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A City’s Pace

Dear Adrian,

Brussels has a slowing.  My friend Dan, who has helped me remember the joy of momentum and driving one’s life forward among one’s peers, has evidently just found it as he sinks into writing cards, then reminiscing through old photos and now a magazine at what has become a surprising, contented sit at this coffee shop.

The momentum rolls to a meander and a reflection and a watching here.  It’s happened a couple of times to me.  And I am trying to learn, when is the time for accelerating oneself into one’s chosen highway.  Trying to shed the anxiety and find the more owned motivation in a land just off of familiar with a certain Chicago-like quilt of normalcy.

I am not here yet.  I am here, but I do not own here yet.  I do not own me here yet.  A new friend said all is told in the first hundred days.  It seems there are times for patience and impatience.

Watching. Unknowing.  Steadily.

And so adventure.



Layover in Stockholm

Dear Jonathan,

There’s that little, secretly deep boost of ego I get when a child smiles at me, or a dog naturally gravitates towards me.  I think, I’m soft, I’m knowing, you can tell, I’m glad we can bond without words.

And maybe a head-dropping intro to being a foreigner is sitting, jet-lagged and delirious, in the Stockholm airport where a toddler waddles around the waiting area, stopping in her tracks when she sees me and I give her a smile.  She seems baffled and maintains an erect blankness.  In my best invitation, I say, Hello!, and her face bursts into tears.  She doesn’t even turn, just cries at me until her mother, with an apologetic and surprised smile rescues her up.


Hope you’re doing well and the show is better than ever.


The First Hours in New Orleans

Dear Sarah and Brandon,

I watched Leah comfortably, with quiet aplomb, surf on the dance floor tonight – her shoulder pressed into a spin after being caught from another, her unused arm cocked at half-mast like Lucy’s always was while her feet lovingly smashed invisible cigarette butts into the floor.  The next number, the violin-playing band leader announced, after he had passed his own cigarette around to the drummer before putting it out in the stage floor, was a challenge for the dancers, a track from Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire and their first album, Oh, The Grandeur; and they launched into the strange, fast polka of Oh Vidalia.  Leah attentively skipped around the dance floor and I went for my phone to take a video to send you, and I had left it at the apartment, and I was also glad for that for a second.  The place was called Always.  Then we took our bikes slowly cruising through the warm night to Mimi’s for the late kitchen.

This is the first place I’ve been that is the actualization of the vacuum getting filled by the squatters and smart artists and people hoping and thriving on the new start.  The couple slowly making out at the next table makes me think of Barcelona.


I think of you always.




More Thoughts On Method


The workshop with Lloyd and Hannes and Ian and Andy, and the group of attendees like me was satisfying in some ways, not in others.  Talking to my sister today, I realized that both of those events are useful – satisfaction and dissatisfaction.  I admired the efforts of Lloyd’s style and shared his goal, but felt his methods were abrupt.   Some weeks ago, Hope helped me realized that most of the performance world is going for the same thing, the techniques are simply all across the board, almost like religions all going toward a rich incomprehensible.  I think this is why things that nail it are transcendent in their satisfaction and achieve something like a universal consensus of success.  Like Pina’s work.  What I feel like I’ve heard about Mark Rylance, and what I’ve witnessed of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Fearless, yes, but, my favorite word that I got from one of my soon to be teachers, Accurate.  So that our satisfaction, delight, in a way relief, is from recognizing an experience or condition, in a performance or a piece.

So one of the things I gained from listening to the director of DV8 verbally and sometimes physically pull, is that maybe we are allowed to declare things as “right” or “wrong”.  Though 99% of the time it only means debate, debate is the only way to get closer to what 99% of us are shooting for.  And instead of calling everything interesting, more interesting or less interesting, maybe I can jump on the band wagon and choose that things are right.  Debate ensues.  Hurray.

Mainly, I didn’t agree with Lloyd’s methods.  This might mean I am lazy, preferring vagueness and best efforts instead of exactitude.  This might mean I am more of an “actor” than a “dancer”, for the same reasons.  I admire dogged pursuit, especially a relentlessness in details, which I don’t have.  For me there is a certain playfulness that best accompanies wrestling an enigma.  Playfulness allows for failure, which is the only certainty, but keeps a certain positivity about the pursuit.  I gave up a long time ago finding exact right, perfection.  It is still something that taunts my conscience and my efforts in many areas in this life, but I feel generous relief when I settle with a smile on the truth of what all that sentimental crap sums up in a thousand ways about the journey being more important than the destination.  The reason I am going to school is that my glimpse of the Lecoq method, particularly clowning, offered something like both – a dogged pursuit of Right, that such a thing exists and it is worth being tenacious about, and that it exists in a blown wide open performer and near-insanely attentive playfulness.

