Sunday, October 30, 2011

"The One"

So, I really would like to get a post with content in before going to bed, but I am really tired, so I'm just going to give it my best shot.

The way relationships are portrayed in tv shows and books and movies and advertising and and and...(I could go on for awhile) is so incredibly destructive and misleading, so I wanted to come up with a list of misconceptions that I had in the past (some of them fairly recent even) and I want to try to address why they're harmful.

The One/Soul Mates
This is one of the most common and most insidious beliefs out there.  It's one that every even slightly romantic young child (and I was a lot more than slightly romantic) believes instantly because it's just so tempting to fall into.  The belief that there is someone, just one person, out there who is absolutely meant for you.  And I did fall into this one and it wasn't a belief that was suddenly changed by a realization but one that occurred over time.

If there's only one person that you're meant for in a world of six billion, let's face it, you're screwed.  How are you ever supposed to find your "soul mate" in a world this big?  And then you realize that if there was only one person for you in the world then basically the vast majority of the world is settling for someone not as good, which is just depressing.  I'm with Boyfriend because I love him and I'm not settling, but can I imagine loving someone just as much, yes, yes I can.  This is all of course not even mentioning that this belief completely denies that polyamory could possibly exist in a healthy and happy form.

Chivalry is Not Dead
Apparently men aren't supposed to pull out chairs and slay dragons and things for women, but they are still supposed to pay for the check and get you flowers and candy, etc?  This seems like a bit of a double standard...okay...more than a bit.  I certainly enjoy all of the things mentioned above on occasion, but media does still frequently push the belief that this is what is expected of men in relationships.  I know many many people who split the bill and split movie costs, etc.  In fact I think most people I know do this, so why is this still so prevalent in the media?  Also what about gay men?  Are they just supposed to fight over the bill constantly?  What about lesbians?  Do they just never go out to eat?  Or do they dine and dash?

Every Happy Relationship will Result in Marriage
This is one of those ones that I honestly didn't realize was problematic till recently.  The problem with it: it denies that people in long-term, committed relationships but who aren't married exist and are happy.  I've met people who have lived together twenty or thirty years in a romantic relationship and haven't married and yet this still didn't click.  If people don't feel like they need or want to get married, that's perfectly reasonable.  I do want to get married some day, but that is a personal feeling, and it doesn't make non-married committed couples any less committed, in love, or happy.

Love at First Sight
Ahaha.  This is one I've always been skeptical of (there had to be one that I realized might be wrong).  I do believe that you can have strong, undeniable chemistry with someone from first meeting, but I have also seen those types of relationships fizzle out and die pretty quickly (not all of them, I'm not trying to say it can't work, just that it's not necessarily the norm).  Love is wonderful and you can love someone deeply and not be in a successful relationship.  Relationships are about love, but they are also about communication and companionship and trust and just getting along with another human being you share your life with; all of this takes work.

You have a Set Amount of Love
I was disabused of this one senior year of high school.  This is the thought that you only have enough romantic love for one person at a time.  Thus, if you like one person then you can't also like another because you only have so much love to give.  I realized that this couldn't possibly a universal truth when I had two people I was attracted to at the same time.  I remember being thoroughly confused and then realizing that liking two people at the same time didn't make either of my feelings less valid.

Being Attracted to Someone Else is Cheating
This one is related to the previous belief, but it also covers a pretty wide scope.  I've heard friends of mine say, "Well I can't be attracted to another person (frequently a celebrity even) because then my significant other would be jealous/consider it cheating".  It's just looking.  That's all.  Saying, "Wow, Ewan Mcgregor (I actually don't find Brad Pitt that attractive otherwise I would have used him) is really hot and sexy" to me is about the same as saying, "Wow, that car is really hot and sexy".  It doesn't mean you're going to cheat on your significant other with Ewan Mcgregor or that car.  It means you appreciate the way they look.

Also, being attracted to someone you know, but not acting on those feelings isn't cheating.  Certainly you can suppress those feelings but you still can't really help feeling them.  This idea relies a lot on the belief that you should be jealous of anyone else that your significant other looks at.  And, once again, a myth completely at odds with polyamory (they seem to be quite common).

Your Significant Other Should have Eyes for Only You
This one is similar to the previous myth and this belief is one that is just going to cause jealousy and arguments and codependent relationships.  I have never been a jealous person and thus haven't really fallen into this one ever, because Boyfriend is allowed to spend time with other people.  He's allowed to have friends with people who aren't me and, in fact, he should.  You're both going to be lonely if you don't keep any friends other than your significant other.

You have to Always be Doing Something Together
This one is one that took me forever to figure out and I still struggle with it some times.  You don't always have to be going out on dates.  You really don't.  You can stay in, you can watch a tv show, play a board game.  And, what is hardest for me, maybe you just sit in the same room enjoying each other's company but doing different things; this is very very possible.  This belief is slightly more subliminal than a lot of the others, but it definitely still exists.

Edit: Wearing the Pants
This one is generally about relationships where the man is quieter and the woman is more outspoken.  I have literally responded with: "No, we're both wearing pants" to people who have said this about my relationship. Boyfriend is quieter by nature yes, but he does have opinions and I try very very hard to respect them at all times.  It's a relationship.  Not a dictatorship.

Related is the question: "But which one's the man in the relationship?" asked of gay and lesbian relationships.  Relationships are different and not every one has to have a "man" and a "woman" in them, because genders are not binary and male and female are not opposite, god dammit.

Check In

Hi Blog, how are you?  I've been with Boyfriend for the past week and have been too distracted to post.  I will probably post a little bit later tonight.  To my two or three readers, I apologize for the break in your regular scheduled programming.

Monday, October 24, 2011


For the past month I have been sleeping very poorly.  Either I can't get to sleep, or I keep waking up multiple times in the middle of the night, or I sleep forever (12+ hours) but don't feel rested at all.  There were several days where I just didn't sleep because I couldn't.  I'm hoping that my problems were caused by too soft of a mattress and sleeping in an unfamiliar location.  I'm finally back at home now and in my own bed and last night I fell asleep practically as soon as my head hit the pillow and I stayed that way for 12 hours and woke up feeling completely rested.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How to Call a Show

I am almost done with the show I currently am working on, so as a nod to being almost done I would like to post a list of things to keep in mind when calling a show as a stage manager.  Some of these points I knew before ever calling a show, some of them I didn't and wish I had been told.

1. Say the Operative Word (Go) Last
Many beginning stage managers say: Go Lights or Go Sound.  However, if you do things in this order than your board operators (or crew in general if it's a fly cue or set change or automation, etc) have no idea which department needs to go and they will always be late executing their cues.

2. Give as Much Information as Possible
If you have time, I have honestly found it best if you say Lights 57...Go (or in my case I say Light Cue 57...Go, which is just a personal preference).  Giving the number, letter, designation of a cue provides a discrete check in with your crew over whether you are in the correct cue.  When you have a series of cues that happens to quickly to do this then I will say Lights...Go, but I will always, always denote in my script the number of the cue in parentheses, even when I don't say it.

3. Give Standbys
This is basic etiquette, but it is very important.  Especially in a show that has fewer cues, board operates are not constantly in "standby mode" with their finger hovering over the button.  Giving a standby in advance will instantly put board ops into ready mode so they can execute a cue quickly.

If you are working a show with many cues (like I am now) than give your standbys in batches: ie. Standby Light Cues 5 through 15, Sound Cues 3 and 4, and Fly Cues 7 through 9.  Generally giving standbys in-between songs or major bouts of action works nicely.  When you are giving your standbys in batches, I try to denote roughly how many cues the operators will be taking so I say "and" if it's only two cues, but "through" if it's more.  This is a little personal touch but I have been complemented on it.  Also when you say Standby Lights 7 and 8, but you also have Lights 7.3, 7.5, and 7.7, it gets very confusing.

4. Speak Clearly and Distinctly (Don't get Excited)
This happened to me a lot more frequently when I first started calling show, but when you get excited or anxious about an upcoming cue, your (or at least my) voice tends to speed up and words tend to blur together.  If a board op thought you said Sound but really you said Lights, then you can get into major trouble board ops are trained to do what you say, so it's really your fault.  Say the department and number well in advanced so you can be distinct and be very clear and firm when you say Go.  This is particularly important to remember when you are calling "bumps" which are 0 second cues at the ending note of some musical numbers.

