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big smile

(Why am I naming days?)
10/20/14, Day 14,048 (Mercena Day 66): Flux Family Feud Fairy-Tale Smackdown

We had been worried about the turnout for Flux’s annual Family Feud fundraiser, but it ended up being our best attended, and abundant with love and fun. One VIP in attendance was Mercena, and while it may have been wiser to find a baby-sitter, as the Feud was packed, bright and very noisy; she did surprisingly well, all things considered (and we got to witness our friend Adam Szymkowicz’s powerful baby-whispering skills). It was great to introduce her to some friends who hand’t met her yet.

The later bedtime did definitely throw off her, however, especially because Heather came home late from the Feud prep meeting the night before. It took her a few days to find her sleeping foothold again, but when she did, magic ensued (stay tuned for that).

I also wrote a short fairy tale that the Creative Partners performed to kick off the event. I wrote it late Sunday night, but ended up striking a balance of silly and sincere that I think worked. It was a fairy tale about Flux being a creative home, and these past few days, it has felt intensely and satisfyingly so. We’ve taken another step forward toward the full public launch of FluxForward as well, so stay tuned for more about that.

10/21/14, Day 14,049 (Mercena Day 67): Mercena’s Seven Hour Sleep

Mercena slept an amazing seven-hour stretch! Last night, she took a step back again, but we’re used to this big step forward, medium step back pattern to her progress. There’s no doubt that a seven-hour stretch at this point in her growth is something to be wondered at and grateful for; perhaps she was tired out from busting that absurdly beautiful smile above. It took her a long time to fall asleep–Heather and I barely made it through a Mad Men episode from having to go back and soothe her repeatedly, but once she was out, she was aces.

I also had a very focused day at TCG that saw me catching up on a number of major projects (mostly Fall Forum and 2015 Convening-related), and I managed a few hours of Flux work, as well. This day marked my return to dedicating the entire subway ride home to studying Spanish after a long stretch of barely managing ten minutes here and there with my flash cards. Hopefully, I can keep that momentum going.

The new play New Years is also coming along well, although there’s a lot I don’t know, and a bunch of after-the-first-draft-is-done research that will need doing.

10/22/14, Day 14,050 (Mercena Day 68): First Flux Accompaniment Program Training

I’m hoping to write about this over on the FluxBlog, but last night Flux held our first training for our exciting new relationship with Judson Memorial Church’s Immigrant Rights work. We’re participating in their Accompaniment Program, which pairs citizen volunteers to accompany immigrants who are in the deportation process to offer witness and moral support. Some of Flux’s Creative Partners and Friends of Flux learned about the values and practices of the Accompaniment Program from Ravi Ragbir, Judson’s immigrant advocacy expert. It was painful and inspiring to hear about Ravi’s experiences, and we’re excited to see how we can help, both as fellow witness and as theatre artists. Mark your calendars for March 4th when we’ll be presenting some theatre inspired by this process.

Earlier in the day, Sol, Heather, Mercena and I held a meeting with a different, Flux-related opportunity/partnership that we’re all very excited about, though I can’t say more until its official. Mercena was amazing throughout the meeting, and I’ll treasure the memory of the four of us buzzing with excitement on the bus ride back to work, rehearsal and home.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited and proud to be a part of Flux. Sometimes, when I think about Mercena, and how great it’s already been to have her in our lives, I realize that we’re just at the beginning of things, and I get giddy with excitement. These past few days, I’ve had the same feelings about Flux.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 169 out of 218 days (New Years)
Spanish: 139 out of 218 days
Music: 69 out of 124 days
Yoga: 6 out of 8 days

What small things did I do the past three days to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Emailed my representatives in support of Feeding America and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act;
  • Asked the Obama Administration to recommend a Wilderness designation for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and
  • Asked them to say no to Shell’s request to weaken safety regulations for drilling in the Arctic;
  • Helped organize Flux’s Accompaniment Program training.

9 Circles: This might end up being a weekend thing–I don’t seem to have time to put it together during the week! Stay tuned.

 

Archie

archie

(Why am I naming days?)
10/19/14, Day 14,047 (Mercena Day 65): Archie

Another detail of these early days I want to remember: the odd contortions where she arches back into some extravagant angle that couldn’t possibly be comfortable, and yet is her most comfortable position (see above for an example). We call this “arching” and sometimes give her the nickname “Archie.”

