Dear United Airlines

To Whom It May Concern at United Airlines,

My father passed away on December 19, 2012.

Why does this concern you? Because I was supposed to leave to visit my in-laws in Hawaii on December 20, 2012. When my husband called to change my flight, as I sat crying with my daughter, he was told that we would pay the flight change fee and be reimbursed. He WAS NOT told that my return flight would be cancelled as well. He WAS NOT told that I would have to pay for the difference in fares, to get back onto a flight that I had already booked.

When he called, we weren’t sure when the funeral would be so we were given a number and told to call back when we had more information.

When I called back, after my husband and my daughter had already made it onto the original flight, I learned of the cruelty of the way you operate. What gave you the right to cancel my return flight, and then ask me to pay an additional $1300-$1500 to change my itinerary? How dare you charge me for a flight I already paid for?

I don’t usually cry, scream and swear to people doing their jobs. This time I did. I lost my father and your policies didn’t have any respect that life happens. The poor man on the other end managed to find me a flight which would only cost me an additional $200+ but left and arrived at evil times, and wasn’t with my family. In my opinion, YOU OWE ME that money.

I have never understood how airlines get away with over booking flights. It’s not legal to sell the same seat to two different patrons at the theatre, and on the rare occasions when that happens, a new seat is always found. It’s not legal to sell the same car to two different people at the same time. How can you legally sell seats to many people at the same time? How can you legally try to have someone pay again for seats she already bought?

As I flew, I watched your advertisements about your new and improved plane. I also witnessed the most unpleasant, unsmiling flight attendants I’ve seen in a long time. I sat in your uncomfortable seats as your expensive food moved down the aisles. I paid the fees for luggage, only to have to wait for almost an hour upon arriving in Hawaii for my luggage to appear. On the last flight, as I returned home, my headphones didn’t work properly (the channel they play on wouldn’t come in although others would)  so I couldn’t watch the movies. I suppose I could have asked for help, but this was also the flight with the unpleasant, unsmiling, and quite bitchy flight attendants.

You grow bigger every day, and I realize that gives you power. You don’t care what my voice says. You don’t care about my fares, because I don’t pay for first class. You should.

Kindness matters. From this day forward, if I can avoid flying with you, I will, even with your innovations in aircraft. I will also tell everyone I know to choose another airline. I may not have the power of an airline, but I have the power of my words, and I have the power to choose.

I choose to fly with people who respect all of their passengers, not just the ones who can afford first class tickets.

Sincerely,

Lisa A. Kramer, A Very Dissatisfied Customer

United Airlines

 

 

 

Transitioning

I find myself once again sitting alone in an airport. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to leave last Thursday, with my over excited 9-year-old and my almost as excited husband. But, on Wednesday, as I transitioned from professor to person on vacation, my father made a larger transition—from life to spirit.

Transitions have been on my mind all day. Whenever I fly long distance, life takes on this surreal appearance. This morning I was with my mother, tears falling down my face as I admitted that I felt bad for leaving to head on this trip.

“I want you to go,” she said. “Dad would want you to go to.”

Now I sit in San Francisco airport, with the clock telling me that I have transitioned through time—in that usual bizarre way when time passes and yet you go backwards.

Now I sit in transition, waiting for the connection that doesn’t come for hours.  It is quiet here, for the moment, as I sit by my gate where nobody else has gathered. It’s that between time, before a new flight comes in and another flight goes out; before the transition into the next moment of reality; before the next moment of life.

How does one transition from the celebration and sadness of a life lost far too soon to join a celebration of another kind, with a loud and boisterous family that only knows a part of you?  I’m trying to find my holiday spirit, but the black ribbon pinned near my heart reminds me of a gaping hole—of a family that was once whole but now has a rip in it, just as the ribbon has been torn. I don’t know how to put on a “I’m going to Hawaii” smile when it just reminds me of all the trips I didn’t get to take with my father, and all the transitions yet to come.

DSCN1536

I know that life can’t stop, and that a life without transitions isn’t a life well-lived, but sometimes, just for a moment, I wish I could just freeze time and make everything stay the way I want it to be.

Do you ever feel like that?

Fringe Fun and Other Adventures

 

Just a quick update to explain my current absence.

