Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pittsburgh, Tullvanea

Finally a chance to write. It not an optimal situation. I am in Owain’s room, Liberty is on my left on the floor in her mattress. A couple night ago she decided she didn’t want to sleep in her crib and she’s so nice about everything we’re just going with it, even today when she moved out of the single bed in her room to the floor of Owain's room. AND I had to double pinky swear to Owain that I would read him extra Harry Potter tomorrow in exchange for me working while he was falling asleep tonight. Owain can extract concessions like a pro. He learned from the master. I say that as a joke, but actually one thing I think about a lot is the fact that genetically speaking your children are much more about their grandparents than they are about you. DNA combines in ways that make this true that I don’t really understand, but I often think about it looking at my children. I think about their four grandparents.

Owain was singing these lullabies to her until just a second ago. He has this place, the spelling I do not have exactly, but it is an imaginary country called Tullvanea. Tullvanea has an arts scene and Owain is really active in it and is always ready to tell us a Tullvanean joke or sing Liberty a Tullvanean lullaby. Or, make, God help us, this Tullvanean delicacy called Rippa Juice, which is cocoa and Ribena in a wine glass. These are of mixed merit. For instance, Liberty just tried to bring the lullaby performance to close with a hearty “Yay, Owing” and a few claps. When he kept singing she smiled at him but put her hands over her ears. She is very good at communicating what she wants in a nice way. Anyway, in Tullvanea, it is a crime to smoke cigarettes and a crime to not listen to your children. Tullvanea is his way of telling me how he wants the world to be. I had the exact same game I played but with Jill Leibowitz in the eighth grade, we would talk on the phone for hours role-playing that we were in this parallel life where everything was exactly how we wanted it to be. It took place in a city glamorous to us, but not too impossibly glamorous like Paris or New York. We were happy with Pittsburgh. Yes, my imaginary world was Pittsburgh.

But I did my work on the core of the play today, something became clear to me that is theatrical and tough. I have to tell you, I am experiencing a lot of joy with this play and it's a nice fucking change of pace for me after a decade. I feel like I have found my voice, a great theatrical subject, an incredibly supportive creative partner. I have a husband who just put down his guitar -which he just picked up after our long day - to go upstairs and be a Tullvanean DJ so I could go downstairs and work for a little while in peace. I must be crazy but I think that after a decade of watching plays and reading plays, I have earned the right to call myself a playwright. I had so much fun writing and rewriting the sitcom, right?, and that didn't go anywhere. But that was my first sitcom and this is my fourth attempt at a full-length play after a decent collection of shorts. So maybe it's not so crazy. Or maybe the whole problem is that I worry too much about what is and is not crazy. In the end it is a useless distinction.

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