dig (on usa!) thoughts: ep 4 (prayerful cleanses)

God likes to answer all your big prayers when you're naked.
I have it on good authority.
Several things about DIG (on USA!) to talk about. At this point, I will have you know I'm taking notes. And the reason I'm taking notes is because episode 4 "Prayer of David" clued me in for real: the people who wrote this show are effing SMART. And to keep up with effing smart people, I don't know about you, but need to take notes.

So here's my process for watching this show as of now:

1-"watch" (not really) during the live tweets on Thursday nights. Listen to me, Internet: live tweeting is frickin' HARD. You know how I know it's hard? Because I have a friend who's live tweeting each episode (hi, G! ;-) ) and I can't keep up. Between G and Jason Isaacs, I'm just going along for a wild ride every Thursday. All I can do to cope with my embarrassing ineptness is to make jokey jokes. Hope everybody's okay with that. (They're really my only defense mechanism.)

By the way, if you can live tweet a really stupendous and smartly written show like this? YOU'RE super smart yourself. I find super smart people kinda hot, and I always ingratiate myself with them so we can be BFFs for always. (Hoping some of their smart rubs off on me.)

2-then I watch again (and take notes, to keep up with the smarter people who actually wrote it).

3-then I watch AGAIN, to make sure I didn't miss anything.

What I'm saying is: you HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION. This is not a show you can just sit and have on while you answer emails between the commercials. Or even knit a scarf. Put down your knitting projects! PAY ATTENTION.

Thoughts/reflection on ep. 4 (from my notes!):

*The Essenes? They matter more than ever. (Thank you Tim & Gideon!!! I was going to be SO annoyed with the two of you if I did all that research for nothing.) If you haven't read my Essene research yet, you need to because--and I HATE promoting/bragging about myself, but I'm going to do it because there were several things I dug up (heh) that were in this show--go -->HERE <-- and told me: I was kinda on the money. And I didn't even KNOW! I didn't even know. (This is how all my good ideas happen, by the way: accidentally or too much wine. Or both.)

I currently go back and forth between thinking the Essene is the real bad guy or he's a good guy trying to stop the Jewish Underground (aHA! that group of ne'er-do-wells IS the mafia!) from their nefarious plans. Basically, I think if the Essene is a bad guy, he wants the cow so he can sacrifice it in the Temple...but then all my research says Essenes didn't do that; Essenes were not about ritual sacrificing--that would be way too Pharisee for them. So maybe he's not a bad guy--maybe he's a good guy who just wants to save a cow. (and the world.)

*Let's talk Avram. Because I want to both mother and corrupt him. He's so sweet and innocent, and he's totally being used right now. Avram's all about his God and that baby cow. But there's so! many! hot Croatian girls around him! And the shower scene--oh, what I wouldn't do to an innocent Hasidic boy! (were I a young, unmarried, hot Croatian girl.) But Avram is surrounded by wayward, partying Christians and their licentious, seductive females...with one Essene voyeur watching it all in the bushes. Bless his heart. So I don't know. I DO know I want Avram to come out of this alive, but I'm not hopeful...so can we at least get him laid before his throat gets cut or something? Maybe get him good and drunk, too.

*The Essene--mostly, I want to discuss what the holy heck he was doing by the fire after lurking in the bushes at the party that night. (1) he was naked, (2) there was fire, and (3) he was by some water. I'm not sure what the ritual was about quite yet, but I think it was a purification/cleansing ritual. Just because that's what Essenes did--they took mikvahs (cleansing baths in pools of holy water) every day. I think that's what he was doing. Because after, he went to see Avram (asleep) and the cow. Maybe he needed to get the travel dust off. (Or rituals are just what Essenes DO.)

*Now let's talk about THAT scene: the cow visit. The Essene's comment about the moon matters, I think. While the Essene was with the cow, he told the cow (because why WOULDN'T he let the cow know what the heck's happening??) that it wasn't quite time, something about the moon letting them know when it was time for the cow's destination to be fulfilled.

Here's some things I've learned about Essenes & the moon: several calendar systems were unearthed with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and among these were both solar and lunar methods of calculating/estimating dates of important events based on the solar & lunar cycles. They called these Shawui, which means (in Aramaic) "a week of Shawuahs." (Shuwuah=a season, and I think there were 7.) I also saw it written as Shabua, which is derived from Sheba, which means 7 (**number 7 again**).  

At any rate, it's not the same, but it has similarities to the calendar used by modern day Jews. In addition, Jesus' disciples also followed a solar/lunar calendar system.

This is important, I think, because YOUR definition of when the Sabbath is (once every 7 days) wouldn't have necessarily been an Essene's definition of when the Sabbath is. They would have been more concerned about following the Sabbath in accordance to the cycle of the moon...not necessarily once every 7 days. 

In fact, the Hebrew word for "moon" is moedim, but there's a Hebrew word, moed, that also means "signal." So clearly something is going to happen when the moon/lunar calendar lets the Essene know: GO, Daddy-o! 

*ALSO: did you know that, in the Talmud, there were TWO different houses of Judaism? The house of Hillel and the House of Shammai. I saw that in my (very quick and not at all thorough) research on Essenes and lunar cycles just now. I just read that and thought it was interesting enough to note here in regards to this story.

*Okay--moving on: Khalid. He's a cold-blooded killer. Still don't think he likes it much, but does it because he thinks God's cool with it. He's also the guy who steals all the stuff and brings it back to the Jewish Mafia, just like Templeton at the end of CHARLOTTE'S WEB but with higher stakes. I think I'm pretty sure now that Khalid killed Emma, to get the red stone. (And yet I'm not 100% sure, because, y'all, EVERYBODY'S involved.) 

I just can't still figure out why he wouldn't also have killed Peter, too, when he totally could have in episode 1. That may be interesting.

*GOLAN'S GAY!! Or bisexual. (I once went to Atlanta's Gay Pride festival and met a gay man who advised me: "Oh, honey. Be unique--be trisexual: try anything." Good life advice, and I think we all should whenever given the chance.) I LIKE it! Did not see that coming. Oh, I do like surprises in my stories. So. Awesome. 

*I so love the relationship between Peter and Golan. They're cute. I hope Golan makes it to the end and Peter makes him his full-time partner. Maybe they can open a P.I. business together. Investigating and solving world conspiracies. They could totally take out Putin, those two.

*Oh, wait! Let's talk about Addict Debbie really quick. So her boyfriend Charlie (who told her to get lost last time, but obviously he's a codependent who can't say no to her) came to rescue her. He was admitted into the compound, which is cold and sterile and grey. The whole time, I was all: CHARLIE!! Dooon't go IN there!! I was certain that was going to be like one of those slasher movies, where the dumb white people go down into the creepy basement and the psycho ghost killer disembowels them alive. 

In the end, they just creepily told Charlie Debbie OD'd and here's all her stuff in a box, bye. Meanwhile, Debbie's chained up. Then they take her into the reckoning room (where they do their effed up bar mitzvah sacrifices, I think) and...we'll talk about what happens there, in a minute. It was super important. But what I thought mattered about this, is that they so quickly and easily shot Josh 1 to death...but they aren't killing Debbie just yet. They need her. (Why?) (I don't know yet.)

