November 17, 2009

The first thing that made me smile today? My dog. He always makes me smile in the morning. That's when he does things that are just stupid-cute, like rubbing his eyes with his paws, or yawning and making very silly noises, or curling up and resting his head on my feet.

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The last time I traveled out of the US was last year about this time. My roommate Amaya and I journeyed to Belize, and then to Guatemala. We went because we were both feeling an incredible wanderlust. Sam was going to the east coast to work at an arts camp (where I was headed for the second session) and I was staying in Portland to film a puppet video. There was a two-week time period after Sam left and before production started, and Amaya and I went online and found the cheapest tickets we could find. We were open to going anywhere on the planet, and that anywhere wound up being Latin America.

My favorite soup to eat when I am sick is chicken noodle soup. There was a time when I was ill for several weeks, especially in the morning I kept going in to the doctor's office, and they kept telling me that I had a bad stomach flu. I took about eight pregnancy tests, and they always came out negative. I felt so sick whenever I woke up. It was awful. And then my acupuncturist suggested that I stop taking a multivitamin before I went to bed. And, presto. I was better. I had very suddenly developed a sensitivity to B-vitamins, which is apparently not too uncommon. Campbell's chicken noodle soup was virtually the only thing I ate during that time, so one might think that I would have grown weary of it. But I never did.

One of my role models is a man by the name of Dan Hurlin. He, without a doubt, is largely responsible for who I am today. Dan was the artistic director of Andy's Summer Playhouse, a magical artistic playground for kids 8-18 in Wilton, New Hampshire. My memories of Andy's are vivid and intense and so filled with joy that it almost hurts. Dan was from New York City and swore out loud and laughed big and wore zany clothing and Made Kids Important. Dan is the reason I became an artist.

Another role model is Ray Bradbury. My best friend (whom I met through Andy's when I was eight) introduced me to Bradbury's stories when we were about twelve. We fell head-over-heels in love with his words and his way of capturing thoughts and just Getting Things Right. We sent him a letter, asking him to be the president of our writing club, which was just the two of us. We included stories we had written. And, he wrote back, saying that he was busy working on his next book, but that he read our stories and loved them, and encouraged us to keep writing. Several years later, I wrote him again. And he wrote back. And I wrote back. And what followed was a limited correspondence that spanned about two years. Ray Bradbury is the reason I became a writer.

Another role model is a person by the name of John Dowd. He was the outdoor education teacher at my high school, and I befriended him at the very beginning of my Freshman year. He taught me the value of having true friendships with people older than me. He taught me how to rock climb and how to travel and how to create a loving, trusting environment within a group. John is the reason I became a good leader.

Sharon Hayes is the last person I'll mention here, though there are countless other role models in my life. Sharon was another adult at Andy's, with whom I have remained sometime friends. Sharon taught me the value of strong women. Sharon taught me the possibilities of living well while living on limited financial means. Sharon taught me that I could do whatever I wanted to do, and it would be feminine just because I was doing it. Sharon taught me to love the way I move. Sharon is the reason I am comfortable being exactly who I am.

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I would have to say that my favorite puppet was a piece of paper. I think it's utterly fascinating to watch something inanimate and mundane not only come to life, but also show a personality.

There is a spot right behind Obie's ear that is soft and smells so nice and is so impossibly downy. This is my favorite thing to touch. I am a very tactile person. Of all of my senses, I think my sense of touch might be the strongest. Runner-up: sense of smell.

I drive a blue Toyota Prius that has been broken-in by dozens of dogs. My car's name is Kit, like Knight Rider, but she's a girl, and she knows how to get me everywhere, and doesn't get mad when I take a wrong turn. She says, "recalculating route," not "recalculating route, you idiot."

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My first pet was a caterpillar named Joey (I used to name everything Joey). Joey adopted me when I was maybe about five (he showed up in my bedroom one day), and after giving him yummy leaves, he built a chrysalis and came out a beautiful, perfect, little white moth. I let Joey go then, but to this day, whenever I see a white moth I say, "hi, Joey!" After my foray into moths, there were several goldfish named Joey (won at the middle school Fun Fair) and then a parakeet named Dwight (I was a big Red Sox fan) and then a parakeet named Spencer (?). But my first real love was Casey, our dog, who was a Mutt Above All Other Mutts. Whenever I visit my parents, I always have the feeling that she will still be there when I open the front door.

I put loose change in the zippy pocket of my wallet. Truth to be told, though, I don't like change very much. Especially not pennies. When I get pennies, I like to just set them around on the sidewalk, heads-up of course.

My favorite thing that falls is probably water, but not in the massive waterfall crash white foam kind of way. I instead prefer those tiny little waterfalls in brooks and streams, the ones created by a rock or a tree. I like playing in brooks and streams, too sending little bark boats down the current, rock hopping, splish-splashing around.