Festival Season

In the short times I visited and lived in Japan, one of my favorite things was the festival culture. Like the way even the tiniest of villages has something it’s famous for, every place has its festivals.

(I’m serious. It’s really strange to come from a tiny town on the coast of Maine and suddenly have people asking me what it’s famous for. Uh, nothing?)

White Snake Festival

The White Snake Festival

My then-fiance-now-husband and I stumbled on a White Snake festival on a lake in Hokkaido. At the time, we had no idea what was said or the history behind it, but there was music and dancing and lanterns floated on an inky lake with their flickering votives looking like fallen stars across the water.

Bon-Odori

I was so serious and those hats were so crazy . . .

Another time, we got to wear ridiculous hats and dance in the Bon-Odori . . .

Can you tell I really like this sort of thing?

Fairs and carnivals are about the closest we get. (This is likely also one major reason I enjoy Renaissance Faires.) I’ve always loved them, and summer has always been their time. Now that my day job allows me weekends off, I might even make it back to the Commonground Fair later this year.

But perhaps my favorite event of the summer is this weekend: the American Folk Festival on the Bangor waterfront. And this year, they’re featuring a capoeira group for (I believe) the first time. I only played for two years, and that was about seven years ago, but that doesn’t make me any less psyched about this.

 

Damned Silence

For all I try to express my opinions honestly and openly here, without filters, I still stick to “safe” topics. Even on my personal Facebook page or Twitter, I don’t do a lot of Sharing or reTweeting, even of the usual memes. A lot of it reminds me of the old chain letters/emails: “Send this to X-number of people to avoid the curse and/or grant your wish!”

Uh, no.

But there are articles, thoughts, and opinions I should share, because silence only encourages and strengthens the side with which I do not agree. Silence perpetuates ignorance and misinformation. Silence condones the things I want changed.

Today, this means I’m talking about Ferguson, MO. I’m talking about Michael Brown. Because after more than a week, I can count on one hand the number of friends and acquaintances on various feeds who identify as white and who have said or reposted anything about it.

The tragedy is that a boy was shot and killed by those who should have been protecting him. That a peaceful protest could be declared violent and unlawful – a declaration that became self-fulfilling prophecy when  cops in riot gear turn the place into the picture of a war zone.

The horror is that this isn’t an isolated incident. That in the 21st century, this is an issue of race and part of a long history of aggression and oppression. The horror is that there have been generations of children who have had to learn how to act in order to avoid arrest/beatings/death at the hands of cops.

If you don’t quite get what I’m talking about, I hope that this beautifully written post about a mother’s sense of her own white privilege will help to put it in perspective.

And if you want to know more about what’s happening in Ferguson and haven’t done so already, I recommend checking out St. Louis Alderman Antonio French on Twitter.

For myself, I will work on speaking up. This is too important to my basic humanity – as well as the people I love and care about – to do anything less.

Whew!

It’s nice to have the show over. Fantastic as it was, much as I loved it, it kind of ate my life. But that’s not going to keep me away from auditioning for Turn of the Screw next month . . .

I’m still writing every day, and that is an awesome thing. The rewrite continues to go well, despite the usual mid-draft blues. The current (slightly unrealistic) goal is to write two chapters a week. I’m on chapter 20, of 30+, so I just need to find the momentum now to carry me through to the end.

But I’ve started reading it aloud to a friend, which boosts my incentive to finish it soon. And she is the best person to read aloud to. Seriously. She gets so excited and so invested that a lot of the time, I don’t mind reading even first drafts to her.

And reading aloud is a great way to spot issues in pace and flow, clunky exposition, and cumbersome dialogue. If you’re a writer without a read-aloud friend, I suggest you find one. ;)

Things I Am Looking Forward To:

  • Performing Shakespeare at Fort Knox
  • Next week when Julius Caesar is over and I have enough time and brain-space to return to my less-irregularly scheduled blogging
  • Crossing things off my mile-long to-do list (after the show run ends)
  • Finishing this novel rewrite so I can make more headway on my to-read pile and work on some of these short stories that growing more and more aggressive in their races around my brain (but I’ve only just past the halfway point, so we’ll see)
  • Developing something that vaguely resembles discipline in my screen-time so I can hop on my computer to post to my blog and not waste three hours of my life before I even start typing

That last is the one I have the least hope for.

And somehow, since my last post, I attended ReaderCon (had an amazing time) and celebrated (more or less) a birthday. There will be more, proper posts later, but at least by this you know I’m alive.

Still Alive

. . . Great. Now I have that song from Portal stuck in my head.

I just typed and scheduled two posts for Anxiety and desperately need to squeeze in some writing time before sleep takes over, but if I don’t post here, it could be another three weeks before I resurface.

