noisily as possible, jumping up and down on her bed until she grumbles at me to stop, swatting at me half-heartedly, a sleepy smile forming on her face. It’s a leftover custom from childhood I doubt I’ll ever outgrow. And it’s nice to know that even though I am annoying as hell, she still misses me when I’m at school. I sure do wish I could teleport home for a day.

    I believe that the family that spends lazy Sunday mornings together stays together.

  4. I love spring. Spring means flowers, hiking, sundresses, Chacos, and my birthday. Unfortunately, all that good stuff needs something less amazing to balance it out. For me and many others, the downside of spring is seasonal allergies. I don’t mean a little sniffle when the trees start to bloom; I mean snot pouring down my face and constant tears all coming out of just one eye. My eyes get itchy and red, my throat tickles, my nose runs. It is not a pretty sight. Usually, I’m prepared for my allergies. I eat local honey so my body can adjust to the pollen and I take Claritin like my life depends on it. But when spring comes in the middle of February, how could one ever be prepared? This week my allergies hit me like a ton of bricks with no real warning. I sat in class with tears and snot running down my face. One of the worst side effects of being a woman with allergies is that a lot of people assume that you’re just having some sort of emotional breakdown. People spent most of the last few days asking me what was wrong and why I was upset. Because the seasons betrayed me, that’s why. The best part of winter is that there are no bugs and no allergies but clearly I have allergies and a fly landed on me in the car today so this winter has taken an unfortunate turn. I’m happy to be able to go to the dog park in shorts and sandals and not freeze my ass off but I would have been perfectly fine with waiting a few more months to do that. I want the winter to be a cold, dreary, bug free time when I can go outside and not have to worry about being attacked by pollen. I believe in seasons.

  5. TIB 7

    When people think of Michael Vick the first thing that normally pops into their mind is NFL football player. The first thing that comes to my mind is the 66 poor dogs found at his house that he had tortured. Michael Vick was sent to jail and after getting out was allowed to rejoin the NFL. The courts were ok with this but were not ok with allowing the dogs to be adopted out after recovery. These dogs did not choose this life, they were forced into it by their owner. They were being loyal and protecting themselves from harm or even death. Michael Vick was known to drowned and hang the dogs that were not up to par. He even drowned his kid’s family pet in front of them to teach them the difference between man and animal. These dogs should be able to be adopted to good homes because at the end of the day they just want to please their owner. Some dogs were allowed to be adopted out but others were not just due to their status in Michael Vicks dogfighting ring. His prize dog was to live the rest of her life in sanctuary only because it was his prize-winning dog. When arrived at the sanctuary with the other dogs she was still evaluated; she was one of the most people and dog loving one there. This is heart breaking because not only was she put in a bad situation she could not control she was punished by it. We are blaming the dogs for what has happened when it is humanities fault this has happened to them. Humanity is what is to blame for cruelty to animals, animal attacks, etc. I believe animal rights should be taken more serious and the animals should be taken more into consideration of their well-being.

  6. With practiced movements matching the grace of a calligrapher signing her name, she slides a pin through the scarf wrapped tight around her head. I wince convinced she will stab herself in the scalp. I know I would. Shining brightly through her smile is her patience with my questions matched by an amusement at my curiosity for the simplest of actions she has known daily for years.

    With dimples and laughter she tells me of the 500 scarves shared with sisters and how there aren’t enough, some mornings, to go around. A series of days at work, where she is learning to make drawings in the foam atop chocolate infused lattes, found her wearing dark scarves and made her wrap in color so people didn’t think her too serious. I didn’t and wouldn’t. Her older sister adjusts the brightly striped hijab she wears today and offers us a ride downtown. We say yes and hop into the old blue sedan.

    Because the way one sister taunts another is universal, we know the mere mention of a man 500 miles away can cause skin to flush warm and red.

    Because the way one sister can promise for another is universal, we know we have cups of chai tea in our future.

    Because sometimes doing so finds friends fully formed, I believe in asking questions in person/face to face rather than waiting for Google to deliver 1,670,000 results hours later.

  7. We all know that school is for learning. Even in the earliest years, each day is an opportunity to learn skills like counting, the alphabet, names of shapes, and the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. Even the more informal lessons, like instructions on properly sharing, how to follow a schedule, and information about new friends, have always been pillars of everyday education. There are so many positives I picked up from my years of institutional schooling, but recently I rediscovered a few lessons I wish I had never learned. As much as school inspires and motivates us, students are also continuously, inadvertently taught what they cannot do.

    In between lessons of penmanship and Kentucky history, I learned that I couldn’t draw. It wasn’t from a textbook or lesson plan, nor was it purposefully instilled in me by a teacher or peer. While illustrating an original story for our reading class, I compared my drawing of a bird to a similar picture drawn by a classmate across our miniature table. Hers I could identify without even knowing the story she had crafted to accompany it. Looking down at my creation, I realized the same could not be said for me. In the past, I had drawn confidently, gifting friends and family countless portraits and sceneries that I surely considered to be masterpieces. However, in this moment, a sudden realization came to my young mind: I was not, nor would ever be, a talented artist. No tears came with the epiphany, as I wasn’t really upset. I was still a talented reader and writer and counter-by-five. This deficiency simply became a part of my life and I moved on. I ceased drawing and coloring for fun and each picture I drew for class now came with a scrawled apology to my teacher on the back of the page “Sorry for the drawing, it’s awful, I know!” Without question or tension, a part of my life had disappeared.

    It is only now, a decade later, that I realize the tragedy in this development. While I am unsure whether art could have been a major part of my life had I not labeled myself untalented, the fact that I so quickly and casually stamped myself incapable is quite upsetting. How many more children and adults lack the self esteem to pursue their possible interests? How many get caught up in competition and resign too early? How many, like me, do not even know what they may be missing? At any rate, this week’s newfound discovery has unearthed a new personal mission. As a future educator, I must fight to rid of this unwritten curriculum inside and outside the classroom. Through encouragement and positivity, I can protect these paths and confidences from eroding in my students and friends. I believe in cans, not can’ts. I believe in others so that they can believe in themselves.

  8. Callie’s cat Kimmy chewed on my shoes, leaving tiny teeth scratches. When I discovered the marks, I felt nothing but completeness. And for the first time I understood exactly how Duchamp must have felt when the movers dropped Bride Stripped Bare, and he finally declared it finished.

    This feeling was perhaps amplified by the fact that I was wearing an outfit I felt entirely myself in. I am more sure than ever that skirts are the item of clothing I feel most connected to. That day I wore a skirt that belonged to Maura’s mother in college. It is floor length, light-colored, and floral.

    I found my favorite skirt in a thrift shop in Philly. It’s knee length, fuchsia, with flowers and butterflies. It was a serendipitous purchase. Maura and I went to the bar next door right after and ordered a margarita to share, the kind with the beer sticking out of the top of it, upside down. Maura ordered a plate of chicken fingers, and in her quest to cut them, she knocked the drink over, spilling it all over my side of the booth. The dark gray skirt I was wearing was now sticky, and I was miserable, until I remembered the new to me skirt sitting safe and dry in the paper bag at the end of the table. I went in the bathroom and changed, and felt like the universe was confirming I had spent my money well. I got back to the table and Maura and I ordered a new drink.

    Last time I was in Cincinnati, when Callie met us at Erin’s apartment, she was wearing a black crop top and a long gold pleated skirt. Erin complimented her on her outfit, and she said she had worn a skirt because she knew I would be wearing one, too. And she was right.

    I believe in skirts. Especially ones passed down from loving hands, and ones found, seemingly miraculously, at the end of a rack in a thrift shop when I was just about to stop looking.

    1. Of course, I couldn't agree with you more :). More importantly, your knack for weaving different stories into a single narrative is really amazing.

  9. Rainy days are almost always one of two things to me. Either I feel like the day is bogged down under a thick humid cloud or it feels like the day has been washed clean. Today has been a day that I feel like the rain is washing away my anxiety and giving me a new perspective on the things that are causing so much stress. The sounds of cars passing on the road are soothing as tires hurry over the wet pavement. The sky is grey but a pleasant bright grey rather than a looming darkness. The air is clean and sharp but not biting cold or heavy with heat. The rain comes down creating a unique rhythm on the roof and windows that combines with the swish and swoosh of cars passing. The natural music fills my ears and my body relaxes. The never-ending list of papers, readings and deadlines fades away for the briefest of moments and my mind clears. I try to forget about the time and things I have to do and let myself live in the peaceful moment. This all too brief time of quiet thoughtlessness and ease to temper my typically hurried and stressful life feels luxurious. I know I’ll eventually need to go back to writing, planning and reading but just having a second to close my eyes and just breathe restores balance. As the rain continues to pour and cars continue to pass I slowly return to my tasks. However, even though the tasks haven’t changed, just by taking a second to relax they don’t seem quite as overwhelming as before. I am calm. I am focused. I am in control. I believe in the peace of a rainstorm and the beauty of taking a moment to breathe.

  10. Our whispers are silenced by those around us as we try to comfort each other. Though you are 1000 miles from me it feels like you are in the same room when we get the chance to talk. Our words are easier to exchange online yet it is not the same. You lay in bed talking to me in one of the only places it is safe for you to while I struggle to find a place to talk to you where I feel safe. Sometimes it’s the art building when I am painting at night or cutting flowers, sometimes on the rare occasion I have to opportunity to have to room to myself, on those weekends that we get to talk for hours at a time.

    When I have to go somewhere and don’t wanna hang up take over and talk to me while I silently walk through campus or through crowds of people who don’t know about us. You understand when I cant talk to you when my parents are in town but you should know that those days go by in blurs.

