Friday, March 25, 2011


This Sunday will mark my first encounter with Boulder two years ago. Two years ago I came to Boulder to visit Naropa and understand the place where I would study. And, now, basically one month left of graduate school. I am excited to get to the finish line, but will still try to practice mindfulness to enjoy the remaining days, rehearsals, and lessons.

Rehearsals during the month of February were incredibly productive and unifying. We created a lot of material and by the last full rehearsal at the end of February we sequenced together a number of moments to witness some understanding of an arc to the work. I was very impressed and excited when after presenting some of the work in a Work-In-Progress showing for faculty and classmates, we received very heartfelt responses to the work and the aesthetic. It was also reflected that we have a good dynamic of ensemble occurring. This I highly agree with and enjoy! My cast has been amazing.

Over the first three weeks of March two of my cast members were unavailable due to their class assignments in Moment Work with a member of Tectonic Theatre Project. I was able to go into the studio and keep crafting my character and to work with Charlie to anchor his character and our connection. But, it is hard to fully investigate the work without the other two cast members. I have also been doing a lot of reading and coming up with some great dramaturgy for the piece. This week I was able to have a day of rehearsal with one of the missing cast members and we steeped ourselves in the intellectual concepts I have been researching for her character and its contributions to the intentions of the show. I also had a wonderful three hour session with my teacher Leeny Sack discussing concepts and script elements. I feel truly blessed to be working in this environment.

Recently I was notified that I was selected to present a performance piece at the This Is What I Want festival during the Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco at the end of June. I am excited to create the piece and present it as part of a homecoming. This week of Spring Break provided some time to conceptualize the piece while I also worked on my thesis. But I know that as the thesis ramps up over the next month, I will have to put the June show on the back burner until after April 23rd and 24th.

Life in Boulder outside of school activities is boring. I miss my friends, family, and favorite spots in San Francisco. Being a poor graduate student the highlight for me is every so often going to a coffee shop. I'm getting drained from this solitary life and the minimal opportunities to meet people. And I guess I should be honest, meet gay people or gay friendly people, or feel a greater sense of openness to difference. Perhaps I have a limited view of this area, but I just haven't really felt an honest openness to difference as I do in San Francisco. And it gets exhausting to reach out when I feel suspect on some level here. I don't fall into all the norms that surround me.

In all the personal challenges and internal investigations I reflect on a wonderful book I read for my Hindu Traditions class at Pacifica. In A River Sutra by Geta Mehta I remembered at the end the reflections of the ascetic in response to the main character's confusion about his secular life in later years:

"I have no great truths to share, my friend," he said patiently. "I told you, I am only a man."
I could not believe my ears. "Was it worth so much pain to discover something so obvious?"
Professor Shankar remained silent, and again his silence infuriated me.
"Is this your enlightenment? Is this why you endured all those penances?"
He gave me an ironic smile. "Don't you know the soul must travel through eighty-four thousand births in order to become a man?"
He turned and I almost didn't hear him add, "Only then can it reenter the world."

I wouldn't say I've gone through the entire eighty-four thousand at Naropa. But I think the trials here add to the many other trials I have said Yes to in my past. I think at this stage I am ready to reenter the world with my soul as it has been formed by Pacifica and Naropa. I hope I can show my worth as a man of soul as I go forward. Something else that strikes me as pertinent to that bit of text is the Professor's silence. In many ways, how can you really enlighten someone who has not gone on the journey themselves to the importance and change that occurs within the penances of spiritual engagement? The discovery may be obvious in its conclusion, but its discovery is made that much richer by the process preceding it's revelation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Rehearsals continue to go well. I have not had a full cast rehearsal since Saturday, January 22, but have had rehearsals with myself, or with Charlie, or with Peter, and today with both Charlie and Gustine. The work is showing itself and I am loving how everyone is showing up to the material and engaging with the process. I feel very strong about the outline of the sections being crafted and will save the investigation of each section for later rehearsals when a strong foundation for the work is established.

On the personal side, I am understanding my relationship to the Goddess Artemis. I remember telling Nol, my previous roommate in San Francisco, before leaving for Boulder that I felt I was being called by Artemis. Artemis in ancient Greek mythology is the Goddess of the hunt and nature. She is a virginal Goddess. In the various mythological readings I have done I was struck by the metaphor of virginity as a being-in-oneself. And Artemis being a huntress is adamant about her virginity. She protects it with strength and self-awareness.

On the nature side, of course Boulder represents a connection to nature. I have definitely received this gift of Artemis and been immersed in the natural beauty of Colorado. On the virginity side, I know I can't claim that one completely, but a spiritual chastity is happening here.

