Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Memorize this

"Happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations." ---Michael J. Fox

Interesting way to measure what makes you happy and how you respond to what happens to you day to day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A whole different way of life

I am watching Oprah again, remember I don't have cable. But this one is very interesting, Oprah is in the Polygamist Sect that was raided last year in Texas.

She talks to the kids and they have never heard of Mickey Mouse, or Humpty Dumpty, or Cinderella. They don't have any toys and when asked why they responded with "We don't play. We work."

Oprah talked with 3 women who had 9 children between them all from 1 man. Now we all know that that is very possible outside of a polygamist sect, but the catch here is that they all still live with the 1 man, together and in love, they say. The reason they can love each other is because they all love him.

She talked with the husband of the 3 women from above and asked him what is a good age for marriage. 18, he said. Any of his children could get married at 18 if they wanted. There was nothing about being in love, or dating, or doing things for themselves first. All the things that we like to do before we get married is of no concern to them.

Oprah asked a group of teenage girls "What do you do for fun?" Their response "School is pretty enjoyable." The dresses were explained with "We think the body is sacred from the neck to the ankles, so we cover them."

She asked the women about the hair and the poof in the front. And they said that it was the style.

I'm not saying that any of what these people do is wrong. But I am saying it is very very weird. One, I don't know how someone can base everything they do, from what they eat, to how they perform their daily tasks on a book that is a bunch of stories. And I know there are people not in this sect that do that every day too, and that I don't fully understand either. I personally think it's impressive to have that much faith in something because it says you should. I can't do it. I question it all more than anything else. Having such solid beliefs in a book because that is just what you do almost seems to take away your own personal choice. But then again, living a daily life that way is a choice. Two, and more importantly I think these kids are missing out on a huge part of being a child. No Mickey Mouse, no toys?! What kind of childhood is it when you aren't allowed to imagine, and play pretend, and learn new things from discovery and asking questions?

This one struck me, "What do you want the outside world to know about your life here?" And the answer, "That we are very happy. That we like our life here." Yet it was said with no emotion, no inflection on a certain word, and no change in the face or body saying that it's true. They said that they live a simple and disciplined life and work at improving their life through their faith. I think that is commendable, but I think there is something more dark and underlying in all of it. If it is just a simple life with nothing to hide, why do they rarely leave the compound?

I think the whole ordeal is very shady. Part of the reason I think that could be because I just don't know enough about it. I'm judging based on what I see, rather than getting to know more about it. But let me tell you, if I have to have my hair like that, I'm going to say no thanks. But also their answers are so black and white, and simple that it leaves more questions rather than answers. This way of life raises a lot of questions in my head. How do they have such a solid belief system? How do they seem to have no interest in the rest of the world? Why do they think it's OK to love more than one person at a time, when the human body and marriage is sacred?

I think I need to read a book on this. Maybe I could get some answers

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Top 10 things for my weekend

1. The sun has been shinning all day. How can anyone be in a bad mood with not a cloud in the sky?!
2. I went for a walk in the lovely sunshine. I even sang along with my little Ipod and didn't care if anyone heard me.
3. I did laundry, and it's not so much the act of laundry but the warm, clean smelling clothes that it produces. I love that.
4. I'm making cookies. That in itself it fantastic, but eating the cookie dough while I make them is equally if not just a tad better than the cookies themselves.
5. I spent Friday night and part of Saturday with a good friend of mine. She is so much fun, we laugh all the time, and it's one of the friendships where we can call each other up and "girl" out.
6. My mom and I saw Slumdog Millionaire yesterday. What an amazing movie! It truly did deserve all the awards it won.
7. I'm watching the TV show Dexter thanks to Netflix. That show is so good! I'm totally addicted, and find myself on edge when I watch it.
8. I'm reading a book called "Notes From a Small Island" by Bill Bryson. I've heard rave reviews about his writing, this book is about his experience in England. And so far it's amusing.
9. I was going to rearrange my place today so that my desk didn't block my French windows from opening all the way. But then the fact that I like having my desk in front of my window won the argument of To-move-or-not-to-move-the-desk. So I'll just pull the desk out a little further when I want to windows open. That battle took up a good part of my morning.
10. I think I may have grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. Good old fashioned comfort food.