Yesterday was also the week anniversary of my back injury. I made great hobbles over the weekend, and will be heading back into work today before journeying to the Flux Family Feud tonight. Give me a gentle hug if you’re going (and buy raffle tickets if you’re not)! I was able to go for my first walk for walking’s sake, and I did pretty well.

I also did some more work remotely at TCG, and about eight or so hours of Flux work, including writing a special thingie for tonight’s Feud. I’d say more, but I gots to get ready for work!

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 166 out of 215 days (Feud play)
Spanish: 137 out of 215 days
Music: 66 out of 121 days
Yoga: 5 out of 5 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Asked the FWS to seriously investigate the status of wolves in the Northern Rockies;
  • Wrote in support of the Syrian refugees in Turkey;
  • Wrote in support of the jailed media workers in Myanmar.

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

Let me not be impatient with my recovery,
Let me send love to my Fluxers preparing for the Feud tonight,
And a lion of courage to two friends mourning loss,
And praise to Feud contestant Susan Bernfield for New Georges,
And all advocates for gender parity in theatre getting it done;
And solidarity with the media-workers in Myanmar;
Wonder for the sexual pioneers of the early fish kingdom,
And for dark matter from our bright sun;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

brunch

(Why am I naming days?)
10/18/14, Day 14,046 (Mercena Day 64): Got to Make the Bubbles Go Down

This day is so name to honor one of my favorite Mercena rituals. When she eats, she takes in some air that can be trapped as bubbles in her digestive system and cause her the dreaded gastro-intestinal distress. To prevent that, our ritual involves suspending her vertically upright with one hand under her chin and one under her butt while bouncing her gently and singing, to the tune of “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”:

“The bubbles go down, the bubbles go down,
Got to make the bubbles do down,
The bubbles go down, the bubbles go down,
So [early/late] in the [morning/afternoon/evening]“

This jaunty tune has been seared into my consciousness through repetition and the hilarious looks on Mercena’s face as, milk-drunk, she endures the undignified bouncing. I laugh each and every time. Lately, she’s taken to raising her hands in such a way that makes it look like she’s dancing, which is even more adorable.

Something about the chill in the air and the leaves changing makes me want to set all these little details down now before…

Yesterday was another step forward. We took the bus to the chiropractor instead of a cab, and my back seemed to handle the walk fine. Then, both my back and our daughter slept quietly as Heather and I pretended like we were normal people and snuck in a brunch.

I also worked a half day remotely at TCG, trying to catch up on a bunch of small things so that I don’t lose sight of the big things we’re trying to move forward. I did some Flux work as well (we’re close to a more public launch of FluxForward), and was able to again write, play guitar and do my weird 9 Circles yoga-thingie.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 165 out of 214 days (New Year)
Spanish: 136 out of 214 days
Music: 65 out of 120 days
Yoga: 4 out of 4 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Asked the EPA to modernize chemical safety laws;
  • Signed my support for the Pacific Climate Warriors;
  • Asked the Obama administration to condemn the war crimes of the Nigerian military and state-sponsored militia.

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

Let me not be impatient with my recovery,
Let me send love to my Fluxers preparing for the Feud,
And a lion of courage to two friends mourning loss,
And praise to NYC fighters for housing rights;
Holler for the playwrights’ collectives getting it done,
And solidarity with the Pacific Climate Warriors;
Wonder for new primate-specific transcriptional circuitry regulating pluripotency (#amIright?)
And for dark matter from our bright sun;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

bath and shots

(Why am I naming days?)
10/17/14, Day 14,045 (Mercena Day 63): Shots and a little relief

A big medical day for daughter and father yesterday. Mercena had the first round of her 2-month vaccinations, and I felt the first glimmer of real recovery for my back injury.

Heather reports that her 2-month appointment went well! Mercena breast-fed through the shots, and thus far (knock on all the wood) has not caught sick from the vaccinations. She’s been maybe a touch more sleepy, but not much more than a touch. Everything else seems to be going well, according to Doc Gocs (which is almost as perfect a name as Dia the Doula), and she had a pretty great day yesterday, including as smooth an entry into bedtime as we’ve had yet (adorable bath picture is actually from two days ago, but it was too cute not to share). Her irritated skin from the baby shampoo of that bath has also gone away, and it thankfully didn’t seem to bother her much.

On the back front (tee hee), I woke up feeling only slightly better, but I tried to stay as mobile as possible while working from home (a lot of shambling about on my phone meetings). Then, at around 5:30pm, I took a quick nap on our terrace and got back up feeling, for the first time since the injury, discomfort instead of pain. It was most comfortable discomfort I’ve ever felt, and this morning the progress seems to have held.

