Old Habits


I am sitting in the front seat in a white van with seven other filmmakers. As we pull away from the airport heading to Birmingham proper, we introduce ourselves to the others. Our films have been programmed to play at the Sidewalk Film Festival and everyone is happy, including our driver, a red-faced, cherub cheeked, gap-toothed man. He hands a festival poster back for us to sign.

“You never know when one of you might become famous,” he says. “might be worth something some day.” We all sign it.

I’m in this van by accident. I’ve taken a respite from the exorbitantly expensive hobby of submitting my films to festivals, though, apparently, under the influence of coffee or wine, I shot off a submission in a random, unfocused manner and got accepted into the line-up.

The acceptance email was lost in the shuffle and swirl of my post-burglary emails, my acclimation to my new technological landscape on the slow side. Inspired, by one of my new anthem, I pledged that “living well is the best revenge” and that no drug-addled thief would stop me from playing in this random festival. I nearly blew up my computer first searching for files of the film ,then downloading software that could actually open it on my fledgling computer. The discovery of an egregious continuity error, one that I had missed despite my weeks of editing, watching, editing, watching, threw me into a tail spin. I considered surrender. But then I pushed it from my mind. I will do this, I told myself. And, somehow, I did.

I wasn’t planning to go to the festival. And then I was. And then I wasn’t. And then I was. And then I wasn’t. And then I ran into a dog walking buddy who programs films for festivals. “You have to go,” he said. “It’s one of the best festivals out there. And it’s so much fun.”

So, I decided to go. And then I decided not to. And then I decided to go. And then I decided not to. And then I booked a flight on miles and a hotel room reservation on my credit card. And then I packed my things in boxes among the deadly drilling of deconstruction outside my apartment window and the smell of entropy emanating from my hoarder neighbor’s apartment, the ego shattering, but successful, attempt to earn my motorcycle license without killing someone, and the vague, head-splitting dive into a major mid-life crisis.

I mean ‘crisis’ in a good way.

And then I decided not to go.

And then I went.

I’m a sucker for a happy-ish ending. Aren’t you?

Of the eight others in the van, one is drives, five make documentaries, and two are animators. One lives in Alabama, one has been at the festival before, one knows all about the festival, but has never been, and six of us have no idea what to expect.

It was great.

It was great because with these others film makers, and the other others I met over the weekend, film makers and film watchers both, I remembered who I am.

In the van, at the party, walking the sidewalks from venue to venue, we label ourselves. Our bright yellow lanyards read ‘filmmaker.’ This weekend, we are special. When asked, we label what we do, how we make our films, the medium within the medium of visual story telling. But as we drink our beers, wine, fruit juice, and soda the labels peel away until we all become versions of each other. We are story-tellers. Every single one of us.

Stories are human. Stories keep us connected. Stories are real. Stories, our silly little, serious little stories are important.

Walking through the streets, I felt a little important, like a toy soldier fighting to keep the doorway of communication open by clearing a path with my stories so that others can tell theirs.

I wonder what would happen if there came a day when every human individual laughed at the very same time. What would all of humanity do with all that joy? Would our laughter cause the mountains to shake?

That was Thursday.

On Friday, I wander into an uptown coffee shop that may or may not a nursery for baby hipsters. The coffee guys are fresh-faced and clean, dressing in white button down and vintage ties, the southern version of their New York City Stumptown Coffee brethren. They don’t speak so much as languidly spill words which run together like soft cloth, even as their coffee breaks through both cream and sugar. It’s the sort of coffee that requires a water back.

This fuel rockets me first into the blazing sun, and then to the Birmingham Museum of Art, where Hale Woodruff’s Talladega College murals tell stories so deep of slavery and emancipation, that I begin to weep caffeine clouded tears.

On Saturday, I wake up early. I need that coffee, I covet that coffee, I desire that coffee with such a fever that I’m pulled from my hotel room into the sweltering streets. Before the street is the lobby and before that, the elevator, which packed with twelve orange shirts. Smiling, chattering people, boldly stating that “all lives matter,” and that “Planned Parenthood and the MIddle East are monsters.” There is a Glenn Beck rally happening a few streets over from the film festival. Oil and water.

They swarm my coffee place asking a million little questions, struggling with the milk thermos, keeping me from my drug. I leave defeated, yet determined to find coffee somewhere between here and there. A good cup. Birmingham’s street throb with history and heart, a good cup of coffee can’t be that hard to find…

Every corner, ever sidewalk is packed. People with orange shirts. I ping-pong through the crowd. Another good coffee place, another crowd. Where are my people, I silently cry. Where’s my coffee? And for a terrible moment, I ask myself a terrible question. Where are the story-tellers, the glue that hold this place together.

And then, in a moment, I catch myself swimming upstream against the current as scared of the fish I’m surrounded by as they are of me. And I resolve to talk to someone with an orange shirt and ask them what and why.

I do it, too. At the airport the following day.

Some land has a heart beat, some cities, a pulse. Birmingham, I slowly realize, has a soul that expands and contracts with every given victory, every given deception. It’s alive, and it’s flavor is deeply complex.

“What was your biggest take away,” I ask the orange shirt as we line up to board. I know him from the hotel van.

“We’re all one,” he says, “and I should go to church more often. And I wish we had a black Baptist church where I’m from,” he adds. “My congregation back home don’t know how to sing at all.”

Birmingham, I think I have a crush on you.


construction/ deconstruction


The exit ramp out of limbo is a construction zone. The cars are crawling. Day workers wave orange traffic flags. Roaring diesel machines of construction and deconstruction, rusted metal dinosaurs, loom, swing, crunch, guffaw, and weep as candy colored cars creep by.

Noise, like shaken sand, reaches into crevices and remote crannies of any given collection of things. While jack hammers hammer the alley to pieces during these thick days of summer, my hoarder neighbor begins the Herculean task of cleaning his apartment. The smell that emanates from his floor is pungent. It wafts through the building, down the elevator shaft, and lingers in the lobby. It creeps between the sand and noise of the construction/ deconstruction zone. It drives cockroaches from their home and into the hallways and apartments of others, proving that life can get louder in an infinite number of ways.