I realize that these may not be very exciting. But in the life of me, that is just fine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tonights Triumphs

It's Wednesday and that means yoga night!

I did it again tonight in class, I went further in a pose than I ever had before. This time it was in the pose called Head Stand. And it is done just like you'd think, I stand on my head. Only this time I use my forearms for strength and balance, and my hands are clasped behind my head to help protect my neck. It's like my head, hands and arms form a little tripod of support.

The wall is usually used to help keep you upright. You put your head on the floor at the base of the wall and kick up you feet, the wall will catch you so you don't go over. But the goal is to really tighten your core and stand on your tripod of support away from the wall. No feet touching the wall, just balancing on your head.

I usually wobble and tend to fall back on the wall more than I do actually balancing the way I'm supposed to. But tonight I balanced with no help from the wall for a good 30 seconds at a time. I really felt strong and in control of my entire body in this pose. I did it several times over just to make sure my new found balance wasn't a fluke.

I was warm and sweaty and feeling so wonderful at the end of class. I love yoga!

We did a lot of balance poses tonight and Jane (my teacher) said something that really struck my fancy. In so many yoga poses you don't want to grasp, you just want to receive. And then off-handly she mentioned that that phrase works for every-day life too. And I thought, my goodness, that is brilliant. Rather than fighting for want we want or need and reaching for what may never come, just receive what is available. And once you do that, it's amazing how far and how much more you can accomplish.

I tend to not like balance poses, I like to be in constant motion, so balancing takes a lot more concentration and strength for me. I have to literally stop moving and put myself in a different state of focus to balance. And when Jane said don't grasp at the pose, receive it, suddenly I felt myself breathing easier and balancing stronger.

I love feeling this fantastic and this accomplished!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A bit of science and a bit of philosophy, Riley style

If I ever turn on my TV and it's not to watch a DVD, but just for background noise, it's only on channel 4 because I don't have cable. And staying at my mother's for over a week reinforced the fact that I don't want to get it. More than half the time I spend just flipping through the channels looking for something to watch. It is a total time waster. And I have netflix.

But this isn't why I'm writing right now.

I came home and turned on the TV to see what Oprah had going. She's on channel 4, you know. And she had her new favorite guru, Dr. Oz on. And he was talking about ways to extend your life time. Like extend it to the ages of 115 and 220. Ummmm... are you serious?! Who in their right mind (or wrong one for that matter) would want to live that long?! Not me.

My great-grandma lived to be 106 and she had to live to be 104 to live in 3 centuries. On her 100th birthday my mom said to her "Grandma, wouldn't it be cool to live to be 104 and say that you had lived in 3 centuries?" And her response: "Oh for God's sake don't wish that on me!"

Well put Grandma. Well put.

Isn't there a time when you are are tired and just ready to be done? Not that you aren't happy where you are or all you did. But with what I observe with old people (and I say old, because they are. 85+ is old) they are tired and have lived their life. Plus, what about the fact of over-population? Not saying that the older you live = more kids, but when one dies there is room for the younger. And with the way this world is going, are you really going to want to see it at the age of 100+?

Are you going to be able to see at all at over 100 years old?

I know I'm sounding very negative, and maybe I am. However, so much of what they were saying on this show was extending your life through science. Like creating a new heart by taking cells from the old one, and letting it grow in an incubator, into an actual new heart. (Look it up. They have actually done it.) That is in the simplest of simple terms. But I feel about this with the way I feel about cloning. It messes with the circle of life and the balance of life in general. It creeps me out. I don't think we should have that much power. It is possible to have too much of something be it money, power, knowledge, etc.

