And no, I’m not talking about that song by Staind.
I have gone a lot longer without posting, but usually, November is the month that I amp up on writing. This November is a little different. I am not doing NaNoWriMo formally this year. I am opting to write with Rob on a project we’ve been talking about for years now. It’s very loosely based on our first year of marriage. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and love involved. And that’s all that I’m going to reveal for now.
At this moment, I feel full of hope for the future. Weird, given the global climate of the country, and the state of things. In spite of the trauma and despair that the world is going through, a lot of things that are personally happening have filled me with joy. Rob and I have been steadily getting rid of unnecessary things, I’m getting closer to feeling like heaven is my true home, and all this material nesting stuff that pottery barn has told me that I needed is really just crap. I’ve been really trying to weigh the value of the stuff I have. Asking myself, do I really need this? I am minimizing, while also storing up those treasures for heaven.
We’ve been living in 390 square feet of space for the past two years. We originally wanted to build a tiny house, but we moved into this efficiency apartment to see if we could live in a small space and still stand each other. It was a great move for us. Not sure if the tiny house thing is still going to happen because we’ve gotten real comfy with our situation. We have two cats and a dog, and moving is just hard on our critters. With the rise of property costs in Austin, we’ve been resting in the present, while also staying mindful of the future. If we do have to make another move, it will likely be in the home where we root and raise a family. Austin might be our home, but heaven… I’m keeping my eyes fixed on it. Not worrying about my current living situation because I am well taken care of at the moment.
During spring break, I spent a day with my friend Sarah. We’d gone to breakfast, and decided to get out of town for the rest of the day, and we went to Pedernales Falls State Park, in Johnson City, TX. It was my first time at a Texas State Park, but it won’t be my last.
I really needed to get out of town for a while and have some reflection in the great outdoors.
There were trees and deer, all kinds of plants and birds, and rivers and I felt like Henry David Thoreau:
I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life! To put to wrought all that was not life, and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived.
We had an adventure, crossing water, getting our feet punctured by the tiny rocks in the water, almost getting eaten by mountain lions, losing cell phone service and having little to no light, but we managed to make it back safely. And since then, all I can think about is going camping. So, I’m doing something about it.
I’m going to go camping. Tomorrow. It’s not going to be primitive camping, but it’ll be satisfying this call of the wild inside of me. I’m going to hike, and swim, and eat some s’mores, have some weenies and burgers to roast, and spend time with my hubby and my dog. I might write something new, play some new songs, and get a tan. I’m not too far from technology, but I’m going to try to be somewhat electronic free.
In other news, I am also going camping metaphorically. You see, I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ve got two cabin mates already. I already have a project– a script of a play called Scheherazade. It’s about a queer woman of Middle Eastern descent who must tell stories to save her life (and possibly the lives of others). It deals with Islamophobia, refugees, and current political events. It’s actually a collaboration between writers and actors. I’m not the only person writing it, all of the cast has been composing and devising for it. Another writer and myself are forming the script from their writings and devising. The play is set to go up in June… so finishing the script is going to be really important! I’m so ready to get camping. Happy Trails, and I’ll report back in April!
Growing up, my family always had a big party for my sister and my birthdays. Our birthdays are four days apart, and it was always easier to have a big party for the both of us, so I’ve grown accustomed to having big birthday parties. I won’t lie, I’d love to have a big celebration, but I also have one big fear.
What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
I know, it sounds stupid, but it’s a legitimate worry that I have, so I usually try to do several events.
Here are thirty three ideas that I have for birthday events. I’m not going to get to do all of them, but at least there’s a starting point.
Well, acting awards are great… and disappointing. In Austin, there’s this thing called the B. Iden Payne Awards. I’ve been calling them Bippy’s (rhymes with Yippie! or Hippy! or Skippy!), but I think they’re called something else. I dunno. I should really research what it’s all about, but I’m way too lazy at the moment to google it. It’s like Austin’s version of the Tony’s.