I am visiting a dear friend in Minneapolis/St. Paul right now, and attending the Minnesota Fringe Festival. It’s fabulously fun and truly exhausting. I don’t have the time (or my own computer) to write quality posts about this adventure at the moment, but I promise to do that upon my return. Some of my adventures include reunions with two former students who have become friends, as well as seeing interesting and provocative theatre.

Or maybe I’ll find a way.

Because, my friends, while my Fringing will only last until Tuesday, my adventure will continue. From here I head to Lexington, KY where I am attending the American Alliance for Theatre Education conference. But, despite the alleged purpose of this trip, these other things will happen:

  • Meeting up with my dear, long term friend, Lisa and her family.
  • Staying with the fabulous Kathy of Event Horizon fame and her equally fabulous partner Sara
  • Meeting, for the first time, the incredibly talented and fantastic Tori of bloggy wedding fame as well as her adorable son, Thomas
  • Possibly having a very blogging lunch with other bloggers in the vicinity of Lexington, KY
  • Possibly vlogging about this bloggy chaos (Kathy’s idea, we shall see)
  • Meeting up with at least one former student.
  • Reconnecting with colleagues and friends at the conference. I suppose I should attend one or two sessions, shouldn’t I?

Please forgive my absence or delayed response to comments and such. I hope you have a tantalizing taste of what I will be writing about next week (after all these adventures, as we drive across country back to Massachusetts.

 

Searching for an Image

Yesterday I began a new journey.

I literally drove all day, a round trip to Minneapolis to pick up a guest director at the airport and bring her back to the lot. That’s about 7 hours of driving. On the way up, I listened to past podcasts of Pop Culture Happy Hour as well as a little Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. You’ve got to love those NPR shows.

On one of the PCHH podcasts they discussed “road trip” movies and “quest” movies, trying to differentiate between them and clarify what makes a good movie. As I listened, I thought about my life as a road trip or my life as a quest. I have long been living the journey of my life, without having a clear destination. But, perhaps, my quest is an authentic life, and for me much of that authenticity comes from the journey.

That was stage one of this new journey.

Stage two came after I met the lovely person I went to pick up. Long car drives with strangers can be awkward, unless you find an instant connection, and I feel like we did. Terry lives the life I once dreamed of living, but I did not find myself jealous of that fact. Instead I found a woman full of wisdom, kindness and understanding.

She shared with me a story of a time when she kept seeing an image in her mind. That image guided her, with the help of someone else, to a deeper understanding and centering. Listening to her story made me resonate with the truth, the honesty, and a yearning inside myself to find and understand my own images.

I feel like I am taking a few steps on a new journey into my own inner truth. I only hope that I do not get lost along the way. Somehow, though, I feel like a wonderful journey has just begun.

 

Hailing a Cab with Grace and Other Lessons Learned in a New York Minute

Yesterday I wrote about the fabulous and powerful arts experiences I had during my short trip to NYC, but I did not spend all of it in theatrical adventures. No, other experiences abounded, full of fun and learning in a world so very different from my own.

Lesson #1: Only crazy women wear heels in NYC. No offense to any women out there who may actually wander around in heels on a regular basis, but I think you are insane. I wore my black boots, because they are comfortable and I figured the heel (less than an inch I believe) wouldn’t be problematic. WRONG!!! By the end of the weekend my feet showed signs of blisters and I’m convinced that someone attached forty lb. weights to my legs.I am convinced that the only women who really wear them on a regular basis are the ones who have drivers to secretly pick them up a few blocks down the street after they make their legs make a stunning appearance.  On the plus side, when I put my jeans on to return home on Sunday,  they seemed to fit better than they have in a long while. Actually, they were a little big.

Lesson #2: How to Hail a Cab Gracefully. Lesson # 2 is a direct result of lesson #1.  After a day of walking in my boots, plus a few other twists and turns that added complexity (listed below) we decided that perhaps it would be wise to take a taxi to the performance on Saturday night, as the nearest subway stop to the venue would require about 10-15 minutes of walking afterward. I hobbled out of Christen’s apartment ahead of her, while she finished getting ready, so that I could slowly make my way to the next main street where we would hopefully find a taxi. I paused long enough to take a lovely photo outside her apartment (her street is absolutely gorgeous). “If I’m brave enough,” I said. “I’ll try to get a cab.”   “No, don’t! They won’t wait for me.” I listened, but I watched for her, she was just down the street and said, “if you see one, you can get one now.” I turned, I saw a cab, I gracefully raised two fingers and Voila! No jumping around like a maniac waving at every passing vehicle, just a flick of the wrist and success! 😀

The street outside Christen’s place.