For two days, I escape the grating noise of construction for the hum of motorcycle motors, the beating sun, and smell of hot asphalt. I’m acquiring my motorcycle license via the Motorcycle Safety School protocol. I ride a cracked scooter, 125cc engine, the dashboard pieced together with clear packing tape. I’m the runt of the litter, puttering at half speed behind the motorcycles of my peers. This new-to-me form of locomotion shakes my frazzled nerves. Hypnotized by the thrum of engines, the sweltering heat, the exhaustion and exhaust, I ride my little scooter into a fence. Afterwards, I putter with such an absence of speed that I am a wonder to instructor and fellow student alike. I am The One Who Might Not Pass.

The first day, I am a novelty. The second a disaster. Both days, I am the underdog.

And yet, I pass my test.

Happy midlife crisis, everyone!


I pack a box every day for three weeks straight. I start with a set of smart blue bins, bought for me by the kindest friend I have, one who carries me from point to point with a style so subtle, I don’t realize that we were moving until we’ve moved.

In these bins, I place things I don’t immediately need.

I  buy clear plastic bins in a manic panic at Target on a day I can no longer take the noise of the construction. Into them go the things I know I might want to find. Recycled cardboard boxes catch books, antique photo album, vitamins, hard drives. Each box gets a cursory note, written on a post-in with a failing sharpie pen. “Inspiration,” says one, “sheets and blankets,” “ideas,” “tea.”

Then come the cardboard boxes from Home Depot. Kitchen supplies, a seemingly endless collection of forks and knives, dishes, pots and pans, can openers, turkey basters, candy thermometers… coffee pots, blenders, whisks, and towels.

Like at the end of a catered affair, when guests wander from their tables, and the cater waiters are pour coffee, the enterprise looses its way. Toilet paper mixes with light bulbs, socks, and staplers. Jewelry, paper, pencils, and pillows. The more I pack, the more I toss, the more I give away, the more I seem to own. Endless piles of things I need and don’t need. Little bits of life, like sand and noise, squeeze into the cracks of everything.

Overwhelmed by stuff, I call for reinforcements.

My sister comes to help.


The good and the bad thing about sisters is that they think they know you better than anyone else. The other good and the bad thing about sisters is sometimes they do. When you tell them that they are wrong, they assume you are lying to them.

The best and worst thing about being the youngest sister, is that you always have someone who, even if shorter than you, you look up to.

The worst worst thing about being a youngest sister is that you spend your early years running after your more ambulatory siblings, and never, ever catch up.

The best thing about being a youngest sister, is that every once in a while your older siblings will stop, wait, and maybe even walk back to help you dust off your knees when you fall.

On that note, let’s have a word about U-Haul.


I reserve a 10′ truck, one way to Dover. It’s to be packed with my things, now shoved mercilessly into bins – soy sauce, Sriracha, shampoo, and soap, and driven by the same friend who carries me long distances as well as short. That’s the plan.

Until U-Haul tries to send me 25 uneasy miles both ways – out of my way – to pick up the vehicle.

I formulate a new plan.

I reserve a 9′ cargo van, round trip from a U-Haul place closer to me. That friend who carries me long distances and short, who once convinced me to release 150 ladybugs into my apartment to help with my ailing plants, yet who I still trust implicitly, will drive.

I tell the lady on the phone that I need it for two days. She says, “no problem.” There will be no rush driving it back to New York.

Until U-Haul reveals that they are only renting it to me for 24 hours. They tell me this when I pick up the vehicle.

“But, I rented it for two days.”

“It’s in the computer for one.”

“I rented it for two.”

“I can’t change the computer.”

“I will be late.”

“There’s nothing I can do.”

We assess the smallness of the vehicle. I tell my friends who are helping me move that my desk, my yellow chair, my clothes, and my toothbrush are priority items. My dog spends the day hiding in her bag.


If my life in New York was a movie, moving would be towards the end of act three – a montage of packing and repacking, pushing heavy boxes into the hallway, the flagging elevator, the van… a perfect bookend to my arrival almost 22 years ago, when I stepped off the train with a cello and a suitcase. My oldest New York friend, who I met my first day in the city, and my newest friend, who I met a few months ago, are helping with the move out. In the last moment of a perfect movie, you’d see my hand switch off the apartment lights, lock the door. You’d see my feet walk out the building’s front door.

But, that’s not the end.

In the moments before I fall asleep in my friend’s guest bedroom in New Hampshire I realize I’ve forgotten my dresser. It stood lonely in the corner of my almost empty bedroom as we moved things out of the living room. Immediately after this realization, I am hit with the overwhelming need to sweep my floors. And so, when my friend and the U-Haul van drive back to New York, I go with them.

I sweep. I clean. I surrender more left behind things to the basement of my building. My friend who has carried me all this way and I drink beer on the roof of the building. The sunset is scattered and beautiful, as if five different artists took turns on a single canvas. In one part, the tops of grey cumulous clouds are tinged with fire. Behind, against the bright blue sky, golden clouds stretch out. A salmon sunset hits the southern sky. And a charcoal artist has smudged streaks over the watercolor blues, golds, and pinks.

The movie could end there, too.

But it doesn’t.

My friend who has carried me all this way and back again, carries me further, to White Plains, where I sleep in a guest room furnished for a little boy. In the morning, he carries me back to the train, which carries me to the bus that carries me back to New Hampshire.


Before I step out of the car in the White Plains railroad station parking lot, he hands me a lottery ticket with a flick of his wrist. It’s the same ticket that’s been under a magnet on my refrigerator for a month or two. I bought it in New Hampshire. It has the stickiest part of a sticky note stuck under the numbers. “You won $1,” it says.

“You forgot this,” he says.

And that, my friends, is a good place to end.







The Best Little Midlife Crisis in the World

Dot_boatIf the psychics are right, at approximately 4:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon, August 2nd, I will be standing, or sitting, at the apex of my life on this earth. I’ll be at the middle of the marathon. In the eye of a fearless storm. Atop the peak of my own personal mountain. In the basement of a theater located in the middle of the universe, Times Square, USA, the end of my second to last work week before I begin my slow exit out of Limbo and onto the entrance ramp of The Next Interesting Adventure. On Sunday, I turn 45.

As we’ve discussed last year when I was pouting behind an ice cream cone in Reykjavik, Iceland at this time, that I’m not good at birthdays, especially my own, and haven’t been since the ripe old age of six. I’ve cried almost every year on the day. To avoid sadness and despair requires a Herculean effort, namely whale watching, live music, good wine, and a patient friend. This year is different so far. This year the impending occasion feels more like a shrug than a cataclysmic event. This passing year, I survived a burglary, a very troubled employee, and life in the theater. After all that, I’m still standing. What’s in an emotionally scripted moment anyway? Isn’t improv a more interesting approach to living a real life?

