Monday, December 22, 2008

Blame it on the snow...

Snowed in in Portland, OR! At least I am with my sweetheart...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The What

Its been a while, and I can tell through your silence that your are passive aggressively sulking, oh blog readers of my imagination. Well never fear, Kate is here, with a big recommendation for you! I just finished reading Dave Eggers' recent book, What is the What, which tells the amazing (and for the most part true) story of a Sudanese refugee. It is a highly enjoyable read, though I will not pretend that it didn't depress and enrage me greatly. If you buy this book, all of the proceeds go to helping rebuild Sudan and contributing to the needs of the Sudanese refugees living in America.
Here is the myth:
"God made the monyjang tall and strong, and he made their women beautiful, more beautiful than any of the creatures of the land...and when God was done, and the monyjang were standing on the earth waiting for instruction, God asked the man, 'Now that you are here, on the most sacred and fertile land I have, I can give you one more thing. I can give you this creature, which is called the cow'...God showed man the idea of the cattle, and the cattle were magnificent. They were in every way exactly what the monyjang would want. The man and woman thanked God for such a gift, because they knew that the cattle would bring them milk and meat and prosperity of every kind. But God was not finished. God said, 'You can either have these cattle, as my gift to you, or you can have the What.'"
The story goes on, but the essential question we are left with is; What is the what? Read the book, tell me your answer to this...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Investment advice

Hello? Hellllooooooooooooooooooo? Anybody out there? Its me, Fever Kate. I have emerged from the cocoon that is the Nalanda campus where I have lived almost non-stop for the last month. I have Suzuki-ed with Leon Ingulsrud, I have Grotowski-ed with Erica Berg, I have made my first solo piece that had other people in it, I have toiled on behalf of the honeybees, I have drank many ounces of booze, I have slept little. And suddenly I am expected to have days off? Highly suspicious...Hey kids, what time is it? Its "Kate references a depressing political documentary time"! Last night I watched Maxed Out, a lovely portrait of several families who's loved ones (ranging from teenagers to mothers) have offed themselves because they were drowning in debt. Oh but don't fret, even those of us who have not yet succumbed to credit card debt have much to plague us--the national debt which is eating away our tax dollars in interest, the dissappearing social security fund, the increasing difficulty in getting a home loan. At the end of the movie the economist that was their specialist throughout is describing the most desperate Americans, and I suddenly realized she was talking about me! "Living paycheck to paycheck, unable to pay their medical bills, if even one thing goes wrong in their life it can set off a financial catastrophe" Yep, that sounds about like the tightrope that I am walking. Yet I know I am much better off than most of the people who were interviewed. I have invested in myself, rather than stocks and bonds, I believe this is the most secure investment that can be made. I am healthy, educated, growing into a more well-rounded person every day. And I may just make it through the semester without any credit card debt, though the student loan debt will be a proud badge that I wear for most of my adult life. Okay, so investment advice: Don't eat crap, work on yourself, do yoga, do what you love, don't trust anybody that offers you a free lunch and has a place to sign for it. And remember that you don't need money to be happy--cheesy but true. And never ever ever think that your life is worth less than your financial debt. Money is a symbol that represents goods and services--it has no inherent value, whereas you inhabit in your being all the value that there is in the universe.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Judge

I can't believe how fast its all going. Next week I will go home for Thanksgiving and then it is only two weeks until the end of the semester.
Today we got into some theory in my Grotowski class, which my analytical brain was very thirsty and grateful for. I am really fascinated with the way Erica (our teacher) breaks down the components of our personality into "observer" "experiencer" and "judge". I have some notion of observer and experiencer from Yoga and Buddhist philosophy, but I never realized until this work how attached I am to my Judge. As Erica says, the Judge is very seductive and sly, and often our experiencer thinks it is hearing the voice of the observer when it is really the judge. So without even thinking about it, we take certain things as fact that are really judgements, especially when it comes to ourselves. For example, right now I might be thinking "Don't write about that, Kate, nobody cares about your obscure Grotowski shit!" That's the voice of my Judge all right. To see myself objectively might be a life's work!
These ideas are interesting in connection to our art making, but even more awe-inspiring when I think of how it could change my life, to fully notice when the voice inside me is a judge. Erica encourages us not to label the judge as bad, but rather to take the energy that the judge creates in us and to use that energy in our work. It is a form of power, but to get lost in the judge's voice will make you powerless. Following? Well I hope not, because I am paying a pretty penny to actually get this stuff so why should you be able to understand it from reading a sloppy blog entry?
Okay, that's enough sass from me. I must get back to work.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Beeeeeen a while

Hello imaginary friends,
I know I have not posted for a while, this is because I have been at school for 13 hours every day trying to create 6 minutes of watchable performance about the missing honeybees. You would think I would have something by now, but I am convinced that I might just be a hack. Of course, this stage in the creation process is always a bit like this, since I have gone crazy and lost all perspective on who I am, what I like, or why I am doing this. Last night my rehearsal was visited by Leon Ingulsrud of the SITI company, who is our visiting artist right now. He is the least intimidating celebrity theater artist, and we spent most of the feedback session making stupid jokes (Leon's specialty) about bees. Then we had margaritas and I was privvy to his stories of "how it really happened"--"it" being the beginning of the SITI company. I have a hangover today, but it was all worth it. It is kind of amazing just to be sitting in this tiny Mexican restaurant after they have closed and they are vacuuming the floors and here I am talking to this person who has lived the life I can only fantasize about, but then maybe I am living this life! This is the funny thing about growing up, and about being a dream chaser--if you climb that mountain long enough you will eventually get to the top, it is just inevitable. And once you get there it won't be so shocking, because you will be like "duh, I've been climbing this damn mountain for 10 years so of course I am at the top." I am in no way insinuating that I have reached my peak, but simply that I have come quite a ways and I can look down and see the life I used to have and I can look up and see the life that is very much within reach to me and it is incredible.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



I came home tonight and my landlords had hung an American flag in front of our house. May it fly proud once again (sniff).