Lesson #3: Mani/Pedis You Can Afford. Christen and I talked about living in New York. “The main expense,” she told me, “is rent and transportation like train passes and things. But those are still cheaper than owning a car. Food can be inexpensive, even eating out, because they all compete with each other. Same thing with Mani/Pedis and Laundry.”  She had taken me to her favorite place for a Mani/Pedi, which was inexpensive enough to allow me to add on a 10 minute massage. What a special treat.

Horrifying evidence of my day of decadence.

Lesson #4: Sometimes Giving Up Gives You a New Perspective. When I woke up on Saturday morning early enough to write my Morning Pages before we had to get to Penn Station for the train to Newark in time for Christen’s 9am class, I discovered that I could not find my glasses. They were simply gone. Blaming it on either her cats or the poltergeist that occasionally (supposedly) haunts her kitchen, I searched frantically but had to give up in the name of time. So, I spent most of the day Saturday wandering through a blurry universe, the world unclear like swimming under water.  This added to the complexity of the day, including making it impossible to add a facial into the decadence (no worries, we took care of that in a different way, as you shall see below) because we had to find the glasses before the performance that night.  We tore her apartment apart, looking everywhere including places I hadn’t been. Nothing. Nada! I started thinking about, how I could get an emergency eye doctor appointment when I didn’t even have  a doctor yet, Christen was in the process of giving up and feeling horrible about it. “I FOUND THEM!!!” she yelled. Somehow they had fallen into the mechanism of the pull out bed, and gotten caught within the spring. They moved when the bed moved, and they were dark enough to blend in. However, by giving u,p Christen somehow was able to see them more clearly. Message from the universe perhaps? Sometimes you just have to let go to find your way.

I look strange teaching without glasses. I used to wear contacts, but I have become accustomed to my new look.

Lesson #5: Girlfriends and Zombies are the Best. Following the NYU performance with the world’s creepiest zombie, I went out with two lovely ladies for drinks. While there, one of those lovely ladies shared some news that just makes me giggle and feel very, very happy. I also felt really honored to be blessed with their friendship.  Not to be outdone, the next night Christen and I felt the need to continue the girl talk after seeing Hedda. Since we had not been able to squeeze a facial in that day, we did our own, and managed to recreate the zombie effect in elegant style.

Lovely, aren't we?

Lesson #6: Groupons and Saturday Brunch are the Best!

Enough said.

There you have it. My adventures in the Big City.

What lessons have you learned in your travels?

A Weekend of Powerful Arts

I was only there for about 41 hours.

In New York City, 41 hours can be packed with adventure, learning, fun, emotions, and everything in between.  In the next few posts I will share some of the craziness and fabulousity (I like creating words) of this adventure. Of course, I must begin with one of my main reasons for this trip at this particular time. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that one of the issues I am most passionate about is

The Power and Importance of the Arts!!!!

This short venture into the Big Apple, while also an excuse for fun with friends, was really based on this premise. Three separate experiences validated and reinforced this for me in interesting ways.

Part I

Je Laisse L’Amour Entrer:
Even Zombies Need Art

On Friday night I saw this devised theatre piece performed by undergraduate students from the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts.

Devised theatre, as defined by the (ahem) always trustworthy source of Wikipedia, is:

Devised theatre (also called collaborative creation, particularly in the United States [1]) is a form of theatre where the script originates not from a writer or writers, but from collaborative, usually improvisatory, work by a group of people (usually, but not necessarily, the performers).”

I have a love/hate relationship with devised theatre. I love working on it, and when it is good it is really really good. Sometimes I find it so esoteric and confusing that I don’t enjoy it. This wasn’t one of those times.