*Also--Prayer of David. It was the clue from the paper Emma left (with the squares cut in different places) that they held up to the scroll. Those were Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran, by the way. 

Psalm 17: 8--"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings." (there are many translations of this; this is the newest, most modern version.) Just (again quickly and not at all thoroughly) researching this: basically, it means protect me from all the bad guys. But most interesting is that the word "apple" in Hebrew actually means pupil, as in black pupil of an eye, which (if you'll think back to your Biology 101 class) reflects images but in miniature. And the wings reference is just that--God will protect those who are seen in the pupil of God's eyes...under God's wings. 

What's most interesting is, in the Hebrew version of this scripture, the juxtapostion of the words ishun (dark spot) and tzel (shadow). Just wondering if that has something to do with the Sons of Darkness.  Or it could just mean we're the result of the Universe wanting to gaze upon Itself. Like a mirror. (A friend...hi G!...has a philosophy about this, and I like it. So I'm throwing it in here, and I don't care if it bothers you. MY blog, my rules.)

Okay, you guys. I have to stop. I think my brain's officially starting to melt. 

Listen: there is a LOT going on in every show. So much, I could probably spend another hour (and 20 pages here) picking apart other things in the show--like that fabulous car chase scene. And how last Thursday (I think), Jason Isaacs tweeted a picture of various different pools of "blood" they'd been trying to decide which one to use in one of the scenes and he asked WHO'S blood we thought it was. (The dead guy in the museum's vault, Jason.) 

And I also didn't get into how NOW I'm wondering if there's a connection between Rabbi Lev and Golan's uncle...Son of Darkness, Son of Light? And I think Peter knows Hebrew! He reacted to something Golan's uncle said ("Is this one of your boys...or friends?" something like that, basically asking: new boyfriend?) and Peter drew in his breath and stiffened. Peter taught semiotics (the study of symbols) and he was also at seminary--most seminary schools require their students to learn Hebrew (how can you teach it, if you can't read it as it was originally written? Would not be surprised to find out Peter knows Greek, too). So he knew what Golan's uncle said. 

EDIT/UPDATE (on account of my overflowing brain forgot earlier): Josh #2 is being reared to be the High Priest. If you read what I researched about the Essenes, you'll find out they believed there would be two high priests--a war one and a ritual one. And also (maybe) a Messiah. But Josh is being raised to be the, or one of, the high priests. Is my theory.

But mostly, before I go: at the end of the show Josh #2 had to put a dark and a white stone into a black bag to decide Debbie's fate. (Because they were like, Hey Debbie, we like you and still want you to be one of us, how about it? And Debbie was all: Hey, creepy cult, thanks for getting me clean and all but I want NOOOO part of all this nasty killing stuff and also I think you're all a bunch of hypocrites. [Totally feeling you on that, Debs.]). 

Josh #2 pulls out the black stone, holds it high, and says, "GUILTY." But here's the crazy thing: I just so happened to be on imdb.com yesterday (because so many not very attentive people are watching this show and not getting it and then they get online and whine: I don't get it! and that's really annoying the holy bejesus out of my inner geeky girl and then my inner codependent girl wants to help them, wants to FIX them, wants to save them from themselves), and a lady on that board went: "hm, that wasn't what the Hebrew on the stone said. Wonder if it was a plot twist or just a mistake?" And I was all: WTF?! NO! These are super smart big brain writers...they're not going to make a mistake like THAT. Come on. 

So here's what that lady said the stone actually had written on it (and if you speak/read Hebrew, correct me and this anonymous woman if we're wrong): INNOCENT. 

BAM!!!!!!!! Go chew on THAT til Thursday, World Wide Web!

Next time I write, it will be about mikvahs (maybe) and the breast plate and its stones (definitely) the Jewish Underground & Friends want so desperately. I'm going to have to do a separate essay about the Temple Mount and the Ark of the Covenant...possibly one entry for each topic. There's just too much information to lump it all together, and I'm worried if I do that your eyes will melt out of your face and your brain will implode, and I bet you need both of those things to do whatever it is you do for a living. I don't want to end you up destitute or anything.

(and also, just a friendly reminder: if you aren't watching this show, we are NOT on speaking terms. You are at the TOP of my Shit List. Have a great Sunday!) 


brain things.

Part 1: probably. Part 2: Yup.
Today, just things in my brain I'm spewing out. 

Tomorrow, I'll be here with my silly comments about DIG, episode 4. (I'm not a real television critic/reviewer. You DO know I'm just writing these for my own amusement? I'm getting a lot of hits on my blog for my DIG--on USA!--entries, and I just feel I need to make that disclaimer. THIS IS JUST FOR FUN.) (But seriously--I started promoting this show out of a promise I made to Jason Isaacs who is completely unaware of my existence [maybe not on Thursday nights], and NOW I'm intrigued with the storyline/writing...Kick. Ass. storyline and writing. I would like to shine these people's shoes while they write, so I can observe and learn from them.) 

Oh, and! I'm still researching the Temple Mount, the ark of the covenant (NOT Noah's), and that breast plate (did you know you can get your own on etsy.com? True--it'll be smaller, so I think you'll have to shout for God to hear you, but there you go). 

Brain thing 1: 

Life is full of forks in the road. I am a horrible decision-maker. It is always hard for me to decide Left or Right. Out of fear, I usually go Right. About 5-10 years after I make the turn, I smack myself for not choosing Left. And the reason I smack myself for not turning Left, is always because I chose to turn Right due to fear. 

Secret about Amy: I regret nothing...unless I made a choice out of fear. (I have lots of those kinds of regrets.) (I'd detail them for you here, but I know you probably have things to do today.)

Brain Thing 2:

I have a hard time with stick-to-itingness. (In addition, I like to make up words that make people cock their heads like a confused puppy.) I feel I have a deep streak of commitment phobe in me. But when I DO commit, and I DO produce, and I DO come through...omg, Internet, it's a beautiful thing. 

What I'm saying is: I'm going to start something. Actually two somethings. No, wait! Actually three somethings. But I'm not going to tell you what they are yet. Because I like to be coy, and also I'm worried that if I do say them out loud, my commitment phobe will come out and fuck it up.

Brain Thing 3:

I can't remember what my other Brain Thing 3 was!! That's how my brain is working these days. I get good blog entry ideas, forget to jot them down in my notebook (I have an IDEAS notebook in my purse), and then I get here and...nuthin'. 

But if I remember, I'll come back later today and write a second Saturday blog post.

I hope your Saturday is full of amazing amazingness. (Mine will be full of silly, tough little girls trying to kick pink soccer balls.)


DIG (on USA!) thoughts: episode 3.

You know what's super nice about DIG (on USA!)? Besides Jason Isaacs' prolific live tweets? Ori Pfeffer. Ori Pfeffer has retweeted me two times, and I didn't even ask or expect him to; I just am happy I know of his existence in the world now, because I think he's a talent. The first time I got all excited and jumped up and down in the bathroom at work. The second time, I just quietly blessed Ori and thought: That Ori Pfeffer! He's SO nice.

