Tag Archives: future

The Old Woman

27 Jan

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…some brain away time…

***

There’s this old woman.

…She looks a little like me, and she spends a lot of time at this book cafe, sipping at endless cups of coffee, leaving large red slash-stains along the porcelain lip.

…She doesn’t talk to people, mostly remains consumed in her books and papers, only sometimes, will sit back…take off her reading glasses, put a perfectly manicured hand to the back of her neck, and ease out a kink of stiffness settled in there, from too many hours of bowing over her work.

…And she is working…always…on something. Her interests are totally eclectic, but somehow themed across pockets of time, which only the wait staff will notice, because she has come here…for years…doing the very same thing. Alone at her table.

…But never, “lonely.”

…When not absorbed in her studies, she does manage to recognize the human beings all round her. She watches them, in fact. Rather closely.

…The students taking up multiple tables together, books, laptops, and papers everywhere. The quiet and comfortable husband and wife settled in, consumed in their newspaper and magazine, as they prob’ly have, in exactly the same way, over Saturday morning breakfast for the past however many years. There are the young people gabbing back and forth “at” one another (rather than “to”)…as one cannot hold actual conversation with a person, burried in their cellphone news and social  feeds.

…Sometimes, there are the awkward couples on first dates, the families with little people and their weary parents,  focused on the coffee reader board ahead and the promise of help that it will bring to their harried day.

…Sometime, it’s a man or a woman, alone. Some used to it, some visibly uncomfortable, as if wearing a new skin.

…She imagines their fuller selves as she watches, these pairings and singles…what they stepped out of to come here today…what awaits when they get home. What is their work? How do they play? Is the marriage one of old friends? Will there be a second date?

…The old woman watches all of this. But not with longing, or necessarily a sense of disconnect.

…She knows these stories. Well. In some way, you could say that she has lived all these lives, parading around her, and even holds special memories of the minutest degree, about them…from when it was her time…her sister, her son, her lover, her friend… “her,” thirty-five years ago, sitting alone like that one there…fully confident, hard at work, totally at ease…being the single, solitary lady at a table, in public, consumed in whatever the hell she was doing.

…But the secret she holds, sitting at her far end table, is one that no one in the cafe would ever imagine, or believe… to just look at her…even if they did.

…Which, they rarely do. Because why should they? To the eye, she is just an old woman, sitting in a cafe. Alone. So: a “spinster” or a “widow”…but of nothing any more complex or engaging to the curiosity.

To the young: she’s nonexistent. To the couples, perhaps a lonely peek at their one day inevitable future, to the singles…a potent gut kick of panic, “Dear God, what if someday, that is me? Alone. At a table. Just the same as I am now?”

…And every once in a while, because the old woman is keenly observant, she can feel these thoughts actually eeking out from the looks and gestures of those who are thinking them. For she is quite good at interpreting these even slightest of facial hints.

…After all, it is her profession.

…And I say, “is” not “was,” because she has been lucky with a job description one cannot age out of. In fact she is working, even now…at that table, as she has been for years on end. She is at study, waiting for a peek of something curious and extraordinary, blended into the everyday average of the average person’s busy day.

…She studies them like a scientist, interprets as an analyst, clicks in with their emotions, builds them in her mind as characters in say…a book.

Of course this doesn’t mean she knows the answers, that isn’t the point. It’s the art form of “what if” that she is after. Because life has so much endless possibility in even the most mundane of appearances.

…For instance, just looking at her…this old woman, alone at a table…could you imagine her true actual self? That she’s been a high end prostitute, a nun, an inventor, was once mostly blind, had been stabbed and shot a good many times, and had done her fair share of brutality, up to murder…several times. She was a lesbian with many male lovers, and a mistress…but also a spinster, with countless marriages, and children now dotting the globe in all ages, races, and colors.

…As well, as can toss back a neat double of whiskey as swift as any burley biker, holds more secrets than a government official at voting time, and has plans to meet up later with a gob of people twenty or more years her junior, where she will have love affairs, in public, and then go out drinking afterwards…just for the fucking fun of it.

Not for a moment, would this occur to any of the occupants at the other tables, nor the wait staff she’s known by sight for a decade or more. For despite her volcanic and tumultuous past, she is an introvert, and had always preferred to be the keeper of the secrets, than “out” them. It’s always been more fun, that way.

…Except sometimes…

…When she takes a look round a crowded cafe and spots a woman, alone, also sitting back and taking in the room. Their eyes meet. Across time and space, a connection is formed lasting perhaps only a beat.

Maybe the younger woman nods her head slightly. Maybe the old one winks. A smile begins on both mouths…saying nothing and everything. Kindred spirits: a meeting.

