Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

Good Friday to Next Friday

May 3rd, 2014 No comments

The pseudo lent was 50% of the time successful in that I did have several days when I just did not stay off the restricted items of dairy, caffeine, wheat and sugar. The two common breech items were sugar (highly addictive) and wheat (often made with and into sugar). It was a strong affirmation that wheat and sugar are items that I really benefit staying aware from, if only for the reason that I feel so much better when I don’t digest them.

My lenten challenge was officially broken before Easter at the post-concert late night dinner on Good Friday. Our choir had just finished a hugely successful performance of Mozart’s Requiem that evening; an accomplishment I was not about to let pass without a celebration. We ate at India Oven on W 4th Ave. in Vancouver. The $10 pitchers of Phillips beer were a great value, and just a bonus to what was already a delicious meal of freshly made Indian dishes ranging from eggplant masala to fish curry and their famous butter chicken. I still managed to remain vegetarian at this dinner, though.

That was two weeks ago and now we are one week away from the first Many Ways of Mothering: evening of songs and real life stories taking place at Dunbar Heights United Church at 6:30pm. It is my tribute to the volunteer artists/advocates who nurture the voices of the those in search of their own unique expression. I’m not a mother and though it is not my experience, I recognize that Mother’s Day, like other holidays, can be a difficult time for different reasons to be around others who are celebrating. Maybe due to loss, infertility, envy even; all these are human experiences that needn’t keep us from honouring the many ways that we do nurture ourselves and others. Because for me, the mothering spirit is not marked by the act of giving birth, it is how one chooses to remain in relationship with that which is already alive.

Many Ways of Mothering, May 9, 2014.

Categories: Food, Performing Arts, Stories Tags:

Scene + Heard in the Snow

February 25th, 2011 No comments

When I arrived at Vancouver Island’s Swartz Bay Tuesday evening, I was greeted with bone chilling wind and millions of big fluffy snowflakes.  I took the public transit bus into town which takes an hour of meandering through the countryside of Sidney before getting close to Saanich, where I stay when I visit.  By the time I had arrived at the house, the snowflakes were teeny tiny and not nearly as flurious as they were an hour before.  I expected any signs of snow would be gone in the morning.

To my delight, I woke up to find beautiful snow blanketing the tree branches outside the bedroom window, and more was on its way!  I love snow; I think more now than ever, since we rarely get any in Victoria that stays for longer than a few hours.  The rain usually follows quickly and washes it all away.  All my activities were canceled that day due to the snow.   Because I grew up in Kitimat where snow could pile up to 4 feet overnight and we’d still be expected to show up for school on time, I don’t understand this business of canceling and shutting down over a foot of snow.

So it is particularly noteworthy when people show up to attend our dress rehearsal while most would use the weather as an excuse not to.  What a splendid way to spend a cold snowy night; tucked into a comfy chair in a warm dimly lit theatre being wrapped in stories and music.  Join us this Friday night at 8pm, Saturday 2pm & 8pm or Sunday 8pm.  Tickets can be purchased at Lyle’s Place in advance or at the door 30 minutes before show times.  Metro Theatre is on the corner of Johnson and Quadra, next to the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

10 Ways to Be Who You Are

February 4th, 2011 No comments

“10 Ways to Tell A Guy You’re Interested”

That’s the title of an article in a magazine that a girl sitting in-front of me was reading on the bus; I was on my way home from watching The Social Network movie.

Ten ways!?!  That sounds exhausting!  Why not simplify and do just 1 method of, mmm, I don’t know…

…Say hello, and tell him, “I’m interested!”  Done.

“In what?” he might ask, (if he’s one who needs specifics)

And depending on your willingness to be direct, you might respond with “You.”

Contrary to the title of this post, I’m not going to write about how I think people can be who they already are.  I will offer, however, some questions worth exploring:

“Are you free to be who you feel you are inside?” Do you need 10, five or maybe 20 different ways to express your complexity of fears and cover-ups?  I have spent so much time figuring out how to behave in the manner that would get me what I want, instead of just flat-out asking for it.  And worse, I have spent just as much time hiding behind pleasantries and heartless smiles to avoid having to speak the truth of my thoughts and experiences.  Recognizing now that many successful people actually have many enemies and slanderers tells me that I haven’t been selfish or bitchy enough.  Actually, I didn’t need that recognition to know that, it has been suggested by a few.