Also, Jason Isaacs came up with a new term for watchers of DIG: digglers. Which, at first, I thought: oh, that's kind of cute, and plus it rhymes with "gigglers." Fun! But then I kept feeling like something was kind of off, and so I googled "diggler." And sure enough: Marky Mark's version of 80's porn star Dirk Diggler popped up. And we can't have THAT! This is a serious, edge of your seat, thrillermysterymurderadventureconspiracy story. No fluffers in sight (as of yet). 

So Jason has to go back to "diggers." I hope he's not too annoyed with me. I mean, there ARE other options: DIGologists, D-peeps, DIG-atics, The Notorious DIG-ers. But those use up too many of Twitter's 140 characters. So we can go back to "diggers." I'm just not going to use it often in reference to myself. But you guys have fun!

Things you missed, if you aren't watching DIG and didn't see last week's episode: 

1. Our friendship. (CANCELED! I think you know why.)

2. A really hot wrestling scene between Jason Isaacs and Ori Pfeffer.

3. A really, really sad and beautiful scene in which Jason Isaacs reveals he can access deep psychic pain like nobody's business. (You know what this scene reminded me of? A scene from AWAKE, this amazingly brilliant show Jason was in a couple of years ago and you can watch the whole thing on Netflix as soon as you're done reading this--the scene when his character thinks his son is the one who died. It was possibly the best bit of psychic pain acting I've ever witnessed. OMG, he was sobbing on the floor, I was sobbing on my couch. My husband walked in the room and went: "What's wrong with you??" And I pointed at the screen and could barely get out: "His son! His son DIED!" Then my husband laughed, and I didn't speak to him for the rest of the night--His. Son. DIED. How dare you.) 

This scene was dark and beautiful and sad, and I almost want to say it MAY do that thing that really well written novels and short stories sometimes do--kind of wraps up the whole point of the story in one sentence or paragraph. I will keep watching to find out. 

Fine writing, fine acting. You, too, Anne Heche--you didn't say a word, but I saw so much on your face as Peter walked out the door.

4. EVERYBODY'S involved with that crazy New Mexico cult. Except for Peter. And his Israeli detective frenemy (so far). And his boss he's sleeping with (so far). 

Richard E. Grant's archaeologist? He's involved. The amabassador? She's involved. The creepy Rabbi (who was in the first episode, when the red cow was born)? He's involved. The United States senator, some really rich guys, probably Snoop Dog and your mama too--everybody's involved. 

And this group of lunatic religious mafia is all ticked off because they thought they had the last stone for that breast plate/direct line to God, and even made Khalid go and kill someone (except God forgave him on account it was for a holy cause...only you can tell: Khalid HATES this part of his job), and then the stone he stole wasn't even real. 

So NOW they have to start all over.

Oh, and! Regina Taylor--superb actress. She has got that "don't fuck with me!" evil look down to a science. You also don't want her looking at you, calculating and assessing you. So creepy. Well done, Regina. 

This show has powerhouse talented people in it.

5. Josh 2.0 was allowed to leave the compound for a milkshake. Josh 1.0 tried to do that on his own, but he got gunned down for it. And it was revealed that Debbie, the Josh minder, is an ex-addict, who somehow ended up in this cult taking care of the kid/s who (I think) is being groomed to be the Messiah, but is clearly going to be the anti-Christ. (I wish Josh  #1 hadn't gotten smoked. He seemed like a nicer anti-Christ. This Josh seems like a programmed droid. If planet Earth is going to have an anti-Christ, I guess I'd prefer an actual human anti-Christ.)

At any rate, Debbie is a cautionary tale, drug addicts: cocaine is a hell of a drug. You'll end up babysitting the anti-Christ. Just say no.

6. Peter's a fucking mess. An emotional mess of a human being. (Let's hang out, Peter! We can compare notes over margaritas.)

Other thoughts on Episode 3, "The Rosenbergs." (And thank goodness--it was not a reference to the Rosenbergs who got executed in the 1940s for being communist spies....but maybe that's coming later. You guys! EVERYBODY'S involved!):

*I still keep thinking something paranormal is coming. God's going to have to smite somebody in a cosmic fit of rage, or it's going to be revealed that these phone calls Peter keeps making to his estranged wife is to his dead estranged wife's ghost (have you seen THE OTHERS? It could totally be possible). 

*Jason said, on Twitter, the color red could be a red herring. But I do not believe you, Jason. I do not believe you, nor do I trust you. First off, you refuse to tell us what the big secrets are. Second, I think the color red is significant, and not just the production designer's favorite color. It keeps popping up.

*The number 19 matters. (This is the part of the Bible about the red heifer being sacrificed--it's all about the heifer. And the stones.) I think also the number 7, because Peter's hotel room is #7, and the tunnel Emma took him into was also #7.

*I bet the peace sign and the DIG key symbol are connected, somehow. But I have no proof yet.

And that's all I got for this one.

I'm going to do some research on the Temple Mount. I've already started--it's fairly fascinating. I'm going to be slightly miffed if the Essenes aren't brought back in. I'm not kidding, Tim Kring and Gideon Raff--I spent 3 hours one weekend combing through the Internet for all that information and 2 hours putting it all together in writing.

Now I'm going to do it for the breast plate, the ark of the covenant and the Temple Mount. IT'S A PROJECT!!! (My inner geek is in orgasmic spasms of joy right now, I don't know if you can tell or not.)


story connections.

Source: Actors' Atelier.
Hi, Internet. Can we talk about over-active imaginations for a bit? 

When I was 9, my grade 4 teacher taught us about the Falklands War. I think because it was a current thing going on. In my vivid, 9 year old storytelling brain, I literally imagined an Argentinian uncle into existence, and he was battling hard to drive out the evil British Empire from his land. (This, obviously, was before my severe anglophilia began...or was the start of it. Chicken/Egg.) 

Uncle Pedro was a tango master, and he had a handsome mustache. He was burly and strong, but he'd often sang me sweet Spanish lullabies when I'd been an infant. I was still working out the details about (a) who's side of my family he was on--mother's or father's, and (b) how the heck my Welsh/German mother and my Welsh/Scottish/English father could possibly also have a brother who was Argentinian. And how did Pedro get from Pennsylvania, where my parents had both grown up, all the way to Argentina? Or how had my parents gotten from Argentina all the way to Pennsylvania? And why had Pedro not come with them? And why didn't the rest of us, Pedro's family, speak Spanish, just Pedro? And why were we all such poor dancers, if Pedro was a tango master?

I didn't care. In a 4th grader's brain, tiny little details like that are no matter. On the playground that day, I ran up to a bunch of teachers and wove my outrageous tale. I remember the teachers were astonished! Worried! Shocked, horrified, concerned, amazed, and impressed. But also...I could tell there was a gleam in their eyes; a twinkly sort of knowing. Now, as a teacher to youngsters who often do the same thing to me (just last week, a girl told me that over the weekend she and her family had a brief weekend getaway to Antarctica and they'd brought back some penguins...no matter that just two months ago we finished Mr. Popper's Penguins and her tale sorta kinda sounded like that one), today I know: those ladies knew I was totally bullshitting them. But I remember they were kind, and let me just own my crazy ass story and run with it...all the way to Argentina, if I'd wanted. By the end of the day, I think my imaginary Argentinian uncle was the new King of England. King Pedro, el Bigote. (I didn't speak much Spanish back then...now, I speak a lot, but I only understand 40% of what is said to me.)

