They Are Everywhere …

and they have been here all along. Their names have survived … why not their stories ? We know them well and see them again and again.How about those three girls who were Friends living in NYC ?Columbine (Rachel), Constantia ( Monica ), and Vivetta ( Phoebe )Or those other four friends in Manhattan – Columbine ( Carrie), Fiorinetta ( Samantha ), Elenora ( Charlotte ), and Constantia ( Miranda )And Elenora has had a long career in film – as Sabrina, and a host of other Audrey Hepburn characters. Renee Zellweger seems to be Audrey’s successor to Elenora’s roles.And as soon as a part is conceived for Abrianna, the director calls Susan Sarandon first. Stepmom, that dancing movie, a host of her current roles.I was trying to think of Julia Robert’s roles and it seemed to me that she is like the female Clark Gable of current times – the character has a different name in every film but is still essentially the same girl. There wasn’t much difference between the best friend in My Best Friend’s Wedding or the Runaway Bride or when she was finally married and on the verge of splitting up in Something to Talk About.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I know you know me, even if you can’t seem to figure out my given name – just call me The Funny Girl. Of course I would have been one of the zaniest zanne in the 16th century in Florence, had not women been banned from commedia erudita by the Church and thusly from the bands of dell ‘arte players by custom. Perhaps I was there flitting by in the blink of an eye as some unnamed female zanne. (probably played by a young male player in training) Too bad circumstance never allowed the Funny Girl to shine in dell ‘arte’s earliest times. If I had been given a chance, my signature costume would have been a hodgepodge of bright colors, attempting to mimic high fashion, but somehow always falling far short of the couture of the day. I know I would have been as highly popular as Arlecchino and my cousin, Columbine. No matter.
Regardless if my face is missing from all of the commedia dell’arte known tradition, I am one of the essentials in comedy. Who would Papageno be without Papagena? Just your average fat boy tootling a Magic Flute, that’s who.

Oh Those Names

Some of our invitations are without names. We must find them immediately.

Abra – female form of Abraham; mother of many nations; Abrianna
Alcina -Greek: Feminine of Alcinous, a mythical character that helped Odysseus return home. Alcina is also the name of a mistress of alluring enchantments and sensual pleasures in the Orlando poems
Allegra -Latin, English: Joyous – (Alegra, Alegria, Allegria; Familiar forms: Allie)
Alessia – Greek: Defender of mankind; feminine form of Alexander – (Alexandra;Familiar forms: Aleka, Alex, Alexia, Alexis, Alix, Drina, Lexann, Lexi, Lexie, Lexina, Lexine, Sandra, Sandrine, Sasha, Shura, Xandra, Zandra, Zondra)
Antonia – Latin, Italian: Praiseworthy; feminine form of Anthony – (Italian) Antonella, Antonietta; Familiar forms: Nella, Toinette, Toini, Toni, Tony, Tonya)
Aria – Italian, Greek, English: Melody, generally referring to an elaborately done and beautiful song sung by a soloist in an opera; possible familiar form of Greek name Ariadne; (Teutonic) eagle, eagle’s wisdom; see Ara – (English) Ariette; Arietta
Beatrice – Latin, Italian: Bringer of joy

aha – here is one that just might do:
Caprice – Italian: Fanciful, whimsical; derived from the Italian word capriccio
Vivian – Latin, English: Full of life, lively; In Arthurian legend, Vivian was the Lady of the Lake and enchantress of Merlin.
( (Italian) Viviana; Familiar forms: Bibi, Vavay; or Vivetta

and how about her:
Marcella – Latin: Warring; feminine form of Marcellus, a name believed to have its root in Mars, the name of the mythological Roman god of war; also related to the name Mark

mmmmm …
Cyrilla – Greek, Latin: Lordly; feminine form of Cyril {
(Italian) Ciri; (Spanish) Ceri, Ceria; Cyrillia}

Clara – Latin, English, German: Clear, bright, from the Latin word clarus. See also Claire
(Latin) Clarine; (Greek) Clarrisa; (Italian) Chiara, Clariee; (Spanish) Clarisa, Clarita; Clarissa

well here they are:
Columbine – Italian: Dove; also a beautiful plant known for its unusually shaped flower and its medicinal properties