The program explains that Je Laisse L’Amour Entrer (I Let Love in) was “Based on the Ballet La Sylphide & The Music of Nick Cave and Rob Zombie.” The text also includes William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Helen Fisther, Robert Sternberg, and Wikipedia. In other words it was a mash-up of classic complicated ballet love story with hard and classical rock, with classic texts, all mixed in with a little zombie horror. Complicated, right?

In reality, it was a blast.

At first I wasn’t sure. My biggest complaint about this production was that they painted the entire theatre yellow (which is always a complex color on the stage) then dressed the ensemble cast in costumes that matched the yellow, and lit it with yellow light. This meant that sometimes the performers bodies disappeared in a performance that relied heavily on movement and the incredible physicality of the performers. However, eventually I was able to let that go for the pure fun of the evening, especially after the zombie lover crashed out of a cardboard box that had been sitting on the stage since before the audience entered the theatre. The production celebrated love, questioned purpose, pointed out hypocrisy, and glorified the pure joy of living life with love and passion (even when you fall in love with a zombie).

"Our Zombie in Her Tu-Tu, Photo Courtesy of Joanna Li " borrowed from a blog post by Southerner in the City. http://southernerinthecity.blogspot.com/2012/03/je-laisse-lamour-entrer.html

What really blew me away about this production was the quality of performances by these students and the commitment of each performer to create a highly energized and engaging show.  There wasn’t a weak link in the entire ensemble. It was fun, terrifying, full of surprises and a delight to watch.

Part II

Art and Culture in Public Service:
The Important Truths

The main reason for this trip was to be a guest lecturer in my friend Christen’s class at Rutgers called Art and Culture in Public Service. Christen wanted me to share how theatre in education can be used to do more than simply create the next generation of struggling theatre artists, but teach about other aspects of life and of what it means to live in our society. The class is 3 hours long on a Saturday, and Christen asked me to prepare about an hours worth of presentation. Before that, I sat in and listened to the class discussion about arts and politics, as well as two presentations–one about the KONY video (which was a wrap up of a presentation from last week) and one about Arts in Education. As I observed, I realized a few things:

  • Christen is an AMAZING teacher
  • This group of students was eloquent, passionate, and committed to making the world a better place
  • I miss teaching classes which make real world connections between theory, history, and life to more mature students
  • Art truly is the most valuable tool to make a difference
  • There was no way I would have time to do the full lesson I had planned because this group of students loved to discuss, debate, and question

When it came to my turn, with less than an hour to go, I had to scrap everything but I was okay with that. I decided to share with them some activities that would allow them to explore their discussion in a theatrical way, because that is really what theatre in education is all about. It is about using arts as a tool to further discussion. I pointed out to them how theatre really combines all art forms, so it is perhaps the most powerful tool that can be used in this way. I borrowed from Augusto Boal and had them sculpt each other into images that represented certain words and issues. Some hesitated at first but then they got into the freedom and creativity with powerful results.  Here are some images we explored:

Justice

Racism

Pretty self explanatory image of racism.

Anger

Women's Rights or the War on Women

Need I say more about why this experience was so valuable?

Part III

The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler:
Theatre as Art, Community and Message

To put it simply, this was the best theatrical experience I have had in a long time. Every element, the location, the performances, the script, the audience, the meal served at intermission . . . everything created a magical moment that truly resonated the value of the arts to our society.

The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler was written by Jeff Whitty who also wrote the musical scripts for Avenue Q  which won a Tony Award. For this production at Exit, Pursued by A Bear (EPBB), Whitty also peformed the role of Hedda Gabler with exquisite grace and beauty. It was truly amazing to watch. This talented professional cast also included Billy Porter, whose bio is almost a full page in the program,  in the role of Mammy. Both of these men played these female roles with poignancy and humor and true empathy. Each member of the ensemble just added to power of this performance.

