Saturday, December 29, 2007

why my scalp is blotchy and bright

I have long had a fascination with hair dye.

It began when my friend Rebecca...whose incredible beauty I tended to envy... told me that she dyed her deep brunette hair, resplendent with an auburn iridescence, with boiling hot Black Cherry kool-aid. I shortly thereafter attempted to give myself Kool-Aid highlights, but succeeded only in disobeying my parents (I'd been forbidden to toy with God's creation until I turned 15) and getting grounded, with a faint orange hue tinging my bangs for about a day.

I turned fifteen and bought the first box of Garnier Nutrisse I saw.

Since then, my hair has been varying shades of brown, from reddish-brown to brown-brown; I flirted with black, but I looked like Morticia Addams. I went natural for a while but I saw gray hairs and went crying back to Clairol. I started drifting farther and farther away from brown, as well.

At the urging of my friends, I ignored my dad's complaints about fake-looking burgundy hair and dyed my hair fake-looking burgundy.

Now I look kind of like The Little Mermaid and my bathroom looks like a crime scene. The cupboard needed repainting anyway. And I've been thinking about my long relationship with dye, and how hair color plays on all my qualms with my identity.

The hair color industry banks on the idea that people want to look like something they're not.

People who gray want to look like people who don't gray.

People who aren't blond want to look like they are.

People want to pay 7.95 plus tax for confidence in a bottle.

I wanted to look older and more sophisticated? I dyed my hair a dark brown. And gave myself bangs at two o'clock am, but that's a different story.

I wanted to look more urbane and dangerous? I dyed my hair a color not found in nature---well, yes, technically found in nature but not so much on heads in natural states.

People, including me, tend to claim that messing with their hair is a form of self-expression, as if their inner self had beachy blonde highlights. But I think it's usually more of a form of expressing one's nothaves.

I don't have the chutzpah to make decisions; but maybe my hair color does.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sorry, Christmas

I got my informative brochure from THAT school's graduate program in the mail on Christmas Eve.

Therefore, Christmas got lost in the shuffle of my tormented mind. I would have written a witty reflective on crass commercialism and the religion of Santa--but you've seen it on a sitcom and read it already and my brain is fried from the maelstrom created by THAT school's slick brochure and its graduation requirements.

Consequently, I have gotten a head start on my New Year's Resolutions, which are legion and include the following:

1. Learn French! Again! Etudiez le francais! Encore! I learned it very well before, thanks to a dynamic globetrotter of a tutor named Kathy Warren. So well, in fact, that I tested out of it at the undergraduate level and never looked back... until I realized graduate programs such as THAT school's require their dramaturgs to translate. "Adequate" reading knowledge of French does probably not consist entirely of Ace of Base's "Voulez-Vous Dancer." Unfortunately. So I rescued a bilingual copy of Blaise Pascal's Pensees from my dad's bathroom reading collection. I know all about the misere of the milieu and the religion chrestienne, but I'm not sure it'll get me through.

2. Kick tail this semester, academically and otherwise, without causing damage to my person, physically or otherwise. I don't need another semester like this one. I'm hoping not taking thousands upon thousands of design history will calm my nerves.

3. Do not hold myself back by being too scared or lazy to go after the best. I don't know how to do this without staying high strung, but maybe I can figure it out. This includes actually APPLYING to grad schools, etc.

4. Write amazing papers.

5. Figure out life. At this point, I trust the philosophical personalities of Jesus and Bill Watterston. Not that I regard them as equals, but I've gotten a lot out of Calvin & Hobbes lately.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

update on finals week

I'm hanging in there.

Today--at 8am--that's EIGHT, in the MORNING, which is anathema to the college theatre student and just a godforsaken time of day in general--I had what I hope will be my hardest final this semester. I didn't study enough of the right material and it was just not a stellar experience.

I stayed up all of last night studying for it, and the consequence was that I knew a lot of the terms but fell asleep on every one of the five essays. I'd wake myself up shortly thereafter to read some gibberish I'd written in a daze... my favorite was about the "magical" post and lintel construction of ancient Egypt.

Post and lintel construction is a butt joint, basically--an architrave. While it's darn cool that post and lintel buildings stay up thanks entirely to compression and tension... it's scarcely "magical."

I spelled it "majical," too. That's how you know I'm tired; my spelling is the first thing to go.

I crossed out "majical" and wrote "magical." I don't know why I continued to describe post and lintel as "magical," but I'm proud that I made a choice and committed to it, even if it was in the haze of a mid-essay nap.

I got a finals care package today, which helps prevent me from kicking myself about making stupid spelling errors on my sleepless exam this morning. It consists of berry tea, cough drops, gummibears, and socks; which is to say that it smells like organic fruit leather. I'll probably give my cough drops to my roommate; she's been feeling under the weather lately.

My dad wrote a note inside, in his wonderful, familiar left-handed scrawl: "We laugh-ha!-at exams."

