Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

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.



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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.

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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.

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(Why am I naming days?)

I’m writing these posts in bed after being incapacitated by the worst back injury of my life yesterday, so please be patient as my pain-addled mind moves through the last few days.

10/9/14, Day 14,037 (Mercena Day 55): Into the Weeds

This was the day I began to feel truly in the weeds with the combined workload of TCG, Flux, NET, my own creative work and Mercena. I don’t remember much else about this day–it’s one reason why I try (though lately fail) to update this daily, because memory makes such quick hash of days once they’re done–but I do remember a breakthrough meeting for TCG’s Fall Forum and the launch of a new trustee initiative, and our now nightly routine of putting Mercena to bed: we change her into her sleeping outfit, read her Goodnight Moon, sing her Turalura and then lay her gently into her bassinet, wishing her sweet dreams. She’s begun to recognize the routine, but depending on how tired she is, she’ll either great it with delight (rare) or fussy resistance (common, but is usually doesn’t last long).

Most promising of all: she’s really begin sleeping five-ish hours a night consistently. Sleeping through the night, here we come (he says with great caution and humility).

10/10/14, Day 14,038 (Mercena Day 56): Mercena EightWeeks; or, What Thursday and Friday Mean to Me Now

Every Thursday since Mercena was born, I think: this is the day we went into labor; every Friday I think, this is the day she was born. We are such pattern hungry creatures and I am more pattern hungry than most. But, it does mirror how my weeks at TCG often feel: by Thursday, the amount of labor seems insurmountable, but by the end of Friday, something new has been moved forward.

So it was with this last Friday, where I put my head down and managed to knock out a bunch of significant projects on my TCG desk. I’d been hoping over this long weekend to polish off the rest, but losing a whole day to my back injury yesterday has me worried I’ll be back into the weeds come Tuesday…

10/11/14, Day 14,039 (Mercena Day 57): FluxForward Close To Boil

Chinaza and I have been working on a anew initiative for Flux that I’m really excited about, and this past Saturday, I spent four+ hours moving it significantly forward. I also sent some love to Allan and Sarah on their anniversary, and went for a beautiful walk with Mercena and Heather. Forest Hills is really beautiful, and we discovered a few areas on our last walk that felt almost European. And as for our daughter, she is becoming more and more a unique human with a personality that is utterly her own. I really do love her more and more every day…

10/12/14, Day 14,040 (Mercena Day 58): Back Brings Me To My Knees

As I was lifting Mercena out of her bouncy seat to ready her of her Ergo walk, pain like I’ve never felt shot through my lower back, and I was barely able to get her on to the changing table before collapsing to my knees. I took me a long time to stand up, so thankfully she was a in a good mood and chirping away on the table as struggled to my feet. Heather was away at a production meeting, and so I needed to swaddle her and put her to sleep somehow before collapsing entirely.

I managed to do it, but not much else. I’ve had back pain before, but nothing like this. Yesterday, I could not find a position that wasn’t significantly painful, even after some pain medication, and I barely slept at all last night. Heather took good care of me, and I distracted myself as best I could.

I’m feeling a little better today–good enough to write this post, at least. I’m trying not to freak out about how much of a setback this injury could be on all things I need to move forward. One painful step at a time.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 161 out of 208 days (New untitled time play)
Spanish: 134 out of 208 days
Music: 63 out of 114 days

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

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(Why am I naming days?)

10/5/14, Day 14,033 (Mercena Day 51): Mercena’s First Flux Sunday

We’d been considering bringing Mercena to this Flux Sunday because it was at The Sand Box, where we’ll be rehearsing most of Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest, and as chief baby wrangler, I’ll be picking her up there every day after work while Heather rehearses. A practice run couldn’t hurt for her or us, and when a last minute conflict called me into action to run the Flux Sunday, away we went.

Of course, the real reason we wanted to bring her was to introduce her to some of our Flux Sunday friends, and for better or worse, this thing we do called theatre.

Her love of the subway was quite promising, as she fell asleep to the rhythm of the rails both ways. Her love of theatre is a work in progress, as Heather managed to direct a scene but not watch any of the others. All the stimulation seemed to mess with her sleep last night, leaving her a little crankier than usual, but really, that’s kind of how theatre works, right?

10/6/14, Day 14,034 (Mercena Day 52): Mercena’s First Trip to Manhattan

Feeling inspired by the success of her first subway trip the day before, and needing to fill in for a sick Fluxer to host the Flux Family Feud Committee meeting, Heather took Mercena on her first trip into Manhattan. I spent most of the meeting playing with and soothing a fussy, over-stimulated baby who, happily, slept well on the subway back.

It was also great to introduce her to my TCG friends. I’m currently fighting to stay out of the weeds at work, but the honeymoon period is definitely over and I’m back in the thick of it. By the time we got home, I was more tired than our baby.

10/7/14, Day 14,035 (Mercena Day 53): Flux and the Wonders of Technology

After another intense day of work at TCG, I had my third day of busy Fluxation, with a general Flux meeting at night. While we’ve successfully held a few meetings where most of us are virtual (thanks, Google Hangout), no one in actual attendance had a working computer on hand (#planning), so we had to get creative.

After resolving our tech issues, we had a great meeting, getting on the same page about our Basecamp trial (a great project management system) and talking more about the Feud and Flux’s developing immigration project with Judson. It was also my Mom’s birthday (happy birthday, Mom)!

10/8/14, Day 14,036 (Mercena Day 54): Day of Smiles

Another Mercena breakthrough day: in my madrugada shift, she gave me four huge smiles. Now, she’s smiled before, for sure, but these were different; while she’s seemed engaged and very curious for many weeks, she hasn’t seemed happy  for prolonged periods (which, given her intense parents, may not be her default setting). Yesterday, she was smiling up a storm, including in several videos Heather shared with me, and in the beautiful picture featured above.