And plus isn't there more to life than how long you live? What about all you do, all you see, who you touch, who touches you, what and who you love? Someone who lives to the end of time could possibly not have nearly as much joy as someone who lives until age 72 because they were so busy trying to extend their life, they forgot to live it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Serious writers block

I have my next assignment due in a week and I'm having the hardest time with half of it. The first half I have to write the intro to an article. OK. That I think I've got. The second half I have to write a rough draft of a query letter. A query letter is like a cover letter for a job opportunity, but instead you state what you are writing about and why they should accept your article.

I can write and have a beginning, and middle and an end. Good. I can be funny, and yet honest and real at the same time. Fine. I write from my personal experiences which make it that much more relatable. Great. But having the ability to tell someone why my writing is so good and why I'm worth picking up and publishing, good grief that is terrifying.

I was going to spend tonight finishing up the intro to my article and get started on the letter and I haven't done either. I have the article pulled up on my computer and a book of all these possible magazines to send my article too is post-it-ed up one side and down the other. But I can't pick one, I can't decide. There are too many options and it's all to damn scary. All the what-ifs and maybes, good and bad that could come from this have me scared stiff. Literally.

I guess I know what I'm doing tomorrow. I have GOT to break through this wall and just do it. What is the worst that could happen? My instructor says "Nice try. Try again." Fine. Then that I will do.

Sheesh, Riley. Get your shit together. This ain't rocket science. It's writing. And you're good at that.

By the way, I tend to talk to myself in third person when I'm frustrated or nervous. A little tid bit of info on me

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Do you thing if you get hurt enough at work simply because you are clumsy, it's covered under workman's comp?

Tonight at work I was 0 for 4 and loosing a rough battle to my cafe equipment. I have a burn on each wrist from the grills, the blender closed on the other side of my wrists from the burn and bruised me, I cut my finger on something plastic trying to clean it (how plastic cut me as bad as it did, I have no idea) and another finger was pinched in the dishwasher.

At least all the injuries were to my hands/wrists. Or maybe that isn't a good thing. This cut is never going to heal. With how many times I put my hands in water every 10 mintues... I need to get a little finger condom to wear to protect it from the wet.

It was a good night work wise, I was just in rare form in my clutzy-ness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I wowed myself tonight

I did something I have never done before in yoga class tonight! I did a full Bird of Paradise for about 5 seconds!

For those that think that a Bird of Paradise is only a flower or an actual animal, well let me clue you in on the yoga position that I accomplished today.

Picture your feet spread apart a good distance, and you bend your left knee, put your left shoulder down next to the inside of the same knee. You follow? Now take your left arm and wrap it under your leg so your hand is attempting to grab your own ass. (insert inappropriate joke here) Then take your right arm back around your back and put your hands together behind yourself. That position is called Bound Warrior.

To get to Bird of Paradise, you lift the leg that your arm is wrapped around and stand up on the other leg. So basically you are standing on one leg, with the other is in a cradle of your arms while your arms are wrapped around your body backwards.

I realize the last two paragraphs probably make no sense and you are thinking "What on Earth is she talking about?" But I assure you it's possible, just google "bird of paradise yoga" and you'll get an actual picture. The last part of the pose is to bring the leg that is being cradled out straight. That I did not do.

I was so stunned with myself once I actually stood up that I audibly gasped, remained in the position for a few more seconds and then let go. I had never done that before and I almost didn't believe that it had just happened. It is a very odd feeling to stand on one leg while holding the other with your arms wrapped backwardly around you.

I could only do it on the left side though. I've noticed that I'm much more flexible on my left than on my right. In doing Bound Warrior on my right, I can't even get my hands to touch.