The other day a little boy in my class brought me his misconduct note. For the sake of this story, we'll call that little boy David. He was supposed to take it home to be signed. He brought it back to school and it was signed all right. In 8 year old boy scrawl, and he'd misspelled his mom's name. "My mama signed it," he said.

"This is how your mama writes her name?" I said.



"My mama signed that."

"Is your mama's name David?"


"And why'd your mama spell her name all crazy, David? This name has too many letter A's in it and there's no H in her first name. This not how your mama usually spells her name."

"She spelling her name all crazy cuz she in a crazy mood last night."

"Uh huh. And she only had a pencil to write with?"

"Yeah. My mama like to write crazy with pencils. I tried to give her a pen but she say no, she need a pencil."


Unlike my kind 4th grade teachers, I could not let this tale slide. I appreciated the problem solving attempt, and typically I do reward children who show initiative with problem solving no matter the circumstances, but this misconduct was rather serious. And so I eventually got it out of him that he, actually, had signed it. And now you know what my days are like, Mondays through Fridays, August through May. 

You know what's fabulous though, about imaginations? When something captures them and someone can't let go. 

So last month, I read Peter Pan to my class. This month, I'm reading The Wizard of Oz. We are just at the part where Dorothy kills the witch (oooh! sorry! should have done: spoiler alert). But I had to stop because we needed to go to Physical Education. Before we left the room, though, I asked them questions about the Wicked Witch's character: specifically, was she really scary? 

(Have you read the real L. Frank Baum's story? Not the abridged version, the REAL version. Because the Wicked Witch? She's a coward. She's evil and conniving, but she has others do her dirty work...she's also afraid of the Good Witch's kiss on Dorothy's forehead and the silver shoes because of their power, though she covets that power. And she's absolutely terrified of water--read the book to find out why.)

Most of my kids were fairly good in recognizing all of this about the witch, and making that connection to their own lives, about how sometimes you meet people who seem all big and bad ass but they're actually terrified little pissants who have no power but really desire to have it because they're all Ego. They think power means intimidation, and being mean or cruel, or making others feel weak and small. Yet in reality, that is them. They have no idea what real power is...but they covet it. (I promise what I just wrote there was all me, all my version of our class discussion--the actual conversation in 2nd grade today was far simpler.)

Then, one little boy got that WOW! look on his face--this is the look teachers crave and rarely see. 

I asked him, "What? Why do you have that look on your face?" And he said: "Ms. S, the wicked witch is just like Captain Hook." (And here begins my real world example of when the young teach the old.) So I said, "How?" 

He explained how she coveted Dorothy's shoes and power, just like Captain Hook coveted Peter's youth and wanted a mother. And that, just like the Wicked Witch, Captain Hook was actually very afraid--he was afraid of his own blood and the crocodile. But he was also afraid of death and getting old. And that's why he was so mean and cruel--he thought if he could scare enough people they wouldn't notice that he was so scared himself. (Again, that's all me, my paraphrasing--it was said much more simply this morning in 2nd grade boy words.)

Isn't that amazing! You guys! It was one of those glorious, happy teacher moments, where I wanted to take that little boy and make him King of Second Grade for the day. Except this little boy also has tremendous self-control issues, and my whole day would have gone bonkers and we had Friday quizzes to get through. 

Later in the day, I asked him how he'd made that text-to-text connection, and he told me, "Because you read us Peter Pan and let us watch the movie, and now I can't stop imagining what it's like to be a pirate on Captain Hook's ship. And sometimes Jose and I play Captain Hook and Peter Pan on the playground."

O.M.G. I'm getting tears again just thinking of it. This. THIS!! It's moments like this that make me never ever want to stop being a teacher. 

....and then later at recess, one little boy wrapped his arms around another little boy's neck and drop kicked him like a soccer ball to the ground and that's far too Reality for me, thanks.

I have no idea where I'm going with this. I just felt like writing and so I hopped over here. Later, when I'm done with this, I'll hop back on the story I'm working on right now. 

It's about a girl who never wears her wedding ring but her husband always does. And why is that. (I've been asked to never ever put my day to day Real Life into my works of fiction, but I figure if I can use my imagination hard enough, I can write it so even the real life characters won't recognize themselves. It's the best part of being a writer, I feel.)


the essenes 101.

I culled my Essene information from
many, many different sources. But this image came from
this source, which contains a very detailed summary of
practically everything I was able to dig up:
Who's ? Right.
Another interesting source of information:
A Portrait of Jesus' World. 
I sort of have a disease, Internet. Ready for me to reveal it? Here it is: I heart research. I will research the SHIT out of crap, to the point everybody slides away from me to the far end of the table and refuses to make eye contact with me until I return to normal.

So guess what: I've researched the Essenes. If you're watching DIG, this will be interesting information to know. If you are NOT watching DIG (on USA!) (and if you are NOT, then our dinner date this weekend is CANCELED...I mean it: we are DONE.) (but you can make it up to me by watching episode #3 on Thursday at 10 PM and then we'll be friends again), this will still be a lot of interesting information to know...if you're into knowing interesting information. 

Because what an interesting group of fascinating people they were (are? there is at least one group out there, right now, calling itself the Essene).

Some background on them:

These are the people who were responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls (dating back 4,000 years), that were discovered at Qumran. Qumran is a ruin from the Second Temple period; in 1947 some Bedouin desert shepherds stumbled upon ancient scrolls hidden inside clay jars at Qumran. Scholars have traced the origins of the Scrolls back to the Essenes, an ancient group of esoterics who lived before the time of Jesus, and some believe can also be traced back to the time of Enoch and Moses.

The Essenes who wrote and kept the Dead Sea Scrolls were an offshoot of Judaism, formed out of disgust with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. But they are also considered to be lineage/source for some major world religions or groups today such as Christianity (many researchers think most early Christian mystics were Essene), the Gnostics, the Freemasons, and the Kabalists. 

The word "Essene" comes from the northern Aramaic "chasya" meaning "The Holy Ones" or "saint." They were also known as the B'nai Aliyah, the children of ascension. The Essenes rejected worldliness, they believed the Pharisees (the spiritual fathers of Judaism) and the Sadducees (the elitists) were corrupt.

One school of thought is that the Essenes followed the original laws that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai (not the Ten Commandments...the other ones, the Essenes followed the original Commandments, the ones that Moses broke in a fit of rage because God's Chosen were NOT following directions) (and, after the day I just had with 2nd graders, let me tell you: I totally feel Moses--cannot TELL you how many hissy fits I've had this year due to someone NOT following directions). They lived apart from the rest of society, and they gave away all of their wealth, living monastic lives in the desert, committed to strict diets (vegetarianism and fasting) and celibacy (**though there may have been another group, or type of Essene, that did not practice celibacy, but did believe in 3 year engagements before marrying--suuuuuper smart advice, in any time period on Earth, I say). 

