Monday, October 10, 2016

Love, Love, Love

I wrote a thing! More specifically, a review of the last play that I saw in New York. So, here is my review of Love, Love, Love by Mike Bartlett at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre:

I’d like to start by stating that I enjoyed this. The writing was sharp and the acting was generally of a very high standard, particularly Amy Ryan as Sandra, who made me squirm with her character’s awfulness.

But a few things puzzled me – first, why weren’t some of the references Americanized? I know that this is a very British play, but there’s nothing wrong with adapting it for your audience, especially if doesn’t affect the plot at all. For example, one character mentioned that she had a roommate who she found on Gumtree. I think that’s supposed to have been a laugh/groan with familiarity line, but literally no one in the room knew what the reference was – craigslist would have been understood and is still London-appropriate. During the first intermission, I had a conversation with my neighbor about how I wondered if tuition fees (for university) were going to come up, to contrast with the student grant that Kenneth was living on in the first act. He didn’t know what I was talking about – a clear case of something missing its mark with an audience less familiar with contemporary UK social issues. (I’m also not sure why Mike Bartlett didn’t do anything with this later.)

Second, I struggled to figure out whether this play was written for Boomers, for Millennials, both groups, or neither of them. Although I kind of loathed having two intermissions, although I’m sure they were necessary for the elaborate set changes, it was nice to have a chance to think about what might be coming next for the characters. I was lucky enough to have a great seatmate, who was up for chatting about these things.

For context, Love, Love, Love is a three-act play. The first act takes place in 1967, where we are introduced to Sandra & Kenneth – both students at Oxford, interested in drinking, smoking, getting high, and sex and obsessed with not being trapped and getting the most out of life before they eventually die. The next act is set in 1990, the night of Kenneth & Sandra’s daughter Rosie’s 16th birthday. It is also the night that they discover that they have both had affairs: Sandra unilaterally decides that they’re going to get divorced and announces this to their children over birthday cake. Apparently, they’ve both been feeling trapped (that word again) in their cozy suburban life in Reading, where they and their children appear to want for nothing (other than their parents’ love and attention). The final act is set in 2011, where the now-37-year-old Rosie demands that her parents buy her a house after a lengthy rant about how her parents are responsible for the fact that she ended up nearly-40 with no stable job, living in a rented flat with a random roommate, with no partner, and childless. Her parents refuse, telling her that life isn’t fair and that they had to work hard for everything they’ve achieved (e.g. her father is making approximately 3x Rosie’s yearly income, even in retirement). They’re patronizing and still won’t listen to her. It’s all rather horrible.

I spent the first two acts thinking that the play was written for Millennials, highlighting the fact that their parents’ generation may owe a great deal of its success to both luck – the luck to have been born into a strong welfare state (subsequently decimated by Thatcher, New Labour, and Cameron) and era of booming economic prosperity – and hard work. And then, when the playwright opened act three with one Millennial who couldn’t stop playing games on his phone and another who blamed all of her misfortune on her parents, I felt like he was trapping his characters in all of the cliché criticisms of my generation (let’s ignore the fact that at 37, Rosie is actually too old to be a Millennial and graduated from university in the mid 1990s, a time of economic prosperity). Her parents were just as bad – embodying every cliché about how Boomers selfishly bled the welfare state and the planet dry, then razed a path of destruction in their wake, leaving nothing for the generations that followed. Honestly, I don’t really think the act said anything new about the tension between Boomers and their children, unless the audience really hasn’t been paying attention at all (a distinct possibility, in which case I withdraw this criticism…I recognize that not everyone will be as obsessed with the Guardian’s generation gap coverage as I am).

Finally, and to tie it back into my first point – I’m not so sure that the play, despite its excellent production and writing, really resonated with the audience. I think there are significant differences between the American and British experiences of generational tension and the play assumes a level of familiarity with British references that the audience just didn’t seem to understand. (I had just attended a talkback session with the British director of The Cherry Orchard, Simon Godwin, who spoke extensively about how much he had learned during rehearsal and previews about the differences between British and American audiences and the ways different things resonate with each of them…I think some of that sensitivity wouldn’t have gone amiss at Love, Love, Love.)

