May 24, 2017

| evolution |

Do you think some people just get to a point in life and say – “Ok, now I'm perfect,” then stop evolving to stay stagnant? Maybe some do, and maybe they are perfect. I am not one off those people. 

I recently took a year off dating after getting out of a yearlong roller-coaster relationship. I thought it a good time to work on my own shit sans other’s (being male). It was glorious – really liberating. Absolutely the best - no one did it better than me... (see what I did there?) There is something freeing on the psyche to say, “No, this year I am not dating.” It relieved any sense of anxiety that I “needed” to find someone; it also allowed me to say no to guys I might have otherwise have said yes to and thus have repeated the same dating rut I've been stuck in for some time now (I refuse to say for how long, but it might be a decade). 

During this glorious year to myself, I had a few ex boyfriends return to my life, as if the universe was testing my resolve. Obviously, I had somehow held on to these men in some sort of belief that I had fucked up an opportunity that shall never return in my life. “He was the one and I missed it, my life will forever be on the wrong path.”  This statement is not true.

One ex, BSB (before Santa Barbara), came back after a decade and proclaimed I was the one. Every woman wants to hear that! The ego wants to know that you missed ME. But it only highlighted how much I had changed and he had not. I was not that person I was a decade ago (thank god – I’m sure my sister would agree). I had spent this last decade working hard on my growth – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, professionally. I wasn’t that little girl with stars in her eyes for this man. I was at lease a wee bit more mature. I had explained that I wasn’t dating this year and working on some stuff, to which he exclaimed, “Shit Jenny! You are always working on yourself.” 

He said this as if it was a bad thing. It resonated with me. I had started yoga about two decades ago but still think I am a novice, and I work on that shit daily. How is working on your “inner” self any different. Am I supposed to wake up on Wednesday, go to meditate, then stop, “Nope. I’m perfect.” That’s not how it works. At least not for me.

Now I am not here to bash on this man. This experience helped to highlight my growth – and this should be celebrated. Wooo!! Sometimes you have no way of measuring how far you have come until a yardstick is thrown in your face, metaphorically of course. I struggle daily thinking I am not getting anywhere, but apparently, I have grown more than I have realized. For this face-plant yardstick, I am grateful.

This last year of purposefully not dating helped me see where I needed to grow and heal. That last breakup shined an intense light on my flaws, and although I may want to point that light at the ex, very brightly so that it's blinding, that’s not helpful. That is for him to illuminate and work on... or not. My business is on my own work. 

Now I am half way through 2017 and have had the opportunity to date a bit.  This is not a dating blog - but maybe it should be... jokes. That said, every date and interaction is an opportunity to look at that yardstick. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that is constantly observing, measuring, analyzing, hypothesizing… Adds to the intrigue I’m sure. But even in the opportunities that do not work out I find a new hypothesis to investigate, a new direction for my continued growth. That’s evolution for you.

"You cannot solve a problem from the same mind that created it." - Albert Einstein 

February 25, 2017

Porgy and Bess ~ February 25, 2017 @ The Victoria Theater

Summertime and the Living’s Easy

Jazz started to play behind a closed curtain. Scenes from the American 1960’s Civil Rights movement danced on the curtain, illuminated from a projector in the back of the theater. They depicted African Americans fighting for equality. It’s curious how themes repeat themselves throughout history.

Porgy and Bess took over the stage of the Victoria Theater this last month thanks to the Ensemble Theater Company. A musical written in the early 1930s, its theme is just as relevant today as it was back then, although there have been some contemporary adaptations. This particular production was set in the poor fishing community of Catfish Row during the 1960s, brought to life by the sound of jazz prominent in that era. In a nutshell, Porgy is a disabled man living in Catfish Row with a good sense of community, but no woman. Bess is an attractive cocaine addict from the city attached to a well-to-do thug. Things go awry when they visit The Row, Bess’s thug has to skip town in a jiffy, and Bess shacks up with Porgy to wait it out. They fall in love, and then once again, more things go awry.