Performances start in less than two weeks. Then I’ll be back on a more normal basis.

It’s strange – certainly unexpected – how the lack of time has helped make me more productive writing-wise. After work and rehearsal, I don’t even boot up my computer but go straight to writing for an hour or two. Being so busy has refined my focus and my priorities. I only hope it lasts long after the show ends.

The Fourth of July meant a long weekend off from both work and rehearsal, but my sister and brother-in-law came up for a visit. Great to see them, but the days ‘off’ filled with family/social obligations. I’m exhausted.

Next comes four days of rehearsal, a weekend of ReaderCon (anyone else going?), three more days of rehearsal, and four days of performances. All done around work, of course.

Oh, right. And somewhere in there I have a birthday.

But performances – three weekends of them – signify less rehearsal time, so maybe I can be a little less of the ‘flighty artist’ stereotype. Words cannot express how much I am looking forward to that point.

So how have you all been? And what have I missed?

FYI

Shakespeare is kicking my ass.

This is awesome.

But this does mean that on days I have rehearsal, the computer never turns on. On one hand, it’s great for my productivity. On the other, it means I have an even harder time staying on top of this whole communication thing. So my posts here could remain more sporadic than normal until the final performance in August.

(And if you happen to be in the Bangor/Bar Harbor area of Maine in the last two weekends of July and first weekend of August, you should totally come see Julius Caesar. It will be epic.)

On Monday, my post over at Anxiety Ink discussed social media: how I try to use it and what I find difficult with it.

I love all of you. I love every like and follow and comment I receive both here and on Twitter.

But I’m not great at initiating interaction beyond my posts. So I don’t necessarily follow everyone back. I rarely comment on other blogs. Partly because the etiquette of it all still confuses me, and mostly because if I let myself, I would sink hours and hours into just that.

And I would much rather be writing.

So you – yes, you – and your patience with me is amazing. Thank you.

Stories are the reward you get. Because, really stories are the ultimate currency.

. . . Now to figure out tomorrow’s Anxiety post and avoid Facebook for a few more hours until Father’s Day is over. The commercial lead-up to the day upsets me (one sign said, “Remember your dad this Father’s Day.” REALLY?!) and the culmination just pisses me off, and I get extra pissed when I see mentions of my dad. He is/was not some saccharine gimmick.

But that’s not a rant I want to get into, so I’m just going to leave this here.

Grave Robber’s Promise

Last week, Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds posted a flash fiction challenge in which he provided tables to randomly generate titles, then gave until noon EST tomorrow (Friday, June 6) to write pieces of no more than 1,000 words and post them to our blogs.

Things like this make awesome exercises, and they’re fun! It’s mostly unedited, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from enjoying it; here’s mine:

 

Grave Robber made me a promise. I never asked her name. The dead don’t need names and she just would have lied anyway.

I’m so sick of all the lies. Aide the harvest, bring honor and wealth to our families. Some of us believe the lies out of ignorance, the rest out of desperation. Whatever gets us through the nights until it’s our turn and all the belief in the world can’t help.

But Grave Robber was new. She had a smile brighter than the sun – how could someone that bright suck a life from the dusty remains of ghosts? – and for a moment, I dared to believe.

That belief went the way of everyone else’s, of course. I knew better, and the knowing only made the sting worse.

I didn’t scream or wail like some of the others. The time for fighting had long passed. I just stared at them as they toned their ceremonies. Two of them never found the courage to look at me straight. Some of the others met my eyes on accident. Their winces and shivers were proof of my fight. They knew I would haunt them.

But now the door is sealed, my candle long since guttered. However soft the gold, it makes a hard bed. I will not lie in it.

The air is stale, sand coats my tongue and throat. Perhaps my skin will harden and become like the diamonds and rubies I can no long see in this silent tomb.

How much time passes? Days? Weeks? Eternity?

I do not at first recognize the scraping as a sound. My ears are stuffed with cotton. They quick sharp crack I think is the sound of death – not the gentle music of bells or strings but harsh destruction. Light burns. The pain tells me I still live, unless in this, too, they lied to us.

Hands rough where the priests’ are soft touch my arms, my face, my neck. Too much. After such absence, such living death, it is too much, but I have no strength to pull away and no voice to speak.

The hands lift and cradle my head. Water still warm from the day’s sun dribbles between my stone lips, sweet as ambrosia.

“Easy now.”

Gummy eyes reluctantly focus. My Grave Robber.

She murmurs, “I’m sorry we made you wait.”

“You,” I reclaim a voice – not mine, not yet, but a voice. “You came.”

Her lips quirk upward. “I hate to break a promise.”