Lloyd thought I needed to buckle down.  I think I need to unhinge, but with the same adamancy.  Probably neither of us is wrong, but I’m hoping for a joyful life with a playfulness that finds its way into most corners.

Miss you.  Miss the hotel.  It’s all very serious there, but I feel the best moments have playfulness, even if it’s of a devastating nature.

Beauty beauty beauty,





A Sometimes Sadness


What do we do about the sometimes sadness?  It’s the same one that glimmers pleasantly around the edge of a memory or indecision in a smiling circumstance or the shine of a day so perfect you understand beautifully that you cannot possess it.  It’s the same one too, though, that sometimes floods in with a memory, filling surprising corners well beyond the visions or charm of the thought. A flood of overbearing sentiment.  It can be a seizure, like a binding.  It can be a saturated weight, a quiet sickness.  It can be a profound, slow well that only gets expressed outwardly as a slight distraction of thoughts.

Is it from not being in adventure?  Is it, this time, from being somewhere familiar in ways you had stepped away from, a deeper familiarity than you had credited the place with?  Is it from loss, specifically loss you have chosen, that your body some days cannot reconcile, can’t conceive?  Is it anticipation?  Is it boredom?  Is it change – the deeper, massive steps that lag behind the plane tickets purchased and jobs chosen and people that you miss terribly or are about to?  Is it uncertainty?  Loneliness?  More liquor, sugar and dairy than usual?

I am trying to be better about letting it be, and not trying to “fix” it – an odd habit indeed for any emotion, but one I’ve spent years attempting and failing at.  Fixing.  The other side of that effort may be trying to not give into it too much (which may be what I’m doing right now…doubtful, though…); not let it take over activity, but let it be as it still sits or still churns.  Today I’m so grateful for painting a bathroom and driving through the country to an orchard catching up with my sister, for both of those have enough space to hold sadness that has arrived unexpectedly with the sweep in of the fall chill, particularly in Milwaukee, where it turns out I have deeply planted memories of change and pleasant self-confrontation that I did not know would be waiting with such weighted colors in me during this other turn in my life that I am still striving to see in its fullness as I stand at its threshold.

It may be the overwhelm of change meeting the hibernation surge of autumn.  The crispness and beige of fall that I love so much has great heaviness, sudden and pervasive, right now.

So this is also part of adventure.

With great admiration,


One of Many Stops

Dee Anne,

Hope and I stopped for another latte.  They seem to be ubiquitous on the road here.  Another thing that makes the island uncannily welcoming and perfect.  The seating area was first through the door, then another threshold followed by a cavernous, high-ceilinged room full of sentimental, wood and metal objects for the home, and a residence-like bathroom, and a crock pot with soup and a pear-shaped woman with slightly buck teeth and the seductively slanting eyes of Bjork standing behind the counter glad to talk to us and prepare us a coffee and tell us humbly about how many years she’d been in the town, and how she’d lived behind the gas station six doors down for a time, but how she now had this place, and how small the town was.  The room had the clean, gray, relieving freshness of everything in Iceland.  The home decor was full of overused sentiment that, at this juncture of my life, I take to heart very deeply.  The light was soft and somehow persistent.  Hope and I left bolstered again into the car and the road and further adventure and the perpetual fresh air and crystalline horizons and hills, but only after we’d stopped in a hand-knit textile gift shop next door and purchased a few Christmas gifts for family.

The huge moment of this adventure is only made up of so many small moments, all remarkable, such as this.

Thank you.


After a Midnight Arrival

Zak –

There was a day we piled into the back seat of the family’s large pick up truck and let Ari, the father, be our captain for the day.  We ambled over gravel roads that took us through clouds and rarely past another car.  After we’d taken the slow turns of the switchbacks down to the Red Sands beach and built canvases out of its flatness, seen the refurbished but locked church and Icelandic dog, eaten our packed lunch back around the breakfast table and briefly trod on the ruins of old fishermen huts built into the ground itself; but before we sat down for afternoon coffee out of camping thermoses at a picnic table, and before we went to the recreation center hot tubs that overlooked the fjord; we laid down on the very peak of the cliffs of the western most point of Iceland, of Europe.  We could see from there the remnants of June when a million seabirds, puffins of all kinds, return and roost with great screeching and constant stench to begin another generation.  The cliffs were perilous and truly felt like the edge of the world, the expanse of the cold ocean appearing further than ever.  And I felt gladness for the wild for the birds, that here was a place where we were the visitors and the land was providing its natural elements to greet their species.  Culminations of nature that I could be privy to.

The gray of that day somehow made the colors of all the landscapes even more vibrant.  The chill came with comfort.  The bumpy pick up truck travels sometimes felt long.  The outdoor hot tubs allowed for good conversation and some relaxed gazing back at the steep rock faces.