I’m not big on Bible quotes. And I don’t believe in sharing them, but I came across something interesting when I was cruising raptureworld.com last week. A concerned, yet rapture hopeful young woman was fearful that her checkered past might interfere with her receiving an invite into the kingdom of heaven. She wrote this on a message board, inviting feedback, looking for guidance. The pastor who answered, a wise man, as far as I can tell, pulled a quote from the Luke section of the New Testament. It goes something like this: a guy runs into Jesus and tells him “I’d really, really like to follow you, but I want to bury my dead father first.” Jesus says, “let the dead bury the dead. Your time is better spent telling people about the Kingdom of Heaven.” Later, he’s stopped by another guy who wants to follow, too, but he has to settle up some stuff at home first. You know, clean the dishes, close the windows, vacuum. Jesus says, “anyone who starts plowing, but keeps looking back, isn’t worth a thing in God’s kingdom.”

The sentiment sounds a little harsh. Perhaps something is lost in translation. It’s along the same lines of that theatrical creed, “the show must go on.” Should we allow the past to burn out the past like two opposing fires, let memories soften into songs, allow words loosen up while we keep walking, keep talking, and move forward instead of backwards?

In preparing for my midlife crossover, I took my Motorcycle Learner’s Permit test. I bid on a house in a city I do not know. I bought a head of kale, a bunch of radishes, and a healthy looking cucumber, and chucked a pretty awesome bread-and-butter job that allows me time to be a part-time artist in order to become a full-time artist, with a part-time job.

I’m on point to score the Best Midlife Crisis Ever.

The future is bright. And it starts soon. On Sunday, I’ll find someone, a stranger, a friend, a lover, anyone who’s game, to raise a glass of sparkly wine, which we will call champagne even if it’s cheap proseco. We’ll tie it up the past in a neat little package to be pulled out at cocktail parties and pow wows. We’ll cheer for the true stories that will soon be given to fictional characters and coddle the real characters who will be handed fictional lives. The dead will dance with the dead while we hangout on the side of the road just outside of Limbo, and try to catch a peek at my shiny new toy, life on the other side of the mountain.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, first off, because I can. Because it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to. Also, because, even though most people are better at their birthdays than I am with mine, I’m fairly convinced that I’m somewhat of a savant when it comes to the midlife crisis. And by savant, I mean genius. Mad scientist. Dotty old maid. Performance artist. I don’t know. I get those things confused.

In my mind’s eye, I sometimes see myself as a little girl, always chasing my bigger sisters, always trying to catch up. They’re bigger and stronger, faster, and want nothing to do with their baby sister. And this little girl, my imagined me, keeps trying to catch up to them. She trips. She falls. She gets up. She dusts off her knees. She runs after her big sisters again, now farther behind. She will probably never catch up to them, but she keeps trying. She can’t not try. It’s in her nature. With every fall comes a renewed attempt. Like Sisyphus without the boulder, and the torturous eternal damnation, and sunburn, she keeps going and going and going. Run, fall down, get up, dust off knees, apply band-aid, repeat.

I think a pretty accurate depiction of my life and adventures so far.

Isn’t it curious how we humans have a killer collective memory? We hear voices from the grave, read words from the grave. We look at art, listen to music, tell stories of people who have passed away hundreds, thousands of years ago. We pretend to be them. We keep our dead alive.

Some of those ghosts and artist from the past knew us better than we know ourselves. They knew our inner lives intimately, our personalities, our aptitudes and attitudes, our dreams, our hopes, our flaws. So many of them whisper in our ears “love is love, Romance is romance. Hope is hope. And life… is life.”

Our dead heroes were once excellent beginners. Deep thinkers. Soulful artists. Fragile humans. Confused, hopeful, conceited, humble, argumentative, contradictory souls. Like us, they straddled the fissure between past and future. The history of humanity is a maze that turns back on itself. Molecules, stars, planets, memories, visions, and dreams. A maze without an exit. A labyrinth as deep and wide as the history of the universe.

So, I guess I’m just not worried that I’ll cry this Sunday. I think I’d rather sit on the metaphoric lawn chair with my dog on my lap at the far corner of Limbo and blow out a candle, eat a cupcake. Maybe catch a star or two.



Buzz (noun): a low, vibrating, humming sound, as of bees, machinery, or people talking.

Listen, you would be like this, too, if you were in my shoes. Under-slept, over-caffeinated, your brain pumping thoughts out by the millions while your body, curls itself into a ball on the C & J bus to New Hampshire, Trying our best to quell an imminent and long lasting bout of car sickness, or bus sickness, as the case may be. Maybe motion sickness is a better term, since the churning, burning, turning of your stomach matches the motions of your mind.

There’s the hum of the tires on the road. The hum of canned air. The hum of the bubbling carbonation of a coke, my latest effort to quell the rocking beast.  The hum of my thoughts, a fully fueled choir singing in my head. Buzzing.

It’s my day off, the first of many, and I am lurching towards New Hampshire to look for a place to live.

Last Sunday was my last official day at work. It was much like any other Sunday, except that a few people said goodbye. My replacement, Heather, witnessed one last time my enviable bedside manner, my mustache taping techniques, and a few more jokes. After work, instead of everyone scattering into their own interesting lives for the evening and a day, a few work friends came out for a drink to a bar that serves blue cheese stuffed olives in their drinks. Also, my desk was clean, clear, and in order for the first time in three years.

The bus has a stash of Pop Corners, all different flavors, and a Kuerig coffee maker on  the bus, by the way. Complimentary snacks.

“It feels so final this time,” says my company manager before the show. This might be the last time we ever speak. She’s referring to the previous times I’ve left the show, and returned – once in 2008 to seek my fortune in Los Angeles, then, a few months later when I filled in for a month in Melbourne, and again on June 14, when I left after submitting my four weeks notice. This past Sunday rounds me up to two official resignations with two additional departures, all documented on paper or in emails, all signed by me.

Buzz (idiom): have /get a buzz on, Slang. to be slightly intoxicated.

Hazel planned the drinking thing. She invited the people. We sat up and down a long rectangular table and they toasted me. I sat at the very end of the table, closest to the door, in case I had the urge to run.