Give me a couple more days, and I'll probably laugh-ha!-at them, too.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

a postmodern parable

I have an outline, but no thesis.

I'm arguing neutral.

My final paper is due in twenty-two hours.

I should probably do laundry if I'm planning to wear my LBD to the party tonight.

I should probably lose weight if I'm planning to wear my LBD to the party tonight.

I want to write a play before I die--but I've run out of thesis. I have no ideas; I have no conflict; I'm probably just going to write poetry.

I'm a junior; I should figure this stuff out. Some of my friends are juniors. They're making it. If you think about it, I'm making it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New Identity: Avenging Angel.

This is a long IM conversation... but you should read the gist to spare your own teenage sister from bankruptcy. Also, if you have any ideas for action that we could take, please let me know.

baby sister (04:11:37 pm): hiya

turg nerd (04:11:40 pm): hey.

turg nerd (04:11:45 pm): what's up?

baby sister (04:11:51 pm): i set off a security alarm at staples

baby sister (04:12:05 pm): isn't that sooooooooo wonderful of me?

turg nerd (04:12:22 pm): poor baby.

baby sister (04:12:39 pm): and claire, NEVER EVER EVER EVER get a greendot card EVER

baby sister (04:12:45 pm): it's like a debit card type thing

baby sister (04:12:46 pm): butttt

baby sister (04:12:49 pm): it has like

baby sister (04:12:59 pm): countless hidden fees

baby sister (04:13:07 pm): and i've got one

baby sister (04:13:15 pm): but i have to get rid of it soon

baby sister (04:13:20 pm): because it's just awful

turg nerd (04:13:25 pm): oh no!

turg nerd (04:13:33 pm): countless hidden fees? that seems BAD!

baby sister (04:13:40 pm): it IS

baby sister (04:13:49 pm): there's a 5 buck monthly fee

baby sister (04:13:57 pm): a 5 dollar reload fee

baby sister (04:14:17 pm): ummmmm a 10 dollar introductory fee

baby sister (04:14:20 pm): i mean, it's insanity

baby sister (04:14:32 pm): FIVE DOLLARS ADDS UP, DONTCHA KNOW!!!!!!

turg nerd (04:17:21 pm): that is RIDICULOUS

baby sister (04:17:27 pm): i know

baby sister (04:17:31 pm): it stinks so bad

turg nerd (04:17:32 pm): I can't believe you'd have one of those

turg nerd (04:17:40 pm): FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH IS CRAZY!

baby sister (04:17:45 pm): WHY DIDN'T I JUST GET A STUPID CHECKING ACCOUNT, MAN????

baby sister (04:17:48 pm): I FEEL LIKE A RETARD!!

turg nerd (04:18:06 pm): Don't feel like a retard. Someone lied to you and sold you something.

baby sister (04:18:22 pm): that's what mom says

turg nerd (04:18:27 pm): Just CLOSE your greendot account... CLOSE IT. Open your own checking account and you will get a debit card.

baby sister (04:18:36 pm): I WILL

baby sister (04:18:48 pm): but i'll probably get charged a cancellation fee

turg nerd (04:19:05 pm): see here's the thing. does the Better Business Bureau know about this? do they know you're 13? how did this happen?

turg nerd (04:19:19 pm): And pay the cancellation fee; it's better than A MONTHLY FEE THAT IS CRAPTASTIC.

turg nerd (04:19:26 pm): Do I have to beat someone UP?

baby sister (04:20:20 pm): yeah, I’m going to get rid of it like a hot potato

baby sister (04:20:24 pm): i was so ticked

baby sister (04:20:40 pm): i'm like, YOU HAVE TO BUY IT TO SEE THE FINE PRINT!!!

turg nerd (04:20:54 pm): how did you get it?

turg nerd (04:21:21 pm): do you realize that's 20$ for ONE month, ONE reload, and ONE introductory fee?

baby sister (04:21:36 pm): i KNOW

baby sister (04:21:39 pm): i'm soooo mad

baby sister (04:21:41 pm): anddddddddd

turg nerd (04:21:44 pm): HOW DID YOU GET THIS? HOW?

turg nerd (04:21:51 pm): BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU THAT CRAP!

baby sister (04:21:58 pm): mom accidentally had to get me another card because of this mistake she made

baby sister (04:22:01 pm): and that was 8 dollars

baby sister (04:22:16 pm): ugh

turg nerd (04:22:27 pm): Write Good Housekeeping!

turg nerd (04:22:29 pm): I am serious.

baby sister (04:22:30 pm): they ROBBED FROM ME!!!!!!

turg nerd (04:22:32 pm): Call the POLICE.

turg nerd (04:22:40 pm): You are THIRTEEN. No one should be taking your money.

turg nerd (04:22:44 pm): It's like kicking a puppy.

turg nerd (04:22:51 pm): A thirteen year old, blond puppy.

