The Anonymous Mask of the Internet and the Effects on Humanity

I play Scrabble online. Live and in real time. With real, though anonymous, people. They are from all over the world and play at all different levels. The games are timed and range from 3 minutes per player to much, much longer. Though I tend to stick to the 5-10 minute range. Players have ratings based on their number of wins and losses and the ratings of their opponents. I am rated somewhere amongst the average player, I think. There are several players registered who play in tournaments and such, and are much better than I am, and also care more deeply about winning. You can chat with the person you are playing against if you like, though some players have settings that don't allow for chatting during play, so as to not be distracted. I had never considered setting my play so that I could not be chatted with, but something has changed in the last couple of months. I used to chat with people a bit, or not, and have friendly exchanges. I don't know if something has changed because I am playing faster games, or my rating is getting higher, but lately a number of my opponents have been very obnoxious. I have been routinely accused of cheating when I am winning, have been sworn at, and told to grow up when I suggested that winning wasn't the most important part of play to me. Well, actually, the exchange took place during a very fast game, 3 minutes per side, me with a rating of 1300 and them with a rating of 1500. (Usually the ratings adjustments are 3-7 points up or down per game.) It went something like this: (we are taking turns the whole time and it's fast, so there's probably a word being played every sentence we type)

me: (plays "then" leaving a triple open)
them: (plays "soirees" on the triple) You can't do that to a 1500 player.
me: do what?
them: open a triple like that. they'll pounce on it.
me: oh, well, it's a fast game, so i'm just playing.
them: you don't care about winning?
me: it doesn't particularly bum me out if i don't win.
them: you're an idiot.
me: i am just trying to get better at playing fast games.
them: maybe less chatter would help, idiot.
me: why are you so snide?
them: because it distracts my opponent and makes it easier to win. trashtalking is a big part of winning.
me: whatevs. i am winning at life, so i'm happy.
them: you can't win at life.
me: i can! i am!
them: you can't win at a game for which there are no rules.
me: i love my life, so i am winning!
them: grow up.
me: you grow up. nyah nyah!

This is just one example. I have been called a fucking loser, an asshole, a cheating piece of shit...I have been flamed with dirty names by someone who I wasn't even playing, but who was chatting with someone I had just been playing with who had been calling me names and got their friend to start calling me names, too.

These are people I have never met, I assume, and never will, I also assume. Probably we would never know it even if we did meet. I make lots of assumptions, because I actually get upset when these incidences occur. The assumptions I make are along the unkind lines of deciding these people are lonely, angry, dirty, smelly, ugly shut-ins who are resentful of all the beauty in the world and would like to drag everyone into their own personal little hell. I can see why so many people have decided it's better not to be chatted with while you are playing. I used to have these lovely conversations with people about where we were both from, the weather, sometimes philosophy...but I guess I got better, and now there are petty, competitive sadsacks who have one goal in life - to spread misery.

I am making an effort not to feel the tingle of anxiety and bile when someone I will never know is anonymously mean to me in text over the internet. It's not easy. But, you know something? Blogging about it helps. Is that ironic enough to be hip?



The first snippet of many to come, wherein I begin to try to explain my childhood to strangers.

As children we slept under wagons. When you are seven, everyone assumes you will think it's an adventure. And sometimes you do. But sometimes, even at seven, you think to yourself, I am tired of sleeping on the fucking ground. Sometimes you forget where you are and sit up when you wake up, slamming your forehead on the fifth wheel. Sometimes your feet are wet in the end of your sleeping bag, because in your sleep you can't control where your body goes, and sometimes it sticks parts of itself out in the rain. At night as you are drifting off, you make efforts to remind your body to stay under the wagon, where it's dry, and hope for the best.


Staying current

Okay. I didn't blog about Brief Encounters every day. The process and experience were so joyous, I just loved being present. I will regale you. I'm running on reserve battery power just now and wanted to remind you that I have updated all my calendars and everything, so you can be sure that my upcoming shows link over there ===> is fresh and good. Come see stuff! I'm so excited about all the things I'm doing, and I think it really reads on stage right now. Rippin' it up!



Brief Encounters - Serge and Riel meet. Riel gets choreographed!

Serge and I met today. He is French french. I gave myself over to the universe and Serge started to improvise movement pieces for me. I won't give it all away, what we are thinking, but it's not like anything I've done before, and that, my friends, is why I am alive. Truly.

I have just come away from a conversation with a friend where I told her I think I'm grateful to be alive. And as soon as I had said it I knew it was true on a level I haven't experienced before. I am grateful for all of it, the good, the hard, the beautiful, the absurd, the pain in the ass, the pain, the pleasure. All of it. So rich.

Just being. Not waiting.

What a lesson. A thirty-eight year lesson. I am so intrigued by how everything will unfold. Like, for the rest of my life.

Travel gently,



Brief Encounters. And Passover.

Today our partners in Brief Encounters were revealed! I have been paired with Serge Bennathan, a choreographer. We are slated to begin work on our co-creation April 1st, and will be performing at Brief Encounters at Performance Works April 15, 16 and 17. I am going to write a bit about the experience of creating a 5-15 minute performance piece with someone I've never met as we go, I am so intrigued as to what will happen!

I'm used to creating in short periods of time - I have participated in Theatre Under The Gun (aka Show Off Festival) several times, and it is always a wonderful experience. Not easy, necessarily, but so rewarding. And I am always so surprised and delighted at the work that comes out of it. Theatre Under the Gun and Brief Encounters differ in a few ways. TUTG is a 48 hour playwrighting festival. An inspiration package is received at 8pm on Wednesday night and you're off and running! The package contains an image, a sound bite, a prop and a line of text or dialogue. You spend 48 hours creating a 15 minute piece and perform on Friday night at 8pm. Amazing! Generally speaking, all of the pieces I have been involved with at TUTG have been created by people who know each other and work together regularly. Brief Encounters pairs two artists of differing disciplines and gives them two weeks to create a 5-15 minute piece. No inspiration package, total strangers! So I am not nervous about the length of time we have, but I am a bit nervous about whether Serge and I will be good working partners. I am wide open to whatever we come up with - a funny dance piece? I am already imagining so many things....ohboyohboyohboy!

Okay, I am off to make charoset for a seder I'm attending tonight. Lucky me making the charoset, super easy chopping! I haven't been to a seder in years. I kind of let all the Jewiness fall off when Poppie died five years ago. He was such a connection to tradition, in such a non traditional way. So it is very sweet to have been invited to another family's seder, especially because it sounds kind of loose...they describe it as a hippie seder. I'm gonna dress up, anyway!

Cashews, honey, apples, cinnamon, lemon...chop, blend, chill...eat and be reminded of the bricks we made while we were slaves. (nb, I actually have no personal memory of being a slave, and am pretty grateful for that.)

So...stay tuned for updates about the creation process, and possibly even some more short fiction. I've had a lot of words roiling around in my brain lately, likely they are looking for an escape route. Might as well be out my fingers.