Month: June 2007

What’s your Learning Edge? (The hypnotherapy project)

little readers

This is essentially the first post about a 30-day experiment I called “the Great Hypnotherapy Project, which I collaborated on in July and August of 2007 with Los Angeles-based hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hoped to accomplish here; you can read all of the entries in chronological order here.

While I don’t take naturally to change, I’ve grown to love it so much that I’ve learned a lot of hacks to help facilitate it.

One of them is the very public 21-Day Saluteâ„¢, as practiced here on communicatrix-dot-com. Building on the notion originally put forth by Dr. Maxwell Maltz that it takes 21 days to change a habit, I did my first three-week stint to Cheer the Hell Up, but I now use my little wind sprints to get myself back in the habit of blogging when I’ve fallen off the wagon.

Another one of the things is, NO DUH!!!!, enlisting help. Pretty simple from the outside, but when you’re born and raised in The Stiff Upper Lip Club, easier said than done. I’ve gone from flying solo to having:

  1. a shrink
  2. a business coach
  3. a designer’s support group
  4. a Toastmasters club, and…
  5. a women’s manifestation circle.

(Don’t freak out on me: most of the appointments are monthly or even bi-monthly; the only ones that happen weekly are Toastmasters and my coaching appointment.)

So when my good friend, Greg, offered me the chance to combine the two, I leaped (leapt?) at it.

Greg Beckett is an amazing hypnotherapist. He’s actually an amazing person, in general, but he has a true gift with hypnotherapy. And flan, of all things. Seriously. He has to hypnotize me to not eat the flan.

Which is what he’s going to do, at least to start with. I’m the very excited guinea pig for Greg’s 30-Day Experiment: 30 consecutive days of hypnotherapy with the same client, to see what happens. We figure 21 days to change a habit and a little extra for good measure (and a round number).

Initially, we’re going to use the sessions to get me back on SCD 100%, at least, that’s one of the things we’ll work on. Having done a little experimentation with Greg’s hypnotherapy before, I know that all this stuff, these blocks, these ways of avoidance, these willful fits of procrastination, is interconnected. Hell, you don’t need to have done hypnotherapy to know that.

All of this dovetails beautifully with a group project Adam Kayce (aka Monk at Work) initiated recently: What’s Your Learning Edge? His thought is that growth is contingent on continuous learning, and it’s up to each of us to continually re-ignite that passion for learning by going deeper, by finding the “edge” that leads us in. To participate, all you need do is one of two things (from Adam):

  1. If you’re not currently pushing the envelope of your intellectual horizons… or if you’re feeling a staleness in your life that you wouldn’t mind giving the ol’ heave-ho to… then I invite you to pick something that you’ve always been curious about, and dive into it with all the passion of a two-year-old on a playground.
  2. Write a post about your “learning edge” and what you’re into these days. Feel free to mention any books you’re reading, classes you’re taking, people you’re learning from or collaborating with, etc. Tell us about the gems you’re picking up, the fun you’re having, etc., especially if they’re shifting the way you look at what you do.

So that’s my Learning Edge, 30 days of me and a big, swinging, gold watch, getting sleeeeeepy…sleeeeeeeeepy…. (Just kidding, it’s a silver watch.)

I’ll be covering what happens on the project here. Greg and I have also discussed doing some kind of podcast. (Hey, we’re both former hams; might as well use what you know to share what you’re learning.) We were supposed to start yesterday, but I’ve been derailed by some nasty summer flu/cold thing, so Monday is D-day.

Meanwhile, I will invite, not tag, but invite, Bonnie Gillespie, Jason Womack, Chris Glass, Evelyn Rodriguez and Jeremy “Be Careful What You Wish For” Cherfas to share with the group.

I mean, it’s not like you’re not out there learnin’ it up, anyway…


Image by XI*Erica Simone*XI via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Anatomy of a meme


This comes to me via my pal, Jeremy Cherfas. I admit to being completely befuddled when I first looked over the questions. Then bummed.

And then, I figured out what to do with it…

1. What’s in your pocket?

Left rear: a rectangle of vivid orange velvet, trimmed for me from a larger rectangle of same by a small fry of great passion, kindness and unbridled creativity.

Right rear: A “” card I had printed up for SXSW last year, deposited there by aforementioned small fry.

Great meme-responding requires a delicate mix of wit, bravado and truthiness. This response has none of those; all but the most diehard readers of this blog will hightail it out of here after reading this first response.

2. Is the pork ready?

If it’s been cooking in the gravy for a minimum of eight hours, yes.

