Proverb for the Day Archives – July 2019

Money is not the root of all evil.  Greed existed long before money.

We all create our own demons.

Don’t go outside.  There are people out there.

Emojis are the best thing when you are trying to express emotion without actually having any.

You are worthy to be seen.

Someone telling you that they did nothing wrong doesn’t mean they didn’t do it.  It just means they don’t think that what they did was wrong.

Thou shalt not try me.

The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.

Stop trying to impress the people who are intentionally looking in the opposite direction.

Don’t listen to reply, listen to understand.

Use your bitchiness as a force for good.

Yes, I’m a bitch, but not yours.

If the options are being included into a group of asshats or being excluded entirely, I will embrace the exclusion.

You CAN fool some of the people all of the time.

I’m not patient: I just work really hard not to be a bitch when I am impatient.

Everyone believes the idea was their idea.

Many people will say you are their friend when they need you.  A true friend will be there when you need them.

Your true friends don’t mind seeing all the ugly bits.

Everyone says they don’t like assholes, but everybody needs at least one.

Great teams capitalize on each other’s strengths and fill the gaps in each other’s weaknesses.

Advertisements

I Can Do All the Things!?!?

I can do all the things.  Well, not EVERYTHING.  But, I can do a lot of things.  And part of that is because I am organized.  And part of that is because I am fast.  And determined.  And I don’t sleep as much as I should.  And I have a compelling need to get things accomplished.  And damn it, someone has to do it.  Part of taking responsibility is often because there is no one else there to do the thing that needs to get done.  Or to take care of the thing that needs to be taken care of.  Or take responsibility of the thing whatever that thing is.  And so, if the thing must be done, I am often left doing it.

Two of my cast told me recently that I am “too efficient.”  I was asked, “How can we help you do the things if you have already done the things?”  And then…  then, they proceeded to tell me how hard their lives were and how many snaps they had to sew, and how it was going to take so much time for them.

And in a moment of insanity, I almost – ALMOST – volunteered to sew their snaps (snaps that I already bought for them when I was at the fabric store anyway, mind you.)   I mean, I do sew snaps well.  And quickly.  Not that it is hard, but my snap sewing speed is pretty quick compared to the time that I have seen many other people sewing on snaps.  But I have a lot of shit to do – other shows, other costumes, my day job, my newsletter, promoting the shows, feeding my pets, having a life (oh, wait, I don’t get to do that right now…).  And so, no…  NO, I did not open my mouth and I did NOT offer to sew on snaps.

Because there is this thing called “comparative advantage….”  I learned about it a long, long time ago when I was in college studying business.  Comparative advantage is the ability of an individual or group to carry out a particular economic activity (such as making a specific product) more efficiently than another activity.  In college, we talked about it in relation to business, and industries of various countries.  Wikipedia explains it as:

“Comparative advantage is the economic reality describing the work gains from trade for individuals, firms, or nations, which arise from differences in their factor endowments or technological progress.  In an economic model, agents have a comparative advantage over others in producing a particular good if they can produce that good at a lower relative opportunity cost, i.e. at a lower relative marginal cost prior to trade.  One shouldn’t compare the monetary costs of production or even the resource costs (labor needed per unit of output) of production. Instead, one must compare the opportunity costs of producing goods across countries.”

So, let’s give it a real life example: I may be able to sew on snaps more quickly than other people in actual time spent.  But, I can also spend that same time doing other things – like choreographing, directing, completing other costuming, etc.  The other things may not be things that other people can do or that they can do as quickly or efficiently as I do them.  Therefore, my time compared to their time is better used doing other things.  So, if it takes me one minute to sew on one snap and one hour to choreograph a dance, but it takes them 5 minutes to sew on a snap and 8 hours to choreograph a dance, I have cheaper resource costs (my time) for BOTH sewing on a snap AND choreographing a dance; however, they have a comparative advantage in sewing on snaps over choreographing because the opportunity costs sewing on snaps are relatively less for them (assuming that choreographing a dance has a greater value than sewing on a snap.)  Breaking that down, I can sew on 1 snap a minute, which equates to 60 snaps in the one hour that it takes me to choreograph a dance.  While they can only sew on 12 snaps an hour, that is 96 snaps in the 8 hours that it takes them to choreograph a dance.  So, they have the comparative advantage in snap sewing.