Hazel wanted to treat me and I wanted to treat Nicci which mucked the whole treating thing up. Janet, Sweet Mary, Kurtis, and Michelle left enough for me, Hazel, and Nicci, all of whom were aiming to pay for each other. The surplus was passed along to the waitress, as neither Hazel nor I are particularly good at counting after a couple of vodka and blue cheese stuffed olive cocktails.

Monday, I was free! I went to the DMV to pick up a motorcycle driving license manual. I discovered in going for the DMV that it had moved. So I found the new DMV, a shiny space with a canned female voice robotically directing the foot traffic and lines, fitting her words together in such a way that you know she doesn’t understand a bit of what she’s saying. Even so, she keeps the lines moving.

I went to the movies, too, a rarity for me, on this first day off. So did a gaggle of twenty rowdy camp kids and their camp counselors, who took up the first twenty rows of the theater. I sat in the back, well aware of the likelihood of getting pelted in the head with Skittles, should I choose to seat myself at the front of the theater.

I also:

1. signed over power of attorney to my lawyer

2. unloaded the top shelf of my bedroom closet

3. thought about buying bins and boxes

4. and, ate bad sushi with my fingers before the movie began

Shit’s getting really real.

Buzz (noun, slang): a feeling of intense enthusiasm, excitement, or exhilaration.

The C & J bus to Portsmouth also offers complimentary Yoplait yogurt, many different flavors, bottled water, raisins, and almonds. Even though the rest room is so tiny that you can barely fall down as the back of the bus lurches from side to side and smells an unnatural mix of air freshener and human waste, it is very cozy.

They say that living well is the best revenge. And so, on Tuesday, a day in which I previously had blocked out to do nothing in particular ended up with me exacting my revenge on the asshole who walked into my apartment a couple of months ago, without even asking, and took my stuff. Including, of course, my computer with my copy of Final Cut Pro 7. Since my short film was accepted into the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama (if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by), I decided that I would in no way, allow my dearth of tools prevent my film from showing. And so, I rented a computer and polished my film until my brain stopped working, as evident by my inability at the end the end of the day to exit the elevator when it got to the lobby. I rode it up and down twice.

Please don’t tell anyone I did that.

I guess the thing is, what I’m trying to say, is that the bus isn’t so bad, if you don’t try to read and remember to look out the window every once in a while. If you loosen your personal embargo against Coca Cola and sip it slowly until it coats your stomach, if you grab onto the corners as the bus twists and turns, because even if the journey’s making you nauseous, at least you’re moving.

Buzz (verb): to tell or spread (a rumor, gossip, etc.) secretively.

The aim is to have the best midlife crisis ever. Aside from a little motion sickness, a couple of detours, and a some traffic, I think I’m headed that way.

Remember to sit at the back of the movie theater when children with candy outnumber adults, to read the driving manual thoroughly, to enjoy snacks you might not normally eat when they are offered, and live well, whether or not you’re doing it out of revenge.

What I like best about the journey, besides the scenery, the buzz, the excitement of starting new but still a little worn in, are the snacks.

Half Way Down the Bunny Trail


I hope you don’t mind me popping by. I was feeling a little lonely.

I miss you.

A lot has happened since last we met. I started another blog called Filthy Stinking Rich. It’s about money. Our relationships to money. And my attempts and strategies at becoming filthy stinking rich, which included buying pot stock, playing the lottery, and talking to witches, none of which, it turns out, are expedient ways of accruing wealth.

I applied to graduate school. I decided I wanted an MFA in creative writing. Which, I am quite aware, is in direct opposition to my goal of getting filthy stinking rich.

Anyway, I found that thinking about money all the time was making me miserable, and decidedly not rich, especially as I was looking one way down the blade of a machete poised to shred my income by about 90%, maybe more. So, I fell out with the blog. For now, anyway.

Then, I got into graduate school. And I was happy.

Then, I didn’t get funding for graduate school. And I was sad.

And then I asked for funding. And they said yes. And I was happy.

In the meantime, I started learning 3D computer animation. I really, really liked it.

I decided to rent my place. I painted it. I was in the process of painting it when something big happened. Something huge. Something I never, ever, ever saw coming.

One night, in the midst of painting, while I was at work, someone, some faceless nameless person, quietly climbed up (or down) my fire escape, slid open my bedroom window, carefully moved the paint cans from the window sill to the floor of the fire escape, and helped himself to many of my things. My computers, my cameras, my iPad, my carry on luggage, and half a sheet set.

And I was sad.

My 3D animation career unceremoniously put on summer hiatus, my sense of security shattered, I rashly quit my job (with four weeks notice), decided to sell my apartment, and move to New Hampshire, where I will write a novel and other stuff under the tutelage of many fine professors.

The burglary served one positive purpose. It greatly simplified my life. No longer a slave to the internet, since I had none, no longer distracted by long hours learning Maya and working on my next installment of my stop motion animation series “The Adventures of Dot,” I found myself with a lot of time and a singular focus. I fixed up my apartment. I put it on the market. Within the week, I received a satisfying offer which will hopefully go through without incident.

And then, I will take one large step into the Ocean of Change, acclimate to the cold water, and dunk myself under.

A psychic once told me that I’d live to 90. If he’s correct, on August 2, 2015, I will be smack dab in the middle of my life. Halfway down the bunny trail, where only beginners dare to tread.

Having put my travel dating adventure aside, I find myself standing in the eye of the storm called life.

I  figured I might as well switch up my blog, too, and simply write about switching it up, starting over, following dreams, and learning how to be an absolute artist, a full-time human, a professional… beginner.


Middle Earth

April 11

There’s a man I see at night on the subway platform. He rides the same train I do. He stands under five feet, his back is hunched, and his head stooped forward. He’s Chinese, with a wide, kind face. His nose points towards the ground. He pulls a suitcase on wheels nearly as large as he is. He’s hard to miss.

He looks like he’s an alchemist, a wizard of some sort. Like someone from some place close by, but very far away. Where, perhaps, he is capable of great power and commands great respect.

This little old man ambles with his suitcase to the bottom of the first set of stairs in the underground lair of the our subway station. Some kind soul will carry his suitcase up the stairs. He rides the tired escalator to the turnstiles. Once on the upper level, another passerby will carry his suitcase up the second and third flight of stairs, into the starry night. I’ve seen it happen hundred of times.

