Social Awareness

Ethical Courage

True Imagination

Wisdom Tooth on WFYI: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Category: Shows, The Merry Wives of Windsor

WFYI interviews 'Merry Wives' Amy Hayes and Claire Wilcher about Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project's The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Merry Wives of Windsor opens May 13th! get your tickets now!

Wisdom Tooth on WFYI: Impressionism

Category: Shows, Impressionism

WFYI's Jill Ditmire interviews director Amy Hayes and actors Ronn Johnstone (also one of Wisdom Tooth's Teaching Artists) and Kevin Johnson about Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project's Impressionism.

Impressionism is now playing! get your tickets now!

Wisdom Tooth on WFYI: Water By the Spoonful

Category: Shows, Water By the Spoonful

WFYI's Jill Ditmire interviews director Ronn Johnstone and actors Mauricio Campos-Miranda (Elliot) and Dena Toler (Odessa) about Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project's season opener, Water By the Spoonful.

Water By the Spoonful is now playing! get your tickets now!

From Rendering to Real Life

The journey of Water by the Spoonful's set design

Category: Shows, Water By the Spoonful

The title of this show immediately brings images to the mind, whether that has to do with the water or the spoon. But ultimately, neither of those single images can tell the story of this show.

A through-line exists for the characters in each of their journeys, specifically in the way that they each undergo a sort of baptism as they're plunged into intense circumstances. That baptism image draws the audience back to water. However, this fails to take the spoon into account.

The water is the task and the spoon is the commitment. These are both integral parts of changing our lives, in transforming ourselves. We must choose to go under, and we must choose to keep doing so.

From a practical standpoint, the set also tries to integrate all of the essential parts of this story instead of focusing on a single metaphor. This story is about a family, on and off-line, and the waters they're all crossing to create change in their lives. My design concept allows each of these to flow into the others with a grace we often fail to recognize in our day-to-day lives.

May you hold to the task, your spoon, and may you never forget to keep taking the plunge.

Written by Sarah White (Scenic Designer)

Sarah White (Scenic Designer) has played many roles for Wisdom Tooth, both onstage and off, including serving as student Artistic Director of Wisdom Tooth during the time it was in residency at her alma mater, Anderson University (BA Theatre and English, '11). Sarah designed her first set in 2009 for Wisdom Tooth's production of Section 8: Home by Another Name, and has continued to design since. She is recent graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, holding an M.F.A. in Scenic Design. Recent credits include The Oldest Boy and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at the Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City), Schoolhouse Rock: Live! at the nationally recognized Theatre for Young Audiences, The Coterie (Kansas City) and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot for Wisdom Tooth (you may remember the junkyard). Sarah has also served as Properties Artisan for the Berkshire Theatre Group (2014) and The Texas Shakespeare Festival (2013), as well as Assistant Scenic Charge for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival (2015). She hopes you will each walk away from this show with eyes to see the plunge you must take in your life, and a grip willing to hold onto the spoon it needs.

Water By the Spoonful opens Oct. 9th! get your tickets now!

Wisdom Tooth on WFYI: Jason and (Medea)

Category: Shows, Jason and (Medea)

WFYI's Jill Ditmire interviews director Amy Hayes and actors Adam Tran (Jason) and Kelsey Leigh Miller (Medea) about Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project's Jason and (Medea).

Jason and (Medea) is now playing! get your tickets now!

What's So Dangerous About Stories?

(and other Pitfalls of Truth)

By Amy Hayes

Category: Shows, Jason and (Medea); Thoughts on Art, Theatre, and Acting

Someone once said there is really only one Story, and we just keep telling it in different ways.

I guess that's why these old stories (or new old stories, in the case of Jason and (Medea)) keep our interest. Why we still need them. Why they tantalize and amuse and frustrate and teach and tease us and turn us on.

A wise woman of the theatre told me that the words Theatre, Theology, and Therapy all have the same root: Theology is the study of God. Therapy is the healing of God. And Theatre is where God Comes Down. All the best therapy practices come from theatre, which goes with theology. Although which comes from which, I'm not sure.

A few years ago I went to Greece to visit all the major remaining amphitheaters. We saw Epidurus and Delphi and several others I never studied in Introduction to Theatre all those years ago.

And here's the thing: There's no such thing as a theatro (theatre) without an accompanying temple. Stories and Worship went together. Inseparable. And in the case of Delphi and some other theatros, they were also centers of healing, complete with hospitals and dormitories (literally, places for sleeping so your healer could help you interpret your dreams, which were markers of mental health).