5. Make "Go" a Separate Thought
I have met even some professional stage managers who like to get the cue in as close to when it needs to happen as possible.  That is really not my style and in my opinion, it makes it difficult on your crew.  My advice is say the department and cue number beforehand and end with an upward inflection to indicate you aren't done.  For example: Light Cue Forty-Twooo...Go.

Related, but I find when I say the department and cue number with a short and terse inflection very inexperience board operators sometimes think that that's when they are supposed to take the cue.

6. Your Board Operators have a Response Time
This one took me some time to figure out, but every crew members is different.  Some are lighting quick and some have about a second delay before executing the cue.  You can talk to your crew about the delay as much as you want, but sometimes it really does just have to do with their reflexes and so you should keep this in mind when calling a show, particularly when working with a crew you haven't worked with before.

7. Words Take Time
This ones interesting and I basically have only figured it out in the past several months.  When a designer, says I want this cue on this word, they generally won't tell you which exact syllable (I have had some designers who did this and I actually enjoyed the specificity, but it's not common).  You can ask them if they have a preference, but frequently they will say that it's up to you.  This is where creativity comes into stage management.  Especially in musicals, it means sometimes you can have a good deal of leeway about when to call a cue.  My advice is to experiment with what looks best.  Does it look (this generally is a visual thing and not a aural one) better when the cue finishes before the next word or when the cue is just starting before the next word.

8. Cues Take Time 
This realization caught me by surprise the second show I called.  The first lighting designer I worked with liked 5 second fade times.  However the next lighting designer preferred 3 seconds as a default.  It is very personal to each designer and you have to take into account that if a 5 second cue needs to be finished by a particular words and there's only 3 seconds in between words, then you need to call the cue earlier.

9. Know how Every Cue should Look/Sound
This is my last point and it's just general good advice.  You need to know how every change looks and sounds so you can recognize immediately if something is wrong.  Noticing: this cue looks wrong in a subtle cue means you are more likely to be able to fix it before you have problems when you reach an obvious cue.  This is why I like to specific cue numbers.

10. Write Out your Cues Clearly
This one can be for your own sanity's sake, but more importantly, if for some horrible reason, something happens to you, then someone else will need to call the show.  Thus, if your cues are written out extremely clearly, standbys included, then the other person will be able to understand them.  I also tend to note anything important about the cue such as: When Susan Crosses Center Stage (S Xs CS) and such.

11.  Be Consistent
Try to start saying the cue at around the same place every night, it's a good habit and it will mean the cues almost become "muscle" memory.  I don't always do this but I will sometimes make a dot in the script where I want to start saying the cue and sometimes even I dot when I want to be finished saying it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quick Quote

I am currently rewatching the reboot of Doctor Who (for possibly the third, maybe the first time) and there is a line in the fourth season/series in the episode of the "The Doctor's Daughter".

Donna: Does that mean she's...what do you call a female Time Lord?

And my immediate thought was:  You call them a Time Lord?  It was not until I thought about it a few minutes that I realized Donna probably meant you would call them Time Ladies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writing Exercise

One of my big hobbies is writing (in case you haven't already guessed from how frequently I blog).  And when I say writing, I don't mean short stories or fan fiction (though I write those too occasionally), I mean novel length fantasy stories.  Generally I get ideas from dreams, oddly enough, but my latest story just started out as a writing exercise in many, many ways.

Writing a Blind Character:
Tristan sprang into my mind when I started my writing exercise: a former blacksmith who had been blinded.  It was curious, could I describe things without sight?  Would smells and sounds and touch become more prominent?  They of course did.  Interestingly enough, my writing ended up being in first person, a style I seldom wrote in (I generally prefer limited third person omniscient).  The biggest thing that surprised me was how normal Tristan was.  He could do almost anything a sighted person could and that was something that discovered prejudices I didn't even know I had.

Writing a Significantly Older Character than Myself:
Generally my characters tend to be around the same age as I am, generally in their twenties.  However, and this wasn't actually planned, Tristan is a man about to turn forty.  It's weird and it's hard to write a character more than a decade older than me, I'm not entirely convinced I'm doing it all that well, but I am trying.  Related was I also ended up writing characters much younger than myself (toddlers and such) which was also something I had done very rarely.

Writing a Character who was Already Married:
When I decided to tackle things I had never done before, I decided to tackle a lot of them.  One of the biggest things you never see in hardly any medium is a couple who is already married.  Tristan and his wife Felicia have been married for twenty years and have three children.  Admittedly, I cheated on this one because Tristan doesn't staying living with his family very long (nothing tragic and no divorces though).

Writing a Character whose Gender the Reader Never Knows:
This is an interesting one because I started writing Aeryn's character long before I knew much about gender or sexuality (I only picked up writing this story again fairly recently).  My idea was what if Tristan met a character whose voice and body were androgynous and thus he could not tell Aeryn's gender.  I, as the writer, do know Aeryn's biological sex and gender, but my intent was for the reader to find out and as I continued writing Aeryn (possibly my favorite character I have ever written) character I realized that sex and gender just didn't matter.  They just didn't.  The hardest part about writing Aeryn? Not using pronouns at all.  That was part of the challenge I set myself: no pronouns, and I actually have surprised myself, because it can be done and I think I have succeeded quite well actually.


This story has changed and warped since I started it.  The original plot I had got scraped entirely.  The mysterious order called the Patriarchy has since become the Hierarchy (I'm trying to write a world where gender equality is just a matter of normality (and thus not something addressed frequently) and I realized that using the word Patriarchy was just stupid, for many many reasons).  I have more characters than I ever expected or know what to do with it, but I love writing it.


I've recently had this talk with several of my closest friends and wondered when did I get so old?  And I feel almost embarrassed sharing this, because so many people's instinctive reaction is: you're not old.  And the truth is I'm not, but I am living in an adult world as an adult and wondering how soon it will be until someone finds out that I'm only pretending how to be "grown up".

I realize that everyone probably goes through something similar at some point, but here's a list of things that have made me realize that growing up isn't something that happens when you turn 18 but is a process and then suddenly you're a grown up and you didn't even realize it.

  • You're paying bills: phone, insurance, water, electricity, rent, loans.  That is a lot of bills and that's not even all of them and it was just something that happened when I first got my apartment and the list of bills just got longer.
  • You're giving advice to friends who are graduating (college) this year about the real world and surviving in it
  • You're talking about the future not in some big sweeping plans like: I want to get married and have eight bagillion children (oh please no).  But instead talking about it in terms of: where would you like to get an apartment?  If we pick this city it will split the difference between your work and mine (okay, so I'm not quite there yet, but in the near future).
  • When you still trust your instincts but realize that they aren't your only resource for making this decisions (it's entirely probably that this one is intensely personal for me)
  • When you're ashamed to go back and live with your parents because you could be living by yourself instead of causing them even a little bit more of a financial burden.
  • When you realize that big things from your past aren't a big deal anymore.  I'm not ever (I am very determined about this) that at the time those things weren't a big deal for me, because at the time they thoroughly were.  I'm not going to say: oh past me was so stupid.  In truth, I wasn't stupid, just inexperienced.  I'm not going to say: oh I was just young.  That implies that young people are inherently stupid and that's just such a blatant example of ageism I don't even want to touch it.  I will however say that I have learned to let go, learned to move on, and learned that other people's problems generally matter more to me than my own.
  • When you sit down and have a discussion with your parents and realize you're on equal footing.  It was one of the biggest things I wanted my entire life growing up and the first time it happened was practically transcendent.
  • When you've dealt with death.  This one probably happens for most people a lot earlier than it did for me, but my grandmother died recently and I realized that my reaction to someone close to me dying was a lot different than I thought it would be.
  • When you learn to let things go.  Again, this one is intensely personal to me, but I have a temper and anger management problems at times and this is something that I'm still learning to do, but the first time I did (probably not the first, but one of the first times in my life) without putting up a fight, I realized I had grown up a lot from who I used to be. 

Part of this whole list has to do with the fact that I am really sensitive about my age.  I was young for my grade and then did college in three years and, as you've may have noticed, I haven't disclosed my age on this blog.  You could probably guess it, but I am in a position that I need to have authority over people more than ten years younger than me and more than fifty years older than me at times and it takes it's toll.   Discrimination honestly isn't that common in my line of work (I refer only to stage managers and not to the poor actors who have to deal with casting) but the one kind of discrimination that I see is ageism.  

