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!

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!


Kid achievement boast

So the boys had a great day today, at least in terms of statistics and performance.

7-year-old, who has never hit more than a double at a baseball game before, hit THREE home runs today in four at-bats.  And he almost had a fourth too, with the bases loaded, but the shortstop was somehow able to knock the ball out of the air and hold him to a double.  So in four at-bats he had 2 homers, a double and another homer.  These are the kinds of things that become legend.  (especially when typed in an obscure blog where he can dig it up in 20 years).

Not to be outdone (!), the 9-year-old went to the annaul Texas Math Pentathalon and went four for five!  They say he performed better than anyone ever has at his school, and he came back with a silver medal.

So I’m proud of both those dudes for their very different but equally outstanding performances.  And just as proud for how they handled them, with modesty and grace.  In many ways, it feels like just another day for them.

But not for me!  Feeling pretty damn good…

Salon tonight

Dragging Offering 9-year-old the opportunity to join me tonight at a ScriptWorks salon downtown.

Seeing a play by Kevin Kautzman, whose name I see a lot (and who’s a Michener fellow at UT), called Vasilisa Most Lovely.

I’m betting it’ll be quality; just a matter of keeping the kid awake.
He ran (and walked) 3 miles with me this morning (9-year-old; not Kevin).
Yup. Plans.