baby sister (04:22:59 pm): yeah

baby sister (04:23:00 pm): i know

baby sister (04:23:05 pm): it's...AWFUL

baby sister (04:23:31 pm): i'm getting out of it as soon as possible

turg nerd (04:23:32 pm): I am reading lots of blogs right now from furious people who got this card.

turg nerd (04:23:37 pm): You should TAKE ACTION.

baby sister (04:24:00 pm): i know, i'm on their site RIGHT NOW to see how i can get my money back

baby sister (04:24:09 pm): I'LL SUE THEM IF THEY DON'T GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK

baby sister (04:24:14 pm): actually, i won't

baby sister (04:24:17 pm): but whatever

turg nerd (04:24:53 pm): THEY HAVE A LIQUIDATION FEE

turg nerd (04:24:56 pm): but whatever.

turg nerd (04:25:02 pm): you'll pay it because you MUST CANCEL THIS CARD

turg nerd (04:25:10 pm): Was DAD ok with this?!?!??!?!?!?!?

baby sister (04:25:24 pm): HOW MUCH IS THE LIQUIDATION FEEE??

baby sister (04:25:34 pm): i am going to get a checking account

baby sister (04:25:48 pm): as soon as i possibly get my little pingies on my cold, hard cash again

turg nerd (04:25:51 pm): IT DOESN'T SAY ON THE FAQ!

turg nerd (04:26:06 pm): I'm really angry, actually.

turg nerd (04:26:31 pm): This is taking advantage of people who don't qualify for credit cards and think they can get away with this and taking advantage of minors.

baby sister (04:26:37 pm): i know

baby sister (04:26:44 pm): and you seriously have to BUY it to read the fine print

baby sister (04:26:55 pm): because it's inside the packet that you buy

baby sister (04:27:10 pm): and you can't get your money back from the flippin' store

turg nerd (04:27:15 pm): I know

turg nerd (04:27:18 pm): I'm sorry, Boo.

turg nerd (04:27:33 pm): Again, I have to ask: was Dad ok with you getting one in the first place?

turg nerd (04:27:41 pm): because it sounds like something he would not be ok with.

baby sister (04:27:59 pm): he didn't really know what it was

turg nerd (04:28:02 pm): WHEN did you get this? did you get it today at staples?

turg nerd (04:28:13 pm): how long have you had this plastic moneysucker?

baby sister (04:28:31 pm): i just got it in the mail today

baby sister (04:28:34 pm): and i hate it

baby sister (04:28:36 pm): with a passion

baby sister (04:28:40 pm): WITH MY SOULLLLL

turg nerd (04:28:45 pm): I wouldn't let my kid carry plastic, just fyi. Like--if you were my daughter, I would not be ok with you having a checking account.

turg nerd (04:29:02 pm): Do not pay any fee that you don't have to.

turg nerd (04:29:12 pm): Have you loaded any money onto it?

baby sister (04:29:33 pm): OMG

baby sister (04:29:43 pm): it STILL does not tell me the fee!!!

baby sister (04:29:54 pm): what the heck?? THIS IS HIGHWAY ROBBERY!!!!!

turg nerd (04:30:04 pm): what is it?

baby sister (04:30:29 pm): the cancellation fee thing.

turg nerd (04:30:33 pm): how much?

baby sister (04:30:34 pm): it didn't tell me how much it was.

baby sister (04:30:40 pm): i don't KNOW

turg nerd (04:30:53 pm): don't pay it. say, "screw you, big corporation, I'm 13 and you're taking advantage of me."

baby sister (04:30:59 pm): they're like, trying to confuse me by NOT TELLING ME HOW MUCH I'M PAYING!!!!

baby sister (04:31:01 pm): yeah really.

turg nerd (04:31:05 pm): FIND A LAWYER!

turg nerd (04:31:17 pm): Find someone who is into business law and see if you can get away with not paying it.

turg nerd (04:31:21 pm): Call the company.

turg nerd (04:31:45 pm): The customer is always right, right? Usually if it's a big company and the customer raises a big stink, then they just give in so you won't go nuts and get on the news.

turg nerd (04:31:55 pm): seriously, get journalism on your side.

turg nerd (04:32:05 pm): call Fox 8 and make them do an expose.

baby sister (04:32:09 pm): and seriously, it's not telling me how much the fee is

baby sister (04:32:24 pm): yeah i should do that

baby sister (04:32:30 pm): wow, you're really taking my side.

baby sister (04:32:31 pm): thanks

turg nerd (04:33:13 pm): you're welcome

turg nerd (04:33:23 pm): I mean, for real... you're my sister, for one thing

baby sister (04:33:33 pm): yeah

baby sister (04:33:42 pm): and for another thing, they stink like a poocat and you know it

turg nerd (04:33:45 pm): but for another, you are 13 years old and a piece of plastic is sucking your money/our parents' money away for NO GOOD REASON.

turg nerd (04:33:59 pm): there is NO GOOD REASON for you to have this particular card.