Right away, we see the the author of this meme is either: (a) non-American; (b) trying to out-smartypants his respondents; (c) all of the above. Note to would-be meme crafters: attempt (c) at your own peril. You will almost certainly fail, either at propagating your meme on a broad scale with the many, or out-smartypants-ing the few.

3. Have you ever had to rock to and fro to make your poopie go?

Yes. Apparently, the constipated are as likely to develop Crohn’s as the loose-poopeys.

After reading this question, I am fairly certain of the meme’s provenance. The question, while not particularly clever, feels steeped in foreign idiom. The best way to handle memes like this, should your colloquialisms not align with those of the meme-writer, is to mainly take things at face value, then look for an opening.

4. Do you like onions?

Yes. Unfortunately, the feeling is most decidedly not mutual.

While awaiting an opening, try to maintain a good ratio of wit to truthiness.

5. So, how big is it?

Big enough to know better.

See above. This is a sass-based answer, although not smart enough to turn off a reader who’s made it this far.

6. Budweiser or real beer?

No beer on SCD.

Another excellent function that memes provide is the chance for internal links. Also, in my case, I never met a platform I couldn’t turn into a soapbox.

7. What do you feel about your nose?

It’s less what I feel about mine, than what I do about other people’s, namely, how the hell do most of you breathe out of those pinholes?

Remember, a good part of truthiness is deflection. This is not untrue, but it not the full (and boring) truth. For posts about my nose in full, stay tuned to this blog channel.

8. Children: Baked or broiled?


With memes, as with all lists, the better part of excellence is often restraint. Mix your longs with your shorts, people, your longs with your shorts…

9. Do you like it when I do this?

Depends on my mood. I’m a mystery wrapped in a goddamn enigma.

There are a good deal of perverts in the intertubes. If you don’t believe me, feel free to browse some of the search strings that brought people here. A firm hand is a lady’s best friend. Don’t give the pervs an inch. (Cf #7 re: deflection)

10. Do you like the sound of chickens?

As an enlightened person, I prefer the sound of “womens”.

This is one of those Dennis Miller lines. Hope both of you liked it.

11. Would Beyonce clip her own toenails?

If what…she had hands? If her hands were broken and she could only use her teeth? If someone stole her clippers and she had to use two toothpicks and a piece of string? How can I be expected to answer these incomplete questions?!?

Not a bad question, but this is where we separate the meme-boys from the meme-men, as it were. Seize every opportunity to grab the reins.

12. Do you like pork?

Yes. You want go at it now?

For example, when the bar is (supposedly) raised by this second pork question, it’s important to establish superiority. Resist the urge to build on your previous pork answer. Sharp left turn. Comedy is the unexpected meeting the ill-prepared. Or something like that.

13. If the butter is soft, does the bus arrive on time?

Wait, is this some foreign meme?!?

With memes, as with most interactions, timing is everything. Note how I bided my time, waiting for the right opening? NOTE: another nice way to deal with this is to drop a hint-joke in early and do a callback later on. In this case, since the first indication that this might be a foreign meme was rather oblique, I opted to wait.

14. When do you get up?

When I’m stiff from sitting.

Filler answer. Pacing, remember?

15. How did you survive childhood?

By hanging on with all my might to the occasional glimpses I got of me as an adult, free of them all.

If you want to make a serious point, it’s almost always best to slip it in amongst a lot of silliness. That way, it will both be more effective, and more deniable.

16. What do you do before bed?

Indulge in some sort of media input.

Pacing, again. Think of certain of your answers as sorbet courses in between the saucy richness.

17. What are your hidden charges?

All fees negotiated up front and signed off on by both parties.

Ramping back up to something racier.

18. Who’s behind you?

Those on the Side of Right, Jesus, and elite team of venture capitalists. (Duh.)

Bang! Even slipped in a Jeebus crack!

19. Why don’t people go to the bathroom on TV?

It shorts the circuitry.

Everyone loves a little potty joke. I skipped the obvious one, on poop, above. You do want to play to your audience a bit, though.

20. What’s a soylent green popsicle?


Rule #407: Obscure must be met by more obscure.

21. What does it taste like?

I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Rule #408: Everyone likes a follow-up joke.

22. Why doesn’t Consumer Reports rate hookers?

No balls. (Get it? No balls!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!)

If you don’t see the joke immediately, come back to it. I couldn’t see the obvious joke right away as I was too close to this. The Consumer Reports part, not the hooker part. Animals….