“What is your criteria for friendship?” Your criteria, not what a magazine lists as your “shoulds”.  I put the word friends in parenthesis because now, being available as online profiles, most of my friendship interactions are happening online in social networks and I’m left wondering a lot, “Who are my friends?”  “What does it look like or mean to be a friend?” Because really, just because I want to be someone’s friend and they accept my request online doesn’t mean that they actually will or want to interact with me.  The fact that I have over 300 facebook(fb) friends and did zero face-to-face socializing this week is hard proof of that!

Recently I got a friend request from someone who was a friend of a fb-friend and I wasn’t really sure what the point of it was.  It was from a male and sadly, I’m largely skeptical of invitations coming from males.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.  Especially when it’s online from someone I haven’t met before.  Hopefully if my fb-friends and friends read this, those who are unsure of their friendly relations with me will ask, those who don’t ask, probably weren’t and those who know won’t have to.

“Who would you call if you knew that they would be happy to hear from you?”

“To whom would you say it, if saying no were valued and respected?”

“What would you wear if you were the trend-setter?”

Those are just 5 questions.  The second set of 5 (to make it the classic 10) would be the same questions, answered at a time when you feel like you have nothing and nobody to lose.

One of my favourite quotes replays in my mind (spotted on a tweet):

It takes courage to grow up and be who you are.  – e.e. cummings

The Public Voice: Speak up and smile!

February 3rd, 2011 No comments

“How is Everyone feeling this afternoon?” he says as he steps inside.  A few mumbles, “Good. Okay,” bubble up from the mid and back sections.

“Why does Everyone look so serious?!” he teases with his second attempt to get some lively reactions.  “Especially the lady by the door.”  With more patience than I could have mustered she replies, “I just spent 10 hours on a plane.”  If that were me being put on the spot for the sake of this comic act, I might have just sneered.

“Oh,” he says,  “Air Canada?” as if the airline makes a difference!  Ten hours on a plane is 10 hours of dehydrated waiting, locked in with a few hundred anxious, grumpy, smelly people while confined to seats that are either too large or too small and food that isn’t real food; no matter if the logo is blue or maroon, if the servers in the sky smile or have a face of truth, the only way to end up with a smile after a 10hr. flight is to watch a great movie or listen to awesome music just before landing!  Anyhoo…back to this woman who offers an explanation when she shouldn’t have to…

“No, Thomas Cook,” she says.  I have never heard of this airline.  And even though he gave an, “Oh!” in response, I’m pretty sure that he hadn’t heard of it either.”  He bluffed an, “Even worse, eh?”  And she softly mumbled something about cattle.

By now it was clear that for $3.75, for most, and $0.0 for those he excused, this group of unsuspecting strangers that I was sitting in the middle of, was in for a show, whether we liked it or not.

“Hello Everyone, this is Kamikaze airlines and I’m Captain Chaos,” suddenly blares through the speaker system.  “Hold on tight because I can guarantee we will be experiencing some turbulence.” As he went on with the spoofed airline welcome speech, I couldn’t tell if I was more annoyed that he had disrupted my quiet transit time or if I was impressed at his willingness to be in our faces with his efforts to get people out of their rutty transit trances.  You know the trance.  Look around on a train, bus, even elevators and you’ll likely find people looking down, spacing out into the horizon or staring at other passengers.  Rarely a smile, unless it is to politely respond to the gaze of a stranger.  So I understood and appreciated what this young man was trying to do, shaking things up and hoping people would lighten up.  What choice did we have, really?  He was after all driving the bus!

“Lady by the door, do me a favour?  Smile for me honey.”

Smiling she replied, “I’m already feeling better, thanks.”

I’ve seen it happen a few times like this, when a bus driver uses his voice and wit to ignite light in the people who have entrusted their lives to each other for a few moments while getting from point A to point B.   Even if I did find it off putting at first to have my attention demanded, our city would benefit a great deal if our bus drivers were also happy storytellers.