Isabel – Spanish: Devoted to God; (Italian) Isabella

well well now ..
Constance – Latin: Constancy, steadfastness
(Italian) Constantia, Constantina, Constanza
as compared with
Honora – Latin: Honor; feminine form of Honorius (Spanish) Honoratas; Honorata, Honoria, Honorina, Honorine, Honour, Onora

Donna – Italian, Latin: Lady, a respectful title and female equivalent of Don (Italian) Donella; Donetta; Donatella

Eleanor – Greek: Shining light; variant of Helen
(French) Eleonore; (Italian) Eleanora, Elenora, Elenore;
Lucy – Latin: Light; a vernacular form of Lucia, the feminine form of Lucius (Italian) Lucia, Lucianna, Lucilla

Faustine – Latin: Fortunate one; feminine form of Faust
(Italian) Fausta or Faustina

Frances – Latin: From France, free one; feminine form of Francis
(Italian) Francesca

Florence – Latin, English: Blooming, flourishing; Florence is often thought of in reference to a beautiful city in Italy that is considered a cultural art center. (Italian) Florentina, Florenza

Wilhelmina – German: Resolute protector; feminine variant of Wilhelm (Italian) Guillelmina, Gulielma

Lysandra – Greek: Liberator; feminine form of Lysander, and sometimes used as a variant of Alexandra
Lisandra, Lisanne, Lissandra

Nicole – Greek, French: Victorious; feminine form of Nicholas
(Italian) Colletta, Nicola

Oriana – Latin, Italian: Golden

Theodora – Greek: Gift of God; feminine form of Theodore
(Italian) Teodora; Theodosia

Valerie – Latin, French: Strong; derived from ancient Roman family name Valerius (Italian) Valeria; Balara, Balera, Balere, Valari, Valeraine, Valere, Valora
Valentina – Latin, Italian: Brave, strong; feminine form of Valentinus

Stifling Your Character

Dawn Anna

Ed: I believe it essential to clarify that due to the scriptwriter/director’s total lack of narrative focus that despite Debra Winger’s considerable ability it was almost possible to completely stifle the voice of their lead character in this Lifetime drama that premiered last night. Although not precisely clear whether this was the movie pilot for a series or another dramatic offering from the Lifetime channel, it is clear that whoever conceived this project has never heard of the structural device called the flashback nor were they able to identify the true essence of their narrative, and hence to percieive its logical narrative structure. Therefore the entire first hour was a story told at a breakneck pace, presumably to set the scene for the remainder of the story to follow. In it, Dawn Anna undergoes several serious neurological procedures including brain surgery, requires rehabilitation to speak and walk post-op, contracts a hospital-borne staph infection, enters a new relationship, deals with all the inevitable crises of how these events affect her four children who she is raising along “seemingly all [her] life, before returning to her desk as a schoolteacher and addressing her students by saying “Now, where were we?”. In reality, this is where the project’s narrative really begins – the life of Dawn Anna after all this trauma and how she copes.
A much more satisfying story would have been told had the film been constructed to follow the narrative intent – beginning at her return to school, and revealing all that is relevant about how she got to this point using flashbacks rather than trying to compress all the prior storyline to be able to show it in a chronological order. The end result was so unsatisfying – here is this woman undergoing major life challenges and we are never allowed to hear her speak of the experience, nor is the time permitted to allow the viewer to enter any of her experiences at the moment. Therefore the experience of the beginning of this film project is similar to fast-forwarding through the lives of the characters, the viewer can grasp the gist of what happens tp the characters, but is never permitted to touch their lives.
This is what Dawn Anna might have said or revealed, had she been permitted the opportunity:

Life proceeds, and most of the time we never think too much about what has been done or what is to come, as moment to moment all seems part of a flowing continuum. There are then those events that divide life into the irrevocable categories of Before and After. After is where you end up with no way back to what was before – after the tsunami – after that which life thrusts upon you, without your invitation, without a particle of your intention involved. I have been no stranger to upheaval in my life, but always before I knew I was connected to the process . I said those things that I truly wished later I could take back . I chose to act against my better judgement. The the subsequent minute tragedies that ensued, I could connect to myself.

This time it was the bolt out of the blue, the capricious hand of fate, God’s plan, bad karma – whatever you would use to describe events where our immediate connection to whys and wherefores is not evident. Sometimes you can get up, take the train to work, and end up on the 110th floor of the North Tower with no way out, just because you are always punctual and on time to work. Sometimes you can take your dream vacation to a sunny Thai beach, and within minutes your family is swept up and washed asunder. And sometimes the plumbing in your brain can be so substandard that, despite the best intentions and efforts of medical science, you are destined to live under a vascular sword of Damocles, where neither today nor any of the tomorrows to come can be taken for granted.

