When I was in junior high, I read Gone with the Wind. I cried so
hard when the Tarleton twins died that the pages of my paperback warped and
wrinkled. The book swelled to twice its normal size. My father said, "What are
you all worked up over? It's only a book."
Years later, I am in Anchorage. I find myself in an audience watching
Tracy Hinkson in "Bent," the story of gays taken away to concentration camps in
Germany. I'd already seen it on Broadway with Richard Gere, but I'm here because
it's theater and it's live and I'm bringing my husband. Before he met me, he
thought melodrama was theater.
The production is so good, I start to cry. Eventually, I'm snorting and
sobbing. I am a choking mass of tears, blubbering and hiccupping, trying not to
attract attention. My husband doesn't know what to do. "Should we leave? Do you
want to go home?" I wouldn't leave that theater if he dragged me out. I came to
that performance to be moved, and something in it – The director? The actor? –
took a story and breathed such life and death and love into it that I lost the
space between me and the story. Something all new breathed in me, and I was
Patricia Eckert is a vegetarian; she won't eat anything with a face. She
loved her dog and, when he died, she wanted to tan his hide and make mittens.
She went to the library to learn how to tan him, which required boiling him in
gasoline. Patricia tells us this bizarre story as a performance piece at Out
North Theatre. It is all so incongruous and ingenious and hilarious. I cannot
believe someone can make something so outrageously funny and so sad and lovely.
I laugh till people in the other rows turn around to see who it
Chihuly and his exhibition of blown glass came to the Anchorage Museum of
History and Art, I got a chance to meet him. Big colored globes of glass and
light filled the spaces at the Museum. One room was darkened, and the spheres
glowed otherworldly-like, spaced around the room like aliens on another planet.
In another room, huge globes were piled on top of a wide glass shelf. Chihuly
says to lie on the floor and look up at all the
when I bring my daughter to the exhibit and we lie on the floor and people stare
at us, I say, very loudly, "The artist said this was how to look at it." It is a
whole new vision. We cannot believe these spheres are made of glass; they look
like liquid color, maybe soft, colored air.
toward the darkened room. A couple of globes glow out to us, and Sophie screams
and runs away. I hold her hand, tell her it's just more glass balls, and we
approach closer. She can't stand it; she tears off. The room is eerie. The balls
Susan Joy Share makes books, and for two days, I had signed up to make
books with her. I choose paper, cut it to a size I might like. I make folds,
scores, hinges. I stitch and glue, emboss and mix paint. I touch the paper often
and feel it. At 6 p.m. on the second day, Susan says the workshop is over. I
look up. Now I remember that I don't live in this studio with these books.
I dared myself to write a play and did. I had some really deep grief and
it needed a voice and humor, and one thing just led to another till I was on
stage. Why, why, why? Nobody held a gun to my head and said, "Expose yourself."
Why do I put myself in these places? I want to vaporize, but I plunge ahead and
win the audience. I can hear them crying and laughing and squirming. They are
with me. My grief became art, touched them, and moved on.
Written for the Rasmuson Foundation website