Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Also, note to self. The next time I graduate, I'm going to cut a nice little bang into my hair. I look like such a doofus in the morterboard, but Jillian, to my immediate left looks kind of darling with that little bang. So stylish....
Oh, well... spilt milk. It doesn't matter -- I got me a big new fancy MFA. Don't you love that new post-graduate degree smell? Mmmmm...
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Savannah was there, along with a couple of good friends. I taught my class on Wednesday, and that also went well -- though I fell about ten minutes short of material. Thank God I had a talkative, question-askin' bunch of folks. I'm hoping my evaluations are merciful. Today, I go back for a few final things, the closing conversation, and then....
My list of things to do from here on out are as follows:
1. Buy shoes for graduation ceremony
2. Go to Santa Barbara tonight and watch a good friend's band.
3. Get up tomorrow and get to hotel where ceremony is being held.
4. Walk across stage to receive diploma without tripping or falling off new shoes.
Then, I will be a bearer of a post-graduate degree.
And tonight, my daughter told me that, when people asked her how I was doing, she told them I was great, that I was getting my MFA, that I was training for a triathlon, and that... wait for it... she was very, very proud of me.
(sniff, sniff) I'm fine. Anybody got a tissue?
Fairly happy here.... Just sayin'....
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Words cannot express my feelings right now. I am nearly done. I'm almost out of school. I've been working and going to school since 2003. I'm this close to getting a bit of my life and free time back.
Here is a little list of things I will be able to do, starting on December 17th:
- Read for pleasure (chick lit, anyone?)
- Write for pleasure (blog posts, anyone?)
- Play the Sims 2 and not feel guilty
- Resume my 3D digital art endeavors
And that's just a start. Of course, there is the part where I have to put together my CV and start looking for teaching jobs, so I can teach and write and not have to type contracts for spoiled, pampered, prima donna actresses anymore. There's that. But I can work it all in.
Oh, and for anybody out there considering going back to school and working fulltime, here are two things you need to stock up on before you attempt it. (See photo at right)
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The newly minted MySpace lit journal, Nouveau Blank, has published one of my short stories, entitled Til We Come Round Right, for it's November issue. This could be the beginning of a trend -- where I actually make the effort to submit my work, and, occasionally, people actually take the time and trouble to publish it.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
So I've created a new blog -- TriCathLete -- in which I will
Check it out. Then wait a couple of weeks, and check it out again, when it's likely to be MUCH more interesting.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
No turning back now. I've started training for the Desert Triathlon Sprint event on April 20, 2008 in La Quinta, California. I am officially a member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Westside Team-in-Training, or, as my sister and her endurance sports friends call them, "The Purple People." TIT is the athletic event fundraising arm of the association (there are a couple of different fundraising methods LLS uses regularly).
LLS, in case you don't know, provides funding for research, treatment and support services for people suffering from blood cancers, including Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma and leukemias. It is is a very worthy cause, and it is my goal to raise $3400 for LLS between now and the end of March. I have already donated $100 to my own cause (lest you think I'm not willing to put my money where my hamstrings are). $3,300 to go.
I will be training for the Sprint distance of the Triathlon -- that's a 450-meter swim, a 14-mile bike ride and a 5K run. It ends up being about half the distance of a full Olympic or International distance tri. I figured as a newbie, this would probably be the best way to break into it. I have discovered, though, that I actually enjoy training this hard in a lot of ways, that it's pretty good for me, especially emotionally, and that I may actually (do I dare allow myself to believe?) be kind of good at it. I won't be finishing first, by any stretch, but I will be finishing. I like cross-training a lot, and it seems to fit my ADD with a precision heretofore unknown in past athletic events.
This is my Team-in-Training website, (yes, I go by my middle name, Amanda) which I haven't really personalized much (except with a photo). I will be rewriting my little intro (as I'm sure many of you have already guessed) and will be posting better, more relevant photos ("see Catharine running," "see Catharine on bike," etc.) I will be also updating it in terms of my how my training is progressing ("see Catharine keel over," "see Catharine gasp for air, while simultaneously begging for her mommy," etc.) It is the means by which donations can be made, if you should feel so inclined. (I'll be nagging more about this later, because it's a noble cause and because, well, I happen to be a fairly annoying and tenacious person.)
So... tomorrow is our first team swim practice. I haven't done any serious swimming in a very long time. I hope I don't come off a total doofus. In fact, let's say a collective prayer together, shall we?
"Dear (insert relevant personal Higher Power here):
Please don't let Catharine look like a total doofus tomorrow when she swims on Thursday.