I also did what yogis call Wheel pose, but what we all called bridge as kids. Where you just go into a back bend. I like that pose, it stretches and opens and comes easily to me. But then I kicked it up a notch and put a foot in the air. I had to let my mind really go for that one. Here I am upside down, looking at the floor and I need to put my foot on the ceiling. Easy, you may say. Try it. Right now. I had to actually say to myself, lift your leg, and then trust that the rest of me wasn't going to give out when I lost 1/4 of my support.

I love yoga. I am going on 4 hours of sleep (thanks St. Patty's day) but I knew I would feel a lot better if I went to yoga tonight. And now I'm home, still tired but also feeling renewed and a bit impressed with myself. Here's to a sound nights sleep!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I can taste spring!

It is so lovely outside! It's warm enough to not have a jacket with a nice breeze blowing past. I was out in flip flops as I ran across the street for a diet coke today. People have come out of hibernation and seem to be walking with a little extra spring in their step. I know I am. I have gone for a walk and even felt the urge to run. And I NEVER run. There is just something in the air right now that makes me want to skip and jump and click my heels together!

In fact on my walk this afternoon, I was on top of a big hill near Lake of the Isle and had my head phones in and I did a little dance at the top of the hill. I couldn't help it, there was a good song playing and the sun was shinning... you know what they say, someday the music is going to get you.

(Gloria Estefan reference for those unawares)

I really have no idea how someone can have a bad day on day like the last few that we have had. The snow is almost gone, the sun is shinning, the world seems to have taken a deep breath and is feeling fresh and awake. Yet some manage...

Lets not dwell on that, shall we?

I have big French windows in my apartment and today I took out the storm windows and put in the screens and got some fresh air into my place. However, my desk normally sat in front of the windows preventing them from opening. Now for the spring and summer, I might have to rearrange. That is going to be a challenge seeing has how I live in a studio.

For at least a year now I have had this really neat image in my head of a map hanging on my wall. I wanted to get one and cut it up into different sized frames and hang them up as sort of a connected yet disconnected view of the world. So last Friday I bought the map, Saturday i got more frames, Sunday I spent over 2 hours trying to get all of the map covered by a pane of glass before I actually cut it out. Uff-da.

Now someone who is much better at numbers than I am probably could have figured out how many of each sized frame I would need. But I didn't want to tackle that, much less not sure how, so I just bought a bunch of frames and did the trial and error method until it looked about right. I ended up loosing parts of the ocean here or there, hence the sproadic-ness of the frames but mostly it turned out pretty cool.

Not bad huh? It's hanging in my kitchen (notice the knives on the right) and I am quite proud.

It is St. Patrick's day and I am going out to an Irish pub in downtown with some friends. This bar reportedly serve more Jamison on St. Patty's day than any other bar in the world. Little factoid for you. I plan to have a beer and people watch. This is a good drinking holiday so it should be a good people watching evening.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Opening night

Like any show I have done, opening night was a huge success! I sat in the house tonight as strictly an audience member and I was totally entertained! These kids have so much talent and the arts program has come many leaps and bounds from where it was when I was a student.

I don't even know these kids and I'm proud!

Like every show there were glitches and tiny oopses. But there is a reason you do more than one show. To make it better every time.

I went with an old friend of mine from high school and both he and I were nearly speechless as we walked through the masses of actors and family afterward. And making two theatre people speechless at the same time is a tough feat to accomplish.

At the end I strayed a bit from the adults of the production because I didn't want to hear any negative comments about what went wrong and what should have been done a different way. Don't rain on the parade, just take tongiht and revel in the moment of what was just completed. Opening night is exciting and intense and should be celebrated!

In fact after bows, the house lights come up and I don't think the kids were given any direction on how to exit the stage. They had gotten a standing ovation and I think emotion just overtook them, and they screamed and jumped with joy as they ran off stage. It was adorable!

Congratualtions Kids! You have a fantastic show!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A complete 180 degree turn

I feel very Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde about this rehearsal process right now. I was brutally reminded today of why I stopped doing theatre, all the anger and frustration and the yelling. Lord, the yelling.