Story. Worship. Healing.

In our play, Medea asks, "What's so dangerous about stories?" and her mother answers, "They make reality feel prettier than it is."

But I think it's because, as Madeleine L'Engle said, story is truer than fact. And Truth changes us. Truth can set us free. And freedom… Well, that leads to all sorts of possibilities that most of us are nowhere near ready for.

I've always found God in the Theatre. To me it's a sacred place. Holy. And as I stood looking at those crumbling vestages of truth and story and worship and humanity, I saw why. Here we come face to face with ourselves, our humanity. Our fumbling needs and retching grief and raging lust and ecstatic love and ridiculous hilarity.

We are in the Holy Place. This is where God Comes Down.

—Amy Hayes

(with gratitude to Tina Packer)

Excavation

Look here,

This layer has all of humanity in it:

The words of all the poets

And what they knew about love

Passion jealousy laughter.

How they knew we'd need them

All this time later

We'll never know

But here they are.

I hear the declamation from the top of the theatro

I speak the words and

Still they echo  Millennia later.

And this stratus—

I doubt you'll notice the holes, the way

The marble lay on the ground too long

And began to take on the quality

Of water, of wood,

Became porous and lost its resilience—

This is the layer that we lost and  though we know it existed  we can't hear its words any more.

Our loss,

Since I think it probably contained

Some piece, some fragment

Of truth or at least

Some feeling we might need now.

I know this because

I am an archeologist of time

Of words of

Poetry.

I dig for all of us.


AH 2009

Jason and (Medea) runs June 4th—14th, 2015.

An Interview with Jess Shoemaker

WTTP Artistic Director Amy Hayes interviews Jessica Shoemaker, playwright of Jason and (Medea)

Category: Shows, Jason and (Medea)

Jess Shoemaker is a multi-talented theatre artist whose work has been produced in both Chicago and Los Angeles. Shoemaker is an actor, director, co-founder of (re)discover theatre and will be serving as text coach for the Great River Shakespeare Festival this summer. Currently, she is working on two projects that feature strong women: Queen Margaret and Wonder Woman! She can be found writing, acting, directing and reading in sunny Los Angeles.

AH: Jason & (Medea) is in Wisdom Tooth's season as our IndyShakes production, which means that it is classics-based. How is this play both "classic" and a new play? How do you see your play fitting into this position?

JS: Well… so obviously the fundamental plot that Jason & (Medea) tells is derived from ancient myth and from a technical perspective, it was important to maintain key plot points. But I thought it would be more rewarding to keep the details of the story malleable enough to respond to my personal experiences and my imagination. In that way, the play is very new.

I guess for me… the vast majority of Shakespeare plays are stories derived from other source material. Willa Cather has a beautiful quote about there being only 2-3 human stories that go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never been told. I think every story, if told from a true and human perspective, is both new and ancient.

What I would say helps the play to feel new is that the plot and themes of the myth speak directly to a culture that is grappling with the concept of both outsiders and female equity. That made "updating" the play very easy.

AH: Tell about the birth of this idea…. How did it come to you and why?

JS: Ah! The original idea belongs to my brilliant colleague, Janet Howe. She wanted to tell the part of Medea's story that rarely gets told, the love story, but she wasn't a writer. I was and I said yes. Having a team of people around you that challenges and supports you in collaboration is invaluable.

AH: When I first saw this play in Chicago at (re)Discover Theatre, I was struck by its wisdom and its "classical" sensibilities. I remember being surprised to note how young you were. How do you think you have you come by this wisdom at your age?

JS: I'm so tempted to make a joke! I don't know…

In terms of my classical sensibilities, I've been immersed in Shakespeare almost nonstop since my junior year of college. I've had the opportunity to play some great roles, cut and direct, arguably, the best scripts in the English language. I've served as dramaturg and text coach on many productions. If I didn't have a truly solid foundation in classical storytelling by this point…

In terms of wisdom, I've noticed that what most people interpret as wisdom is really just a deep sense of empathy. I spent a very long time training to be an actor. I imagine that is part of it? I was always a really mature, really sensitive kid.

I also eat vegetables on the regular.

AH: Would you describe Jason and (Medea) as a Feminist play? If so, what does that mean to you?