(your name here)"
Thanks for your support.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"But when I was no longer a child, I put away childish things..." (1 Corinthians 13:11)
One of the good parts of being a grown-up is getting to be your own parent. Feel not taken care of? Feeling not cherished? Feeling unprotected and undefended? Feeling unappreciated and abandoned? You get to do that for yourself. You get to be the parent. To you.
My sister has spent nearly every waking hour cleaning, sorting, discarding, repacking for storage, in my father's house. I have gone in at the end to help her tie up loose ends, to sweep and Swiffer, to try and make the place at least somewhat presentable for showing to sell at the end of the year, when the probate court finally says it is our. Finishing the emptying of this house -- seeing it actually empty -- I find that there's a strange freedom in it. But a fear and unfamiliarity with the house has taken over that prompts a little bit of fear. It's not our house anymore. It has ceased to belong to us, or to anyone else. It will again, shortly before it's demolished to make room for a 4,000 square foot ranch style home, no doubt. But it's empty now, of all of its contents, as if it had been turned on its side and shaken clean.
No more negative energy coming from that dark, dark house, where I first moved when I was my daughter's age. The negative energy left in early July. I used to believe the house was haunted. Now I know it was. It was haunted by a sadness and terror so profound, so desperate that it permeated every corner of that house. It was my father's terror and sadness. I've come to see that his meanness and cruelty were really just outward manifestations of his fear of the world.
I believe that we all have demons. We all are haunted. We spend a good part of our youth hiding from our demons, whether it's through drugs, alcohol, workaholism, religious zealotry, daredevil stunts or nonstop partying. But our demons are not so easily fooled. They're looking for us. And, invariably, they find us. And how well or badly we handle being found, I think, is the crux of how we end up.
My father did not fair well when the demons finally caught up to him, I don't think. He became scared -- to work, to drive, to leave his house, to be in a group of people, to talk to strangers. When we were growing up, my father had that Texas talent of being able to get any group of strangers talking, to him and to each other -- even in elevators, where no one speaks, lest the mechanism snap and we all go plummeting to the ground. He made friends with everyone, everywhere. Gregarious, charming, funny, smart -- he could be the life of the party. He was still friends some forty years later with the couple that had the season ticket seats next to his at the Colliseum for Los Angeles Rams games (yes, you young sprites -- they started in L.A.)
But as he grew older, he let his age and his grey hair, his receding hairline and his fading youth take hold. He had some run-ins on the job with hotter, younger writers, directors and producers who made him feel as if he were washed up. This is all part of the strategy of this business, of course -- it's commonplace. He wasn't the only one, and plenty of other men his age and older had weathered that onslaught and given back as good as they'd gotten. But he let them break him down, make him mean and old and useless and used up before his time. And I think it was mostly his fear. My Dad was always a blusterer, but even as a child, I think I saw that he was also a fraidy-cat. The reason he talked to people in elevators is because he didn't feel safe being quiet amongst them. If he got them talking, he could get a gauge on where they stood, both logistically and emotionally.
He had a hard time reading people -- their energy, their affect. He was one of the most inappropriate people I've ever known. When he was young, with a facile, spry sense of humor, that lack of social editor could make him wickedly funny and irreverent. As he got older and slowed up, instead of simply changing his tack, learning what to say and what not to say and when, and altering the trajectory of his barbs to places less sensitive to the touch, he simply got vicious and harsh. He knew he was saying things that offended people, that hurt them, and though he tried not to show it, that bothered him. He was like a man in a foreign land who speaks little of the native language, and becomes angry at the indigenous peoples for their refusal to understand him.
Because I believe now, as I've never believed before, that my father really, really wanted people to like him. That was important to him in a way he could never admit. He wanted to be liked. More than that, he wanted to be adored. Maybe even wanted to be everybody's favorite. That's why acting was so important to him, I suppose, and such a disappointment when it didn't work out, and he had to turn to writing. Though he was good at it, maybe it wasn't the best profession for him. It's a solitary endeavor, and requires the doer to be willing to do a stint in isolation to get the job done. Alone with this thoughts was maybe the worst place he could be. It was probably hard for him, thinking of how social he used to be when we were small. But it got easier and easier for him, until one day, he went inside, and just never came out again. On many levels, both real and figurative.
Now, it's official. Jack Sowards has left the building. And, after thirty years of collecting every material thing he could get his hands on -- guns, photographs, books, magazines (some from the early 60s), memorabilia, broken furniture, various house vermin, roof leaks, televisions, computers, various parts of computers, software (mostly on 5 1/4" disks), LPs, CDs, VHSs, DVDs, a gaggle of functioning and non-functioning watches and lighters -- his house is now nearly emptied of its contents. Thirty years of nicotine stains have left the walls a deep caramel brown, with only occasional squares where a painting, picture or piece of furniture once stood to reveal the original color.