Another situation happened many years ago when we needed about 10 signs painted for a show.  Another woman on the show ended up drawing and painting the signs.  She came over to my house after the show and saw some artsy fartsy painting stuff I did and said to me something like (paraphrased), “I thought you couldn’t paint.”  No, no, I never said I couldn’t paint.  But, I do not paint quickly.  And I had a lot of other things that I needed to do for that show, and those things that I needed to do were things where I had a comparative advantage.  And SHE had a comparative advantage over making signs.  And, really, when it came down to it, I needed her to do something.

So, what is the point of all this?  I don’t know.  Maybe just a strange reason to combine my business administration/finance education skills and my love of crafting together into one long and, perhaps, painful example.  Or maybe, to let you know that even if you think everyone else is better than you at everything, you are, COMPARATIVELY, better at something.  Because you have to be. That is how comparative advantage works.  Also, maybe just get off your ass and go do something.  Why not? Life isn’t all just snaps and choreography.

And you’re welcome.

Dollhouse Monsters: Director’s Statement

So, I have been busy, but I thought I would share my director’s statement with you for Dollhouse Monsters.  If you don’t have your tickets yet, maybe it will encourage you to get tickets.  If you do have your tickets, then Yay!  I will see you soon at the show!

 

I am so excited to have you come to this intimate show. And I don’t just mean the space (although I do love the atmosphere in Stage Left). While all burlesque shows invite you in to a level of intimacy that may make you a little “hot” or may just make you uncomfortable, this show layers in some mental and emotional intimacy on top of the physical intimacy typically associated with stripping. This show is particularly intimate because it offers biographical moments from each of our main characters, Dee O’s Mio, Lady Malavendra, and Red Velvet. The show isn’t a treatise of our lives and it is not going to be the topic of the next Ken Burns (or anyone else’s) documentary, but it does offer some intimate and some over-the-top moments that have helped shape who we are as performers and as people. The solo acts in this show are a distillation and expression of some of those most vulnerable and, conversely, most powerful, moments. This show is a meandering journey, not through the countryside or the woods, or even the streets of San Francisco, but through our hearts, and our minds, and even creeping a little bit into (shall I dare say it) our pussies.

This show is the co-creation of Dee O’s Mio, Lady Malavendra, and Red Velvet, assisted along by the gentle questions, proddings, and insights of our writer, Eric Pape. As our writer, he observed us and distilled our emotional content into the most salient words and stories – a little different for each of us. He delved out commonalities and differences. Sometimes, he brought out stories that were so buried we hadn’t even realized that they were formative stories. Other times he gave us back our humor in scenes and scenarios we didn’t think were funny at the time.

As burlesque performers, and, really, every day as human beings, we are so used to putting on a persona, to letting people see the façade we wish you to see. But in this show, I believe we have cracked that shell. You may not be able to see our entire vulnerable insides, because we can’t even see that ourselves. But, we have opened ourselves up, seen parts of ourselves we never admitted to anyone else, and let you into some of our most vulnerable moments. Can you see us now?

This is the fifth theatrical/burlesque show I have co-created. With just over ten years of burlesque performing, and in my fiftieth year of living, it should be getting easier. And some of it is. And then there is the rest of it… Taking on the responsibilities of a show of this magnitude is exciting, invigorating, and exhausting all at the same time. Every time I work on a theatrical burlesque show I worry that I won’t be able to create something as interesting, that I have lost my creative talent, that I don’t have what it takes. It helps working with a great theater and a supportive cast who is willing to work with you, try new things, and be vulnerable on stage. A big thanks to The EXIT Theatre, particularly Christina Augello and Amanda Ortmayer who may have pushed a little, but also totally supported, the first burlesque/theatre show, Rebel Without A Bra. They have continued to be supportive, although less pushing is now required. I also appreciate each one of my Velvettes. They came to me to dance and I have made them into dancers, stage hands, prop assistants, dressers, various small parts, disembodied voices, singers, and monsters. They are critical and appreciated. And thanks to Beth Cockrell and Amanda Ortmayer who do the parts that I really can’t do, like lighting design and stage set design. I do a lot of shit. But I can’t do it all, and I can’t do any of it without all the amazing people behind this production… And an audience. Thank you, too!

