Friday, May 27, 2016

Lessons from Parenthood, Years 1 and 2

There's a few things I've learned in the two years since I last posted on this blog.

1. Parenthood is not for the weak. Or the smart. Or anyone, unless you enjoy being sleep deprived and crazy. Or if you enjoy hugs and laughter and babies learning to talk and saying things like 'bumbee' for a bumblebee and repeating words like 'rufflebutt'. Your life becomes more about poop and vomit and your cats will hate you. It's an experience unlike anything I've ever experienced and I am glad I am doing it.

2. Being a stay at home parent is hard when you have worked your whole life. Really hard. Only recently have I actually be able to start doing a lot of writing and reading while the babies are napping. I miss having other adults around and I miss having intellectual stimulation, and doing literary analysis on 'snuggle puppy' and various songs on various musical devices.

3. The way to get back on the creative horse is to work slowly into it. I started by just getting used to going out for an hour at a time, and then worked up to directing two staged readings and being in another. I started writing reviews for Iowa Theatre Blog.

4. And I applied for CERN's Collide International Award. This was the biggest prize I've applied for—basically this was my first foray into grant writing. I worked on it for probably two months—doing research on particle physics, thinking about the kind of work I would want to do with the scientists at CERN in Geneva and with FACT in Liverpool. The idea of putting together something that is art but science is thrilling. They will be announcing the winners at the end of June, so I just need to wait until then.

After I submitted my work to CERN, I picked up a story I had started writing not long after the twins were born. It was inspired by a story I was making up about Tabitha and Orson that I was telling to them. I started writing it down. I really love it, and it's the first piece of fiction I've written since probably 2002. That's a long time! But I am really enjoying working on this piece.

Another thing I have learned about parenthood so far is that it really changes you. I was politically bent before—I come from a family of life long democrats, and my cousin, Lane Evans, was a congressman. And I rallied for women's rights, equal pay, LGBTQ rights, gay marriage before, but now…it's different. I have two tiny people who are depending on me to feed them, clothe them and keep them happy and healthy, and who are looking to me for how they should interact with each other, other people and the world. And I've become more of a social justice warrior than I ever thought I would. Pretty much if anything is against my son or daughter or both, I am going to rally against it. So when women's rights and equal pay come up, I fight for them for my daughter. When it comes to LGBTQ rights and gay marriage, I fight for them for my kids, not just for them in case they need them, but also for their future friends. I want them to see that the world isn't always fair, but there's ways to even it out. And that fighting for the underdog is what makes us all top dog.

I'm becoming a different kind of artist due to parenthood—and it isn't always easy. It is, however, always worth it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Due Dates and Wandering around in Research

As the due date for both the book I am ploughing through from the library and my twins rapidly approach, I am trying to stay on course with research for my play. The holocaust is not exactly the best reading for an expectant mother, but considering that the play I am working with deals with children on a very specific level, maybe this the best time to do this reading and this work.

Regardless of why I am here, I am here, and I am getting down to the last two chapters of Staging theHolocaust: The Shoah in Drama and Performance. This book has been a godsend. I have learned about plays and writers I never knew existed, one at least of which I actually have in a Holocaust Theatre anthology I picked up somewhere along the way.

Here's the problem (which is a nice problem to have, actually): I cannot stop finding plays and writers to read through this book, all of which I want to see performed (or just simply direct myself). This is a huge undertaking, and there's a nagging voice in the back of my head saying, hey! You're supposed to be writing your own play about the Holocaust, not dredging up old plays and directing them.

But so many of these plays are just so fascinating. Loads of them were written directly by survivors, giving them an extra something that would just be amazing to see staged. But then I think about how little experience I have directing. But then I think of how much experience I have had directing and how much Greg has encouraged me to take that leap into the directing seat. Perhaps right before having twins and taking a sabbatical from local theatre is not the best time to discover these plays, but maybe it might be the best time ever.

So I am still working on the play, I just might be taking a longer detour to get there than I thought.