    I wish I could tell my friends about you it would make things a whole lot easier but I don’t think that they are ready for that yet. Though they will be supportive they will also be nosy. My family will probably never know but that is something I am willing to let happen to protect us. I’ll get to see you in a couple weeks though and can’t wait to see you. But until then we only have our words.

    I believe in facetime and long distance.

  11. It’s 9:20 and I open the doors to Jazzman's and there is a sea of people right at the entrance. At this moment in time I wish I could part the seas like Moses because despite my clear intent to move through the crowd, no one steps out of the way. I yell “ Oh my God Y’all always be in the way!” of course not out loud, but in my mind, the feeling being almost, but never, as good as the real thing. I take a breath, sigh, and squeeze through them the best I can. Despite my desire to get in line, I mean I really want one of those breakfast sandwiches, you know with the bagel, egg, sausage, and cheese, but I decide to wait for the line to dissipate as the next session of classes begins. I find a seat at a table with a few of my friends, and get ready to hear and take part in the gossip trade. It’s the weekend after a party so you know the t is hot, plentiful, and read to be served. After trading enough stories, I see that the line is short, so I get up and get my well awaited breakfast sandwich. Ms. Erika and I talk about the latest Remy Ma vs. Nicki Minaj diss track, she decides that Nicki can’t recover from it, I say we will have to wait and see. I sit down and enjoy my food, and subsequently spend the rest of the day spending time with the various people that cycle in and out, always enjoying the end of the day close up routine which features Ms. Erika performing the various tracks from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. If you were to ask me where the heartbeat of Transy was I would have to say Jazzman's. It sees heartbreaks, budding romances, laughter, study, procrastination, really great cookies, damn good breakfast sandwiches, grad school acceptances; there are just so many experiences that you can have if you just sit and listen. This is why I believe in Jazzman’s.

    1. Love it! You should share this reflection with Ms. Erika!

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  14. You taught me how to love thunderstorms.

    I used to be afraid of bad weather. After reading "Sarah, Plain and Tall" in the fourth grade, I developed a phobia of tornadoes. I had never experienced one, especially in the safety of my mountain home, but to me it was the scariest thing. A giant, black funnel of wind, menacing over the land and sucking up everything in its path. I suppose this is because I watched "The Wizard of Oz" religiously when I was younger.

    I used to anxiously look out the windows of my house whenever the slightest semblance of thunder or rainy clouds made their presence known. I watched the sky, transfixed, for the appearance of the eerie green glow that indicated a tornado might form.

    I used to dream about what it would be like to have to hide from a tornado. Getting into a bathtub, placing a mattress over me. Waiting in this intimate space for what could perhaps be my doom. But really, I think I fantasized about what it would be like to be surrounded by so much chaos and danger, all the while warmly encapsulated and safely snug in my own hideout.

    I think I found that juxtaposition with you. Thrown into the ravaging winds of a horrifying current, yet safe in the intensity of our bond.

    We used to lay in bed with the window open, holding each other while the black clouds danced above us outside. I wasn’t afraid with you. Not anymore.

    But I suppose I should have been. There were greater storms to come that I don’t think I was ready to face.

    Still, I’m grateful. You made me believe in the odd security one is apt to find in a thunderstorm.

    1. So lyrical and beautiful. You are a good writer, Jared.

  15. Recently, while biting into a warm piece of chia-seed bread, I remembered the bread I ate every summer in my grandfather’s village. Made from white flower, it was steaming hot as I tossed it into the home-made bag slung around my shoulder. We lined up outside the bakery so we could get the first loaves brought out of the brick oven. I can’t remember why we did that. Until the bread lines after the end of Communism happened, there was no shortage of bread. Maybe everyone loved warm bread like I did. By the time I got home, half the bread was gone and I was full of warm goodness.

    I rarely got to eat hot bread in my home-town. Because bread was made in factories and shipped to grocery stores, it was not even warm by the time I showed up with my home-made bag. But my love for bread endured. To this day, my favorite meal is bread, cheese, and sun-ripened tomatoes. I can eat bread that’s fresh out of the oven as well as week-old bread with the abandon of my fellow villagers who formed a gossipy bread line outside the village bakery every day at 4 pm in my childhood.

    After I arrived in America, my relationship with bread changed. I discovered there are many kinds of bread: pita bread, flat Middle-Eastern bread, spongy Ethiopian bread to be shared by everyone around the table, tortillas from Mexico, white bread that feels unhealthy. I also discovered that carbs—including bread—are the enemy. Oddly, it was during a summer trip to Bulgaria that I lost my desire for bread. Here one day, gone the next, and I had no trouble bidding bread good bye. In the summer, I prefer ice-cream, carrots, and cucumbers. My craving for bread and chocolate returns in the winter.

    I believe in bread, even when I am told I shouldn’t.