Hugs –

Red Velvet

Proverb for the Day Archive – June 2019

Hire good people, trust them to do their job, and get out of their way.

I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

No man is an island, but there are several I would gladly seclude alone on a deserted one.

I could care less, but that would require effort.

If you don’t have something nice to say, say something sarcastic.

A shielded heart will never be pierced, but it can still be crushed.

I don’t want to burn ALL the bridges.  But I have a temper and a match, so don’t tempt me.

Never stop being a good person because of bad people.

Lift others up, but not if it is pushing you down.

Sometimes bad people can drive you to do good things for yourself.

Don’t Friday your life away.

If you don’t know there are other colors of the rainbow, you just get stuck coloring in black and white.

Don’t be a victim of seductive reasoning.

If you don’t laugh occasionally at work you are just setting yourself up to cry when you get home.

The book was better.

I can tell people information, but I can’t make them learn it.

Ignoring me will not make me go away.

Shut up and listen.

Question the validity of information around you.

If you really want to save your soul you have to think about someone other than yourself.

Every day it is more difficult not to tell people what I REALLY think.

Proverb for the Day Archives – May 2019

Focus on the shape and the wiggle will come.

Teach children how to think, not what to think.

Bad people have a little bit of good and good people have a little bit of bad.

The most powerful thing about leadership is empowering others.

A gentleman holds open doors but doesn’t assume you can’t open a door for yourself.

Take the opportunities that support your goals.

Don’t wait for an engraved invitation to live your life.

Reading is sexy.

Bring joy to everyone’s lives, especially your own.

Go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated.

The grass may be greener on the other side, but have you considered the water bill?

Everything I want in life cannot be found at the ABC store.

Logical phallusy is the invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning that a woman needs a penis.

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

The best things in life aren’t things.

Just because something is natural does not mean it is good for your body. Poison ivy is totally natural.

If you honor life, you must honor the living.

The problem with a reasonable argument is everyone is not reasonable.

You can’t get where you want to go unless you start where you are now.

Done is better than perfect.

Everyone does not engage in rational self interest.

If life was a popularity contest I would be dead by now.

A costume should enhance the character in your act but should not BE your act.

Life is hard.

Don’t let the bad days convince you that you have a bad life.

Not a “Pretty Girl”

I am not a “pretty girl.”

I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way. I don’t think I am unattractive. I do okay. But, what I do mean is that I am not one of those “pretty girls.” You know… the ones. The girls that have been praised, petted, and pampered for being pretty. The girls who KNOW they are pretty. The girls that expect things because they are pretty. The girls who turn around and expect that someone will be fawning over them, gaping at them, taking their picture, or just BE THERE … FOR THEM. At least, that is what it always feels like to me.

As I said, I am not that girl. I never have been.

Again, this is not saying I am unattractive. Oh, yes, I can absolutely feel unattractive. And I can feel beautiful, when I am all dressed up with makeup on and confidence abounds. But, regardless, I never learned to expect anything. I don’t expect anything.

My parents taught me to be self-reliant. To do things for myself. To not rely on (or maybe not even trust) other people. So, I don’t expect people to be there for me. Certainly not on a whim. I am not sure I even want them to be. One of my girlfriends asked, when we were on a girl date, “so, when two fems are out together, who opens the door?” My pragmatic answer, “Whoever gets there first.” Because in my world, I appreciate people opening doors for me, but I also open doors for them. Because, I don’t expect those things from people. When I applied for my current job, the job application asked if we were willing to carry 50 pounds. This was an office job! Why would they ask that? Well, because we carried things. Computers, books, and documents. Lots and lots of documents. Yes, I carried 50 pounds. I was young and working with a lot of older white men. They let me carry my 25 or 50 pound boxes back and forth. Usually one of them would ask me on my last box if I needed help. I think it was on purpose. I would always tell them no… even if it hadn’t been my last box. Because I didn’t want to be that girl who couldn’t carry my 50 pounds. I didn’t WANT to be that pretty little girl who needed someone else to do part of my job for me – even if it was the unglamorous, uninteresting, box carrying part of my job. I wasn’t going to helpless or act helpless when I didn’t really need help.