I've seen people older than me hired because they were older and not because they had the better resumes. Older stage managers are automatically assumed to handle people better and I really can assure you, that's not necessarily the case at all.  And so I'm sensitive about my age, I'm fairly certain that the people at my work think I'm at least in my mid (as opposed to early twenties) and I haven't disabused them of that notion mainly because I don't want to deal with the awkwardness.

I apologize that this turned into basically two separate posts, but I'm going to post it as is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This is my third post within twenty-four hours, but I have been having the worst time sleeping lately and sometimes clearing my mind helps. This might not turn into a very coherent post but I'm going to give it a shot.


I honestly think that people get in their own way sometimes. I was talking with my director and a couple of one of the actresses' friends the other day. The friends were a gay couple from Las Vegas who had been in their relationship for more than ten years. And my director, who was also gay but was significantly older than the gay couple, absolutely mortified them. He was talking about "fags" and about how gay people had no morals and it was so hard to tell whether he was even being sarcastic. The two men from Vegas just stood their, eyes wide open, shocked and completely offended. The worst part was my director didn't even realize it.


I met a woman the other day who impressed me just by the way she dressed. It was with such style and a style that was so uniquely her own. She was a woman, probably in her fifties, who said that she had made the discovery twenty odd years ago about what clothes she looked good in and damn if she didn't look good. She wore a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, black pumps, men's-style pinstriped slacks, a men's-style blazer and dress shirt, and a fedora. And damn it was an evocative picture. She probably would have gotten some weird looks walking down the street (in any town but this one anyway) but she knew what she liked and was clearly happier for it.


I'm not sure I ever want to make the statement that my viewpoint/world view/whatever is correct. I'm not sure if I honestly ever believe that my paradigm is correct. Yes, gay people should be allowed to get married. That is true and that fact is correct. I acknowledge that, but just stopping there isn't really correct either because polygamous people should be allowed to get married, to as many people as they choose.
People should be allowed to have kids or not have kids. People should be allowed to get married or not get married; do drugs or not do drugs.  It's their own damn lives, stop interfering.

 But I guess ultimately what I'm getting at is that I feel like saying: I have the correct world view, I don't need to listen to other people is just harmful.  As a kid I believed that monogamous, heterosexual relationships were right, only because that's all I had ever experienced.  Once I discovered that my babysitter was gay and in a serious relationship and that two of my mom's friends were gay and had been together nearly twenty years, I realized that heterosexuality wasn't the only option.  Similarly, once I learned the polygamy wasn't something that only occurred in fundamentalist Mormon relationships, I realized there was nothing wrong with it at all.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm still learning.  I'm always going to be "still learning".  There is always going to be a more enlightened, more equality centered belief system out there, so I want to keep hearing other people's opinions.  I want to know if I've offended someone, so I don't offend people in the future.

I suppose that some of my beliefs are probably "correct", but I'm just not comfortable saying that.  That's probably a bad thing, maybe I'm just silly.  But I think saying: "People deserve to be treated equally" is more important than saying: "I'm correct"

On a somewhat related note: I will however, always respond better if you say: "Here's what I took offense to and how you could say it better", rather than saying: "You're wrong, I'm right.  Now listen to me."

My thoughts on this subject rather strongly rather remind me of this SMBC comic: (and yes I've linked to SMBC twice in one day, Zach Weiner can thank me for the potential six extra hits I'm giving him).  Sorry for not embedding it, but this post is already long enough.


I think that was mostly coherent.  It was certainly scattered, but I do think I got my point across.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Robbers will get Me

Innocent things your parents tell you: If you sleep with the door closed a fire will have more of a barrier and robbers will make noise when they come through it.

Result: I can't sleep with the door open, ever.

No joke, Boyfriend came into the bedroom one time a year ago and I bolted out of bed and hid on the far side so the robbers couldn't get me.  Oh what the sleeping brain does.

As SMBC said:

Three Decisions

It's funny, for most of my life I can think of the decisions I've made and honestly~ most of the decisions I've made haven't impacted my life in major way.  Ultimately, I think my life would be in roughly the same place if I had made some choices differently, but there are three decisions in my life (all of them fairly recent) that have completely shaped my life as I know it.


Senior year of high school.  The volleyball season's just ended.  I've decided not to play club volleyball.

I didn't want to play club, I was pretty much done with volleyball at that point in my life.  It was too late to audition for the school play, so ultimately I decided to sign up for the technicians list instead.  Shortly after I had put my name on the list, my Shea found out that she was going to Nationals (or something like it, I was never quite clear on the details).  My family decided that we would all go with her (across the country) and miss a few days of school and make a vacation out of it.

My classes were difficult and missing them would mean a lot of work for me, but I was initially all for skipping school in favor of a vacation.  But, then I found out that the play was the same week that I was supposed to be out of town.  I was props master for the show, but really, they could have found someone to replace me.  I decided to stay and work on the show though.  In retrospect, I'm not even sure why I decided to stay and work on the show, but I did.

And, here's what happened that never would have happened if I hadn't stayed: I became extremely close friends with a group of people who I am friends with to this day, I got to know and started dating Boyfriend, and I discovered a love for technical theatre and agreed to work on the dance show the following week.

I never though that not going on a vacation would be (probably) the most life altering decision of my life, but it was.  I still think I made the right decision.


Easter of senior year of high school.  Boyfriend's couch.  Making college decisions.

The choice was easy for Boyfriend, he got into exactly where he wanted and had already sent in his acceptance letter long ago.  For me, it was a lot harder.  I hadn't gotten into either of my top choices and to make matters worse, when I had done college applications, I hadn't been into theatre yet and so I hadn't chosen colleges based on their theatre program.

I spent a long time hemming and hawing about which college to go to.  I had gotten a large scholarship to one, one had a good (if small) theatre program, and one I had debated applying to for months and ultimately ended up doing so (in truth it was my safety school).  I finally decided to go to my safety school, the one that Boyfriend had already committed to.  It had an excellent theatre program, was in an area of the state I liked (and was you know, actually in the state), it was cheaper than all the other schools, and Boyfriend was going there.

Even though a lot of people still would doubt my motives, I honestly did weigh the choices.  And, I ultimately  am extremely pleased with my decision.  I loved my college, I loved the theatre department, and I got to stay close to Boyfriend.  That's not to say we couldn't have handled long-distance (hell, we're doing long-distance now), but life would have been different.  I might not have even have majored in theatre.

At least this decision was supposed to be a big tipping point in my life.  I don't regret my choice at all.


After our stage management class.  Second year of college.  Fall quarter.

Me: Hey! Laura, wait up for a second.
Laura: Hey Kaylee, what's up?
Me: I heard you mentioning that you need a stage manager for the show next quarter (Laura was the production stage manager for the student theatre board, the role I took over the following year).
Laura: Yeah, do you know anyone?
Me: Actually, I was wondering if I could have the job.  I haven't stage managed before, but I've always wanted to and I've worked with so many stage managers before.  I know what it takes to do the job.
Laura: Oh, let me talk to the board.  You're definitely more qualified than everyone else the board has suggested.  I'll get back to you next week about it.

Laura did get back to me (albeit it closer to two weeks later, when I'd just about given up hope) and told me that they'd love to have me stage manage the show.  I warned her that I would be in a sling for much of the show (the result of my shoulder surgery) and she said it wasn't a problem and that she could help me out as needed.

The rest of that story is that I realized that stage management was exactly the job in theatre I had been looking for (I had been experimenting with all sorts of things: light design, sound design, set design, being a master electrician).  Spring quarter I asked a friend of mine if he needed a stage manager and as it turned out, he did, and after that the jobs just kept coming (a stage manager friend of mine did warn me that once they find out that you stage manage, you'll never escape (at least while in college)).

It's conceivable that I would have tried my stage management even if I hadn't taken that job, but it's far more likely that I wouldn't have.  And thus I would probably be working in theatre but probably in a job that made me significantly less happy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Centralized Power

I'm not a leader by nature.  I'm really not.  I don't need to have control and in groups outside my closest group of friends I listen and don't talk.