Still, it’s well worth seeing and any piece of theatre that leads me to write almost a thousand words afterwards isn’t a bad thing. Thought-provoking is my favorite kind of theatre!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

NYC Week Two

w00t! Week two of training is finished and, I'm pleased to report, that things are still on track. I swapped around the Wednesday 5M and the Thursday 3M again, based on when the weather was less sucky. Yes, "less sucky" meant that I did my 5M in the dark & pouring down rain, with the threat of thunderstorms, but that's waaaaaaay better than humidity in my book. But, hey, I was well-hardened by my years in Seattle.
My long run yesterday was ROUGH. It was so hot and sunny, but, thankfully, not humid. I had to talk myself out of stopping so many times and finishing later or on Sunday, so I feel like getting through this was a big accomplishment. Thank goodness for the nice man who was out watering his lawn and hosed me down at 3.5 and the water fountain at 7, so I could get the sickly sweet taste out of my mouth. Why are all of the sports drinks & chews so sweet? I have the world's biggest sweet tooth, but there's a limit to how much sweet I can eat or drink on a run. I was very successful at planning my route to end at farmer's market and best iced coffee in town. But, then, I had to keep sitting down and resting to walk the four blocks home. Note to self: no more sleeping in on Saturdays until the weather gets cooler. No more long runs that start at 10am, because it is too darn hot.

The other thing I did this week was add in an arm workout at my new favorite group fitness studio. I'll keep doing those for the next two weeks, until the move. I certainly don't think this had any negative effects on the training. And, hey, stronger arms are a good thing.

I was pleased that I got some work done this weekend on the packing and laundry. I have four or five bags already earmarked for donating, as well. Is there still a long way to go? Absolutely, but I'm glad that I haven't left everything until the last minute. And I was able to have a mover come by to get an estimate.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

NYC Week One

Yes, the sticker chart is back!
I'm mostly following Hal Higdon's Novice II plan. I picked it for several reasons: I don't have a strong enough fitness base to start with more volume and I don't feel like being particularly ambitious. Instead, I want to focus on being CONSISTENT and getting in those four runs a week. I think that's what I need right now, especially given how busy the next month is going to be with packing and moving.

So, to recap the first week of the 18 week cycle:

Monday: 3M easy. Which, sadly, was hard. My hip was feeling off and that caused all of me to tense up. I felt like I was trying so hard not to throw off my gait that I was...throwing off my gait and couldn't relax into the run at all. And I did some unwise snacking before the run, too, so I felt a bit barfy. Good job on that one, Joyce. Anyway. Done.

Tuesday: Off. Which meant that I did a Jasyoga video to try and speed recovery. I was feeling a bit stiff from yesterday (which is seriously worrying, given that I'm usually the queen of fast recovery), so I wanted to do something really light to get the blood circulating. I opted for Erin's "Full Body Recovery" video, which was a new one for me and different because she has you use the wall as a prop the whole time. Nice.

Wednesday: 3M easy. This was supposed to be 5, but I swapped with with Thursday's run, because I was running (ha ha) late for the start of the England/Japan semifinal at the Women's World Cup. Happily, the rights restrictions didn't kick in until after the anthems, so I at least got to listen to those. I'm not going to lie, it was a little emotional. I wanted England to win so much and it was so cool to hear all the BBC commentators say things like "this is the furthest that England has gone in the World Cup since 1990," because it means that in their minds, at least, they weren't differentiating between the men & women's games. Anyway, it wasn't to be, but at least my hurry to get home meant that I ran pretty quickly!

Thursday: 5M easy. Nothing too crazy, just a nice evening run through the neighborhood. Honestly, I don't really remember much about it.

Saturday: 8M easy. First long run of marathon training! Did this at Saddle Brook Park, because I had an errand to run nearby, but also because I think it's one of the best places to do long runs anywhere nearby. (New Jersey seriously sucks at nice long running trails.) I thought the weather was lovely when I went out: it was overcast and rainy, which kept it cool and refreshing and kept the Fourth of July frolickers at bay. It was hilarious that at one point, I ran under a bridge, where a ton of other trail users were sheltering. But, being a hardy Seattle runner, I had my hat and that didn't bother me. My pace was nothing special, but I was very happy to speed up for the last half mile and do a nice strong finish. For nutrition - I had a bottle of cherry limeade nuun (excellent) and a Skratch chew every two miles (pomegranate - didn't love the flavor, but liked the texture). Post run, found a yoga mat in my trunk and was able to continue my yoga stretch routine, with the help of a nice nearby tree. And, for the win, I didn't have any cramping in my legs, despite what happened in my last two longish runs!

I would also note that I wore my lovely Switzer Skirt Sports skirt for this run, because I decided that I would be patriotic by expressing my freedom to run, in public, wherever and whenever I wanted, wearing whatever I want.

Things that worked well this week: After doing the Jasyoga video on Tuesday, I actually did the same stretches after every run. I think it made a huge difference. On some advice from my trainer, I started taking a magnesium supplement with breakfast before my long run. I have no idea whether it made a difference, but since I didn't cramp up, I don't think it hurt. Actually doing my long run on Saturday morning (I'm usually a Sunday afternoon long runner): it made such a difference to feel like I had the rest of the weekend to enjoy and relax.