Thank you, fellow Americans, for coming through and renewing my faith in humanity.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OMG Honey bee!

Hi guys,
tonight we focus on the issue of missing honey bees. We do this because I am embodying the ghost of a honey bee for Halloween, and also for a performance piece I am creating.
We do this because we love honey bees.
Here is a link to a pretty cute You Tube video about honey bees:
and in case disco aint your thing:
Yo, where my bees?
Okay, you've already heard of the missing honey bees, so tell me what you think happened to them, and don't worry about "science" and "facts", just make it an interesting story...the creator of the best bee story will get a free ticket to my "dance of the bee ghosts" at Naropa University on November 22nd.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I don't like violence

It has been a very busy weekend where I pretended I was on vacation, but I am back! I did not live the monastic life these last two days, thankfully, but rather saw some thesis performances from the second year students of my program and had many drinks and debates about the merits of said performances.
I have something life changing for you. If you have not already seen it, please for the love of God watch the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.
It should be mandatory viewing for all Americans. And here is a question that I have; can fire be fought with fire, or should it be fought with water? For example, in this movie they talk about a tactic that Republicans use of coordinating a "message of the day", particularly during election time, and watching this message effectively echo, pretty much verbatum, across the mouths of politicians, "newscasters", shock jocks and eventually the American public. I have noticed that some of my favorite "liberal media" types, such as, tend to use this method as well. Of course, they are a small non-profit online list serve, versus being a huge broadcasting network that reaches millions of people in their homes, auto shops and sports bars, whether they want it or not. I feel very uneasy about using the propagandish tactics of right-wingers to try to fight back. Even though I agree with the spread of true information and the need to spread it fast in these times of lighting speed communication, the truest of true information requires time to digest and, well, contemplate. I believe in my heart of hearts that until we change the roots of our culture we cannot change anything, not really. Until we look honestly at what violence is, on every level, we cannot be peaceful. Violence is defamation, violence is manipulation, violence is polarization. How do I spread truth without spreading these things, which are at their center lies? I can focus all I want on my "enemies", Rupert Murdoch, Bill O' Reilly and the many other assholes who make this country feel like a war zone, but I am them, through and through, until I decide not to be. Until I decide that I will never tell Bill O' Reilly to "Shut Up" because I don't need to because I don't need to perpetuate the chain of violence that he tries so desperately to start. Okay, so I will probably never have the opportunity to decide whether or not to tell Bill O' Reilly to shut up, but I can apply this to all of the people I do meet and talk to, and I can apply this to the way that I talk about others. But I have to admit this is very hard. It is very hard not to want to perpetuate some form of violence on Bill O' Reilly, isn't it? Violence is much sneakier than we give it credit for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another day in Boulder...

...ah, the monastic life. Wait, what's that you say? I don't live in a monastery? Oh sure, not the conventional kind where they feed you and there's other like minded people in the rooms next to you. Nope, this is more like some kind of purgatory. By day I am immersed in "peeling off the layers of the onion", as they say, and by night...not a lot going on. Just waiting. Waiting for my real life to begin.
Okay, enough whining. Let's talk about my big night on the town last night! I was up until 1:30AM at the International Film Series-wow, call in the curfew enforcement. And you wouldn't believe how wild I got--I actually asked Charlie Kaufman a question in the Q&A--do I know how to party or what? Seriously though, it was an amazing movie, highly recommended:
And it happens to be about a theater director who makes what might be the biggest budget experimental theater production I have ever witnessed. This is pretty much the highlight of my week, oh blog readership. I went to school, I rolled around on the floor, I made loud and quiet noises, I came home and fried some tempeh. I am considering going to bed at 9:00.
I will report back later this weekend, after I have at least done something thrilling, like attended a yoga class! Incidentally, when you see the new Charlie Kaufman movie remember to make a fun of the irony of my line "waiting for my life to begin". That is pretty much the theme of this epic masterpiece. You'd think I would learn my lesson and stop waiting!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Artistic Superheroes