I have tried dating here and every time it seems complicated with repression, depression, messy boundaries, and denial. One thing I have definitely learned is that I think every queer person should experience the freedom of self-expression and community in a large city like San Francisco or New York. I feel that a lot of gay men I have met here have never experienced a liberated sense of self-expression and strength in numbers. I am glad I have had the opportunity to witness this restrained environment and to bring my confidence in expressing to this world. I cannot live long term in this type of environment.

I have struggled to be in relationship with someone here and finally understand why it hasn't worked, beyond the repression. This time is about me on a deep spiritual level of growth. Not only is the program steeped in psycho-somatic shifting and development, but the personal investigations I am able to do are integral to my time here. Duh!

I will offer the following quotes on Artemis from my past teacher from Pacifica, Ginette Paris' book Pagan Meditations:

"Contrary to the values symbolized by Aphrodite, who relates and unites creatures through sexuality, Artemis personifies a force which urges us to withdraw form human relationships and to seek elsewhere, in solitude, another kind of self-realization."

"Every woman and every man, saturated with relationships and contacts, finds that the presence of others hinders one's presence to oneself and is attracted by the asceticism, simplicity, and naturalness that characterize Artemis. Then solitude appears as one of the ways of entering into her world."

" is prudent, in speaking positively of solitude, to distinguish between that solitude which is chosen and desired from that which is involuntary and experienced painfully as a privation in no way agreeable or creative."

"Isolation experienced as a void is the opposite of that solitude which brings intense self-presence."

Artemis isn't easy to be with alone. She demands a lot of insight, slowness, and surrendering. But her gifts, when I can enjoy the peace within myself, allow for a deep sense of knowing myself. A deep sense of trusting myself. And also for an enjoyment of my life. Instead of being angry that others cannot fulfill my needs I learn that I can fulfill my needs or my needs really are not necessary or important at the present moment. My needs are either essential and self-fulfilling or inconsequential and merely a means of distraction from my true sense of presence in the now.

And these are hard words to accept when the snow continues to fall and I am recovering from -13 degree weather this week. I try to ignore the Bay Area's weather reports and my jealousy that strikes out as anger at myself for coming on this journey. At those times Artemis gives me that reproachful look and I know I need to stop, breathe, and enjoy the solitude of my little apartment. It's not a party life for me here. And there is comfort in that knowledge. I can let go. Eat a humble meal. Read. And enjoy sleep. I have spent much time in Aphrodite's presence and received many gifts and many hurts from her flagrant ways in San Francisco. But, now I am in Artemis' care and in listening to her I hear myself. I hear my true nature speak softly in the falling snow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I have been inspired by great rehearsals this week. Not only have I been enjoying rehearsals with myself to play with my ideas in the studio and explore, but I had great company join me in the creation process.

I had my first rehearsal with Charlie Kilgore this Thursday after showing him and my teacher Leeny material I had created and the world I am constructing for this new work. I worked with Charlie for the first time when he was a BFA in the Fall of 09 when we were both in The Laramie Project: Epilogue stage reading. More significantly, Charlie and I became quite intimate with each other in the rehearsal process for Aleh, the Butoh show I did last Spring in Denver. Charlie was my base for a very challenging, provocative, and beautiful section where I rolled all over his mostly naked body with my mostly naked body. We were wearing Fudoshi's to cover the privatest of parts. I think not only a physical bond was established from that work, but also a sense of artistic trust with each other. Charlie's support, investment, and insights have been very helpful in giving me deeper understanding of the emerging world.

This afternoon I had not only two hours of rehearsal with Charlie, but then an additional two hours with Charlie, Gustine, and Peter. My full cast. I was amazed how organically the process began. Although I know Gustine and Peter from a workshop I gave in the Fall and have seen them perform in a Viewpoints presentation and talked in the hallways, I have not worked with them extensively. Gus and Peter are both first year MFAs. Charlie was unknown to both Gus and Peter. After a quick introduction, the warm-up quickly turned into an improvised exploration of space, movement, connection, and relationship. Instead of seeking more discussion about the approach to the rehearsal I could see that the rehearsal process had begun. All four of us continued this physical exploration of space with two pieces of music and ending with some recorded spoken text. I think despite the newness of the interpersonal dynamics we all have a shared understanding of theatre/performance exploration from being students at Naropa. I guess a true sign of the basis of shared background to support exploration.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Journey. Not the Destination.

