vendredi 30 décembre 2011

no wisdom

I don't know if this blog will make it through the New Year. It has run out of steam, and needs a new beginning. So do I. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

The last day of the year should prompt me to utter some sort of bullshit wisdom. But I have nothing. Nothing but doubt and uncertainty.  This year has been about growing up in a very adult kind of way. Choices and decisions came with consequences and responsibility. I am starting to view time differently - as a continuum of years rather than one year at a time. I am starting to view my life differently - as a project that can't be completely improvised. I am reluctant to give up the care-free and I want to keep the joy. But the restlessness has to go. How?
Here's to figuring it out in 2012.
Until then... happy 31rst.

mercredi 30 novembre 2011


I am alone in a hotel, in Lancaster, PA. My sister has an interview for medical residency, and the hospital put her up (as they always do - it's part of the interview process). I tagged along, since Stephanie needed my car to go from Bethlehem to Lancaster.
Long story short, I don't really want to leave. This space is perfect for productivity. I used to dimly understand why some writers did their best work in hotels. Now I completely understand . No distractions, non-oppressive silence. And... hotels are some of the only places left that give you a pen and paper without having to ask for it. By the way, when I open my coffee shop/theatre (wherever and whenever that may be), there will be free pens and letter-head paper available for anyone to jot down ideas, write a personal note, etc. There will, of course,  also be high-speed internet and plenty of plugs.
That's it. I gotta go. I will try to transfer some of that productive vibe to my own house. Or maybe I'll end up in a coffee shop for the day. But I will get things done. I will! I will!

samedi 19 novembre 2011

Growing up

I have started interviews with artists in the Lehigh Valley to create a podcast. Other than the fact that I apparently can't help blowing in my mic when breathing, the interviews have been going well. I will be posting them on a separate blog, as i think I mentioned before. This will take some time. I need to edit, and write more content before releasing the recordings.

But what I really wanted to talk about here, are the ways I have already been emotionally stirred by speaking with my first two guest artists, Lindsay Shaefer and Bill George. They took the time to share with me the hopes and struggles of creating art. That is, as it turns out, powerful stuff. Life led them in places that they never suspected - whether geographical or emotional spaces. And what transpires from both interviews is that they simply kept on going. Sometimes catching their breath, making a pause, but never stopping. A little bit like when you're dancing tango: if you put the weight on both legs, you're immobile, dead. But if you keep the weight on one leg, than transfer to the other, then back again - even if you're not moving on the dance floor, you're still dancing. You're still alive.
I am, as some of you know, still searching for the whats and hows and whys. I am not currently making theater, and as much as I'm okay with it right now, I know that it's going to come back to bite me. Making this podcast reveals what I want to do, which is to keep exploring.

Although I am still young - 25 is hardly senior - I am sensing shifts in myself, as if I were entering a new phase.  This new phase is not represented by any specific event, but rather a general feeling. I am able to draw from the tiny experience I do have, which is new to me. It's a new feeling to think "this has happened before, slightly differently, so I can deal with it more fully now". It's strange to look back at my time in England and Ireland and Paris, and even my apprenticeship at Touchstone Theatre, and realize that those times are past. It's  new to have the responsibility of 33 students, at least 5 years younger than I am, teaching them French. It's a new fear to think that if I stop dreaming and carrying the dream I have had since I was a kid, that dream will, in fact, die. It's a new responsibility to know that, if I choose to, I can be heard. I have fewer and fewer youthful excuses to tie me down, and more and more respectability tensions to cut through.

That, and I have a bad tendency to rationalize my decisions, to be self-deceptive. If only I could  get rid of the self-deception...
Procrastination is the more obvious syndrome of my self-deception, and it prevents me from being alive in the tango sense. When I deceive myself, both legs are on the ground, and they weigh tons. I am starting to be aware of the extent of this inability to move forward. I am starting to understand the patterns I created and have been following my whole life. And I have this blurry feeling that I can do something tangible about it.
So I am trying to wake up earlier every morning, to have time to work on class stuff and on personal stuff. I don't pressure myself as much at night, and I try to go to bed earlier. These are baby steps, but steps I had never taken before. Not really, not systematically. My computer is no longer - ever- in my bedroom. I am creating boundaries, because I know myself a little more than I did before.

jeudi 13 octobre 2011

Tangible things have been - and are being - made.

Projects are brewing here as fall has indubitably arrived in Pennsylvania.
 I plan on interviewing inspiring artists in the next couple of months and make a podcast that you, yes YOU! will be able to access. I will probably store the podcasts on a different blog, but will do my best to link them back here.There have been positive developments on the podcast front this last week, so I'm hopeful that these interviews will pan out.

I am also still teaching and still enjoying it. My most recent challenge has been  to figure out how to get students not to sound consonnants at the end of French words. Said students are intent on pronouncing all sorts of letters that have no business being pronounced. I also wonder how I can get these young ones to understand that the ultimate goal of my class is for them to learn French and not only get a grade. I feel for my past teachers. Oh, how I feel for them now.

And I wrote a story this week for a really cool website called Loop (I highly recommend suscribing for free to get your weekly dose of storytelling!). The story I contributed is about a boum (party) in Tunisia when I was in 8th grade. Old friends reading this story may recognize stuff... names, locations, middle school spirit, etc. It was a lot of fun to write, and reminded me of how efficient I could be when faced with a deadline.

mardi 27 septembre 2011


J'ai envie de faire de la radio.
Et ma compagnie de théâtre s'appellera Les Vulnérabeaux. 
Voilà, jusqu'à présent, deux rêves inassouvis.
Si je m'égare trop loin,
Si les rêves s'estompent,
Rappelez-les à moi,
Si ça ne vous dérange pas.

mardi 20 septembre 2011

Stream of consciousness

Fall is here now. The summer was long, so was the winter before that. Not much spring to speak of. I like the fall, especially here. Dramatic colors and cool days, but not too cold. I also like spring time, when it happens.

