Monday, October 18, 2010

The Color Purple

Watching the news can be a depressing endeavor some days.  So full of violence, political idiocy, hate and religious persecution. 

A week or so ago, I watched a story where several teens were bullied at school because they were gay.  I suddenly was thrust back in school and was the butt of jokes, mean spirited remarks and other forms of taunting once again.  Yeah, I was one of those kids that was bullied.  I hated school.  I wondered how long it would take before the comments and taunts would stop.  The school yard filled with children shouting filthy names at just a few soon grew into junior and high school students where the shouting was replaced with whispers, stares and false rumors traveling at the speed of light.    

The first time it happened, I was in elementary school.  I was wearing a lacy dress, shiny leather shoes with lacy socks along with a hair ribbon  pinned to the the curls in my hair via rollers, Dippity-Doo, Aqua Net and bobby pins  for safekeeping.  I looked like every other little girl back in the day.  But, apparently my secret was out.

During class one day, my teacher was writing on the blackboard and I raised my hand.  The boys had been calling me a name and I didn't understand why.  My teacher acknowledged me and gave me permission to ask the question.

"What does the word, 'queer' mean?"  She thought a moment trying to second guess my reason for asking and simply stated, "It means, 'odd' or 'unusual'.  She turned around and continued writing on the blackboard.  I felt vindicated as I just wanted someone else of authority to tell me what I already knew.   My teacher turned around again and looked at me expectantly and asked, "Did that answer your question?"

I decided to push my luck a bit further.  "Does 'queer' mean the same thing as 'homosexual'?"  She laid the piece of chalk in her hand onto the blackboard tray along with the erasers.

"To be absolutely clear, the words, "queer" are slang for the word homosexual.  This slang term is meant to be hurtful towards others when used.  The word, "queer" will be used properly in this classroom, out in the recess yard and in my presence.  Have I made myself clear?"  My teacher wasn't particularly well-liked so the emphasis of her words was missed by most of the children.  I realize now that she could have gotten into a lot of trouble making that remark to a class of 3rd graders. 

The next morning I walked to school and saw that our school had been vandalized.  Across the main entrance, someone had painted the words; "TARYN IS A QUEER."  I was mortified, highly embarrassed and ashamed without knowing why.  I felt like I was the only one to endure this type of bullying.  As I think of it now, it's amazing to me that people are STILL being persecuted for being gay.  You might as well condemn me for having brown eyes.

I tell you this story so that other kids that have gone through similar, not as drastic or even more extreme bullying will know they are not alone.  I lived through it and discovered that life can be quite wonderful as an odd duck.  So, I am asking that everyone that has read this blog to pass this post on to friends and friends of friends.  As Shug Avery mused to Miss Celie, "I think it pisses God off for people to walk by the color purple and not even notice."

We're here, We're Queer and there's no need to Fear.

Wear purple on October Time Wednesday, October 20 · 12:00am - 11:30pm

Location Everywhere

More Info On October 20th we will wear purple to bring awareness to, and put an end to intolerance in honor of the 6 boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse at home and in schools. Purple represents spirit on the LGBT flag and that's exactly what we would like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors and schools.


Tyler Clementi

Seth Walsh

Justin Aaberg

Raymond Chase

Asher Brown

Billy Lucas

Zach Harrington

and all other victims of homophobia

More Musings Later-

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trying to get it down

For those who follow this blog, you know that I have been working on a book for quite a long time.  I'm not able to work on it for long periods of time as my fingers and hands tell me how long I can work these days.  So, when my hands aren't shaking, having neuropathy or having sharp arthritic pain, I work as quickly as I can to write this book.

For the first time, I'm really pleased with the content thus far.  While sometimes I am able to take the time necessary to really craft a good story, sometimes I am forced to rush through just to get the story down as I think of it.  I use an outline, but sometimes working as the inspiration comes is much better.

I've read alot of the greats and classics and saw myself becoming frustrated and discouraged because it seemed that writing was so easy for them.  It's like watching a virtuoso musician play a difficult selection without even breaking a sweat.  No struggling, just the production of smooth genius.  I was harrumphing to myself this morning as I thought of great books that read so gracefully, profoundly and yet, simply.  I hope my book will be one of those classics one day, but I can only wish at this point.

I was heartened to read a quote from a literary master who was harrumphing as I was regarding his writing.  Who would have thunk?  In any event, I hope that one day if I am designated a master, that someone will find a quote from me saying the same thing so that writers won't quit the journey.

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit, I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.” ~ Ernest Hemingway in conversation with F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1934.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Andrea Chenier

 Last evening, I attended the Nashville Opera's production of Andrea Chenier.  I browsed through my program before curtain call and noticed that the productions for the year offer well-known classics such as Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro and others, nonetheless, I was pleased that I would be exploring unfamiliar territory in Chenier.