Over a year has passed since I last wrote an entry for this blog. Why even write now? I feel ready to communicate the overwhelming experience of the past year.

I will not go into all the details of all that has happened in the program and life in Boulder. It is all too much to write about in detail at this time. What compels me to write are my reflections of what I am learning here on a personal level.

I am learning how to let go and embrace deeper aspects of myself. I often times complain about the challenge of being isolated or alone on this journey. I know that is not a complete assessment of my life here. I do have a good friend in Jim who now lives in a fabulous flat in Denver. And I have a sense of a small community. And of course all my friends and family in California. But, the doing of this journey on the day-to-day level is on me. Other than Salom, there is no one to come home to and provide warmth and affection.

I realize my life in Boulder provides me with an opportunity to let my hair down a bit more than I do in San Francisco. I guess my narcissism comes out in San Francisco because I am seen walking around that City. Gay men are everywhere in SF and being considered attractive is of value in that social context. And I won't deny a thrill when I am cruised by a handsome fellow. Here in Boulder, however, I feel non-existent on the attraction level. The act of cruising doesn't happen here and men are not looking at men. I have tempered my frustration with being outside of the SF bubble. I realize by giving up the need to be seen all the time has allowed me space in my life to let go a little. Relax. Be messy. And enjoy a little anonymity.

The pace of life in Boulder coupled with my lack of funds also plays a part in my new discoveries of myself. What do I do with myself when I can't immediately do something that would cost money? I read. I rehearse. I sleep. I yearn. I dream. I fall apart. I put myself together again. I try to stay on task. I try to let myself relax. I cook dinners. I borrow DVDs from the library. I experience privilege in the simple things I have in my life. I pet Salom. I wish for more abundant times. I try to stay present.

I have also recently experienced some incredibly hurtful rejections and good-byes from people in my life. Dating in Colorado has been miserable. I met someone in the Fall who I felt great attraction for and we seemed to have chemistry and connection, but alas circumstances denied the potential unfolding and inappropriate modern communication obliterated understanding. I hate text messages for anything beyond confirmations of arrival times. And my very good friend from San Francisco decided after 11 years of friendship to discard me. A few other hurtful rejections have happened via inappropriate means as well. I am trying to leave all of these in the past and in 2010. They inform how I move forward and trust people. I know, however, life comes with no guarantees and it is important to still try to connect despite the past hurts. I try to stay open, but I am also thinking being with myself right now may be a good step in healing.

Artistically I am experiencing a very special time. I have time and space to rehearse in the day. And consistently every day if I choose. What a luxury. It is incredible to be in the studio and allow my ideas the process to unfold and experiment. I soon will be bringing other performers into the process and am excited to cross dialogue and collaborate with others. But at the beginning it has been centering to work alone for a while. To listen to myself and understand what is coming forth without judgment.

In many ways I realize my time in Boulder is about dying and birthing. Letting an old me die so that a new me can be born. And all the little deaths that happen because this current life needs to be alive, but maybe resurrections will happen once this time period is over. And maybe somethings will be left behind and allowed to rest in peace. I love it all and let it all go.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Looking for the Silver Lining

In small ways I keep getting the message that I need to be here.

One of those small ways landed in my lap last week. His name is Salom. My classmate Tim got Salom from the Humane Society back in September to keep his dog company while Tim was in class all day. It seems his dog had the reverse experience and actually became depressed from the dynamic. Tim put out a notice seeking a new home for Salom. I've wanted a cat for a long time. And here was a chance to get a cat who is 6 years old, litter trained, all shots taken care of, with litter box, and cat food in the package. Salom came over last Wed. for a visit and never left. It just felt right. I had to go with that feeling. He seems to be quite cozy in my cozy apartment. I am enjoying his company and purring. :-)

Two weeks ago we completed our workshop in Moment Work with a showing of our creations. I was in a piece exploring the persona of Frank Schubert, the campaign manager for Yes on Prop. 8 and the Maine initiative. My classmate, Allison, was intrigued by his rhetoric on his blog and other campaign writings, and created a monologue with his go out and vote message on the day of Prop. 8 to the theme of Henry V St. Crispin Day's Speech, she titled it St. Marriage Day. I had found a blue 70's Lacoste dress that was screaming at me to create a dance with it. I created a semi-choreographed/semi-improvised dance to The Cranberries version of the Carpenter's "Close to You." Well, as rehearsals went on, we put the blue dress dance after the St. Marriage Day speech and found a startling juxtaposition. We then continued this connection between Frank Schubert (Allison) and the Boy in the Blue Dress (me) to another speech in which Frank references the lyrics to a Celine Dion song. Well, we couldn't let that go we interspersed segments of the Celine Dion song with the Boy in the Blue Dress dancing. The Boy in the Blue dress became a haunting figure in the imagination of Frank Schubert. I was very proud of this collaboration. It also felt good to explore dance within this program in the way that I like to create - blending dance and theatre together to speak to something larger.

