Friday, May 06, 2016

Yes, and...

I read Tina Fey's book Bossypants a few years ago, and one of the things that really struck me about it was how she bases her philosophy on life in general on the rules of improv.  And if you've ever taken a class in improv, you know that the very first rule is that you always have to say, "yes, and..."  In other words, accept what your scene partner has presented, and add to it.  Saying "no" kills the scene.

So if your partner starts with, "hands in the air, I have a gun, this is a stick-up," you wouldn't say something like, "that's not a gun," you would "yes-and" it by saying something like, "don't shoot! And hey, that's my mother's gun, how did you get it?"

Applying this to life in general, the goal is to say yes to opportunities.  Take risks.  Have adventures. Seek out the new and the interesting.  Don't make decisions based on fear of bad things that might happen, but rather on hope for the good things that might happen.

I've applied this philosophy to my own life, with mixed results.  I yes-and-ed a marriage to someone entirely different from and not well suited to me, and we all know how that went.  I yes-and-ed a move to Hawaii, which I mostly hated.  But all of those choices led me to where I am now, in a place I love with a job I really enjoy and beautiful children whom I adore.  That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right?

A couple of weeks ago my friend (and coworker) Lisa and I went to New Orleans for a legal conference.  The conference itself I found to be of limited utility - the statute that I work with hasn't been reauthorized in so long that at this point, there really isn't anything new under the sun and I feel like I could have given most of the presentations in my sleep.

But man, did I fall in love with New Orleans.  The music, the voodoo, murder, vampires and ghosts, hauntings, disaster, disease, heat, food - it's a place that feels viscerally full of all that life can offer.  We "yes-and-ed" the shit out of that place.

Jazz trio in the French Quarter.  Amazing musicians were playing all over the place.
We said yes to having our tarot cards and palms read, even though that stuff kind of scares me.  The tarot reading was at once crazily specific at points and meaninglessly generic at others:
  • The cards show that I have been through an extremely emotionally turbulent year and a half, which, duh.  I will continue to feel emotionally pushed and pulled all over the place for another 6 to 8 months, at which point things will settle down for me.  
  • A young man between the ages of 22 and 35, tall, with dark hair and dark eyes, is in my life, seeking money or some kind of financial assistance or guidance from me.  I found this bewildering, until after we came back to Denver, I interviewed a bunch of candidates for a position on my team.  The one I want to hire is a young man of 23, tall, with dark hair and dark eyes.  Does that fit?
  • In a few months, I will meet an older woman (described by the tarot reader as "over 35" - pffft) who will become important to me, and I will remain close to her for the rest of my life.  Ok. We'll see where this one goes.
  • I will continue to have turbulent dreams and difficulty sleeping.  No surprise there.
  • The answer to my secret question is "yes."
We said yes to having our palms read.  My palm shows that I am intelligent and stubborn, have no tolerance for being lied to or feeling like someone is bullshitting me, that I am very much rooted in "this world" - I don't have my head in the clouds.  My palm shows 2 healthy pregnancies (yep), a long lifeline (she said I'd live to be 102, which is the age my great-grandfather lived to), and no sign of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's or strokes.  Cool.  She also said my palm shows a strong, 50-60 year marriage or love relationship.  If I were to have a 60 year marriage, I'd pretty much need to get married 6 years ago, but I'll take a prediction of a long, strong love that fits within the timeline I've got left.

We said yes to a ghost and vampire tour.  I now want to go back to New Orleans and stay in the Andrew Jackson Hotel in the French Quarter (I joked that it would be changing its name to the Harriet Tubman Hotel - that got a few chuckles), so that I can experience a hotel haunted by the ghosts of mischievous little boys who run around the halls making noise and use guests' cameras to take photos of them while they're sleeping.  

We also saw the LaLaurie Mansion, which has a particularly gruesome, terrifying past. It was owned by a socialite couple who used part of the house to torture and conduct medical experiments on slaves.  The house continues to be haunted by the screams and apparitions of the tortured slaves.  Our tour guide is so creeped out by the house that she won't stand next to it - we viewed it from across the street.  The following evening, Lisa and I were wandering around the French Quarter when all of a sudden we realized where we were - walking right by the LaLaurie house under the balconies.  It freaked us out.  We apologized to the ghosts and scurried away.

Ursuline Street.  Home to three residences, all in a row, where over the course of a century women were murdered and dismembered by their husbands or lovers.
After wandering around, we said yes to foot massages at a random reflexology place we passed on the street.  Why not, right?  Who knows if the people had any actual training in reflexology, but it felt great.

Hurricanes and planter's punch was consumed.  Lisa won a bunch of money playing blackjack at a casino.  

Late that night, my friend sent me a text, asking about the trip.  I told him that I needed to come back to New Orleans, not on business, and walk through one of the the above-ground cemeteries and listen to music and learn about voodoo and eat spicy food and just generally cavort.  He responded, "yes, we do."

1 comment:

  1. Glenn B.2:51 PM

    Awesome post- New Orleans is my favorite city and I visit there as often as I can. Hey, I was thinking about you recently- UVa is one of the 3 schools my son is really interested in, so we went on a tour. Of course, it being UVa, it wasn't a "campus tour", it was a "tour of the Grounds". I'd forgotten how humorously pretentious UVa was. ;-) Such a great school and a great town.