This ride happened in North Vancouver going up the hill on Lonsdale from the Quay, and much needed on the east to west routes in Vancouver!  While he did get people to smile, I would say he was more of a comic.  One who started resorting to put-downs of other Canadian hockey teams that are not Canucks.  That’s why I would prefer happy storytellers than comics who need to put others down in order to feel successful.  I know that kind of humour-making is funny to many but it just feels sad to me, and more for the joke-maker who thinks he makes a joke of others.

So there is another reason to have theatre and drama part of the public school curriculum.  It’s not just for actors or “youth-at-risk!  Our civic structures need life-engaging fun too!

Why Theatre? Revisited, I of II

February 1st, 2011 No comments

Today, through my facebook news feed, the question was posted, “Why do theatre?”  To people who have yet to experience the joy of analyzing the great many benefits for human development and cognition that theatre offers, I can appreciate that the answer to that question is not obvious.  At a time when much of the world is habitually turning to screens of all sizes for their information and communication needs for convenience, novelty or cost-effectiveness, it seems far easier to list reasons of why not to do theatre.

Theatre, in the most common of professional forms, is costly to produce, promote and limited for reproducing beyond the run of live shows, thereby limited for potential revenue.  And so came film.  I get it.  Why, indeed?  Sometimes, I am persuaded to focus on other forms of “work” by their mere practicality in the current economic climate.  Then comes along a day like today when I come across this question, “Why Theatre?”, followed by lunch with a friend and three different, but related videos.  The first one below started my morning after breakfast; posted by a theatre colleague, it had me laughing out loud!

Can you relate?  I could!   And not because I identify as having a disorder or being of the elderly demographic, but because in particular states of mind, I have experienced this unstoppable stream of linked, but seemingly disorganized thoughts and impulses that I act upon, taking me from one incomplete task to start another activity that is interrupted by a thought which brings me into another frame of focus, and so on.  Sometimes, I do return back to my initial activity, but it is highly problematic for productivity in the workforce, when I don’t.  And it seems that many many people, often creatives and innovators are often misplaced, misunderstood and highly undervalued in most workplaces and schools.  What is interesting is that others who have shared a similar experience also exhibit a great tendency – nay, an insuppressible drive for artistic expression that is as strong as the “ADD” behaviour.   Perhaps they are connected to, or inform each other.   I’m not of the opinion, however, that they are exclusive to each other, nor do I buy the claim that there is an epidemic.  If you keep reading and watch the second video in this post, you may further understand why I go on to say here that it is the larger societal structures ie. schools, laws, medicine, that are not evolving, or tranforming, at a rate which supports the human response to what is current and true.

After watching that video in the morning, I spent most of the afternoon becoming re-acquainted with a friend who is on her way towards a medical residency in plastic surgery. We had a delicious meal of Peruvian and South American delights at El Inka Latin Deli in Burnaby.   She shared her stories of a new romance and I, my recurring considerations on taking up filmmaking courses. With the fear of abandoning the riches of my formal training in applied drama and theatre, despite little monetary riches to show for it, I have been reluctant to pursue any further training that diverges from the applied theatre path.

Insightfully, Brandi points out that documentary filmmaking, the genre to which I currently feel drawn, would be bringing together all the previous training I’ve had and incorporate other pleasures of researching, writing, and collaborating with a diversity of people.  I go home with a very satisfied tummy and a full head of questions: Maybe I can still practice theatre and develop my film-making skills in a parallel and complimentary way?  It’s another art form, can I pay the bills with it?  Is it the accessibility of the medium that is my block, or my own internal maze of questions that lead to inaction?  Perhaps what my artistic voice is trying to manifest is a hybrid of these mediums.  Hybridity.  It’s how I’m made! No surprise I would fuse play with work, live performance with digital.  And my friends often check-in with the curious, “Janice, what are you up to now?” It seems adventurous, I suppose, to the observer, but it has largely been frustrating because it’s taken me yeeears, a full decade after finishing 7 years of higher education, to realize the fuller scope of my heart’s desires.  What did I expect?  Well, I’m impatient.

