He Who Exalts Himself….

Matthew 23:12

New King James Version (NKJV)

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I feel that all my life, I never found a healthy balance when it comes to the way I view myself. It seems that I’m always either tearing myself down to the point where I’m so worthless I might as well be dead, or building myself up to the point where I become some kind of genius who is going to change the world. I suppose I’m just too creative and insane for any kind of moderation in my life.

Yet right now, I know that I real need to humble myself, and do it fast, before God has to do it for me in a painful way. I would rather have it done in a less painful way, thank you very much. No earth-shatttering traumatic events please.

You see, pretty soon, God willing, I will be submitting my play to a competition at the university. Four plays will be selected to be produced. And now I’m going to just have to keep reminding myself that there’s very little chance that I’ll win. Why should I win? I’m not the only person with a modicum of writing talent. Sheesaloo, there’s probably dozens of creative-dorky types just like me submitting to this competition. And do I even want to win? What if my play gets turned into some kind of God-bashing, all-Christians-are-idiots deal? It wouldn’t be hard for them to go that direction. After all, I did write a play about hypocrisy and deceit, sprinkled with a very subtle pinch of good ole fashioned redemption. So it isn’t very preachy, but it could become the opposite of preachy with a little help.

Why should my play get produced? And why would they want to glorify God?

Why should my novels get published? They’re not even that good. Who am I, that I need to be published?

And so, for now at least, Underground Voices remains, in the underground. 

 

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My First College… Play

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Never mind my first college party, come on, we all know I won’t be getting invited to any of those any time soon. Not that I want to drink out of a plastic cup. I mean really, is that even safe? What about the BPA and the alcohol degrading the plastic? I also don’t enjoy puking a whole lot, and me doing hard drugs is basically the equivalent of suicide. Weed also annoys me, because of the smell, the implications, and weed activism. Weed activism is a pet peeve of mine, by the way, but onto the topic at hand. I guess sometimes I just wish someone would invite me so I can turn them down, or go and not do anything really stupid, just so I can feel like I’ve conquered peer pressure.

Last night I went to my first college play, as part of an assignment. Mind you, all the plays I’ve ever seen were happy, mainstream type plays, or conventional dramas. Not to put them down- I’ve seen some good theater both at my school and elsewhere, but nothing at all like what I saw last night. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever witnessed. It was this modern, artsy, hodgepodge of emotion, characters with no filters who spoke in stream of consciousness, contradicting themselves in profound ways. The play made little sense, but judging from the level of eloquentness, it should have made even less sense, and you found yourself kind of weirded out that it was making any sense to you. It was like a dream.

Some parts of it were a theatrical orgy. I wish there was another way to explain it. In the process of criticizing American culture, it also played off your basest instincts, making you love it and hate it at the same time. I found myself liking it in a way, but it was kind of scary. There was just so much stuff going on that it was hard to keep up. I heard a good line in it, but I quickly forgot it. I guess I should’t regret forgetting it. There are always things to be learned, but not what people expect you to learn. One thing that I’m reminded of is the uselessness of conventional human wisdom. What good is it to criticize American culture if you have no alternative for it, besides a counter culture that enjoys eating tofu, or perhaps a culture from another country, which also has its good and bad aspects. The only truly alternative way of living is in Christ, living in Christ above the temptations of the world and the constraints of ceremony.

 

  

 

 

 

 

A Moral Predicament (And you can decide!)

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The life of a Christian is wrought with all kinds of moral predicaments, as it should be, I suppose. Do I talk to this homeless guy? Get a divorce? Confront the annoying person? Take this job? Marry him/her? Forge that signature? Tell the lie or spare the embarrassment? Well, I don’t need to tell you about all the kinds of decisions that a person will face, I’m sure we all have enough examples of our own.

My latest moral predicament has been centered around a short play that I am writing as an assignment for my playwriting class. I went in thinking that, somehow, I was going to glorify God through this play, find a way to “witness” if you will. It wouldn’t be easy, but I was going to do it. Not in the most obvious way, of course, because that probably wouldn’t work for my assignment. So I thought, “maybe I’ll do some kind of allegory.” Take a page from CS Lewis, yeah, won’t that be clever.

Now, instead of that great idea that I was going to mysteriously bring into fruition, now I have just kind of an ordinary play, but with some creative twists, the kind of trash us writers live for. I have four college kids in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland. All of them are Christian, but they’re not exactly exemplary people. One is a girl named Lizzie who is a new friend of a bubbly creature named Jeanine. Then there is a couple, Natalie and Jay. Throughout this interaction, Lizzie feels excluded and wonders why she was invited in the first place. But Natalie and Jay, the perfect couple, suddenly engage in a nasty fight, and Lizzie, too, explodes. The themes in this play are mainly hypocrisy, human nature, and social position. Oh, and by the way, the word ‘bastard’ is included in this play. I tried to avoid all other language and borderline language. How do we feel about that?

Even though everyone is a jerk, Jeanine, at least, realizes her imperfection, and the voice of reason, or God, if I may be so bold, has the last word. In a subtle kind of way, of course, because us writers are continually trying to be subtle and at the same time, powerful with our words.

Well, I’m not so sure about this whole thing. Is this the way that God wants me to bring him glory, or should I just shout the message from the rooftops instead, as they would say? Mind you, Jesus spoke in parables to deliberately confuse those who were not willing to understand, but well, he was Jesus. And He always spoke most directly about the kingdom of God. So I don’t know if that applies to me at all.