Throughout my life I took integral positions, but not ones that were noticed.  I was a goal keeper in soccer and it's an important, but it's generally the forwards who scored the goals and got the glory.  In volleyball I was a setter, a position that had all the responsibility and none of the glory.  It was the hitters who got the glory.

Stage managers are in the exact same position.  They have so many responsibilities, so many responsibilities, but people outside of the theatre world have never even heard of a stage manager.  And thinking about it, I guess the question becomes why do stage manager exist?  Light and sound board operators could execute cues themselves.  Actors could keep a script on hand that they could check to see if their lines were correct or not.  Basically all the responsibilities that a stage manager does could in fact be done by someone else.

So I am brought back to the question: why does a stage manager exist?  And I think my answer to that question is that a stage manager centralizes power and responsibility.  If you have a question, then you know to ask the stage manager.  If something goes wrong, ultimately the stage manager shares in some, most, or all of responsibility.

It's a difficult position to be in.  Even when a stage manager calls a perfect show, no one will notice, because that's how the show is supposed to look.  People don't realize that it takes skill, but at the same time, I don't mind not getting the praise.  I'm happy when the actors get the credit and don't mind that I'm not "in the spotlight".  I'm happy when a show goes off perfectly and no one says a word, because that's what stage managers do.  They aren't supposed to be noticed, they are supposed to control everything and have no one know about it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Story Time

This post has to do with a few things that are relevant to my interests, but mainly it's just a story of something that happened to a friend.

Back in May of this year I was working my last show in college.  It was a spectacular show (aimed at the entire family (which is a rare thing in college)) and I think it was still one of my favorite shows to work.  It had a cast of 35 and I was assistant stage manager.

(Side note: having already stage managed a show earlier in the year, everyone was fairly shocked that I was only asming this show under Liz, stage manager that many people considered less experienced.  Generally it was predicted that I would explode at Liz and have an extremely hard time working under her.  In reality, I kept her grounded and we made a great team and despite all our troubles: a giant cast, switching directors a week before tech week,  a technically difficult show, and lots of injuries; I had a great time and the show came off superbly.)

One of my (I used this term loosely, see this post) actresses was a woman, Raena, who I had worked with on six shows before and someone I worked with on the student theatre board.  Over the course of our interactions together, we had become friends.  Unfortunately, she was a member of the ensemble, and by nature (ie they were in rehearsals less often) I interacted with her less than the lead roles.

Two weeks before our show was set to open, I heard some actors talking about Raena in the theatre lounge, which was the theatre department's space for everyone to just relax and hang out.  I was sitting in the theatre lounge with them and they were talking rather openly.

Man: Did you here about what happened in Kathy's advanced playwriting class?
Woman: A little bit, do you know any more details?
Man: Well, Raena wrote a play about a gay guy and a lesbian and they were discussing their relationship issues.  It was an extremely frustrating situation and at the end of the play they both kissed.
Woman: And Kathy flipped out?
Man: Yeah, she said that if Raena was going to write plays like this then she needed to do her research and how serious feminist would be offended by what she wrote.
Woman: ...But...Raena is a lesbian.
Man: I know.  But Raena was shocked and didn't really know what to say.
Woman: Did anyone else say anything?
Man: No, they didn't want to publicly out Raena, especially since that class isn't completely theatre majors. (Side Note: I honestly believe if the class had just been theatre majors that someone would have spoken up).  But after class Raena went up and talked to Kathy and explained that she was a lesbian and that she didn't find it was an offensive situation.
Woman: Did Kathy apologize?
Man: No, she didn't.

I apologize for using Man and Woman, but for the life of me, I cannot remember which two actors were talking about that, and, even if I could, I use pseudonyms anyway.

The conversation devolved into discussing what a bitch (their words, not mine) Kathy had been.  Now, Raena was someone I considered a friend and she was also in my show, so I honestly did need to know if she was okay.  I had a student theatre board meeting with her next and resolved to ask her about it afterward.

After the meeting, I hung back to talk to Raena and we sorta fell in walking with each other.

Me: So, how are classes going?
Raena: They're going okay.  I have a pretty hard schedule.
Me: Yeah, I know.  I'm impressed.  It's way more difficult than mine this quarter.
Raena: It's weird because I like most of my classes but I am so done with one of them.
Me: Which one?
Raena: Advanced Playwriting with Kathy.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry.  (hesitantly) I had kinda heard about that.
Raena (resigned): Yeah, I figured.  Everyone in the department's heard about it.
Me: I really am sorry.  Are you okay?  What happened?
*Raena explained the premise of her play and Kathy's reaction*
Raena: Afterwards I had a class with Joe and you know how Joe is, he spotted that I was upset and talked to me about it after class.  I told him what happened and he told me that he'd talk to Kathy about it.  I told him he didn't have to and that I would talk to her after I felt better, but he said, as a gay man, that it was something he wanted to do.
Me: That could have ended badly.
Raena: No, Joe talked to Kathy and of course Kathy immediately went to Barb (the department chair).  Then, that night at the dance show, Barb came up and talked to me about how inappropriate telling Joe had been and that I was making Kathy and her look bad.
Me: Oh god, she didn't.
Raena: It was so inappropriate!  And Joe is my advisor! If I can't talk to him then who can I talk to?
Me: You should be able to talk to Joe.  Barb's just being completely unfair.
Raena: Of course the next day I had Joe's class again and he could tell that I was upset again, so I talked to him and he said he's talk to Barb and explain the misunderstanding.  I said that I would go talk to Kathy and I dropped by her office and told her that I needed to talk to her today about things that had been happening, and if it wasn't today that it needed to be soon.
Me: Wow.  I am so sorry.  I can't even believe all of that.  You just got completely caught up in professor politics.
Raena: I know and I'm just sick of it!
Me:  I'm glad you went and told Kathy you need to talk about this.  I really hope that it works out for you.
Raena: Me too, because I can't take much more of this.
*We had reached the student union building at this point and I looked at my watch, realizing I had a meeting to get to*
Me: Feel better and let me know how it turns out.
Raena: Thanks so much Kaylee! *she hugged me* I really appreciate it and I will let you know how it turns out.

Looking back at the conversation that we had, I said very little and I actually feel bad about leading Raena on in the beginning instead of just cutting to the chase and making sure she was alright.  Really, I said so little of any substance at all, but Raena was so grateful to me for just asking if she was okay.  And I have to admit that I'm really glad I asked; not only because as a stage manager I needed to know anything that would affect her in rehearsals and the show, but also because she was my friend and needed someone to talk to.

I do feel a little weird about it though since, while Raena was my friend, we weren't super close and we didn't hang out much, but she opened up to me nearly instantly.  And, she wasn't the only actor who has poured there heart out to me just because I asked questions that needed to be asked.

Later that day, before rehearsals, I saw Kathy talking to Raena and it looked like everything was going all right.  Right before rehearsals that day, Raena came bouncing up to me and told me: "Kaylee, everything's going to be okay.  She didn't really apologize completely, but she did say she was sorry that I had gotten caught up in department politics and that it wouldn't happen again.  She also said she was sorry that I got offended, but she was trying to give me a critique like I would get in the real world."  I told her I was glad for her and I really was.

But, the thing was, this really was the best Raena was going to get.  This professor who claimed to be opened minded and feminist put this strict set of prescriptivist beliefs on Raena.  Bcause she was offended, she made the assumption that Raena couldn't possibly know what she was talking about and, by doing so, invalidated Raena's entire sexual orientation.  I honestly think feminism is a good thing, but I have seen first hand, how, otherwise reasonable, people can harm someone by putting "feminist" rules on sexuality and gender.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not What you'd Expect

I just walked into the green room and found the male follow spot operator cross-stitching, the male set designer brushing his shoulder long hair and worrying about wrinkles, and the two female actresses joking about masturbation. Fuck gender roles. Just fuck them. My life is better without them.


One of my biggest frustrations with blogs and articles about or concerning sexuality and gender is that they generally make the assumption that everyone knows the terminology and jargon that you're using.  Looking the terms up isn' that hard, but I want to try to provide a basic guide to sexuality and gender terms.

Despite these first few terms being basic and core terms in regard to sexuality and gender, I honestly don't believe I knew what gender actually was until senior year of high school, maybe junior year.  And I think that's a huge fault with the educational system.

