(image from: )

I love movies, and when pressed to name my favorites, it’s always a difficult list to compile. I mean, how can you compare The Red Shoes with Cool Hand Luke or The Thin Man? Where do I even begin ranking Meek’s Cutoff, The Last Days of Disco, Notorious and In The Mood For Love? For many years, The Princess Bride has reined supreme as my all-time favorite movie, because I just love it, and I can watch it a million times and never get sick of it. I can quote the entire thing and never get annoyed at myself (although I can’t speak for those around me).

George Cukor’s Holiday starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn is creeping in for a tie as #1. I can watch it again and again, and each time I am moved to tears, laughter and deep thoughts about my life. I am Johnny Case and Linda Seaton (Grant and Hepburn’s characters). I get this movie, and it gets me, in a deep and ancient way.

Cary Grant’s character, Johnny Case, falls for a pretty girl named Julia, who turns out to be super rich and have a sister named Linda, played by Katherine Hepburn. Johnny has worked hard all his life, is doing pretty well now at age 30, and he wants to quit and see the world, figure out life, start working again once he finds out what he’s working for. This is a crazy notion to his new fiance Julia, who wants him to work for her father at the bank and make millions. Her sister, Linda, the black sheep of the family, understands Johnny’s dream and wants something similar for herself.

Johnny and Linda are fighting against a society that wants them to behave according to certain rules. But they have a different idea, one that is crazy and might not work but they want to try anyway. I tear up watching Linda try to explain her desires to her sister and father: realizing they do not understand, not knowing how to break away from them, seeing her brother Ned who has already given up. And when Johnny decides to stay and work at the bank, looking so dejected, my insides clench up, knowing that conflict between his own desires and what others want him to do.

I feel like my life is often in conflict with the world, with society. So many people tell me what I “should” do, or ask when I’m going to get a “real” job or ask me what my “plan” is. There’s this thing that I want, this desire, this crazy idea that burns inside me. Sometimes it almost feels physical, wanting it so badly. I make decisions that often seem strange or illogical to others, in order to live the life I want. And I work really hard to make it happen. But I’m doing it.

And then I find those other beautiful souls who want this thing too, like Linda and Johnny who recognize that burning in each other. When I meet these people my heart brightens, I almost want to cry because it can feel so lonely sometimes.

Holiday puts that burning on the screen. This movie is a friend, a keepsake, a good luck charm I want to keep in my pocket and rub between my fingers when I get scared or cold.

one word

because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation” ~ Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

This is still one of my all-time favorite quotes, and perhaps one of the reasons I do what I do. The reason I write stories with words, tell stories through comics, tell stories through dance. Because one deed, one word, can change everything.

I read The Human Condition for a class in college called Performance Theory (I went to Eugene Lang College, at the New School in Manhattan). It was not really about performance as in theater or other entertainment–though these were also topics we covered–, but more about our performance as humans. Every day we perform– walking outside, being in front of others, speaking, ordering coffee. Living public life. Action and Speech are two of the most necessary parts of being human, according to Arendt. She writes that as babies we become more fully human once we utter that first word.

Needless to say, I got hooked on Arendt and Plato and others we read in the class, and these ideas of what it means to be human.

I’ve been going through my external hard drive since having some computer troubles about a month ago, and have come across essays I wrote in college. It’s strange to read these, I almost don’t remember writing them. My voice is so different from how it is now. I always thought I was terrible at writing papers, but some of them are pretty good. The ideas are complicated, the structure and voice are clear. I always tried to be clever in some way, which at times worked and other times didn’t.

So, what is it about words, language, speech that is so essential to being human? Communication with others? A way to tell our own stories? A strife for meaning? A way of making sound in the world, to break the silence and prove we exist?

I have a lot more thinking to do on this subject. And hopefully a lot more writing.

Here is a photo and myself and my college roommate Diana– senior year for Halloween we dressed up as young Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger:

(yeah, nerds! we rocked it.)

shana show

My best friend (since we were six years old), Shana, has a blog called The Shana Show. Her most recent post is here. I read it today and immediately thought: woah, I’ve been thinking those same things.

Right down to the details of medical world. I, too, had felt the relief of being in a doctor’s care, thinking they would magically make me better. That in a doctor’s office I would always be taken care of and that I could let go of worry. Now I know that doctors are just people doing a job. There is so much they don’t know. Some are kind and caring, some are irritated by your every question, some are in-between. Just like at a store, a gas station, or a restaurant. Doctors are not super-human, they are just human. Humans working at living just like the rest of us.

It warms my heart to know there is a doctor like Shana, who looks at each heart beat as the miracle it is. Who is an artist-doctor– looking at each patient and situation uniquely, adapting to be able to care for that person, specifically.

Shana and I both look for those little things, those small joys and amazing details of every day life. When we were kids we saw invisible friends everywhere, built castles for frogs, and wrote stories about leaves and clovers. We are still those two little girls, looking at our adult lives with that perspective of possibility. And I am so grateful she is my friend.

Speaking of small things:

dance on the farm

pictured here, the dancers, from left to right: Megan Bathory-Peeler, Kitty Farnham, Anna Moriarty Lev, John Hearst, Phoebe Moriarty Lev, Jonathan Burkhardt. photo by Charlie Bargamian.

If you didn’t make it to see our Emergence dance at True Love Farm last Sunday, you can see a video of the performance here.

Improvisation can never truly be captured, it is an experience of the moment. However, I feel that our friend Charlie got some really good footage, an art piece in its own right. And it’s delightful for me to see how the performance looked to the audience. Watching the video, I get the feeling that the dance is just happening in nature, as if the videographer has stumbled upon a natural occurance.

Creating and performing this dance at True Love Farm was a wonderful experience for me. The opportunity to dance, and to do it on the most beautiful hilltop, among the sounds of crickets and birds, with this lovely group of people, improvising and playing together– it was a dream come true. Huge thanks to Karen and Steven Trubitt, the dancers, and everyone who came to be part of the experience.

“I think the greatest performances always elude the camera, the tape recorder, the pen. They happen in the middle of the night when the musician plays for one special friend under the moonlight, they happen in the dress rehearsal just before the play opens. The fact that improvisation vanishes makes us appreciate that every moment of life is unique– a kiss, a sunset, a dance, a joke. None will ever recur in quite the same way. Each happens only once in the history of the universe.”   ~Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play

with your eyes closed, close your eyes

I’ve been inspired by my friend Katie Armstrong and the William Kentridge exhibit at MoMA this past summer to make video art. I started a vimeo page and have uploaded a video I made in spring 2007 as part of a wokrshop I was in with choreographer Ralph Lemon at the New School. You can check it out here. I plan to play around with this idea of videos and see what I can make and contribute to the conversation.

this is scary. why is that? something new, scary truth? or am i afraid to show it to you?