Thursday, July 10, 2014

The lost kittens of Northside

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch working on my laptop when I heard a thumping noise outside in front of my house. At first, I dismissed it; Northside is often noisy and our old walls are thin. But the noise persisted, growing closer and louder. Finally, I got up, opened my front door, and found two kids I’d never seen before jumping up and down on my front porch. What in the world?

The ensuing interaction went something like this:

A: What are you doing?

Kid 1 (age 11): Trying to get the kittens.

The back story here is that Northside has a stray cat problem and we usually have a new batch of kittens living in and around our house each Spring. This year’s litter was likely born and now resides underneath our front porch. They are awfully cute, but the whole situation stresses me out. One time, I burst into tears when we came home to find tiny momma cat nursing her three even tinier kittens on our porch step. What kind of life will they have? ANYWAY. 

A: You can’t take the kittens. They’re feral.

Kid 1: What’s feral?

A: Uhm…it’s like wild. They’re wild. They aren’t used to people. Plus, they need their mom right now to eat. They’re not nice cats.

Kid 1: They’re mean cats.

A: No, not exactly.

Kid 2 (age 9): So, they’re yours?

A: No, they’re not mine. They don’t belong to anyone, but they live here with their mom.

Kid 2: Oh.

A: What were you going to do when you caught them?

Kid 1: Keep them.

Then, they sat down on my driveway and started playing with a bug. I sat next to them on my porch step, and they told me about their day at the community pool and their various solo adventures fishing in the Mill Creek and roaming our neighborhood’s streets. I was struck by how comfortable they were with me, a complete stranger, and how eager they were to tell me stories and ask me questions.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about how important my job as an adult is…how important it is to be thoughtful about what I say to young people. These kids were completely taking my word for it, letting me define words for them and accepting my explanations without question or argument. I don’t remember ever being that way—I’ve always had questions and arguments—but I’m sure I was. The responsibility is daunting and somehow exciting at the same time. 

Also, I’ve been thinking about stocking popsicles for next time. 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two things my dad has taught me about what it means to be a good parent

Preface: 

There are obviously more than two, but I reflected on these specific items for several hours today whilst flying from California to Ohio (by way of Illinois) ALEX-THE-AIRPLANE style. 

1. Building good relationships with your kids involves trying all the weird things they're interested in.

Many of these things you may never have heard of or won't actually enjoy, but trying new things is good for personal development and that time together can be so important. My dad gets that. He has a pretty adventurous spirit, and over the years has gone with me to art museums, watched weird movies because I like them, gone vintage shopping, tried new foods, and listened to my entire list of ever-changing favorite songs. I remember my dad having legitimate opinions about which boy band was the most talented because we made him listen to them so much (his pick: Backstreet Boys). He always responds to my emails, even if they're just article links. If I tell him a story about something that happened in a different city or at a specific landmark, he often looks the place up to more fully understand my experience. Similarly, I have many memories of my dad watching UFC fights with my brother, playing video games, visiting skate parks on his days off, learning all the Pokemon characters and seeking out rare cards, and going to Stephen's loud-ass hardcore shows. His ability to be interested in and enthusiastic about new experiences (because he's interested in us) is something I have always admired. I wish I did a better job of understanding and appreciating his hobbies. Let's go to the driving range soon, Dad.

2. Be happy for other people in front of your kids. 

My dad has made a life that he's content with and, (I think) as a result, he has a lot of positive energy to send out toward those who are trying to do the same. My dad doesn't begrudge anyone's success and he's genuinely happy for all of the great experiences Stephen and I have had, with and without him. I think it's a good example for me, especially because I can easily become caught up in comparing myself to others. That sort of thinking doesn't serve us, and my dad gets that. He's a smart guy. 

Beyond all that he's taught me on purpose or by accident, I feel so lucky that my father is one of the (perhaps few) people on this earth who truly appreciates me as a person, quirks, warts, and all. More often than not he enjoys my company and laughs at my jokes. When you have children, you always love them but maybe struggle to like them at times. I never feel like my dad is struggling to like the person I've become, which is a huge relief. Really, my goal is to impress any children I might have in all the ways my parents have impressed me. They've been hugely important to any successes I've had personally and professionally and in shaping the parts of myself that I like the best. I could write a post for my mom too, and maybe I will.

But in observation of the day...

Hats off to you, Bear, and a hundred hugs. 

Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This week (so far) in Los Angeles

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Catching up on my freelance assignments for Cincinnati Magazine. Here's one about my friend Caren's clothing studio on the CM blog. ATTN: people with little girls--- this is not a drill. Pick up a reversible tunic for your toddler stat. I also submitted some other drafts, finished transcribing the recording from a focus group I moderated a couple of weeks ago, and (not-so-humble-brag) did some work-related reading by the pool. I feel like my ducks are at least near each other now, if not completely lined up in a row. And really, I'll take that. It feels good. 


  • Friend-led couples yoga session in Venice and brief Venetian exploration.
  • Drinks and sausages at Berlin Currywurst followed by more drinks at Good Times at Davey Wayne's (a remarkable and hilarious contrast to the aforementioned German beer garden). GTaDW is a true time-hop place, decorated entirely with mid-century modern furniture and accessories (think shag carpet on the ceiling). If I have a spirit animal, Davey Wayne's is it. Bonus: a guy gave me a triangle turquoise midi ring (or toe ring?) for free!



  • Celebrity meditation session in Hollywoodland. That's really an in-person story. Gotta save something for a dinner party.
  • Today, while E was in a meeting, I walked over to the ArcLight and saw Obvious Child. I want to say that it is both very enjoyable and very important. I won't go into detail because I know Earle reads this blog and likes to be surprised, but I'd love to talk it over with any and all of you who've seen it/have interest. 
  • Juice. I want to go on record and say that I'm not at all mad about the juice movement sweeping the nation. In fact, quite the opposite. I expletive love cold pressed juices and green smoothies, and so far I've had something called a Mojitobox and several beverages made with tons of cucumbers, apples, and ginger. It's been really awesome. 
  • Living with Jesse and Eli. One of the best things about this situation is that we are all pretty fond of and good at shit-giving. The dicey and exciting part is that only some of us are good at shit-taking some of the time. Also, these brothers know how to eat, drink, and be merry. 


...
FUTURE PLANS:
  • Additional writing and reading work. 
  • Hollywood Fringe is going on right now, and we're going to see a comedy show tomorrow night. Super neat that I recognize some of the listed shows from Cincinnati Fringe.
  • Upright Citizen's Brigade?
  • The beach. 
  • Maybe Disneyland?!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Post-Fringe [Frankenstein] Reflection

We had a really, really great opening night. Looking back, I think our opening night might have been my favorite performance. The next day, we found out that CityBeat's Bart Bishop gave us a wonderful review and named us a Critic's Pick. I felt like I was floating; Critic's Picks two years in a row! It was so wonderful to feel that someone had so deeply and thoroughly understood the show. Additionally, I got some really thoughtful, personal compliments about the show as a whole, and specifically about my portrayal as Amelia. The validation was nice, but mostly we hoped the positive CityBeat review would help our ticket sales and more people would come see our remaining four shows.

We were right; our second show was sold out (about 70 people). Unfortunately, we had some significant tech issues that afternoon in front of what ended up being our largest house. I was really disappointed that those folks didn't see our product at its best. Earlier that same day, I read this pretty bad (although mercifully short) review from WCPO. There was a third, snapshot review later from The Enquirer. I think it's neat that we generated enough buzz this year that three pretty big groups sent representatives to review our product. Still, it's important for me to remember that each review represents only one person's opinion, and I was glad that I knew how I felt about our show before the reviews started rolling in.

Live theater is pretty challenging for its unpredictability, and I definitely felt the full range of human emotions those first few days. Thankfully, the rest of the shows came off without incident.

And you know, the lesson here and always is this: Life is about getting back on the horse. Shit happens, and the #franktheplay team handled our tech issues with grace and went on to have a wonderful run. I am proud of that. I am proud of our project and so thankful to all who contributed their time and talents--helping us problem-solve, helping us improve, laughing with us (and at us-- hey Dylan!), and giving their best in rehearsal and at every performance. To those of you who came to see us-- thank you a hundred times. I really appreciate your support and your kindness. My second Cincinnati Fringe Festival as an artist was challenging and rewarding, and I'm not sure what else I could have asked for.

One of my favorite parts of Fringe each year is seeing what everyone else has been working on, and the festival was so rich with funny and thought-provoking pieces this year. I'm super sorry I didn't get to see more of my friends' work. There were definitely shows I really wanted to see but couldn't because of my own shows and commitments. Fringe is such a neat idea, and a wonderful thing for our city. Kudos to the Know Theatre for pulling it off year after year. You guys are the best.

Now, E and I are in Los Angeles. I'm catching up on work I've put off the past few weeks and reading a ton of literature about qualitative data analysis while he finishes up some work on his band's second record. I plan to drink a lot of juice.

LA blogs to follow.

xo, AT