Sex: In this context I am not referring to sexual intercourse, but biological characteristics that every person displays.  These biological characteristics generally refer to both chromosomes and genitalia.

Gender: This is a more complex term and in a Western society there are generally believed to be two genders: male and female.  Gender is a societal construct, meaning that the definition of what roles and traits exactly define a gender do vary from culture to culture.  It encompasses many different aspects which include identifying pronouns, gender roles (based on society and not on any inherent trait), and gender identity.  Children are assigned genders at birth, which correspond to their biological sex.  Once self-aware, a person's gender may or may not correspond to their biological sex.

Sexual Orientation (sexuality): This is a term that most people know.  It refers to a person's preference for partners.  Again, in Western societies the three sexual orientations that are commonly known are heterosexual (preference for the same sex and gender), homosexual (preference for the opposite sex and opposite gender), and bisexual (preference for both sexes/genders).  In Western civilization sexual orientations carry with them an implicit understanding that sex and gender will always match.  Before moving on, it is extremely important to note that sexual orientation is not the same thing or in an standard relation to gender.

Gender Expression: This refers to how a person chooses to express their gender.  This is highly personalized and can include piercings, how a person dresses, tattoos, the hobbies a person enjoys, etc.

Gender Roles: Gender roles is where the societal construct of gender really comes to light.  This is what Wikipedia has to say, "Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture."  This includes employment, clothing worn, hobbies, etc.  Being an engineer is consider masculine and being a stay-at-home parent is considered feminine.  Wearing a tie is considered masculine and wearing a dress is considered feminine.  Playing sports is considered masculine and sewing is considered feminine.  Gender roles are constructed by society and if you're saying: "But I enjoy masculine things and I'm a woman, is that weird?"  The answer is: no.  As I said, gender roles are constructed and only natural if you believe in them.  

Estrogen (oestrogen): A female sex hormone that aids in female reproductive development.  Transsexual women will often take estrogen (as part of hormone replacement therapy) to trigger feminine changes in her body such as developing breasts.

Testosterone: A male sex hormone that helps with male reproductive development.  A transsexual man will often begin taking testosterone to start triggering changes in his body (ie: to make his voice break, be able to grow facial hair, etc).

Genitalia: This is a term most everyone will know, a biological man has a penis (and all other parts associated with it) and a biological woman has a vagina (and all other parts associated with it).  But I would like to note that genitalia can be ambiguous.

Intersex: I have mentioned this once before in a previous post, but intersex is a term that has replaced hermaphrodite in commonly vocabulary.  Intersex refers to ambiguous genitals at the time of birth, which make it difficult to determine a biological sex.  Typically doctors push to parents to make an immediate decision about their child's sex and then have the child undergo reconstructive surgery.

Asexual: Most people know in theory what being asexual means.  It is generally defined as a lack of attraction or lack of interest in sex.  I mention it because it is perfectly natural.  Not everyone has to be bonded to a person/people for life or even bonded short term.  I know someone who I believe is asexual, though he has not personally identified as such to me, and he has never shown the slightest attraction to anyone in the time that I've known him, and he is perfectly happy that way.

Pansexual (omnisexual): This is an exciting term because unlike heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual it makes several assumptions that Western society does not traditionally accept.  Firstly, it makes the assumption that not every person's sex will be matched to their gender (ie a biological male identifies as a woman).  Secondly, it does not make the assumption that there are only two genders (which I will cover momentarily).

Queer: This is an interesting term and probably one I'm not going to do much justice in my attempt to explain.  Queer to some extent is what you personally make of it.  It generally does not refer to people who identify as heterosexual.  It also generally comes with an explanation.  Example: "I'm queer, who likes primarily women and femininely presenting men."  It is an extremely useful umbrella term for people who don't believe that any term correctly defines their sexuality.

Androphilia (androsexual): This is a term that I only learned very recently, but it refers to attraction to masculinity or men. Unlike heterosexuality or homosexuality, it doesn't make an assumption about your own sex and gender, it only  refers to being attracted to men (regardless of your sex and gender)

Gynephilia (gynosexual): This is the related term to androphilia and it refers to attraction to femininity or women (regardless of your own sex and gender).

Gender Binary: Is the belief in only two genders: male and female.  It is prevalent throughout much of the modern world and is an incredibly pervasive and incorrect belief (I always feel like an ass saying a belief is just incorrect, but if so much as one person in the entire world doesn't identify as male or female, then this belief is inherently incorrect).

Heteronormative: I've used this word in my blog already, so I feel extremely compelled to explain it.  This is a belief that relates to the gender binary.  It refers to society's belief that heterosexuality is the default orientation and thus marriage should only be between a man and a woman.  Thus, heteronormativity consequentially has a world view that everyone's sexuality, gender, and biological sex should align (ie biological female, who identifies as a woman, who is attracted to men).

Open Relationships:  A relationship can be either open or closed.  A closed relationship is the one most people will think of and it means that the people within a relationship are only exclusive with each other.  This can even apply to a group of seven people who are exclusive only to each other and no one else.  An open relationship refers to people within the confines of a relationship being allowed, with full consent of the other partner(s) to seek out other intimate relationships beyond the ones they already have.  It is extremely important to set boundaries in open relationships, because it is easy to venture into something your partner might not be comfortable with you doing.

Polyamory: The practice of having multiple partners, with everyone involved's consent.  This includes devoted triads (or more), open relationships, one primary and multiple secondary relationships, and much more.  Being polyamorous is often associated with Mormons, but in healthy polyamory every person involve has an equal amount of power and say.  When I first learned about polyamory I thought that it meant that polyamorous people didn't have any long term relationships, but polyamory does not necessarily exclude long term relationships, it just also includes the possibility of having more than one short or long term relationship.

Polyfidelity: This is a group of polyamorous people (more than two) who agree to be mutually exclusive with each other, generally for reasons of minimizing diseases, but also for other reasons.  Polyfidelity would be defined as a closed relationship.

Genderqueer (non-binary gender): This general term refers to a person whose gender identity does not fall within strictly male or strictly female.  It includes people who identify as both (bigendered, pangendered), people who identify as neither (agender, nongender), people whose gender identity is fluid, and those who are other-gendered.

Transgender: This is a broader term that refers to individuals whose biological sex does not always (or never) matches their gender or societal gender roles.  Transgendered is an umbrella term that includes transexuals, transvestites, drag queens and kings, and gender queer individuals.

Transsexual: This is a person whose biological sex does not match the gender that was assigned to them at birth.  Many people who are trans will opt to start taking the hormones of the sex that they feel congruous with and also opt for gender reassignment surgery, but people who do not take hormones or undergo surgery to alter their body does not mean they are not transsexual.  It is also important to not that well it is a choice for a person to take hormones and opt for surgery, but choice does not enter into a person's incongruous feelings with their birth assigned gender. I would also like to emphasize that sexual orientation and gender expression are separate from gender. So a person who was assigned a female gender at birth could transition to become a feminine, gay man, and this would be just as valid a transition as someone transitioning to become a masculine, heterosexual man.

Transvestite: An individual who practice cross-dressing.  The reasons people cross-dress are varied, but the term refers merely to the act.

Cisgendered: This is how the majority of Western society views themselves, which is that their biological sex matches their gender which was assigned at birth.  This is the "default" of most people and many people do not even realize that there could be anything other than this reality.

Feminism: A movement (or movements) that is focused on obtaining equality for women.  First wave feminism refers to the women's suffrage movement.  Second wave feminism refers to the push for women's rights that occurred during the 1960's.  Third wave feminism refers to the continued push for women's rights after the 60's.  There is a lot of baggage that is associated with feminism, but in essence feminism just wants to bring about equality for women, which I feel like shouldn't be objectionable.  I do consider myself a feminist.

Misogyny: Technically defined, misogyny is a hatred of women.  It is sexism applied to a women specifically in essence.  This is what feminism fights against.

Misandry: This term is the related term to misogyny and it refers to a hatred of men.  Some feminists are accused (and for extremely radical feminists this is even true occasionally) of misandry by taking feminism too far.

I know this list is far from complete, so if you have something to add, please do so in the comments.  Thank you to Liam for helping me put this list together.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Reading an old post over at The Pervocracy and Holly made some interesting points about something I've gotten chastised for in theatre before.