JS: This question always makes me sweat, which is weird. I am certainly a feminist and not shy about it. Jason & (Medea) is a feminist play, of course it is a feminist play. What makes me nervous are snap-judgments that feminist plays are angry and two-dimensional diatribes about the ways in which women have been grossly, and confoundingly, mistreated. Which is a truth, but that's a topic for a different interview.

Jason & (Medea) tells a story with the assumption that women deserve an equal platform for expression. It explores some of the ways that women experience lack of access to an equal platform but that is not the thesis statement of the play. It isn't what the play wants to be about.

When I wrote Jason & (Medea) I was doing a lot of work in the field of gender equity and unconscious biases. Without meaning to, I think we skew stories to reflect our biased experience. Men have been writing the stories for a really long time but I wrote this version of the story. Naturally it will be skewed towards my experience as a woman and I think that is exciting and healthy. I like to think it helps clarify and strengthen our understanding of her story.

AH: With what do you hope audiences will leave this play?

JS: Probably all playwrights hope people leave their plays having seen themselves in some moment of the play, having recognized something in an ancient story… that feels true to them today.

Specific to this piece? There are a couple of moments in the play that were written to spark debate about what really happened in the space between two people. Human relationships are so nuanced and difficult to interpret and digest. I think that's true in life and I certainly hope it's true in this play! If audiences leave with a recognition that what happened between Jason and Medea was not one person's fault, that their world was exploded by two different people, I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.

AH: You've woven story elements from mythology and from your own imagination into these characters and their story. How did you balance and marry the two? For instance, Medea is quite funny in your play; how do you justify that quality with what she ends up doing?

JS: Hmmm. Well the seed of each character is based in where they end up. I looked at where each character started, and where they ended up and how the character got themselves to that point. In terms of the contradictions, I suppose I wanted to interrupt our expectations, keep us honest about these being real people. We perceive Medea as a grandiose tragic figure and the humor makes her real. We think of Atalanta as a statuesque, virginal goddess and I tried to make her the opposite of that. Their stories are both the same—but they look different than we originally pictured them. And we like it that way. I just… I hate very few things more than I hate type-casting.

AH: You've created a story with several characters, but only four actors to play them. What was your reasoning behind that, and how important is the idea of an ensemble to telling this story?

JS: First—I think ensembles are essential and collaboration is the magic that makes the world go round. Then—I want to tell you something really smart and thoughtful about archetypes and humanity and how I crafted the doubling to reflect my view of our changeability as human beings but honestly, during revisions I only had access to four actors, so I doubled the roles for a reading and thought, "Hey! This totally works!"

In an ideal world, theatre artists have the budgets to make what is happening in our imaginations actually come to life, like happen, onstage, in a really thrilling way. But when I wrote the play, I was not operating with that kind of budget. Almost no one is. A smaller cast was a practical choice that came to fruition: directors and actors have made that practical choice an incredibly rich one.

AH: What's your favorite moment in this play?

JS: The Princess scene! It was written near the end of my process. I'd been reading and scribbling and typing and tearing my hair out for a full year. And I woke up at 3:00am, grabbed my computer and the scene was… just there. It was like transcribing something from someone else's brain and it tickles me as though I did not write it.

Others? So many moments of this play come from stories that people have shared with me about having kids and living and loving. Those stories are so dear to me. It's an incredible opportunity, and privilege, to be given moments of a life and weave them into a narrative, something that makes sense, something that has a beginning, a middle and an end; to take all those juicy moments and make something that is wholly complete and satisfying. Life isn't necessarily logical and it doesn't lead to a conclusion and I'm excited to orchestrate something that is and does.

AH: If you could rewrite, or write a prequel or sequel to any other story in any culture's mythology, what would it be?

JS: I'm currently working on a Queen Margaret project and a Wonder Woman project that are both slated to achieve some level of completion before the end of 2015… Stay tuned!

AH: Do you see yourself as one of these characters, and if so, which one?

JS: Everyone but The Princess and Jason! The Princess, for my writer-self, is just representing an idea. She was never meant to be fleshed out as a real person. Though the actor playing her will make her real, and should!

Jason just seems so foreign to me. I think I understand him, but I don't feel him inside me.

It's weird though—all of the characters have elements of me in them, but they also have elements of my dearest friends. So many of the characters were written for close friends. Josie Adams, a best friend from college, has always been The Princess. Heller looks like Sam Hay, another close friend. I know a lot of incredibly powerful women that contributed to Chalciope. And all those real people contributed to the person I am. This play is like a living, breathing love letter/scrapbook.