Today one of my teachers, Barbara Dilley, presented her artistic lineage and history to us. It was quite fascinating--she used to be in league with some of the biggest names in post-modernism. She was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Troupe, and she showed us video of their work that was sound-tracked live by John Cage, and one of the pieces had film design by Stan Brakhage. It was quite interesting to watch these artists at work in the 60's, making work not unlike what we are doing today, and getting just as little respect and money for it. Of course today at least some of them are "famous", in that we study what they were doing and the influence it had on the art forms they were working in. Barbara Dilley herself never made a living as an artist, she had to keep side jobs as a waitress until she started teaching at Naropa in the 70's. And she left her first child with his father in order to keep pursuing her art. I would like to think that we live in an age where women and men have learned how to work together to support both their careers and their families, or that at least I have what I need in order to do that. Who knows--it is a definite challenge that us "dancer" types face, especially women. There has to be an order to things in order to live a sensible life as an artist, and the questions "when will I be able to quit my day job?" or "when will I have health insurance?" must come before "when to have a child?". At least it seems that was wonderful and sad at the same time to see Barbara's life laid out like that--she had so much "success" in terms of recognition, she worked with some huge names, and yet she had to sacrifice so much it seems. But she is very at peace with herself--one senses this as soon as you meet her. I feel that her generation did a lot of experimenting, and that my generation is in this amazing position to be able to learn from the outcome of their experiments, both with their artistic work and their personal lives. I take my hat off to all of those anarchistic artists who have come before me, to all of the children of the 60's who had to learn for the first time what would happen when women experimented with their own power in new ways, to all whose findings inform our work today.
Okay, it is now time to go because I have another artistic superhero to meet; Charlie Kaufman!
If the name doesn't ring a bell, its because screenwriters are sadly neglected in the world of celebrity idols. But everybody knows his films--some of the most brilliant of our time. Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich, to name a few.
Charlie will be at CU tonight presenting his new film, which has not even been released yet, for FREE. CU makes us Naropa kids look like paupers, but at least we get to take advantage of their resources every now and again.
I will report if anything mind-bending occurs, and in the meantime go and look up your own artistic superheroes and find out how they got where they did--that is your life changing assignment for the night.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Breathe, and they fade...

Let's go ahead and start out with a few nice quotes from my Buddhist book by Chogyum Trungpa Rinpoche:
"You have to completely conquer the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with your human nature and that therefore you need discipline to correct your behavior...discipline is simply the expression of your basic goodness."
"You understand that your life, as it is, contains the means to unconditionally cheer you up and cure you of depression and doubt."
"Wherever you are, it is a palace."
"Dignity comes from using your inherent human resources, by doing things with your own bare hands--on the spot, properly and beautifully."

These are the quotes I wrote down from my few pages of reading today, they probably express my mood as well as anything I could say. These quotes are today's lifeline.
It is so hard not to get dragged down by the aggression, doubt and fear that people are constantly unloading on each other. It is doable for me to work toward eliminating these things in my own life, and then I encounter the people I share the planet with and I feel poisoned. This is where practice comes in--the practice of meditation, of basic goodness, of moving toward and through any doubt and fear that could ever plague me until I prove it to be illusion.
I believe the Trungpa quotes may count as today's life changing reference, but I will throw in something extra for good I memorized one of my favorite Dylan Thomas poems to work with in my voice class. Read it out loud:

"I fellowed sleep" by Dylan Thomas

I fellowed sleep who kissed me in the brain,
Let fall the tear of time; the sleeper's eye,
shifting to light, turned on me like a moon.
So, planning-heeled, I flew along my man
And dropped on dreaming and the upward sky.
I fled the earth and, naked, climbed the weather,
Reaching a second ground far from the stars;
And there we wept I and a ghostly other,
My mothers-eyed, upon the tops of trees;
I fled that ground as lightly as a feather.
'My fathers' globe knocks on its nave and sings.'
"This that we tread was, too, your father's land."
'But this we tread bears the angelic gangs
Sweet are their fathered faces in their wings.'
"These are but dreaming men. Breathe, and they fade."
Faded my elbow ghost, the mothers-eyed,
As, blowing on the angels, I was lost
on that cloud coast to each grave-grabbing shade;
I blew the dreaming fellows to their bed
where still they sleep unknowing of their ghost.
Then all the matter of the living air
Raised up a voice, and, climbing on the words,
I spelt my vision with a hand and hair,
How light the sleeping on this soily star
How deep the waking in the worlded clouds.
There grows the hours' ladder to the sun,
Each rung a love or losing to the last,
The inches monkeyed by the blood of man.
And old, mad man still climbing in his ghost,
My father's ghost is climbing in the rain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barack the Vote

I hope you enjoy my title, stolen from a t-shirt that is popular with the college kids here. Kids these days! I hope you also enjoy the subtle hypocrisy that just a few nights ago I was bemoaning that Obama was our only choice and now I am going to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that I would like you to vote for him (that's right, I'm speaking to you undecided Ohio voter friends--I know you're reading this!). Tonight's debate was nothing new, but there is a consistency to Obama's ability to see the inter-connectedness of issues and talk about the long-term, versus old man McSnore, who is trying his best to hear what that young whipper snapper is even saying, and comes back with a broken record response of epic proportions. I can't even handle how obvious it is, the disparity between these two men. Not only should Obama win, he should win by a landslide. The fact that his win will probably be a narrow one only proves how necessary his presidency is. The people of this country need to start using their brains, just a little. What baffles me is the idiocy (or subtle manipulation) of the economists, journalists and "experts" who discuss the debates and policies afterward. How difficult is it to see that our economy is related to our educational system, our wasted war, our insistence in continuing to prop up oil dependency instead of turn away from it, and our desire to keep feeding cheap plastic crap into the void of our existence in hopes that we will someday stumble upon substance? The most insulting thing is when McCain refers to Obama as an "extreme" environmentalist and liberal. Listen up old man McMuffins--I will out-extreme Obama any day of the week, and not even break any laws doing it!
Okay, end of rant. Let's focus on something more peaceful, shall we? How about today's link of the day? Props to Mom and Amber for bringing my attention to "Speaking of Faith", a public radio show that covers a multitude of topics relating to faith, religion and spirituality. Check it out!
I listened to the interview with famed yogini Seane Corn, who is way less of a hypocrite than I had pegged her for. She's actually pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My name is Kate, and I am a...