Back to school, back to work, in a routine. The routine this year is manageable and allows for free time. Free time is precious, and when it doesn't drag exhaustion behind it, free time can be productive and fun. I'm taking an acting class and I'm writing. I'm also trying to be a good French adjunct professor. I don't want anyone to fail, but I'm realizing that it's not only up to me. I want the students to own their knowledge, to take responsibility for their education. How do you teach that? In some, it seems innate. In others, it seems missing. I speak more French now, due to my job. That is a major plus for me. But the downside is that anytime someone keeps the door open on campus, my first reaction is to say "merci".

I live in a new house and I want my room to be decorated. Does that mean I'm growing up? I want a desk, or something of the sort. Am I materialistic? I'm also planning my meals, and cooking large batches of pasta on Sundays. What's wrong with me? Oh, and not to mention the fact that I have, and use, a car.

This country does odd things to people who live in it for a while. 

dimanche 4 septembre 2011

Première semaine


La semaine est finie. Deux nouveaux départs : la première semaine de cours en tant qu'enseignante de français, et   le déménagement d'un appartement charmant vers une maison spacieuse. Ce genre de semaine me rappelle que l'on peut faire beaucoup de choses, mine de rien, en peu de temps. Peut-être que je me souviendrais de ça la prochaine fois que je trainerai la patte.
J'aime beaucoup enseigner à Muhlenberg. Les étudiants sont sympas, curieux et attentifs. Jusqu'ici, tout va bien. Et je me rends compte que je peux adapter beaucoup de jeux de théâtre à l'apprentissage du français. Les jeux de reflexe, par exemple, sont particulièrement utiles puisque les étudiants doivent utiliser le vocabulaire appris dans un contexte rapide. On a récité l'alphabet et les chiffres de 1 à 60 en passant l'énergie dans un cercle, et ça a bien marché. Tout le monde était attentif, et se préparait mentalement à dire leur lettre ou chiffre le moment venu. Bon, bien sûr, on fait aussi de la grammaire et des exercices plus traditionnels, mais c'est stimulant de trouver des activités variées qui vont permettre aux étudiants de maximiser leur pratique du français!

mercredi 24 août 2011

Bonne rentrée!

This is it. I start a new job on Monday, and will be going to meetings and orientations tomorrow and Friday. I have been doing all the grown-up things I probably should have done before turning 25 like getting a car, driving it (!), thinking about personal finance, signing a lease, preparing classes to teach, etc. It's all a bit overwhelming to have increasing responsibilities. I was panicking a lot last week, but I'm feeling a little more confident now. Hopefully that feeling will last at least until next week...

So, as this August month draws to a close and as the weather here finally cools off,
Je vous souhaite une bonne rentrée!

samedi 13 août 2011

California 2

Chose promie, chose dûe... voici quelques autres photos du voyage californien. 

Le Golden Gate embrumé

 Le quartier Chinois de San Francisco

  L'hôtel Hyatt de San Francisco, et son architecture atypique. Construit en 1972, conçu par John Portman.  

Carré de faïence sur un trottoir de Monterey, ancien port producteur de sardines. 

Un Majestueux arbre Red Wood à Big Basin

Un Red Wood troué et toujours vivant

La baie de Monterey

Des cormorans dans la baie de Monterey

Les vélos Google sur leur campus à Mountain View.

dimanche 7 août 2011

J.K Rowling rewards courage of action, and I like that.

I know I promised more California pictures. I may keep that promise, but not in this post.
I'm writing from my uncle's house, on a beautiful mac desktop. The screen entices me to type something, it's that pretty.

I just came back from seeing the last filmed installment of Harry Potter, again. And I surprised myself by welling up at precisely the same point both times I saw it: when Professor McGonagall raises her wand to protect the castle, and when the other members of the Order of the Phoenix do the same. Nothing in the film touched me as much as those moments. I was struck by that visualization of acts of courage and protection.
The entire Harry Potter series, and especially J.K Rowling's original narrative (ie. the books), is decidedly moral. Rowling does not hide her belief that love and camaraderie should prevail, and that we must constantly develop that power of love. She's not "post-modern": she doesn't say that our beliefs are constructs that can, that ought to be, deconstructed until they become virtually neutral. I wanted to write "meaningless" instead of "neutral". Maybe that means I'm not post-modern either.

But what's so impressive about the Harry Potter books is that they are not dogmatic, although they are moral. The author isn't pushing a specific agenda apart from implying that strength of character should ultimately win over crafty selfishness. The characters are flawed and pragmatic. Almost all of them are nuanced, apart, maybe from Bellatrix. She's uni-dimensional most of the time.Voldermort is a lot more nuanced. Although he's inherently evil, he's also human and the absence of love in his life led him to seek power through dark magic. But maybe I'm forgetting some of Bellatrix's back story...?

I'm starting to ramble like a fan, but what I really meant to say was that I admire Rowling's persistence in telling a tale the old-fashioned way: respecting her characters enough to be led by them, surprised by some of their actions and yet keeping an authorative voice when it comes to the meaning of her work.
When Harry asks (in the last film) to Dumbledore if what he is experiencing is happening in his head, or if it's real, Dumbledore replies: "Of course it's happening in your head. But that doesn't mean that it's not real!" (I'm paraphrasing - haven't memorized the film yet). The way I perceived Dumbledore's exclamation was that, we mustn't always think that what we experience internally is inferior in value to what we experience physically. In fact, what happens in our heads guides the way we act in life. Therefore, what's in our head is as real, if not more potent, than what we experience externally. I think that, as a passively entertained society, we tend to forget that. We want external action and drama but what happens in our heads is often lazy thinking, which leads to lazy living.  So many of these characters are "awake" in Thoreau's sense: completely active beings who think and question and drive their lives in the direction that they have chosen. Although the books (and the movies - kind of) are addictive, they often lead me to go beyond the Harry Potter tale and to act: to write, to take stock of my actions and to be aware of what I choose to notice and what I choose to ignore. In that way, Harry Potter, to me, is an active literary object. Because it moves me to action, I wouldn't only qualify it as entertainment. Or if it is, it's the best kind!

