Lifetime's short now.

I can see my navel from here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Well played, 2010. Well played.

This year so far has been a doozy, and it's barely more than halfway over. Two of my neighbors at Cooper Artist Housing have passed away (one of them I was fairly close to) and a...colleague at Pike Place Market.

Today one I found out that a friend from the Market, Graham Callan, is in an induced coma so that he can recover from a staph infection. Okay, tough. That sucks, it made me tear up, and I'm keeping him in my heart and thoughts. Graham is close to my own age (early-mid thirties) has a big heart and is an incredible artist -- I'm lucky enough to have not just a few of his prints, but an original of his that his now-wife, Pixie, sold to me for a song. It's beautiful: he's a gifted, dark, and nuanced poet and visual artist.

My sister called about an hour or so ago to tell me that my mother's lung cancer, which she had beat and was in remission, has metastasized to her brain. There is nothing to do but make her comfortable. She's got about three to six months.

My relationship to my mother is troubled at best: there are times when I'm fairly sure that my parents, though they have a good marriage and are great partners to one another, really should never have had children. She and I haven't spoken since 2006, almost exactly four years ago. I just don't know what to feel or do.

My heart is pounding, hard.

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Online) dating and mental illness.

I really should preface this with all my updates, since it's been a while, but for now, the only significant one is that James and I are no longer together, and haven't been for the better part of a year. You may have known that already. If not, c'est la vie, now you know.

Things have been pretty good, on the whole, though I feel like 2010 has been a big one-two punch of goodness and badness. I've had several friends and acquaintances pass away this year, which has been hard, but my first film, "Coffee", is in the New York Independent Film Festival, which is super awesome and exciting.

Anyway, after messing around in my personal life and being generally apathetic about dating, I'm starting to get back into it a bit. For those that don't already know, my preferred platform is to date online. Why? Well, I meet a lot of people on a daily basis. A lot. I work my day gig at a major tourist destination where hundreds of people from the local area converge for work on a daily basis, plus I work in art fields that are, by nature, social. So, in essence, nearly everyone I meet IRL is someone I work with. Dating those people is usually a bad idea, at least for me. It's just too much to worry about. Also, online dating, at least in tech-savvy Seattle, is basically a mainstream thing these days.

So, online. How else am I going to specifically target people of the appropriate age with similar interests in my area when I'm so busy? Well, that's where I met James and Mr. VNRS, as well as my friends Ian and Miguel and Jared and the man Jinny and I call Mr. Grey and lots and lots of other men and women who fall into every part of the Awesome-Sucks Spectrum. Seattle is a small town, some of those people were and are friends of friends, or someone that I almost knew through get the idea.

I have a system. Want to hear about my system? When I was first starting to figure out what I wanted in a partner, I went out with every person who asked at least once, unless I got a "stranger danger feeling" or they flaked. (Note: stranger danger feeling happened twice in 3-4 years, and I have met a lot of people. Seriously. Them's good odds.) Of those first blind dates, I would say 75% of them I never saw again. Well, that might be an hour of my life over coffee or happy hour, and I never regretted it, because they were always interesting in some way and I was still learning what I wanted from a partner.

Specific lesson I learned number one: meet, in person, as soon as you can. Don't email a whole bunch, don't talk on the phone a whole bunch. You will create unrealistic expectations and preconceptions. Plus, there is no way you can fake the real, in-person, look-into-someone's-eyes chemistry feeling.

Back to the system: of the remaining 25%, perhaps only 25% of those made it past the first or third date. You can pretty much see where it's going now, so on and so on, until love and crap happens or doesn't. I've had a couple short relationships, one live-in relationship, and a lot of fun doing it this way.

Now the system is different, because I know exactly what I want in a partner. To boil it down, I want my best friend that I have amazing sex with. It's more complex than that and I have a lot of specific points (though, hopefully not too many!), but, yeah, that's it.

This brings me back to the title of my post. Having a love life concomitant* with your mental illness is hard enough when you factor in all the stigma surrounding being a "crazy" girl, even (or especially) a high-functioning one. There are potentially a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to meeting people romantically and getting to know them, but if you're serious about a relationship you have to be honest. Unfortunately, sometimes dating online makes the honesty thing much more challenging because we are required to not only show our best face as we do when meeting at a bar or suchlike IRL, we can take essentially as much time as we like crafting that face.

Therein lies the danger.

It's tempting. I can be, in my online life, whoever I want to be. I've chosen to be "out" about my mental illness both online and IRL because I believe that the net benefit -- in the quality of friendships I cultivate and the inherent activism of it -- is good for my life and the lives of others. So that brings us to: when to disclose?

