Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Whoa!  Did you see that?  I'm just gonna look over here for a minute, and then I'll get back to work.  And now it's time to...

Holy cow!  That's amazing.  I need to read this article.  But I'll bookmark it and save it for later.  I'll read it later.  And I'll read this one later, and this one, and this one.  If I bookmark it, I'll forget about it, so I'll email the link to myself.  I'll email all these as links.

Wow, look at all the emails in my inbox.  Oh...they're from me.  Reminding me to read these articles which have nothing to do with anything I'm doing.  They seemed interesting at the time.  Why did I want to read that article again?  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.

Facebook!  Just five minutes to see how great everyone else's life is.  Everyone gets to go on vacation but me. Everyone is having the best summer and I'm just sitting here writing and complaining how hot it is.  But I'd never complain on Facebook.  I don't want people to think I'm not having a great time.

Let me check my calendar.  Whoops...that deadline is coming up.  I'd better get to work.  But let me just do a little online shopping first.  I wanted to check out that one website that have brand name shoes for discount prices and free shipping.  Wait, I can't afford to buy any shoes.  I'll just browse a little bit and then I'll get to work.

I'm getting to work.

I'm hungry.

I left dishes in the sink.

I have so much laundry to do.

I need to Google that restaurant so I can read their menu.

I should take a break.  Take a walk.  Get out from behind this desk.  

I'm hungry.

I'm tired.

It's 5pm.  I think I'm done for the day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's All Been Done?

Get Milked

"You know what's wrong with everybody?  Too smart.  I know it sounds crazy.  I know.  But it's true.  Everybody's too smart.  It's like everybody knows everything and everybody argued everything and everything got hashed out and settled the day before I was born.  It's not fair.  They know about gravity so nobody talks about gravity.  It's a dead issue.  Look at me.  My feet are stuck to the fuckin' floor.  Fantastic.  But no.  That's gravity.  Forget it.  It's been done, it's been said, it's been thought, so fuck it.  It's not fair.  I've been shut outta everything that mighta been good by a smartness around that won't let me think one new thing."
From the play Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley

Originality.  I sometimes wonder if it even exists anymore.  I get an idea for a story or a play and then I realize it's already been written.  But the fact is, it hasn't been written by me.

Yeah, I get frustrated.  All the time.  I feel like I'm constantly trying to reinvent myself or figure out what my "style" is.  Who am I as an artist?  What are the types of stories and characters am I attracted to? There are trends in storytelling.  Have you noticed that?  Vampires, Memoirs, Robots with emotions...when one or two are successful, we suddenly find ourselves inundated with similar styles.  I don't want to jump on anybody else's train.  I want my own train.

I think the trick is to not worry whether or not the story I want to tell has been told.  The odds are, it has.  But the fact is we are human beings that share the same experiences and the same emotions.  It's those very things that can make our stories resonate with a large group of people.

So am I struggling?  Yes.  Do I want to write a play about it?  Yes.  Has it been done before?  Yes.  But it has never been done by me.  It is original to me.  So I shake off this ennui...and I begin...again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Spontaneous Living

Alfred Gockel
Sunday morning I met a friend for coffee.  We hadn't seen each other in awhile, so it felt good to catch up.  We spent a couple of hours together, and then said goodbye to go about our day.  It was Sunday. I had some errands I needed to run, but I didn't really have any other plans, and I was feeling good and happy after spending time with my friend.

As I started to walk to my car, I noticed the couple sitting at the picnic table outside the coffeehouse.  The man and I made eye contact and he said, "Excuse me?"  I noticed the accent right away.  I thought they might be Italian.  He wanted directions to downtown Portland.  His English was sketchy, but certainly I could understand him.  They were not Italian; they were from Spain. They didn't have a car and I'm not that familiar with public transit since I do have a car.

So, in the matter of seconds, I sized them up.  I listened to my gut which told me they were good people; they weren't Bonnie & Clyde conspiring to hijack me and steal my life. Plus, I was feeling good.  Spontaneous.  And I was going in that direction anyway!  I asked them if they were comfortable with me giving them a ride.  They were thrilled.  Silver and Veronica.  I drove them downtown and as I was doing so, Silver asked if they could buy me lunch or a drink to thank me for my kindness.  I almost said no.  But why not?  So I said that would be lovely!

We walked around for a bit and then went to grab a bite to eat.   They were delightful company, and the language barrier appeared to get less and less as we talked and joked and got to know each other.  Veronica was shy about her English, as I was with my Spanish, but we both warmed up quickly and communicated with each other easily.

After lunch, I took them down to the Waterfront near Saturday Market and bid them goodbye. We gave each other big hugs as if we had been friends for longer than 2 hours. We are now Facebook friends and I invited them to contact me again. They, in turn invited me to visit them if and when I make it to Spain.

It would have been so easy to have walked by them.  To dismiss them when they asked for directions in broken English.  But what I did was I embraced the moment.  I listened to my instincts which told me I had nothing to fear (my instincts speak loudly when people are creepy and untrustworthy).  

And the take-away was that I met two wonderful people whom I was able to share a mini-adventure with.  I may never see Silver & Veronica again, but spending time with them on Sunday afternoon was a lesson in living in the moment, listening to my instincts and being spontaneous.  It's a practice we could all benefit from and I hope to live that way more frequently.

Silver, Me & Veronica

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Uphill Climb

There are times when you feel like you're just cruisin' along in life.  Things aren't bad; you're just doing your thing.  Kinda like riding a bike on a flat road.  And then you turn a bend and there it is.  The uphill climb.  Seemingly endless.  No break in sight.  The road just keeps going up and up and up.