I’ve known since the first time I saw him, that it will one day be my turn to carry his suitcase. And at that time, I’ll have to make a choice, either abandon my sometimes suffocating shyness and take his suitcase, or rush on by.

I ask my neighbor if she’s ever seen him. Her eyes widen and laughs.

“I saw him for the first time yesterday,” she says. “He was going into the station.”

“He looks like he’s from middle earth.”

She nods. “He does.”

“I carried his suitcase for him yesterday,” I tell her. “It was my turn.”

“I carried his suitcase, yesterday, too,” she says.

“I think he’s magic,” I say.

“I was smiling about him the entire day,” she says.

“His suitcase was light.”

“I don’t think there was anything in it at all.”

“When we stepped outside, the mean man from the paper shop, the one who never smiles, ran out to give him a newspaper.”

“He commands respect,” she says.

“Where does he come from?”

“Where does he go?”

“Middle earth,” we say to each other.

And we marvel at the little man, with a quiet presence, who never asks for anything, but accepts everything… who gives to all an opportunity to carry his suitcase.

“Who is he?”

“Someone must know.”


February 7It’s pumpkin flavor season,. I’m happy about that. I’m driving down a road I’ve driven down many times before with a fancy coffee warming my hands. The leaves haven’t yet changed, but the air smells like fall. Like its trying to seduce me into believing that cold weather is quaint and cozy, like pumpkin pie.

My friend is driving. I’m shotgun. We’re not talking much, for no other reason than the windows are open and the trees are still green and the thoughts in his head don’t match the thoughts in mine.

I’m thinking about what the old man carries in his suitcase. My friend, apparently, is thinking about strawberry ice cream.

“Do you like it?”

“Not at all,” I say. The very thought of strawberry ice cream makes me squirm.

“I guess you’re not an alien, then,” he concludes.

“What’s strawberry ice cream have to do with that,” I ask.

“Aliens like strawberry ice cream.”

He’s so matter of fact and nods with authority. I suppose, since he’s been around, that there is a chance he is correct. Someone out there likes strawberry ice cream, I’m surmise.

“Which aliens,” I ask. “There’s more than one sort.”

He shrugs, which lends authenticity to his claim. There’s nothing more convincing than someone who admits to the limits of their knowledge.

“There are people who sit in their RVs in the desert and wait for aliens. They all have strawberry ice cream in their coolers.”

“Alright,” I say, “this is where that strategy could go all wrong. First, why would someone try to attract an alien from outer space, not knowing what that alien’s about?”

“I don’t know. To say they met one?”

“That’s like putting out bear bait so you can get a picture with one attacking you. Second, different aliens, I would assume, enjoy different things. The strawberry ice cream aliens, clearly can’t get strawberry ice cream on their own planet. But wouldn’t it stand to reason, that some aliens might consider human brain a delicacy? And maybe, just maybe, the ones who seem all warm and fuzzy are the ones who like to dine on human flesh. And the ones you want to run from because they’re oozing slime are actually kind, witty conversationalist, and great at parties.”

“Did E.T. like strawberry ice cream?”

“No. Third, who says aliens and other-worldly life comes from out there?” I point to the sky. “Maybe some use inter-dimensional time travel, or ride sounds waves. Some are probably so small we can’t even see them. So what happens if you attract an alien you can’t see who can suck things through the molecular walls of plastic that are cooling your strawberry ice cream and eats it all before you can share it with the other people out in the desert bored out of their heads, waiting for aliens with their strawberry ice cream. Also, it would be good to know if they like good strawberry ice cream, or bad strawberry ice cream. Gourmet, or, you know, chemical.”

“You are very passionate about this,” he says.

I don’t tell him, because I know he won’t believe me, my profound shyness is the fourth reason I would never try to attract aliens for dessert in the desert. I’m no good at parties. I shudder at networking events. I cringe at bars when someone smiles at me. What if I found myself face to face with an alien and had nothing to say? What then? Would anyone ever believe me?


Per the man from middle earth, with his empty suitcase rattling down the subway platform, I wonder what sort of things he likes and what he transports every night in that suitcase of his.

“Maybe the suitcase has a few odds and ends he doesn’t need. He carries it to give us an opportunity to help him. For his blessings and good will,” says my neighbor

“He said he liked my scarf,” I said. “And asked me if it was going to rain.”

“When I saw him, his shirt wasn’t buttoned properly,” she says. “He was one button off. I told him so.”

This question of aliens and strawberry ice cream seems absurd. Especially, when such beautiful poetry exists amongst humankind.

That’s the fifth reason why attracting aliens from outer space is something I just don’t care to do.

December 15


hudson water towerMiles’s mustache went missing.

It leapt from the precarious perch of the tip of my finger and twirled through the air. I feared it fell into the dark nether regions between wall and floor. But I dutifully searched for that brown patch of fake facial hair on the black floors and carpets of a dimly lit backstage until I needed to be somewhere else.

“Mustache down,” I called to the stage left crew.

“If you find a mustache, it’s mine,” I hurled upstage.

“We lost one,” I confessed to my crew.

And finally, I broke the news to Miles.

“It’s a mystery,” an actress exclaimed with dramatic flair. She set out to find it, convinced it was riding on the hem of a skirt or the bottom of a shoe.

“We’ll discover it attached to a rocks glass on stage,” suggested another.

“It’s on the wheel of a moving set piece,” my associate stated, having been in this position before.

“I’m sure it will turn up,” I said, ever calm in the face of catastrophe. Between you and me, I was not convinced that this would be the case.

That was Thursday,


On Saturday, there was the wedding. It is at a farm outside of Hudson, New York. Hudson’s one of those river towns with good coffee and art galleries that make you think small town life is perfectly designed to fit one’s ethics into one’s way of life. By all appearances, it is an open-minded city-dwellers utopia… if you don’t scratch the surface too hard.

Some are moved by mountains, others the beach. As for me, I’ve been romanced by rivers, streams, oceans, bays, and sounds my entire life. Of them all, mighty Hudson River has claimed the biggest piece of my heart.

They say home is where the heart is. My heart is trapped inside my body. It goes wherever I go. As I wander the streets and galleries of Hudson, I conclude that so long as there’s good coffee and interesting people, a warm place to sleep, hot chocolate in the winter, flowers in the spring, and beauty somewhere along the way, my heart and I will hold the energy of the Hudson close, no matter where we wake up.