I am honored to be a part of three productions that were in the nominations: The Mikado: Reclaimed was nominated for two awards- Best original script; Best featured actor in a musical (Jonathan G. Itchon) Persephone was nominated for best original score (Tyler Mabry) Privacy Settings: A Promethean Tale was nominated for best theatrical event
I was unbelievably happy and proud when Jonathan won for The Mikado: Reclaimed because it was well deserved! I couldn’t stop crying out of a place of joy… but there were the other shows, and I got so disappointed that certain people didn’t win. I was also kinda sad that some productions weren’t in the nominations, but I get it, not everyone can agree on stuff that was awesome. Like other shows that I won’t mention who had original scripts and scores and amazing ensembles and casts, which in my opinion were super amazing and created by the cast and weren’t even nominated… but whatevs, dog.
I think it’s such a tough thing because so many people think they deserve an award or some kind of recognition for awesome work that they’re doing, but when you’re in shows, it’s hard to see other shows, so it’s hard to say what work was super excellent and what was just eh.
I guess that’s what the committee is for. Ah, well, if I wanted to be the one making judgment calls, I shoulda joined the committee, right? Right.
At the awards ceremony, four of the six cast members of the TM:R performed in costumes (that had not been washed since February or March) and were in white face/ grey scale makeup… and we got to use our old fans. It was really tough going back to that place- the feeling of being trapped in your skin color, that place of unjust imprisonment, being voiceless… singing Gilbert and Sullivan again. I don’t know how to describe just how amazingly hard this show was, and how fulfilling it was to be telling a story like this one. While I have had fantastic opportunities in the theatre community here in Austin, TX, this show will always hold the top shelf of theatre that I’m super proud to have been a part of. I’m getting teary-eyed, just thinking about it.
Anyway, I’m starting to not make much sense, and getting ranty and on a tangent, so I’m just gonna end right here.
Last weekend, my church had a women’s retreat, and that first night was a little rough. I had carpooled with friends, and the trip was good, though we were stuck in traffic for a while, we made it there. But because we’d arrived right when it started, we were all split up, sitting nowhere near one another. It was crowded, and I was now distracted by my thoughts of how my word count for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) would be effected, so I wasn’t able to put all of my heart into the worship. My mind was scattered in many directions, and to make it worse, they announced that the “hotel” that I signed up to stay in wasn’t quite a hotel, but it was “special.” All of my complaints started to burst through my seams, but I held it together, and tried to listen to the first speaker, Tina Miranda.
It was on condemnation vs. conviction, and to be honest, I was not paying attention well. The seats were cramped. I was uncomfortable and squirmy. My foot fell asleep, and all around I kept trying different sitting positions to try to improve my circulation. However, I did manage to focus on one thing, and part of it is because I was so distracted that I just started drawing a cartoon elephant that was in the powerpoint presentation. Tina told a story of how in India, baby elephants would be roped up tightly, and on finding that they could not escape, they accepted that they would never be able to escape. By the time they were adults, even though they were much stronger than the bonds that held them, they stayed captive. It didn’t hit me until after the retreat was over, but I have accepted a lot of lies that have kept me in bondage since I was young, and I’m only now beginning to break free of them. We broke into small groups and it was loud and noisy. I could barely hear what anyone else was saying in my group above all the noise. And at that point, I was reluctant to say a lot because I didn’t know these women, and I didn’t know how much to share with them.
So then, the time comes for us to go to the cabins. Whoopee, I get to stay in the “special” cabin, which was farther off than any of the cabins or hotel rooms. Luckily, I had a few friends walk me to the “special” zone, or the Ranch House, as it was called at the camp site. And as I entered in, my insecurities began to well up inside of me. The friends I had carpooled with, and all of the ladies in the community group I go to, were all staying in the cabins. Since I am an introverted extrovert, I signed up for the hotel, knowing I’d be surrounded by people all weekend. While I do love being around people, I do not like a whole lot of noise when I’m trying to sleep. You can ask my upstairs and downstairs neighbors, who have gotten visits from my more rational and understanding husband, asking them to quiet down because his wife would throw a fit if they didn’t. Anyway, back to the special zone. The entry was decorated with a lot of weird paintings, like The Weenie Man. There were others, but none as weird as this. A little frightening, if you ask me.
