Monday, November 28, 2005

Thank You

I'm pretty much an ingrateful little jerk, as many of my therapists have said, but once and awhile even I feel the need to express my gratitude to the people who make my life so worth living. So I thought that I'd do it on my blog even though 1- its kind of late being several days after thanksgiving and all, and 2- most of the people I'm going to thank don't even know I have a blog and, in some cases, don't have any idea what a blog is. I hesitate to name specific names here mostly because I can't possibly list every single person who I am indebted to and appreciate in my life, and I'm tired and pressed for time and so I don't want anybody to feel left out if their name isn't on the list. But then I remember point #2 of my previous list and I think I'll probably be OK. If I miss anybody, its not becuase I don't love you. Ask me in person and I will tell you why I am thankful for you and then I will put you on my blog in a place of honor. I'm going to put the names in alphabetical order, too, so that nobody can feel slighted for having their name futher down on the list (though techinically this is good news for my friend Aaron). Alright, here goes. Let the touchy-feely stuff begin:

This year, at Thanksgiving time, I am grateful for the many wonderful people who brighten my life and make me feel like I'm worth something. Here are some of them. I am grateful:

To Aaron (and Mandy), for opening up your home and making me feel part of the family, like a brother, and letting me be part of a truly epic story and make truly epic friends.

To Adrian, for all the advice on the ladies, for your infectious enthusiasm, and for inspiring me to write.

To Bekah, for always looking up to me and liking me more than Blaine.

To Ben, for all the nerdy male-bonding as well as the wicked cool chemistry on stage in 2.1

To Blaine, for getting all my jokes, for quoting stuff from memory with me in perfect unison, and for being my best friend and cohort for as long as I can remember.

To Celeste, for being larger than life and amazing to watch, for letting me share the stage with you, and for punching me with joy when you see me. We're going to be in a show together again, you just wait.

To Chris, for making me crack up all the time, even on stage, for reminding me not to take anything too seriously, for the confidence you've given me, and for all the crazy stories.

To Dad, for teaching me how to laugh, for always being proud of me, and for being my friend.

To Dai, for explaining so much of the world to me, for all the fascinating trivia, good food, book recommendations, erudite conversations, and for shocking people who deserve it. I'm sorry.

To Dana, for being wonderful and reminding me what selflessness really means.

To Darci, for being so darling and adorable that I smile to see you, for listening to all my rambling stories, and for not always agreeing with everything Tyler and Leif say (You go, girl!)

To Debra, for being so fun to act with and be with and for keeping your boss in line.

To Derek, for getting in contact with me again, for reminding me that not all my memories of childhood are awful, for still being my best friend after years and years of separation.

To Grandma and Grandpa, for the food, the hugs, the example, and everything.

To John, for reminding me to look for the beauty in everything.

To Laura, for liking Hedwig as much as I do, for making life seem fascinating, and for loving art and beauty and England so much. You're a wonderful person.

To Leif, for being patient with all my faults, for loving all my strengths, for always being two steps ahead of me, for being the friend I can't live without, but most of all for changing the way I look at the world and making each day an adventure.

To Luke, for being so unique in a world full of carbon copies, for being honest and open, and for being such a geniunely good guy.

To Mom, for making me feel special and loved no matter what, for being there when I needed you most, and for giving birth to me. That was such a turning point in my life.

To my favorite Aunts (you know who you are)and your wonderful children for putting the fun back in "family function."

To Nick, for listening to me even when you didn't really want to, for trying to create things with me even though the marriage of our minds has only produced ugly, warped children due to my defective genes, for that laugh of yours, and for taking me up into the woods that night. Seriously man, that was way too nice of you.

To Say Jay, for being a good conversationalist, for liking Two Gents, and for always posting comments on my blog.

To Spencer, for the gaming, the skinny dipping, the debating, and the teasing - and most of all for making me laugh.

To Sylvia, for teaching me to dress well, for being supportive in all my decisions, for the intelligent discussions about theater, and for being my home away from home when we were in England together.

To Tyler, for making everything in life so much more amusing with your droll wit, for being a good friend to Leif, for your Homer Simpson impersonation, and especially for that eyebrow thing you do that makes you look all skeptical and condescending - it's so you.

To the guy who invented Egg Nogg. Really, dude, you rock.

To everybody I know who has made me smile.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Backstage Confessions

A production of a play is made more by what you don't see than what you do. When you go see a play (as I'm sure you often do, since all readers of my blog are cultured and intellectual), you don't see the hours and hours and HOURS of rehearsal and discussion and preparation the cast and crew gave to put the show together. You don't see the intricate web of movement and interaction I can only call "the backstage dance." It's made up of all the cast members not currently on stage, as well as stage crew and costumers, moving about to get into position for an upcoming scene, prepare a prop, discuss the progress of the show and the audience's reaction, flirt, or talk about things totally unrelated to the play. As you get comfortable in the routine of the show, you find yourself in the same place with the same people at each point during the play. It's really quite a remarkable feat of collaberation and cooperation. Each person in a group of twenty to thirty people has their part to do in putting on this show, and every single person's part is indispensable. If somebody were to suddenly decide not to do their part, the play would collapse and so we are all acting on trust and faith in each other.

