Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Take a Walk in the Park" Day

Today, March 30th, 2014 is national "Take a Walk in the Park" day. Don't worry if you can't get out to a park today; April 2nd is The American Heart Association's "National Walk Day." So you have two chances this week to participate in a national step-away-from-the-computer-and-move day.

We have so many parks in Portland, it would be impossible to list them all. And why should I? We do have the Parks & Recreation "Find a Park/Facility" website. It is information packed and you can search for a specific area of Portland or for specific amenities/activities.

I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite in town parks. There are certainly more. And with a little bit of a drive, we can have pretty much whatever we want in terms of the surface under our feet. That's one of the great things about living here: within a few hours, we can have a larger metropolitan setting (Seattle), the high desert (Bend, the Painted Hills), the cliffs and water activities of the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast - pick your favorite for view or walking or shopping or hiking, and the fields and the Willamette Valley to the south, and with a little longer drive - probably an overnight trip - the rivers and rocks and theater of Southern Oregon.

Where is your nearest park? Or your favorite park. For me, the nearest is just a short walk up the hill and I'm at the entrance to Mount Tabor Park.

A sampling of parks around Portland.

Forest Park : great hikes and trails, a forest in the city. It's beautiful and there are many options.

Laurelhurst Park : an inner city lake, with plenty of trees, a playground, picnic tables, and a trail around this very inner city park. Great if you need a trail with little incline and self-contained. I would say it's nearly impossible to truly get lost, although don't take that as a challenge.

 Springwater Corridor : this is definitely a park for the active outdoor users and it goes for miles; literally - 21 miles. It has a multi-use trail for walkers and bikers. It goes through town from along the waterfront of the Willamette River out through East Portland and clear out to Boring.

 Powell Butte Nature Park : wildlife and trails and trees and shrubbery in the 'burbs. This is a beautiful park. But I'm including it because of a fond memory. A friend and I went here a few years ago and it was beautiful. It was a great day. I had my new hiking boots (red flag number one) and it was on the edge of town (not too far of a drive from where we were) and despite there not being a trail guide in the book in which we had found it (red flag number two), it was small and we knew we'd be fine. (Isn't confidence a great thing!) The trail guide maps were out at the trailhead (we were still confident; the book had said something about following the animals stamped or carved into markers along the trails). And we were having a great time. The markers were not so clear or were missing. And we kept walking. And walking and felt a bit like we were going in circles, but, no, we couldn't be. And then we knew we were. We searched for a way out and - well, obviously we did eventually find out way out. It wasn't funny when we finally got out of this little forested nature park four hours after we intended to be home. But it is funny now and a fond memory. It was early in our "let's go for a hike" days and we learned so much. And we were fine. It is beautiful and worth another trip.

And, of course, Mt, Tabor Park : It has water, hills, stairs, flowers, trees, playgrounds, trails. It is gorgeous with gorgeous views. An extinct volcano right here in town.

There are many parks. Pick by area. Pick by activity. Pick randomly! Just pick one and go for a walk.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Good Day for Writing

I want to report that today (Tuesday) was a very good day for writing.

One important factor is the weekly Tuesday morning writing date on my calendar. Rooze has been wonderful to write with. We take a little bit of time to check in - how the week has been, including our writing - then check in with what our plan for the day's writing session is, and then, we write! We usually have at least 90 minutes of writing time, sometimes a little more.

It's beautiful. It works really well. And, once in a while, one of us can't make it. The challenge then, only to ourselves, is for the other one to show up. The follow through when we're the only person who really knows if we go and what we do with our time. Most of the time we both show up. And today we were both there.

I also noted that it was right after completing another performance interpreting project. Noted that, again, performance brain done and writing brain rises to the surface.

Here is what I did today in my writing life:

Send in the requested information to Float On as application to their Writers Program.

Sent an inquiry to Sou'wester Lodge in Washington about their Artists Residency program. I'm hoping to get a time up there this summer; I could put it off until the fall, but I hope there is a slot available in the summer. It's for a week-long stay with a bit of break on the cost and I would love to do that to work on the M-book. That project is at a place where I need some distraction-free, immersion time in order to move it forward. From what I've seen and heard about the place, I think it would be perfect and this looks like a great do-it-yourself writing retreat.

I worked on the story which came to me in the float tank last Saturday. It is moving along well. It is not quite taking the path to the point of the story that I thought it would; but isn't that part of the fun of writing?

 I worked on the story I started the previous week. One of the two main characters has a name now; he is no longer just "the interviewer." His name fits and it just rolled off the keyboard. I like that.

 In searching for one of the stories - which was filed in the wrong folder - I discovered a story I forgot I'd written. I read the story and I like it. I made some minor edits and it needs more. But it's a good story and is worth additional attention. It is one I'd like to get ready to send out into the world. Another story which won't be easy to place; but I know it has a home. Somewhere.

See? It was a very good writing day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Floating and Storytelling

On Saturday we had the final session of the Theatrical Interpreting Preparation Series (TIPS) Part I workshop I've been leading since December. This was a great session and the participants were great to work with. It was a very diverse group, in terms of experience in both theater and sign language, which led to some great discussions. I will miss our twice a month Saturday meetings and sharing four interpreted performances in five months with them. Thank you, all of you!