The small cast worked well together, cohesively portraying a small, poor community that sticks together to care for their own, while keeping out of the “Boss Man’s” way.  The cast efficiently moved pieces around a well-designed set to help establish each scene. Through effective lighting, movement, and of course singing, the New Vic was transformed into Catfish Row during the summertime.

However, the beauty in the story is in its telling – or its singing in this case. The entire cast oozed talent, making jazz that brought both joy and sorrow to the audience. Elijah Rock’s physical depiction of Porgy was so flawlessly executed, I was sure Rock was handicapped himself. And with his deep, soulful voice, Rock added rich soul to his character’s plight. Karole Foreman’s sweet voice made you forget that Bess was an aging addict that lived off men.  However, Frank Lawson stole the show with his portrayal of Sportin’ Life, a previous resident of Catfish Row who is now all fancy in the city and slinging dope.  Lawson danced, swayed, and taunted the others throughout the story, making it hard to know if Sportin’ Life was a good guy or a bad guy – because he was certainly a fun guy.

It was a great ride, with all its ups and downs, suspense and romance. The underlying current of addiction and inequality was painstakingly vibrant throughout the entire ride. Luckily we had jazz, that made the living easy.

January 14, 2017

Gavin DeGraw ~ January 14, 2017 @ The Granada Theater (part of the Kids Helping Kids Benefit)

For the Kids

They seemed so professional – poised, articulate, and intelligent on stage. Knowing exactly when to pause for effect, adding a bit of drama and a dash of humor to the night’s events. And they were kids. Kids helping kids by throwing a benefit worthy of professionals twice their age and experience.

The night began with young gals and guys lining the entrance to The Granada decked out in formal black ties and black dresses, applauding the patrons who came to support their cause. Kids Helping Kids is a non-profit organization ran by San Marcos High Schools students that aid other kids in need across the world. This is the ninth time the group has organized the annual benefit, and it showed in the execution.

The night was packed with quality music, with singer-song writer Gavin DeGraw headlining the showcase. But of course KHK had to showcase one of their own – a young up-and-coming artist from San Marcos, Jazara. Although the young songstress only performed one song, she set the tone for the night.

Parachute, a band formed in Charlottesville, warmed up the crowd with their infectious pop tunes. With four albums and over 10 years touring under their belt, they really knew how to get the crowd moving. Only a two-piece this evening, they still managed to get a groove on, forcing the crowd to their feet and demanding attention in a fashion that only southern gentlemen know how to do with so much charm.  Simple songs purposely written to impress the ladies did just that as they performed their hits “She is Love” (think of a scene from One Tree Hill – wait that’s DeGraw) and “Can’t Help” (think Maroon 5 inspired). Talented and gracious, Parachute represented what the night was all about as they acknowledged the hard work that went into making the benefit a success.

And like a boss (bossi?), the kids took to the stage again to remind the audience why they were here – to raise money for disadvantaged kids. Again, with poise and intelligence, they broke down what a donation could bring around the world: $5000 – a year’s college tuition, $1000 – a teacher’s salary, $500 – HIV treatment.  Students throughout the Granada held flashing paddles up, waiving towards patrons as they made donations in envelopes provided under each seat. One after another, paddles lit up, making this quite a successful night.

Then came the main event, Gavin DeGraw. The piano man was accompanied by a percussionist and a guitarist on an elegant yet simple stage set. Known for his love songs, DeGraw did not disappoint. “Unlike politics and cars… Love does not go out of style,” DeGraw declared as started into a love set, playing selections from his six albums, the latest of which was just released in September 2016. And he hit the main veins, playing his poignant break though “Not Over You,” his arduous “Follow Through,” the more upbeat “Sweeter,” and his latest very danceable “She Sets the World on Fire” (not in that order). Throughout the set DeGraw was very personable with the crowd, at one time jumping down and going deep into the crowd to take selfies with lucky patrons. He too was grateful for the evening, telling the story of how the song “I Don’t Want to Be” literally got him out of his home town and a life he did not want to lead.

And sometimes that’s what you need – you need a little push, a little help, maybe a lot of community to come together showing gratitude for what they have and compassion for what others do not. And sometimes it takes kids helping kids to remind us.