The wedding escapes the rain. Towards the end of the night, when the skies weep, they’re tears of joy.

An old actor once told me, “success is about being at the right bus stop at the right time and getting on the bus.”

Our friends look at each other like they can’t believe how fucking lucky they are to have found each other at the exact right time, at the exact right bus stop, with the exact right bus fare in their pockets. At least a few us marvel at the coincidence that they were also traveling to the exact same destination.

January 14


Wandering the aisles at Target at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night is like roaming a beach in the wake of a terrible storm.

The path of Sunday afternoon’s tempest is clear. The doll’s clothes section is decimated, pens and notebooks laid to waste. Women’s bags, all sizes have been torn from their hooks with violent haste. Swathes of missing mascara, and only mascara, amplify shining shelves of white nothing. And bath towels of all colors are strewn across the floor.

Band-aids, antiseptic, toothpaste, and mints survived, unscathed. Hundreds of pounds of M&M’s lay sleeping on the corridors of candy. And washing detergents stand in perfect order, like little soldiers ready to march.

Scores of employees set out to repair the damage of the passing storm. Their numbers finally overwhelm the drizzling of consumers who step through the electric doors, even though they know that tomorrow, it all begins again.


Monday morning, a potential love interest, the same one who almost killed me five times on a scramble up the cliffs of the Hudson, only to redeem himself by saving my life six times and buying me an ice cream, brings me a book – “Walks and Rambles in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.”

“Read the first sentence,” he says. “Read it out loud.”

“Shall I start with the introduction to this 1986 edition?” He nods, I read. “‘… this is not a book of hikes, but a book of gentle walks…’

He smiles and raises his eyebrows. i pause and peer at him over the pages.

“A lot of things have changed since 1986,” I say.

“Go on.”

“‘They are offered with the hope that they will refresh your spirit as they increase your knowledge of the natural world…'”

“Why to you have so many potatoes” he asks.

“I’m making a movie.”

“That’s what I figured.”

Later, we’re driving to some town along the Hudson that has good coffee with my dog in the backseat scratching for crumbs. We’ll pretend we’re the interesting people who live there. I tell him about the wedding. About how I painted my toenails (and thus parts of my toes) red, as I felt it only fitting for a celebration of love. About the horses and apple trees in the yard. About how Chuck wept in his napkin when he watched his guests dancing. How his husband held his hand under the table. How Sebastian put his arm around his pregnant wife’s shoulder and kissed the top of her head. How guest after guest spoke of the blossoming in their own lives, their hopeful pursuits of love, art, career, and life. And, how everyone there was happy to be happy for someone else on a day where love trumped politics and the rain held off until just the right moment. When I stood in the field, the raindrops were soft and clean and bled through my skin and into my heart.

He pulls the car into a lot. We walk across the street, up a path, across a field, and sit under his favorite tree.

Maybe I should’ve fibbed about the potatoes.

On the other hand, love me, love all of me. Or get out of the way.


But what of the mystery of Miles’ missing mustache? I left you hanging.

I was the culprit of my own caper.

It leapt from my finger, twirled through the air and landed on the elbow of my brown sweater. It rode in comfort through the rest of the show, until the sweater retired for the evening on a hook by the door.

The mustache wanted to see the world.

During the night, it grew scared, a lone mustache in a room full of wigs. It crawled off my sweater, onto my desk, and penned a note, in hopes of finding its way back home.



Real Dating Advice


Concerned as I was by a friend’s comment that I seem to be writing a dating blog in which there is no dating going on, I reached out to my very wise, very insightful fellow blogger, Ann St. Vincent (annstvincent.com) for advice. I thought her response to my query worth sharing with you.

Amy, my dear,

You can spend hours, if not days, trolling blogs and websites extolling all kinds of advice on how to date, how men are douchebags and women are hard to please.

It’s overwhelming, frankly, and not very helpful.

I never particularly thought of myself as adventurous or brave…but now being on the other side of a marital split, people seem compelled to:

a) tell me the state of their own marriage,

b) tell me how they live vicariously through me and my sexy adventures,

and c) tell me I’m super brave, and they are wowed by my ability to make a tough decision and move on without a lot of the baggage that comes with it.

I never particularly thought about myself this way. But I realized I do have a habit of breaking things down, figuring out the root cause of my issues, coming up with a plan, and then executing the plan. It doesn’t always work, but then I repeat the process.

When you asked me to write this guest blog, I really had to think about the key things I’ve learned that in my opinion, have given me the cohones to start dating and move toward the life I’ve always wanted.
This first draft of this was almost 2,000 words and outlined a whole number of things which I think leads to dating success. I think you may have found it a bit overwhelming. But then I realized my philosophy all boils down to one key principle:


Mock not. It’s true. IMG_1389
I will break it down for you.

Step One: In order to date, you first have to think yourself worthy. We spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether we are too fat, not muscular enough, if our nails look pretty, if our hair is right, if we are too old, etcetera. I know you understand this, Amy, given your theatre background.
Literally. Think of all the industries that would instantly go out of business if we decided we were happy with our bodies and ourselves. So…if you can learn to not take any of that shit too seriously, you are off to a very good start.

Case in point. I do not have a small butt, even for a 5’10” woman. I’m not too pleased about this fact, and I try to eat well and exercise, but at the end of the day, I had to realize that for every large ass, there are plenty of men who will appreciate it. Some have even worshipped it (their words).
So? I try not to take my ass seriously anymore. Confidence is far more important.

Step Two: When it comes to deciding whether others are worthy of dating us, we also spend a crazy amount of time obsessing. What kind of job do they have, are they “right” for us, do they want / not want children, how fit, how tall, how smart, how rich.

It’s no wonder women complain that there are no men out there (I actually wrote a whole post on this after getting tired of all the blogs with this complaint). It makes sense to do some thinking about what you need (which is very different from what you want. Know the difference).

Tip: if your list fills a page, it’s too long. Think about the top few things. No more than that.
Here are mine:

1. Someone whose intellect I respect

2. Must be kind

3. Need to keenly enjoy affection and sex

4. They have to have something they are passionate about (work or hobby)

5. Good communicator: mean what they say, say what they mean Oh, and if they want their own biological child, or if they are married / in a relationship, it’s a non-starter. I don’t even bother…because it will just end badly.