This has been mentioned in some dissertation (or a hundred of them) and online but I'll mention it too. I've noticed so many parallels between Harry Potter and World War II narratives. Of course, Voldermort is very similar to Hitler. The article that I linked above explains that very well as well as the links between Nazi and Wizard "Pure Bloods". And the Order of the Phoenix ressembles the British opposition with Churchill (Dumbledore) at its head : a lone but determined group of people who believe in freedom and equality and who are ready to fight for it.

It's interesting that Rowling spends so much time describing the struggles of the Order of the Phoenix ( in the earlier books - the struggles of Harry, Hermione and Ron under the auspices of Dumbledore and the other knowing wizards) but doesn't linger in telling what happens after the final fight. We get a couple pages of epilogue, and that's it. Because, really, what matters is that the Order wins - that fascism be, if not destructed completely, diminished to its most helpless form. In the last World War, what mattered was that the Allies won and that the Nazis retreated. But the reality of fighting, and war, is, by definition, a struggle. It involves sacrifice and pain. Rowling keeps on drilling that fact throughout the books. She reminds us constantly that inaction results in being an accomplice in the deeds of ill-intended people/wizards. She constantly tells us that we need to fight for what we believe in.

I find that lesson to be useful in our times.

jeudi 21 juillet 2011

The Phoenix man

It's my last day in California. I must say that I'll be sad to leave. So I guess the Phoenix man was right... back track to my journal entry on the plane, flying to the Sunny West :

I'm still in the plane, but we stopped in Phoenix. Most of the passengers have left, and I wonder if there will be more boarding. My seat neighbor left. He was a large man, perhaps of Native American descent. When I asked if I could sit down (Southwest airlines does free seating now) he welcomed me kindly. I noticed a little later that his grey hair was long, tied in a flat ponytail. He was wearing silver feather earrings and had a large tattoo on his arm - a design that included an eagle, surrounded by the phrase "in memory of my father". He asked me where I was going. I told him I was visiting the Bay area. "You'll like it there. You won't want to leave". I've definitely heard that one before! 
Apparently, he's originally from the Bay area. But he seemed to like Phoenix, too. "It gets up to a nice 108-110 degrees". He didn't seem particularly oppressed by the heat when referring to it. I think that we really bonded when the flight attendant distributed small packages of peanuts. I started opening mine, not paying great attention since I was reading Song of Solomon at the same time. And since I was distracted, I wasn't really succeeding in opening it. The Phoenix man took my bag of munchies - large, assured hands - tore it open, and handed it back. Similarly, he took my cup when the flight attendant was walking the aisle with a trash bag. I seem to attract that type of behavior here. People very often help me without me asking them for anything. I never expect anyone to help me unless it's very obvious that I need help or if I ask for it. But here, for some reason, people take care of me. Maybe it's because they feel that I'll let them? I don't strike them as a control freak? I look clueless? I don't, by any means, want to take advantage of people, but I can't help but accept it when people offer something. I find it very ungracious to refuse help. But maybe I should put up more resistance. Anyway, in the case of the Phoenix man, I was charmed. It was his way of starting a conversation. 
Ah, new people are boarding the plane. But I secured the window seat. I will hopefully see some nice scenery. 

More photos to come from beautiful Californian landscapes.

lundi 11 juillet 2011


It has been more than a month since I last updated this blog! Shame on me.
I am currently in California, visiting my aunt and uncle in the Palo Alto area. We went on a week-end road trip, and went all the way to Lake Tahoe (splendid!), then down to Mono lake (which is a mineral lake with sediment towers called Tufas,also home to brine shrimp and flies ) then to Yosemite park (beautiful pine trees, snow capped mountains and impressive water falls).
Earlier in the week, I got to go to Pescadero beach (desolate, beautifully eerie) and Santa Cruz (laid back beach town, with a world-renowned university), And tomorrow, we will go to San Francisco.
This is such a wonderful vacation!
I also had some time to work on a writing piece, and remembered how much I enjoyed writing in coffee shops. It has also been cool to leave the East Coast for a while and to be in completely new territory. Because of my dislocated shoulder plus the mono, I was wallowing in the aftermath of injury.
I'm incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to relax for two weeks, and now fully understand the benefits of vacation.
But anyway. Here are a few pictures to get a glimpse of California's diverse landscapes.

 Stanford University Quad
 Stanford University church
 Buzzard on a dead seal, Pescadero Beach
 Wood and birds, Pescadero Beach
Santa Cruz
 Lake Tahoe
 aunt Christine at Lake Tahoe