turg nerd (04:34:14 pm): there's not really a good reason for you to have a card at all but that's just my opinion

baby sister (04:34:26 pm): i know

baby sister (04:34:32 pm): i didn't know about all this

turg nerd (04:34:38 pm): I don't think it's cool for you to be either carrying around a lot of cash or something that can be used to oh... GET ALL THE MONEY OUT OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

baby sister (04:34:40 pm): i wanted a debit card so i could buy stuff online

turg nerd (04:34:46 pm): I see.

baby sister (04:35:02 pm): and i thought that this was a good idea since i had no IDEA that it cost money at all

turg nerd (04:35:02 pm): poor Booey.

turg nerd (04:35:06 pm): RIGHT.

baby sister (04:35:10 pm): i thought it was like, a gift card to anywhere

baby sister (04:35:16 pm): hey, i'm naive, okay???

turg nerd (04:35:32 pm): It's OK and this is why: I might have done the same thing if I were in your shoes.

baby sister (04:35:53 pm): IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE EMAIL SO THAT I CAN COMPLAIN!!!!!!!


baby sister (04:36:18 pm): EXCEPT BY SNAAAAIL MAAAAAIL

turg nerd (04:36:18 pm): ok... what greendot card do you have?

turg nerd (04:36:23 pm): mastercard? visa? what?

baby sister (04:36:27 pm): visa

baby sister (04:37:37 pm): i cannot find the fee!

turg nerd (04:38:23 pm): your card expires if there is 0 balance for 60 days

turg nerd (04:38:29 pm): I did find that out

baby sister (04:38:33 pm): that's nice

baby sister (04:38:42 pm): but i will still be charged some fees

baby sister (04:38:54 pm): but i can't find a cancellation fee, are you sure there is one??

baby sister (04:39:11 pm): because if there's not, i'm going to do it this very second

turg nerd (04:39:18 pm): I'm looking

baby sister (04:39:28 pm): if there is, i'm going to find out if there's anything i can do to get more people on my side

turg nerd (04:39:41 pm): here's the thing

turg nerd (04:40:06 pm): contact VISA or greendot card WITH an adult, like mom or dad so they can edit your email and you will know what to say

turg nerd (04:40:09 pm): but be YOU

turg nerd (04:40:13 pm): don't make them do it for you

turg nerd (04:40:25 pm): because they will feel like horrible people for stealing from a 13 year old

turg nerd (04:40:34 pm):

turg nerd (04:40:48 pm): that link takes you to "contact visa;" you write the email in the window

baby sister (04:41:05 pm): k cool

turg nerd (04:42:48 pm): and I am serious... IF visa gets their panties in a wad... talk to the BBB

turg nerd (04:42:58 pm): because maybe what they're doing isn't ILLEGAL, per se

baby sister (04:43:17 pm): hahahahahahahahaha

turg nerd (04:43:20 pm): but see if you can get them scared about "misleading advertising" or "improper selling practices"

baby sister (04:43:25 pm): it is

baby sister (04:43:27 pm): they are

baby sister (04:43:35 pm): you HAVE to BUYYY it to find out about the fees

baby sister (04:43:39 pm): You MUST

turg nerd (04:43:55 pm): read this from the BBB website:

turg nerd (04:44:01 pm): BBB strongly encourages consumers to first attempt to resolve complaints directly with the company, however BBB will not reject a complaint if a consumer has not taken this step. All complaints are processed by local BBBs, most often the BBB where the company is located. Historically, over 70% of complaints filed through BBB are resolved. In some cases, BBB mediation or arbitration may be offered to assist in resolutio

turg nerd (04:44:17 pm): Your complaint will be forwarded to the company within two business days. The company will be asked to respond within 14 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be made. You will be notified of the company's response when we receive it (or notified that we received no response). Complaints are usually closed within 30 calendar days.

baby sister (04:44:32 pm): cool

turg nerd (04:44:49 pm): there should be at least some fine print available before people buy that card

baby sister (04:45:02 pm): i know

baby sister (04:45:20 pm): there's none of that information on the commercial, none on the card you buy

baby sister (04:45:34 pm): i mean, unless you look on the internet

baby sister (04:45:49 pm): which i, in my stupidity, did not

turg nerd (04:45:56 pm): right

baby sister (04:45:59 pm): unless you look online, you won't find any of that stuff

baby sister (04:46:07 pm): and that is just plain THIEVERY

turg nerd (04:46:11 pm): well, they're banking on the idea that most people will buy this card, like you did, without doing the research first

turg nerd (04:46:32 pm): which isn't a good idea but it's understandable

turg nerd (04:46:39 pm): and it's really vague online

baby sister (04:47:01 pm): yeah

baby sister (04:47:05 pm): so it's vague all over

turg nerd (04:47:09 pm): but do you read Good Housekeeping? Do you know people write letters to them every month with their consumer complaints, and GH goes to the company and makes them fix things?