Andrea Chenier is a poet who found his own written words to be at odds with his country's political and social struggles.  While Chenier was well acquainted with aristocratic social circles in the beginning, his battle of words through France's political upheaval both literally and figuratively lead him back to accepting the consequences for his moral conscience of words.  A unique perspective considering that the working class, martyrs and disadvantaged are at the forefront of this story, ala' Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.  Along the way, Chenier falls in love with Maddalena di Coigny, a prominent socialite's daughter who has gone into hiding during the French Revolution. 

While the story is centered on Andrea Chenier, the true drama and weight of emotion is portrayed by Carlos Gerardo, a former servant to the upper crust di Coigny family.   Social roles have reversed and Gerardo has become powerful in his political role within the French Revolution and abuses his power by attempting to force himself upon his former employer, Maddalena di Coigny.  After listening to Maddalena tell of the murder of her mother and the burning of her home, the realization of his newfound power is simply an illusion. 

As with most previews or "final rehearsals," there were a couple of miscues between the orchestra and vocalist(s).  A few misspellings on the subtext screen were glaringly apparent as well.   There were also  some problems with 2 of the male roles being able to comfortably sustain notes in the lower register against an exuberant orchestra.  I couldn't help but wonder if adjustments in blocking and or subduing the orchestra could alleviate this problem.  Then again, many of the singers were wisely saving their voice for opening night.  Let's face it, Nashville in early October can be an overwhelming cocktail for throat issues. 

Kudos to the Nashville Opera for keeping this medium fresh and alive.  I was both amused (at first) and incredibly impressed with the promotion of offering both temporary and permanent Opera tattoo's in the lobby.  It's just one of 30 ways to celebrate the Nashville Opera.  In the land of facebooking, twittering and keeping up with the ever growing technology, the Nashville Opera is doing their part and more.  Interested in providing a school with an intro to Opera?  For more information, click here: Education Programs.

While sitting in the dark watching these cast of characters,  I found myself mesmerized in particular by  Lori Phillips (Maddalena di Coigny).   Prior to last evening's performance, I listened to several arias of this opera to become more acquainted with the story, emotion and characters.  I found the haunting and moving aria "La Mamma Morta," sung by Marie Callas and listened to what I would use (quite unfairly) to benchmark Ms. Phillips' performance.  A very unkind measurement of perfection that would be virtually impossible to overcome.

Phillips' was able to act her part complete with the slightest of gestures, emotional breaks in her voice that reached well into the back of the theater.  The feathery nuances of her restrained voice describing the horrors of her mother's demise grabbed this audience as the power of her chest voice climaxed in revealing a gut-wrenching mournful loss which reverberated throughout Jackson Hall.

I'm not qualified to speculate whether Maria Callas's "La Mamma Morta," was superior to Lori Phillips' version.  I only know that moments such as these which are draped in darkness inside a theater is a gift from the composer.  The stirring of the soul from Lori Phillips' vocal performance is a gift from the singer, complete with star power.


More Musings Later-

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Allure of Id

I don't mind telling you that I have become a junkie of the worst kind.  My thoughts inevitably lead to when can I watch more of it?  Each day's challenges along with mundane occurrences are met with a renewed analysis.  The child's most incessant and irritating question:  Why?

If the above sounds familiar to you, then you've been watching HBO's In Treatment along with me.  I never saw the series until recently as they are catching viewers up on past episodes so that when Season 3 is throttled into gear, everyone is on the same page, or couch as it may be. 

I've always been intrigued by psychology and how therapists are able to decipher and untangle the wires of emotion within us.  HBO has taken this series which was originally a successful Israeli television program and tells the story of a fifty-something therapist who allows the demons of his patients to rear their ugly head for answers along the path to clarity.  The viewer of this drama becomes the voyeur seeking gratification to our lustful interests as we are allowed into this sacred, yet raw vulnerable area of the patient's psyche. 

Never mind that the therapist is that of brooding Gabriel Byrne, an intriguing and attractive Irishman who is able to settle back into an easy chair and engage either silently or quietly to the rumblings of his patient's emotional debris.  I guarantee you will find yourself examining his face for any nuance of discovery.  Even though his own life is as shattered and disturbing as his patients'.  His lilting brogue serves as the voice of reason or further self exploration of your emotional mine fields, indicated by a hmmm or referenced with a forefinger to his forehead.  

In any event, I've been consumed with this program.  Just yesterday, the phone rang and as I held the receiver to my ear, I heard the words of a man stammering, "Hi, I'm your Dad."  Words I hadn't heard for at least 20 years.  He wanted to speak to my mother.  As I handed the phone to her, I silently corrected his choice of words from "Dad" to father.  A very large difference in my mind.

I wonder what the good doctor would say?