I make a point of keeping a certain number of very essential items in my messenger bag at all times. Throat coat, Emergen-C, a water bottle or a thermos of coffee, and four or five bars of Snickers. And that, my friend, is how to be ready for anything.

At work right now there's a nasty bout of bronchitis-inducing bugs going around. At rehearsals, a number of castmates have been fighting their scratchy throats for quite some time. At three weeks from opening, things look healthy, but there's plenty of work to be done and time keeps ploughing ahead. This week alone has clipped past me faster than I've been okay with. I look at the March calendar racing away and I tremble.

When I'm at work, the shifts drag long, punctuated by short sharp shocks of frenzied activity. I get home and sleep hits me, and hits me, and hits me again before I can say stop.




We're rehearsing my duel with Mercutio. Romeo's blocked him, trying to break up the fight. "Um, Romeo, I'm kind of in the middle of something right now. Could we talk about this later--ulp!" he quips, just before I stab him under Romeo's arm.

It's nice to be able to laugh as much as we do during rehearsals. Truly, in my experience, tragedies work only when you don't take things too seriously all the time. All in all, I'm having great fun learning and rehearsing some of the most complicated fight choreography I've ever had.

I walk down the street and I can instantly size up potential opponents, prioritizing the targets on their bodies, gaging whether they'll lead with their sword- or their dagger-arms, how many steps it would take for me to close the distance. It's great.

And to top it all off, we had costume fittings yesterday. They've got me outfitted in a sumptuous metallic doublet, a cape, tights and a skirt. A skirt! And a cape! And rapiers and daggers! All I need is a mask and then I can really fight crime at night!




Oh look. It's March now.

Generally speaking, my long silences here can be attributed to a number of reasons:
  1. I'm very easily tossed about by events. Oftentimes, literally so (see previous post).
  2. I tend to take on the tenor of my environments. Specifically, when I'm beset by rather sad or intractable people or places, my own composure reflects the same sadness and intractability. This often then plays out in
  3. My growing aversion to "Processing Things Verbally," as it were.

Let me explain that last bit: I have mentioned this in posts before. Lately I grow more and more impatient when I feel the impulse to mope or whine about something and then not have something constructive, something purposeful that can be drawn from my moping and whining. It feels repetitive and pointless to, first, experience something negative and then spend time describing and essentially re-living that negative experience. See, even writing that here, I'm squirming and rolling my eyes impatiently (while typing, yes, because I'm just that talented). And then? To make it worse? Inflicting it on other people. Why be miserable when you can make someone else miserable too? Thus my reticence.


I've started yet another new job. Because serving chocolate and espresso, while certainly gratifying on some levels, rather starved the greater part of me, and didn't pay very well, neither (nota bene: EVERYONE PLEASE TIP YOUR BARISTAS. They make a pittance for working their butts off and they always deserve more).

Now, I'm a Treatment Counselor for a chemical dependency treatment center here in Portland (I am not and will not be so stupid as to breach confidentiality requirements by naming anyone or anything specifically, don't you fret).

I. Love. My Job. I'm part of a crew of staff that are here 24 hours a day, dispensing prescribed medications, charting the progress of clients' recovery, watching people pee in plastic cups, escorting folks on smoke breaks, talking people down or through the rough patches and generally managing the day-to-day business of their recovery from chemical dependency. I used to work at Hooper Detox, the local drunk tank, so I've a fair background in this kind of work. The difference is that these days I'm far better prepared and able to be of use, and this environment is much better structured than my previous experience.

Generally speaking, clients here are much more personally responsible and invested in their recovery than at Hooper's Sobering Station (drunk tank). Back there, people were brought in by police and placed under civil holds, in effect a form of arrest where they had no choice about where they could go until they sobered up. Here, clients arrive either voluntarily, or under court order--but even so, they must make a specific choice between here or facing incarceration by choosing not to be here, or giving up visitation rights for their families, or any number of other consequences. The distinction may be subtle, but I believe it to be crucial.

And I'm very much drawn to the thumbnail-sketches of epic lives that I'm encountering here, on a routine basis: the Slavic immigrant who deftly eluded INS officials in three countries while setting himself up as a petty drug-lord; the smooth-talking Latino father of three who just proposed to his girlfriend through a payphone; the tall, stooped man with broken glasses who gets up at 6 am to attend his AA meeting, with a Measure for Measure quote taped on his door; the mom with four kids, whose youngest son visits with his father to play with the mother here every Sunday, and she weeps for hours after they have to leave...

There can be as many as 50 men on one floor and 30 women on another, and my shifts rotate between the two. The terms of the program stipulate that while here, everyone is monitored at all times; clients regularly receive passes to leave the building for medical, legal and housing or job hunting appointments and family/support groups, but even these are strictly scrutinized. While here, clients receive counseling and classes educating them on the nature of their therapy and various life-skills to assist in their recovery. The program lasts on average for about 4 months.

All this structure serves two functions: first, the legal requirements, whereby many clients are serving sentences that specify this kind of accountability; but more importantly, it's an introduction to the kind of vigilence and diligence that they themselves will be exercising over their own lives from the moment they accept what it means to be in recovery.


There, now. I've gone on quite a bit about my new day job and what it is. You may infer from the above that it gets rather busy often enough; there's also opportunity to catch up on letters and read delectable books during the graveyard shifts. No doubt this, too, plays a part in the general upswing of my temperament lately.

And finally, it helps that I'm spending a lot of time playing with rapiers and daggers in rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet at NW Children's Theatre. Playing Tybalt is wonderfully straightforward and gratifying. I can take the button off a silk shirt with just the point of my rapier, and with the thrillingly intricate and poised stage combat choreography we've been drilling, even I'm convinced that Tybalt could do it.