23. Does George Bush replace the toilet paper tube?

When my super-Christian, ultra-capitalist, uber-Republican father met with GWB back in the late ’90s to discuss running his ad campaign for the first election, I braced myself for the worst. But Dad turned down the gig, noting that dude was a wrong guy, the kind of person “who probably pulled the wings off flies when he was a kid.”

He leaves those two last sheets that are stuck on with glue, drinks the last of the mild and puts it back and doesn’t redeposit the balled-up Kleenexes that glance off the rim back onto the floor. An entitled putz, we have for a president.

Save up your stories, you never know when they’ll come in handy. Opportunity comes in strange guises…


P.S. While I thank Jeremy for the opportunity, I’m afraid this meme comes here to die. I have absolutely no idea who to tag who wouldn’t come back an kill me in the night.

Image by via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. Pass it on…

The Life, Death and Rebirth of a theater company: a brief History and Cautionary Tale

ER new

  1. small but passionate band of artists form company in 1995
  2. entire company sucks it up/busts hump to help build amazing reputation/following
  3. reputation/following grows
  4. reputation/following grows
  5. reputation/following grows
  6. heartless capitalist landlord gives band of artists the heave-ho
  7. awesome (loaded) members of company contribute huge sums of money, buying the theater a home to live in
  8. awesome (not-loaded) member of company contributes huge amounts of sweat equity and genius to create sterling reputation in local theater community to raise the theater’s profile
  9. entire company sucks it up/busts hump to help build amazing reputation/following
  10. reputation/following grows
  11. reputation/following grows
  12. reputation/following grows
  13. grumbling in the ranks about too much sucking it up/hump-busting, particularly as regards being cast in plays
  14. outright denial of unfair treatment by management
  15. miscommunication builds
  16. miscommunication builds
  17. miscommunication builds
  18. sides are taken
  19. loaded members take ball and go home
  20. not-loaded members take mailing list and go live out of (metaphorical) shopping cart
  21. website mysteriously vanishes
  22. former member/webmistress/general design lackey comes out of hiding to save “vanished” website, purchasing new URL, redirecting to new server
  23. former member/webmistress/general design lackey, peeved over having to spend time needlessly recreating work because of childish vendetta, propagates new URL all over the intertubes to get Google rank back up, then shamelessly requests others to come to her aid and do same


P.S. The new home of the ER online is Pass it on…

Helpful Thing of the Day: Putting the “useful” into URLs


TinyURL is great for making big-ass emails shorter, no question. I’ve used it regularly for a couple of years now, and it’s reliable and great.

But while it takes care of overly long URLs, it doesn’t do it very gracefully. Those of us who don’t understand the numerous hideous things that can happen upon clicking a blind link don’t do much to assuage the fears of those who do.

Then again, there are geniuses like my new best friend, the adorable, kind and wildly talented Doug Stern, who totally get it. Since Doug is a master self-promoter (i.e., he does it well and for the right reasons) I don’t think he’ll mind if I share his email sig (it’s a screenshot, kids, so don’t make yourself batty trying to click on things):

doug stern

When I saw that list of clean, orderly URLs at the bottom of his sig, I almost shat myself. While I love my newsletter service provider, I hate being their free ad everywhere I go; even more, I loathe the stupid URL I got. (I think they offer some way of creating permalinks for your newsletter archives on your own site, but if there’s a way to put it on a subpage of one’s own site, I’ve yet to find it.)

Anyway, I immediately did some quick Googling and interwebbery, and found the magic site that will cure all of your wonky permalink woes, Metamark. Not only does it take a big-ass URL and shorten it into a nice, clean redirect–it will add the short, vanity extension of your choice. Behold, my original big-ass, gibberish newsletter signup link from Emma:

Meh. And bleh.

Now feast your eyes on its brief and elegant cousin:

Note to the extremely nervous: nothing is infallible. Metamark was upfront about their failing, which 86’d a number of URL redirects in early June.

But since my main use for these will be visible URLs–i.e., the kind that grace my email sig rather than the kind that hide, invisible, embedded in HTML on a website (hover over both of the above to see what I mean)–I don’t much care. Email’s shelf life is such that I don’t think a lot of people will be digging through theirs to find that one link I included to my newsletter signup.

And in the short term, it sure is pretty…


Illustration Friday – Suit


I have not yet got the hang of this Illustration Friday thing.

Apparently, you IMMEDIATELY draw the topic when it’s announced on Friday, then upload as soon as possible so that everyone sees your thumbnail first. (Non-competitive and non-judgmental, my Aunt Fanny….)

