I had a jolt of recognition upon reading Adam Gopnik’s “Life Studies: What I Learned When I Learned to Draw,” in the June 27 issue of the New Yorker. It’s a great piece about the creative process and about being a beginner. I’m stumbling through a new project right now and this passage resonated for me.
It was the best thing I had ever drawn, and I realized that I hadn’t drawn it as I had imagined, God’s hand finally resting on mine to steal a true contour from the world. No, I had made it up out of small, stale parts and constant reapplications of energy and observation, back an forth.
No matter what I’m working on, I always feel like a beginner. I’m always piecing together fits of energy and awkward efforts and praying that in the end I’ll somehow give voice to something whole and true.
This is a pic of D.J. Mendel and me, from one of the Cattywampus rehearsals. I’m fortunate to spend my days surrounded by outrageously talented people.
One week until we open…
Most of the time, I think that Scott and I have professions that are great for parenting. We work hard when we work, but we’re also home a lot and have odd hours and periods of down time that most people with 9-5 jobs don’t have. But I’ve got to be honest with you and say that this summer has been a rough one.
Last summer we were both working like mad, but some stroke of good luck staggered our calendars. This year we’re both going with all guns blazing and Scott has been out of town more often than not. T has been dysregulated and anxious and has regressed into some of his more aggressive behaviors.
With this as a background, the sweet and connected moments (even when they’re few and far between) really come to the forefront for me. I try to stay emotionally present for them when they happen.
Today, for instance, T actually got into our friend’s pool with me. Usually he just stays on the stairs and splashes. When he put his arms around my neck, he said, “I’ve got you. You’re safe.”
Which leads me to believe that once in a blue moon, I actually say the right thing to him.
The other pic is from the circus. T’s first! It was hectic but it was a hoot.
Scott just sent me this pic. He says that at the moment this picture was taken, I was the happiest he’s ever seen me. I think the plane was about to take off and we were finally going to be on our way home from Ethiopia with T. It may well be the happiest I’ve ever been. I thought I’d share it.
First of all, I swear I’m going to post new Tariku pics soon. Every time I go a few posts between cute kid pics, I inevitably get the emails that say, “Yeah, yeah, that’s great about your creative endeavors, now can we see more of the real star of this family?”
I’m way excited about the project I’m doing right now and I want to tell you about it. Robert Cucuzza, the outrageous director of Mother Tongue (I was lucky to have known him for a couple of decades, so he agreed to help me out) has written a new play called Cattywampus and we’re rehearsing fast and furious to get it up at Son of Semele Theater in L.A. on August 5,6, and 7. Cattywampus is a contemporary riff on Strindberg’s Miss Julie and is described as offering: “a deeply textured, abstract and heartfelt voice of the American lower class.”
We’ve got an indiegogo campaign going on right now to make the show truly awesome (and to keep Bob’s kids in peanut butter). There are all kinds of great perks for donating, including a signed advance copy of my novel Pretty. Be the first on your block to have one!
And I’ll do one better. I’m going to do a giveaway here of a fantastic anthology that features an excerpt from my memoir along with stories by Jennifer Tress and David Henry Sterry, among others. If you just go to the indiegogo site and take a look at it (you don’t have to donate, just check it out- it’s funny!), then come back here and leave a comment telling me what city the show is set in, I’ll throw your name into the hat to win a copy of Pinchback Press’ Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost.