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It’s About the Kids…

It’s Wednesday morning. I’ve had a double cappuccino and a banana and I’m hoping that wakes me up for my day. So my post might seem dreamy or reaching into a netherworld that only I am connecting but hear me out anyhow.

I live in an area of sometimes pretty extreme isolation–especially in winter months. Most event planners around here avoid January because the weather is too unpredictable. Indeed our variety show was canceled two weeks ago due to snow storm but rescheduled for last night when we had a balmy 42 degrees going for us.

We are one of those rural communities that suffers from suicide attempts and sadly some follow through. The local high school last Thursday was the site of two kids of color–including one of my own–being jumped. I watch as the social workers and school admins try program after program that look great on paper. Whether it be Friday Night Live events in which only the non marginalized kids attend or forced sports togetherness that only increases isolation. I have my suspicions that these things are designed by people who don’t spend time with real students.

Perhaps by real I mean, kids who have souls and who recognize and see through the bullshit but aren’t old enough to navigate out yet. The kids who are vulnerable are those that feel. That know the world’s depths and the fakeness too that surrounds them–they aren’t numb yet to it. They know something is wrong. Pinpointing takes time.

Enter our tiny theatre troupe—Pachuca Productions. Back last year we had an idea. Tina and I are big Hamilton fans (we saw the production at the Pantages 2017). Lin-Manuel Miranda released that instrumental version of the show–last summer? What if we got some kids together to sing Hamilton songs with us?

They came from all over the county: Portola, Indian Valley, Quincy, Sattley–5 different schools. A couple of kids from each school. Shy kids. Kids never having been on stage before. Kids who didn’t know whether they could sing or not. We roped one of their principals into it and asked him to sing Right Hand Man as George Washington. We got the women who usually sing and act with us to sing a song or two. We created a costume contest. A kid made trivia quiz. A challenge to write a Ben Franklin wrap. We got the local theatre to rent us a kid friendly space. And we rehearsed them on two sides of the county a couple times a week since after Thanksgiving.

And now the shy and the isolated have taken to the stage and we couldn’t be prouder.

I’m not saying that theatre solves all the problems in the universe. And if someone wants to sue us for singing Hamilton songs in public know that we didn’t make any money off of the venture. Like donations just barely covered the cost of the building for a night. We are divorced moms with kids–please don’t sue us. And I donated the prizes for the contests.

But there was joy on shy faces. There was some serious confidence building. There was a break in January’s oppressively cold hold on this region. There was light. And it was beautiful.

Here’s some photos:

Pre-Show Green Room Selfie.

Bree — the shyest one who loves Dear Theodosia.

Sarah the King.

Indian Valley Academy’s Rendition of Cabinet Battle # 1


The audience sang along and laughed and cheered on the students. A kid from the audience won the trivia quiz getting 9 out of 10 Hamilton questions correct. We gave them pencil sets with Hamilton quotes on them.

For a moment the town hall theatre was warm and it wasn’t the bleak mid-winter anymore. Thanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda for your words and music. I hope you don’t mind. And Happy 264th probably Birthday, Mr. Hamilton.

I’ll post more photos as they trickle in…

My son and Daveed Diggs fan, Diego.
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A Plea for the Arts

Get into the arts — and see what happens

Yes. I’m still tirelessly pushing for arts and literature and libraries in Plumas County. We do hiking and contemplating our own outdoor navels here–especially if cows, horses, or footballs are involved. But you know, might need other things….

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Happy 2019!

Happy New Year. Thank you for reading. As an artist I have those depressive moments where I exclaim from my bed “I didn’t do anything last year. No book came out. I suck!” But the older, wiser me says scroll through your iCalendar. Surely, you did something? Surely, you learned something? Experienced something?

I am reminded of the time my friend Dena and I climbed Mt. Lassen peak but did not make it to the last 900 feet. Instead she stared at me a moment, both of us dizzy from altitude and said, “You know it’s really a patriarchal thing to feel like we need to reach the top of the peak to conqueror it…” We looked at each other and did the properly matriarchal thing to do: declare the journey and experience to be worthy of acknowledgement of our efforts and walked down the mountain side and went to brunch in Chester instead.

As I look around at people’s posts on blogs and social media there’s much bemoaning 2018 as a horrible year. Well, yes, I can see why one would think that given the state of the world and all the darkness that has befallen us given that the dementors and the shitgibbon are running the government (I don’t think Trump is smart enough to be Voldemort in this scenario more like Pettigrew if somehow he got power). 2018 sucks for anyone effected by America’s foreign or domestic policy and certainly for plants and animals and all living things touched by Republican armageddon enthusiasts.

But 2018 had some really high points for me personally. Better relationships with my kids. Getting engaged to a man that just blows me away with his kindness and love and passions. Better relationship with my mom. Even better communication with my ex. All things are possible.

Our fledgling production company put on Vagina Monologues in February, For Colored Girls, in November and in between we did a comedy show, halloween vaudeville show, a reading of my play that will premiere in April 2019 and a Christmas show. That there is a busy schedule for three women (Tina Terrazas, Donna Williamson, and I) who people thought couldn’t take on starting a theatre troupe. How do ya like us now, naysayers? We have a cool spring line up to: a fan tribute to Hamilton, a broken hearted anti valentine show and the world premiere of my play Serious Moonlight in April and then we are CLOSED TILL November when we put on the Laramie Project. Viva Pachuca Productions Viva!

No, my two books are not out yet BUT there were many writing projects I was quite proud of. Including Serious Moonlight which will be produced in April and I was part of Santa Cruz Noir and got to meet Susie Bright and become friends with Susie. I was so happy to work with her as an editor.–and do a reading in Santa Cruz and go back to the sights in my story Monarchs & Maidens. There are not, sadly, as many butterflies as there used to be.

And then of course the man asked me to marry him and that’s its own sort of joy and scariness. Stay tuned for June 2019. This means of course I will be spending more time in the county I said I’d never live in again. Never say never–Orange County here I come–sometimes. I try and not write about loved ones. Although the man has made it into a lot of sappy tanka poems. SIGH.

One of the big highlights of my year was also being an actor/singer and in front of the camera instead of behind the scenes–and with that meeting cool and interesting people. Like the cast and crew of Heidi Moore’s new TROMA film Kill Dolly Kill filmed in Indiana! My first trip to Indiana! I met so many sweet kind and cool nerdy people. It was a wonderful quick trip. And then in October Diego and I were part of a web series here in Indian Valley.

I’ve also learned a good deal about pushing my limits. I ran for office on the principle that the incumbent who was appointed should have to actually campaign–especially since he had no background experience for the position. I lost of course. But it was good to get in the game again after so long and I loved having to make the man have to actually work for it instead of having it completely handed to him.

I can take down drywall now for example and am helping redesign and decorate a house for the first time. I love that out of the incident of the house fire we are building a new house where we will be the first one’s to ever live in it.

Really most of this year for me was about building friendships and trust and not being afraid to be myself as an artist and also as just me. Between Pachuca Productions, falling in love, raising teens, and living with my mother this year I’ve learned so much about relationships and how vital it is to connect to people—especially now when this whole world seems to be about misconnection or rewarding the inept and the greedy.

Yes, 2018 was scary. I live about 90 minutes from the Camp Fire. Climate change is very obvious in the mountains. Yes, national politics are horrendous. But 2018 showed me love, hope, and resistance. And for that I am grateful.

I look forward to 2019. There were a couple of things on my resolution ish list that I hadn’t gotten to–like learning to quilt and make paper and those two FUCKING books and the podcast I was starting to work on. And getting married to a human that matches me like no other human ever has.

May we all find what we are looking for. May we meet and help each other keep light in the world amongst all the darkness.