Joel came to visit me this weekend and for a brief period I remembered myself. He left early yesterday morning and the sun came out in Boulder again (it hides whenever someone from the NW first arrives, maybe to make them feel more at home?). It was then that I realized I have been wallowing in escapism ever since I got here. I'm a pretty moderate escapist, to be sure. At my most desperate I simply get addicted to watching tv shows on DVD (okay, okay, sometimes with a glass of wine). I think I like the shows because I can get to know the characters, and I follow their lives like they are my friends. This has been my escape since I was a tiny child. Its when I find myself thinking about the characters throughout the day that I realize I am in trouble. "What would Veronica Mars do?" I will confess it to you, blog-readers. Since landing here I have watched the entire first season of at least 3 different shows--do you know how many hours of piano practice, meditation, cleaning my room, learning about the stock market, etc. etc. I could have gotten in with that time? I don't even want to utter it.
So I live this double life, by day a Boddhisatva warrior, a wisdom seeker, an artist and thinker. By night, an episodal addict. I think what I really realized during Joel's visit is that I have not succeeded in loving myself as much as he does. Or else I don't appreciate my own love as much as I appreciate his. On my own, my tendency is to wallow and be self-destructive. I know that making art and doing yoga are the best ways for me to love myself completely, and I need to be doing more of these things. Yes, I am in an artistic MFA program, but when I get home at night its like I want to turn my brain off, hide in my room and stay away from the soft and tender heart that I have been working so hard to cultivate. I will try, in baby steps, to get better. I have woven political documentaries and foreign films in between television discs on my Netflix cue, hoping to interject some intellect at least every other night. And I have been looking into some other living options. Perhaps it is living like I am still in junior high that has led to me holing up in my room like a teenager. I feel the strong need for my own living space, or at least to live with other people my age who want to build the same kind of home that I want. My landlords are lovely people, but it is a bit like living with one's grandparents--anytime before 9PM they are occupying the kitchen and dining room area cooking pies and doing bills, anytime after 9PM the lights are all off, the counters are wiped clean, and I sneak around in the dark indulging in the pleasure of spending time in the main living space, trying not to leave a trace.

P.S. Tonight's life-changing reference to something besides my life...Right now I am listening to the new Antony and the Johnsons EP "Another World":
If you don't know Antony, then get in the know! If you do know Antony, perhaps you can appreciate the tip on his hot new EP. And if that weren't enough, little known fact--Antony went to Experimental Theater Wing where my teacher Wendell used to teach. I can totally picture Antony wiggling around on the floor like a starfish, as we do every day. Perhaps that's where he got the line "I'll grow back like a starfish". He also studied voice with Jonathan Hart, who is the son of Roy Hart, whose voice technique we are learning extensively with our teacher, Ethie Friend. In other words, I am on my way to becoming the next Antony (or at least a Johnson)!

Friday, October 10, 2008

My blog will change your life

Okay, admittedly I have fallen behind on my "one Ted talk a day" promise, but come on--I'm in grad school and I do have a tiny bit of a life outside the internet. How about a more realistic promise? I will offer at least one reference to something you can read, watch or listen to that might change your life every time I post. Today I watched the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon. It was what you would expect, not an exceptionally well made documentary, but still I couldn't help but cry through much of it. I guess there's something especially poignant about the work that John Lennon devoted the latter half of his life to, considering where we are today. Another senseless war that won't end (amongst other national blunders and tragedies), only this time who will rise up and lead us? Where are the constant streams of candle-light vigils and peace-niks? Where are the artists? What are we doing? Rolling around on the floor in Boulder, Colorado! Actually, I am just where I need to be--what we need is more famous, rich and influential artists like John Lennon to get on their damn soap boxes. After several years of trying to convince myself to become more moderate, to integrate with the world I live in rather than railing against it constantly, there is a truth that I always return to. We have to stop collaborating with corrupt power, and this includes large corporations who only want to make a buck and politicians who's views get more middle-of-the-road every day as election draws near. Seriously, Barack Obama is all we've got to unite around? Shopping at Whole Foods and buying a new hybrid car is going to stop global warming? Don't get me wrong--I will vote for Obama, and as a symbol he will represent a massive cultural shift which might trickle through our country in positive ways. And I will shop begrudgingly at Whole Foods since this "hippy" town I live in doesn't have any other option besides Safeway. But who will take a stand for peace, regardless of profit? Peace is not a fad--it did not go out with bell bottoms. Peace is a vision, a way of life, and something that one Mr. Lennon and his lovely lady artist worked tirelessly to promote. Peace is in art, peace is in collaboration, peace is in refusing to accept less than peace. One does not have to roll over and get whipped just to be peaceful. One can develop a strong core and not be so easy to tip over.
I will finish my tirade with a quote from my latest re-read, Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart;
"All over the world, everybody always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever. Every day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, 'Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?' Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, 'Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?'"

