"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


A Plan.

When I started college in 1997, I wanted to be a teacher. It was all I ever wanted to do. But the English department was often frustrating (including the professor who gave all of her slightly indie students Fs on a paper, just for kicks) and the education department was at times infantilizing. There were many moments when I began to look for another career. I contemplated photojournalism, and law school, for a fleeting moment (very fleeting) ministry. But the thing that always won out was bird house builder. I felt like it would be a trouble-free career. No one takes those things too seriously. I had enlisted my friend who dropped out of architecture to be my designer, one of my musician friends to help me paint, another English major to sell them (and at her request, make beaded lamps while she sat at the counter). But alas, like so many of my dreams, it was just that, though I still look to it when I am looking for an out.

My career path led me from teaching to writing, from writing to editing, somehow from editing to social work. I have, as you can probably tell, been experiencing a period of occupational frustration and general discontent. It has infected my personal life, which I hoped would not be the case. I have picked up other social working gigs, hoping that I would find some vocational satisfaction there, getting back to basics and away from the bureaucracy that makes this job ridiculous so much of the time. But this too has proven difficult. So again, what's next?

I have begun working on a five-year plan. I like to always have a plan. This week I start a part-time job working with people who are homeless and living on the street (There are people who are considered homeless, but who do not live on the streets. It's a complicated system.). It is down and dirty, back to basics social work. With this I hope to find some release and to actually feel like I am doing some good. And if that doesn't work, I will have at least made enough money that I can pay off some of my debt, which will vastly expand my options. I've been considering another master's degree in health care administration. I've mulled over going to law school (though I read through an LSAT prep book and was quite terrified). I've thought about leaving the country and either working somewhere in a structured program, or becoming an anonymous revolutionary figure (a la Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos). Or I could go back to bird house building. Or begin my presidential campaign (2024, the year I in which I will run and win, is just around the corner). Or maybe just finish my chart notes before 5pm.


On Charity...

I've read two very interesting articles today about Poverty and Charity. I've actually only read the first page of the one on Charity, so I'll spare you my commentary on both (for now), but will leave you with the links for some good, light weekend reading.


The Freezer.

On one of my favorite episodes of Friends, Joey is reading Little Women and when it begins to get too sad or too emotional, he runs and puts it in the freezer. I am currently in desperate need of a freezer. I am currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, the second book by Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner (another freezer book). With The Kite Runner, I was brave. I was reading it with my bookclub, and so had support for the read. I saw one of these friends at a birthday party while we were reading it and he came up to me and said, "I finished reading the book last night. I was sobbing for the last 100 pages. Be forewarned."* So I was prepared. When reading on the train, I would begin to feel that something bad was going to happen, and would just shut the book and stop reading. I would begin to read the book on my lunchbreak, and had the luxury of an office door to close when I began to weep. Even my most stoic friends have been affected by this one. So I know I'm in good company.

This weekend a friend loaned me A Thousand Splendid Suns. He said, "It's good, but watch out."* So I gathered up my courage and put it in my bag to read on the train. During day one, I saw the approach of something bad coming, but I turned the page and.... I should've known. But now I'm fully rapped up in it. There's no sparing myself. I began reading again as I ate my lunch today. It went a little something like this. Oh, how wonderful. Things are looking up..... Booo. That shouldn't happen..... Oh, but wait..... Are you kidding me..... He's alive....What?!?! And then sadly lacking a freezer or an office door to protect the world from the flood of my tears, I quickly shut the book and placed it on the floor. It is now staring up me, Read me....Read me. But I must hold out, for I know what lies within.

*All quotes are gross approximations of what might have actually been said.


Site for Rent.

This weekend my college roommate, Aydrea, was in town, and through an L.A. connection got tickets (very good tickets) to see Rent for herself and me and Nathan. I love this show. It is maybe my favorite thing in the whole wide world. It was the first musical I ever liked enough to purchase it, and sing it in my car over, and over, and over again. It is possibly the only movie I have ever had to see on opening night (and subsequently the only DVD I've ever bought the day it came out). I even considered auditioning for it (for about 5 seconds) when they had open auditions right after I moved to NYC. Needless to say, I was crazy excited to see it again. And it surpassed even my greatest expectations.

I had seen Rent three times before this, twice when it toured through Austin and once since having come to New York, and I was really overjoyed each time. But this time was something different. Aydrea knows the family of Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent. Mr. Larson died from a heart ailment one day before the show was to open Off-Broadway, but his family has remained close to the show and to its cast each time, as it is obvious this show has so much of him in it. Since the beginning of August, two of the original leads, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, have been reprising their roles, which is why it was such a tremendous deal for us to get tickets at this point. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. It is so clear from watching them that their love for this work runs deeper than the beauty of the music and words. They knew the man who created it, watched it unfold, mourned him through their work. It was amazing to see something I know backward and forward become something new, evolve before me with greater meaning to I had ever known. It was an unbelievable, unforgettable event.

And as if that was not enough, due to Aydrea's friendship with his family, we were able meet the stage manager of the show who proceeded to introduce us to the entire cast. They were all so kind and appeared to be so humbled by this show. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal stopped and said hello and spoke to us for a second but had to get away quickly to escape the throngs of screaming teenage girls who know them from the movie. But as the rest of the cast filed out each of them stopped and spoke to us, about the experience of doing the show, about the joys of their character, about how it's such an awesome experience to be doing this show at this time in its history. Tamyra Gray (who was robbed on Season 1 of American Idol) played Mimi and was truly astounding. A young man named Justin Johnston played Angel like I had never seen him played, and it turned out that I had seen him play Roger in the touring company when I lived in Austin. And then after everyone had left, the stage manager, John Vivian, took us on a tour of the stage. It will sound silly to anyone who has never been this in love with a play, or movie, or musical, but we got to stand on the marks the actors stand on when they sing Seasons of Love. We walked up Mimi's staircase, and sat on the platform where they sing Life Support. Truly unforgettable.