Thursday, February 25, 2010

Graham Greene's Dreams

One of my new favorite books is Graham Greene's "A World of My Own." This dream journal is divided into 19 themed chapters. Graham Greene recorded his dreams almost daily, relying on them for inspiration, and then selected the dreams for this book before he died. I read in the forward that his interest took off when he was a boy and a psychoanalyst instructed him to keep a dream journal. This world of his own influenced the worlds of his characters, fueling his fiction and making him a better writer. I occasionally draw my dreams and I've thought about putting them in categories, so I can notice themes, and in turn discover subconscious fears, desires, and insecurities. I especially like the dream in which Graham Greene is sent to murder Joseph Goebbels, and I also like the dream in which he is not himself, but the World War I poet Wilfred Owen. I often have dreams in which I am not myself, so I was delighted to discover that similarity.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I had a good day

Tonight I went to a mixer for artists called Art Spark. I bought a beer and wandered around, wondering if everyone there was an artist. A woman invited me to play with clay at a small table. This must be Art Spark's version of a free sample giver at Costco. The clay was hard at first and I had to loosen it up by rolling it around before I could shape it. I am the same way at social events where I don't know anybody. I made a turtle and set it down with the dogs and dinosaurs other people had made. Then a woman came over and introduced herself. Her name is Amy Buchheit and she is also a turtle enthusiast. Small world. She showed me pictures of her artwork and explained to me that one portrait was done with bubbles. I'm still trying to figure out what that means. The portrait is beautiful and I think whoever the woman is, if it is a real woman portrayed, should feel honored. I know I would be if I were depicted so beautifully, like one of the elegant ladies in a John Singer Sargent painting.

After Art Spark, I went to a mentor appreciation party, where I played fun trivia games and ate ethnic cuisine. I work as a mentor at IRCO (Immigration and Refugee Community Organization) and I love it.
My day was off to a terrible start and now I feel glamorous and lucky. I love it how days can take unexpected turns for the better. This morning at 7 AM, I was walking through the park blocks on my way to work when out of nowhere a blond girl jogged past me and screamed in my face. I screamed and dropped my coffee, which I believe was her malicious intent. This girl just ran away and I yelled after her "What the hell is wrong with you?!" It's kind of funny now, but at the time, I felt like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Really really mad.

I prefer serene turtles to joggers with Tourrette's. And now for one of my favorite videos.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hamlet's a hottie

Now, like a whore, I must unpack my heart with words and fall a-cursing, like a very drab, a scullion. My friend Brittany and I just saw Hamlet at the Coho Theater. This was an abridged version with just five actors, five amazingly gifted actors. I know it would be hard enough memorizing lines for one character alone, but these actors, excluding the heartthrob who played Hamlet, played several parts, sometimes switching genders like it was the most natural thing. The woman who played Ophelia, Brittany Burch, also played Laertes and would drop her voice several octaves and toughen her body language. I was never confused about who was talking, and I think that says something about the planning of this play. With just five actors, I think confusing the audience would be easy.

I've never laughed so much while watching Hamlet, but these actors really had fun using their poetic license. The only part I would have considered really funny before tonight was the exchange between Hamlet and Polonius about clouds looking like camels and weasels. Tonight, Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy was interrupted by Polonius. That soliloquy has grown so stale for me, after hearing it a thousand times, and it was nice to see it performed differently.

I saw in the program that Christopher David Murray (Hamlet) and Gary Norman (Horatio and Polonius) were in the original production of The Receptionist. They would have performed in The Receptionist I saw at Portland Center Stage, except they were too busy adapting this play. In Christopher David Murray's bio, one claim to fame was Bill O'Reilly calling him a heathen for appearing in an Everclear music video. Judging by his skill as an actor and the way he really melted into his role, I think he has more fame coming his way.

I am not good at initiating standing ovations, but these actors deserved one. Now I regret not standing up when they took their bows. Next time I see a play as impressive as this one, I will jump out of my seat and applaud, and not wait for other people to stand up first.

Afterward, Brittany and I had a conversation about grief and dying. In the past, I have judged others for not grieving enough, thinking that there's only one way to grieve . . . . my way! She opened my eyes to the fact that everyone has their own way of grieving. I guess I knew that already. But at least I'm not the only one who calls people "wretched" (as Hamlet did) for moving on so quickly.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Receptionist

I just saw Adam Bock's play "The Receptionist" at Portland Center Stage. It was extremely weird and darker than I had anticipated. When I heard it was an "office comedy" I thought of the TV show "The Office" and the movie "Office Space," but this play showcased the wicked sides of humanity, all encircling the receptionist Beverly's desk.
This play has mysterious and intriguing characters. Beverly is a self-righteous, unfashionable, controlling receptionist. Lorraine is Beverly's scattered, flirtatious, volatile, and lonely coworker. Together they have roller coaster conversations, rising in tension, about relationships, books, and Beverly's tea cup collection.

When handsome Mr. Dart shows up, looking for their boss, the play takes a dark turn. The audience gradually learns that this "Northeast Office," as Beverly calls it every time she answers the phone, is a vile, corrupt business, dealing with torturing people and "getting information," although what kind of information is never revealed.

I thought this play was fantastic because I love slow tension and I love it when people act in surprising, but not out-of-character ways. Beverly turns out to not be as efficient as she thought she was and Lorraine turns out to be more capable than either of them gave her credit for. In just a little over an hour, this play made me laugh several times and bite my fingernails toward the end.

Clowns and choirs

The Raleigh Hills Fred Meyer is cursed. The last time I went to this grocery store was on Christmas Eve and I had a headache that lasted several hours. I wrote about that unpleasant experience in the blog entry "Melancholy Christmas" and now I must chronicle yet another harrowing ordeal. The first freakish thing I noticed when I maneuvered my cart past customers through the automatic doors was the choir. They were singing what sounded like Christmas music. I ran into my friend Jazz who told me today is Fred Meyer's grand opening.

In the produce section another choir was swaying back and forth and clapping their hands. They were all dressed in black. None of them looked happy or as perky as their body language implied. Then I saw the clowns. (Cue scary violin music from Psycho.) Creepy, red-nosed, floppy-footed, rainbow-attired clowns. Three of them. I have never bagged apples so fast in my life.

I don't have a clown phobia, but they give me this kind of claustrophobic feeling, like they're invading my personal space, even if one is standing far away. If I could put a restraining order on all clowns, I would. There is something sinister about them. Once I was stuck in the Detroit Airport for ten hours during a clown convention. Another time I went to what I thought was going to be a football or baseball game, or some kind of sporting event, and the field was overrun by clowns. That may have just been an opening act, but needless to say, I left before I could even figure out what kind of game I was about to see.

In the car after my scary clown encounter, the song "Dream Weaver" came on. The beginning of the song sounds like a flock of seagulls and it helped me feel safe again. If the song had been "Send in the Clowns" or "Everybody Loves a Clown," I would have screamed.