This is what's left of my father's life once it's been picked over and disassembled and transported. The house is empty. Not a ghost in sight. Just a badly dilapidated, uncared for house that was once quite a nice place to live. It is our inheritance. It is our legacy. It and the memory of the man who lived here is what we have left of that time. But that's okay. Most of those memories are painful ones for me. They're from my late adolescence -- the remnants of my childhood, I suppose. But I am no longer a child. And so, all that's left now -- now that my mother and father have both died -- is for me to be the parent.
It's time to put away childish things.
(cross-posted at MySpace)
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Thanks to all of you who gave us your words of support and encouragement these very difficult past few weeks.
JACK BURKE SOWARDS
March 18, 1929 - July 8, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
First off, what d'ya mean "we," white man? Second... oh, hell, there is no second... What d'ya mean "we," white man?
They've named it Aflac. They're taking it to the Wildlife Center tomorrow, after it opens. (And that's an order, soldier!)
A goose, indeed... Goodnight, Mabel....
Friday, May 18, 2007
One look at the samples of their past exhibits will tell you this is would be a huge loss for the arts in this city. Exhibits aside, take a gander at their building! With every passing year, art programs that aren't a part of the entertainment industry (live theatre, live dance, visual arts programs) are vanishing because conservative political forces conspire to syphon funds away from the NEA and local arts sponsors. Programs are being eliminated in our public schools and state-funded universities, and the people feeling this most acutely are people in economically challenged areas. Less grant money means less opportunity for struggling new artists who cannot afford to sponsor their own shows and display and promote their own work, especially in predominantly minority communities. Nothing marginalizes a community more than silencing its artistic voice.
Self Help's website speaks for itself, so I won't ramble on about it. They provide support for artists who might not otherwise find a venue for their work, and gives them the skills and opportunity to get that work shown publicly. That warrants saving. As someone who isn't a visual artist (but plays one on the computer), I ask you to do whatever you can to assist Self Help in reaching its $100K fundraising goal. I know that you guys are being pulled in a lot of directions, moneywise, but a lot of small gifts can go a long way.
Monday, May 14, 2007
It's official. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is cancelled. I survived the West Wing's cancellation. After John Spencer died, and the show was going into its eighth season, Jed Bartlett was leaving the Oval Office, and Toby was on his way to the hoosegow for contempt of Congress, it seemed that the show had naturally run its course. The fact that I also lost Will and Grace (which I'd only just discovered a season and a half before) the same year was hard, but I don't blame myself for that one, since I was a 'Manda-Come-Lately. I've been spending the past five years in school, trying to finish my bachelor's and get my MFA, and I don't watch much television.
But I coped with losing the two smartest shows on television, secure in the knowledge that witty dialogue and smart characters (who do dumb things, which makes them interesting) would be back in the form of Studio 60. Now, that's gone. Where do I turn for my searing, sardonic dialogue, my witty banter, my deeply disturbed, multi-faceted characters who cover their pain with humor and crazy antics?
To make matters worse, since last year, I've lost my HBO, and wno't be able to watch the only other show I love beyond reason (and I mean, beyond reason, because, hey, it's a show about polygamy), Big Love. The season premieres June 11th. My only hope is to DVR it on my sister's set, and hope that I get a chance to stop by and watch it every week.
Don't tell anyone I watch Big Love. I shudder to think what will happen if the Fates perceive my obsession.
Below, a nowhere-near-complete list of my favorite shows cancelled unceremoniously (be aware that some of them were obsessions back when I was, like, fifteen or so):
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Couldn't they at least show us the last episodes?
West Wing (Over? Sure, but I miss it all the same.)
Will & Grace (I have my reruns to keep me warm, tho')
Kingdom Hospital (Odd? sure. Uneven? You betcha. But how can you not love a show where Christ --or is He? -- shows up strapped to a chainlink fence? That's some mighty fine television, dammit!)
Dead Like Me
Joan of Arcadia (I'll admit to bias here -- Joe Mantegna is a friend.)
My So-Called Life
Tour of Duty (they had it backwards -- the show should have lasted for 11 years -- they should have cancelled the war after three)
Sunshine (God, I had it bad for Bill Mumy -- I was sixteen, gimme a break!)