I also managed to write again, and resume my Spanish and guitar practice. My fingers are all sorts of crossed that I’m back on the road to normal, and that if this yoga practice holds, I’ll actually be the better for the injury.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 164 out of 213 days (New Year)
Spanish: 135 out of 213 days
Music: 64 out of 119 days
Yoga: 3 out of 3 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

A prayer keep me recovering without self-pity,
And love to my Aunt from her phew-g,
And a lion of courage to two friends mourning loss,
And action to keep poison from our city.
Praise to Emily Mendelsohn’s theatre work in East Africa,
And justice for Brishna in Afghanistan,
Wonder for the brute elegance of Odobenus rosmarus,
And for dark matter from our bright sun;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

(Why am I naming days?)
10/16/14, Day 14,044 (Mercena Day 62): Phone Meetings and Little Gains

I really wanted to go to work yesterday.

I had told myself that it was possible (it was never really possible). I needed it to be possible, both for my own sense of progress and because I had four meetings (not counting a CSA veggie pick-up and Lark event). But my healing progress is so slow, so on went the speaker phone.

Thankfully, Mercena had a great day, and Lori rode to our rescue, accompanying Heather for the veggie pick-up. And I was able to participate somewhat effectively calling in from the phone.

In spite of all that, I did make some small gains by staying as mobile as the pain would allow. And late last night, I even finished five more pages of my New Year play (a slippery time play written for the actors of the Ensemble).

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 163 out of 212 days (New Year)
Spanish: 134 out of 212 days
Music: 63 out of 118 days
Yoga: 2 out of 2 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

A prayer for my back to heal
And for Mercena’s shots to avoid ordeal
Praise to Lori for carrying veggies and prizes,
And a prayer for breakfast for every kid in class;
Praise to makers of Chance Magazine
Solidarity with #FergusonOctober
Praise for the tigers of Terai Arc,
And for cosmic rays caught in a smartphone app;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

two months

(Why am I naming days?)

10/15/14, Day 14,043 (Mercena Day 61): Two Months with Mercena

What’s amazing to me is how natural it all seems now.

In the early days, everything was so strange; not just the new life wailing in our home, but all the trappings that go with it–the diaper hose I installed into the toilet, the warmer for the wipes, the retro-robotic wheeze of the breast pump machine. All those tired days and bleary nights searching books and the Google to find answers to her Inscrutable Wails. And those sudden, jagged swells of overwhelming love…

Well, those haven’t changed much. She herself is still a wonder. Mercena West. But every day, she seems more and more like a person, a human that of course lives with us because she always has, a miracle, but an everyday one.

And she herself is doing well, not sleeping through the night yet, but sleeping for five-hour stretches more regularly now. She still gets fussy at the witching hour, but last night, she had the biggest smile while we were singing her lullaby. She’s figuring us out, too. She has bad days, like we all do, but she becomes more curious every day. Her activity mat, which she used to treat like a hot plate, is now her favorite place, as she swats at the Cow Mirror, the Motley Knight and her greatest foe that hangs above her, the Red Monkey.

And she talks! Boy, does she talk, seemingly a new sound introduced every day. Her Talking Spots are the Activity Mat and–would you believe this?–the Altar of Sacrifice. Yes, that’s right, the spot where she used to reflexively howl and fuss has become her favorite spot to babble and coo. How the whirligig of time brings in her favors, too…

Oh, and yesterday? Heather gave her a bath, and she didn’t fuss at all.

I wasn’t able to assist much with that bath because my back is still a snarl of argh. There’s always a base discomfort, but whenever I try to adjust a position the really startling agony jets up. However, I do seem to be getting better every day–only 10% to my mind, but the chiropractor assures me that’s pretty good for what I have (we take a cab to and fro, because I don’t really know how far I can walk). Sandra came to our rescue yesterday, and helped Heather with some shopping and laundry that more or less hit the reset button on our jostled lives. And I was feeling well enough to do some dishes and putter about…

I also worked another full day at TCG, and while I wish I could go in today, that seems like a mistake. I was also able to move a bunch of Flux stuff forward in the evening, and yes, I even found time to write late at night. There is a benefit, I guess, to not really being comfortable enough to sleep…

…and it’s become clear to me that in my little technique tally below, I need to add yoga. I’ve inherited a predisposition for back pain that will require I change my life and take better care of my slippery spine. However, I’ve had a heck of a time ever committing to a regular schedule of yoga.