Okay, but back to the fun stuff. Once you figure out the few things that are your non-negotiables, everyone else is fair game!! I went on a date with a crazy Russian-Persian dude that wastotally not what I thought my type would be. We had a great time. I went on a date with a plumber who turned out to be the best-dressed of any man I’ve gone out with yet.

Now, neither of these worked out in the long run, but since I don’t take myself that seriously, I walked away unscathed.

So try it.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?

Okay…don’t answer that.

At the very least, you have stories with which to regale your friends.

This also extends to women who have complicated rules for whether they respond to a guy. One girlfriend once complained she wasn’t going out on any dates. Turns out she had all these rules about type (see above) and also about what a guy had to say online if she was going to respond to them. Once she dumped that rule, presto – dates!

Step Three: Be a fun date. Remember dating? It’s supposed to be fun. When I became single, I was horrified to realize a “dating coach” is an actual profession. Sweet God. Is this what it’s come to?
Don’t ever do that, Amy. Call me first!!

I decided right then and there to just have some fun. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, reach out to people you are interested in, talk to cops who pull you over for speeding tickets (yup, I did that), and have enough self-confidence to roll with it when you don’t hear back from someone, or they don’t respond in kind.

People can be assholes. Take that as fact and then you will be delighted when you hear back, or when someone is normal and decent and interested. Just be yourself. There’s a expression I love: “be yourself…just be your bestself”.

The reality is if you try to be anyone else, you’re going to fail. It’s like interviewing for jobs…you should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. If they don’t like you for who you are, then you shouldn’t be dating them anyway.

This is a tough one. Of course we all want to be wanted. Rejection, even from someone you didn’t particularly want anyway, still stings. But, if you have fun with it, always have a few people you are talking to, realize they are doing the same thing? It will serve you well.

You always have the option of focussing on one person, it might make it all a bit better.
Final Step…(Optional): Continue to write your blog so you have a place to put all your horrific stories of bad and weird dates. It will amuse your married friends to no end.

If you follow this advice, you are guaranteed to have a whole bunch of great stories.
Don’t take yourself or dating too seriously, and you will relearn how fun it can be.

Who knows, you might even find happiness somewhere along the way.

yours very truly,



The Happy Hookers and Heroin Club

January 21

I didn’t mean for things to start and end like this. Sitting at my desk at midnight, writing to you. Tapping away far into the early morning light, where life takes on a dreamlike quality. Until it’s time to work again. And then it becomes a nightmare.

I’ve had a few stress dreams in the past weeks, the kind where you’re trying to get somewhere, usually work, and everything gets in the way. You’re moving through air as thick as sand, the car won’t start, a long-lost friend needs your advice, and the toast takes three hours instead of minutes to burn.

But in my dreams, as I’m waiting for the toast to burn, or for the car to turn over, I stop. I grasp that I’m never going to make it to work if I keep repeating the same action. And then, by some miracle, instead of slogging through, I tell my long-lost friend to call me later. I ditch the car and hitch a ride. I push the air together into dunes and climb over instead of through them. Even if slow, I finally progress and know I’m on my way.

Life is sometimes unbearably slow. The wheels of change are rusty and old. The gears clunky and stubborn. But it keeps going – a slow churning machine lubricated by fast and loose ideas.


My head’s swimming in the prophecies of the six psychics I accidentally saw last year.

One told me: “you’re not happy. You think you’re happy. But you’re not. You’re numb. You won’t be happy until you open yourself up to love.”

The next said that the royal family would be speaking my name. “It sounds crazy, I know. You’re gonna work in 3D filmmaking. But you need a better computer first.”

The third asked why I didn’t hire the first psychic to heal me. “A woman, just like me, wanted to help. You didn’t let her.” I simply stated that it was because I didn’t trust her.

The fourth proclaimed that I would be moving in a month and hugely successful soon after. “That sounds nice,” I said, “but I just don’t see it happening.”

“It’s happening,” she said. “I’m not making this shit up.”

The fifth, my biggest mistake, recommended I get a nice office job.

And the last told me everything was going to be okay.


Yesterday, I bought 48 rolls of toilet paper.

I didn’t mean to do it. It was an impulse purchase. It just sort of happened.

I was sitting at my desk, thinking about how much I hate buying toilet paper. Watching the last roll dwindle sheet by blessed sheet. I find it hard to motivate myself to buy it unless it’s nearing on emergency purchasing. It’s a slog to bring the canvas bag up the hill to the bodega that sometimes has sales on toilet paper.

Once there, past the aisles of olives, peanut butter, and Jiffy Pop popcorn, I reach up to a pack carton of toilet paper, nudge one roll out of the stack and catch the tumbling five that follow. I balance eight rolls in two arms down the other aisle of the store: frozen pierogis, ice cream, and cans and cans of creamed chicken soup… an unforgiving cycle.

I wondered how much toilet paper I’d need to purchase to get free shipping.

I searched the internet for answers and found toiletpaperworld.com, a website devoted to toilet paper. Though they sell other disposable paper goods, they are serious about  their toilet paper collection. I bought a case.

My late night toilet paper buying excursions are over.

The only thing is, where do I store 48 rolls of toilet paper in a six-hundred square foot apartment?

December 14


I’ve been wanting something to give, to move out of the city, to live a simpler life.

Now I’m worried that I have created a subconscious obstacle in my attempts to alter my day-to-day existence by erecting a wall of toilet paper. Is the toilet paper a means to keep me anchored to this familiar existence? If I have opportunity to exit this phase of my life and move into the next, will I leave the toilet paper behind? Or will I take it with me?

On one hand, I feel safe.

But I can’t help but wonder if there are motivations behind my motivation.

What would the queen say?


My friend Paul and I sit in his kitchen. I drink iced tea. He drinks white wine. Having been in the art world since the seventies, Paul is a consummate story-teller with a thousand beautiful stories to tell. Sometimes I ask him tell to tell me a story he’s told before because I like how he tells them.

Today, amidst my toilet paper turmoil, he’s telling a whole slew of new stories.

As he works his way through the bottle, his words hitch together, his pitch broadens, he sings and laughs and sometimes sheds a tear.

When I stand, he grabs my arm.

“I’m starting up the Happy Hookers and Heroin club again. I’d like you to be a member.”

