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Feb. 12th, 2016

[sticky post] Where to find me

It's probably obvious that I don't use this account anymore.

If you want to follow my current writing, subscribe to my website: www.danasayre.com.

Oct. 5th, 2012

label-maker

A woman sits on the floor holding a label-maker machine.

She types words and prints labels. She sticks them various places on her body.

Some stick.

Some fall off.

Some she covers over with new ones.

Some she wants to remove but they seem stuck on better than others and resist.

Finally, in a fit of rage she yanks all of them off, tears them up, and throws them on the floor.

A beat as the ramifications of her actions set in.

Then, she scrambles to fit them back together again.

She tries to make a new label, but the roll is empty.

Jul. 16th, 2012

Drumroll, Please

My blog is here!

You can find it here: http://femmartist.wordpress.com/

I may also still post on this page if I have more strictly artistic inspirations.

So now there are two ways to stay tuned.




Jul. 5th, 2012

A Fork in the Road

Sometimes procrastination isn’t an end in itself. Sometimes it takes some time to realize why we’re putting off something in particular. Take, for example, my license. I’ve been in Texas two years now for graduate school and planning to stay for another year to save up money before I move and develop more long-term plans. Only my driver’s license expires on my birthday this August – and on a Sunday no less. I was waiting to worry about it until after I graduated, but now it’s been almost two months and I just now got around to calling the DMV to check about renewing my license in the mail. It would seem logical to just switch my license to a Texas one – then there’s no need to buy a plane ticket and attempt to justify to the government how I still live with my parents (which I don’t, really).

But the thing is, I’m not from Texas and don’t want to be. It’s the same reason I haven’t gotten a new cell phone plan when my AT&T plan is much more expensive than some of the other plans which are not available in West Virginia. Having an out-of-state driver’s license and license plate on my car and cell phone number make it clear to others that I’m “not from around here.” And I like it that way. While I’ve met some good people in Texas, the culture overall isn’t one I identify with by any means or would like to be associated with. I certainly don’t want anyone to mistake me for a native – though assumptions like that still happen from time to time. But when they do, I have my proof of the truth – that I’m just a visitor.

And I know it makes no sense to be willing to live in Texas for another year while I still attempt to maintain my distance from it. But it’s there. My heritage lies elsewhere and I want to hold onto that part of me that’s from the North. And I don’t think I’ll lose it if I have to get a Texas driver’s license. But that legal shift would make it seem like this change is more permanent somehow. This was supposed to be temporary and I don’t want to end up stuck here forever because it’s easier not to leave. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want anything to tie me to Texas. My friends would, surely, but many of them will come and go as well.

Maybe it doesn’t have to make sense. Emotions are rarely rational. So my options stand: 1) Find a suitable letter of explanation to defend why I cannot come to the DMV office in person in August to renew my license and renew it through the mail; 2) wait until Christmas to renew since I have a six month grace period and hope that I don’t get a ticket; 3) put on my big girl panties, suck it up, and go switch my driver’s license to a Texas one.

In this summer of flux when I don’t know where I’m headed or how the future’s going to turn out, there’s a part of me that’s resisting settling down here. I am still waiting to hear about a better job and while I know it makes no sense to spend all my savings moving, there’s a part of me that never would have imagined I’d ever be here – much less staying after I graduate. I came to Texas kicking and screaming and I’m not ready to give up my last legal ties to the hill country of my birth. Maybe I just have to be secure enough in my identity to know that I’m not a Texan, even if I might look like one to others.

Jun. 29th, 2012

(no subject)

So I've been working at Freebirds this summer. It's a regional fast food burrito chain started by a bunch of hippies and a lot of that energy is still in the place. That's one of the reasons I decided to work there. They place rock music a little bit too loud, people can write on the tables and walls, I don't have to wear a uniform, they sell "pot" brownies, a lot of the workers have visible body piercings and tattoos, etc. Plus they make the food fresh every day.

