The great phone-less experiment

So I got caught in a drenching storm in Austin yesterday afternoon.  Was actually playing disc golf with a few work friends at a course out by the airport.

Midway through, the rain came, a little at first, then more and more, until we were out in the open fields, maybe a mile from the parking lot.  Lightning flashed and thunder boomed all around us.  We slipped and slid in increasingly thick mud, but for some reason decided to finish the game anyway (none of us wanted to be the first to say Uncle).

Anyway, it was an adventure.  Once we got back to the parking lot, I spent 20-30 minutes defrosting the car and trying to get to a place where I could see enough to drive home.

BUT the reason I’m writing this is because my brand new phone got soaked (first, in my pocket, then in the case where I hold my discs).  I turned it off in the car, but it kept flashing and making weird noises like it was shorting out.

When I got home I took the battery out (should have done that sooner!) and tried to dry it off in front of a box fan.

Then a couple of friends suggested that I put it in a bag or box of uncooked rice, which might draw some of the moisture away.

I don’t know why I’d never heard of this trick before, but now the phone is buried in rice and I’m waiting the recommended 24-48 hours to see if it can be revived.

So for now I have no phone.  Which in some ways is nice, because I don’t feel that urge to look at it every 5 seconds for updates.

But it’s also disconcerting because I have loved ones who are vulnerable and I worry about missing a call to let me know something bad has happened.

So I’m struggling a bit with ideas of risk and danger, and the fact that ten (or fifteen?) years ago we didn’t carry these connected devices everywhere we went.

I’m reminded of this article my friend Tom linked to on facebook whose message is basically that we worry too much about emergencies and danger in an increasingly safe environment.  Plus everyone I love has others who can help them if needed.

Still, it feels odd, and I’m curious to see how it goes.

If the phone doesn’t come back to life this weekend, it could be another week or so before I have a phone.  How will that go?

My guess: pretty well.  I still have the internet and a car; and most people are connected enough that I may not even need a phone (at least for stretches at a time).

Isn’t that crazy??

SLIGHT RISK for severe storms

So my kid has his first baseball playoff game tonight, a day after the devastating tornado in Oklahoma.

And the local weather site says this:

It is important for you to know there is a threat of strong to severe thunderstorms for Central Texas this afternoon and evening. The entire area is under a SLIGHT RISK for severe storms.

There’s something super-disconcerting about that use of all caps, isn’t there?  Emphasizing the smallness of something.  I’m A LITTLE BIT worried that we’ll be hammered by hail and high wins.

Yikes.  So far, the game is on…

 

The LTYM club

I first heard about the Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) project back in late February of this year when I spotted a call for submissions on a theater website I usually read for reviews and notes on upcoming productions.

Always on the lookout for local events to participate in, I read over the requirements and production details and thought it looked like a really quality event I wanted to be a part of.

Except for one thing. There was all this talk of mothers and women and “giving motherhood a microphone.” Would they really be interested in hearing from me? I am neither a mother nor a woman (last time I checked); would this disqualify me?

So I spent another 15 minutes reading and re-reading the requirements, looking for anything that would explicitly spell out the fact that they wanted to hear from women only. As someone who regularly scours playwriting opportunities, I’m used to requirements like these being added right at the bottom of an otherwise-enticing listing (“must be a resident of Washington State,” “must be a currently-enrolled student,” “must have no outstanding library fines”).

But I didn’t see anything of that sort on this announcement. And in fact, I remember seeing the words “everyone has a mother story” on there too. I had to think about this for a second, but it’s true! Everyone comes from a mother (thanks, Dalai Lama)! There’s nothing more universal!

So I spent the next week before the deadline writing a short personal essay about motherhood and family. And then just figured I’d wait and see what happened. Continue reading

First meeting for Out of Ink

Two days after LTYM I had my first meeting with the director for a short play of mine that’ll be produced next month as part of ScriptWorks’ Out of Ink Show.

I’m working with Ellie McBride again, and she’s great for me.  She’s insightful, blunt and friendly.  I always learn something about my writing–and often myself–working with her.  I think I was a little intimidated the first time I worked with her a few years ago, just because she’s not afraid to cut to the chase with criticisms.  But now I realize what a gift this can be, and how generous she is with her time.

On Saturday she told me that my plays have a tendency to sneak up on people, that you can read them and wonder what’s going on, wonder whether they’re supposed to be funny or not, and then at some point (sometimes after subsequent readings) you realize that they’re hilarious and that different threads that you didn’t realize were connected actually are.

I realize that this is the kind of reaction I get about my own personality sometimes.  I’ve known and worked in close quarters with people for months sometimes without making a real connection.  And then at some point (often over a beer or two) they’ll give me this look and say “Oh, now I get you.”

Anyway, good stuff. And cheaper than therapy.

All that said, Ellie pointed to a couple of sections in the script and said they didn’t seem to fit, that they seemed like filler.  “Filler is okay if it’s funny,” she said.  “But this is filler and it’s not funny.  You can do better.”

She’s right.  And I needed to have that kind of outside focus to really be able to recognize how to make the play stronger.

So that’s what I’m working over the next week or so.

Another opportunity to grow.  This writing stuff has perks!

Remnants of LTYM Austin

Still digesting everything that went through my head last week, and hope to write more about it.

But a couple of things I want to get down before I forget:

1) This KUT (NPR affiliate) story played on the radio while I was in my car Thursday morning.  A huge thrill!

http://kutnews.org/post/listen-your-mother-austin-heartwarming-stories-central-texas-mothers

2) I now have a digital version of this photo from way back when, really happy about it.  Lookin’ good, ma!

Mom Susie Max Grandma

Sweating and shaking

Well, tomorrow’s it.  The night we’ve been working toward for weeks.

The LTYM show is happening at 7pm and it’s fully sold out (300+ attendees).

I’m excited about it, but also know that I won’t be able to stop myself from sweating and trembling a bit as I’m sitting there waiting to tell my story.

That’s okay, I’m sorta used to it by now.  And I also know that I do a decent job of masking my nerves (people usually tell me I don’t seem nervous onstage).

However, I’m wearing a shirt that may show sweat (even if I otherwise look calm) so that’s my biggest worry.  Which will just make it worse, I’m sure.

Still, I feel like life is just one sweat-inducing moment after another, so no big deal.

Everyone sweats, right? (Except for maybe this guy.)

Playwriting workshop with Kirk Lynn

Went to a ScriptWorks-sponsored workshop with the estimable Kirk Lynn last night.

It’s the first workshop like this I’ve been too in a long time (too long, I guess).

There were a dozen or so of us there and it was a fun, thought-provoking evening of exercises and discussion.

Still mulling everything we went over.  Kirk gave us some ideas he uses to get his brain going that can help jumpstart a longer piece (we tried rewriting lines from more obscure Shakespeare plays using modern slang, writing out instructions for a stranger to interact with something we use regularly in everyday life, and writing a letter to someone we know and asking for something we desperately want).

I liked Kirk, liked the crew, and feel like it gives me a broader pallet to work from and license to stretch boundaries a bit.

Good food for thought.

And glad I’m writing this down so I can remember it next time there’s a workshop like this and I’m on the fence about going!