Jason and (Medea) runs June 4th—14th, 2015. Jess will be teaching a playwrighting workshop on June 7th

Wisdom Tooth in the Indiana Business Journal

Category: Shows, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot; Thoughts on Art, Theatre, and Acting

Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project Artistic Director Amy Hayes, founding member Lisa Ermel, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot cast member Carrie Bennett Fedor discuss the benefits and drawbacks for actors of joining an Indiana actors' union with the Indiana Business Journal.

Deciding whether to join union a tough call for Indianapolis actors

"Whether to join the union has always been a dilemma for regional actors, but in Indianapolis the decision is even more difficult as non-union professional theaters proliferate and offer plum roles to build experience."

Read more…

"Lisa Ermel (shown with Sam Fain in Phoenix Theatre's production of "Seminar"), recently became one of Indiana's 220 members of Actors' Equity, the national union of stage actors. (Photo courtesy of Zach Rosing)"

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot runs March 20—April 4th, 2015

Wisdom Tooth on WFYI

Category: Shows, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

"WFYI interview from Wisdom Tooth's opening night of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot: Artistic Directors Amy Hayes and Ronn Johnston discuss Judas, Fringe, and the brave young theatre companies of Indy"

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot premieres March 20, 2015

The Boy in the Kodak Moment

By Ronn Johnstone

Category: Thoughts on Art, Theatre, and Acting

I believe stories are so very important for us.

I have this picture of me when I was 9 (I think).

It kind of looks like me, in that way our imagination ignores the years. But even the decades that have added variety to the Pandora of my day-dreams can't recognize the me in this boy. It's not me in any real or meaningful way. Not until I tell the story that connects the "me" here and now, to the "me" captured in that Kodak moment.

This isn't me…

You're reading me.

But pocket that thought for a minute…

Brené Brown says that stories are data with a soul—the clean analysis of the "facts" and "information" of anything is appropriate when mathematical clarity and clinical dispassion are required: like reading an MRI, looking for the tumor. And if you find no tumor, no harm no foul.

But what if you do?

Then it becomes someone's MRI… and they are always, already more than any collection of data points that describe them. The soul of any story is the recognition that another (and not an "other") person stands within its narrative, and it is about them, and not their summed up parts…or tumors.

One of the things we strive for in theatre is "ego identification"—simply put, we want the audience to live the narrative though the heart and soul of the protagonist. Though there is a wonderful and true place in theatre— and all the arts really— for pure fun, joy and entertainment, it possesses a more profound capacity. A more perfect way, if you will.

My goal has always been to do theatre that changes people's souls. Kim Rubenstein says, people come to the theatre to see us live the lives they're afraid they can't. And in witnessing that, hope is born. Thus theatre can be more than simply entertaining, but revelatory and redemptive…even when it finds a tumor.

Now snag that thought from your pocket: when we see the revelatory and redemptive power of authorship that we can have over our lives, our stories can become more than just a retelling of past things, but choices, beliefs and investments in our future. James Joyce had Ulysses—and indeed a 100 probable Ulysses'— in him before he ever put pen to paper.

I have choices in how to tell the story that brings me back to that boy in the Kodak, and just as many to bring that boy to me.

Theatre, good theatre, tells the story of me in a way I thought not possible. And in that, the impossible becomes…childsplay.

In the 20 odd years I wasted the last generation's time in class, the biggest idea I wanted them to take away, is that the meaning, significance, and purpose of life is found in relationships. And that all evil, wrong, wickedness found in the world flows from treating others as objects, things, cargo. That's why the best acting coaches really aren't interested in our most clever and ingenious moment to moment work if we are not connected to one another.

Merely monologue-ing at an "other" on stage becomes a theatre that merely preaches its didacticism to a passive audience, encouraged to sit quietly in the dark and "clean their ideological plate." There's no soul in this, no boy in the Kodak, no pregnancy of hope.

And for all its mathematical clarity …it has very little hope of finding the tumor.

The good book of the Christian tradition shows us a Creator always, already in relationship—and not always the most harmonious one: "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?"

To be "in" a relationship with another, I must see me in them—even if just a little; recognize your heart, thoughts, fears, hopes—tumors—are enough like mine to trouble myself for you. I don't even have to like you (for if I'm honest, I don't like all the stories that take me to the boy in the Kodak).