                                             High desert evening, California/Nevada border

Cute motel kittens

Going towards Mono Lake - Sierra Nevada mountains

Mono Lake

 Sediment Tufas at Mono Lake
 Tonton Jacques at Mono Lake
 Yosemite National Park rapids
Bridalveil fall, Yosemite National Park- 188 metres (617 ft)

jeudi 9 juin 2011

Opening thoughts on opportunity

I have been meaning to articulate thoughts on the concept of opportunity for quite a while. Currently at work, taking a break after having painted the stage. We paint it regularly to keep it looking good. It's a nice feeling to gaze at a freshly painted stage : pristine, ready to use.
Anyway, it was while I was painting the stage that it occurred to me that a lot of people I knew did favors for me. I benefit from other people's generosity and I'm always a little bit surprised. What led them to offer me (and not necessarily someone else) these opportunities? What state of mind do I project that allows them to trust me?
For example: tonight, I am going to teach a French class in a shop owned by a friend.We hadn't seen each other for a long time, but thanks to facebook, she learned that I was wanting to give lessons, and offered her space on Thursday evenings.
Another example: A mother of a friend has offered her beach house in New Jersey for me and another friend to use during a week-end in September.
In both cases, I never asked for anything. It was merely because the relationship I have with these people allowed these opportunities to happen. A certain amount of trust had been established and this, combined with their inherent generosity led to a class and a holiday.
This may sound a bit "self-helpy" but I'm increasingly realizing how much attitude contributes to one's overall well-being. Bad attitude backfires so much in every aspect of human relationships. And I don't know if people always realize how much attitude weighs on success. Of course, this poses a certain number of problems and inequalities. Because having a good attitude may be a trait of character to a certain extent, but it is fueled by one's  self-confidence and increasing success in different endeavors. Whereas even if someone starts out with a positive outlook on life but is dealt a bad deck of cards, it's only human to become disillusioned. But in turn, it decreases one's chance for positive opportunities. I wonder... if educators were to emphasize the fact that positivity creates a virtuous cycle, would people listen? Instead of making positive feeling all about emotions, could it be viewed and taught as a smart strategy for success?

mardi 17 mai 2011


I have a scanner, and it is a magical thing. My cousin Eric gave me a super machine: printer,copier and scanner all in one. And it's compact, too! I have been approaching the machine tentatively, figuring out one feature at a time.
So I scanned sketches. I remember loving to leaf through my friend J's sketch book, seeing what was new as well as revisiting old-time favorites. We were in 7th, 8th, 9th grade, and she was good. She was extremely talented. I felt lucky to see her process, to have access to the beginnings of her creative journey. I loved those sketchbooks so much.
 J and I lost touch since. We're still friends, but from afar and on occasion. She's still (thank God!) an artist, and I'm sure that she has filled her fair share of sketch books since high school. Lucky are those who browse through them.
J's talent was unquestionable at the time, and I knew that my creative strenghts lay elsewhere, in writing and theatre. But nonetheless, her sketchbooks inspired me deeply, and I have since kept the habit of sketching. Not all that often, sometimes so badly I have to throw the paper in the trash out of sheer shame, but frequently enough to have a sketchbook I can leaf through.
So here are a few.I'll give little explanations along the way, because I'm a writer and I can't help associating those images with words, memories and sometimes stories.

Jimi Hendrix -From Electric Ladyland album photograpy. I was listening to the album on the beat-up cd player in the Henn House, Fillmore Street, Bethlehem. It was my first year of apprenticeship at Touchstone. No internet to distract me, possibly Lehigh students screaming in the background. Zach in or out, Michael cooking. 

Ray Lamontagne, Till the Sun Turns Black album cover. Probably drawn the same night. I had just discovered Ray Lamontagne's music after having heard a lot about him. One of the first second hand cd's I ever bought on amazon. 

These were characters I wanted to write: Claire et Aurélien. But I felt the need to draw them instead. I wasn't basing my work on photos or previous drawings. But when I looked at what I had done, I realized these characters looked a bit like my French grandparents. Especially the man. Perhaps the similarities are only in my head. It doesn't really matter. 

When John Updike died, they published a striking picture of him in the New York Times. It was all contrasts, very luminous and soulful. I tried to find that quality again in the drawing, but I made his face a bit too wide. 

Study of a hat, based on a real hat that I own (different color, but same shape). I was trying to understand volume, and wean myself out of drawing from pictures. 

Jacques Prévert, qui me toise - ce visage ancré sur la couverture de l'édition folio de Paroles. 

Ma grand-mère et une amie, à Kersiny, Bretagne. Je n'ai pas réussi à convier la perfection de la journée, le soleil éclatant, etc. Mais bon, il faut bien commencer quelquepart... 

dimanche 15 mai 2011

Reaching for sunlight

I have a lot of bad habits when it comes to writing, but the one huge bad (bad, bad, bad) habit is not writing enough. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down at Touchstone and wrote for about an hour. I had no laptop, so it was all long-hand. I had a character in mind, and I randomly chose a word to end the story. I eventually decided not to end the story with that word, but it is at the very core of the tale...
Here's this little piece, typed and redrafted.


The time had come. She knew she had it in her. She no longer tolerated excuses from her struggling conscience. Eventually her conscience stopped pining and settled into an eerie silence. Her cover was perfect – she didn’t have to touch a single thing about her appearance. Well, she did straighten the bow in her hair, for her to look more… perky and… angelic. That was what she was going for: the look of joyful naiveté.

Standing in the shade of the patio, she was still in the safe zone. The others were playing a game of croquet. The boys feigned disliking the game but she knew they had been looking forward to it all day, to the point of trepidation. They were mocking some of the moves made by the opposing team but tolerated only encouraging cheers when their turn came around. Typical.

The lunch table, set outside on account of the glorious summer day, was at a safe distance from the croquet game. It was deserted, except for Aunt Lily, seemingly dozing at one end, still clutching her fork on which an alluring piece of creamy coconut pie was still attached. Approximately a foot away from the coconut pie fork was a glass – still half full.

Armed with her straight bow and her innocent looks, she was ready for the big cross from the patio to the table. She thought that skipping all the way would surely not attract any unwanted attention, since everyone would surmise that she was a happy-go-lucky child, enjoying the afternoon. Watching her skip, with a straight bow in her hair, no grown-up would guess that she was on a mission. A last skip, and she reached the table. One glance at Aunt Lily and she knew she had nothing to worry about. The steady rhythm of the old lady’s breathing and the soft whistle that came out of her mouth were assurance enough.