A Ramble for Ben Charles


I’m sitting at Sarah and Brandon’s house now in Milwaukee.  It’s two stories with tender original wood work on a busy corner on the edge of town.  The sun is out; some cicadas are calling.  Trucks pass beyond the weathered picket fence and short trees.  I’ve been so glad for the reasonable bliss of some midwestern summer – neither the congestion of New York, nor the chill of Europe.  It’s all a re-energizing breadbasket.

Sarah and Anna are making tremendous things these days with Tactile Craftworks, and stepping into bigger games wtih bigger players.  Brandon is in the throws of his promoted job – designing, building and overseeing coworkers.  Mom is still ceaselessly inspired about experiential education.  Dad has a new job with his father’s old employer.  Billy… you know where Billy is.  I’m hoping to get to see him in Cleveland at the end of the week.

Yesterday, I showed Sarah pictures of Iceland, maybe tonight Vienna.  The sharing of tales is a great thing when it comes at the pace of sharing all things, when there is no hurry and only space for catching up.  I’ve decided stories with the occasional boost of on-hand pictures is the best way to relay a trip.  Can you tell me your tales when I see you in Brussels?  I think you planted a seed called Morocco that sprouted as a whim, and now I have my sights set on that place for me and my friend Hope some day before too long.

Is New York better when you also see the rest of the world?

Is it funny that when I blog, I try to only think big thoughts? Audience is a funny thing, no?  It’s an interesting alchemy that I think affects most activities we do.  It’s part of the reason New York is hyper-charged – there’s always an audience.  One of the primary things I’m going to school to study is the minutia of that alchemy.  I guess we also just get better at it by practicing it with attention, over and over and over again.  As with most things.  Is it cumbersome to write about the event of writing for a reader?  Perhaps.

You’re abroad right now.  I fly back abroad in two weeks.  I’m seeing a bunch of good souls before then and already have in the two weeks before today.  I sure do hope we catch each other in a foreign land this month.  That will bring me comfort – to share excitement and homesickness with someone great and attentive such as yourself.

You have just received a ramble.  I hope there’s space in your day for it.

Your brother in adventure,


Some Words About Mountains

Nathan –

I’ve heard that for some centuries now, there has been a societal, global mourning about leaving the country for the necessary solutions of the city.  That’s what comes to mind as I discover in my own life a deep well of yearning to be surrounded by nature – to find the vast quiet, the epic stillness, the humbling relief of sitting or hiking or gazing amidst things more permanent than me, things unhurried, obeying longer laws.

We are led to believe by some logic that pausing is unproductive, a waste of time, that we can always be using our mind and our tools to further our tasks – to further business, to accomplish our goals, to stay in touch, to make our mark, to further our role and our society.  The chomping at the bit to always matter and to never let our guard or our go down is a tempting, competitive mistress.

I think nature, however we make it back, reminds us that forward is relative, that our hustle is limited, that we are inconsequential and a simple, celebrated grain in a system well beyond our chomping comprehension.

Like a wizard wielding large spells, the mountains seize us with some eternity and command us to pause and re-find the ground and further our gaze.

I hope Austin has some good surprises and refreshing newness these days,


Bjork Party

Dear Megs,

Iceland was amazing.  We partied with Bjork like a dozen times in my quick week there.  It turns out she really, really loves brunch.  So we went out to brunch like four times.  We went hiking to her house that is a lighthouse on a glacier.  We busted out some special brennivín she keeps for visiting foreigners, even though she doesn’t like it very much. Sigur Ros was there and created this amazing slow song based on the rhythm of the rotation of the lighthouse beam warning floating ships to not crash into the glacier.  A few days later we all went to the newest island in the world, which sprung out of the ocean in the 70s, and had a picnic.  My friend Hope and I danced around a bit to another spontaneous composition which started with Bjork singing some crazy chant and Jonsi beatboxing.  They were totally into our dancing, and some kids joined in, and the couple of sheep on the island stared at us in bafflement.  We meandered the event down to the water of the small inlet, and, no joke, Bjork turned into an actual swan.  Apparently it’s something she can do, but only in Iceland.  She then joined the fifty other swans in the water and they swam away and we never saw her again.  It was a little awkward and sad, but pretty awesome. She was apparently very excited when she found out her transmutation also worked on the new island and she created like four new albums and one symphony about it, but they’re being stored in an underground volcano for gradual release over the next hundred years.

Then we got on a viking ship and went to the western fjords and ate some humanely, with proper viking prayers, slaughtered lamb and then soaked in a blue geo-thermal pool and the vikings summoned the aurora borealis.  It was crazy.

They’re all really excited for you to choreograph their next several music videos.  Is it ok if Hope and I are in them?  We’re sort of the connection.

Do you prefer caves or waterfalls?  They wanted me to ask.

Huge hugs,



photo credit: Hope T. Davis

photo credit: Hope T. Davis