He knows I don’t know what he’s talking about. but he also knows I’ll say:


He exhales. “Years ago my friend Bill and I decided to start a fund. Everyone chips in. When one of us is about to go, the others will hire two prostitutes and buy a bag of heroin. First, you have your swan song, and then they shoot you up and away you go…”

“I always hoped for a shaman with a rattle to sing prayers over me,” I say.

“You’ll save squillions on hospital bills. And have a good time doing it.”

Prostitutes aren’t really my thing, but I don’t want to let him down. “You have a point,” I say.

I never did tell him about my forthcoming forty-eight rolls of toilet paper before I left.


I forgot to mention the seventh psychic.

Last Sunday, a lady pulled my arm as I was entering a store. She was walking out.

“I’m getting very strong information about you. I need to tell you something. I want to read you.”

“No, thank you,” I said. I walked away even though I really wanted to know what she had to say. That was before the bulk toilet paper buying incident.

Maybe she knew.

I decided after psychic six, that life with a little bit of mystery mixed in is much more fun than knowing all the answers.

Especially when you don’t know the questions.


The Happy Hooker and Heroin Club is the second club I’ve ever been invited to join.

I said yes.

August 19

The Dream Factory

IMG_2153I’m trying to explain to my friend’s friend, Richie, what a stage manager does. Richie’s a hard-boiled, musical theater loving, mentally-challenged adult. You can tell by the road map of wrinkles lining his face that he’s lived a lot of life, even if there are things he’ll never understand.

“Stage managers manage everything to do with the show. They make sure every day that everything runs smoothly.”

“Oh.” He blinks.

We’re backstage, past the costumes hanging in the hallway, past the quick change booth, by the disemboweled bowling alley and the rolling car seats.

“They make sure the cast and crew are in their place and ready to go so that the show can happen every night.”

He furrows his brow.

“The stage managers run the show. And rehearsals. They’re the everyday magicians, pulling all the strings.”

Now we’re on stage, looking out towards the crimson seats of the theater. A props person sweeps, ushers gather abandoned programs from the aisles.

“Can I smoke here?”


“Oh. Okay.” He tucks his crushed pack of Basic cigarettes in his front shirt pocket. “When can I smoke?”

“When we’re outside.”

Later at night, I wish I had asked drawn comparisons between stage managers and the professor behind the curtain who ran the Wizard of Oz. How the wizard-worker probably showed up every day, a black and white character in a colorful world, with his lunch in a brown paper bag, wished everyone a good morning, and disappeared behind the drapery, as the inhabitants of Emerald City went about their own lives for the day, never once asking themselves why he was there.

By then, Richie’s probably moved on, torn another filter off his Basic cigarette, and smoked it to its very nub. I’m left on the abandoned beach of my imagination wondering about the true essence of what it is we’re all doing on the rocket-ship called Broadway.

We’re part of the dream factory, a blessed machine built to remind thousands of audience members every day to laugh, smile, think, learn, and remember what it is to sing and dance. The dream factory is built on sand and powered by our dreams and imagination, each of us cogs in the hamster wheel, whether we’re ushers, props, electrician, or actors. Always balancing, always juggling, dodging the bad and embracing the good.

Like most jobs, working in a dream machine takes its toll.

Here, we sometimes forget who we are.

Which can cause a profound absence of perspective.

Some of us begin to believe we are someone else. Something other than, better or worse than, the person standing next to us, doing their part to tell our shared story to the audience. A wicked amnesia of sorts. Viral ideas of grandeur implant can themselves into our hollowed brains.

Silly things become important. A lipstick color will drive an usually rational, reasonable woman to tears. The difference between firm and hard hold hairspray might cause hours of concerned debate.

And yet, if a person suffers from a heart attack backstage, the show will go on. A performer might plummet thirty feet from a set piece and break every bone in his body, but the conductor will lift his baton, the actors will still sing, the lights will light, props and set pieces will move on cue.

Every performance is a runaway train, sometimes meandering, sometimes speeding, sometimes moving, sometimes painfully slow, but nearly impossible to stop. There should be a warning label on all things theatrical for any individual who thinks the theater is where they want to reside: objects in the mirror appear shinier than they really are.

A few days after Richie’s visit, my show has a put-in. A put-in is a rehearsal where the entire play is staged for the benefit of an actor or actress who is replacing another in a role. This replacement actor wears full costume and wigs. The other actors don’t. And so, if you’re watching this event, you see the melding of two worlds, a casualness that makes you fall in love with the people you work with, and a stark, sweaty nervousness that ignites your compassion for the new performer who is learning where to be, how to be, and what to be after rehearsing alone, guided by stage managers, dance captains, and musical directors in a studio for weeks on end.

Put-ins are about rebirth and relationships, moving through space and negotiating time. Grace, gratitude, humility, generosity. The challenge  of finding a unique voice within a role that’s been shaped by another. They’re singular moments in the dream factory that can fill the house with love.

They also remind us of how very replaceable we are.

That night, I dream of two fat opera singers, a man and a woman. They’re naked, their soft rolls of flesh jiggle with every note they sing. They hold hands and lean away from each other with all their weight as gravity cause them to spin, and spin, and spin.

“You know the saying ‘life is not a dress rehearsal,'” I ask Mark. He’s wearing his fake mustache, his fake glasses, chewing on his fake cigar on the fake car seats before his scene. “What if life is a dress rehearsal? What if every day, every moment, is a rehearsal for the next. If we’re meant to learn until the final number, strip away the excess posturing to find our true essence. What if, as we drill the written lines of the stories we’re given into our brains, we’re meant to find our own voice. Bit by bit. Organic. So we make it look easy? What if?”

He says, “maybe life supposed to be a performance. Fully embraced, fully realized. In rehearsals, even if an actor’s ‘in it,’ there’s a tiny part of his brain that’s somewhere out there, detached, watching.”

“People learn more, explore more, experiment more in rehearsal than they do when they performing for others,” I say.

And as the chorus pipes in with harmony, Mark moves towards stage right. “I see what you’re saying, but life is meant to be lived. Fully. In the moment.” And with that, he’s pushed on stage and into his scene on a rolling office chair.

I don’t disagree. I suspect we’re both wrong. Life is neither a performance nor a rehearsal. Life is life.

Fate is the script. Freewill is the detail work.

The directions, the stage management, the lost, mild-mannered professor running the show from behind the curtain… the levers and lights, sound, automation, set, props, costumes, hair and make-up… in the best possible world, they embellish, but do not change, the essence of the scripts we’ve been handed.

red shoes