The Essenes lived according to the laws of nature--they believed in a Divine energy that was both masculine and feminine, calling these Mother Earth and God the Father. They were agriculturists and finely attuned naturalists who studied astronomy, and were always on alert to "signs" from Nature (quite possibly because they were on the lookout for signs from God to start the 6 Big Battles--more on that later).  

Essenes also ritually immersed themselves in holy water (mikvahs) every morning, ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence (unless being violently ready for God's holy war, of course--talking about that several paragraphs down). Essenes were forbidden to express anger (aka: heart attacks waiting to happen); they also safe-guarded secrets and carefully preserved all the names of all the angels. They were about the swearing of oaths, and were very against the sacrifice or eating of animals. In fact, the only time they consumed any animal products was when they used the skins of animals, and those animals had always died from natural causes.

The Essenes also believed in a Messianic figure. More than that, they believed in multiple Messianic figures. The Essenes at Qumran believed in TWO Messianic figures: a Messiah of David, a kingly figure come to lead a holy war, but also a Messiah of Aaron, a priestly figure come to restore the Temple in Jerusalem to its original purity and worship of God. In addition to the two Messianic figures, the Essenes also wrote about a prophet.

There are some scholars who believe that Mary's (mother of Jesus) parents were Essenes, as well as both Mary and Joseph, Jesus' brother James, John the Baptist, and maybe even Jesus himself. The home "The Last Supper" took place in was possibly an Essene's home. It's not provable, but given the rejection of traditional Jewish laws the Essenes taught, it's entirely possible, because so many of their teachings and strict way of life closely aligns with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and how he and his followers lived. (I do recognize some disagree that Jesus of Nazareth even existed, but for storytelling's sake, we're going to assume he did.)

The Essenes were an apocalyptic group. But they didn't believe in the complete destruction of the world, rather they believed in the end of an evil age. They believed that when that end happens, God will visit the Earth in a show of great power, establishing a new kingdom for Judaism, which will be similar to the kingdoms of David and Solomon, and that the world will experience a return to a golden age.

There's a well-known collection of Essene writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls called The Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. The Sons of Light are (of course) the Essenes. And the Sons of Darkness are (of course) everybody else. The Essenes believed there would be a cataclysmic fight--not just between the human Sons of Light and Darkness, but also between the cosmic forces of evil and good. The Sons of Light will be the victors. 

Here is a description of the Battle between the Sons of Light and Darkness:

Stage 1: The bad guys form an alliance with Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.  These were the Gentile nations which had all attacked or hurt Israel at some point. The Philistines were the people who seduced Samson via Delilah, cut off his hair, blinded and enslaved him, and then many met their death at his hands...but they were also said to have captured the ark of the covenant for some time. King David conquered them when he killed the giant Philistine Goliath. And the name "Palestine" originates from the name "Philistine." When the Romans conquered Israel, they re-named Israel "Palestinia" in an effort to unattach Jews to the land of Israel. 

At any rate, the Essenes were supposed to fight "violators of the covenant," Jews who aligned themselves in cooperation with all of the bad guys from Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. Those are who the Essenes will battle, who they called "The Sons of Darkness." 

Stage 2: the battle will move into Egypt....

Stage 3: the battle will move to the North.

The Essenes believed the battle, all total, would last 40 years, that there would be 6 bloody engagements which would end in a 3-3 tie. Then there would be a 7th bloody battle, and in this battle the hand of God would smite all the Sons of Darkness via 7 savage engagements in that last, seventh, battle. There will be a ceremony of Thanksgiving following the day of victory.

Seven. Tunnel 7. It could be a DIG thing.

In addition to all of THAT, there was the Essene "Community of Law," aka: How To Be An Essene. First, each community had an Instructor, sort of a priest, responsible for the community's finances, Biblical interpretations, and governmental decisions. Any decisions made, though, were by majority rule. Each community had chapters, groups of 10 men who came together for meals and Bible study. Once a year, they'd re-evaluate membership and rank, according to each member's Biblical knowledge and behavior--rank could go up or down. The use of military terminology was important. Members were called "volunteers," or something sort of like "soldiers," and were organized into groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, the same method of militaristic organization used by Joshua and Caleb used when Israel first attacked the Canaanites and took possession of Israel. This was done on purpose because, while very peaceful vegetarians who rejected materialism and worldliness and practiced peace and love? The Essenes also considered themselves fierce warriors, waiting for the signal from God to begin the final war between nations. (Joshua and Caleb were two of Moses' 12 spies sent to Canaan to scout out the Promised Land for God's people. They were the only 2 who didn't flake on Moses, and thus were not killed by a plague God sent to smite the other ten spies for their flakiness.)

In other words, Essenes were kind of like a vegan, pacifist mafia. But they were God's vegan, pacifist mafia, and if you've read your Bible or even just paid attention to what I wrote happened to ten out of twelve of God's spies for the twelve tribes of Israel, then you probably already know: God can be a hell of don to work for.

So basically, in terms of the show DIG, what I'm thinking might matter the most are the following:

The Essenes are all about purifying, sanctifying, protecting the Temple Mount.

The Essenes are separatists; they don't mingle with the plebes. And they are very, very, very strict and committed to their beliefs.

Essenes loved animals and nature--maybe this is why the Essene hit man was after the red cow: he was trying to save its life.

The Essenes believed in more than one Messiah, plus possibly a prophet.

Essenes were peaceful naturalists, but they were also fierce holy warriors, and they were waiting to fight the Sons of Darkness, people who aligned themselves to the enemies of Israel. And so if you weren't with them, obviously, you were a Son of Darkness. And that was so so so BAD for you, especially in Battle #7 when Don Dio shows up in all His powerful, smite-y glory.


In conclusion (and summary), let's all try to make sure we stay on the side of the Sons of Light. Okay? And take mikvahs, and don't mingle with the plebes. And be kind to animals. And pay attention to Mother Nature. And do not--DO NOT--ever flake on Moses. Lots of plagues associated with that guy.

Next time: my findings about the Temple Mount. Unless Dig's episode #3 sends me on another researcher-y, geeky hunt for information. (Its title is "The Rosenbergs." And if it's a reference to the historic Rosenbergs I'M thinking of, I'm probably going to be sent on another researcher-y, geeky information hunt. But seriously, you guys--we need to talk about the Temple Mount. Because it's kind of a big deal.)


dig (on usa!) thoughts: ep 2

<--These are things I'm researching in my quest to (a) make the connections in this story before episode 10 airs, and (b) good, hard evidence of how weird I truly am. I'm taking NOTES, friends. On a television show. That I didn't write, produce, act in, do the costumes for, location scout, etc. Send help.

(To be fair to me, I do this with most everything. Things to tend to...jumble...in my brain, and writing it down keeps it all straight. When researching a story I'm writing, I do this--either in a notebook or on index cards.)

So, if you're watching DIG (on USA!) (and you should be, because if you aren't, then we can't ever meet for drinks, go out for dinner, etc and so forth, ever again), then more of the story is being revealed and a couple of dots (at least a couple) were connected. 

Things revealed in Episode #2:

*Peter went to seminary school and he taught semiotics (I forgot to add this to my notes--rectifying right now.........okay, done!)