turg nerd (04:47:56 pm): is their email address... if VISA itself won't fix your problem, go to the BBB and here

baby sister (04:48:07 pm): nice

turg nerd (04:48:09 pm): GH probably won't fix your problem... unless they feature it in the magazine...

turg nerd (04:48:14 pm): but it's a nice threat

baby sister (04:48:19 pm): i am going to cancel my account

turg nerd (04:48:22 pm): good.

baby sister (04:48:30 pm): and if they have ANOTHER hidden fee, i WILL contact SOMEBODY

baby sister (04:48:42 pm): because i did not find that information anywhere on the site

baby sister (04:48:49 pm): if they rip me off again, i will not stand for it

turg nerd (04:49:03 pm): how do mom and dad feel about this?

turg nerd (04:49:19 pm): when you cancel the account, do you do that online or by phone?

turg nerd (04:49:45 pm): because you should do it by phone if you can help it. it's harder to take money from an actual person, it's easier to take it from a computer

baby sister (04:49:45 pm): mom feels so seething mad

turg nerd (04:49:50 pm): I bet she does.

turg nerd (04:49:52 pm): I'm seething mad

baby sister (04:49:55 pm): and dad is still a little out of the loop

baby sister (04:49:58 pm): yeah

baby sister (04:49:59 pm): well

baby sister (04:50:03 pm): i'm doing it online

baby sister (04:54:29 pm): if it costs money to cancel it, they will hera from me

baby sister (04:54:56 pm): *hear

turg nerd (04:55:03 pm): absolutely.

turg nerd (04:55:05 pm): do not back down.

turg nerd (04:55:07 pm): be fierce.

turg nerd (04:55:12 pm): I believe in you.

baby sister (04:55:13 pm): i won't

baby sister (04:55:33 pm): but mom did this thing

baby sister (04:55:40 pm): and accidentally put the card in her name

baby sister (04:55:46 pm): so we had to make another card

baby sister (04:55:49 pm): that was in my name

baby sister (04:56:01 pm): sooo that's gonna probably come in the mail tomorrow

baby sister (04:56:09 pm): and so i might have to do this all over again

turg nerd (04:56:13 pm): DO IT

turg nerd (04:56:17 pm): do not pay if you can help it,

baby sister (04:56:26 pm): I WILL NOT PAY!!!!!!1

turg nerd (04:56:27 pm): I'm serious about GH and BBB

baby sister (04:56:31 pm): i know

baby sister (04:56:54 pm): i've always been a kid that complains to people

baby sister (04:56:57 pm): well, not my parents

baby sister (04:57:01 pm): but like, companies

baby sister (04:57:04 pm): and governers

baby sister (04:57:07 pm): and websites

baby sister (04:57:08 pm): and stuff

baby sister (04:57:14 pm): so this'll just be another complaint

turg nerd (04:57:59 pm): yeah

turg nerd (04:58:01 pm): be assertive

turg nerd (04:58:03 pm): write the President

baby sister (04:58:13 pm): haha.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


So, a music director I know says he collects memories from every show he's conducted. Before he conducts one of the shows, he mentally picks out what to remember, and then he decides to remember them.

If I could remember things from my first semester of my junior year--they would be these:

"Congratulations! You have been selected to serve as a Junior Marshal for the 2007-2008 academic year. Please pardon the informality of e-mail but quick notification and response is important."

"Congratulations, Claire!" And then I was a Blue Masque senator.

eurydice. And by that I mean, not feeling like a total failure as the President of Alpha Psi Omega.

(I just typed--and erased, because it was wrong-- "Vice-President;" wishful thinking, Freudian slip, etc. I am, in fact, the President--unless Aaron was serious. If so, bless you, my son.)

Tim and Scrubs, CM and everything (especially The Mikado), Zach and Cinderella, and all of the other freshmen I've met and bonded with. Love, Archie.

Erin, sewing pants, and the victory of millinery.

Unreliable, unattainable crushes.

The occasional call for help to Nikolas Dewight Kear.

Maxwell "Scoops" Silverhammer and the most daring, dangerous thing I've done this semester....this side of that one party in Hurley.

Coffee with dear, sweet girls.

Studying for the midterm for the Vis Styles--panicking--redoing my decor handbook--but it was with the best of company.

"Your work is easily on the graduate level."

"With Cat-Like Tread!"

"After four years of college, I am finally.... a Pussycat Doll!" --Sonny

(I'm really going to miss his rapier wit. Take today in Vis Styles. Our professor was talking about modern buildings and asked if anyone had been by the PSFS Building in Philadelphia. Sonny said "yes, I walked by it," and Dave said, "You just walked by one of the first international style skyscrapers ever built." Sonny replied, "Wow, I should have pooped in the toilet." Crass... priceless... and just so Sonny.)

These are just some of the things I will try to remember... and follow... follow...

Monday, December 3, 2007

part of growing up is setting new goals for yourself

New Goal:

To write a really good bad play.