She looked at the glass. The delicate bubbles were subtly indicating carbonation, and the color – it was… sunshine. Pure and simple. A late summer's ray captured and distilled in liquid.

She had to taste it. For close to three hours, she had imagined what it could be like, alternating between syrup and molasses but wanting it to taste like werther’s caramels, only – better than that. And now there it was, the glass within reach. The laughter and brouhaha streaming from the croquet game gave her courage to reach her arm out. But when she felt one of the boy’s head turn towards the table, she picked up a pie crumb and ate it. She knew, somehow, that eating a crumb off someone else’s plate was a minor offense compared to what she was about to do. The boy had only been distracted momentarily by birdsong and redirected his attention to the game. Her arm extended again. Her hand reached the cool glass, surprisingly wet on the outside. Now, to pick it up. It didn’t seem reasonable to drink in the open – too risky. Eyes could easily turn from the game to the table and be surprised at the picture of a five year old drinking from an oversized glass. Better to bring the ambrosia underneath the table where she would be free from hostile stares.

She lifted the glass, surprised by its weight. She realized all over again that she was meddling in grown-up business, but wasn’t exactly sure how. Being as careful as possible while also being quick, she brought the drink to the safety of the shadows. The table was thankfully covered by a long tablecloth made of heavy cotton – for all intents and purposes, a tent for the girl. She sat cross legged, clasping the drink in both hands, bringing the large glass up to her lips.
Surely, she thought, surely, this will be the sweetest nectar I shall ever taste...

Dreams of caramel crashed when the first gulp reached her taste buds. Not molasses, not even syrup! Nothing like that. She didn't understand why anyone would drink this bitter, strange drink. She stared at the glass half full of beer. She was struck again by the outer beauty of the liquid and couldn't equate the outward beauty with the vile content. She couldn't stop staring.
Sitting underneath the table one sunny afternoon, the girl had her first taste of deception.

mardi 26 avril 2011

Serres, Foucault et les démons de la recherche

J'avais promis de parler de procrastination, et voilà que le mois d'avril passe à toute allure, et je n'ai rien écrit. Il faut dire - et je crois que l'excuse est légitime - que je me suis déboitée l'épaule le 10 avril. C'était un dimanche. Sur scène, avec un public devant nous, etc. Mais je n'ai pas crié, j'ai même fini une scène importante pour mon personnage (demande en mariage) et le reste de la troupe a fini la pièce sans moi. The show must go on, or something like that. Mais serieux, ça fait mal ces conneries là. Je ne le souhaite à personne, le déboitement d'épaule.
Enfin bref. Me voilà cloisonnée dans une sorte de brassard. Pas très agréable en ces journées chaudes. Nous avons tous été surpris par la chaleur, qui ne s'était pas manifestée depuis un bien, bien long moment. Et voilà que je porte un brassard thérapeutique (quel est le mot approprié pour décrire ce que je porte?) pour acceuillir le printemps. Ironie du sort.

J'ai écouté deux conférences hier soir, dos à dos, sur internet. Première partie de programme: réflexion de Michel Serres sur la notion d'invention. Deuxième conférence: Michel Foucault donnant un cours au Collège de France, en 1984. C'était sans doute dû à l'enregistrement bruyant du cours ou aux manières acceuillantes de Foucault mais... j'y étais: dans l'amphi numéro 5, surcomplet où les auditeurs étaient debout et assis par terre parce que la salle 6 n'était pas sonorisée... la voix unique de Foucault, et, bien sûr, le cheminement de sa pensée qui nous plonge dans la Grèce Antique. Et de quoi parle-t-il? De courage, bien sûr. Je n'ai pas suffisamment lu son oeuvre pour annoncer, preuves à l'appui, que je suis fan de sa philosophie, mais je crois, tout de même que je le suis. Ou du moins, je suis enthousiasmée par son approche honnête et sans chichi de la réflexion philosophique. Et, de ce que je commence à découvrir, je suis aussi impressionnée par sa capacité à analyser et réfléchir son monde - à retourner les problèmes pour les voir sous un prisme différent. Il utilise une forme d'innocence pour arriver à des conclusions savantes. Son dénuement, sa vulnérabilité face au savoir, me touchent beaucoup.
 Je n'ai pas fini la série de cours, n'ayant jusqu'ici écouté que deux podcasts. Mais Foucault a annoncé dans le deuxième enregistrement qu'il parlerait, au moins un peu, plus tard dans la série, de la paresia, le "dire-vrai", dans un contexte moderne. J'ai donc hâte d'écouter la suite. Je serais bien incapable de résumer ces cours, donc si vous êtes intéressés, ils sont disponibles en ligne.

Sur un plan purement personnel, ce qui m'inquiète, c'est que j'ai soif de recherche en ce moment. J'écoute des podcasts de conférences philosophiques, j'établis des thèses dans ma tête... bilinguisme et théâtre-actualité, fruit d'une culture qui communique l'évènement dans la langue de l'instant. C'est le dernier titre en date.
 Mais je n'aime pas la recherche, merde, ça ne mène pas à ce que je veux faire! N'est-ce pas? Mais, d'un autre côté, j'ai aussi du mal à accepter qu'on travaille tous les jours dans des domaines différents sans prendre le temps de considérer la recherche qui est consacrée à ces domaines. J'envie un peu les médecins qui doivent lire la recherche dédiée à leur profession pour continuer à pratiquer le mieux possible. Ce n'est pas tellement que je les envie, mais je ne comprends pas pourquoi on n'a pas cette habitude, ailleurs. Si on considérait la recherche de manière plus disciplinée dans le monde du théâtre, je suis convaincue qu'on ferait moins d'erreurs, et qu'on créerait un théâtre plus innovant. Je ne veux pas m'enfermer dans une tour d'argent, mais je suis convaincue des vertues de la recherche appliquée à la vie.
D'une certaine façon, mon solo pour Fresh Voices, c'était un peu de la recherche, un peu du théâtre. Peut-être qu'il faut que je regarde dans cette direction:  ne pas m'arrêter, ni de réfléchir, ni de faire du théâtre. Et on verra bien ce qui arrivera.

mardi 5 avril 2011

To procrastinate? Or not.