I am also not a pretty girl because I like to disappear. No one taught me to be invisible, but sometimes I crave it. Sometimes, I want to be so nothing, so inconsequential, that I fade into the background. Don’t look here, there is nothing to look at, no one to notice. Of course, I never do that on stage. But sometimes, in daily life, fading into the background and being invisible is ideal. It would also be helpful, I think, if you are a thief or an axe murder, because even if there are witnesses, they never really SEE you. I always think of Neil Gaiman’s book Neverwhere and his characters comments that they aren’t really SEEN. And there are times that is tragic, and times that it is a benefit. Which you think, that makes no sense. But it does. Because there are times you want to be anonymous and there are time that you want be seen. And you would really only understand both the power and the helplessness of being invisible if you have been invisible.

So, no, I have never been a pretty girl. I have been invisible far too often to be a pretty girl…

Proverb for the Day Archives – February and March 2019

Ask for help with gratitude, not with shame.

 

Never get comfortable.  Keep pushing the envelope.

 

I am always willing to give my opinion.

 

Sometimes you have to stand when other people tell you to sit down. Sometimes you have to speak when other people tell you to shut up.

 

What you want tomorrow may be different than what you want today.
Having a penis does not make you more of a person.

 

If society is fucked up, it won’t get better just because we travel through space.

 

The problem with stupidity is that is doesn’t just impact the carrier.

 

Life is a work in process.

 

I am all for a fight, but it should accomplish more than just giving myself a black eye.

 

Broken crayons still color.

 

I don’t have to be the best at everything, but I would like to be the best at something.

 

I am so old I remember when digital clocks were cool.

 

Life is good, but that doesn’t mean I am not struggling a little with it.

 

Sometimes I get fed up with being a continued disappointment to myself.

 

The end of the story is just a beginning to the next one.

 

Art matters.

When you don’t like how sausage is made you can either scream at people who eat sausage or find a better way to make sausage.

 

A disagreement is not the same as a fight.

 

Of course you can have an opinion.  And I can choose not to listen to it.

 

Delay is the antidote for anger.

 

I don’t suffer fools gladly but I do like to make fools suffer.

 

Hell hath no fury like me when I am slightly inconvenienced and hungry.

 

 

You are not a failure just because you are not the best.

 

Our world expands when we read.

 

My bucket list isn’t very long but my fuck it list keeps growing.

 

Life is a journey best traveled with wine.

 

Persuade me, don’t coerce me.

 

Fly with your own wings.

 

Stop displaying your stupidity like you are a peacock and stupidity it is your plumage.

Working on the Script for Dollhouse Monsters

I love Mr. Velvet. Not that it is a surprise, because we are married and all… But, I have been a little surprised (and, I admit, relieved) to find that I am loving working with him writing the script for our July theatrical/burlesque/cabaret production Dollhouse Monsters. Now, I have worked with Mr. Velvet before because we co-wrote Just Another Zombie Holiday Show. The process for that script went something like this:

Mr. Velvet spends 15 minutes writing a brilliant comment/joke/portion of a scene. He then hands me the computer to read it and I do. It is great. I try to hand the computer back to him and he says something to the effect of: “That is enough for tonight. I am tired.” And I panic, knowing we have a very tight deadline to get the script out to the cast, so I spend another hour or more writing the ends of scenes, connecting in the acts, and so on, until Mr. Velvet is ready to provide his next moment of brilliance.