The younger woman holds the glance as if to say, “I see you, I know you, I will be you someday. And I’m pretty damn cool with that, actually. ”

…To which the old woman manages an actual chuckle and tilt of her head, as if to say: “Honey, are you in for a hell of a treat…”

~D

Kids. Theatre. Art.

14 Mar

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Stumbled on a Tumblr last night, linking to others that, all-collected, formed most of a young cast and their experiences of putting on this show.

…Totally fascinating…reading their processes in raw-thought form, thrown out there with zero editing of  their emotions and frustrations as they fought to balance out school schedules, homework, dating, rehearsals, finals and wrapping their heads around the history of the piece.

Written in 2006, these back-and-forth tagged Tumblrs and blogs are free-formed by High School students, who by now have most likely graduated College and gotten married, and started having children of their own.  Which is kinda mind-blowing, even not having known the kids personally…only because of the knowledge that they have this forever-record of that point in their lives, written down (much like Anne), which others can read and experience, further mirroring the book and show itself.

Really intriguing thoughts, actually. 

…Some in simple questioned innocents, some with down-and-dirty sleeves-rolled-up research, some likening their own personal experiences to Anne and their own characters…and some just excited by the whole process.

The thing that really got to me though, was the point…totally individual to each…when they “got it.”  The point where the full weight of what the show and this girl’s experiences were all about, actually sunk into them…and how each of them dealt with it.

Personal. Raw. Specific.

…These kids, through ART, were given a new way to access and view something from history that they already knew about since middle-school.  That restriction of: “this is a book about a teenage girl, in Amsterdam, in WWII,” was suddenly (and in some cases emotionally violently) altered for them once the process of physical “empathy” was put into place.

To read about a girl from the far-past, in a place they could not recognize, and had no tangible relateable association with at first glance…had limited a lot of them at the book’s first reading. Some were embarrassed by it’s pubescent topics, some shut off by the distant time frame in which it was written, some by the country they didn’t recognize…or the Politics they couldn’t understand…while some did actually take it personally and to heart. But the range there was wide.

…Through the process of ownership in their roles, though…you can actually SEE that begin to change…and the kids changing with it.

What they start out writing about in an off-hand remarks, early in the rehearsal process, begins to change to a kind of hungry obsession over time. They begin pulling out quotes from the script, and matching it to the diary…they write mini-bios, and suck up European political history like sponges. They become in awe of the magnitude in the numbers…which are no longer just “numbers,” but for the first time begin to represent actual “people” to them, now that they are actually portraying one of them…each with lives and families and homes and dreams of their own. They begin to question, and get angry, and become activists for a cause which now has become as real to them as anything they may have to deal with in their current day-to-day lives. They build genuine affection for their “characters”…defending their deeds in posts, and against Anne’s words…and explaining WHY they think and act and say the things they do.

…They become totally engrossed, as the posts move along…building not only on their own, but commenting on one another’s in debate, and agreement, and camaraderie.

And it is fucking FANTASTIC.

You see: THIS is what “Art” does.

THIS is why it is so essential, and why it’s disappearance from our Schools is so completely devastating.

“Art” is not just a “hobby.” “Art” isn’t an “extracurricular activity.” “Art” is “Humanity.” Straight-up. It is our one point of access to all that it is (and ever was) to be human. And without it, we are sorely damaging our future potential…and in severe danger of repeating our greatest mistakes.

And HERE is a prime example.

…Written by school children, grown now into adults, who BECAUSE of “art” experienced something so palpable that “History” became alive to them, “Politics” became important, “Numbers” meant more than mere addition and subtraction, the “Written Word” jumped off the pages at them, and “Science” in the research, reason and attempt to understand why and what it all meant, became totally essential to them.

…And yet, with all of that put together, it STILL could not hold the realization of the emotional strength and repercussions that actual “embodiment” had on each of them. The power of empathy…of PUTTING YOURSELF into another’s place…of FEELING the fear, and hunger, and pain, and sadness…of MAKING IT PERSONAL…it changed them, not just as “children” or “students,” but as HUMAN BEINGS.

…Once taught empathy, education, the difference between right and wrong…passion for history and learning…you can’t un-teach it. You can try, attempt to mind-wash and assault the brain all you like. But if given a good, strong, root to grow…early on…I don’t believe there is anything that can break that. Or the spirit it infuses, like Anne’s, to fight for your right to it.

“There are no walls, there are no bolts, no locks that anyone can put on your mind.”

…It was something Mr. Frank once told Anne, and something she often went back to as a form of solace, a comfort, an outlet…a form of expression.

…Because any form of educated obsession, release, curiosity, excitement, empathy…is a kind of art.