Star Trek (the original series)
There are probably more, but this is all that came to memory right off the top of my head. I told someone the other day that I'm a television jonah. I'm cursed. I'm taking it personally (because when you stop and think about it, who's it all about?)
Damn.... damn, damn, damn....
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I wrote an essay over at Helium that explains my stance on this issue. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope it answers all your questions about this topic... so that I don't have to.
*For the record, I have absolutely no doubt that the MFA experience has made me a better, braver writer.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Every year on November 1st, tens of thousands of intrepid writers and writer-wannabes gather over at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) to undertake the Herculean task of writing a 50,000-word novel in a mere 30 days. Impossible, you say? Nay, say I, and so says NaNoWriMo's founder and yearly participant, Chris Baty. Baty founded the site in 1999 with only 21 writers, convinced that the biggest stumbling block novelists face when sitting down to write a first draft is the absence of a deadline. Baty refers to the deadline as the single most important tool in writing, next to the implement with which the writer applies the words to paper. In his FAQ section, Baty writes:
"NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month."And they are. In fact, Baty lists eleven novelists who've published novels that were birthed as NaNoWriMo projects. There are no awards given (except an icon, a certificate and the satisfaction of a deadline met). It's art strictly for art's sake, says Baty. At the end of it all, a writer is guaranteed nothing but a good headstart (or, more optimistically, a completed first draft) of a novel.
But wait, I hear you say! We can't wait until November to begin our writing adventures. And besides, we laugh in the face of expositional narrative prose! This is Hollywood, baby, and in this town it's all about the screenplay. Well, fret not, my starsmooching little friends. For now, there is a sister site to NaNoWriMo called ScriptFrenzy.org. And if you hussle on over there right this minute, you'll be in time to sign up to write a 20,000-word screenplay in 30 days in the month of June. The same rules apply to the screenplays as to the novels (with the exception that screenplays may be written by a partnership of two writers, whereas novels must be singularly authored).
Writing is a solitary business, and one of its downfalls is that a writer can fall victim to the oppressors that live inside her own head. The benefit of spending 30 days, twice a year, locked in mortal combat with a literary endeavor, and being in that boat with thousands of other fellow combatants similarly engaged, is that you have back-up, support and many voices of sanity that will bring you out of your head and back on the path to getting the words out. As my mentor, Rob Roberge, has said, "A first draft's job is to get written." That's all. Just get written. Because every writer knows that writing is rewriting, and you can't rewrite what has yet to be written.
So, my little spectators, it's time to get those feet wet in a safe, supportive atmosphere where you don't have to show anyone your work if you don't want, but will find a receptive audience if you do.
Let's see what you guys can write. C'mon, baby. You know you want it.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I've been writing and posting some essays and a couple of fiction pieces on Helium.com. The above link takes you to my bio page, where all my pieces are listed. I'd love it if you guys would read them -- the greater the number of hits, the higher in the ratings I rise (and the greater the opportunity for me to get paid).
If you want to join Helium, I'd be beholden if you could e-mail and let me know, so I can send you an official invite. You don't need it to join, but, again, it helps if people I've invited to read end up joining.
Some of the non-fiction topics so far have been on the following:
When Dogs Raise Kittens
Virginia Tech shootings
How I rate Helium pieces
Why Did the Chicken Cross The Road
A couple of my fiction pieces have been posted as well:
Anyway, as I post, I'll post a notice here, too. I'd be much obliged if you guys would pop over from time to time to take a look at my writings.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
1.YOUR PORN STAR NAME: (first pet and current street name):
Duffy Lasaine (no... seriously)
2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (grandfather/grandmother on mother's side first name, favorite candy):
Helen Roca (I'm eating some right now!)
3. YOUR "FLY GIRL/GUY" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
C-Sow (oh, hell no!)
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite animal, name of high school)
Cat Providence (I so want to do a series of novels now!)
5. YOUR OPPOSITE SEX NAME: (name of dad/mom, cell phone Company you use):
Jack Verizon (Can you hear me now?)
7. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (daily prescription medicine, make of car)
Buproprion Hyundai (Clearly on the side of the Empire)
8. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, street you grew up on):
Amanda Vanowen (note to self: Future nomme de plume)
9. YOUR FASHION DESIGNER NAME: (first word you see on your left, favorite restaurant)
Harper Marmalade (That's The House of Marmalade to you peons!)
10. YOUR KUNG FU NAME: (favorite mineral, favorite animal)
Obsidian Cat ("I must kill you now, Wong Lee, to avenge my family's death!")
So these are my names. I think this just about covers all the little people living inside me. Except for Edna, of course, but we rarely talk to or about her. That girl is NUTS!