There were three different rooms and the hallway to bunk in. I chose the room in the back where all the bathrooms were. I have a tiny bladder, so I knew I’d probably have to make frequent trips. Another advantage was that there were only three beds, so there would be less people that would be noisy at night. The downside was that if anyone else had to use the bathroom, they’d have to come in to do their business.
But the pros outweighed the cons, and there only ended up being two of us in the room. Another awesome woman, Kiesha, who is a personal trainer, and I ended up falling asleep on the earlier side. While things were a bit noisier in the other rooms, with the bathroom fans on, it drowned out some of the talking and laughing.
In the morning, we both woke up and got ready. I got all my things packed up into my book bag and my purse, and then I headed out, on my own. I was feeling a little bit lonely at this point. I hadn’t really gotten into any deep conversations with anyone. I really didn’t make any new friends, which made me feel bad about myself .
So I climb up onto this water slide that’s closed up, and I look at the view, and I am in wonder of God’s creation. I open my Bible App on my phone, and I open to wherever. It happens to be 1Thessalonians 5. I read and I pray and I begin to thank God instead of complaining and throwing a pity party for myself. After that, I headed to breakfast, and then headed over to the morning sessions.
The next three sessions kinda blasted me. Jamie Chapman spoke on Control and how the roots of it were Fear and Pride. She used Moses’s Song from Exodus 15:2 and the Lord’s Song from Zephaniah 3:17, and made us sing out loud. Little did I know that the woman who was leading my small group would be speaking next. Shiela Chopin was preaching about Complaint. I was so engaged in her bringing the word and keeping it real when she spoke about Moses and David dealing with the people’s constant complaints, that I actually forgot to take notes, which I now regret. Luckily she provided an outline. She spoke of walking in God’s Spirit, and “getting fat” in the word because if we are full of God’s word, then there is no room for complaint. And she left us with an awesome and powerful prayer.
After that, we broke into small groups. Our group went outside, and I was much more inclined to share, especially with the woman who had just blasted my heart with conviction about all of my complaining. I was so glad to get to know these ladies, and the discussion with them really blessed me.
After small groups, I was one hundred percent ready to receive the last session from Adele Douglin, and it was about Comparison. This is one of the areas that I struggle with A LOT. She gave examples in the Bible: Cain and Able, Leah and Rachel, Mary and Martha, and as a little sister with a “perfect” older sister, comparison has been following me around my whole life. When she talked about Antidotes to Comparison, I was hit strongly, and I’ll share them:
Speak God’s Promises Into Your Life
Compliment Sisters and Learn from Them
Take a Break from Social Media
Let Friends Know that Comparison has No Room in Your Life
REDIRECTING CONVERSATIONS TO SPEAK WELL OF ONE ANOTHER
We finished out with worship and lunch afterwards, and I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude form the night before to the afternoon. I left encouraged and excited about what God is going to be doing in my life. I know that becoming a diamond from a lump of coal isn’t going to be easy, but I know that in the end, all of the pressure and pain in this life is going to result in something beautiful.
The Austin Ukulele Society’s March meeting was a wonderful time for regular and new members alike. We moved out of the classroom we’ve been using for well over a year and tried out the gym for the first time. Our group has grown so much! Feedback was positive regarding the increased elbow room. We had a blast learning to strum and sing the Lumineers’ 2012 hit “Ho Hey” and enjoyed playing some of our other favorites as well. Here we are practicing “Ho Hey”:
You can download the lyrics and chords here. Download a copy of the instruction sheet for this song (what we project up on the wall for all to follow along) here.
As always, we appreciate you for being there! A very special thanks to our gracious open mic participants – Ian, Woody, Katie, Steve, Kendall, Randall and Jacob. We look forward to seeing you…