So, I was thinking we would be doing something similar this go around. But, I was surprised. Now first, I want to make it clear that the topic matter is based on the real lives of the cast – Lady Malavendra, Dee O’s Mio, and myself. So, to some extent, we are not creating new subject matter. On the other hand, we are sifting through a lot of life stories to find the moments we want to highlight and finding ways to make those moments mean something in the context of what we are trying to create on stage. I liken the process to taking a full-course meal and trying to distill the flavors into a series of amuse-bouches. (mouth amusers…) Except these are for the brain…

Some of the scenes Mr. Velvet drafted alone with edits by me. Less scenes have been drafted by me with edits by Mr. Velvet. But some of the scenes have been a process where we sit huddled together passing the computer back and forth as first one, then the other, writes a few lines or changes the language in lines one of us has already written. While our brains are on the same pathway, we have different ways of getting there and the combined result is stronger. Even when we are not actively writing, we have conversations on how to deal with issues, problems, how to distill the intent, how to make a moment meaningful. Sometimes problems are resolved ½ an hour after a long conversation when Mr. Velvet texts me an idea he came up with on his drive to work. The sifting back through the written materials to find or emphasize commonalities and differences has also been a critical component of drafting this script. Structure is also critical as I try to build in non-static time or space or create on-stage ability for costume changes and solo preparation in this primarily three-woman show involving stripping. (Note: with the Velvettes serving critical roles as back-up dancers, ancillary characters, stage kittens, and dressers!!)

While we don’t always have the same trajectory in the process of this production and where it is going, we both want to create a relevant and enjoyable theatrical/burlesque experience.

This also doesn’t mean everything is smooth. When Mr. Velvet drafted an opening for the second set that involved minimal costuming for the three main characters I was initially against it! This was a whole intermission without a complicated costume change! What a waste of time!! Although disappointed in this “waste of time”, I realized that his idea made the most sense for the trajectory of the show and I found a way to work with it… In another situation where I wanted to write scenes about difficult issues impacting young female teens, the conversations with Mr. Velvet (and the cast) made me realize that this topic matter was better served in an actual group act. The impact is still there and we are showing instead of telling.

I am getting excited (and nervous) about our production, and we still have tons to do. However, I feel like our script is in a pretty solid space. Now just to finish the choreography, costuming, and do all of our script memorization and rehearsing… (maniacal, hysterical laughter follows…)

Mr. Velvet says we need to work on a novel together next. I told him I am okay with that – just as long as we start AFTER July…

Too Much or Not Enough?

Do you ever have good things offered to you, and want more good things? In fact, you are sad if you don’t have more good things offered to you, because you loved the good things that you were doing? But do you have those times when you do have too much of a good thing? I have.

It isn’t because you don’t love those good things. You do and so do I! But most of the good things I am talking about (creating or curating shows, performing locally or in different cities or countries, creating new acts and new costumes) take time, take money, and take commitment. I realize that the older I get and the more I do, my time and commitment are huge commodities and I should be valuing them more than I do.

And, so I am stuck in a conundrum, if you will. I WANT to do ALL THE THINGS. I am SAD if I don’t get to do ALL THE THINGS. But, in reality, I am only one person and all the things take time. Even when I think I have that time, it means giving up other things that I value, including time with my spouse, time with my friends, time with my pets, time sleeping, and sometimes it means giving up my health and bits of my sanity. And most of the time it is totally worth doing A LOT OF THE THINGS. But, I realize it is never worth doing ALL OF THE THINGS, because I run myself too ragged to enjoy ALL OF THE THINGS.

And, then I also have a job… which pays me good money and lets me spend money on a house, and all things I need to live on and the things I need to create my art. And that takes time and commitment, too. And so, I have had to say no to things… I had to say no to a Burlesque Festival in New Zealand – a country I really really want to visit, and I had to say no to Carnaval with Kellita, which I have done before and is super fun – all because I already have too much to do. Now, some of that too much is work too much but a lot of that too much relates to fun and amazing shows and opportunities that I had already committed to before these opportunities came up.

In a similar perspective, an acquaintance of mine is going skiing in Austria for seven days. He is worried because he has never skied for more than 2 days at a time and he is going for seven days. When a friend advised him to “take it easy” and “monitor himself” and, perhaps, “take a day away from skiing while he is there,” he stated “BUT I am spending a TON of money on this trip.” But, to put this in perspective, if you have never skied more than two days and you push it on your third day, while exhausted, and hurt yourself, you could end up not skiing at all for the remainder of the trip. But, for example, if he skied for two days, took a break on the third day, skied four and five, break on six, ski on seven, he would actually ski much more than pushing himself to ski every day when his body is just not up for it. And he would probably have more fun doing it. (Not to mention time to do some other sightseeing as well.)