The Courage of a Public Voice

January 15th, 2011 No comments

I returned from viewing the award-winning film, “The King’s Speech” for the second time in two weeks. I rarely do that, view a film in the cinema house more than once, but I was happy to with this one for a few reasons:

i. It addresses the manners of a lasting male friendship, something I rarely see expressed or demonstrated, and certainly not as eloquently or witty as between Colin Firth as King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue played by Geoffrey Rush. The relationship between the two lead characters flows like a waltz, dipping down into the private, Logue masterfully coaching the King on the sensitive matters of his speech and his related fears, allowing the King’s public voice to emerge more smoothly, sweeping across the world via the invention of radio, and rising up to unify a people during war.

ii. The story is about a remarkable historical figure of Royal status and my background could be no more opposite or different than his, and yet I relate to the King’s struggles to offer his voice publicly and taking his place as a leader. We get to see the transition of Firth’s character go from the status of Duke to King in the matter of an hour, and I am left with a new perspective on what it means to cultivate a public voice. This beautifully told story of a husband, a son, a father, a friend and a very courageous learner who overcomes his stammer, will and no doubt has, inspired so many to find the courage to be public beyond the our current comforts.

iii. It has two fun and brilliantly performed scenes of Rush’s character reciting Shakespeare.

iv. This second time around I took more notice of how exquisite Jennifer Ehle is in all her scenes.

v. I often find stories about monarchs difficult to relate to, so the accessible friendly nature of learning about this slice of history is delightful and much appreciated.

vi. The pictures are stunning, colourful and heartfelt, and the words and music move us elegantly through a range of emotions that is exhilerating.

I could keep listing reasons why I whole-heartedly enjoy this film, but that would be nowhere nearly as fun as you going to see it and then coming back to comment here about what you thought.

L is for ability

October 26th, 2009 No comments

Love. What is it? What is this thing that poets and musicians, novelists and artists of all kinds are compelled to write, speak, dance, and sing about? I’ve heard this word, ‘love’, as a salutation to end a conversation. I often hear the words ‘I love you…’ in a tone that is like a request for affectionate reciprocation – a slight lingering at the end, a breathe waiting for an echo, a reply. What is love? I can remember wanting to hear it often, believing that if “I Love You” is said, then love exists, and if those words are not expressed, love is absent. I used to think that if it was not said to me by those I admired, it naturally meant that I had not yet earned the love I was seeking, that something was wrong with me and I had only to do something, everything, to please other, and then I would earn love. After spending much time alone this past year, I’m no longer bothered not to hear it. In fact, my comfort zone is not to hear it. I suspect I would feel confused, if not afraid, if I had to deal with an expression of love.

Love, its ambiguity and fame, keeps me wondering, “Where does it go when it leaves?”

While many women my age are out looking for a husband or sleeping with one, I watched a tv movie on this lovely saturday evening, called “13 going on 30”. Oh to have magical wishing dust to sprinkle on me while I time travel to a different state of body and mind; a state where I have a circle of friends who mutually seek out the company of each other on a weekly basis out of joy to play and spend time together. Only 20 years ago a swing set, a magazine and a fruit roll-up shared with a friend was a simple formula for fun. As a result the other awkward and uncomfortable experiences of that age, I also couldn’t wait to be 25. I mistakenly estimated that by age 25, I’d be all grown up with a job, happy and thriving. When I turned 16, I became wiser to my pace of development and moved the target age of “happy and thriving” to 30. Somewhere, (my departure from New York City is always suspect), I regressed. I may be in a state of perpetual adolescence, only without the fiery passion that made the awkward teen years worthwhile.

I remember feeling a spirit within that was so strong in my adolescence, that I believed in extreme and beautiful possibilities for our world. I was so convinced that once I left the small town where I grew up, I would go and do something really wonderful for humanity. It was a constant ball of energy inside, always thinking forward, the believer in possibilities. But I screwed up and lost the connection somewhere along my way. Today, I caught myself searching for that lost part; in the usual places at first – friends, plans for change in the home, a romantic comedy! And then the movie ends and reality is still unchanged. I am unchanged and yet very different from how I once was.

Where has she gone, that lover of life, the daring dreamer, the smiler of joy that many remember me to be? I wish her to return soon. I’d like very much to believe that there is more value to my life than what I have given it so far. And what, besides what we do gives a life value? Who decides? Who measures the value of a life?
I am still breathing and I like to believe that there is purpose to that. Now, to connect to what that is!