She says:
"An important concept here, one that Cosmo doesn't seem to get: Rowdy is "my" boyfriend only in the sense that I work at "my" hospital. The word "my" here indicates "relates to me" not "belongs to me." Deciding to date me means that we'll date, not I've been granted some sort of privileges over you. We're still two people."

I once had a lighting designer friend who got chastised by the chair of our department for using the word "my".  The conversation went something like this:

Me: So how's the light hang going?
Him: I've got most of my instruments [lighting people are pretentious and refer to lights as "instruments"] up in the air.
Chair (overhearing): Those lights do not belong to you, they belong.  This seems to be an misunderstanding that a lot of people make.  It's a harmful assumption and I think it is degrading to hear people refer to 'my actors' or 'my technicians'.

What my friend meant wasn't that he owned the lighting instruments (I'm pretentious too), but that he was currently using for a show that he was working on in a major capacity.

I have heard multiple stage managers lecture on this topic.  Using the word "my" to refer the show you're working (in any possible way) is degrading to the people involved and potentially disrespectful, etc, etc.  And, the thing is, I mostly agree with what they have to say, but "my" is a phrase I use frequently in regard to my work and I'm not willing to work extremely hard to avoid using a phrase that the vast majority of people don't get offended by.

Moving Out

Growing up I pretty much hated my family.  I got on pretty well with my mom, better than the rest of my family, but my sisters (both younger) were within a year in age of each other and had decided I was weird and a person to be despised.  As for my dad, thinking back, I'm pretty sure that there were entire weeks that we didn't say more than a few words to each other.

I hated my dad for the majority of my life.  My mom will confirm that even when I was barely a year old that I hated my dad, and that I can't account for.  I can account for hating him most of the rest of the time though (the years I can actually remember).  He was critical.  He wanted to me to succeed (on his terms) and more importantly, he wanted me to agree with him.  I think me agreeing with anything he said would have meant a lot to him, but it got to the point where the only things that came out of his mouth were criticisms and the only thing that came out of mine were disagreements.  My dad did some pretty emotionally abusive bullshit, let me tell you, being told "You have no love in your heart" multiple times was something that I always carried in the back of my mind.  But for all the emotionally abusive things he said, I think I said just as many.  I was constantly being told I was a kid and my opinion didn't matter (sometimes literally in these words) and so I got to actually believing that my words couldn't possibly hurt my family (though generally I didn't apply this to anyone else, interestingly enough).

My sisters really are good kids now (ones in college and the other is a senior in high school, so they would resent me calling them kids).  I can't fairly say if they were good kids growing up though because my memories are generally so bitter.  Carla is the older of the two and she has severe learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.  When she was young enough that we still got along, I remember teaching her colors because my parents had temporarily given up in exasperation.  She didn't and, to some extent, still doesn't interact with other human beings well and she really did struggle in school so my parents honestly did have to pay her more attention.  She was even home schooled for awhile.

Shea as the younger one and was normally cheerful.  When Carla was really struggling early on in elementary school we got along because neither of us got attention, but as we got older Carla attached herself to Shea and they became practically like twins in their bond with each other.  Shea is pretty much the perfect person (at least on the surface): thin, athletic, charismatic, friendly, cheerful, but oh she can be cruel.  Shea was the instituter of the cruelty, but Carla was quick to chime in and had a worse temper and a meaner mouth.  Whoever says younger siblings can't get the better of older siblings is wrong, let me tell you.  And of course they'd always get away with it too, because they were younger by a fair amount and since we were still growing (and I hit my full growth at 10) so I was of course bigger.  It allowed them to say some awful things and I still have scars from Shea's nails.

As I said, my mom was the one who I got along with best.  She was generally sympathetic to me, even though I clearly didn't fit in with my family at all, and she gave me good advice.  My biggest arguments with mom didn't come until senior year when I finally found a friend group that I hung out with regularly.  And, as soon as I did, I was almost never home.  My family left for two weeks in October of my senior year to go to some major national soccer tournament for Shea and I stayed home and that was the time when I got to know my friends.  I got accustomed to never being home and my habits didn't change when my family got back.  My mom hated it.  Of my family, I was the closest to her and actually talked to her and for that year she pretty much lost me entirely.  On Christmas Eve she disowned me and the rest of my family pretty much said that the disowning was just my mom being upset, but still, it fucking hurt.

I want to say moving out didn't change everything, but I honestly think it did.  I was so angry as a child, and part of that was a quick temper, but I honestly believe more of it was not being treated as a person by my family.  I was a kid, my opinions didn't matter, despite how much research I did on the subjects I was arguing about (it was particularly bad in junior high and high school when I was actually arguing with them about things I had learned in school).  Moving out and going to college gave me time to chill, time to be myself, and time to grow accustomed to my opinions being respected.  I talked to my mom almost every day on the phone and did so because a) they never called and imposed on my freedom and b) the conversations were on my terms.

When I visited home my dad and I still fought some, but it was better.  And my sisters were out of the house so much (they can thank me for buying them that freedom with my hard fought arguments with my mom) that I rarely even saw them.  But things honestly were better and continued to get better.  I started to have actual conversations with my dad.  I can actually count the real conversations that we'd had before college on two hands.  And I started hugging him, which was really new to me.  My dad hit me a couple times as a child.  Slaps across the cheek mainly and I always hit back, so I knew how wrong it was for a parent to treat a child that way.  My mother was always completely mortified and unsure what to do when this happened.  But we had a touch barrier between us and that's mostly broken down and he actually feels comfortable hugging me.

It's so weird, having civil and even friendly conversations and interactions with all of my family now.  My dad is proud of me and my achievements, which I never ever expected to have happen.  My sisters respect me not only as a person, but also as the "big sister" in a way that they never did before.  And, my mom and my relationship is completely back to normal.  It's nice.  Thinking about it makes me happy, and completely supporting myself now (I actually paid for most of my college through my own account or through loans, so I was actually mostly supporting myself through college) has made me realize that all the: "You don't care or realize all the things we do for you" arguments I had with my parents are true.  I'll have to tell them that next time we talk.

As a side note (which will be brief because this post is already long) I also think that stage managing has made my patience and understanding of other people so much better.  I feel like a completely different person now (I am a different person now), a person who I'm much happier to be.  A person who still struggles with her temper and stubbornness, but one who knows and acknowledges those traits as potential problems.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shoulder Problems

Sophomore year of high school I went up to block next to our middle hitter (I was a setter for my high school team) and I came down from the block and as the middle hitter came down her elbow landed hard right on the end of my left collar bone.  I immediately crumpled to the ground.  I didn't cry, it stung more than hurt, but I did sort of curl up in a ball for a second.  Play stopped and my mom and the other coaches came over to see what they could do.  I waved them off and said that I just needed to step out and get some ice.

My injury was fairly early in the practice so I iced 20 minutes and felt good enough to go back in and play more. I went home that day and my shoulder felt mostly fine, but I still iced every hour for twenty minutes like our high school trainer had told me to.  I woke up the next day and my arm was on fire.  I threw on a sweatshirt and for the majority of the had my arm slung through the pocket on it, like a make shift sling.  If I kept my shoulder and arm still it didn't hurt that bad and I stuck with the icing regiment as much as I could between classes.

After school I went back to the trainer who had been very busy with football players the day before and asked her to take a look at my shoulder.  She had correctly diagnosed the second degree tear of my MCL (medial collateral ligament: the one on the inside of your knee) the freshman year, so I trusted her pretty implicitly.  She looked at my shoulder for about ten minutes and ran the range of motion tests and pain tests that trainers do and told me that I might have impingement (the rotator cuff muscles interfering with part of the collar bone) in my shoulder because she suspected that my middle hitter's elbow had hit a nerve.  She told me to go see a doctor if it didn't start getting better.

And, for awhile it did feel a bit better.  I'm not really sure why, but about a month later, right as we were going   into districts my shoulder started killing me again.  I had to stop jump serving because it just put too much stress on my shoulder.  I bore through the pain, knowing a doctor would say I couldn't play and the pain wasn't getting any worse, it was fairly constant.