Because SHE was encouraged to release herself in it, we have her diary today. Because those kids were encouraged to release themselves in it, their lives were changed. The same way that mine constantly is. And Meryl Streep. And Picasso’s was. And Steven Spielberg. And Maria Callas. And Leonard da Vinci, and Stephen King, and Gertrude Stein, and Albert Einstein, Billie Jean King, and Stephen Hawking.

…So really, what I’m saying is: people learn and become inspired in so many different ways…going on to inspire and educate others, likewise. I’d like to assume you’d want every opportunity you can grasp onto, to make sure your kids get every option to become the best that they can be…as people and parents of their own children someday.

If you already practice an art of your own, there’s no need to tell you this, but if not: Listen up. I promise…it isn’t just a flippant accessory to life. It is a necessity. It’s brought us our greatest humanitarians, and thinkers, and doers we have ever produced as a human race. It breeds intelligence. It fosters hope. It counters depression, and fear, and anger.

It belongs in our schools.

…If only, to dust off the tired words in old textbook pages, and make all the other academics and political concepts and histories and numbers and sciences more real to the people who will be running this planet some day.

Think about it.

~D

By The Numbers, By The Dates

6 Nov

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Seriously, this is really important to me. So beware of the 4th of July-type fireworks about to explode from my fingertips. It’s the only political ANYTHING I will talk about at all, in this blog, on Election Day.

Think about it, America:

…If you are a White Man of property – you’ve been voting here for 236 years.

…If you are an of birth or naturalized (male) citizen – you’ve been voting for 144 years.

…If you are of color, and of birth or are a naturalized (male) citizen – you’ve been voting for 142 years.

…If you are a woman – you’ve been voting for 92 years.

In this time, OUR VOTES have served to:

…Incorporate the Declaration of Independence (1776)

…Adopt the Constitution of the United States (1787)

…Elect our first President (1789)

…Incorporate the Federal Judiciary Act, building our Federal Court system (1789)

…Incorporate The Bill of Rights (1791)

…Pass The Pacific Railway Act, opening transcontinental travel (1862)

…Pass the Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

…Add the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery (1865)

…Incorporate The Civil Rights Act (1866)

…Add the 14th Amendment, ensuring equal protection under law (1868)

…Purchase Alaska from Russia (1868)

…Add the 15th Amendment, on equal voting rights (1870)

…Establish our first National Park, Yellowstone (1872)

…Elect our first female Mayor, Susanna Medora Salter (1887)

…Pass the Burke Act, granting citizenship to Native Americans (1906)

…Elect our first woman to Congress, Jeannette Rankin (1916)

…Incorporate the Child Labor Act (1916)

…Add the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote (1920)

…Elect our first female Governors: Nellie Tayloe Ross, and Miriam A. Ferguson (1924)

…Elect our first female Senator, Hattie Wyatt Caraway (1932)

…Pass the National Labor Relations Act, allowing the working of Unions in public and private sectors (1934)

…Repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, allowing their eligibility of citizenship (1943)

…Pass the GI Bill (1944)

…Establish the United Nations Charter (1945)

…Enact Desegregation of the Armed Forces (1948)

…Pass Brown vs. Board of Education, ending education segregation (1954)

…Elect our first South Asian, Dalip Singh Saund, to Congress (1956)

…Incorporate the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act (1956)

…Elect our first person of Chinese descent, Hiram Fong, to Senate (1959)

…Establish The Peace Corp. (1961)

…Pass the Test Ban Treaty (1963)

…Pass the Civil Rights Act (1964)

…Pass the Voting Rights Act (1965)

…Pass the Social Security Act Amendment (1965)

…Elect our first African American Mayor, Carl Stokes, of a major city (Ohio) (1967)

…Elect our first African American woman, Shirley Chisholm, to Congress (1968)

…Elect our first Puerto Rican, Herman Badillo, to Congress (1970)

…Add the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18 (1971)

…Pass the Americas With Disabilities Act, requiring full access to voting facilities (1990)

…Elect our first African American female, Carol Moseley Braun, as Senator (1992)

…Elect our first African American President (2008)

And for those who say, “I’m just one vote, why should it matter?” I’ll tell you:

* One vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England (1645)

* One vote gave America the English language instead of German (1776)

* One vote saved President Andrew Jackson from impeachment (1868)

* One Vote made Texas (1845), California (1850), Oregon (1859), Washington (1889) and Idaho (1890), U.S. States.

* One vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic (1875)

* One vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency of the United States (1876)

* One vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party (1923)

* One vote saved the Selective Service – just weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked (1941)

It’s your job to go out there and make History happen! It’s your right, to fight for what you believe in.

YOUR VOTE MATTERS!

Tell me what you want, America…and we’ll get it done together!

~D

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