Saturday and Sunday I also interpreted/participated in "Sign Mudras," which the creator Jayanthi Raman calls "experimental dance theater using contemporary Indian dance and American Sign Language for storytelling." In this production I interpreted, and I crossed over that barrier (as Jayanthi intended!) to do storytelling in one piece which was entirely traditional Indian dance, with no spoken language. The first dance piece, there was a narrator reading different parts of the story between sections, which I interpreted. And the final piece, the narrator gave an overview of what was to happen in the dance, which I interpreted, and then I stood back and did not sign during that final fifteen minutes. We did have some signing audience members in attendance at both performances.

Saturday night after I arrived home from the performance, my partner and I went for floats at FloatOn. I was in the new ocean tank with the optional star system overhead. I turned off the tank light immediately - but I left the stars on for a couple of minutes, then those went away and I was in that relaxing, soothing, noise reducing darkness. My mind was still humming with thoughts and I let them bounce around for awhile; didn't try to force them to stop this time, just let them be. And they did finally quiet down. For a bit. Somewhere in those 90 minutes, I started getting some clarity for my writing. For two particular projects. One of them was the M-book and, while that's the one I don't remember as well, I know there was something there. The other project is a new one I'm not talking about yet. It is started and it has many parts. And I had a great idea for a new part, which I immediately started after we got in the car - even before driving home. I didn't want to lose that spark, so I wrote what I remembered with enough details to keep the thread going. I've continued that piece a little, though there is much more to do.

This is the second time I've experienced a writing inspiration from floating. Maybe there was a third time I don't remember right now. But this one seemed extra good because I wasn't even watching for it. The other one I remember, I was specifically hoping for some insight related to writing and I tried to steer my thoughts in that direction. But on Saturday, I let my thoughts wander. And there it was.

Good news!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Words I Hope to Never Hear Again

The Poetry Out Loud competition was really good last Saturday. All of the high school participants were well prepared and performed excellent recitations. I was glad I was "only" one of the interpreters and not a judge; high quality work from all of them. And I congratulate all of the students who went on to Oregon state finals and am looking forward to hearing who will be representing Oregon in the National Poetry Out Loud competition later this year.

The student from Oregon School for the Deaf did an outstanding job and she was a pleasure to watch. (We don't interpret the OSD students' poems; they sign for themselves and their poems are projected onto a large screen so the non-signers know what they are signing.) She did not score as one of the top three at the regional level last weekend, meaning she did not advance to the state level. She represented her school well and I hope to see more of her in the literary and performing arts areas!

This also meant that we did not interpret the state finals held on March 15th (we would have if there was a request from audience members, but there was not). I had many hours blocked out in my schedule for poetry interpreting preparation which I no longer needed. I was looking forward to a slower week, with some unexpected down time.

A little bit of that time was taken up with a meeting and an unscheduled special event. But even with the early in the week occurrence which resulted in words I hope to never hear again, we did manage to have our date night on Saturday. We went to a staged reading of "Hungry" by Amy Claussen at Profile Theatre on Saturday and stayed for the festivities and announcement of the 2015 season playwright; it was a fun night.

And writing? Yes, even some of that happened this week. I worked on the radio script and submitted that to my Friday night writing group for feedback. And I went to my Tuesday morning writing space - even though my writing buddy was unable to make it - where I wrote a blog post for Portland Center Stage. And then on Wednesday I started a new short story which is a kind of character study at this point; I'm not sure where it's headed but I like it so far.

Oh, and the words I hope to never hear again? The words which ended up consuming a significant portion of the hours I thought would be low key down time? The words which grew in severity, day by day, creating new tasks and phone calls and "must do it now" calls to action? "Data breach." That's all I'm going to say for now. "Data breach."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Steeped in Poetry

I haven't worked on any of my stories nor the book this week. I even had to trade in my Tuesday morning writing. 

To steep myself in poetry. 

Tomorrow I will be interpreting poems from the old masters to the new rising stars, on subjects ranging from - well, everything that poetry is written about. Meaning, life and death and birth and imagery, love and anger and rebellion and alliteration, and life. Poetry. Has consumed my week. And it will again next week, with a mostly new set of poems, if the Deaf contestant makes it to finals. 

This week my writing has been purely business. And in my head, in the corners not taken over by translation and reading and practicing the poems for Poetry Out Loud. 

I also believe that being steeped in poetry will help my own writing. Soaking in the words well written and absorbing their power and spirit and energy. Reading enhances writing, no? Yes!

And now I must return to said poetry, although I will also be doing 30 minutes of step aerobics at the same time, thanks to Wii. 

‎I love my profession. Especially when it let's me be steeped in performance and literature, like now. (I've also been connecting with several other performance organizations; but I will hold those details until more decisions are made and confirmed.)


"Where the hand goes, the eye follows; where the eye goes, the mind goes;
where the mind goes, is the heart; where the heart is, lies the reality of being."

- Bauhinia Adriana, The Mirror of the Gesture (ancient dance treatise)