Some say there is no purpose to life. That seems both a relief from responsibility and a loss of joy.

On the sidewalk near my house someone has written on the pavement with paint, “Love is!”
Maybe I have asked the wrong questions. What is love? What is my life purpose? Perhaps these are impossible questions to answer. Love simply IS, the pathway says. Life IS. The purpose is not to be found, it is to be created in the being. “I am” is true. All words following “I Am” are experiments with the state of life. With or without love, with or without joy, my life is what it is. Life is.

A fun CD by a fun musician

June 10th, 2008 No comments

If you haven’t heard of Mark Hildreth’s music yet, you will!  Check out his music! His CD is ready for purchase too!  I can’t stop playing it and the lyrics are full of honestly and love.

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Because I want to see Autumn

October 14th, 2007 2 comments

It is a beautiful autumn day and from where I sit in Joseph’s apartment, I can see the glorious mountains and orange tree tops.  Aahh….I love this season of transition.  I feel more and more that September is the true beginning of the New Year.  Maybe because it’s the start of the school year and that has stayed with me.  I truly appreciate the ability of the trees to let go of their summer glory and transform.  I don’t always approach change as gracefully and I am thankful to learn from nature, these wiser ways of riding life.  As their leaves turn colour and prepare to fall, the tree isn’t thinking, “I’m dying, I’ve failed in being a tree.”  It just is.  It doesn’t resist or judge itself for losing it’s most celebrated form.  In fact, what I find so special is that it is in this state of letting go and vulnerability, that the core of the tree becomes even more distinct and attractive.  And when the leaves fall, that tree expands even further into the world around it, filling it with life and colour.

Imagine what one could accomplish each day without the fear of failing.  What would you try if you knew that your success were assured? 

I strive to explore that way of being with more awareness of what holds me back and what motivates me forward.  I strive to eliminate fear from my motivations when choosing thoughts, intentions and actions.

I wrote a short story recently based on what little I know about the Binukot in the Philippines and I’m excited that it has been selected to be paired with the skills and talents of a filmmaker, Mark Borowski, in Victoria.  I’m actually getting paid to contribute to this project called “Scene and Heard”!  I discovered in the process of writing this short story that I actually really enjoy creative writing and I feel energized by the process when it is something that I have personally selected.  Often in school I experienced writing only as a requirement and somehow that took away from my feelings of enjoyment.  Is that a similar dynamic when we stop enjoying something when it becomes a requirement?  Like when I wash dishes, I usually enjoy it.  I like making things clean and refreshed.  BUT, if I know there is an expectation or requirement that I do the dishes at a certain time or a certain way, the idea of doing dishes changes and the experience of washing the dishes is not as enjoyable, if at all. 

I woke up before the sun started to come into the room today, before 7:00am.  It’s Sunday and I went to sleep after 12am last night.  I wasn’t tired and my body had enough rest and it wasn’t a sound or my bladder that woke me up.  I was just ready and happy to wake up.  This in not a rare happening.  But what’s interesting is that I can’t do that during the work week when I know I must wake up for 7am so that I can go to the job that earns me my current living salary.  What a joy it is to wake up simply motivated to be alive.  My hope is that I can start each day with that enthusiasm and love for life, regardless of the required tasks within a day; for each day is a new gift with infinite possibilities to be surprise and delight.

Have a magnificent Autumn Day!

Running with Scissors

April 8th, 2007 No comments

Last night, after packing and loading the car, Christina and I watched Running with Scissors.  What an extraordinary story, and even more so that it was lived by the man who wrote the book upon which the screenplay was written.  The performances are stunning by a stellar cast that includes Annette Benning, Diane Keaton, Gwyneth Paltrow and the gorgeous Joseph Fiennes.  The young actor who played Augusten was also very impressive. 

It was disturbing and hilarious.  My favourite absurd part is when Dr. Burroughs comes out of the washroom shouting, “It’s a miracle, It’s a miracle.” and he takes his entire family to see the configuration of his poo in the toilet which he takes as a sign from God that their luck is about to change.  A fascinating and humourous look at human psychology and how we survive it.  This story is the ultimate statement of ‘who needs fiction when real life is already so strange and funny?’

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