I finally didn’t have a post-work obligation, so I was able to get home in time for a bedtime ritual with a sleepy baby, and to make a real dinner for Heather, as well as make further Flux progress on several projects and even practice guitar. And I started work on a new play…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 159 out of 204 days (Taina and Marvin and KD and The Band rewrites)
Spanish: 134 out of 204 days
Music: 62 out of 110 days

What small things did I do the past four 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;
  • Asked President Obama to support the EPA Clean Power Plan;
  • Asked the EPA to close the loopholes in the Clean Water Act.

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(Why am I naming days?)
10/2/14, Day 14,030 (Mercena Day 48): Meeting with Ravi at New Sanctuary

This was a day of many meetings. After a 4:30am wake up call with morning with Mercena and then some TCG remote work, I ran late to a phone call with the ever-amazing Carmen Morgan, who is facilitating an internal assessment of TCG’s diversity, inclusion and equity. I’m so excited that we’re doing this work, and as ever, I left my time with her feeling renewed.

I then had consecutive TCG meetings on the Conference, the Gala, Theatre Facts, the new online American Theatre’s weekly email and our web/database upgrade. With one notable exception (it’s amazing how having a newborn helps you see just how tenuous our adult-hold is on our emotional life), these were very productive meetings, and I’m way back in the think of it again.

Then, I ran down to a Flux meeting led by Sol with Micah and Ravi from Judson and the New Sanctuary movement. We’re hoping to create work with them to change laws and cultural attitudes towards immigrants and immigration laws, and it was thrilling to hear about all the great work they’ve done over the years. More on this anon.

I then raced back uptown to pick up our Katchkie Farms CSA veggies before heading home to help with Mercena’s bedtime. She evidently had a great day, too, with a sweet visit from our dear friend Lori as the highlight on her dance card.


10/3/14, Day 14,031 (Mercena Day 49): Kol Nidre on Live Stream

For Mercena’s first Yom Kippur, we watched the Kol Nidre service from Storahtelling and sang along. We each made a vow and let something go: my vow was to enjoy being a parent, even when it exhausting and frustrating; and I’m letting go of social media comment debates. Man, what a waste of time and spirit those are…

The day began so beautifully, with Mercena napping a short while on my chest (see the glowing pic above). She’s doing better and better at sleeping in her bassinet, though bedtimes remain a pretty fussy affair. I feel blessed to say that right now the good times continue and we have a mostly happy baby. I know it won’t stay this way, but I don’t ever want to take these good times for granted.

It was another frenzied day at TCG, with a great REPRESENT conversation, a Fall Forum planning meeting, and several major communications pieces all moved off my plate. I then had the opportunity to audition for a project written by one of my favorite playwrights, led by a number of artists I respect. I’m so grateful when anyone thinks of me as an actor these days. I don’t do anything to find acting gigs, so it’s really special when people remember that’s something I do.

While I haven’t finished Taina and Marvin yet, I’ve continued to plug away at it every day, and do expect to have it finished by the weekend.


Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 156 out of 199 days (Taina and Marvin)
Spanish: 133 out of 199 days
Music: 59 out of 105 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 and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena (though also neglected to bring food to work, though managed to add very little additional waste because of awesome Just Salad bowl);
  • Signed my support to a petition against the recent legislation restricting voter rights;
  • Asked the EPA to restrict the chemicals that are killing bees;
  • Thanked Mayor De Blasio for raising NYC’s minimum wage.


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(Not much baby-blogging in this update, so here’s an adorable picture from Heather of keeping watch over a stomach-napping Mercena while having a picnic.)

(Why am I naming days?)

9/30/14, Day 14,028 (Mercena Day 46): #MeowMeow4Life

This day is so named for my dear friend and Flux Creative Partner Kia Rogers, whom the Flux CPs showered with love, beer and bar-food last night. Kia’s had a year of some major ups and downs, and after a recent loss, we wanted to surround her with love and celebrate life. When we’re doing it right, Flux really is a family, and I hope last night was one of those nights. A huge thank you to Sandra “MomMom” Morgan for watching Mercena so that both Heather and I could attend.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about the value of Ensembles, both directly with Flux and then on a working phone call for Network of Ensemble Theaters. NET’s just begun EmcArts’ Innovation Lab, and I felt blessed to be a part of a very thoughtful and expansive phone call about the particular value of ensemble artists, values and practices.

We also had a great visit with our midwives Carol and Shar in the morning for our six-week appointment, and Mercena evidently had a great day with Beatles-inspired naps. I miss her so much during the day…

10/1/14, Day 14,029 (Mercena Day 47): #BuildingArtsAudiences

This day is so named for the launch of the Wallace Foundation’s new $40 million initiative, Building Audiences for Sustainability. I attended the livestream panel that launched the initiative along with their new report, Road to Results, as part of a TCG cohort, and live-tweeted the panel discussion.

The best part of the meeting was bumping into some of my favorite theatre people also in attendance and having some meaningful conversations about parents in theatre. I’d write more, but I don’t know how long this morning nap will last:).

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 154 out of 197 days (Taina and Marvin)
Spanish: 133 out of 197 days
Music: 57 out of 103 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 and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena (though delivery from Bare Burger last night did bring two new plastic bags into our life);
  • Participated in a NET planning phone call;
  • Asked GoFundMe to take abortion off its list of banned content;
  • Asked Google to stop funding climate-denying candidates;
  • Asked Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp to make sure all valid voter registration forms are processed.

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