We've had more snow, but nothing as major as the last snow storm. Although, it is colder now, so the snow is not melting as quickly. It is sweetly magical to walk around and see piles of snow with the newly hung Christmas lights around town. Although, my hands are incredibly dry and no matter how much lotion I put on them, they keep cracking.

I also completed my final paper for Pacifica. It feels so good to have the paper complete and, hopefully, with passing grade to complete my M.A. in Mythological Studies. Graduation in Santa Barbara in May. It was definitely hard to go back to the academic paper writing mode after being in an experiential program for the past three months.

Over the past two weeks, we have been doing a Voice intensive with our fabulous teacher, Ethie. She is amazing and the Roy Hart voice technique is taking me to new places in exploration and pitch. On Sunday, I saw Ethie in a two person show about Calamity Jane. Ethie played Calamity and she was great! It was also an interesting show to reflect upon the "Wild West" and to contextualize the history of the environment in which I'm living. What a change in worlds in just 150 years.

I also have been coming in contact with more of the dance scene around here. I took a fun Contemporary Dance class last Saturday, and I'm still staying true to Onye's Afro Modern class. Thankfully everything is right around the corner from me!

I'm enjoying the new unfolding and accepting the gifts of this new experience as they unfold. But, I am looking forward to seeing all my Bay Area friends and my family over the holidays. I will be back in the Bay from Dec. 14th to January 8th. Any hosts in SF will be greatly appreciated-I need to party a little after all this Monkish life here in Boulder.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two Months Into It With More Snow

Right now it is snowing continuously and I am sitting down with a homemade chai latte to reflect as I'm trapped in my little studio. It is the second of two consecutive snow days. It it weird to not be able to do the regular routine. But at the same time, kind of nice. I can catch up on certain chores and paper work.

So what has happened to me? Why did I not write for so long? I think I had to try to give over to my new life more fully. It's hard to move forward when you keep looking back. I am definitely straddling the divide between my one half that misses San Francisco and the known, and my other half that is trying to open up to Boulder and the unknown factors.

Starting from where I left off in my last entry, Jim is definitely my first friend outside of my program. We had a great night out in Denver that Saturday night and even connected with my friend John Lehnert who was visiting his family in Denver. We went to two bars and then a dance club. It was nice to get some exposure to the scene in Denver. It was also important to introduce a friend from San Francisco to my unfolding new life here. And it was great to see someone who already knows me.

In the middle of October I was part of a staged reading of The Laramie Project Epilogue. This is a play written by the original theatre company looking at Laramie and the Matthew Shepard murder ten years later. It was great to be apart of this reflection and so close to Laramie itself. Some important questions were raised and the voices of his murderers definitely left a mark upon my feelings of safety and value as an openly gay man. I also found the struggle for the myth of the masculine to be an undercurrent of this whole tragedy and struggle to understand it. Our culture suffers from a masculine myth wounded by its inability to be vulnerable and loving.

My class began a new component of our training. For three weeks we are working with Leigh Fondakowski a member of the theatre company that created The Laramie Project. We are learning a technique called Moment Work. It is informative and a practical way to approach exploring various elements of theatricality-not just pure text/writing. We are now working on a project focusing on the theme of Marriage. This is a huge topic and we have been doing some great research discovering some forgotten aspects of the rituals of marriage. Did you know Queen Victoria began the tradition of wearing a white wedding dress? I have also done three interviews of some of my friends about their marriages and I am impressed and humbled by their answers. I love that my friends value individual growth through partnership.

I am still taking Onye Ozuzu's Afro Modern dance class and I love that class! I love it for all the newness of the African influence and for keeping me dancing. My program is physical based theatre-we have also been doing a Butoh class with a guest artist from Japan, but I need big movement and full on dancing to keep me connected to movement. I am happy that it is not ballet or Modern as it is taught in San Francisco.
The newness is refreshing and engaging.