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Starts

Last you heard from me, it was September 2013 and I was a week away from moving to New Jersey. For what it's worth, I accomplished the move and now, thank God, I am leaving. Next month, I'm moving BACK to DC (well, Northern Virginia). It's just four years short of when I left for Seattle and I've learned a lot in the time I've been gone. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and learned to love trips into New York City (only good reason I can think of to live in Jersey, frankly). I've had two jobs in my chosen field and am now making a lateral move that makes a lot of sense for my long-term goals at my organization. Most importantly, being away also means that I learned that DC is where I feel most at home. I have incredible friends with whom I have stayed close over these four years and, frankly, when I'm in DC, I'm surrounded by other nerdy people (many of them lawyers) who believe in changing the world. They're my people.

I feel like this is a good time to write something on my poor blog, because today was the start of my 18-week build-up to the New York City Marathon. It's such a long training cycle, but I'm in terrible running shape and I'm really going to need the structure of a plan to keep me on track and running frequently enough through the end of summer in the fetid swamp from hell (as I like to call DC). Today was only three slow miles (and, top tip, don't eat the snack of jerky before the run or else it will be awful and barfy), but it's a start. Tomorrow, I'll start updating the "potty training chart," as I like to call my printed marathon plans, with stickers (this is pretty much the exact method that my mother used to potty train me). In lieu of the stars that I used for London 2012, I have stickers with Cars characters. Seems appropriate.

So here's to new beginnings: new training cycles, new jobs, and new homes! I'm pretty excited about all of them.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Things Have Gone Topsy-Turvy

YIKES. So, as of noon, I found out that I'm moving to Newark on Sunday and I start my new job on Monday. Keep in mind that I finish my old job in Seattle on Friday (OMGSOMUCHTOGETDONE).

I'm kind of a mess right now: I have a plane ticket for Sunday, I have already booked to have my car shipped to New Jersey, I have a plan for the cat. I do not have a place to live (correction: several lovely friends in NYC have offered me places, but I'd really like to try and be in NJ, to make the commute and apartment hunting easier). That's obviously making me very anxious.

Actually, the move to New Jersey is only temporary: I'll be there for three weeks until I go for more training outside of DC. I'm very excited about that - I'm really looking forward to training, meeting new colleagues, and being near my DC friends. Plus, it all works out pretty perfectly for running the Army 10 Miler and the Philly Half. Volunteering at NYC is a bit crazier, but I think I'll find a way to make that work, too. There are trains and buses and friends with spare beds, right?

So, REALLY, I'll move to NJ after Thanksgiving - anything I can't fit in two suitcases will be staying in Seattle until then, which means I'm going to have to do some very careful packing. I figure one bag for running clothes and one for work clothes, right? Roommate & I have already decided that she's going to keep the small foam roller and, in return, we'll go halvesies on a bigger foam roller that Amazon or RRS can deliver to me out East.

Everyone, even complete strangers are being really, really lovely. I've already got dinner plans with a friend of a friend for next week (and she's being absolutely amazing in helping me with the housing stuff) and the NJ/NY Oiselle Team ladies are going to let me crash their get-together. Other friends are already plumping for drinks. There's a 5K put on by the running club that I think I'd like to join on the 29th, so I think I should go and see what the club is like. My college friend is coming up the weekend after to help me look for apartments. I am so grateful for everyone's support, because I am very, very sad to leave Seattle and my friends here.

I'm trying so hard not to dwell on leaving Seattle. It hurts so much to think about it, even though I know I'll be out here at Columbus Day for Operation Move Cat East and for Thanksgiving. Still, I wish I'd had time to tell my friends and this city a better goodbye now. But, I'm grateful for this new opportunity and I will make the best of it.

Plus, I promised myself long ago that I could buy an iPad once everything was happening for sure. or original size?

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Week One

I have a lot to write about right now, including recaps from the Disneyland/Dumbo Double Dare Expo/10K/Half and the Lake Chelan Half and two much more serious posts on Syria and political heroes. I'm hoping I can get to at least one of those tonight. They're just draining topics, ya know?

In the mean time, I will use this very short post to mark the end of the first week of half marathon training. I mean, I know exactly which half marathon I'm hypothetically training for, but I haven't actually signed up for it yet. In large part, that's because my life is in such turmoil right now. I think I'll feel comfortable registering as soon as I get a start date for my new job and feel like I can begin planning my life after the next two weeks. I hate the feeling of being on hold.