P.S. Here is the million dollar question of the year for me; How do I practice peace and still take a stand? Is it unpeaceful of me to talk about Whole Foods in a derogatory way? Is it unpeaceful to show scorn, cynicism and doubt? Can I be a collaborative person and still have a list of "those who I will not collaborate with"? Its just that we are so easily duped, us humans. We can spend our whole lives thinking that we are participating in the "fight against breast cancer" only to find out that the entire pink ribbon movement is funded by the dairy industry and this is why the dialogue only starts once you've been diagnosed, but the movement with its millions of dollars does nothing to educate women on the possiblility that they could prevent breast cancer with certain lifestyle changes. I am not saying the movement hasn't done anything positive, but what is their motive? There is almost nothing but dirty money left in the world...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A new obsession

I have decided that I should try to watch a TED talk every night until I have seen them all, and then I will officially be "really damn smart". It has come to my attention that perhaps the TED talks are an obscurity to some, please peruse their website:
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and their annual conference is a place for the leading thinkers of our time to come together and give brilliant presentations, aka "TED talks". I am pretty sure that getting invited to the TED talks would be the one thing I could do in life that would make my mother the proudest, so I am working on becoming one of the leading thinkers of the world, but it is surprising how much competition there is! This is a good thing. Anyway, if you would like to join me on my "one TED a day" mission, I will try to post links. Here is tonight's:
Sir Ken Robinson on why creativity is as important as literacy in education. So far this is one of my favorites. If you haven't checked out last night's recommendation, I am still deep in thought on that Jonathan Haidt talk.
Okay, I suppose I should say a thing or two in my own words. I have been thinking a lot about the development of the human being, a topic I am constantly inspired about with the work we do in my MFA program--in developmental movement we learn about the various movement stages that fetuses go through in the womb and babies go through upon being birthed, which have an uncanny similarity to the stages of evolution. We spend a lot of time rolling around on the floor and re-learning how to crawl. My parents will be happy to know that I have very little neurosis--I can move homologously, homo-laterally and contra-laterally with relative ease, which means I wasn't deprived of any essential stages as a baby (or else it means that I have already done my re-patterning work through 10 years of yoga practice). We also work with our voices, another sort of re-patterning, getting past all of the times in our lives we were told not to make certain noises. In this work, we begin with the premise that all sounds are equal. It inspires me to think what a child could achieve if every sound they explored was encouraged, rather than discouraged. I have already talked to Joel about the sound-proof room we will need to build in our home for when guests with sensitive eardrums come over.
So in last night's post, I put a link to "This American Life", which goes into how and why we must educate children in the developmental stages of baby-hood, knowledge that is commonplace now amongst many middle class parents but has not made it to more poverty-stricken subcultures of our country. The episode reports on a program that was developed to address ending the cycle of poverty by focusing on the babies, rather than the parents. So far it appears that this may incite the sweeping change that is so badly needed to end the cycle of poverty. I am not doing it justice here, so please listen to the episode!
I think tonight's featured TED talk is also addressing a sweeping change that is badly needed in order for humans to develop to their fullest potential and for us to evolve as a species. I love this metaphor he uses--"human ecology". He says that education has mined our minds in the same way that we have mined the Earth, and in our search for the more profitable qualities of the Earth and mind we may have destroyed the diversity of our biosphere, and thus our capability to survive in the long-term. I see it all the time, how creativity is smashed, destroyed and neglected in the same way that nature is--relegated to being a luxury that we all enjoy but certainly not a necessity. The day that our culture learns to value nature and creativity over commodity will be the turning point for human existence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An evening with the internet

Hello good friends,
Tonight I would like to let other smart people speak for me, so be prepared for links galore!
I have been reading Shambhala; The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa (founder of Naropa), and while the name is a bit dramatic, as Buddhists sometimes are, I highly recommend it. It is extremely readable and profound. I start to understand how Trungpa was such a respected leader and teacher, despite his questionable lifestyle choices. But why do so many great leaders have to create such a scandalous life for themselves? Anybody?
Well, read the book and follow me toward the way of the Great Eastern Sun, or else these blogs may become increasingly hard to interpret as I pepper them with this type of Buddhist secret language.
In further food for thought, I have been watching Ted talks all night and my mind is spinning on some of what I have seen. The funny thing is that I really am starting to see things from a Buddhist perspective, and this talk even references a Buddhist quote as an ancient wisdom that is now backed up by research:
Okay, one more link. I listened to this week's "This American Life" and found it deeply inspiring (though I must confess this is my reaction to almost every episode of that show).
Listen, and see if you can find the connection between this, Jonathan Haidt's talk, and Buddhist philosophy. I know I did!
My mind is too full of other people's ideas to articulate my own at the moment, but if you want to philosophize with me start with these links and we'll get some cyber-coffee or something.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Unicorn Mountain Awaits You

