Q: Do you ever read self-help? Anything you recommend?
A: I’m a self-help queen, dedicated to continuous improvement. I read books about problems I...
Words and I, as you might have guessed, hold a pretty special relationship.
This is interesting, as I learned to read a little late (middle of 2nd grade) compared to a lot of my friends. Once you got me going, though, I couldn’t stop. I wrote in journals. I read voraciously (once, when I was 8, my dad tried to punish me by telling me that I could only read if it was for school. I was genuinely distraught for about an hour… until I realized that I could tell him all the books I was reading were for school. Have I mentioned I can be a horrifically sneaky person?!). For a chubby mixed-race kid with weird hair and obnoxious tendencies, books were a fantastic way for me to find a world when I felt a little disconnected in my Orange County home.
Years later, and words still govern my life. It’s interesting— when I mention to people that I have a theatre degree, few are surprised (Oh! That’s why you’re so… animated!). Then, though, comes the inevitable question: Do you wish you were an actress? Do you miss the theatre?
The answer is always no.
Now, let’s be clear. I’ve absolutely adored the work I’ve done in the arts. I will also very quickly say that I haven’t done a lot of work in the arts. What I have done, though, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. What I think I’ve realized these past few years though was that none of the traditional things artists love about the theatre- the tense joy of rehearsal, the adrenaline rush of being onstage— were ever really things I truly enjoyed. What I loved was that acting allowed me to literally physically embody words. Performing words out loud allowed them to remove the barrier between me and the paper and have them become a part of my being. They allowed me to spend my time studying, breaking down, and figuring out the way the words I would be speaking would have a physical effect on my body. Acting, in many ways, was a way to be as intimate with words as possible.
Of course, that wasn’t always a good thing. I can still hear the magnificent Charlotte Corwnell, who was truly a transformational acting teacher, yelling at me to “stop playing the subtext!” It was a command that, frankly, I never mastered.
The other part of words I loved was trying to figure out what they meant. My other, frankly more beloved degree is in English. The time I spent breaking down words, discussing their context, and studying the meanings of text are, nerdily (not a word), some of the happiest of my life. I can’t fully explain it yet, but searching for meanings and connections in a text is like being on the most epically exciting treasure hunt of my life.
So, now I’m in a job where, while challenging and rewarding, has me use words in a new way and, honestly, a little less. Not in a bad way— I think I’m a much better writer, and much more aware of my audience (especially in a business setting). I’ve missed writing a little though. Fortunately, the fantastic folk at The SF Marathon have let me write for them. Clearly I write here. BUT, in an attempt to find a steady stride during an ever-tumultuous time, I got these three little beauts on Monday:
The Q&A Journal - 5 Years of Questions, 1 each day of the Year
And, maybe my favorite, the Gratitude Journal
(and yes, in case you were wondering, if you go to Amazon you CAN look inside!)
So, Words. It’s time. You and me. Let’s have a renaissance.