I'm sure many of you are thinking "But Riley, you are loud. Like, really loud." And that fact I am very aware of. But I am rarely loud with a tone of anger behind it. Or at least it's not directed at someone. I'm just loud. It's when I'm telling a story, or going on a rant, or Seinfelding as a friend in Las Cruces called it. I rarely get loud in anger at someone.

I was yelled at by my old band teacher today. Are you kidding me?! I am no longer your student, you can not treat me like that! And I really felt for the kids who are trying to run this show. When a teacher turns around and litterally tells you to get your shit together, or there is going to be trouble, all you want to do is say "Fine. I quit." No one deserves to be treated like that.

And you know what the funny thing is? The kids are the good ones. They are trying their hardest and wanting to do a good job. It's not like they sit there in rehearsal and say "Hey, you know we haven't seen any of the teachers fly off the handle in about 20 mintues. Lets see if we can piss them off." It's the teachers and the adults that are all pissy and throwing notebooks on the floor and storming around the theatre in a huff.

It is plain annoying.

Come on, teachers, adults, directors. Remember that the actors and crew are high school students, who need to learn, who want to learn, and most importantly are completely unable to do so if all you do is yell. Take the time to teach. That is your job anyway.

From what I know of the business, this is pretty normal. People are pissed, things aren't done on time, things are pushed to the last minute, and people yell. I just know that it can be easier. Or at least less angry.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Little of this, little of that

I left rehearsal today in an excellent mood. Everyone is stressed out and nervous and worried things aren't going to get done, but me.... I'm doing fine. That is what happens when you come into a show two weeks from opening. It's all still new and exciting to you.

We have two days to run tech beore we open and I'm afraid tomorrow we won't get nearly as much done as hoped. But that is usually the way it is. Tech never gets enough time and always pulls through in the end.

As I was heading home (or to what is home this week. Last week I was dog-sitting at mom's and this week I'm cat-sitting at her neighbors. I miss my place.) Anyway, on the drive home I relaized I wanted to call someone to share my joy. Someone specific, a special someone, a love interest, if you get my drift. And if I could find words to make that not sound as Meg-Ryan-romantic-comedy-corny as it is I would use them. But alas, that is where I sit. Hoping for a romantic comedy twist in my life, and noticing I have a one-man show.

Don't get me wrong... I am truly enjoying where I am in my life, this is the happiest I have been in a year. I just sometimes wish for that one person to share all the joys (and sorrows for that matter) with. It's a nice addition to a life already well lead.

OK, I'm off my sappy soap box.

So I'm cat-sitting and despite the fact that the house is far too cold for my liking, it's great. As a matter of fact, one of the cats, Zeppo, is sitting on my lap, partially blocking the keyboard and purring. How sweet. Oop, now he's on the bookshelf. I have been tossing the idea around of getting a cat myself and this week I think will be a good test for me. Like I've said before, I'd rather have a dog, but any furry friend to greet me when I come home would be nice too.

I finished the book Lonesome Dove and lordy, was that a wonderful read. I cried a few times, was stunned when some events took place, and really fell in love with all the characters. I never thought I'd like a western, but there is a quote on the back of the book that even says "If you only read one western in your life, have it be Lonesome Dove." And I am sure I will pick this book up and read it again some day.

Now I have totally switched gears in genre of books and am reading one called I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and it's hilarious. That is if you like stupid-drunk-usually-involving-sex stories. I personally find that fairly amusing and so far the book is living up to all I have heard. I laughed out loud several times on the bus today. This book is a memoir of this guys drunken debauchery and it's ridiculously hilarious. However, so far I wouldn't recommend it to the more serious readers I know.

I'm going to go have a glass of boxed wine (don't judge, its delicious) and do some writing. Cheerio.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just like Peter Pan, I found my happy thought

This past week I was invited back to my high school to help with their production of Grease. I've suddenly been reminded of why I fell in love with theatre in the first place. There is a moment during a tech day when it starts to feel like a show and not just pieces of wood and random furniture around. It's like magic. You'll be in the house and look up at the half painted set, with the lights changing on it and you know that this is right where you should be.

