DAY 41 – A quiet day in Munich — and the joys of procrastination

Do It StickersWoke up this morning, late, lots of good sleep and even the dreams were friendlier this time. A good morning. You know, one of those mornings where you promise yourself that today is the day you will get all those things done that you have been putting off until you had a day like this .. a day “with nothing to do”. You sit down with your morning coffee or tea, relaxed because the hours of nothingness that stretch out in front of you seem to go on forever. You decide to begin with “the list”. This is the list that will give you a sense of accomplishment, control and confidence that all is possible. By the time you hit item #9 (each item requiring at least a good half hour to hour of your time) you realize that, once again, the world is conspiring against you and by the time you hit item #17 all the feelings of control, confidence and sense of accomplishment are practically gone. And, what has been accomplished?  A list!

So, then what do you do? You turn to Facebook to write about it because you know that at least that will be one thing accomplished. Only problem, the Facebook post wasn’t on the list.

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DAY 40 – A day of sleep, dreams and reflection

June 20. Munich

First day in weeks that I get to sleep late. So of course I slept until 1 pm. I have this great room in the home of my wonderful friends, Benedikt and Sylvia, in which you can block out the light all day long. So, you wake up and have no idea what time it is. And that’s when I have the most amazing dreams. (Will write out the last amazing dream later.)

While at breakfast (at 2pm) I discover this announcement from the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam.

Binger June 7 931431_10151650134128205_704693400_nThe Tailor-Made and Artist-in-Residence Directors Lab trajectories came to a close, rounding up with Directing Actors by Mark Travis. The workshop series commenced with a One-Day of Practice, including a demonstration of The Travis Technique by Mark. In the subsequent days, directors were invited to apply Mark’s methods to a scene of their own choice. They worked with actors to take it from the creation of backstory using Mark’s interrogation techniques, through to rehearsal and ended up with a fully blocked scene that was ready to be shot. See Facebook and Instagram for a few impressions captured by participants during this intensive, yet fun session of ‘stepping into the sandbox’ with Mark and the actors.

Nice. Thanks, Binger.


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DAY 38, Tuesday June 18 – Portraits and perception of self.

Munich, Germany.

Mark at 10 Portrait  When I was 10 years old, for some reason, my parents decided it was a good idea to have my portrait done by a professional portrait artist. I still have this portrait. Sometimes it hangs in my home. Sometimes I put it away feeling a bit self-conscious … and always wondering if it truly captured who I was at that tender age.

Mark at 70 mid portraitLast week I was in Paris as as my friend Serge and I were climbing up to see Sacre Coeur we came upon an open air art market where there we dozens of  artists, and for a few euros you could get your portrait done. Something told me I had to do it … again … 60 years later.

SoMark at 70 Portrait now I have these two portraits. I am thinking of hanging them both in my home, next to each other. But then I wonder how self-conscious I will become … and I continue to wonder if either of them captured who I really am.

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DAY 31 – Realities and Fantasies

Eifell Tower MTWe grow up knowing more about the world and its icons from photographs, written text, images, films and television than from our actual personal engagement with them. All my life I have had this image of the Eiffel Tower that was both amazing and romantic. This giant black structure thrusting itself proudly into the Parisian air while around its base scurried the world of Paris, shops, streets, citizens on bicycles carrying long loafs of french bread. I’ve seen numerous films where this beehive of activity at base of this bold structure is played out to great dramatic effect. So, no wonder I was full of excitement and anticipation as I was riding the Metro on the way to visit yet another architectural icon.

Eiffel BaseIt’s really difficult when your fantasies are smashed by the sledge hammer of reality. Don’t get me wrong, the Eiffel Tower is truly an amazing and daunting structure. But, it’s Brown! Not black? Since when has it been brown? And what is it doing at the edge of the city in a park? Where are all the shops and pedestrians? How am I supposed to play out my childhood and adult fantasies when at the base of the tower are souvenir shops, fast food kiosks, and so many lines of so many tourists waiting for hours just to get a ticket to wait in yet another line so they can go inside and perhaps to the top. Fantasies and cinematic memories dashed. Sort of a sad moment, really. Did my best to retain the awe of where I was and what I was really seeing. Tried to see the proud obelisk for all that it is .. and tried to ignore the disturbing, this-is-just-another-tourist-site at the base. Maybe I’ll go back another day and ride to the top. Maybe.