*Khalid (who may or may not be a bad guy) may have known Emma. Or may have murdered Emma. Or may have just been trying to meet her in the market to get the red stone from her.

*Peter's daughter committed suicide.

*The ambassador lady is in cahoots with Tad Billingham (the New Mexican cult leader) who's in cahoots with some senator, and Khalid is in cahoots with the ambassador, the senator, and Tad B. 

*Essenes are dangerous. Maybe.

*Little cloned kids are creepy. And they will kill baby cows at bar mitzvahs. (what? did you not do that at your bar/bat mitzvah? clearly your mom and dad cheaped out on you.) 

Things I learned from prolific Mr. Jason Isaacs via Twitter last Thursday:

Not a whole lot. (Jason and friends are just live tweeting each episode, I think, to mess with the show's watchers. Also, they're calling fans of the show "diggers," but I am sorry. I am sorry, Jason and friends, I cannot, will not, call myself a "digger." It evokes too many images of nose and butt picking and I am far too dignified.)

But I do want to apologize for my PETA comment to Jason--after the ritualistic sacrifice of the baby cow scene, I made a joke about PETA coming after the people of DIG (on USA!), and I think Jason saw it and felt compelled to do damage control, making sure everyone knows that creator/show runner Gideon Raff is a committed vegan who bought the baby cow. And now that baby cow is lovin' life, somewhere fabulous. Which just makes me really heart Gideon Raff even more. 

Also, after watching the ritual sacrifice at the bar mitzvah (in which Jesus' name was praised...what the hell kind of cult IS this??), I may be off cow meat for awhile. And I don't eat baby animals of any kind--calf, lamb, little baby fishies in their eggs still, or little chickens--and so. Yes, this scene just confirmed for me that I am right in that lifestyle choice.

Okay...so! Moving on. Here are things I'm thinking about the show DIG (on USA!) now:

The color RED. This seems imperative. It is woven throughout--Emma's hair color, Peter's dead daughter's hair color, Debbie (the creepy kid cult minder) has red hair. The red heifer. The red stone. As Peter has to push through yet another crowd of religious fanatics--this time nuns--their crucifixes flash and turn red. (You missed that if you weren't paying attention...I have to DVR it and watch the show two times because Jason insists on tweeting during the actual show and does NOT wait until the commercials.)

Crowds of religious fanatics. (Maybe?)

Essenes--they may be evil. Or they may be trying to stop the cult's crazy ass plans. Or they may just really, really like being hit men. I don't know. I'm still researching them. 

Numbers. 7, 12, and possibly 13 (we talked about this last time).

The breast plate/direct line to God, the stones (and what's inscribed on them).

Tunnels. Tunnels seem important. Mikvahs (ritually cleansing baths) too.

Symbols--if you were paying attention, the key symbol was introduced. The cow is making its way to Croatia now (I'm assuming the Croatia connection will be revealed in episode 3?) via boat, and the key symbol was on a sign at the shipyard. 

The Temple Mount. I still need to research this. (This is the spot everyone's arguing about...prime world religion real estate if you will. And where the Apocalypse will begin. With zombies, maybe, and possibly after a red baby cow is ritually sacrificed here during a really kick ass bar mitzvah.)

Basically, I have a lot of research-y work to do. I don't have a lot of time to do it, though, and I am easily distracted. Also, I am working on my own stories. (How much do you want to bet now my stories will have elements of Essene and the color red and creepy cultists in them? How much do you want to bet.)

It's 2.30 AM and I can't sleep. (I've read that the cause of insomnia is because someone is dreaming about you. Can I pick who's dreaming about me? Because I have a list of people whose dreams I'd like be in...some so we could have grand adventures together, and others so I can haunt their nightmares.) This is what you get at 2.30 AM when Amy's weird brain can't go back to sleep.

Here, go watch this (it has nothing to do with DIG (on USA), but I've watched it 3 times, and each time have had goosepimples and tears...it will you as well (and if it doesn't, there is something terribly wrong with you). I once had an English teacher tell me that if you are ever somewhere and experience goosepimples--while reading a poem, a story, looking at a painting, watching a movie, a play, or even just because of a sunrise/sunset or a baby's laugh--if you experience goosepimples, it means you are in the presence of true Art. 

(Full disclosure: Jason I. tweeted a link to one thing this artist did, and then I had some time before dinner and went and watched some more of her work. And now I am indebted to Jason and will love him forever and ever, simply for making me aware of this gigantic human being's existence in the world):


social media art publicity.

Art by Ian Bailey
Source:  The 7 Ways.
First, I have to mention DIG (on USA!). They've revealed more of the story and some of it got "Noooo!" out of me as I watched on Thursday. And also: "I KNEW that guy was going to end up dead! He knew too much." And: "Holy cow, that is SO effed up!" 

Second, never ever get into a cult. And I'm researching the Essenes. And somebody told me to also think about the Masons, for later. My grandfather and my dad were both Masons, in fact all the men on that side of my family for generations I think, so now I feel totally connected to the show. And also I wish my dad were still here, so I could ask him about the Masons...even though they're very secretive and he probably wouldn't tell me anything (we had a volume of Masonic encyclopedia-type books on our bookshelves when I grew up, and I would spend countless hours poring over many of these, trying to figure out (1) what the big deal was and (2) all their secrets) (the Masons are SO secretive, you can't even decode their secrets from their secret writings...I am certain they have underground lairs at both the North and South Poles, and they are completely responsible for this completely effed up weather we've been having in Georgia lately).

Third, I want to talk about artists having to do their own PR work. 

Jase (we're on nickname basis now--he can call me "Luv") and Anne, Alison, and Ori (we're all on first name basis now, but moving quickly to nickname basis...once I discover what their nicknames are) have to live tweet their show EVERY Thursday. For the next eight Thursdays. God bless them. The first time was exciting, the second time, too...but every Thursday?? Til MAY?? Lands. Well, I can't harass Jason and friends THAT much, so...I'm clearly going to have to pick my Thursdays. Or maybe just do an overall wrap up harassment tweet on Fridays. 

Maybe just Jason has been commanded to do this--he's actually very good at Twitter, and I'm sure Those In Charge are in love with that. So the other day, Jason asked, on Twitter, if his followers/DIG fans would like him to live tweet episode number two. I, being a total enabler and that one friend you can always count on to do all the stupid things with you, of course told him YES, YOU SILLY GOOSE. 

And then the next morning I woke up and saw that he was going to do it. And then I felt so guilty because I was one of the enablers. But also not guilty because he called us all bastards and I am NOT a bastard, simply kinda/sorta a floozy. Then later I saw where he told someone he has to do this, every Thursday, for the next 8 weeks. And then I didn't feel so bad or guilty, because obviously someone ELSE is the enabler and I can be happy in my slight harlotry, and feel fine with it.