Well hello my loyal readers. This post is dedicated to Lydia, who represents half of my readership, and has requested a post on Unicorn Mountain, though I must admit it was prompted by Jacob, the other half of my readership, "giving me shit" to post since I have so much free time from not helping Fever move today. So here we go.
I don't know if anybody else in Fever would admit that this is how the Fever empire began, but my memory goes like this. We are standing around in a dressing room--I am curling my hair, Aurora is applying make-up, Patrick is probably in his underwear, and Jacob is donning eyeliner.
I say something like "we should all move to Portland after we graduate and start a theater company". There is general goodwill, like "yeah, that sounds great!" I want to believe it, but I have an overflowing bucket of "things we said we were going to do that would have changed the world, just a little bit, but we never did them" stored in my memory, and I don't get my hopes up. Yet, somehow, whether by fate or persistence, the four of us ended up in Portland a year later rehearsing "The Fever" in the living room of a tiny two-bedroom apartment that is shared by four people.
So I know what can happen if I stick to my guns, and if the idea is good enough to change the lives of everybody involved. I think Unicorn Mountain might be just such an idea.
There's also a chance that it is just my self-absorbed view of the universe. So okay...what kind of artistic mecca can be built if I draw the right people into my world next year? I have been working on a few of them; Amber, who was practically born to be in this MFA program, Andy Start, who is like a young Wendell Beavers and also belongs in my MFA, Lydia will come to pursue her dreams of equestrian therapy, and maybe even Joel will come and teach these Boulderites a thing or two about bicycle safety. And we will all live together on Unicorn Mountain, the place where dreams come true. Perhaps this will be an actual mountain, of which there are many in Boulder, or perhaps more of a metaphorical mountain, like a symbol to put on the welcome mat. This is all about bringing together the right elements--each of us might seem like an unassuming force on our own, but together we will make waves. Is this how cults begin? One person becomes obsessed with convincing others to join them on some quest, and before you know it we will all be wearing unicorn horns on our heads and hiding out from the government. That's actually not too far from the potential future here at Unicorn Mountain. The government hates it when forces come together that are stronger than them, and the potency of our self-realization will drive them crazy.
So, do you have what it takes to live on Unicorn Mountain?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Empty cyber Space

Well at least two people have mentioned my lack of blogging in the last week, and since it has been noticed I suppose that gives me motivation to go on (you know us performer types--we always need an audience to find our motivation). Actually, I have spent the last week exploring empty cyber-space, waiting for something to arise from nothing. Empty space has been on my mind a lot, since I have been re-reading the book with the same title by the brilliant Peter Brook. I read it in college but did not know or care what he was talking about, really. Reading it again I find every word to be gospel. Here's a quote, just for kicks: "to comprehend the visibility of the invisible is a life's work". Wendell also presented his first "lecture" this week, on the history of Viewpoints, which really turned into a talk about how Buddhism and Eastern thought have affected Western art, and how the idea that everything came out of nothing is the Buddhist creation myth. He says this is also the concept that we are working with in our theatrical empty space. The empty space is ripe with all of the potential there can be.
Today I had a Fever conversation with Jacob during my lunch break, and when I came back to class I actually felt feverish. I had this same reaction when I talked Fever with Amber last night. Perhaps Fever actually is contagious! During my feverish period while I was trying to focus today I thought about all of these people in my class, some of whom have brought their partners, dogs and lives to Boulder with them, some who have left it all behind. I am one of the latter, though my Feverishness proves I haven't really left it all behind. I think I was trying to do an experiment with empty space in my life, one that I have never done before. I empty out my life so that I can see the potential of it. I don't have a good capper today, so I will end randomly with another quote from The Empty Space by Peter Brook:
"The theatre is the last forum where idealism is still an open question."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A new kind of angst

So far, every day of class has been wonderful. I already feel like old friends with my classmates in this very weird way. We are all very different from one another, and this will be a good thing. Today, however, I left class feeling angsty, but also with a new realization about myself and my work. The thing I have not realized is how much I care about Viewpoints and how all of the work that we have been doing for the last 6 years has really revolved around an exploration and study of Viewpoints in some way. Without setting out to, I have become a kind of authority on the topic, at least as compared to the other people in my class. Today Wendell began the discussion of Viewpoints. Without getting too far into this here, Wendell was married to Mary Overlie, who is credited with developing the idea of Viewpoints, and Anne Bogart was her student. Anne Bogart went on to continue to develop and change the Viewpoints into the language that I was taught, and the same one that I have worked with for so long. I have stars in my eyes for Anne Bogart--the way that she talks about theater, and the world, really resonates with me and inspires me. I feel that her work with Viewpoints has articulated it to a new level. I want to be open to Wendell's approach to Viewpoints, but after today's class I couldn't help but feel that Anne's version is more articulate, more specific, an evolution of what his work is, and ultimately more interesting to me. I knew from the get-go that this might be a challenge for me--to let go of what I know enough that I might learn from scratch, in a new way. But the truth is I want to study Viewpoints with Anne--I feel that she has taken his work to a new level and I want to be her successor in that. Perhaps this itch will be scratched if I go to her summer intensive workshop. In any case, it is frustrating to have to start from scratch with the study of something that I am ready to go deeper into, alongside the other students who have had very little training in this realm.
I have had a similar frustration with the contemplative practice that we are learning here. There was a time in my life when Buddhism intrigued me and I studied it a bit, but I chose yoga as the contemplative practice that fulfilled me, and I want to go so much deeper down that path that I feel frustrated at having to give my time to somebody else's path.
I suppose this is the nature of school--you do not make your own curriculum (unless you go to Evergreen!) and there will be times when you will have to learn something that doesn't interest you as much as what you would have chosen for yourself. I must respect that our ensemble needs this common base in order to work together, but I know today was not the first of my obnoxious hand-raising in Viewpoints workshop. Sometimes the student must challenge the teacher, and this seems to be my calling in life.
The exciting discovery is that I feel myself more and more ready to teach what I know, to understand the difference between what I am taught and what I actually believe when it comes to these crazy theater practices.
I have been so swamped with school and socializing with my classmates after school that I have not yet gone hiking, but I plan to take advantage of Labor Day weekend to do so. My body has been wrecked from an increase in biking and dancing and moving, but I love it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Theater geek-out