ANYWAY, this week's training (plus a cheat from last weekend):

Saturday: Disneyland 10K. A PW by almost 10 minutes!
Sunday: Disneyland Half. A PW by 5 minutes!

Monday: Session with my trainer. My arms got killed.
Tuesday: #hitreset with Jasyoga. Amen.
Wednesday: 3 easy miles
Thursday: Another session with my trainer (we're trying to fit in our remaining sessions before the move).
Friday: HOLY CRAP REST DAY (mostly because we were driving to Chelan).
Saturday: Lake Chelan Half Marathon. I pushed HARD. It felt AMAZING. My friends are great. (more later)
Sunday: Cowbelled the heck out of the Women of Wonder 5/10K. I might run later. I might not. I had to go beg bandaids from the first aid tent for my cowbell injuries.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Grumpy (herein Joyce explains why she is currently all emo)

I feel that I should preemptively warn everyone that I am in a severely grumpy mood. And, the bad news is that I don't see it getting much better over the next month.

1) My job ends on Sept. 20. My current job has always been scheduled to end on that date. It isn't a surprise. But, I'm surprised by just HOW much I have left to accomplish in the next month. I've been very consciously and steadily working on my to do list for at least the past three months, in an effort to get it under control. But, it feels like no matter how many projects I manage to finish, my "bosses" (who I dearly love) give me more. I'm also trying to make sure that I get the complicated stuff off the "to do" list of my replacement, so that she can ease into the role. If I think too hard about it, I start having minor panic attacks. I truly love this job and this work and I am devastated to be leaving. But I am starting to fail to see how I am going to get it all done and it is really getting to me.

And, I'd note that being really, really sad to be leaving isn't helping. I love that my work is on the cutting edge of my field. I love that I have to react to huge changes in the law, sometimes on the very day that courts hand down decisions. I love that it's hard, interesting, and challenging work and that I can spend half a day turning a puzzle over and over again in my head. I adore my colleagues, both onside and offsite. I grew up at this job: I've been transformed from a baby, fresh-out-of-law-school lawyer into a reasonably confident one (I wouldn't say I've mastered my practice, at all, but I can feel how much more comfortable I am with everything). I hate that this might be the most interesting job I ever have and secretly (or not so secretly, since I'm admitting it) worry that everything from here onwards will be less exciting. So, I'm not surprised that the impending end of my term (two years went SO QUICKLY) is contributing to the general funk, aside from the pressure to finish everything up neatly.

2) I don't know when I'm starting my new job, so I don't know when I'll be moving. I also don't know where I'll be living. I feel like I have to wait for a start date to make decisions. If all goes well, my transfer will be immediate, but I'll have some time off to move before I actually have to report. I have no idea how long I'll have, so I can't start coordinating the move and everything else that goes with it (roadtrip? shipping car? fly out to find a place to live first? when do I fly back to Seattle to collect my cat? will I even have enough time to find a place to live? when do I go to training? who will watch my cat while I'm away for almost three months?). I was ok with waiting on all of these details, up to a point, but the closer the end of September gets, the more this freaks me out. To make it worse, people keep asking me what's going on and I have to resist the urge to scream at them. If you run into me: DON'T ASK. Don't worry - as soon as I know details about the move, I'll probably scream them from the treetops.

3) I hate packing. It's one of my least favorite things to do. I have to do it. This makes me unhappy. Thankfully, it shouldn't be as bad as when I left DC, since living in a room the size of a shoebox (this has also really gotten to me over the past six months, because there's hardly any storage and the size magnifies any clutter) has meant I've accumulated less stuff than I otherwise might have done. I also never bought a lot of basic household items when I moved to Seattle because my roommate already had them, which is at least less to move, donate, or sell. I am excited to downsize, but the idea of actually doing it freaks me out.

4) I haven't been able to run this week. I think I could actually deal with all of those other things, if I could run. I've taken the week off thanks to a flare-up of sciatica in my left hip, which made it really painful to even walk (it's loads better now, thankfully, but I haven't tried running on it yet...maybe later today). So, I haven't been able to resort to my favorite stress-relieving activity, which is NOT helping my mood one bit. I'm also worried about my upcoming race schedule. I WILL do Disneyland, no matter what, but Eugene is almost certainly out (the race that I really wanted to PR) and Lake Chelan is iffy. Which sucks. A lot.

I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that I WILL get through this. But, it's just always hard to keep trucking when you're in the middle of a perfect stress storm. There are very exciting things waiting for me just down the road (baby brunch club! new friends to run with! a new ice skating club! volunteering at the NYC Marathon! hopefully seeing my friends in the UK!), so I just have to keep remembering that it will all sort itself out soon enough. But, please know that it isn't you, if I seem grumpy.