I've just been reading about the development of Gutenberg! The Musical! which is about the invention of the printing press with movable type, not Steve Guttenberg, the star of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie It Takes Two which I saw at least five times in one year, which happened to be the year that I was eight.

The author, Scott Brown, said that the inspiration for Gutenberg! The Musical! came from the new musicals his co-author, Anthony King, had to watch for his internship in NYC.

Here is his description of the shows much like the show I hope to write one day:

These shows … well, to say they were simply "bad" is to miss the point. They were, many of them, brilliantly bad. They were knockoffs of knockoffs of knockoffs. Most of them shared more DNA with the musical mega-spectacles of the '80s than with classic, golden-age shows, and even that DNA was seriously degraded. Others were frighteningly original in their awfulness: the worst subjects mated with the oddest executions, yielding the most unintentionally hilarious results. Even better, they were tremendously self-important, overblown and underbaked, puffing under the weight of their own hubris. They were the very best kind of very bad art.

And they were passionate. The readings themselves were wonderfully surreal: There was something magically, inspiringly absurd about watching actors (and occasionally, the authors themselves) attempt to illustrate the awesome scope of these productions in rehearsal rooms and church basements, describing dazzlingly cumbersome stage effects with nothing but mime and stage directions.

They're basically what would happen if Evil Dead was adapted as a musical. Wow. That would be a great musical. I'd love to write Evil Dead The Musical. Oh, no wait... it's already been written. So--suggestions for the most ambitious musical of all time? (Such as a Victor Hugo epic that spans fifty years? Oh, no wait... that's been written, too. Darn.)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I believe; help my unbelief.

Now, more than ever, I am struggling with doubt.

Not struggling in the sense that the doubt itself is more all-consuming than ever before--it's just your basic, garden-variety doubt. Am I doing the right thing? What is the right thing? Where is it?

It's wrestling with the essence of doubt. How far can questioning go before it's a negative force in my life? Is there a heaven for skeptics?

Is doubting for the people who, at the end of the day, want to arrive at the truth... or is doubting for the people who just wish to undermine the truth so they don't have to pay attention to it?

I think it is because I want to trust that I feel this kneejerk reaction to evaluate.

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. --Rene Descartes

I doubt. I doubt. I doubt.

"Doubt" is a funny word; it has a silent "b."

Anton Chekhov once said that man is what he believes. Maybe a man is what he doubts, too.

I don't want to be proud of distrusting. I just want to believe. But I want to believe the truth. To really believe it. Not blindly, but through every possible doubt.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

World AIDS Day

Isaac Asimov.

Howard Ashman.

Tony Azito.

Freddie Mercury.

Peter Allen.

Larry Kert.

Rudolf Nureyev.

Tina Chow.

Herb Ritts.

Michael Bennett.

I've never met any of these people, but I admire each and every one of them for their talent and what they did with it.

The Bicentennial Man.

Beauty and the Beast.

The Sergeant.

We Are The Champions.

Not The Boy Next Door.

Something's Coming.

Swan Lake. (And The Muppet Show!)

Mr. Chow.

All those GAP ads.

A Chorus Line.

They've each affected my life. Maybe in a small way, but they have, enough to make me cry when I think of what the art world lost. Of who the art world lost.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November Is For Lovers.

I can't remember who said it now.

"Screw February," she said. "November is for lovers." Something to that effect.

I have to agree. So many of my friends have recently found happiness with one dreamboat or another, and they gush appropriately.

I guess I slept through Boyfriend Season, because I know I don't have one. (You know... fishing season... hunting season... boyfriend season... forget it.)

To be honest, I can't complain.

There is no better time to be single than twenty. Twenty is the new thirteen. When you are twenty, you're in the throes of neoadolescence. The world is your oyster. Responsibility is slinking quietly up to you like a boa about to constrict... but you do not have to care for two short years.

I am woman. I have neurotic tendencies. I am bright. I am confident. I am dryly witty. I am the new thirteen.

But really, where would I be without The Bangles?

PS--I'd also like to point out the attractiveness that is my family:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So, for the past couple of hours, I've been looking at THIS:

The Theatre Arts Graduate Program of ___________ has long been recognized as one of the most outstanding graduate schools in the nation. The program offers a M.F.A. in Acting, Scenic Design, and Dramaturgy (Or it will say Dramatic Writing or Theatre Criticism.) Our students are universally challenged to create wonderful, critically valid works of art which will render them incapable of ever being unemployed by any theatre. Our involved faculty experts empower our students to take over the theatre world.

(Looks good. I scroll down.)

Students of dramaturgy (or dramatic writing or theatre criticism) are intellectually dragged through the sewer by their hair. Their exceptional dedication and voracious talent means that they are required to write a book the size of Tolstoy's War and Peace on each and every graduate level production at the ______________ School of Professional Drama. The book must use proper punctuation, MLA format, and blank verse.