The great obstacle to making these overwhelmingly and uncommonly ordinary connections, is assuming we aren't worthy of that connection, that relationship. That once known, we will be found wanting. So we play it safe, assuming we can only truly be happy with those "persons" we have devised. We fear in ourselves the true ability to fall in love, to love the unsearched for, the unexpected.

We only love what we know; which really means we only love ourselves.

When we don't or won't see that, the "other" doesn't have a heart, because I can't find mine in yours. And what is a thing without a heart? A thing, right? When we stop seeing our human hearts—people become things; and things are tools for our needs, thus objectifying people. Because, you really don't love your shoes, or car, or ice cream. You only love the way their use makes you feel.

Now, unpocket that thought from so many paragraphs ago…

Theatre, good theatre, tells the story of me in a way I thought not possible. It gives me a map to the topography of a life not so unlike my own, showing me I have choices in telling the story that brings me back to that boy in the Kodak; and just as many to bring "another" (and not an "other") boy to me. In the theater we see people we're afraid we can't love, and their story is ours… a little of us reflects in their tears, and in witnessing that, hope is born. Theatre becomes more than simply entertaining, but revelatory and redemptive.

Creativity: its God's full-time employment. Through creativity we are made, and through that we are shown a more perfect way. It's a great job—and I'll be damned if She ain't hiring!

I do this art, because it tells a story about a strange boy in a Kodak that we both know; a boy without hope, or heart, or soul, only a tumor…and teaches us to tell the story of how we both got here—and suggests to both a different way back, and endless ways forward.

Why Women Like Shakespeare

By Amy Hayes

Category: Thoughts on Art, Theatre, and Acting; Shakespeare

I've always thought of King Lear as a father's play and The Winter's Tale as a mother's play. Of course, they are both more than either of these. These late plays of Shakespeare's (Cymbaline, Pericles, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest) used to be referred to as the Problem Plays, presumably because they don't fit neatly into the categories of Comedy, Tragedy, or History. Ironically, neither do our lives.

Now, they are often categorized as Romances. But I recently heard them referred to as Fairy Tales. I like that. In each, there is a father who is broken, and a daughter and/or wife, sometimes one who was thought lost, who appears and through magic or love or song or all of these, heals the father. It makes sense.

Shakespeare wrote these plays towards the end of his life, when he was back home in Stratford after a long career in London as an actor and writer. His daughter Judith was the only child still living at home (Susannah, his eldest, had married and left home, and Hamnet, Judith's twin, had died at the age of 11). Both father and daughter (and presumably wife) knew loss and grief. They must have bonded. By this point in his life, Shakespeare must have known great love and great passion and great hilarity and great suffering. He certainly wrote all of these into his plays and poems.

The Winter's Tale has always been a siren song to me. I am drawn to its mystery, its studied carelessness with details of time and place and realism. I love that it's a family story: how we hurt most the ones we love, and what forgiveness and redemption look like. I love that it raises issues of guilt and faithfulness and mercy and grace.

Like Joss Whedon, though, I am a little tired of the idea that Shakespeare or anyone seems concerned with Portraying Strong Women. I am a wife and mother and lover and artist and philosopher and woman who struggles with issues of faith and love and integrity, and I see myself reflected in every character, every turn of the plot. In short, I am human.

If ever Shakespeare was exploring what it means to be human in human relationships with other humans, it's in these final Fairy Tales. After all, aren't Fairy Tales where we find the truth about ourselves? They play fast and loose with fact and reality to get to truth and possibility.

No wonder female actors love acting Shakespeare. We get to be every bit as human as the men. We really are all in this together.

"It is requi'rd you do awake your faith."—The Winter's Tale

—Amy Hayes, January, 2014 (With a great debt to Kevin G. Coleman and Tina Packer)

"Art is This Wildly Dangerous Thing! The Place of Art in a Life of Faith" with actor and scholar Ronn Johnstone

Reblogged with permission from Innersexions

Category: Thoughts on Art, Theatre, and Acting

"Ronn Johnstone, Chair of the Theatre Department at Anderson University in Indiana [at the time of this broadcast], and professional actor, takes us into the world of Plato, Dickens, 'Bagger Vance', Dante, Spielberg, 'Lars and the Real Girl' and much, much more to examine the questions such as, 'Why does art matter?', 'What's the connection between news and entertainment?', 'Christian versus Secular—is that even a thing?'. We'll explore the hermeneutics of suspicion, the grammar of creativity, sh$tmonsters, bazookas and ooooooodles more. It's an intellectual romp not to be missed." Iniatially released on Nov 14, 2013.