I find it difficult to explain this in my own words, so I will quote from the Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, the Artistic Director of EPBB and the director of this production:

“There is no adventure more unusual, nor story more extraordinarily human, than the birth of Hedda Gabler as she journeys from literary fiction to independent self-awareness. Tonight, you’ll have the further pleasure of watching the playwright portray his own protagonist, and you’ll experience the author and his character mounting a passionate, thrilling and moving defence of the theatre.
Jeff treats his characters–and his colleagues–with profound empathy and sincere affection. It is a fundamentally nurturing instinct that remind me of why I fell in love with the theatre–as a craft, and as a lifestyle. We are drawn to the theatre because we know we’ll meet like-minded misfits there, those others who are terrorized by isolation, face the same nameless terrors and sleepless nights and take comfort in sharing the experiences that make us who we are. The familiar (and unfamiliar) characters in Jeff’s play are slivers of the human imagination dating back to the Greeks: they are evidence of where we’ve been and the foundations for where we’ll go.”

What you need to really understand why this was such a profound and powerful evening of theatre for me, is that it is not your typical production. EPBB presents their plays in the home, yes the loft apartment, of Artistic Director Iskandar. The plays are free (although they ask for donations), and they provide a delicious vegetarian meal for every audience member during intermission. When you enter, the cast is mingling with the audience and welcoming you with a glass of wine or other beverage. (Audience members are asked to bring drinks or desserts).  During intermission, these same incredible talents, who have just wowed you on the stage help serve the meal and mingle more with the audience. After the play, they help serve dessert and the audience is welcome to stay and enjoy this party for as long as they like. Conversations and laughter abound, and the line between audience and performer blurs in a delightful way.

In some ways it is a return to the roots of theatre, to the storytelling and sharing around the fire, to celebrations of community and the lessons every member of that community has to teach. This show comes down to the basic purpose of theatre, to share story and encourage empathy and understanding.

Unfortunately for those of you in New York, the show closed last night. But, if anyone is ever in New York City and finds out a production is being put on at Exit, Pursued By a Bear put it at the top of your list.

You won’t regret it!!!

 

 

Lisa Head’s to the Big City, A Rebus

Tomorrow I will get on a 

and head back to

I will meet my friend

who is beautiful inside and out.

teaches for

and asked me to come be a guest lecturer in her class.

What that really means is that I will be my normal, goofy self.

I hope she knows what to expect.

In addition to the

(where the students will be much older)

I get to enjoy a girl’s weekend in

which will include:

and

although I’m sure nothing will make me look as beautiful as

We will also attend a performance of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HEDDA GABLER at

which I am very excited about.

According to

there are more adventures in store as well.

So if you don’t hear from me for a few days,

Just know that I am out and about with a huge

on my face.

Two Years

Two years ago today I started this blog.

Since that first pathetic post I have:

  • written 585 posts
  • approved 7629 comments
  • been protected from 5738 spam comments
  • had (supposedly) 39,054 views
  • written hundreds and hundreds of comments on other people’s blogs
  • gained and lost subscribers (right now I have 155 blog followers).

But these numbers really don’t mean anything to me. Since I started this blog, I have also:

  • lived in four states (Colorado, Iowa for summer theatre work, Kansas, and Massachusetts).
  • taught several hundred students of all ages in theatre, writing, English lit, puppetry and other areas.
  • driven thousands of miles (including across country three times)
  • read approximately 118 books
  • walked miles and miles in beautiful locations
  • taken hundreds of pictures
  • created a couple of pieces of “art”
  • directed shows
  • taught camps
  • written hundreds of morning pages
  • met amazing people
  • traveled out of the country
  • played too many computer games
  • been angry, scared, sad, happy, excited, lonely, content, frustrated, confident, doubtful and any other emotion you can think of
  • gained and lost weight
  • shared ideas with wonderful women
  • eaten chocolate, laughed and celebrated life
  • cried millions of tears

In other words I’ve lived my life. I’ve tried to share honestly on these pages. I’ve written words from the heart. I have been honored to interact with many incredible people. I admit that I still envy bloggers who seem to ease into successful blogs: the ones who get Freshly Pressed repeatedly while I limp forward slowly, the ones with hundreds and hundreds of followers and hundreds of thousand of hits. I admit that there are days that I feel frustrated and wonder why I bother. What do I hope to achieve with this blog?

That question looms large as I celebrate this, my second blogiversary. What do I hope to achieve with this blog? Where do I go from here? Do I continue as I’ve been doing, posting about whatever inspires me at any given moment, including rants and rambles along the way? Do I start something new, coming up with a more focused vision? Or do I simply give up, saying, “it was a good try but now move on to something realistic” ?