But what I never expected was how queer the place would be - especially smack in the middle of Texas. I grew up in a fairly conservative part of a fairly conservative state and in some ways Texas is the same and in some ways maybe even worse. Yet, in this restaurant, right across the street from a fairly notoriously homophobic college campus, the first week I was there the female manager who hired me was talking nonchalantly about her girlfriend. And in the weeks since I've come to find there are at least two other queer women aside from her and me and at least two gay men working there - and that's just that I know of from casual conversation. And I can wear my "Gay? Fine by me" t-shirts to work and no one bats an eye - something I never took for granted for a second. And just this past week someone asked me if I had a significant other and the next question after I said no was whether I liked girls or guys.

And it's awesome. But I admit it caught me by surprise.

And then it got me thinking about the other food service jobs I've had over summers in my life. Jobs when I was 19-20 years old and couldn't go home to my parents' for the summer and had to crash on someone's couch because I'd come out and they couldn't deal with it - or me. Food service jobs where middle-aged men made lewd comments to and about me with the manager standing within earshot and she said and did nothing. I got to thinking about how different it is to be in a food service job where not only do I feel free to be myself but I don't constantly feel preyed upon by men.

And then I got to thinking about why it was I never said or did anything in the face of that sexual harassment. I think part of it has to do with the fact that by doing nothing the manager made what those men did okay. And the fact that they had been working there for years to my weeks or months and the fact that those comments weren't only directed at me, but any young (and presumably attractive) woman on the staff. I'm sure it was also the fact that these were among my first "real" jobs and I needed the money - especially given my family situation at the time and I didn't feel I could afford to rock the boat.

But that also has me wondering how many women have been or are in a similar position and also say or do nothing. And that's not anything I like to be thinking about.

It's only recently I've developed a significant number of straight male friends (for me anyway, even if the number is probably fairly low still for others). It's true that I've always connected more strongly to women and gravitated towards both them and effeminate gay men as a result. It's not often I naturally "click" with men, but it does and can happen. But I also wonder if something somewhere in my adolescent brain thought that the boys who made inappropriate comments to me in high school and the middle-aged men who made comments to me at work were representative of a greater percentage of straight males than might be the case. Or else like my father who lost his temper easily and belittled my mother and my sister and I in other and more emotional ways.

Either way, it's nice to be able to go to work and spend time in mixed company of all sexual orientations while still feeling safe and like my boundaries and my personhood will be respected. And I think it's sad that I see this as a relief and a benefit and a gift rather than as the norm.

A Story's End

Long before I ever made friends in school I read books. I'm not sure if that's why I attach to fictional characters so closely or whether that's just a part of my personality. But I've felt at times that I'm closer to some of the characters in books than I am to the people in my own life. That might also be because of the window narration gives a reader into the minds of the protagonist especially - providing deeply intimate and personal knowledge about a character, the likes of which only a best friend would know (and which sometimes even the character's best friend doesn't know).

But regardless of the reason, which I may never know, the fact remains. When a character is well-developed, three-dimensional, and with enough understanding between us for me to buy into their worldview and struggle, I will become deeply attached. I feel this is part of why I will read until 4am once I reach the climax of a novel to get to the end or why I will watch episode after episode of a drama - I can't bear to leave a character in trouble. I will watch or read them through to the end of whatever immediate crisis they are facing because I will not leave them to face that pain, fear, loneliness, and indecision without me.

Believe me, I realize how that sounds. I know that I am talking about fictional characters and I realize that they have no way of knowing if I am watching or reading and that in some ways my participation makes no effect on the outcome because it is already written and decided and set in stone (unless you're reading one of those books that says "now turn to page 86 if...").

But the part of my brain that knows these things about fiction can't touch the part of my heart that truly feels for these characters, fictional or no. And that's the thing about good stories and good storytelling - they make you feel something. In fact, they were designed to make you feel something. Aristotle gave that feeling a name: catharsis. Even in ancient Greece, people knew why we loved stories and why we needed them. Stories help us understand who we are and where we're going. They help us make sense of this confusing and difficult and painful experience we call life.

I won't watch a series or a movie or read a book with characters I cannot connect to or empathize in some way. And it's because that's what stories do - they teach us who we are, and who we can be. That is the gift of great storytelling - when it touches some deeper truth of the human experience and it ceases to matter whether or when or by whom the events at hand might have been made up. When a story is good, whether or not it is REAL becomes immaterial; it is TRUE, and that is enough.