Before I was a math teacher and volleyball coach, stumbling along trying to navigate the adolescence of all my children to avoid predictable disasters of drug use, premature parenting, or not being able to afford a dress for the prom. After [the surgery], I was reduced to the status of a middle-aged two year old, who could neither walk, talk, or even defecate without predictability, control or assistance. After, much was made of the dedicated help of all my children, who in their enthusiasm did not possess the ability to consider any other outcome but total recovery. To them, it might take time but After was surely going to be like Before. Perhaps is was a blessing to be essentially mute during most of this time. I could not speak nor write of the cold claw of fear clamped in my gut. No one could promise me anything. The weeks turned into months, the progress was minute at times. Although I couldn’t say “More bread please” without a major effort, my mind was eloquent in its traverse from the daily humiliations of my utter lack of motor control, to the ecstasies of the small victories of putting my toothbrush in my mouth without stabbing myself in the eye, and to the soul melting appreciation for the goodness of my children in their many efforts – large and small. I could tell no one. I was a bystander in my own universe, watching this strange puppet-character that was now my body jerk and stumble through life. I did not know if I ever would find the key to unlock the puppetmaster’s control room again.

The doctors and rehab specialists had to believe in the possibility of my eventual recovery, otherwise it would mean they would have to acknowledge that all their skill and knowledge has tragic limits. My kids believed in my eventual recovery because they were possessed of the optimism of youth. Though no stranger to disappointment, they had not yet encountered true tragedy. I perservered, not because I was possessed of an unflagging belief that I would recover no matter what. It was precisely the opposite – I knew it was entirely possible that I could encounter a boundary of limitations that could not be crossed. I might never be ambulatory again, I might never be anything but seriously speech impaired again. How could I help my children navigate that stony path, if I hadn’t expended my absolute all, and then some, before encountering the canyon without a bridge. It would be difficult enough for them, without the niggling wonder about what might have been, if only Mom had tried everything the therapist asked, if only Mom had spent more time with me in our speech exercises instead of resting, if only. If only. I know continually there were those points where I did not think I could go further, and honestly I had no belief that any of it would serve an ultimate useful purpose. But useless or not, I was not going to leave one iota undone. Whatever was to come, ultimately if we came up short, it wasn’t going to be because we had failed in our effort.

¿Quien Soy, Yo Mismo?

Thinking about beginning performance work is completely anxiety wracking. There is a reason it is unusual for performers to also be set designers. It requires working in too many modes simultaneously, that I am having a hard time finding the mental time to deal with my performance issues.

Last night I promised myself that I would just finish this field project and if I was completely miserable the entire time so be it. It would then be over and if I did good enough work, but hated it totally anyway, that would be OK too. I have to be hating something I guess, and hating the Pulse program is displacement to a foolish degree, hating my husband is dangerous, and hating my dogs and cats is absolutely unfair.

I just don’t know who is going to the MardiGras – the busker portraying Columbine, me behind a mask pretending, or Columbine herself.

[¿Quien Soy, Yo Mismo? = who am I (myself) ]

Nonlo Accusi Per Favore

I sing and dance because I can. I will confess, I do enjoy the attention and applause such performance can bring, but approbation is not my true motivation, although others may assert I seek the limelight. I did not choose to be beautiful and graceful, God made me that way. Truly others might not pause in such enchantment when I sing a little tune, should I be a woman more unfortunate in looks. However, I believe I would sing and dance, nonetheless.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

or perhaps I should say:
laissez le désastre nous découvrir

If opportunity for discovery exists in crisis, than I am well involved in a journey to a new world. I have anger for all the time I have spent in being such a perfect chaemeleon in the world. However, that was who I was, and perhaps for a long time it was necessary, and even right. However, once one begins to speak in their own voice, the chameleon loses her camouflage. And all the others are now forced to interact with the true color of her skin.

The problem is the chameleon doesn’t know how to be – if she can be any color or pattern in the world, which one IS she? If the particular spot in the forest of existence is no longer the determinant of the pattern of spots she adopts, what is? And how does one cope with being conspicuous?