Since Jacob requested more descriptions of the fringe, this entry will be devoted to that, rather than all this personal anecdote stuff.
So far my reigning favorite is one of the first shows I saw, Three Sisters by One Continuous Mistake.
This piece captured everything beautiful, heartbreaking and profound about the original play but was so much better! The two men who star in this piece are what I would call perfect actors; completely in control of their voice and body. There was a third performer who played all kinds of different weird instruments and reminded me a bit of Ryan, and who also obviously had physical training and was doing some very controlled slow walking while he played at times. I found out after the piece that all three men are in the second year of my program, which makes me SO happy. So far of all the MFACP work I have seen, these guys are my dream collaborators.
Right after 3 Sisters was "From a Distance I can Say", conceived and choreographed by Jennifer Hicks, who is a graduate of my program and now teaches for the program. I wanted very much to like it, starred many of the second year students, and I don't know if it was them or the material they were working with , but I was much less impressed. Jennifer Hicks herself was a Butoh goddess, amazing to behold. She came out with crazy big hair and a tattered flaming red dress, and I suppose she was mean to represent a phoenix in an oil spill. I have never seen anybody be so still and yet take one's breathe away. She reminded me of Amber, also a stunning Butoh goddess in her red dress with crazy big hair. I wish Amber could have seen this piece and told me if it was any good. The other intriguing piece that I wish Fever could have seen was created by Barbara Dilley, who is the meditation teacher for my program and who also teaches the Red Square technique (this might ring a bell to any Fever's who are reading). I observed her class in February, and I remember then a student commenting that he didn't understand the difference between the work she was describing and Viewpoints, and she seemed to have little idea what Viewpoints even was. Apparently she is an old school Buddhist and theater artist, worked with John Cage and all that, and Viewpoints is actually younger than the methods she uses. You can read more about her piece at :
I really wanted to like it, and I did to some degree, but it felt much like watching an open Viewpoints session. It also felt like it was trying to do the same thing that Amber was trying to do with arose, only arose was much better. Apparently they warm up before each performance by flocking together for an hour!
The other pieces I have seen are more "traditional", and not worth talking about much. I am trying not to put too much stake in the work I have seen coming from MFACP graduates, because they are very diverse in their artistic sensibilities. Much of it is not my taste, but almost all of the graduates display immense talent for performing, physical prowess and vocal brilliance. Later this week I am taking a 4-day workshop with Ruth Zaporah (, which I am excited about, and then immediatley afterwards school will start. I will report back.

Monday, August 18, 2008

becoming a bit buddhist

Today was the first day of orientation. We got a travel coffee mug that says "Naropa", and breakfast for free! Or, as my father would say, "it was included in the tuition". Perhaps as an undergrad I would have found this kind of thing boring, but I was quite moved to hear the president of the university and others speak about what makes Naropa special. Most of the faculty and administrators who work at Naropa came from other colleges, where they were dissatisfied with the approach to education. Apparently Naropa was the first choice for 95% of the incoming students, so there was an appreciation and excitement all around for this place we will journey through together. I met a nice transpersonal counseling grad student who is from Portland and we sat together for a while. I think it was a relief to both of us to be able to talk about our beloved city--just to be able to say the name of a breakfast restaurant and be greeted with recognition was oddly satisfying.
Most exciting was my departmental meeting, where I met the 12 other students who I will be working so closely with for the next two years. We spent most of the time listening to Wendell (our teacher) talk about the program and I remembered why I have put myself through this heartache. He is a beautiful and articulate speaker, with a kind and gentle presence. He told us that in Buddhism there are 4 kinds of suffering, one of which is "alternateness", the pain of alternating. He explained that when he was first setting up the program at Naropa, he would travel back and forth between New York and Boulder, and it struck him when he was in Boulder that he experienced this pain of alternateness, because of the contrast between the intensity of the theater work and the freedom and easiness of the surrounding natural landscape. He would go out into the mountains after work and feel this in a way that he never did in New York. He encouraged us to go into the mountains anyway. I think perhaps I am experiencing this suffering of alternateness now; for everything wonderful that I find in Boulder there is something wonderful I am missing in Portland. Somehow I can't stop associating everything that is with something that was. I suppose this is the nature of homesickness, or experiencing extreme change.
I went to a show at the Shambhala Center(a mecca for American Buddhists, located in downtown Boulder) that was created by one of my faculty, and ran into a classmate -- a woman named Anna who just moved here from Greece to attend the program. We went out for beer and got along quite well. It was so nice to hang out with somebody my own age and converse, and I loved comparing cultures with her and hearing her observations on America. She says "the problem with Americans is that they are stuck in their image of themselves", but she says it in slightly broken English with a charming accent, and it is the most profound thing ever.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Never take a tapas recommendation from a frat boy