There's another difference between books and television, however. A book is written through to the end before it's published, while a television series can be cancelled at any point. And that’s the problem I ran into today. I was in the midst of watching an excellent show when we got to the final episode of Season 1. As often happens at the end of seasons, the episode was a cliffhanger. But the series was also cancelled, so the drama in this particular case remains unresolved.

The final scene of the episode featured a song playing overtop of a series of silent montages, showing each of the main characters in situations of physical and emotional pain, loneliness, struggle, confusion, and loss. And none of those situations will now ever be resolved because the show was cancelled. I had to go shut myself in the bathroom for five minutes because I couldn’t stop crying. And again, I realize how that sounds.

But you see, the thing is, catharsis is the feeling you get when characters are put in situations of peril and then get through them. Catharsis is the release provided by an ending, which I was denied. And the ending doesn't have to be a happy one. Death in particular as an ending comes to mind. I’m not asking for a happy ending, but I am asking for an ending. I need one. Otherwise I am left with this tightness in my chest and this almost unbearable concern for these characters crafted by some very gifted writers. I want to care about them. I’m glad to feel connected to them. Almost nothing makes me happier than the heights of good storytelling. But not without an ending.

Without an ending, the story cannot serve its purpose. And yes, some stories are built to end suddenly without a resolution – but it’s a different feeling, then. This is more like picking up a book where the last hundred pages were ripped out or left blank. I know there’s more story to tell – I can feel it, as surely as I feel the worry and pain in my chest for those characters. Even if things don’t go well for them, I need to know they’re okay, or going to be someday. Stopping a story at the climax is just plain cruel, and shows a lack of understanding for the ways stories shape our lives. As someone who’s dedicated her life to the importance of storytelling and performance, this is almost unforgivable. There are enough stories in our own lives we don’t know the endings to – give me this one. Give me the hope that if they turn out okay, maybe I can, too.

Jun. 7th, 2012

(no subject)

I've been thinking about starting a blog - there are some editing jobs I could apply for but a lot of them want a link to a blog or website. And reading/editing other people's writing would be a less annoying/more fulfilling job than a lot of others I could think of if I had the choice.

Anyhow, I haven't done it yet because I couldn't think WHAT I could/would blog about. And I had a thought after yoga tonight. I bought a t-shirt the Brazos Healing Center sells and on the front it says "Shift Happens." And I was thinking about how glad I am I found this yoga class and how it's been helping me get focused and centered and manage my emotions/stress/fear about the changes I am going through. So what if I blog about that? How to live your life well when it's not the life you imagined for yourself. How to whether changes that threaten to overpower you. How to find yourself. How to make small choices that improve your quality of life when you have no control over the big stuff. How to bloom where you're planted. All that jazz.

Anyway, I wanted to at least get that down so I don't lose it later or something.

May. 5th, 2012

I can't even.

I'm sure I shouldn't post entries like this, but I honestly cannot comprehend what has happened to me, and I don't know if writing it out will make it make any more sense.

It's apparently a pattern with me.

Someone expresses attraction - they make the first move, whether that's kissing me, asking me out on a date, etc.
We start going out.
I fall in love with them.
They decide they have not/cannot/will not develop romantic emotional feelings for me or fall in love with me.
They break up with me.

"I do care about you."
"You did everything right."
"It's not your fault."
"You're the best [female] friend I've ever had."
"I love spending time with you."
"You're a great person."
"You deserve better than me."

If I'm such a great person, why has no one ever loved me back?

I'm not saying these people have any more control over their lack of love for me than I do over the strength of my love for them, but I don't understand it. If I am a wonderful person who you feel so close to and love spending time with and who did nothing wrong and who YOU EXPRESSED INTEREST AND ATTRACTION IN FIRST, why don't you love me? What is it that keeps people from developing romantic feelings for me? Why am I consistently attracted to emotionally unavailable people?

Apr. 24th, 2012

Attachment

A woman sits centerstage. Maybe she's on a sidewalk. It doesn't really matter. People pass by, none really making eye contact or connecting with her in any way.

