Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Binging can be sexy, can't it?
"Life itself is a binge." - Julia Childs

Last night we celebrated life with what can only be called a binge.  After a leisurely unplanned outing to Gardiner, Maine (complete with a trip to the A1 Diner, a bout of library hugging and a rural motorcycle ride in the mist), a cluster of TAM company members feasted at a farmhouse with steaks, seafood, fruits and vegetables on the grill.  We drank several bottles of wine and over the course of 4 or 5 hours never once stopped eating, strumming guitars and singing.  It was a glorious night for me for many reasons, but especially because it was the very first time any of my lyrics have been put to music and performed.  Thanks to Ambien Mitchell for her collaboration, organization, patience and genius!  We binged on food.  We binged on good company.  We binged on creative synergy.  We decided that my song and a song of hers should be spliced together in a medley of gloriousness, and that is how "About Your Shirt: The Laundry Song" was born.  Creating and sharing are perhaps the two most important things you can do in life - but also, sometimes, the most costly and scary.  My Dad (who you may notice I quote incessantly) always says, "Generosity is very expensive."

Don't burn out!
Art takes energy.  Perhaps that is why so many artists burn out or try to rev themselves up with various addictions and self destructive behaviors.  My mind keeps fixating on Amy Winehouse today, with a mix of sadness that her life was cut so short and a deep admiration for the music she was able to create in her brief stint on this planet.  I often wonder if it's inevitable for great artists to suffer and/or crash and burn.  Surely not, as there are plenty of examples of great artists that live happy, moderate, long lives - right?  How about Paul Newman, or Betty White? 

Yet, there is a definite majority that do not live long and prosper.  Hence the existence of the Forever 27s - that uncanny, ever-growing group of brilliant musicians that have died tragically and unexpectedly at the too young age of 27 years old.  To my thinking at least, Winehouse is now a member of that group.  I love her music.  I admire her artistry.  She was a one of a kind original.  I worry about a world in which souls that are so eager to share themselves wind up crushed and extinguished. 

In all the myths of the creation of the world, one of my favorites is the story that my step-father has sort of invented for himself; God, in the act of making life, matter, space, time, and creatures, poured himself out and in to everything he made until there was no more God separate from his creation, because God WAS literally in his creation: he used himself as the prime ingredient and spent himself entirely to create something new.  As if God was the seed, and creation was the sprouting plant.  Once there's a thriving plant, there is no more seed.

I don't actually buy this origins story, as I am firm in my conviction that the act of creation needn't destroy its source.  But there is something beautiful about looking at creation as an act of sacrifice.  The creative mind is constantly pouring itself into what it makes and living fully only in what it makes, sometimes to the point of ceasing to live outside of its own art.  This may be an unhealthy extreme for a human being, but I can't help but be drawn to such wacky passion.  "Damn the torpedoes!  Give it your all.  Reckless abandon," and all that jazz.  Like Billy Joel would say, "Only the good die young."  I always had a somewhat twisted fantasy of dying at 24.  I figured by then I'd have created brilliant art, lived fast and furious, and duck out leaving everyone wanting more.  Genius, I reasoned, burns at both ends.  Wouldn't it be more awesome to go down in flames than to sputter out for lack of spark?  That's how I used to think, caught up in the glamor of the creative binge.  It's true that the wild binge of life sometimes creates more life, but there is a line where it turns destructive.

One of my favorite artists on the outer fringe: Dali
In our intense 3-hour acting classes the first year of grad school, we'd all end up weeping on the floor in a puddle of our own tears and undone psyches every day.  Our teacher would proudly survey us, commending our artistic bravery, and say, "Make sure you take care of yourselves today."  We'd look at each other dully, not really knowing what that meant or whether this was art or just plain crazy.  My friend Evin and I chose to deal by ritualistically wolfing down Chipotle tacos and a pint of ice cream (each) - an addiction only marginally healthier than drugs, alcohol, or hookups.  But I get it.  I get the need to self medicate.  I get the itch that can't be scratched, the thirst that can't be quenched. 

We humans definitely do need to take care of ourselves, especially if we're spending ourselves.  Those of us who use our selves as the materials to create, who blur the lines between their art/work and their lives, may suffer needlessly and perish unnecessarily if we loose our equilibrium...but gosh darn it, those chaotic, feverish artists living on the outer fringe of sanity without a tow line sure do create beautiful things.  Why is that?!?!  Does art spring from life, or vice versa, or nada? 

Fuels my spirit...
Life is a binge: brief, sensory, unexpected, and over too soon.  Unfortunately we can't have binges every day due to time, health and budget constraings.  But whether you're creating art, families, budgets, joy, dinner plans, change, things, theater, chaos, or anything else right now, take care of yourself.  (Sometimes binging IS the best way to take care.)  My time here in Maine has been a bit of a binge, from 9-5 rehearsals, performances, long long nights full of wine and conversation, and reckless new friendships.  It fuels my spirit to go on motorcycle rides, eat 78,000 calorie meals, and do pratfalls onstage.  But all those things expend energy, and I - like all mortals - need to remember to recharge, maintain and protect myself too.  And to monitor my addictions, keeping them in the realm of positive things.  Like glitter.  Or hugs.

So binge carefully my friends, and don't spend yourselves too soon.  We all have our addictions, and we wouldn't be human without them - and perhaps the most intoxicating, dangerous and enlivening addiction of all is our addiction to each other.  As we create and share, let's share wisely; our souls don't grow back like lizard's tails.  We're all we've got.

Up next: King Lear opens this Friday at the Theater at Monmouth!  Talk about feeding your soul.  What a powerful story.  Can't wait to dive in...


  1. Speaking of Lear... when exactly will you be performing in it??

  2. Suzette! We open this Friday 7/29, and our complete performance schedule for August is here: http://www.theateratmonmouth.org/2011-calendar-august.html
    Hope you are well! Xo

  3. Another note: I wish I could take credit for these awesome pictures in this post, but they are found art from various websites that I frequent.

  4. "Those of us who use our selves as the materials to create, who blur the lines between their art/work and their lives, may suffer needlessly and perish unnecessarily if we loose our equilibrium..."

    So true. LOVE this post. I love those nights of creativity and singing over too much food and wine. Gosh, it's just so precious. Enjoy it, record it, keep it all safe in your heart. Binge and recover.

    And have a wonderful time with Lear! We are proud of you here in NYC and cannot wait to hear everything. Come back to us with your creative juices flowing, will you!


  5. Thank you very much Larissa! Life is indeed precious. I think a rather celebratory reunion is in order when autumn comes ;) And congratulations with all your success with Weight!