Hm. Tough one. If I had a physical disability, like CP or being in a wheelchair, it would probably be pretty obvious. I have considered this myself and discussed with a similarly-tempered male friend who dates online the ramifications of putting "By the way, I'm mentally ill!" in my profile(s). His argument is, essentially, that I will scare some people off, people who might stick around otherwise, simply from the sheer shock factor and cultural stigma. However, he claims that I may also get the rare guy who is impressed by my honesty and likes the fact that I have disclosed early and often and he knows what he would be getting into.

My argument against is that I will get the "OMG I WILL SAVE HER WIF MY LUV" codependent guy with that strategy. That guy already loves me. I do not love that guy. Then there's that other guy, Mr. Grey, who literally fetishized my illness. *shudder* Gross.

Surprisingly, my friend usually has far less faith in in the general goodness of humanity than I do. He is just very into honesty because many people who date online suck at being transparent, and I don't blame him.

I have come to the conclusion that it's better to disclose at around the 3rd to 5th date. I will not continue something under false pretenses, but I also would like them to at least begin to see that I am functional on my own and I'm not seeking a partner in order to be my caretaker.

Being mentally ill is not quite the same as having a physical ailment, but there are some parallels we can draw. For instance, I have a chronic, life-threatening illness, much like, say, diabetes. Just like diabetes, I need to take care of my body (sleep/eat properly, get enough exercise), monitor my symptoms, and manage them with drugs and therapy if needed. If I don't do those things, I could die. It's pretty much that simple when it comes right down to it. The hard part is that my symptoms, unlike the symptoms of someone with diabetes, are not objectively measurable. They are subjective: how am I feeling today? Is it really good idea for me to have a drink, take that job, or choose not to go for a run? Am I going easy on myself because I am worried about my health, or am I depressed? Am I really excited and happy and full of energy, or is this the beginning of a hypomanic episode? Does it matter when they both feel the same way anyway?

And how do you communicate all that to a new romantic friend with hopefulness, compassion, and honesty, while still being open to and okay with the possibility of a core part of who you are being a dealbreaker?

I think the very fact that I'm considering these things, when and how to be completely honest, is a good sign of just how far I've come in recovery.


Monday, September 7, 2009

An opening, a big move, and life goes on.

Oi. What a summer! Okay, the quick lowdown:

I'm in a show! Come see it, please.

I'm makin' a movie! Well, a short, with Gina Robertson, who is a former teacher of mine and also a lovely friend. A whole bunch of folks from the old Northwest Actors Studio days are involved (Tim Brandt*, for one, who is like family), so it feels like a reunion. We are planning a fundraiser during October with a screening, hopefully, this December. More details on both to come.

I moved into Cooper Artist Housing! I live by myself (James and I are still together, but not living together for the moment) in a live/work artist studio above the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. I'm a Delridge Girl once again. My cat loves it, I loves it...what a beautiful decision. It was one of the other things that fell together for me this year. Not living in the basement of a Capitol Hill tenement can only be a good for my health.

I also have some (theater, feminist, experimental) stuff in the works with some this space. I'm so excited about it that I can barely breathe when I think on it.

I'm pregnant with a play. I can feel it kicking.

30 is a good year so far.

*Tim has become a really lovely actor. He was before, but he is coming into his own now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And even more #theaterfail.

The Producing AD of American Stage Theater Company, Todd Olson, has issued a challenge to Mike Daisey: we broke it? You fix it.

How did he issue this challenge? In the most recent American Theatre.

Olson: You say the “dream” of theatre “is not quantifiable on any spreadsheet.” I say, “the hell it isn’t.” Artistic Directors have to do it every year.

Daisey: I know it is hard to hear, but if an artistic director has quantified the dream of theatre on a spreadsheet, they are dead already. I am sorry to tell you this, but it is true.

I've written about this a bit before. I've been on both sides here: Administrator and Artist. Olson really is brutal in this letter; according to his bio on the website he directs. Can you imagine being in a show with him? Ew. Well, I'm looking forward to Olson's response, if any is forthcoming. I doubt he expected Daisey to take the bait.

I'd like to point out that American Stage's website and promotional images are, in my professional opinion, terrible. The season's "posters" smack of the awful stereotype of tech-blind theater artists: they look as though someone gave a cheap (free) copy of a Photoshop-like program to an unpaid volunteer* who took a few pictures of actors that may or may not appear in the play (or, more likely, found open-source digital images) and made what any respectable marketing person would call a mock-up but in a "poor theater" is actually a real poster. God, I hope those aren't what go to the printers. And I could go on about the site itself. I want to throw Web Design for Dummies at it. It's ugly, inefficient, and boring: the Trifecta of Suck. One could theoretically find an intern that you don't pay in anything but theater tickets and beer who could do a better job, but I think that's not the point.