So, I don’t know about you, but I am discovering that I need to say “no” more, even if I am saying “no” to things I actually want to do. Otherwise, too many “yes” obligations may send me to an early grave… or at least to bed in pain and wanting to be dead. Now to find the balance… (maniacal laughter follows…)

I Am Worthy

Do you ever have those lessons that you keep having to go back to because you just can’t seem to get them right? Yah – me too. I mean, we all have something that we are not as good at. Mine was always sports. Although I didn’t care about them, so that didn’t really matter.
But, my current failing lesson is really all about myself – my worth as a dancer, a worker, a spouse, a daughter, a human being. On one level, I know I am fucking amazing. On the other, I am getting older, tired, crankier. I see people doing things all the time that I can’t do. And I have always been a person suffering from imposter syndrome. You know, that underlying feeling that someday, someone is going to find out that I can’t dance, I don’t do my job sufficiently, and am a really shitty human being that hasn’t ever had to grow up and still acts like a spoiled 10-year-old child. I know, I know. You would think I was talking about our current Orange-in-Chief…. However, there is a strong part of me (my inner bitch, if you will) that self-shames. Is it good? Absolutely not. Is it easy to fix? Absolutely not. I have apparently been self-shaming since I was a child and that stuff isn’t easy to let go!

So, I keep trying, I keep taking classes, getting help, looking for new tools. Because I know that this isn’t the way to be. Does it motivate me? Sometimes. But it doesn’t make me happy. And I spend enough time dancing, performing, and living, that I would like to have more appreciation for myself and what I do. Including appreciation and allowance for myself to do nothing. Or even to fail occasionally.

As I performer, I find a lot of us tend to go from the “I’m amazing,” to “I suck,” altogether too quickly. So many of us, including myself, are overly dependent on external stimuli and positive feedback. Which is great! I love positive feedback. I love positive comments. But, often, as a teacher and a show producer I usually don’t get any feedback. I feel like people expect me to just give others positive feedback, or else people think I have my shit together enough that I don’t need to hear feedback.

I also have the strong inner bitch in my brain that often ignores or demeans the positive feedback I get from others. Like: “They don’t know what they are talking about.” “They are only telling me I am good because they want to be in the show.” “They are my friends, of course they are going to say something nice.”

And of course, real feedback is nice, too. Like, how do I improve? How do I make myself better? Which is really a rare gift, because most people are not equipped to provide that type of feedback, and certainly not when they are there just to enjoy a show. So, my inner bitch feels like it is her duty to tell me when I am not stepping up. To tell me when someone is better than I am. To tell me what I screwed up. To tell me when that was okay, but it really wasn’t up to par. To tell me that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not nice enough, not patient enough, not creative enough, not, not, not, not not…. All in the name of making myself better. And, the result is I ultimately make myself an emotional mess. Isn’t performing and creation fun?!?

Is this just me? I know a lot of us are fucked up, but there are so many special, individual ways to be fucked up. So, I am trying to make myself less fucked up. Because telling yourself that you suck and getting older is not a super good combination because eventually my body is going to stop doing some of the things it does now. I mean, it already doesn’t do things it did when I was 20 or 30…

So, I am working on positive self-talk. Although, apparently, I need to find “special time” for that (that I never give myself because busy) because I need to focus in a way that I don’t seem to be able to do when I am walking down the street or sitting on public transportation, although my normal inner bitch seems to work just great 100% of the time! I think it is because I have spent so much of my life down-playing other people’s positive comments about myself, that I sure as hell don’t believe them when I talk about myself, either.
So, I am working on it. If this was a January post, I would say this is my 2019 goal, but since it is February, I am going to say I am working on becoming my own Valentine. Because you really should love yourself most of all. (And no, inner bitch, that is not selfish!!)

So, if you are struggling with this, too, I wish you all the positive thoughts for your loud inner bitch. (I find that ice cream is not effective long-term for keeping mine quiet). Hope to share more as I move down this path of – hopefully – improvement. Just remember, you are worthy, and I am too!