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DAY 30 – Chasing cats down an alley

As many of you know, and as I am learning, Paris is a city of alleys and streets cobwebbing themselves into a maze that is both hypnotic and baffling. It’s beautiful and in a few minutes I will be out in those streets again, map clutched tightly, camera at the ready.

But that’s not the way my morning started.

Paris streetIt’s 7am, the alarm is ringing … ringing me into a new day in Paris. “Hit the Snooze, hit the Snooze” one of the voices in my foggy mind is insisting. I follow the directions perfectly, buy myself another 9 minutes. And then the adventure begins, my thoughts wandering from one topic to another, moments of clarity, moments of chaos and confusion. I’m whipping down the alleys of my mind weaving and dancing in front of me … and then ‘snap’ and I am pulled to a standstill in a crevice of stone and cobble, wondering how I got here, why I got here … and where was I before I got there. A cat scampers down the alley and around a hidden corner, tempting me, taunting me, teasing me, daring me to follow. And I do, mindless and mindful, meaning to stay conscious, hoping to slip into a darkness of delight.

Electronic chimes slam me back into my bed. “That was nine minutes?” And I lie there wondering about the alleys of my mind, the cats that catch my consciousness, the darkness that dares me to slip away. I lie there wishing I was more awake so I could appreciate the wonder of it all. I lie there wishing I were asleep, chasing another cat. I hit the Snooze and let myself go.

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DAY 29 (Part 2) – Music on the streets

There’s something about street musicians that gets under my skin … in a good way. I can be walking on any street in any city in the world and the moment I hear the strains of live music I am riveted. I don’t know what it is, but I just have to move towards the sound. I am magnetically pulled … it’s an obligation, a desire, a hunger that is tapped within me. And I can feel my heart swelling with anticipation as I round the corner.

But then add the sound of a banjo and I am a total goner. Many of you know that I am addicted to bluegrass music and am even learning how to play the 5-string banjo. But what I wasn’t expecting was to hear a banjo on the streets of Paris. Not a 5-string banjo, but a tenor banjo, Dixie land banjo … and a Dixie land band right there on Rue St. Germaine.

Within seconds I was standing in front of this group mesmerized. I was the proverbial kid in the candy store. And even though I visited the Opera House (amazing!) and a second visit to the Notre Dame (and even attended a Mass) … this rag-tag Dixie land band was the highlight of my day. There’s a video clip on my Facebook Page for you. Enjoy. We’ll deal with the Opera House (and the mystery of the golden ring) and Notre Dame (and my first impressions of her interior) in future posts.

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DAY 29 – A New Day – A New City – An Old Friend

We learn about the world through pictures, movies, stories. We establish relationships with our favorite locations: New York City, the Grand Canyon, Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China … even though we have never been there.

Then the day arrives when we arrive. The day of the first meeting. Like old friends who were only aware of each other, both curious, both uncertain, both hoping to make a positive impression.

I’m standing in front of the Notre Dame. It’s dark and rainy, the grand plaza in front of the cathedral filled with temporary buildings and ramps all in preparation for some grand summer event. I move around the scaffolding to get my first look at the Grand Dame and as she looms up proudly in front of me I am struck by the clear and awesome fact that I had no idea what she looked like. So I stand there and say to myself, “This is you? This is what you look like?” And I wonder “where are the twisted and tortured gargoyles, where is the powerful raging energy of the woman misunderstood and abused and forgotten? Where are the stories, the legends, the bells, the ropes, the hunchback?”

Notre Dame 1What is standing in front of me is proud, robust, confident. An architectural wonder of such intricacy and complexity that I can see it would take me days or weeks to even explore all of her attributes, alleys and hidden crevices. And I am in awe all over again.

And now I am aware that I am not meeting an old friend for the first time. I am meeting a totally new friend, and the old friend, the fantasy friend, the friend of my imagination and longing and dread slips quietly and reluctantly into a comfortable corner of my mind, hoping to be remembered, hoping to be honored, hoping to be recalled.

I will visit her again, perhaps today. She’s expecting me. And I’m expecting to, once again, be startled, amazed and in awe.

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