So, I’m going to try something new. I’ve never had much luck with clearing my mind or simple mantras; the rainforest of thoughts buzzes too much for that. But I’ve had more luck with what I suppose is a kind of prayer-in-motion, if you can call an atheist’s guided thought a prayer. And, as I’ve found that sharing things here is a remarkably effective motivator, I’m going to share my daily prayer-in-motion here, although my motion today will certainly be quite minimal (if I can make it to the floor, the chiro has advised three very gentle stretches).

I’m also hoping that this daily-ish practice will help me think about my larger actions and how to make change possible. I believe that any change I want to see in the world must first be made within myself, and then ripple out through the other circles of my life.

For now, I’m playing with the following nine circles:

First circle: Me
Second circle: My first family (the family I was born into, Heather’s family and the family we’re making together)
Third circle: My second family (Flux and those friends I consider family)
Fourth circle: My local community (New York City)
Fifth circle: My community of searchers, creators and healers (artists, scientists, activists)
Sixth circle: My human community (humans, living or otherwise)
Seventh circle: The community of life (animals, plants, this precious blue rock circling round the sun)
Eighth circle: The universe (you know, like, what’s been happening since the big bang)
Ninth circle: The mystery (imagine this as a kind of poetic potpourri section)

For the moment, I’m working with either prayer (sending healing thoughts where they’re needed) 0r praise (sending gratitude for something that’s awesome).

While I’ll be sharing these here (if I really am able to commit to doing this on a regular basis), I will occasionally be poetically redacting things by riddling them past easy comprehension when someone’s privacy needs to be protected. I hope it to be equal parts sincere and silly, part to-do list and part poem.

So, here’s the first prayer-in-motion:

A prayer for my back to heal
And praise to Sandra for her help
Sling joe to sweet cherry anne for her pain
And remember those with no shelter from this rain;
Praise to the makers of Swarna-Sub 1
Solidarity with #FergusonOctober
For the great Spinosaurus, praise
And search-on for BICEP2’s gravitational waves;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 162 out of 211 days
Spanish: 134 out of 211 days
Music: 63 out of 117 days
Yoga: 1 out of 1 day

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Asked Microsoft’s CEO to release their pay data to ensure equity and diversity in their hiring practices;
  • Sent another petition to the EPA ion support of coal ash regulation;
  • Asked NPR to remove pro-fracking ads from their broadcasts;
  • Signed a petition to the Obama administration to end militarized, racially-biased policing against Black and brown communities.

(Why am I naming days?)

10/13/14, Day 14,041 (Mercena Day 59): Back Monster, Day Two; or, Soft Launch of Flux Forward

Not to much to report from these past days. The back injury is not getting much better, even after a visit to the chiropractor. I’m heading back for a second visit today (a laborious and costly process of careful slow walking and green cabs), so hopefully we’ll make more progress.

This second day of back pain wasn’t unproductive; Chinaza and I were able to get all of Flux’s ducks in a row to soft launch FluxForward with our Friends of Flux (more on that soon). A production meeting and visit from Emily gave me some faces to say hello to before retreating to my pain cave. Truly, the hardest part of this is not being able to help with Mercena, who had some serious witching hour action once we fell of the schedule in the afternoon.

Heather has been amazing throughout all of this,  which is no surprise but I am filled with even more gratitude for my amazing partner in life.

10/14/14, Day 14,042 (Mercena Day 60): Back Monster, Day Three; or Chiropracting

It was a comical, slow-motion journey, but I did make it to the chiropractor yesterday with Heather by my side, and Mercena in the care of an angel friend. As I wrote above, hopefully the second visit to the chiro today will make more of an impact. But in spite of the pain, I was able to be productive remotely, getting a bunch of TCG work done during the day, and more Flux work at night. I haven’t been able to write since the injury, but I’m hoping to change that today.

Daily pain is a part of so many people’s lives, and for however long, it’s now a part of mine. All right. What’s next?

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 161 out of 210 days
Spanish: 134 out of 210 days
Music: 63 out of 116 days

What small things did I do the past two days to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Signed my solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong;
  • Signed a petition to make it more difficult for those who commit violence against women to purchase firearms;
  • Signed a different petition in support of Komen breaking ties with Baker Hughes, this time to the fracking company itself.
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