After districts (we were literally two points away from making it to state) but before the club volleyball season started I went to see my general practitioner and requested a referral to an orthopedist.  I saw the orthopedist who had operated on my mom's knee (and thus was a knee specialist).  By this point my scapular muscles (the ones around your shoulder blade) had begun to compensate to allow my shoulder to have semi-normal motion, so most of my pain was in fact in my shoulder blade.  He took one look at where most of my pain was and decided that I just had chronic inflammation of my scapular muscles and told me to take Advil (to be slightly more fair, they did X-Ray my clavicle to see if there were any bone chips).  I tried to explain that there was also an awful popping that happened frequently within my shoulder capsule itself, but he told me that was fairly normal.

Three months later, right as the club volleyball season was starting, I went to pick up my cat with my bad arm and my shoulder popped and I dropped my cat and couldn't move my shoulder afterwards for several minutes.  Needless to say, I went back to the orthopedist and explained what had happened and he prescribed physical therapy (in order to help strengthen my scapular muscles).

I went to physical therapy and the physical therapists of course focused on what the doctors had ordered: muscle strengthening.  They particularly focused on improving my core muscles.  It did seem to stabilize my shoulder enough that I could jump serve again, but my shoulder still tired more quickly and the pain level stayed mostly the same.

I went on like this through the club season and into the next high school volleyball season (I transferred schools in between my sophomore and junior years, so I was starting on a brand new team).  About a month into the high school season my pain got so bad that I could barely move my shoulder again (used my sweatshirt as a makeshift sling again). I went back to my general practitioner who referred me to another orthopedist at a different, but affiliated, clinic.  This doctor looked at the previous doctor's notes, prescribed physical therapy and recommended more Advil.  I pointed out that I had been taking Advil (and other painkillers) for over a year now and asked if it could be dangerous.  I was told that it wouldn't be dangerous unless I did it for years, so I said okay, despite my doubts.  This orthopedist did suggest that I might have a torn labrum (the cartilage of the shoulder) but labrums are almost never operated on or repaired, so I went back to physical therapy.

The physical therapy this time around did pretty much nothing since they were still focusing on the muscles around my shoulder blade.  However, at least my shoulder pain didn't get worse.  It stayed at a mostly steady level throughout the rest of my junior and all of my senior year.  At one point I was walking to physics senior year though and my shoulder popped and I literally no longer could move my shoulder.  It really didn't hurt that much but I could not move my shoulder at all so my physics teacher sent me to the nurse's office where I iced and laid down, which popped my shoulder fully back into its socket (which is when the pain really kicked in).  Also during Prom senior year poor Boyfriend went to sit down during karaoke after the dance and managed to sit on my bad shoulder (I was sitting on a very low bench), which created an experience similar to above but with a lot more pain.  But other than those two very minor, clearly, episodes my shoulder wasn't that much of a problem (part of my problem is I am fucking stubborn and I knew the orthopedists would just send me back to physical therapy)

After I graduated I helped my mom (who had gotten the varsity coaching job at my new high school because of a vacancy) with her C team because her actual coach was completely new to volleyball.  That's when my shoulder pretty much got to the level of barely able to move without pain.  I went back to my general practitioner and got yet another referral, though at least this doctor suggested it might be  impingement and made note of it in my charts, so I went to yet another orthopedist, same clinic as the first time (our insurance only covered certain places).  I walked in and explained my problems and the doctor first recommended physical therapy which I declined immediately.  I then talked to him further and explained they had done an X-Ray when I first came in and that when I saw the second guy he had told me that the X-Ray would be good for 10 years so there was no point doing another X-Ray (I didn't actually agree with that dumbass but arguing with doctors is often futile).  My new doctor seemed slightly shocked at that and asked if they had done an MRI.  I shook my head and my doctor seemed shocked and promptly scheduled me for an MRI with contrast.

I went to my MRI about the week later and Boyfriend came with (it was a damn good thing too as you'll see shortly).  I went into the MRI appointment and they prepped me and explained the process and then promptly stuck a giant-ass needle right in the capsule of my shoulder.  I think I actually screamed, at the very least I blacked out for a few seconds.  I have never felt that much pain in my entire life and I have an extremely high pain tolerance, I played through my shoulder problems, cracked ribs, and a 2nd degree MCL tear.  I then went in to the test my shoulder mostly stopped hurting and they took the images they wanted and I left.  By the time I got out to the car I felt like I was staggering, though Boyfriend can probably confirm I wasn't.  My shoulder hurt so much and after jumping my car (whose battery had died) Boyfriend drove back because there was no way I could manage it with the pain I was in.

I woke up the next day and it felt like my shoulder was out of its socket.  I couldn't move my arm and actually went and bought a sling (it was summer and a sweatshirt wouldn't have been sufficient anyway).  Another week later and my shoulder was mostly back to it's normal state and I went in to have the doctor explain my MRI images to me.  They had already called me to confirm I had a minor labrum tear, but my doctor said it was fairly ambiguous and surgery was not really worth it.  I said that I really wanted surgery I was so tired of my shoulder hurting but my doctor recommended a cortisone shot first to see if it would help me any.  Miraculously it did actually and I went to practice after my appointment and was actually able to hit balls for drills (although my arm felt oddly heavy there for awhile).

A year later and the cortisone was wearing off.  I had gone through my entire first year of college and was able to the physically demanding tasks of loading in and loading out shows at the local theatre and anything else my job demanded of me.  It was great but then the pain returned full force almost exactly a year later.  So, I went into to see my doctor and he said that the cortisone shouldn't have worn off so quickly and that he'd give me another shot but if it wore off in less than two years that I would have to have surgery.  I didn't really care either way, so I went back to college and then only a month later the pain was back worse than it had ever been.

I made a special trip back to see my doctor and he sat me down and ran me through (finally) the exercises the trainer had run me through three years before.  He told me that the tendons in my shoulder were loose, but it was very odd that someone as young as I was would need surgery, but that was how genetics worked sometime.  I tried explaining that it wasn't genetic, there was in fact an inciting incident, and he himself had not noticed any problems whatsoever with my right shoulder.  He said this was just how things worked sometimes and I didn't argue because at least this doctor was taking my pain seriously.  He said that in addition to the loose tendons and torn labrum, I had impingement (you know, like the trainer said in the first place) which had caused bursitis (swelling of the bursa (a cushioning pad)).  So, he scheduled me for surgery in December (it was October, but that was the first time that I could afford to have surgery).

I did my preop visit in late November and then on December 15th I finally had my surgery.  It took a little over an hour (longer than they expected).  The first thing I remember coming out of the anesthesia (which hit me hard) was my doctor saying: "You had a lot more damage in there than we expected".  I think if I had not been anesthetized and with my dominant arm in a sling from being freshly operated on, I honestly would have hit him.  I am not a wimp.  I have an extremely high threshold and it's not like I was making this up for attention!  In my surgery they had tightened the tendons of my shoulder capsule (the process is about as gruesome as it sounds), fixed the bursitis, stopped the impingement, smoothed out my torn labrum, and fixed my surprise rotator cuff tear (30% torn) which is why my surgery had taken extra time.

I took a long time to come out of the anesthesia, nearly two hours, but I went home in a sling and slept (with ice on).  And then woke up and had my parents get me more ice and give me my pain pills and then slept.  I have never been more nauseous in my life either.  The combination of anesthesia and pain pills really took it's toll on my.

All told, my dominant arm was in that sling for two full months.  It was torture in a lot of ways and I still, thinking back, am extremely grateful for Boyfriend's help (especially since I couldn't drive).  I started physical therapy after about a month.  I would go into the physical therapist and he would take my arm out of the sling and slowly, centimeter by centimeter (yes the progress was actually that slow), we began to restore the range of motion in my shoulder.  It hurt a lot, but it was a good hurt.  The physical therapist also noticed something that no one else, myself included, had.  My scapular muscles are trained in a funny way and were extremely overdeveloped.  They had been compensating for my rotator cuff and thus were in near constant pain.

The only scary part of my recovery was when my incision popped open.  I bought steri strips and closed it back up and then at my postop check up two days later had my doctor look it over and he said it was fine.  It took a full two months in a sling but (after four postop visits) I finally was allowed to take it off and then with physical therapy I got the majority of my range of motion back.  I hadn't had that amount of range of motion for years.  Now my shoulder only occasionally twinges and it doesn't pop at all, I have to say it is a truly wonderful thing.  If something is going to be achy in cold weather, it is most likely going to be my shoulder, but at least it's finally better.