Woman: I feel lonely quite a lot. Someone quite good at reading people once told me I'm the kind of person who feels alone in a crowded room, and he was right. I struggle to connect or feel connected to others. I took a quiz about love languages and mine are touch and quality time, respectively, almost to the exclusion of everything else. And it makes sense. I have always been touchy-feely, even with friends, and with the exception of a few people I've really clicked with, it's hard for me to feel close to someone if I don't see or spend time with them regularly. I've always opted for quality of friends rather than quantity, and I can't have a successful romantic relationship with someone who isn't willing to indulge my need to hug, kiss, cuddle, caress, and hold hands. Add to this the fact that I never had friends growing up and got accustomed to spending evenings along by myself, and well...
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Maybe that's one of the things I loved about performing: not only the emotional catharsis but the sense of connection I felt seeing (and often touching) the same people every night for rehearsal and even usually during the day in class. I struggle with feeling that I am somehow needy or clingy or codependent, and I wish it didn't make me so depressed when I find out friends have made plans without me or someone has to cancel at the last minute. I struggle with feelings of insecurity and I don't want to need the validation and attention of others as much as I sometimes do. I just want to feel wanted and appreciated and loved. I want to know I am important to the people who are important to me, and if they aren't speaking my love languages, I find it really difficult to do so. Especially in romantic relationships my feelings can get hurt very easily if plans fall through or the other person doesn't return my expressions of physical affection.

I don't know how to feel secure in knowing that someone cares if they don't show it - again, with a few exceptions. It hurts me to feel I want to spend more time with someone than they care to spend with me and I am realizing that in my head I equate the amount of time spent together with the amount they care, which may not be how they see things on their end. I just want to feel I am loved as much as I love, and I don't always. I take things far too personally sometimes. If I care about someone I want to share my life with them, and sometimes I feel that I often think about what I want to do more than I actually get to do it. I'm tired of living in my head. I want to experience my life instead of feeling I am always forced to wait for the other person to come to me. When I make plans I follow through and I expect others to do the same.

Maybe that's the problem. I expect. Maybe I expect too much from others, even if I don't expect more than I am willing to do myself. Not everyone shares my fierce loyalty and devotion or can be expected to. I don't know how to not attach or invest emotionally in others, though sometimes I think it would be easier or healthier if I could learn to care less. I place too much value on my perceptions of how others feel about me, but I don't know how to stop wanting to be wanted. I thrive on connection and will sacrifice almost anything for someone when and if I think they care. That can't be healthy, but I don't know how to change. If I love someone, I want to be near them - emotionally and physically. Maybe that's selfish because it's not always possible, and I'm strangely terrible at maintaining telephone contact with those who are geographically distant. I still love those who are far from me, but I have to love them differently when my preferred means of expressing that love are not possible. It only kills me when quality time and physical touch are possible and still don't occur. I can handle being hundreds or thousands of miles away from someone and not talking as often as I'd prefer, but if you're just across town and our paths still don't cross as often as I'd like, that I take personally. I want others to invest in me as much as I am willing to invest in them, but perhaps I give too much. I don't know how to know.

Apr. 14th, 2012

You Don't Think I Can Hear You

Two women sitting in an airport, waiting for boarding.

One woman talks on her cell phone in French.

The other woman listens.

The other woman stands and speaks while the woman continues her conversation.

Other woman: You don't know me. We've never met or even said Hello - you were talking on the phone when you sat down. So you don't know that I took French in high school and college, but haven't had the chance to speak it in years. It feels dirty eavesdropping on your conversation when you might presume no one can understand it -- unlike someone speaking English on the phone in an airport. But I want to listen because it's a language I haven't heard for so long, and I want to know how much sense I can make of it now. I can pick out little words and phrases. Like "fatiguee," which means you're tired. Me, too. Flying always does that to me, even when the time difference is only an hour. "Je veux" which means you want something, but I am not sure what. "dommage" means you are sorry for something, but I can only get bits and pieces. Is there someone you wanted to see before you left but didn't have the time? Or will your time be short where you are going? Are you from France, or from one of the ex-colonies where you might still learn the language in school. If I try to talk to you I'd probably bring up knowing French. Then you'll know I was listening, or wonder, and I don't know if I want to admit to that. So I guess I'll always wonder about the gaps I couldn't fit in -- let alone the gaps in the other half of the conversation.

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