The cast of a play is like a bizzare family. By the time you see a play performed, every member of the cast has developed a relationship with every single other member. Some of those relationships are stronger than others but you can't spend that much time collabarating with somebody and not develop some kind of relationship, even if its a negative one. Tensions and arguments flare up, like in families, but if you've got a good cast you work through those and come out even stronger. You all share a desire to make the performance a good one, and to avoid looking like an idiot. You bond even more when others uninvolved in the process are predicting your failure. What makes the situation all the more complicated, however, is that each cast member has not just one but two relationships with each other cast member. They have their real life actor/actor relationship, and then a totally different on-stage character/character relationship they have been developing to make the show real. These two relationships are often at odds with each other. The two guys with little to no stage interaction may be better friends than the two guys who are best friends on stage. The cute couple who end up together at the end may each actually be attracted to somebody else in the cast. The coolest, most social guy on stage may actually turn out to be, to your surprise, a huge Dungeons & Dragons nerd. The flamboyantly gay character could have a big crush on the leading lady. Only members of the cast know all this information, and only they see this hidden layer behind what is happening on stage.

I don't really know why I'm writing all this, except that it is on my mind. I'm finishing up yet another play, and realizing that, like all the others, in a few weeks it will all just be a memory, and our little family will break apart. We'll all still have special feelings for each other, but it will never be the same. Theater is immediate, it is always in the "now", and when its over it can never be revisited. Recordings never do a production justice. I'll miss the complicated relationships, the strange double personalities, the synergy and collaboration. I'll even miss sitting quietly offstage listening to my cast mates, my family, tell a story; and watching as, hidden from the view of the audience, the leading lady flirts with her lover's best friend's servant in the wings - her feet on his lap, his hand on her leg, laughing softly together until its time to go on.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Return of the Blog

No, I'm not dead.

And no, I've not given up on the blog. Not yet. If I were to try to describe how busy I have been over the last few weeks, your head would probably explode - and I can't very well have you messing up my nice clean blog, can I? Just trust me when I say that I've had precious little time to do much of anything in the last little while, and what free time I did have went to important computer gaming in order to save my remaining sanity.

The play has been going quite well. Much better than was generally expected, actually, so I really encourage you to come and see it if you haven't yet. Just thought I'd mention it.

I got a new job this week. Yes, its a big deal. As you are aware if you have read my blog at all before, [understatement coming] I didn't really like my previous job [understatement finished]. So I now have a brand new job closer to home in a more typical office setting.

The problem with having a degree in English (well, one of the problems) is that the kind of work you end up doing is difficult to explain in casual conversation when somebody asks, "Oh, what do you do?" It was especially difficult for this job since I wasn't even sure what I was going to be doing, exactly, until Tuesday. So whenever I got "the question," it would go something like this:

ME: Hey, I got a new job!

THEM: Great! Where?

ME: This place in Orem.

THEM: Really, what's it called?

ME: Amacai?

THEM: Oh.... (blank look) So, what do you do?

ME: Um.... its technical.

THEM: Technical?

ME: You know.... web.. computer.... stuff.....

THEM: Ah.... well, good luck with that.

With the general result that I felt like a complete moron. Now I know exactly what I do at work, but its no easier to explain. I'm doing taxonomy of databases, but that hardly means anything to anybody. That could be an advantage, however. For instance, if somebody asks what I do I can just say, as I did last night, "I'm a taxonomist" which sounds impressive and mysterious enough. What it means is that I spend my time categorizing businesses and services into hierarchies and subcategories for yellow page-like databases. It sounds really boring, I know, but I really like it so far. It's right up my alley. But by using a big word like "taxonomy" I hope to scare people off from asking more questions. I want them just to accept that I have a very important job with a big, strange name and simply be impressed. I can't go answering silly specific questions about what I actually do!

The problem only comes when somebody actually knows what taxonomy is. Typically, it applies to the categorization of animal species, which is something people might genuinely be impressed by. Here's what happened last night:

ME: (smugly) I'm a taxonomist.

THEM: (excited) Wow! So you categorize and classify animal species and specimens?

ME: um.... I categorize!...... stuff....

THEM: (disappointed) Oh.... I see.

That's what I get for being pretentious. And I'm not the only one at work with this problem. I was discussing this with a coworker yesterday, and he said that he just tells people he "maps databases." I think thats fine, but it seems a little lackluster. With just a little word substituition, we can make the job sound much more exciting than that. I suggest a few simple changes: we replace the word "maps" with "shoots" and the word "databases" with "terrorists." Presto! Nobody thinks you are wasting your life anymore!

A little imagination can go a long way....