I shared last week that I’d begun PQ training and this past week was all about noticing and intercepting the judge saboteur. In addition to my regular work, this task has kept me quite busy, especially on Friday when the country learned about President Trump and the First Lady contracting COVID-19. The effect of this news sent me reeling with the possibilities of the consequences with the upcoming election.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the Chinese fable of the stallion owner. Thanks to the It’s Time… website for providing me the fable to share with you. It was cited in the PQ training by Shirzad Chamine and I’ve been obsessed by it’s relevance as a tool this week. “Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?”

I live in Los Angeles, in a condo with 200 units. I have a good relationship with people in the building, having served on the Building and Grounds committee as the chair, and as an active member of the community. The building is well maintained and the management company has done a good job. However, several weeks ago, there was a heated exchange via a group email which had been dormant for some time. One member of the community complained about a party in the pool area with partisan banners draped on the community’s fence. When the woman approached the group to ask them to remove the banner, she was insulted and reported being physically threatened. The next week, the banners reappeared, hanging from the balcony of an apartment which overlooks the pool.

As I’ve mentioned, I get up each day 5:30AM, and drive to Lake Hollywood to take a 3.5 mile walk around the reservoir, a tonic to the world’s worries. When I come home, I walk up the stairs from the garage and of late have been confronted with this view at the top of the stairs.

It’s been very hard for me to quiet my judge as I round that corner each day. The first day I marched into the lobby and demanded of the security guard that they be removed. Every day I’ve fumed while I searched for my inner Sage, so that I don’t get hijacked and spoil the good feeling that the walk has engendered. Finally this week, in response, I applied the bumper stickers I’d received from Move On and the Democratic Party to my car’s bumper. I’ve never, repeat never put a bumper sticker on my car. My Sage made me do it. Rather than hanging onto the resentment about the banners. And this weekend, I still see them when I come around the corner, but my attitude has changed. Good Luck? Bad Luck? Who knows?

On my car’s bumper.

With the chronology of recent events, the story of the stallion seems salient:

Ruth Bader Ginsberg dies and is the first woman to lie in state at the US Capitol.

This seems like incontrovertible bad luck…

A furor emerges on the hypocrisy of the Republican Senators advocating speedy filling of the Supreme Court empty seat. I begin to feel optimistic about the outcome of the election.

September 26th – Trump announces 7th Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. The announcement takes place in the Rose Garden at the White House – with most of the senior Republican Party witnessing the event. They are seated close together, without masks. Media reported that there was a lot of hugging and handshaking, followed by an indoor reception for key officials to congratulate the nominee.

Friday morning, October 2nd at 1:00AM, President Trump tweets that he and the First Lady have contracted the Coronavirus. It soon comes out that several Republican senators who also attended the ceremony have tested positive.

It is no longer assured that there will be a majority to support Judge Barrett’s confirmation.

This morning as I came up the stairs from the garage, I paused to take a photo of the banners on my neighbor’s porch (which are strictly prohibited under our CC&Rs). Somehow, my judge is silent today. I relish the language on the banners. There’s a song playing in my head…


In the first months of the pandemic for some reason I chose to measure the time of my isolation in cereal boxes. I think it was due to the initial scarcity of critical paper products, and some delusional thought I had about providing model-building supplies to our design students that caused me, after emptying the contents into my cereal bowl, to next extract the bag, flatten the box, and tuck it into a recycled padded mailing envelope. I imagined I’d mail them to one of my design colleagues so that she could distribute the “materials” to the students. At some point, perhaps about week 12 or 13, as I prepared for the arrival of my brother and his wife from their cross-country trip, the pile of cereal boxes sitting on the chair in the guest bedroom started to look like what it was – recycling that hadn’t been taken out. I swooped it up and took it down the hallway to the trash room, where I put it into the blue bin, walked away, and never looked back. Out went the silver bubble wrapped refrigerator bags that had come with my Imperfect Foods shipment each week, and which I’d at one time imagined might be sewn into some space-age costumes by tailors more talented than I. Again, from concept to compactor with just a minor shift of intention. Wasteful, you’re thinking, perhaps? Temporarily bat-shit crazy, others may be thinking? I prefer to think of it as contemplative practice and a desire to express myself creatively in ways that I don’t normally do, which is, after all, the zeitgeist we theatre folks find ourselves immersed in.

Witness our students, making new forms of theatre using new tools.

This seventh week was particularly productive, with the launch of the first of our four Production Experiences, entitled Empower the Vote: Supression to Expression. You can see what they’ve put together there. Their materials much more sophisticated that foil dresses or cereal boxes. I’m excited for you to see their work. In the coming weeks, there are three more experiences on the production/design side, and four acting productions. Find all the information here. Come check them out. They’re all free!

This period of time prior to the election with our president hospitalized may feel topsy turvy. Your judge may convince you that things are so out of control that it may not be worth trying to remain steady on your own feet. You may feel torn by the controversy and confusion in the weeks leading up to the election. Our students have kept their minds busy working on the most creative ways to talk about these important issues. They have inspired me and encouraged me to find my Sage in all the chaos.

This image was provided by Nan Reed Twiss, Coach for Higher

2 thoughts

  1. Hi, Els,

    I very much look forward to and enjoy reading your blog. I am also up pretty early in the morning, and if you would ever like company on your Lake Hollywood walk I’d love to go with you. I usually just walk in my neighborhood, and have never done your walk, despite living in Los Feliz for 35 years. If you prefer the solitude, I completely understand.


    Susan Barton 213/503-5619


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