...Quite frankly, I don't think this is about enabling at all; I think this is all about marketing. And if I could get Jason Isaacs and the DIG cast into a room, but particularly Jason because I sense on a certain level he--like I--doesn't necessarily agree with what social media is doing to us as a species and yet also sees, on another level, its alluringly intrinsic value in creating connections both locally and globally--if I could get Jason into a room alone, I would NOT ask him to take his shirt off as I notice about 28,000 of his female followers would ask him to do were they in a room alone with him--no. He and I would have a thoughtful conversation about how making Art has always been a tricky, hard thing to do, and now with the way world economics have gone and social media marketing, society is just totally fucking its artists all to hell in ways Mozart, Picasso, and Virginia Woolf never could have anticipated. (And THEN I would ask him to take his shirt off.) (KID! I kid Jason. I am far too composed offline to do something of that nature.) (Unless I've had 4 chocolate martinis and I think you like me.) (and if THAT was the case, I'd take my shirt off with you.)

Because one day, if/when I am published for real, I too will need to get on Twitter and market me and the Art I'm peddling. And I hate that. Most writers I've talked to or have read talking about this in interviews--we all hate this part. I think it's because...well, for example: I work with a lady who once got told she was going to be our school's reading specialist the next year and she was all kinds of in despair about it: "Amy, I'm a general practitioner," she told me, "I am NOT a specialist." 

But I am. I am a specialist. Which may be why I'm sorta kinda miserable in classroom teaching--I don't enjoy generalities.  If I could JUST teach writing, that'd be good for me. Or if I could JUST teach reading. Or if I could JUST teach math...ha! No, just messing with you. You don't want me teaching  your kid math--at least not beyond the basics. 

And so this making artists be their own PR people: it feels fucked up to me. Does it to you? I mean, people can do it. And, right now, both a traditionally pubbed and a self-pubbed writer are on Twitter mass tweeting their XXXXX number of followers for the 100th time this week to read their book. Later, they'll tweet their followers with an interesting piece of writing advice so it doesn't look like they're tweeting about their book, or a really smarmy thought or quote so it doesn't look like they just want you to read their book, or they'll respond to one of their fans so it doesn't look like they just want you to read their book. (I'm being very jaded and cynical there--I actually would thoroughly enjoy the interacting with fans bit because my inner narcissist would be in orgasmic spasms of joy.) 

Aren't there schools in which people are specifically taught the Public Relations arts? Once upon a time, if/when you were published, the publisher gave you a specialist to market your Art. You were the specialist in your Art--you'd written your Art, so you knew all about it. You could give the interviews and do the book talks. That was your job. Your marketer's job was to go find you the interviews and the book talk locations. Now, they want you to go do that, too. And I think that's lazy. And the reason I think that's lazy is because I AM lazy. So I know it when I see it--never try to bullshit a bullshitter.

And yet. Because of the phenomenon of social media, in which we are all quickly connected to our most favorite of everythings--songs, singers, tv shows, movies, actors, politicians (do people have favorites of those? i don't. and also i'm questioning if i should have even included them on a list of artists...but then again, politicking is an art form to a certain extent--the art of creating something out of manure and getting people to vote for it), novels, writers, painters, poets--the artists involved in whatever art they produce kind of HAVE to touch base with their audiences now. There's no excuse to not do it, given all the social media platforms that are being widely used now. And they definitely are under pressure to pull in more audience. Because for artists, it's about the story. But for people holding the money bags, it's all about ROI. Oh, they like the art produced. But mostly, they like the ROI.

Therein lies the conflict of our age. Humans have revealed themselves for what they are: desperate to be loved and heard. 

Furthermore and also, I find this is happening not just in Artistic circles, but everywhere else, too: how many jobs do you do at work? I do about 15 but only get paid for one. And I have to spread myself out over a variety of jobs I've never officially been trained how to do. When I talk to friends who work in corporations, they echo that this is happening to them, too.

It's that top 1% tier's fault. And the growing class chasm's fault. And social media. And smart phones and video games and e-readers and Dick Cheney. And Vladmir Putin. Who else can I point my angry, puritanical, Scarlet Letter, red finger at? 

We are a weird species. Have a happy Saturday.


sick artsy out loud thoughts from the 80s.

Edward Hopper, Solitary Figure in a Theatre
Source: Cave to Canvas.
Sick. I am sick. I have been sick for awhile. Today, I said screw it, I am sick, and I am staying home. Plus I have some more grades to enter and report cards are next week, and I would like a really good nap. And to write a bit. And so I have written a bit. And now I am here, writing a bit more. After this, I will do grades and go take my sick self to bed with a book and, later, a nap.

Today I'm thinking about....what draws someone to Art. Of any kind. I have a friend who acts and directs community theatre plays, other friends who write or do photography. I have a friend whose mom is just an amazingly gifted painter. I have a friend who's both a gifted writer and musician. Why those particular arts though? And I do think that people who are drawn to create are drawn to create in at least two different creative areas...writing/music, photography/writing, painting/music, acting/music; and sometimes more than two areas. I am drawn to storytelling via writing, but also film/tv storytelling, and music (though now I just like to listen more than create--though once upon a time, I created a lot of it). 

Maybe it's the process of creating that's the thing, more than what is created. For example, research--I almost love the part of researching whatever it is that I'm writing more than the writing itself. And I love the writing itself more than the finished product (and this is because the finished product is something I will pick at and pick at and pick at until bleeding scabs are all over it; letting go is hard for me). 

When I was 6, I discovered words. I remember being mystified at the decoding process of words. Sesame Street and The Electric Company taught me how to break them down. I remember when I realized some words have chunks of other words inside of them--oh my god! who thought to do that?! Such magic afoot, there. And I remember being on the playground before school one day, seeing my 1st grade teacher Mrs. Salmon walking into the school to get ready for the day, and running up to her to impress her with what I'd figure out: the word YOU. 

"Mrs. Salmon, Mrs. Salmon!" I said all excited, "I know how to spell YOU. It's SO easy: U. Just the letter U. Because it says that!" 

And Mrs. Salmon, kind and patient teacher Mrs. Salmon, gently smiled down at me and said, "Well, good thinking, Amy, but no. It's actually Y. O. U. YOU. Keep working!" 

And I remember not feeling deflated or defeated at all when she corrected me, because I loved Mrs. Salmon with all my little heart because she always let me read ahead in all the little readers and she was the sweetest, kindest teacher I knew. But also because: holy crap! REALLY?! I never would have guessed that! Amazing. Mystical. HOW. DO. WORDS. FRICKIN'. WORK?!

My mom will tell you that, when I was 7, my dad got a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. And every Saturday morning, they'd come downstairs to find me sitting with it on my lap, "reading" the Wall Street Journal. I wasn't actually reading it of course--had I, I might have been better at Math, become a CPA, and today I'd be making exactly $100,000 more a year doing the same amount of stressful work but in a much quieter office setting and with longer lunch breaks. No. I was "reading" the Wall Street Journal for all the words I did know...picking them out, studying them, picking them apart.

When I was in 3rd grade, we moved from Oklahoma to Kentucky. This was a really hard move for me; I'd made tons of friends in Oklahoma, and it was sort of traumatizing to leave them. I've always been an introvert, but that move turned me completely shy. I had a really hard time making friends in 3rd grade, I think now because I was grieving the ones I'd left behind. And also the school in Kentucky didn't know how deeply I loved words; it didn't know I'd always been allowed to skip ahead in all the little readers; it didn't know that Mrs. Tippy in 2nd grade picked MY story about the owl family to display on the bulletin board as Best Written Story of the Year. The school in Kentucky stuck me in the lowest reading class, and I was surrounded by children I knew were not into words, hated words, hated books. And listening to them painstakingly read aloud was equivalent to having someone pull every strand of hair out of my head, one by one, slowly and methodically. And I know (now, as a teacher and an adult) my 3rd grade Reading teacher knew I didn't belong there, and I know (now) she probably tried to have me moved, but the school wouldn't do it. Not until the official transcripts came in. 

