Friday, January 3, 2014

Back to life.

I stopped posting on this blog nearly three years ago, when my personal website died (see last from 2011 below), and I was planning a return to Seattle.

Fast forward to 2014, now a year after having left Seattle (again--short story: going back didn't work out in any demonstrable way). I returned to Toledo last January to pick up my unfinished academic threads, and am so glad I did. My old website's still dead, but I have found a vital new outlet in working with the incarcerated, which has been something I have attempted to pursue since (re)entering school in 2007.

I may start another blog soon to discuss the rewarding work I do with the inmates (I currently teach acting, and hope to soon be teaching philosophy as part of the Inside-Out program). I think a discrete blog from this one is probably best for that, and I will post here when/if I set that up. However, in the meantime, take a look at the other blog I have just started, Pell Grant Writing Initiative, which is an effort that is shared by myself and prisoners at Toledo Correctional Institution. Only one post is currently up, but look for much, much more to come in the future.

Happy New Year! ~Sasha

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nowhere gal.

I can no longer access my personal website ( My login won't work, and my repeated messages to the "contact us" page go unheeded. There's no number I can call, no recourse--as it's a free site. So, now my life is trapped in some sort of weird virtual bubble that floated off on May 12th, 2011.

Perhaps that means the May 12th version of Alexandra died and my parallel self is currently typing this. Even if so--and I suppose that would be sort of cool, in a Source Code-y kind of way--it's still frustrating. My parallel self is still aware of the old self, and I desperately want to sync us up. Hell, just to have a conversation, if nothing else.

This is so frustrating. I can't delete the account, I can't update it. It just sits there, hanging in the ether; trapped like a bug, writhing upside down in a pool of water.

Damn it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From The D. to shining Sea.

One thing I can say about my life is that it's never static. As a good Buddhist, I should merely smile and say, "yes, of course!" As a middling Buddhist, though, I say, "Holy crap! Is my life ever gonna be settled?!" Answer: never, even if I'm physically still. That's just the way it works.

This kind of sums up my experience, and I guess after nearly 40 years I have accepted it (for the most part).

As you may know, the plan post-grad was to move to Detroit. That is no longer true. For reasons that don't necessarily need to be elucidated here, several people (including myself) would benefit by my moving back to Seattle, instead. I'm doing that.

Admittedly, this is not without some sadness. As much as I adore and have missed Seattle, I did have my energies directed toward the Detroit experience, odd as that may sound to some of you. I had actually fallen in love with the city. All the things I said about it in my previous post are true. But, when worthwhile opportunities that seem beneficial for numerous parties present themselves, you have to grab 'em while you can.

Therefore, all the stuff I asked for when I talked about moving to The D?--those hold true for Seattle, too. If any of my Sea-town compatriots know of any work opportunities, feel free to send me the details. I have a lot more experience and education than I did the last time I lived there, but I'm open to all kinds of stuff, despite having hopes I'll land something in academia and/or the arts--which are my two great loves.

I haven't seen some of you for 13 years now, and I look so forward to picking our threads back up. I also look forward to the smell of Elliott Bay, the abundant opportunities for cuisine and culture, and all of that GREEN. So green. I can smell the Douglas firs as I type this.

See you soon, Emerald City.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moving to the D.

If you had told me two years ago when I moved to Toledo I would be relocating--by choice--to Detroit, I would have laughed in your face. My intention was to come here simply for grad school; it was to be a life transition and nothing more.

Granted, I have no plans to stay in Toledo. There are some nice things about it, but there simply isn't enough left in this once-grand town to keep me engaged. I had hoped to move back to the west coast (had my eye on going back to Seattle, or maybe the Bay area) after grad school, but quite honestly, I don't have the funds for that. As well, I am truly tired of making the "once-every-few-years" giant move across the U.S., as I've been doing for nearly a decade, now. And finally, I've gotten somewhat accustomed to being on this side of the nation, despite how much I pine for L.A. and Seattle every day. I miss the ocean and the damn near luxury of west coast living, but seasons also appeal to me. I didn't realize how much I had missed that.

This part of America is definitely midwestern, but it is also punctuated by the culture of southern folks who migrated in the early-mid 20th century for blue-collar work, so it feels a bit familiar. The longer I've been here, it seems closer to my own experience than anywhere else I've lived. And although having been exposed to black culture once I moved west, the impression I get here among African-Americans here is that their culture is even more authentic, honest, raw. I like that. It reminds me of my own formative experience, what some refer to as "white trash" or "hill people." Those terms have very negative connotations, and to some degree we Appalachians have earned it. But even though everything about our culture is not always pleasant, one thing is for sure--we are very, very real and to the bone. And I see that among all of the people here--not just blacks. Sometimes the vibe in this part of the world gets a bit too passionate--just like now, when I hear people fighting in my apartment building parking lot, but that's part of the trade-off of being among people who are raw. With great poverty surrounding us and the certainty of bad times ahead, people can get pretty edgy; crazy--and they have no qualms about showing it. That quality of authenticity is something I have always understood, so I tend to value it in others. Sometimes it makes things more difficult because such an approach to life can be overwhelming, intimidating, threatening or simply irritating, but hey--at least you know always know where you are with folks.