Fun Fact #1: I did my first stage management job while I was in a sling.  It was a fun balancing act.
Fun Fact #2: I was pronounced fully recovered the day before I had to start the light hang I was master electrician for.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Social Interactions

Part of my job, a large part actually, is interacting with people.  A stage manager needs to keep the director happy, the actors happy, the designers happy, the technicians happy, and, if it's a musical, the musicians happy.  That's a lot of groups of people to keep happy and those people are from all sorts of personality types and backgrounds.

My job depends on reading people and I honestly don't mean to boast when I say that I'm quite good at reading people.  It's part of my job.  I can tell when someone says my name if it's because they need something or just want to chat or if they have a serious concern.  I can do what someone wants before they actually ask (that's actually a lot of fun to do).

I used to be awful at reading people.  I didn't know when to stop talking (or when to start).  I didn't know how to gracefully accept criticism.  My default reaction was anger when it seemed like someone was challenging me (I still struggle with this and with criticism depending on the situation and on the person).  I recently was living back in my parent's house for a few months and both my sisters remarked (after having spent time with me for the first time in years) on how different and relaxed I seemed.

I think dating the change back to one particular instance is unrealistic, but I do remember when I decided consciously that I couldn't be angry my entire life.  I had just finished soccer practice, I was fourteen so I couldn't drive yet and my mom was picking me up and driving me to volleyball practice (not looking forward to that aspect of being a parent (at some nebulous far off day in the future)).  We had about an hour and a half between practices and normally my mom and I went and did something (getting a snack, going to a park, etc).

This time we went to a park.  I didn't want to go to volleyball.  My coach thought I had a bad attitude.  My mom and I had had this discussion before (she was also a volleyball coach and could empathize with my coach).  My biggest problem was I have been in a volleyball gym since I was seven days old, my mom coach, I'd grown up seeing the game played, so when a coach told me I'd made a mistake, I really did know I'd made a mistake and 90% of the time I knew exactly how to fix it.  Of course, tactless and angry as I was, my response to the coach was "I know!"  To me it was one of those situations where I knew I'd messed up and I didn't need my face rubbed in it.

My mom's point was always: "If you know why you messed up then why did it happen in the first place?"  She knew it was an unfair response, but she was trying to make about how coaches say things.  So there we were, me sitting in a park with my mom, sobbing.  I honestly didn't understand.  My mom explained that coaches want to hear "Yes" or "Okay" or "I'll make that change" when they give corrections.  My (clearly brilliant) counterpoint was "But I do know".  I think this repetitive conversation must have gone on for a full hour.  The advice was nothing new, I had heard it all before, but somehow my mom got it through my thick head this time.  I agreed to just say "okay" or even just nod the next time a coach went to correct my error.  (For the record, this was never a problem in soccer like it was with volleyball (probably because I actually didn't know as much about soccer)).

The amazing thing is my mom's advice worked almost immediately.  The libero (a position that is basically a defensive specialist) from the local large college helped out with our practices occasionally.  I really really respected her (hell, I wanted to be her) and when she corrected a passing error I had made, I nodded and passed the next ball perfectly.  I was immediately rewarded with the phrase, "You take directions so well."  That was probably the first time I'd had that phrase used in reference to me, but was by no means the last.

I didn't get better at taking directions completely or immediately, but I did gain some important insight into people: when someone says something they want their opinions respected.  So, now when someone says something I disagree with if it's not going to actually harm me or anyone else then I nod, smile (I used to grimace because it was so hard for me), and say "Okay, sure" or "Yeah, I can do that."  I do this even when my thoughts are more along the lines of "Sure, you're saying words that I'm not actually going to follow at all.

Believe it or not I actually got complimented on doing this.  My technical director was a man I respected, but frequently disagreed with, but I made a habit of saying, "Yes, okay" to him (and I really did try to do what he asked the majority of the time).  My last show in college, he came up to me and said: "I know you frequently disagree with me and sometimes when you agree with what I say, you're just humoring me, but I appreciate it and wish more people did it, so thank you."  He then promptly got embarrassed and ran away because he wasn't someone who was comfortable with complimenting other people.

And, this isn't the only thing that's important by any means when interacting with people.  There are so so many things I have learned, particularly from stage managing, and I think one day I will write more about it.  As is, I have rambled on long enough and have written, if not a novel, then at least a short story.

Note: I'm not advising you to lie to people.  I'm simply saying that in my experience people respond better if you are polite and humor them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sexuality Labels

It's sorta fascinating.  I had all these post ideas that I plan out and then one just pops into my head while driving and I just can't resist writing it about it.

I call myself heterosexual.  It is how I identify, but when I say it I feel like I'm not being completely truthful.  I recently realized the problem is terminology.

When I say I'm heterosexual I mean that the vast majority of the I am attracted to men.  I can look at women and saw: "Wow, she's gorgeous" and mean it, but never ever be attracted to her.  I think that people who identify as neither gender can be attractive aesthetically (like women) yet I'm still not attracted to said person romantically/sexually.

Maybe I'm just weird.  Because there are women and gender queer people who I would consider dating, but it is such a rare occurrence for me.  It's just men attract me more frequently aesthetically, romantically, and sexually.  So, when I say that I'm heterosexual I mean that most often I am attracted to men.

Maybe it is a reluctance to call myself bisexual, but not for the reasons you think.  If I were to call myself bisexual I feel like it would insult people I know who actually like both men and women about equally.  I could say I'm bisexual with heterosexual preference, but I still feel like I am attracted to women so infrequently that even that seems like a lie.

Note: The other problem I have with the term bisexual is that it plays into the heteronormative belief that there are only two genders.

Similarly, I think of myself as monogamous because a) polyamory just never interested me and b) the relationship I have (and have had for almost four years) currently is monogamous and neither Boyfriend and I have ever been interested in our relationship being otherwise.  (I do also feel like it would be weird to add another person to our relationship since we have been together as long as we have, but I could be crazy).

Labels are stupid and restrictive, but when talking to other people that are just ever so convenient.

Help Wanted

There are times (many of them) when I wish I had an assistant stage manager (asm) or deck chief to help me out by doing the stage crew work for this show.  Even on this small show my responsibilities are daunting with the stage crew work is added to my plate and I'm used to having an asm or deck chief (or even better: both).


Am I the only one who plays this game? I will ask someone a question and they will answer me and their answer will intrigue me so I inevitably ask: why? And so often they won't be able to answer me.

When I have an opinion (on anything really) I know without even thinking about it why I have that an opinion. Really for me it's more than just that. If I do something I know the reason why.

I am working out more lately.
I want to lose weight.
I am uncomfortable with my body image.
Our society and media believe mine is not the ideal body (even though I shouldn't let it get to me like it does)
Society seems to inherently have a standard of beauty.
To make life a more fathomable and comprehensible experience.

Etc etc, I go on and on until the questions I'm answering become distinctly philosophical (as they already did) or distinctly scientific. It's something I do all the time almost at a subconscious level but not quite because I can always immediately go through this process verbally if you ask me to. I feel so odd but this "game" as I call it helps me keep my life organized and, more importantly, helps me know exactly what I'm thinking and why.

I sometimes get trapped in webs of "why" when things (as they almost always do) have multiple causations.


The word "because" is not an explanation.  By definition it is a preposition that indicates causation.  It in and of itself is not a cause.

The "explanation" parents use so often: "Because I said so" is not an explanation.  By definition, an explanation details the reasoning behind a decision[1].

The words: "Because I said so and I'm your parent" at least imply the reason that parents are refusing to elaborate is because the parents are in the position of power and don't believe their child/children need to know the reasoning behind a decision.  The ability of parents to believe that their children wouldn't understand or don't need to know astounds me.  The ability of children to ask pointed questions and to comprehend complex ideas astounds me.

The phrase "Trust me" doesn't bother me nearly as much because a) it makes the assumption that the people conversing are equal and b) the phrase implies "If you trust me then you will eventually get to know my reasoning, I just can't tell you right now."

What am I getting with all this rhetoric?  Children deserve explanations.  Real ones.  Not made up reasons because the adult/parent can't be bothered to explain.  I firmly believe that if a child has a firm enough grasp of the issue to be asking questions then they have a firm enough grasp of the issue to deserve an explanation, however rudimentary.

As I child I rarely was told: "Because I say so" mainly because my parents knew I would never accept it as an answer.