Any ambition I had to keep a lighter schedule while in Boulder has quickly gone by the wayside, as I have booked myself at least 25% more things to do than I can actually do already. Luckily, most of these things are shows that I want to see, and I can miss a show without anybody noticing. Tonight was my first night house managing for "Sex Lives of Teenage Girls", a show created by MFACP graduates that weaves interviews with teenage girls and parents and presumably a woman who studies such things, into a short performance that takes place in a public restroom at the performance center. My job is to cram about 25 people into this tiny bathroom and then shut the door, leaving them in complete darkness. A typical day at the theater.
The break down of this complicated site-specific (or as Jonathan Walters taught me was the hip new term, "site relevant") piece, made me late for the 9PM show I was going to see. I haven't had a drink in several days, and while I don't like to think of myself as an alcoholic, I thought it was due time for a martini. I stopped by the local tapas bar while waiting for the next show, and sat by a lovely fountain in the courtyard. So far my observation of Boulder-ites has left me with the impression that at least a third of this town is composed of the cultural sub-group "frat boys", or as Joel calls them, "Bras". Not like the women's garment--just think of a surfer dude saying "bro". Anyhow, I think my waiter was dangerously close to falling into this category, but I asked him for a recommendation anyway, and he veered me away from the scallop ceviche and convinced me to order empanadas. To make a not very long and rather boring story short, though my martini was excellent, the turnover pastry was almost all dough and reminded me of the Pillsbury croissants in a can.
Next was on to the magic show. There were only 7 audience members at this 10:30 PM performance on a Sunday night. I wouldn't have been there myself, as it didn't look like "real" theater, but what else did I have to do? It turns out that this was my favorite fringe experience so far. This fellow demonstrated what I believe to be true psychic powers--that is, a mental capacity far beyond the average human who has not studied at such things. Several of his demonstrations were beyond anything that I could guess at, and at the end he did show us a magic trick that is based on memory, that was still astonishing. He essentially memorized a half deck of cards in 15 seconds, and accurately determined which cards he had seen and which he hadn't in almost as much time. I once met a magician on the Bread and Puppet farm in Vermont, who I believed for a moment had actually read my mind. Of course, the first step to being a magician is to have charm and confidance--these are the kind of people that were either going to be magicians or cult leaders. This fellow asked me to think of a verb, any verb. I thought of "running", which was something I did regularly at the time. He guessed "running". He could have left me hanging, believing fully that he had read my mind, but he revealed the only trick behind it--that the majority of people say "running". He does get these guesses wrong from time to time, but he still wins over the majority, which is all a magician can hope for.
SO, was the magician I saw tonight using such tricks, predicting everything that everybody would do because we are all just sheep, or pre-programmed androids? Perhaps. I would like to think that it was fate. And the amazing powers of the human brain to remember, even things that haven't happened yet.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chapter One: The Heroe's Journey

I have arrived in Boulder and there is a ceaseless rain pouring from the grayest of skies. I am not sure if this rain is meant to make me feel more at home or more homesick, but I could do without it. Everyone here promises me that it never rains, and this is some kind of freak incident. This adjusting time is hard, but my heart was warmed the other day listening to the opening lines read by Joseph Campbell on the cd recording of Power of Myth:
"We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known--we have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, ,we shall find a god, where we had thought to travel outward, we should come to the center of our own existence, and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."
Perhaps it is a stretch to compare going to grad school with the hero's journey, but that is how it feels to me. Positively heroic, to have left my beloved home, fiance, cat Amos (aka "Mr. Bun Bun"), theater company and all things known, to voyage here to a land surrounded by Republicans of the reddest kind, a place where I know no one (though that is quickly changing), a place where I can change my destiny. This is why I love the line "where we had thought to travel outward, we should come to the center of our own existence". That is what I am doing here, and it is surprising how scary and sometimes lonely it is to travel to the center of one's own existence. It is an easy trip to avoid if you keep your life full of lovers, friends, work and play (or for some, drink and drugs, television and internet), but we all must make it eventually, maybe multiple times in this life.
I am working on two shows in the Boulder Fringe Festival, which just started last night. I am a bit terrified of fringe festivals, full as they are of one-person shows and completely un-curated performances. It is a bit of a Russian roulette to go out to these pieces. I know, I know, all performances have something to teach, yada yada. But given my experiences during the TBA festival (a place where your chances of seeing the best performance that is happening today are much greater), where I grow tired after about 7 days of constant stimulus, I know I must be moderate in my viewings or I will have no patience for even the good stuff by the end. I am intrigued by this fringe festival racket, however. It seems to be well attended and the artists get to keep all of the proceeds from their ticket sales. Could be some one-woman shows in my future...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The awkward first entry

I am preparing to move from my lovely life in Portland to attend graduate school in Boulder, CO.  I will be getting an MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa.  I suppose a blog is a good way for people to see what I'm up to, and a good way for me to talk about my adventure in a town where I will be flying solo.  I am trying to get used to that idea, after so many years of being very close with the members of Fever Theater, living with friends and roommates, and being in a long-term relationship with my BF.  I used to keep myself company with comics that I drew called "The adventures of miserable Kate".  I am not so miserable anymore, so now I will just call this "The Adventures of Fever Kate".  Soon my entries will include beautiful pictures and fascinating depictions of life in a quiet mountain town...but for now, this is what you get.