The Casual Blog

Tag: Jocelyn Tiller

Buds, laughs, and cries, including Romeo and Juliet (the ballet)

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Sally’s taking a flower arranging class at Wake Tech, and here is her latest project, which I really liked. With spring officially here, I’m very much ready for the big blossoming , and took a Saturday morning walk through Fletcher Park and Raulston Arboretum to see what was up. They’re not here in numbers just yet. But it was fun to take a close look at some things on the point of bursting out.
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Is there anything more boring than people bragging about their marvelous kids? Perhaps hearing people complain about their aches and pains. But other people’s impressive kids are still a serious problem, conversation-wise. Why is it, then, that stories about my own kids are so interesting?

So, sorry, but here goes a proud papa: Jocelyn, having conquered the book publishing business in Manhattan (i.e. getting an entry-level job in ebooks at Macmillan), has now published her first professional writing. It’s a humorous essay about getting the fun of a good cry, which you may read at Quarterlette, a site for twenty-something women. The pay was not good (zero), but she was very excited to be a beginning author. Who knows what comes next? She’s got a piece on online dating in the works, and we kicked around ideas for a funny piece about the annoyances of Facebook.
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At an opposite extreme, there’s a piece in last week’s New Yorker by Andrew Solomon about Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza. Remember Adam, the Sandy Hook killer, who took the life of 26 little kids, his mom, and himself? This is worse than a parent’s worst nightmare. I hadn’t known that he was a high functioning autistic kid who may also have been psychotic. We want to know why he did what he did or what might have made things unfold differently, but there are no full, satisfying answers. Nobody saw Adam’s potential for horrific violence, including the mental health professionals who examined him or his parents. I was moved by Peter Lanza’s struggle with both the pain of loss and profound guilt.
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There’s another good story about death and love called Romeo and Juliet, which the Carolina Ballet performed on Saturday night. We’ve seen Robert Weiss’s choreographed version several times over the past 15 years, and it’s one of my favorites. Shakespeare’s story, it turns out, works quite well without words. The language of ballet is fully sufficient to convey the richness of the trembling, tingling ecstasy of first love, and the explosive violence of feuding clans.

In this production, Margaret Severin-Hansen played Juliet with sweet innocence, and her Romeo, Sokvannara Sar, was strong and sensitive. Their balcony scene was complete, unmitigated, overwhelming love — love that obliterates everything else. Eugene Barnes was a smoldering, intimidating Tybalt. I thought the group sword fights could have used a bit more edge and brio, though I hesitate to say so – I wouldn’t want any dancers to actually get hurt.

Lindsay Turkel was radiant in the trio of gypsy street dancers. We were also happy to see Alyssa Pilger, a corps member and our pointe shoe sponsoree, get a high-profile solo as the Mandolin Girl. She rocked! I’d previously been struck by her beautiful technique, but last night she danced with amazing power, impassioned and electrifying.

Sleep walking, coming home, and good lies

Lately I’ve been feeling more-than-usually pleasantly aware of the world of the senses, such as fall light and colors, sounds of people walking, and even just breathing. There’s so much variation in perceptual engagement, both among people and for each person over time. I like to think yoga is helping to shift my perceptional experience towards greater engagement. But the changes are not uniform and consistent.

A dramatic case in point: I had a sleep walking experience a few nights ago. My only evidence was waking up with a badly bruised and scraped left shoulder. Seriously, I was hurt! I’d taken an Ambien, as I do now and again for insomnia, and attribute the bizarre incident to this usually reliable little helper. What did I do while in my altered state? Go to Fight Club? Could there be an outstanding warrant for my arrest? Could I defend based on lack of knowledge? Sleep walking unsettles the usual assumptions about intentional behavior and personality.

Gabe and Jocelyn Tiller flew in from Telluride, Colorado this week for a holiday. We hadn’t seen them for several months, and it was wonderful to be together again. But Gabe quickly put my fatherly affection to the test by asking for a loan of the 911 (Clara, that is) to go to Boone overnight to see an old girlfriend. I hesitated. I have feelings for Clara — if she were injured, I would be distraught. But I knew Gabe to be an excellent driver (I trained him). And I knew it would be good to share some my happiness with him. So I gave my blessing, and off they went. I experienced some separation anxiety, but Gabe brought Clara home safe and sound.

Jocelyn is blossoming. She’s gotten more blonde, and beams. Her work as a bartender seems to have enhanced her comedic skills, as well as her skill with a cocktail shaker. She made us a delicious green drink with creme de menthe for dessert.

Before and during dinner, Jocelyn, Sally, and I had a lively conversation about truth and lies. We found ourselves in agreement that absolute honesty was not only impossible, but also a bad idea. The social world as we know it depends on some degree of dishonesty. We all are taught that lying is wrong, but this is a lesson that would wreak havoc if taken literally. Could social life even continue if we always insisted on telling each other exactly what we thought of each other? In fact, there are important exceptions to the taboo against lying, Although there is no standard manual of exceptions, most of us eventually learn them. With experience and practice, we can distinguish between social lies that support and advance relationships, and those that undermine them.

Credibility and trust are vital to human relationships. The lies that undermine credibility and trust are the dangerous ones. As Jocelyn observed, it is puzzling and unsettling when one comes across an otherwise appealing person who is a habitual liar. Why don’t they see their lies as hurting themselves and others? Jocelyn theorized that this is manifestation of a mild species of sociopathy. They seem lack of empathy for others, and an unusual need for attention. Their lack of empathy and difficulty in forming human connections is distinctive, but not so dramatically so that the problem is easy to spot. I think she’s on to something.