Although today started off wrong - I was late for an appointment because I overslept... yes, yes, bad - it has consistently gotten better, mainly because I have been on task about everything I set on doing, and now can see how nice it is to have a clean kitchen, because I cleaned it! Now, I know that no one cares that I cleaned my kitchen. No one should. But there is one thing that's interesting. Ever since I moved to my current appartment (September 2010), I thought of cleaning the microwave oven. In fact, every time I put something in the microwave, I thought of cleaning it, because it remained quite dirty. I lived with the knowledge that I should clean it, yet never did. And, because I kept on thinking about it, and never doing it, I felt guilty. This non-action fuelled, to a small extent, poor self-estime. So now, I feel better. I stopped putting the task off and I, genuinely, feel empowered. Isn't it weird? Such a little thing. Imagine what it would feel like if I stopped putting off the big things!
Ok, ok, I'll admit it, I have been listening to the iprocrastinate podcast, which is a podcast dedicated to research on procrastination. And I am finding that I am a true procrastinator and will probably remain one for the rest of my life. With that in mind, I really need to understand my procrastinating disability and cope with it. Timothy Pychyl is the  podcast host, and he approaches the topic of procrastination in many different ways. He doesn't shy away from philosophical perspectives, and links the (non) act of putting things off with what the Existentialists call bad faith (la fameuse "mauvaise foi" de Sartre) or self-deception. As a procrastinator, I am a master at self-deception by giving myself a zillion irrational excuses not to do the simplest (or the hardest) of tasks.
But this led me to think about the world at large, and wondering whether we were, as an increasinly global society, addicted to procrastination? The debate on climate issues certainly leads me to believe that we tacitly agree, as a society, to put things off. One could argue that some of the budget stalling in the US has to do with national procrastination. But it makes sense, if you view procrastination from an existentialist point of view, since it all comes down to making choices. And, whether we procrastinate or not, we make choices all the time. Every second is a choice, so long as we live to experience the second. But are we willing to actively engage in the choices we make, or passively let the laziest choice just, happen?
This is only the beginning of my reflexion on this topic, and I will come back to it soon. But I promised myself I would start working on translation stuff at 4.00, so I must leave the blog for now. Only to come back later, armed with more evidence and research to back my claims!

mardi 29 mars 2011

Cash, money, power

I have been trying to find a respectable topic to blog about these last few days. But somehow, words seem to fail whenever I think about the big things happening in the world. The Japanese disaster is astounding, the Libyan war unsettling, the American budget decisions baffling, the rise of French extreme-right leader Marine Le Pen distressing, etc.

And when I think of my own personal life, I realize that I am both incredibly fortunate and kind of - stuck.
I think of issues dear to me and projects that should see the light of day. That makes me feel ambitious and creative. But then I realize that I need to make money.
Filled with enthusiasm (I can't help it), I search for jobs on the internet. I even - though not as much as I would want - send applications, and write rapturous cover letters. So far, I have not received many answers (read none).  That's when I start to wonder how anyone is able to succeed - and by this I mean "being fairly credited for what they do". I hear a lot of good things about networking and proving yourself and accepting to work for free. I have yet to fully master the arts of networking and self-confidence, but I have most definitely worked my fair share of free hours. No doubt that I will continue for some time, but I still don't think it's right. Well, not in the long run, at least. It's great to acquire new skills and get experience, but  working for free does eventually make you feel exploited and unimportant - not feelings that help one succeed, as far as I can tell. As my boyfriend likes to remind me: "cash, money, power". And no, he's not an investment banker.

I wonder how the people who are "at the top" of whatever they do got to the top of whatever they do. Sheer luck? Courage? Both? Hard work? Money? Friends? Coincidence (other word for "luck")?
And how much compromise should I be willing to make in my professional career? Do I have to narrow my interests, settle in a niche job and never get out of it?
I love working in theatre because it's such an expansive art form. It includes so many people, mediums, props, costumes. It's messy and lively. A rehearsal can be boisterous one moment and awkward the next. You constantly have to work with people, cooperate, keep on going despite frustration, fatigue or embarrassment. You have to know how to communicate and depend on others. It's hard work, but so gratifying when the show goes up and the audience relates. Clapping! Success!
But theatre, in its strict form, is limited to the stage. And I would like to take that thespian energy and that sense of cooperation and extend it to the outside world. I would like to offer creative solutions to real-life problems, as well as pretend ones. I would like to have a little bit more power (cash, money) to address issues and make alternative ideas more visible. A daunting task, in this confusing world.  But I can't shake it off. It's not just me.  A lot of people and institutions, in a lot of ways, can't shake that desire off. And they act on it. They strive to be political, in the noble sense of the word : responsible and accountable within society.
But in order to succeed, we all need to stop being disgusted by cash so that we can access more ressources and be a visible, positive influence, gaining - go ahead, say it, say it! - power. Because, let's face it: if we're weak, others are strong. If our strong ideals are weakly communicated, other weaker concepts are publicized to everyone everywhere.

All that to say that I promise to send more resumes out, and not undersell myself. At least, I'll try.

mercredi 9 mars 2011

Words in floods like the overspilling oceans

The words will come in floods and I won't control them.
I'll utter something I thought but didn't mean to say. It will be heard, I will have to explain.
It will mean more than what I ever thought it should mean. But, come to think about it, maybe it does... mean. I mean, something. Important.