Everyone's got an idea on how to make theater better these days and no one agrees with anyone else. Right now I'm thinking of a conversation I had this week of one of the only friends I retained from the Stupid Theater Incident of my life. I told her about getting cast in a show** and her response was excited for me, but also boiled down to, "I'm not knocking it but I'm way too burnt out to even think about theater because theater is right now full of suck for me". And this was from a tough, smart woman who started her own darn theater because she was tired of how it was done. Ironically, the institution that we both survived -- were summarily drummed out of because we did not conform -- suffers from a radical case of just about everything Daisey claims is wrong with theater. The lovely lady in question has since moved to L.A. She is not the only refugee who left the state. Trust me, I've considered it.

For more fun, check out some of the responses on Daisey's blog and elsewhere:
I am becoming increasingly convinced that people in the theatre are not only completely lacking in critical thinking skills, but are barely literate at all.
That's completely true for me as well; said Stupid Theater currently features an AD who, literally, does not read the scripts he directs more than once. In fact, he doesn't always read them before including them in his seasons. The disrespect of that took my breath away. But I think this is an extreme example, though it's indicative of the kind of lazy behavior that certain theater professionals exhibit: to some, even when they work in theater, it's still seen as an "easy A", just like back in high school.*** The cognitive dissonance that this produces in the rest of us is mind-blowing and is the reason why I've been not working, not writing, not producing anything of artistic value for a year. I admit it: I can't handle working so hard as to literally break my health only to see ignorant asshats breezily producing 15-year-old plays that are already startlingly out-of-date to anyone paying attention (and therefore in my mind -- YMMV -- not currently worthy of reviving) because their wealthy, white, septuagenarian benefactors are comfortable with them. And will give them money if sufficiently impressed. And the cycle continues.

And this from a company that made its initial reputation not so long ago as an edgy, fringe-y, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants company plop in the middle of a major gay/counterculture-ish community. Three years to cultural irrelevance. I don't want to die that way.

I'm going to bed and pulling the covers over my head. Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day.


*Yes, Olson says that his admin staff are paid and I believe him. But obviously he needs to pay them less (or more) if this is the quality he's getting. You can have simple and inexpensive that looks classy, not cheap.

**Oh, yeah, and I'll be in that weird Macbeth. I'm a witch and I sing. Yeah. Don't ask.

***But not, right? Because they spend long hours building stuff and making money! They are above Reading for Comprehension, no matter how much time we spent studying for it in the WASL.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I don't know yet if this qualifies as FAIL or not...

So, there is a knit-centric superhero comic book now. I haven't read it yet.

I'm...not sure yet how I feel about this concept. There's a certain knitting sub-community that is heavy into, shall we say, classic geekery: sci-fi, comics, gaming, and the ilk. This makes sense to me: there is a substantial overlap in personality types and interests in both groups, characterized in particular by an interest in maths, upon which knitting relies heavily. Yet, unlike at least the surface of the geek community, the knit community is populated primarily by women.

I have, shall we say, a history with the geek community that's not always positive, although that's a story for another time. So it's safe to say that I'm ambivalent when I run across the ubiquitous knit and crochet patterns for dice bags and Cthulhu amigurumi. But knitting (and crochet, and spinning, and other "distaff arts") and the reclaimation thereof are a significant component of the Third Wave feminist movement*, so even if I don't flip over your felted 20-sider I'm glad that something that's still mostly for us girls is getting it's own geeky life independant of the boy's club that is geekdom.

Yet...knitting, as a comic?

From the website's FAQ:
There isn’t enough knitting!
There will be. Not everything gets into every issue of a comic book. Jen owns a yarn shop. Ana and Alex both knit. of the first thing you learn as a writer is that, to make a good story, you need some kind of conflict. And there's just not really conflict in knitting. Okay, yeah, Continental vs. English**, the drama of the dropped stitch, wool allergies...wait, no, still no conflict. I cheer when I see people on TV shows that I like knitting, but if they were just knitting that wouldn't be so fun to watch. Hell, James complains if I knit too much and don't spend time with him. And yarn shops? Some of them rival libraries for their quiet, contemplative atmosphere.

So I'm wondering how there could be "not enough knitting"? When I'm not sure that it's even going to work as an active force in a comic in the first place?

Well, when I can afford it, I think I have to check this out just to see how tricky these writers are. It's an interesting experiment, and I need to experience this Handknit Heroes*** thing before I can decide how I feel about it.

*This a subject that we're looking to explore on the podcast as part of geekery and women.

**My Pennsylvania Dutch granny knit Continental, and that floated down in our family to my mother and me, but not my un-ambidextrous, poorly-socialized, math-loving programmer sister who didn't learn as a kid and now knits English. Cause I know you were wondering.
***I am pretty sure already that I hate that name.

More on How Theater Failed America.

Remember this post?

Check this shit out.


Saturday, April 4, 2009


...yeah, so, super-viruses. We has them.

Looking at my blog, I just realized that I was sick for over a month.