Well, no one said that life wouldn’t be difficult and filled with conflicts of interest. If anyone has any suggestions for this play and/or my soul, they are welcome. I have already made some changes that I think are favorable for my purposes, but I still wonder if I should just scrap it.

 

Media: notoriousspinks.com

Philidelphia and Another Cliche that is True

I just read a play for my playwriting class called, “The Philidelphia.” When I first put it down I thought, “what in the world was that?” It seemed so abstract, not to mention a little… ameteurish, dare I say. I got the same feeling after reading it that I do when I see paint splashed on a canvas. 

But then I started thinking about it. You know, with these modern plays you have no idea what you just read until ten minutes later. And then I realized… don’t I often get a sense of the Philidelphia phenomenon in my own life? Doesn’t it seem like the world is bent on giving me the very opposite of what I want sometimes (that’s the premise of the play, if you’ve never read it). 

We’re supposed to live in a world that makes sense, where we can get anything we want as long as we work hard enough, or at least ask for it from a retailer.

But sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. Sometimes it seems that no matter what I do, life throws me lemons, and I try to make lemonade, but, but-

I want to be fit. Yesterday, I tried running. I got a sharp lung pain, and I still can’t do a mile in under 10 minutes (I know, I’m pathetic). I want to meet more people. I can’t seem to find  things to say that aren’t idiotic. I want to have my own life. Then I end up spending more time with my family. I try to be happy, and then I end up thinking about things that make me upset.

Sometimes, I wonder if God doesn’t want me to succeed at certain things. Maybe it’s true. I don’t think that God necessarily wants people to be unsuccessful and miserable. But I think sometimes being deprived of certain things can be spiritually advantageous. Not that we should ignore other people in need because God will take care of them directly, but that we should, as much as I hate to say it, see the “bright side” when it comes to our own struggles. Pain can teach us a lot about ourselves and bring us closer to God.  Ugh, so cliche!

 

 

Embarrassing Memories and Awkward Moments with TRL, Part 1

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The birds are irrelevant, but cute are they not? Now for the content!

To say that high school was embarrassing for me is a gigantic understatement. Demoralizing is a more accurate word.

Yesterday, I was thinking about all my unpleasant memories, especially all the ones related to theater. From doing improv with my dad and writing plays, I have enjoyed being dramatic for quite a long time, whether I knew what I was doing or no. I was thrilled to finally join the theater program in high school and do it for real. I’ll never forget how my teacher once said that I was “a good little actress” when I was a freshman. I thought I had a promising “career” ahead of me. 

It was my dream to get a part in one of the plays other than the musical, where anyone could get a part. I would watch the older kids do it, thinking that it was wonderful, imagining what it must have felt like to be near the top of a cast list! 

I finally did get a part, a small part, but that was okay because it was my first time. I was Betty Chumley, a forgettable but charming character from “Harvey.”

The next year, I had higher expectations. My teacher hinted to me that I might be in for something bigger- one of the lead rolls in Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” I was positively thrilled, and I had to audition, there was no question.

I made it to that audition, even in my sickness. But I didn’t get the part. It was devastating at first, but I knew that the girl who got it deserved it. I coaxed myself into being a good sport about it.

I got to be a tough cop in that play, which was a lot of fun. But I struggled with the part. I never felt like I was doing a good job with it during rehearsals. And the worst part was that at a certain point in the play, my friend and I would always start cracking up. We did this all the way up to opening night. Thank God we got our act together before the audience saw it! 

I never felt like I had a perfect performance to wrap up my acting career. I felt a little uncomfortable on stage in general, which made it difficult. I never knew what to do with my hands (even a problem I have in normal situations). I felt like I had hit my brick wall, like I wasn’t getting better, maybe I was even worse than when I was younger, because I’d grown more self conscious. I’d always thought I was okay at acting, but I made the sad realization that I’d probably never be any better than mediocre. It was a blow to my self esteem. 

And now, of course, I must tell you the embarrassing memory, as promised! As I mentioned, I was sick for the audition. Well, I was also sick for the second week of performances. But I sucked it up because that was all that could be done. The problem was the coughing. But I’d take some cough drops before I went on stage (I didn’t take the drugs because I thought they didn’t work anyway, but now I WISH I DID. The things we come to regret). I thought I could keep getting away with it, hoping that the natural tension of being on stage would prevent me from coughing… until one day, I lost my voice on stage. I kept talking, I was saying my lines because I didn’t know what else to do, I was too shell shocked to improv, to play it off like part of the show. I just kept talking, and the feeble words came out awkwardly. I sounded like a raspy old man on his death bed. I could feel the heat of the lights, the tense silence of the audience. They felt sorry for me, and I wanted to die.

I made my exit, thankfully, and proceeded to cough my brains off offstage, trying to be quiet, probably not succeeding at all. Then, thankfully, I reentered, and my voice was back. At least I had a chance to redeem myself. Afterwards I started crying, mortally humiliated because my dad was out there, watching me for the first time. My fellow cast members made me feel better, and I wiped my tears for my appearance at curtain call.

So that was an embarrassing theater memory! I will be posting more awkward high school moments, and what I learned from them tomorrow. But for now,  a piece of advice- if you’re in a high school play and you have a bad cough- take the drugs! Do you hear me! Drugs!