An Actor, a Character, and the Grace in our Machine

By Ronn Johnstone

Category: Performances – Distracted

By the second week of rehearsal I began to realize that Dad could never fully engage in any meaningful interaction unless he got upset, until conflict was ignited. I had been working to find his "humanity," the spirit of grace that lived within the machine… I know it's there.

But after two weeks, I couldn't avoid the "machine" anymore. The author knew something about Dad I was only now discovering: Unless he gets "spun-up" (as my friends tell me), he can't bring all of himself to bear.

I understood why. I keep up on the current research and theories surround ADHD and "the spectrum" in general.

We're on that now.

The Spectrum.

Sounds like something only Doctor Who could defeat.

And crazily enough, maybe it is.

My initial diagnosis came in 1967: MBD – Minimal Brain Dysfunction – which was one of the earlier names for ADD (now ADHD). Dr. Adler wrote a pioneering book called Minimal Brain Dysfunction, in which he described 24 of his patients, and the work he did with EEG and medication to improve and enhance the communication between the hemispheres of the brain.

I was subject number 12.

If you Google Adler's book, you'll find nothing. It's long out of print. His cutting edge theory, that MBD was the result of miscommunication between the hemispheres of the brain, was just plain wrong.

Adler was influenced by the work of Stills and Tregold, who argued in the early 20th century that symptoms such as those present in ADD were likely the cause of Minimal Brain Damage. Alder's primary work was in Cerebral Palsy – so he had an idea…

But he was wrong, stupendously wrong, in fact…you'll find no mention of Adler in any modern literature, as his name is only associated with the now defunct MBD. Indeed, the only place I know a copy of his book still exists is in the bowels of the City University of New York graduate library, were I was a clerk during my years as a PhD student.

But the Ritalin he gave me worked, even though every idea that informed his decision to administer it was as wrong as the geocentric universe.

I am an early subject, of an early disorder, whose legitimacy has always danced on the edge of public acceptance.

But now I'm on the Spectrum. Now we are legitimate. Now we are real misfits, not the fake kind.

As an actor, I keep working to find the grace in Dad's machine, but he seems so volatile – how can anybody tolerate this guy for more than a few hours? He probably does what I do: Limit my interaction time, so the social "faux paus" of my ADD don't manifest themselves beyond what is often mistaken for "boyish charm."

I'm still searching for Dad's humanity, as I'm still searching for my own.

But it's hard…

Because for both Dad and me to be able to fully engage our rather formidable intellects, our full attention, we have to be in conflict – I have to be "spun up." On an MRI our prefrontal cortex lights up like Times Square on New Year's Eve during a fight. We become Albert Einstein, Dan Aykroyd and Stanley Kubrick – each of whom were on the spectrum – all rolled into one! For us to be to be truly, authentically us, we've got to need to be "hyper" – or the prefrontal cortex simply never fully engages. We simply can't bring all of us to bear.

So Dad and I live where there's "hype." Where other people eventually get stressed, exhausted, and desperate. We ride a roller-coaster that we dare not get off. As I watch him slowly dismantle his marriage, I can't help but reflect on my inabilities.

I am a person of permanent potential, as is Dad.

I have never finished a thought in my life; neither has Dad.

I am mercilessly bored by the minute attention others devote to subjects that only skim the surface of life, as is Dad.

I always leave anywhere twice, having forgotten something multiple times. At least Dad is saved this prison of repetition by the author's need to keep the narrative flowing.

I am ecstatically enthralled by the Church Fathers' debates on the nature of God, atmosphere as a solid, and whether or not God could make a roller skate break the sound barrier by attaching a Saturn Five boaster engine (no, I tell Him, because of "compression…")

And Dad tests God's mercy by inventing stupefying crash tests.

As week 3 begins, I guess I'm not so much searching for the grace in Dad and my machine, as trying to find the way to share it – without "spinning up." We're hard to endure, so very hard. After a while you start to take us personally, as though all this hyper is aimed at you. We're not angry, or volatile or reckless with your heart, Dad and I… we're just trying to see you, know you, connect with you.

But we're difficult.

We're very difficult.

So we search, Dad and I, for the grace in our machine….

Distracted premieres September 11, 2014