I was talking with my old theatre teacher today about when we realized that anything is possible in theatre. His was doing Midsummer Night's Dream and mine was Trojan Women. We were both mid-tech, and were standing in the house looking at a half finished project and it just felt right.

These kids in this show are so great. They haven't been poisoned by the bitterness of the business yet. It's all fresh and new and exciting. And everyone works together and continues to learn and they put on the best show they can.

Plus my high school theatre was crap when I was a student. Now the space has been renovated and they have new equipment and better lights and a sound system and so much more talent than we could have ever hoped to have when I was in high school.

This just reminds me that I should be a teacher, and that I need to get back into being part of a production, perhaps I could combine the two. I originally took a hiatus from theatre because I felt burnt out. It was no longer fun, the last director I worked with was such a mean person, and everyone was so angry all the time. I found most of the time there was never enough time, money, or talent and rather than dealing with it or fixing it, people would just stand around, smoke their cigarettes, drink their coffee and complain about it. And that gets very old very quick.

But with these kids, everyone is so eager and willing, it makes the whole production so much more enjoyable. Even the adults involved are jazzed about it. Because they know the kids are putting their heart into it. And that is what really matters.

I left tech today with paint on my clothes and under my nails, but so content with the work we had done. The stage manager has never stage managed before and she is starting to come to me with questions. And she is starting to make this show hers. Once rehearsals start on Monday, the stage is hers, no longer the directors. She has this glint in her eye that is so refreshing and reminds me of when I was excited to take over the run of a show.

I would love to get back there again. Back to where theatre is magic and a team effort and with all it's hardships, still a joy to do.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sundays quiet thoughts

I'm sitting in my head today. I've got lots of thoughts running past, none stay long enough for me to work them into a writing piece. Here are a sample of my thoughts from today thus far, in no particular order.

1. Relationships and all that goes with them. Do we get into a relationship for the sake of being in one, or because who it's with? And why do they sometimes seem to take so much work? I understand they take work, but more often then not that line from keeping a relationship fresh and open to it not being worth it any more sometimes gets so fuzzy you can't see the difference. I think relationships and all the whys that come with them will forever be a great mystery.
2. I took my mom's dog to the dog park today. And watching him run so carefree made me smile. He literally had a grin on his face as he ran and ran through the snow. I'd give anything to be able to run that carefree again. I remember being a kid and running everywhere I went. Now I don't think anyone should run unless being chased with a knife. Well, not really, but that statement makes it funny. I'll walk till the day is done, but I really don't like running. Too jarring.
3. I am so glad I am home in Minnesota. I know I've been here for several months now, but that joy reoccurs to be every few days or so. There is so much to do, so much familiarity and yet so many new places and things to do that I've never been to before. It's just great to be back in my city.
4. I drove yesterday afternoon and OHMYGOD! People are assholes, get off your phone!, and use your damn blinker! I am so grateful that I take the bus where I can let someone else worry about traffic and I can read. But I'm even more grateful for my friends and family who pick me and take me places with them. I'm not saying I don't want to get a car again at some point, it's just public transportation is sooooo convenient.
5. I was talking with a girlfriend last night who had just come from a baby shower and all the other guests were married and moms. She and I shared a fabulous single girl moment about that situation. I went out to dinner with some friends last fall and they all were married with children. All the talk was birthing, babies, nipples, husbands, diapers, bla bla bla. I want to be a mom someday but lord, I hope and pray that I'll have something else to talk about. Life certainly changes when you add a baby to it.
6. I'm loving winter. It snowed about 8 inches last Thursday and everything is freshly white. Then the sun shines down and makes it all brilliant and sparkley. The earth is dormant yet underneath it all it's getting ready to wake to spring.