I am in the middle of reinventing myself, of discovering who I want to be and what marks I want to leave in this world. Saturday I spent the day with theatre educators and others who are passionate about the importance and value of arts education in the schools, and arts as part of life. I discovered people who are doing incredible work, on both a large and a small-scale. I was reminded that I do belong in that world in many ways, I just have yet to figure out how I contribute.

I live in a world of creative energy, and am slowly finding a foothold in that world. Blogging has helped me in many ways. I have learned so much from fellow bloggers, that I’m not sure where to even begin. But, I will try.

  • I’ve learned how to see the world a little differently from people like Piglet in Portugal and Terry at The Incredible Lightness of Seeing. Because of them I carry my camera with me wherever I go, and began incorporating my own images into my posts more often.
  • I’ve learned about courage from many sources, but particularly: Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon who is delving into her past with beauty, compassion and courage; Mark at The Idiot Speaketh who faces the challenges of his disability with humor and honesty, while still offering compassion and support wherever needed,  Ré at Sparks in the Shadows who is heart-breakingly honest with her struggles in life, but works daily to improve herself as a writer and challenge her world; and Dory at If I Were Brave who challenges herself daily to bring joy and face her fears. She’s now embarking on a fiction writing course and I know she will shine in that.
  • I’ve learned about love from Christine (who has also helped me see the power of photography). Ahab and Tori. I’ve learned about the craft of writing from Broadside and Wordsxo. I’ve learned about pursuing passion from Julia’s hundred word challenge and Stuart’s commitment to the arts.

My list could go on and on, but I honestly don’t have time to link to all the fabulous blogs I’ve read. Because, one of the downsides of blogging is that I have blogged away all the time I need to do other things. I am just starting on a book project with actual deadlines. I need to focus my energy on that to some extent today, or I will not make my deadline. But, this blogging world is now a home, that I am afraid to leave. I am more comfortable writing here then I ever thought I would be in the early days of my blog. I have found a community. I have met a few bloggers, and hope to meet more. I have discovered amazing people who I connect to on many different levels.

In many ways my blog has become my home. But, I wonder, is it time for this little bird to leave her nest?

Start Spreading the News . . .

THE TRAVEL POEM
by Sarah KramerLee

Travels go through your mind.
Travels make us proud.
Travels turn into adventures come true.

Photo taken by Sarah KramerLee at the top of the Empire State Building (Ignore all the dates on Sarah's photos. I didn't know she had it set incorrectly)

Photo by Sarah KramerLee

We had a wonderful little jaunt into New York city. I always have moments of, “I wish” when I go through New York, wondering what would have happened if I had taken a chance and pursued a theatre career in New York. . But, I came back from this trip determined to not look back with regret, or “woulda coulda shoulda” thoughts. The journey is now, and I am learning to truly embrace that journey.

Our trip hiccuped to a start. We were supposed to spend the night before we left in Mystic, CT with a friend of mine from college. However, Nathan had to work (striking a set) until Sunday evening, and in the rush to get out we brilliantly left the train tickets behind. Luckily we realized that only about 30 minutes into the drive, but we decided to return home and start the adventure again in the morning.

We still drove into Mystic so we could have a yummy breakfast there and then waited at the train station. It was a lovely day to wait for a train.

When you travel with the Kramer Lee’s never be surprised by the appearance of creative flights of the imagination, even on a train.

When we got to New York, I had to laugh. The other day, when I mentioned I was a little nervous about presenting at the travelogue, the fabulous Jamie from Life of Jamie suggested I picture David Beckham in his underwear. So, I could not help but giggle gleefully when the very first thing I saw as I walked out into the streets of New York from the train station to see this:

Somehow I knew the trip would be a success!

We had a few hours to kill before we could head to our friend’s apartment in Queens. What better way to introduce Sarah to NYC then going up the Empire State Building.

I loved being high enough to see the division between rain and sun over the city.

From there we wandered over to Times Square, full of sights, sounds, people, and theatre posters galore. I love the lights and colors there. Sarah and Nathan went into Toys R Us, leaving me on bag guard duty, but I used the time to take more pictures.