And when they did, I was placed in the next-to-highest Reading class, not the highest. Because what the hell did Oklahoma know about reading? (Two things about this: 1, this is one of the times standardized testing works; it lets you know where kids are, what kids know...which is what it was invented for--NOT for rating schools and teachers and kids; and 2, as a teacher now, whenever I get a new kid, I make sure to get to know where they are in Math and Reading right away; I can't imagine anything worse than being stuck with a group of people you've got nothing in common with) (i.e., the grocery store--every time I go there and get stuck behind someone who can't make a choice between two brands of mustard, I think: I have absolutely nothing in common with about 90% of the people in this place...MAKE A CHOICE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.)

Third grade is when books and words and writing began to consume me. I always had a book on me. I liked fiction, but even more than that, I liked learning about the world and the people in it. At the school library, I read every single one of the biographies. When I ran out of those, I moved on to the Social Studies encyclopedias. When those were finished, I moved on Science books about topics that interested me. When those were done, I discovered plays. The school library had books of plays, written especially for kids my age, and I would take these and read them and then do monologues from them in my room on Saturday afternoons. 

In my neighborhood, I was part of a motley group of children that made absolutely no sense hanging out together. There was a beautiful girl named Kirstie; Kirstie had stunning blue eyes and curly light brown hair and we connected because we were only 2 years apart in age...and we couldn't stop analyzing the storylines behind the soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL (what were a 9 and 11 year old DOING, watching adult daytime television?! Ah, the 80's). There were two brothers--I forget their names now, but I remember they lived with their single mother and grandparents who they called MeeMaw and PawPaw and their mother always looked sad and tired. There was a really rough little boy from up the street who'd one day be the reason my brother fell off some monkey bars and broke his arm. And there was my little brother, a gentle little Kindergarten boy, and then there was me, in my I-will-ONLY-wear-dresses! phase, book always on me somewhere. And what all of us liked to do most, together, was create plays. Dramas. 

Kirstie and I (being closest in age) came up with the script, the props, and did all the casting. We would practice our plays in the sinkhole of the empty lot in our neighborhood (what were a bunch of kids doing, playing in a SINKHOLE?! Ah, the 80's). Our plays were always incredibly elaborate and stunning yet confusing productions, because we stole many of our ideas from television shows we loved, mish-mashing them together in unsurprisingly bizarre ways, as only children, unaware of the complexities of the adult-themed stories they're re-creating, can do. 

We had script read-throughs with the actors (and these actors were always the same, by the way...and I've noticed this happens a lot in Hollywood, too: people work with the same people again and again. I think because they realize they have a good working relationship, and it's enjoyable...we worked with the same actors like this, too. But not because it was enjoyable--it was because they were all we had available): my brother, the rough little boy, and the two brothers who lived with their sad mother and MeeMaw and PawPaw. And Kirstie and I. We were always the female romantic leads and/or the femme fatales. Once, one of the little brothers wanted to be a femme fatale, and the rough little boy threatened to beat him up if he did that. We've advanced so far these days in LGBT rights and understandings. (Ah, the 80's.) 

We had rehearsals. Oh! We had rehearsals! Kirstie and I were ruthless as directors and stage managers--one afternoon, Kirstie told the rough little boy: don't even TRY to tell us you feel like hanging out in your bedroom with your Star Wars figurines--we will BURY you. You'll never play in this neighborhood again! Get your ass to rehearsal. NOW. 

(She actually didn't use the word ass; we watched a lot of inappropriate adult romance on daytime TV, but we actually did not know about the word ass.) (For instance, I also did not know what the word FUCK was until I was 12, and a neighborhood child whispered something about the bad four letter F word...I spent the whole afternoon combing through my repetoire of four letter F words--four, five, fork, fury, flip, fist, fine...none of those words were bad. I finally asked my mother what was the four letter F word I wasn't supposed to know, and she rolled her eyes and told me to stop playing with that one neighborhood kid. Later, I found it in one of my mother's smutty romance books. And now I can't stop saying it. If only she'd just told me! I mean, it was the 80's).

I remember one play we wrote was based on a combination of Battlestar Galactica, the Luke & Laura/Robert Scorpio love triangle on General Hospital, and it also incorporated elements from The Wizard of Oz (that was me--I had a total artist hissy fit meltdown by refusing to play Cassiopeia if I wasn't also allowed to bring in the yellow brick road and glittery red shoes to the story.) We cut out cardboard boxes and used them as spaceships. Our theatre, our stage, was the humongous back yard of the two brothers. The audience sat on the porch. Probably, from the audience's perspective--given there was poor lighting and no microphones to project sound--we just looked like a bunch of kids running around with towels as capes, in cardboard boxes, making weird spaceship battle sounds. On a poorly colored, cardboard yellow brick road. 

We made tickets, then walked the neighborhood, selling them for a dime each until the neighborhood mothers called our mothers complaining about price gauging and why did their child have to pay to see some kid play anyway. After that, we gave them away for free. 

This is why artists are always poor.

And then, two summers later, Kirstie moved away to New York. And the magic was broken. The rough little boy got bored with Star Wars figurines, grew rougher, and found other little rough boys to hang out with; the two brothers--always kind of weird--decided they only wanted to play with each other, and my brother started hanging out with a neighbor boy down the street closer to his age who also had an obsession with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Suddenly, I was on my own.

So I read. I read and wrote and read all the time. I read fiction and non-fiction, and if I couldn't find a good book to read, I'd find a dictionary or an encyclopedia, just to be soothed by words. I did monologues from plays I'd checked out of the library or ones I'd written myself in my bedroom on Saturdays. I re-enacted scenes and dance numbers from Broadway shows I loved (Funny Girl, The Wizard of Oz, West Side Story, Annie, The Sound of Music) on Sundays. I played the violin and the flute and later the piano, but I wish I'd stuck with the violin. I actually think I should have headed for the cello, because I think those have a beautiful sound and you get to sit while you play them and not have to hurt your jawline with a violin stuck underneath.

I think I'm writing all of this today because I'm home, sick, and also working on stuff my heart's not really into right now. I'm 43, a mommy to a ridiculously wonderful little girl, and I have a mortgage and other responsibilities. But my heart wishes it could sit and read and write and re-enact Broadway musical numbers and maybe call up some actors and yell at them to get their asses to rehearsal, NOW. 

If you're a creative, drawn to Art, and you're stuck in a job that has become all about the opposite of being creative, that's a certain fresh kind of hell to be in. Isn't it? And so I'm just writing that here, typing it out loud. And maybe one day I shall do something about that. My life will not always look like this. (And if you are in the same position as I am, please repeat with me: Our lives will  not always look like this. Let's meet for coffee and strategize ways to make that reality.)