Each potential dramaturgy MFA is required to fit 1000000000000000000000000000000 hours of work into 60 credit hours. Our three year program will suck away 10 years of your life, as seen in the torture scenes in The Princess Bride.

The dissertation and thesis committees are located in the scenic submerged city of ancient Atlantis. Find Atlantis, defend your master's thesis, and, after our committee has torn it into shreds, edit it into a masterpiece worthy of our graduate program within 2 minutes. While knitting a sweater for Anne Bogart and participating in an anti-Bush demonstration.

I am, for real, going to flip.

Discontent, diseased, and disgruntled....... OR AM I?!

I came off of my Thanksgiving holiday with a bug.

A big bug.

A hurts-to-move-hurts-to-eat-hurts-to-cough-hurts-to-sleep bug.

I caught it from my sister.

And five pounds, straight to my middle, of turkey fat. Don't ask me how it happened; I ate ham.

I look at the rest of my extended family, and I wonder how it happened that they are distance runners and I'm emphatically not.

Of course, the relatives are also into Cole Porter, as am I. We're not entirely from different stratospheres. (Cole Porter, by the way, inspired the title of this blog post by writing so many conveniently alliterative songs.)

But still. I have half the DNA of a distance-running family. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? I very suddenly wonder if I'd be expressing more of myself, my heritage, my identity, if I started running.

I had been signed up for a 2 Mile Walk/Run for charity, unbeknownst to me previous to my arrival in VA. Very well, thought I; one of my relatives donated the registration fee out of pocket, so I can surely amble with ease for two miles. It was a 34 or so minute promenade, meandering with my cousin and her boyfriend. We pretended to be powerwalkers.

But some of my relatives actually ran, or they ran the 10 am 5 Mile Run. One of my cousins is a runner for her university. Another cousin and uncle (not by marriage; my real, honest to God blood uncle) are training for a half marathon.

A half marathon is 13.1 miles. I would be bored to tears, even if I could run for 13.1 miles.

Or would I?

I am suddenly very discontent with being still for the time it would take to run 13.1 miles, which, if you are my 50-year-old running uncle, is still a few hours.

And yet I'm conscious--and self-conscious--that Thanksgiving is for being thankful. Even if, since I am in an ibuprofen-induced state, with sinus headaches, palpable muscle aches, and crankiness, it took a reminder.

Thanksgiving is not about the big turkey (I ate ham anyway) or Black Friday. It's about taking stock and thinking that I already have a pretty good lot in life. Even if I can't run 13.1 miles (yet) (and to run 13.1 miles would mean I'd have to buy expensive shoes and anti-chafe gel and probably an iPod) and I have PLAGUE (gee, thanks, Bethany!). I still have things that make me smile and make me a better person.

So here's to the stuff that isn't rancid in my life--the stuff that will never grow tiring or bitter. Here's to second--and third or fourth or seventieth--chances, thanks to a God who is, inevitably, always bigger than I. Here's to my awesome knit hat with the oversize pompom. Here's to being short. Here's to movies with Judy Garland in them. Here's to my patient parents. Here's to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Here's to dramaturgical, geeky research. And finally, here's to anyone who believes that, with training, I could one day run a half marathon.

Yup. I'm ready for Christmas.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

For Booey.

Congratulations on making it thus far through the throes of middle school.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with the cattiness that is so prevalent among girls your age--and the idiocy of boys your age.

Believe me, I understand.

When I talk with you, my beloved baby sister, the memories of being a wound-up wad of energy and emotion and nerves invariably comes flooding back.

Eighty-five pounds. Christopher Mitchell. Dealing with a brother I didn't understand. Zits. Ever After (and Dougray Scott). The Jenna Elfman-- that (first) hair cut that made me look like a boy. Sleepovers. Giggles. Sunday School. My beloved pink, ivory, and blue angora sweater. The Olympic Games in Sydney. Not fitting in... if I'm not cool enough for the rest of the (weird) homeschoolers, how gauche, exactly, does that make me? Dive played all the time on the Christian radio station.

And I look at this quivering mess of bad hair and giggles and knees, and I wish I could go back and tell her the things I am going to tell you. Not that it would make a difference. Young Claire liked to learn things the hard way. She kind of still does.


Girls who are really OK with themselves do not like to make other girls feel bad. Note that I did not say "Girls who are really into themselves do not like to make other girls feel bad." But girls who are really, fundamentally secure are invariably OK with making connections and lasting friendships with other girls. It's only the resentful and frightened little girls who feel the need to compete and alienate potential galpals.

This means that your archrivals are probably as insecure as you are, no matter how perfect an image they may perpetuate. So have a little pity. And don't take it to heart when they say catty things or badmouth you behind your back.

(And remember... you probably have hurt someone's feelings in a similar way at some point.)

Being genuinely friendly to everyone is the smartest thing you can do. You'll make friends because most of the insecure girls will want to befriend someone who accepts them and makes them feel cool. And then the few insecure girls who backstab will be gossiping about you to your new friends, who will defend you.