I finished the last few pages of The Road after having stalled reading the ending.  Deeply troubled, because of McCarthy's lucid pessimism and because, in so many ways does he speak a truth we're all dutifully ignoring : if we keep on going the way we are, bad things will happen.

I have now started reading Laurence Olivier's autobiography, and it's entertaining, light and peppy.
But it's not making me forget about the end of the world. I keep on wondering if humans will cause the end of all life, or if we (along with numerous other life forms) will be swept off the earth, only to be replaced by a new life-cycle. Then I fantasize grimly: after the complete disappearance of humans, maybe the earth will gulp all remaining human-made ruins and breathe unimaginable life into them, in a way unfathomable to our minds numbed by selfishness and greed.
Until I see a plastic bag on the sidewalk, and I feel like crying - because it's on the ground on its way to the ocean, and because I'm not picking it up. It's honestly hard to walk around Bethlehem. All that litter generates so much guilt and questionning.
I feel so small unable unhelpful useless. I have a brain, I can put two and two together - we are in trouble - but I'm not finding positive, creative solutions that would deeply challenge the national (American) consensus. Of course, living a relatively green lifestyle is a small step in the right direction, but we need to go further than that. The billionnaires who deny climate change such as David Koch really need to be challenged, more than with a couple of placards. There's got to be a secret weapon in the liberal's arsenal that we have not tried yet. That secret weapon is probably made of money - that is invested in long-term solutions. And that secret weapon needs to be deployed now. Otherwise, we're screwed.

samedi 26 février 2011

Do tell!

I attended an inspiring event tonight: an evening of storytelling. Two seasonned storytellers started the night off with "coming of age" stories, and then opened the floor to the audience. Anyone could sit on the blue stool and tell a 10 minute story. Many were shared. We were all enthused by the familiarity of other people's tales. We were also transported in different states, countries, epochs. There were so many moments of acute listening and sharing. It reminded me of dinner parties when our family friend, dear friend of my father's, Roland, would tell long, long, hilarious jokes.
We need moments like these in our lives; at least, I do. Times when one person (at a time) is allowed to share, without being cut off, or dismissed as chatty. When the experience, the wisdom, the awkwardness, the beauty, the sadness, the silliness of life are passed on.
 Storytelling isn't exactly theatre, because theatre almost inevitably creates distance between the performer and the audience. Storytelling is more a part of the every-day, an accepted interaction between people. We all tell so many stories. One could even consider any re-telling of a past event to be storytelling.
 Good conversations can have a similar cathartic effect to a good storytelling bash. Two or more people gather together and talk, going back and forth between experiences and anecdotes.
In this case, the framework of the event facilitated the telling. It opened up a space, creating "the space of the stool". You sat on that stool, and you were granted the permission to go on and spill the beans - whatever beans you felt should be spilled at that particular moment, with those particular people. And everyone was right behind you, lending their ear.
In some storytelling instances, the space is under a tree, or around a dinner table, or in a tent, or around a campfire, or in the dark, or on a roof, a balcony, a garden, a blank page...
Let's make more space for stories. Of the kind that uplift us, and that give us the impetus to live more fully.

jeudi 17 février 2011

Veille de première

Veille de première... on joue notre spectacle Fresh Voices: The Matter of Moments demain. J'ai hâte.
Je m'aperçois, avec chaque spectacle, de la chance que j'ai de faire du théâtre, d'avoir l'opportunité de créer des choses qui se dévoilent sur scène. Et ça me conduit à réfléchir de plus en plus à ce que c'est,  exactement qu'une opportunité. Un article là-dessus à venir sur ce blog, j'éspère.

En attendant un billet de blog plus fourni, voici un petit passage du Tiers Instruit de Michel Serres, que je cite directement (le deuxième paragraphe ici retranscrit) dans mon spectacle Where is this Place? :

Ailleurs alors n'est jamais comme ici, nulle pièce ne ressemble à aucune autre, aucune province ne saurait se comparer à telle ou telle et toutes les cultures diffèrent. La houppelande portulan dément ce que prétend le roi de la lune.
Voyez de tous vos yeux ce paysage zébré, tigré, nué, moiré, chamarré, chagriné, fouetté, lacunaire, ocellé, bariolé, déchiré, à lacets noués, à bonnets croisés, à franges mangées, partout inattendu, misérable, glorieux, magnifique à couper le souffle et faire battre le coeur.

mercredi 2 février 2011

Beautiful shadows

I am fascinated by puppetry. I always have, really. I vividly remember my 9th birthday spent on the plane ( journeying to the USA) when I opened my present on my folding table and it was a marionnette. I was thrilled.
For Christmas this year, I received a beautiful two sided nepalese marionnette representing the godesses of virginity and creation. And I made a whole set of shadow puppets for this year's Christmas City Follies at Touchstone. They ended up not being used, but they still exist and may make an appearance sonner than later. In fact, I am incorporating puppets for my Fresh Voices piece, and am turning to shadow puppetry.
I'm therefore sharing with you my two treasured  shadow sources. If anyone has more inspirational sources to share, please do!

 Michel Ocelot's Princes et Princes et Princesses made a strong visual impression on me when I saw it in the cinema (as did Ocelot's animation film Kirikou et la Sorcière which is one of my favorite movies).

I just discovered the first full-lenght animation film in History - Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed . Mesmerizing cinematography, and poetry with every frame.

jeudi 27 janvier 2011

Identity and displacement

Poster for our show
 Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I am in a state today. Not an altogether bad state to be in, but one that is most definitely volatile. I have been working on my Fresh Voices piece for the last two hours and a half now, and I'm at a point where my excitement has become a substantial emotion - it's leaping from my heart, but isn't yet pouring on the page. That's why I decided to pause and jam with you, dear blog readers, and tell you where I am so far in this process. I need gentle ears to listen, and gentle voices to comment, if you feel so inclined.