Over the last couple of years, I drove into Ann Arbor a few times and really liked it; it seems like the "Boulder of Michigan" to me. I thought it was lovely, but it just didn't seem like somewhere I'd want to consider settling for awhile. But in January I drove up to Detroit and the minute I hit town it was like I'd been there before. It has the dirty/industrial feel of Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, the strip mall/gritty, graffiti-tagged sadness of North Hollywood, and the downtown feel of Cleveland meets Glasgow, Scotland. And of course, the numerous examples of abandonment are visceral. One of the first things I saw when I drove into the city was the old, beaten/shot-up beauty of a once-magnificent train station. Instantly, I was in love.

Everyone who knows me well knows I'm a melancholic. I find beauty in ruin. Hope in devastation. Thus, I couldn't help it; once I was inside Detroit's environs, I instantly wanted to help her. I know people have been attempting to do this since the 60s, and not a lot has changed. I'm not likely to make any tangible difference. But I would like to try.

For the first time in my life I want to get involved in community revitalization efforts instead of continuing to wallow in my own self-pity and existential hand-wringing. There are a lot of people interested in trying to make Detroit a city of note again, and I would like to contribute however I can. And, unlike Toledo (which is the D's little sister, in so many ways), there are many more arts outlets for me to explore--theatre, visual art, dance--and damn, have I missed nourishing that part of myself. Now there are multiple opportunities, not just one or two.

I've got a long-time pal who lives in New York City, and he's convinced I should move there (NYC). He has me pretty convinced he's right. I used to tell myself I'd be too old, but what's too old? Too old to what? I can be 45 and unsuccessful in NYC, or I can be 45 and unsuccessful in Iowa. At least I could enjoy a more vibrant world on the east coast. However, I can't quite move there yet. I don't have the money, and I believe a transition is important for me. I need to get away from school for awhile (I'm pretty burned out, to be honest), do some re-structuring and (hopefully) a little money-saving. What I'm most hoping for is even more growth and discoveries along the way, and I think moving an hour north will kick-start those into motion...

If any of my readers have Detroit connections--contacts, jobs, arts opportunities, arts jobs opportunities--let me know. I have mad skills in many areas, from executive admin to teaching to pet sitting to editing, and now I'll have a decent education to back it up. Any help/advice you care to share will be welcomed and appreciated.

For once in my life, I've finally decided to stop fretting over misplaced or even lost dreams and am willing to cast the net wide to see what I pull up. And I have to say, I'm damned excited about it.

Copyright 2011, Alexandra Scarborough. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fallen idol.

I followed the recovery of Mike Starr on Celebrity Rehab, a show I initially thought exploitative, but came to appreciate for its purpose. Sure, much associated with reality TV is exploitative, but I do believe Dr. Drew and company honestly want to heal people. If they're accomplishing such things, why not show it to a mass audience? It might actually push someone into action; to realize his/her own problems with substance abuse. The folks at the Pasadena Recovery Center understand addiction. Many of them are past addicts themselves and they want to guide people into positive change. They hope to facilitate the patients' journey into some sort of normalcy.

On both shows--Celebrity Rehab and Sober House--Mike showed himself to be a complex yet caring man who sincerely wanted to heal. He went through some very rough times (ever see anyone throw up mountains of barf on-screen, folks?) but he always stayed for the next step. He wanted to live, to feel worthy again. Unfortunately, the death of Layne Staley haunted him; it was something he mentioned time and time again during the series. He felt so much guilt for leaving Staley that night--after an argument--never to see him again. When Mike saw Staley's mother for the first time after Layne's death, I really thought that could provide the crux--a turning point for pushing through to sobriety. I was wrong.

Starr showed up on the penultimate episode of Celebrity Rehab 4--along with success stories Mackenzie Phillips and Tom Sizemore--to give support and encouragement to the new group. I was so proud to see him with bright eyes and hope; somehow, he felt like a brother.

For whatever reason, Mike chose to return to drugs. While not ingesting something as harsh as his previous addiction, heroin--I can imagine him reasoning "it's just to help me sleep," or "this is nowhere near the level of smack"--those mind-altering/numbing substances helping him deal with his ongoing existential pain still killed him. I'm not judging him at all; I understand crippling guilt. I just wish he could have held in there--by trying to keep up with his Sober House peers, if nothing else. But the ghosts that had haunted him since 2002 (hell, years before that) wouldn't let go of his psyche. in peace, Michael Starr. I have no doubt your struggle inspired thousands of people. And although you may have succumbed to the raging and demanding demons of guilt/addiction, you illuminated my own experience. Thank you.

I think the afterlife probably doesn't exist, but if it does, I genuinely hope Mike and Layne are reacquainting themselves and laughing over the inconsequence of this mortal coil.