Caring about junior high boys? Not really that worth it. Most of them have not figured out that they do need to wear deodorant every single day. You may think they matter. And they should matter... to Jesus. Not to you.

So, now that I have told you not to take the junior high drama to heart, you may be wondering what I do wish you would consider focusing on. The answer is simple: bigger things than you. Life is crazy... for you. So put your crazy self into a cool situation. Continue to dance and do theatre. Learn a lot--but never think that you know it all. I started going to OFY when I was your age, and it changed my life.

Don't take the middle school drama to heart. Be okay with where you are. You are a beautiful, intelligent kid. Rebekah Carmichael thinks that you are "awesomeness." A lot of us are really proud of you... even if you are a middle schooler with a lot to learn, a lot of room to grow, and some pretty flagrant flaws.

And watch the movie Stardust. But you cannot watch it without me. I'm serious. I will be very angry if you see it when I'm not with you. It's the ultimate sister-bonding movie.

Whenever I mention that I have a sister around my two friends, they always ask "Is she hot?"

They're goofballs. Dirty goofballs who know that using the word "hot" in reference to my baby sister makes me vastly uncomfortable. Dirty goofballs who love to watch me squirm.

But I'm telling you this--and I'm being honest, because I don't lie to you--that in four, maybe five, maybe six years, not only will you have survived middle school and gone on to bigger and better things, you're going to be hot stuff.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Smell of the Crowd, The Roar of the Greasepaint

I'm not going to lie; I love being in the theatre department. I do.

I realized this, anew, today. I was walking through the performance space that's currently being used for "Pirates of Penzance," and I happened to see a large, eerie, red being with claws and netting and a fierce scowl.

We call him Lucifer and he is a gigantic puppet that usually hangs on the ceiling, reaching out his fearsome claws and glowering menacingly down on the scene shop, which is where we build the sets and props. (And by "we," I do mean "we"--I'm mean with a jigsaw--though the rest of the department may be meaner.) We're doing "A Christmas Carol" and my dear friend Meg is playing The Ghost of Christmas Future and is constructing a large, eerie puppet ostensibly similar to Lucifer. She has been walking around with Lucifer for practice. Right now, Lucifer is discarded backstage, stretched along the back wall so as not to get in the way of the Pirates.

And I just thought to myself, as I gazed upon this enigma, this paper, clawed puppet stretched along the wall as if in the middle of dying, "I go to school with a gigantic puppet named Lucifer."

The thought made me smile. I go to school for fantasy, for adventures too exciting to be really real. I go to school for the pirates, for the larger-than-life paper mache demons, for the pie shops and the turntables--all magical stage machinations which never work. I go to school for the happy endings and the tearjerkers.

I go to a school that is proud of gigantic puppets, that puts puppets on display.

I love theatre because you can watch your friends and foes put on just a bit of crepe hair and latex and become a different person.

I love it because I am interested in things that happen. I like action. Drama is action. Lots of action.

I love theatre because I love the sound of words. I love the combination of good vocabulary and good resonance.

I go to this school because we will spend thousands of dollars for paint for a show that runs for four performances.

I go to this school because it's full of people who put their heart and soul into every stroke they paint or every stitch they sew. We make mistakes--but it is because we are consistently challenged by the guidance of the faculty, who intentionally give us responsibilities that are uncomfortably large, in hopes that our characters will grow to fit them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Meaning of Life

I was discussing the meaning of life with an ignorant agnostic. Now, I'm not going to generalize here--not all agnostics are ignorant people. Some are very intelligent. This agnostic wasn't.

But I'm still thinking about the meaning of life... because I want my life to be ideal, perfect... everything in place, like a good stage manager's first aid kit.

I've heard it said that the meaning of life is putting things in holes. Such a postmodern concept: the meaning of life is forming context, relationships with people and things, connecting nodes in the brain. It's all text.

And I do that. I guess.

But I also break things apart. I'm the kid who would take off the back of the cassette player to see all the pretty colored wires on the inside.

I destruct.

I analyze.

And I write.

If I put things in holes, I spend the rest of my life poking the things out again and scrutinizing the holes and the things. I examine Christianity and theatre and people, because these are the things I care about.

What in your life grants meaning, and how?

For a friend of mine, it's visceral experiences. He hasn't told me this... but I know. It's the warm, fuzzy, deliciously 12-year-old-and-reading-Playboy feeling he gets when he reads Kurt Vonnegut. It's the accomplishment he experiences when he works really hard on a show and lives it. He's a pastor's kid--but he really should almost belong to the First Church of Epicureanism. It's not hedonism; it's a little too simplistic and admirable... it's just experience.

Good Friend, he of the giggles and Blue Moons, doesn't tend to think there is a meaning--because if there is, I guess he'd have to have some responsibilities. The meaning of life, to him, he says, is "Who cares if there's a meaning of life?"


I think that I care.