I also saw the second year MFA's show on the Tibetan Book of the Dead entitled Luminous Emptiness. It was a beautiful production. It was Butoh based and directed and choreographed by Katsura Khan, the Japenese guest artist. I so appreciated the full essence of the show and vision to capture the unknown elements portrayed in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I saw a production on this topic at Dance Mission Theatre last Winter/Spring and I left feeling disappointed and disgruntled with the way the Western understanding made it feel trite and transparent. I felt that so much ego was on stage, not the death of ego as discussed in the book. In Luminous Emptiness I saw the performers trying to strip themselves of ego to investigate the intentions of the piece. The choreography and direction laid that ground work.

Snow, snow, snow. I am thrown off. I don't know how to deal with this element. I know I did it in England, but I don't remember the snow being as much as it is here. I know it will all melt away in a day or two-that's what everyone says about Colorado weather-it doesn't last for long. But, it is making me retreat into my space, my body, my head. I guess I have to give myself time to find my way to work with this element, or have someone else introduce me to the joys of living in snow or just the realities of living in snow.

I did have a nice invitation last night that got me out of my house and into the snow world for a little bit. A fellow Boulderite who lives not too far away from me invited me to dinner at his place. He came and picked me up and I shuffled through the snow on my sidewalk/street to get to his car. We had a great dinner at his lovely home. It was nice to be engaging with a person outside of my daily world and who is generous to share his delicious food! This graduate student was completely thankful!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Making Contact

This week was about making contact with the world of Boulder outside of my daily routine of classes and survival. I opened up a bit to discover some new people.

Chatting on-line last Sunday I chatted with a guy who is 34 and a doctor. He expressed mutual interest and we decided to aim for a get together on Wednesday night. When Wednesday night came around I was feeling cozy in my apartment while making dinner and not up to entertaining a new person. But, he called and was driving back to Denver passing by Boulder. I had three minutes to make a decision before he was past the Exit for Boulder on the freeway. In that three minutes I felt compelled to invite him over for his tenacity and directness. Thankfully I did. He was a good person to meet and helped to broaden my perspective on my life in the Boulder/Denver area.

Also, on Wednesday, I got my haircut for the first time since the end of July when I said a sad good-bye to my hairstylist, Preston, in the City. I had walked by this one salon on Pearl St., the trendy walking mall around the corner from me, and had a vibe about it. I went in and the gay boy at the counter checked me in and gave me a haircut. It was a decent experience. He's not Preston, but he did do a nice cut and told me how he was excited for the weekend to go to Vegas to see Britney Spears. I giggled internally.

On Thursday, Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, came to the Boulder Bookstore to present her new book on Matthew. It was a nice event to hear her speak a little, reflect on Matthew, and the work she is engaged in for GLBT folks. I do have to say I found her message to be a little trite-I know probably effective for straight, unaware people to hear from a straight woman and mom of a murdered gay child, but I felt a little challenged that my life as a gay person gets condensed into a sound bite like message...the whole "we are no different than anyone else". Well, yes, and no. But, I still appreciate her commitment and exposure.

On Saturday, I went to a GLBT History of Boulder Colloquium at CU. I rode up the hill and on a gorgeous day spent 4 hours inside listening to various community leaders talk about the past, present, and future of the GLBT community in Boulder. Quite a fascinating history! Boulder was the first municipality to elect an openly gay person to a public office-years before Harvey Milk. And a judge here gave five marriage licenses to same-sex partners back in the 1970s, and it doesn't sound like it was repealed. WOW! Go Boulder! Of course, there have been challenges and now that Boulder is a more trendy spot, i.e. expensive, the diversity demographic has changed-a lot more white and rich around here...sound familiar my San Francisco friends?

After the colloquium I went to the CU library to obtain a book by my previous professor at Pacifica so I can finish my last paper and complete my M.A. in Mythology. Then, I rode my bike to the reception for the GLBT colloquium-mainly I wanted free food-but meeting new people was also part of it. And I did just that. I met a guy name Jim who has a Ph.D. in Literature from CU and teaches an LGBT class at CU and works an administrative position. I was impressed that we made such a great connection talking about mythology, writing, art, and history. We exchanged information and I'm looking forward to our dinner in Denver this upcoming Saturday.

On Sunday, I took Onye's Afro Modern class again-again, GREAT! My toes survived and are toughening up again. Basically, I am learning a lot about flexion in my movement classes and in Onye's class, countering all that extension from my ballet training. My body is saying YES to flexion.

Classes remain challenging on many levels, but I'm staying open and learning to keep throwing myself into the work in various ways. Our ensemble ebbs and flows...we expand and contract depending upon the emotions, the challenges, and the exhaustion. But, I think we are finding our groove the best we can.

And the weather this weekend was gorgeous-just a tease as we slide into the 50s today...thankfully Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back!