So it is too late to submit my entry under last week’s topic, “Suit”.

But it is never too late to start drawing. Or thinking, for that matter.

Next week’s topic: “Rejection”.

After 10 years of acting and 45 of living, how hard can that be?


The reluctant expert, or “Why teaching is sexy”

willmathsville chalkboard

While I’m no expert in the ways of things blogular, I’ve been doing it long enough, and obsessively enough, let’s face it, to have learned a few things along the way.

The same goes for acting (which I was relieved to let go of almost a year ago), writing, design, presenting, cooking and, just because I’ve pulled 45 summers with my eyes open, for living.

Occasionally, an awareness of this knowledge floats to the surface on its own, in those rare moments when I am both lucid and chatter-free enough to let it. An appropriately sized bubble of gratitude and wonder will float to the surface, pop, and I’m back at my task, persuading or kerning or chopping. A nanosecond’s awareness in the moment.

For a true sense of distance, I need a marker or a mirror, either someone I’ve known in my clumsier days, who helps me mark the distance between then and now, or someone seeing it for the first time.

While the former is great for boosting my ego (the student OUTSHINES THE MASTERRRR!!!), the latter is more deeply satisfying. Seeing the lights go on and the wheels start to turn, watching the world of possibilities unfold before your very eyes is unbelievably exhilarating. Maybe not better than sex or cookies or making someone laugh, but right up there with them.

I can see how it might be addictive, even for those poor souls struggling to do it the old-fashioned way, amidst the inclement conditions much of our public school system offers. Hell, maybe even more so, for the right kind of masochist.

Doing it with willing and capable students? O, bliss.

My introverted nature means I can only offer so much in the way of up-close-and-personal teaching before I need to crawl back into my cave for some serious “me” time. Yes, I’m energized after a few hours of coaching or an evening of nerdmasters, but I’m also noticeably depleted. I’ve become more careful about scheduling in general, at least, scheduling time with others. I think I’ll probably struggle with overwork until I drop from it.

But after years of wondering who in the world could stand to be a teacher, and why, I know the answer to both. We are all of us teachers, connecting each other to the light. And a life without light would be like a life without sex or cookies or making someone laugh: bearable, I suppose, but only just…


Image by via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

8 random facts about the communicatrix

CRC leper

What do I love after I’ve been sucked dry and spit out by a 21-Day Saluteâ„¢? I loves me a meme!

Like the title sez, 8 utterly random facts about the communicatrix:

1. The first “rock” concert I went to was Sonny & Cher.

2. The, um, second “rock” concert I went to was also Sonny & Cher.

3. When I first started elementary school, someone got the bright idea I should be moved up a grade. But I hated the second graders so much I cried until the nuns let me go back to first. My promotion lasted a total of three hours, and started me off on a lifetime of manipulation through deviosity.

4. I lived in a bubble of privileged belovedness that was forever rent when I attended Cimarroncita Ranch Camp in Taos, New Mexico, during the summer between seventh and eighth grade. My very good friend of seven years, Alexis LeBlanc*, washed her hands of me at some point when the train that brought us from Chicago passed through Texas and her “real” friends, the ones who’d been going to CRC since they were wee tykes, got on. From that point on, I was openly reviled, mocked and tortured until my return home, the nadir of my experience being the ingestion of FOUR!!! COUNT ‘EM! FOUR!!! squares of Ex-Laxâ„¢, administered under highly false pretenses. I and my colon, temporarily renamed “the greased chute”, spent 24 hours in the infirmary, and after a good talking-to, the girls dialed down the hatred to a simmering-but-dormant “yellow alert” status.

I would like to say I told Alexis LeBlanc to eff off and that I have never been mean since, but in truth, while I never trusted her again, I hewed to the old “keep your enemies closer” line when it came to Lexy**. And was slightly less mean where the rubber met the road.

5. My favorite thing in the whole, wide, wonderful world is to make someone laugh who’s not given to it.

6. If I am in a deep funk, nothing sets me to rights like a viewing of Car Wash, The Magnificent Seven or Superstar.

7. I have had sex here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

8. I have been driving around for over two months with 30 lbs. of unused fabric I’ve been meaning to donate to my costume designer friend, Ann Closs-Farley, and I’m hoping this meme shames me into actually unloading it from my car.

Thank you, Rob Kendt. And now, it’s time for these eight merry reindeer to chime in…


*Not her real name
**Not her real nickname

Image of me, circa 1974, along with my five merry Torquemadas and the adult who was supposedly in charge of preventing this kind of Animal Farm-foolery