The next day we went to see the Jim Henson Exhibit at the Museum of Moving Images. Unfortunately we weren’t supposed to take photos of his exhibit. I would have loved to, because I found so much inspiration there. I loved the fact that Henson used yellow pads to sketch out his ideas. Somehow it makes his genius and talent seem more human and possible. One of the displays quoted “The Imagination Song” sung by Ernie on Sesame Street and I can’t resist including it here because it speaks so much to me about Jim Henson’s magic.

While there. All of us had the opportunity to play, including creating our own mini animation videos. I was hoping to include mine here, but can’t figure out how. Sigh.

That evening was the Travelogue, where I read my post about Travel as Inspiration. I guess I did ok. Sarah wrote the above poem and that was presented (she wouldn’t do it herself). Nathan talked about a trip he took after college. He was fabulous, sounding like a podcast on the Moth.

We also got a moment to catch up with a friend we haven’t seen in 16 years. Although it was only for a brief time sadly. Another mysterious puppet made an appearance as well.

The adventure ended with delicious bagels and a rousing game of Uno before we caught the train and rode into the snow.

I wonder where the next adventure will lead.

Travel as Inspiration

It’s Saturday, but I am working on a post for Tuesday evening. Tomorrow Nathan, Sarah, and I are heading to New York City for a couple of days. We planned this trip around the Dramatic Adventure Theatre Travelogue. I want to share something on that day, so I thought I would write something new and have it post around the same time I would be sharing (if I don’t chicken out).  Here we go:

Whenever anyone asks me about the best part of my experience in Slovakia travelling with Dramatic Adventure Theatre, I find myself talking about our day with the Roma. The extreme disparity between the Slovak attitude toward these people, and the warmth of our reception still intrigues me. The eye-opening experience of walking through the mud and debris of the Roma settlement after seeing the beauty and elegance of other parts of the country will live in my memory for a long time. These thoughts have inspired me as I approach writing my first novel for adults, a novel which (I believe) will explore the perception of difference that connects and divides us all.

The moment in the middle of the drama workshop  where I realized that the power of imagination and theatre works in every culture, reinforced something I have always felt. The moment when I led the workshop and lived up to the challenge made me finally acknowledge, “Hey, I really do know my stuff.” Those moments helped me take steps back toward confidence.

Despite all that, the truth is that the day with the Roma was not the best part of the experience. It is simply the easiest part of the story to share. It is, in some ways, the most obvious point of inspiration. However, for me the best part began simply with the decision to go.

For many people, travel is a form of escape out of their real lives. For others, travel is about experiencing adventure and risking new things. For some it is about meeting new people and learning about other cultures. For me, it is all of those things and none of those things at the same time. I am not really an adventurous traveler. I prefer to walk in company then alone. I like the quieter moments of travel, as opposed to the wild night life or taking risks.

Isa by the fire. I could be found in the same position at another time.

But, while I may not be the most adventurous traveler, each journey I take fills an unexpressed need, because each time I travel in a place unfamiliar to me I also make an inner journey of self-discovery. I learn more about myself and the connections I have with others. I face the opposites inside myself; things I should be proud of and things I strive to change.

When I travel, I come closer to my truths.

What did I learn on this trip?

  • I learned that I have hidden reserves of strength that can help me achieve my goals as long as I move at my own pace.
  • I learned that there is no shame in moving at my own pace and occasionally admitting I need help.
  • I learned that I am a complete idiot when trying to function on a couple of hours of sleep, and you should never trust a tired Lisa with bus money. (So embarrassing!)
  • I learned that, despite the fact that I may not be living the life I expected, others see my life as one full of adventure and success.
  • I learned the value of being sensitive to others when you travel, or you might come off as an aggressive tourist no matter how good your intentions.
  • I learned the joy of creating bonds with fellow travelers who believe in making connections and art, not war.
  • I learned the value of quiet time in front of a fire, with nothing but yourself, your journal, and the crackle of the flames.
  • I learned that I am more than my roles in life.
  • I learned the joy of eating bryzna halusky on a snowy winter’s day.
  • I learned that laughter and silliness connects people as quickly as sharing intimate secrets.

Most of all, I learned that the best and most inspiring part of the journey is the journey itself.

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