As I may have said before, for Fresh Voices : The Matter of Moments, I am talking about the experience of being bi-cultural, cross-cultural or even 'third cultural', even if that's not technically how I would be defined, but since my Mom was a "Third culture kid", I qualify as a 'second generation TCK'. And, by working on this solo piece, I am consciously realizing to what extent my life and whole being has been molded by the fact that I come from - and have travelled to and from - multiple places. In addition to Le Tiers Instruit, I have been reading Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds. Both books touch on the notions of multiplicity, transition, change, uprooting, nomadic existence, movement, etc. in ways that are enlightening to someone who had never been able to pinpoint where (some of) her general angst came from.

And as I am identifying with these concepts, and as I see myself fitting into some of the sociological models described, I feel a renewed freedom to think about my own life and rekindle memories that were and are important even though they may have seemed trite at the time. I still don't know how my Fresh Voices piece is going to be structured, and I really want to come up with a structure tonight (before tomorrow's sharing with company members). But perhaps sharing some of these memories and writing them for readers - rather than merely jotting them down for me - will give me the impetus to find a performative way to get all this stuff figured out.

Here are a few passages I have been working on today.

To have unresolved grief is ignoring the loss one feels. Loss of someone because you moved away and you know you won't stay in touch in the same way. Loss of something like walking to and from the library, through the stately Jardin des Plantes, admiring the busts of great naturalists on the Natural History Museum building. Unresolved grief is not taking the time to say "I miss this" and "I miss that". Unresolved grief is feeling guilty about feeling sad over everything that has changed, that is no longer the way it was.

You dismiss your memories and curse yourself for being 'nostalgic'. If being 'nostalgic' is what you need to do to mourn the loss of what you loved - love -, then, by all means, indulge.

Gleaned from another blog post: "Acte d'auto-censure dont je suis trop capable quand je veux quelquechose" - depriving myself from things. Why? Partly as a way to train myself, for when I'll have to let go of things I love. So sometimes I overthink my wants. Do I really want to do it? What will be the cost, the consequence, of doing this? What amount of pain will I feel once I need to let it/him/her/them go?

Every summer, on my list of "Things to Do while in The United States", there was : "drink at least one frappucino from Starbucks". This was before Starbucks had colonized every country in Europe and set shop in many Parisian buildings (interestingly, when Starbucks established itself in France, while I was a teenager, I decided to boycott the company, instead favoring traditionnal cafés). Other items on the list included "go to a craft store and buy stuff with pocket money", "eat real baked potatoes" (the realness came from the tin foil around the potato and the sour cream on top), "eat chinese food at the food court" and other typical American experiences not to be missed. My mother made sure we did all those things. She instinctively understood our need to relate to the US, and to establish a sense of comfort by reaching for the reassuring little things we knew and enjoyed. So, if the frappucino had not yet been ingested and we were about to leave the continent, my mother made sure I was brought to a Starbucks in the airport for the much enjoyed drink. It became my way of saying goodbye.

And now I live here. And when I go back to France, I stock up on certain things: tea, chocolate, bras, makeup. I hear French all around me and it feels both comforting and stifling, because I know that, from that point on, only my French self counts. On the American side of the ocean, I have no problem displaying my two passports. When I talk to people, I'm confident that they will regard me as specific to myself - maybe American, maybe not, maybe a little. In the States, I sense that my Frenchness is visible in some way. I don't wear it with my accent, but I wear it on my face, with my clothes, in my eating habits. Someone once said I "looked French" - whatever that means- but, I believed him.

In France, not only do I "look French" - again, whatever that means - but I speak French with no accent. I act French too. Polite but distant, not looking at people in the eyes unless I intend to talk to them, reading a magazine that I want to be seen reading [l'Express] rather than the one I really want to read [Glamour]. So, when I enter the French zone, I know that very few people will recognize my other self. And my instinct is to hide the American in me. The blue passport in my bag, the red one in hand.

The moments right after the plane ride are always crystal clear. Past the generic feel of the airport, I spot my mother - her scarf, the lenght of her hair, her signature walk. The embrace, the first few words, the entrance in the parking lot and the sight of her car. Peugeot 309, at least 22 years old by now, everything manual. A white tin can with its distinctive smell. The road from the airport to the appartment. Smaller roads than the wide expanse of those in America. Those American roads always shocked me when I came off the plane and rode in my uncle's car every summer, when we would come to visit. In France, the roads are now punctuated by radars : grey, rectangular boxes placed at strategic points to record speed and deliver fines. My mother rages at them as we pass them by, below the speed limit.
Slowly, everything starts coming back.

mercredi 26 janvier 2011


J'avais presque oublié que j'avais pris beaucoup de photos de Lyon, donc en voici quelques-unes. J'étais enthousiasmée par les points de vue lyonnais, certains bâtiments, et la lumière.

Quartier du Vieux Lyon

Un fruit d'hiver et deux ballons

Vue de Lyon en montant la côte de la Fourvière

Statue de la Basilique de la Fourvière

Détail d'une mosaique dans la Basilique de la Fourvière

Un des nombreux escaliers lyonnais

Vue de Lyon en montant la côte de la Fourvière
Pont piéton sur la Saône
Henry IV, au musée de Cadagne
Quartier du Vieux Lyon

Quartier du Vieux Lyon, vue de la Basilique de la Fourvière
Cables de tram dans le quartier de la Croix Rousse

Vue prise d'une côte dans le quartier de la Croix Rousse
Quartier de la Croix Rousse

Quartier de la Croix Rousse

La Grande Roue de la place Bellecour

Vue prise du quartier de la Croix Rousse
Vue prise de la Croix Rousse

Vue prise de la Croix Rousse

La nuit arrive...