That's where I'm at.  I'm climbing.  I am schvitzing like crazy climbing up this steep and steady hill. I'm learning a lesson in endurance.  I'm attempting to pace myself because I don't know how long it's going to be before I hit that flat road again.  Or even better, before I reach the downhill portion of this particular journey.  
I can't coast now.  I'm peddling. Slowly.  It's taking all the strength I can muster in my lungs and my legs.  Climb.  Breathe.  Don't stop peddling.  Climb. Breathe.  Peddle. Sweat pours down my face, into my eyes.  It stings. My legs are burning.  My lungs feel ready to explode.  Must keep climbing.  Because I know, the higher I climb, the better the view will be when I reach the top.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Missing my Fellow Bloggers!

© 2011-2014 the denied
Yes, I took 18 months off from blogging.  Yes, the world keeps turning even when I decide to check out for awhile.  Yes, change is good and things can't always stay the same.  But when I started this blog in 2008, I had no idea what was in store for me.  And what was in store you may ask?  Well, most importantly, I met other bloggers.  People from all over the world.  And I commented on their blogs and they commented on mine.  And sometimes we became Facebook friends.  And we wished each other Happy Birthday and every so often a "How are you doing?" and we had this whole cyber friendship which I found quite rewarding and fulfilling.

So, when I took time off from blogging, that world sort of fell away.  Not surprising at all--the world keeps turning.  And when I started blogging again about a month ago, I didn't expect the red carpet to be rolled out for me and 100 comments waiting to be posted.  

But it's awfully quiet around here.  So if you are reading this, please take the time to say hello.  Comment on this post or any others you may find here that appeal to you.  Currently, I'm making an effort to post once a week.  If I can do more I will.

I know there is so much to read out there on the Interwebs.  I know, I know, I know! Information overload.  But I'm attempting to keep things light, humorous, nothing too taxing or controversial.  I'm just talking about my little life here in Portland, Oregon and would love to connect with other bloggers who are writing similarly.

I hope you'll take the time to say hello.  Tell me about your blog.  Let's connect--one blogger to another.  Thanks everybody!  Hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Portland, I Hardly Knew Ye...

The food pod across the street from my house is closing after the summer.  It's the third pod I know of on my side of town that's going to close after the summer season is over.  Is saying that I'm devastated about this hyperbolic?  No.  I don't think it is.  I'm devastated by this.

When I arrived in Portland nearly 4 years ago, I was absolutely delighted by this new city I now called home.  I wondered what had taken me so long to "discover" Portland.  Everything about this place made me happy.  I felt a strong sense of community, uniqueness, quirkiness--all the qualities I like to attract in my own life.

At the same time that I moved to PDX, the TV series "Portlandia" was released.  The secret was out.  Now everyone knew what I knew about this gem of a city.  Of course, Portland isn't everybody's cup of tea.  But the spotlight was shining and within a very short period of time, the city was changing.

Residential development is everywhere.  California license plates abound.  The traffic is getting worse; the unique neighborhoods that have tons of character and odd, little shops are now changing to posh, slick, boutique-lined streets with restaurants where I can't even afford a Happy Hour drink.  It's starting to look like...oh dear me...it's starting to look like Los Angeles.  

There are still plenty of wonderful things about Portland.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not leaving anytime soon.  But it's not the same city I moved to just a short time ago.  And I'm disappointed.  I hardly got a chance to experience the "real" Portland and now it's changing, growing, becoming a sleeker version of itself.  I liked the way it was before.  And though I'm definitely an advocate for change, this seems to be happening all too quickly.

Plus, the food pod across the street from my house is leaving at the end of summer.  But I already told you that.  Rumor has it the lot will be developed for more condos and apartments with outlandish rents that people like me cannot afford.  The food pod has added so much to my experience living here. It's not just about the availability of really good food directly across the street.  It added warmth, community, and individuality to this already charming neighborhood. That will disappear by the end of this year.  I'm truly devastated.  And I promise you, that's not hyperbole.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's Talk About Freelancing!

It sounds like a dream, doesn't it?  Working from home; getting up when you want, chomping on a bagel with a schmear and a cup of coffee while you leisurely pound out creative and innovating articles or ad copy.  Those of you who work typical 9-5 type jobs might think, "Man, what a life!"  But the reality is far from this cozy little scenario.  

Though I work as a playwright, teaching artist and director, it's all freelance.  I am self-employed and lemme tell you folks, it can be a grind.  It's the hardest job I've ever had.  Because I'm always working.  I'm always looking for gigs, and when I secure a gig, I'm always looking for the next one. It never ceases to amaze me how I go through times of feast or famine.  I'm either too busy for my own good, or I've got no clients or jobs lined up and I start experiencing panic that I will never work again.

I know a lot of freelancers go through this.  Actors, writers, graphic designers and artists of all kinds have related similar stories to me regarding the feast or famine work issue. All I can say about that is when you're feasting try to prepare for the inevitable lean times. This can be easier said than done, but the more you work, the more you're setting yourself up for increased work opportunities.

What do I mean by that?  Well, you're establishing a network.  It's all about connections, baby.  You do a good job, they'll hire you again.  You do a GREAT job and they'll start recommending you to others.  That's the best place to be--when they come to you! I like nothing better than getting offered a job I didn't solicit. Manna from Heaven droppin' into my lap.  It's happening more and more frequently as I get myself out there and build a strong reputation for myself. But the lean times still happen all too frequently, so it's a constant hustle.

Freelancers, I would love to hear from you!  Please share your stories, comments and advice for those of us who are in the trenches.  With our collective experience, we can all help each other make our individual practice more fruitful and rewarding.