Remember “imprinting?” Taking it a step further…


If we do this with our “mother duck,”  is it possible we do it in lots of other ways too?  How do we rewire our initial impressions of certain experiences from our young years?

My dad (he’s gone now) was a young child in Birmingham Alabama in the 30s;nanny

his middle class parents employed a black woman to take care of him as a wee youngster;  this was standard practice from what I understand (please correct me if I’m wrong…which is always an outstanding invitation here on my blog posts).

Even though my father spent his life trying to be progressive and supportive of civil rights on many levels,  it seems to me that he could not escape this initial impression of how things were-– he was “imprinted” to feel the world in this fundamental way– black people were mostly poor,  and black women were supposed to take care of children and clean houses.   I tried calling him out on this, but he fervently denied it, citing evidence of his view of equal rights and being on the right side of history.  I was not accusing him of being a bigot or a “bad guy” in the larger narrative.  But what I observed, not only in him, but in myself and others, is the power and stronghold of these early experiences,  these “imprints” of race and class.   As he aged, and had to have caregivers and other support people,  I saw this awful truth–he was so condescending to the men and women of color (that would be most of them) who were in his home and tending to his needs. It felt like super-hard-wiring. They were servants.  And no matter how much I tried to change his attitude,  it was down there deep, beyond  reasoning and perspective.

Is this his fault somehow?  Perhaps he just didn’t have the tools or the need to dig deep enough to question some of these primary influences… I am not justifying or excusing his treatment of the caregivers.   Nor am I trying to place him on the wrong side of history.  But this fascinates and troubles me —  how strong are these initial impressions on us, and can we overcome them as the society evolves around us?

Of course we could spin this thread — and maybe we should — applying it to an array of our current perceptions, linking them to childhood impressions —  how and why and when do these perceptions shift?  or perhaps they do not shift at all?

Can we wrest “mother duck” out of our little duckling brains and see the possibility that we might have new “mothers” when we cross the stream?

Do you have imprint stories or ideas you can share?  “Got Science?” to share?  Hope to hear from you…







“White” by James Ijames: a response to a production of this play at Shotgun Players in Berkeley California.


So I saw this show last night. Amazing work by the cast:  Adam Donovan (Gus), Santoya Fields (Diana/Vanessa, Luisa Frasconi), Jed Parsario (Tanner).

Incredible work by the design team:  Nina Ball (Set), Erin Gilley (Projections), Cliff Caruthers, Ulises Alacla.

Piercingly resonant writing by James, Ijames.

Lovely direction by M. Graham Smith.

Compelling, smart, funny, quick, rich in complex and difficult ideas, such as Identity, Truth, Art, Race. I was held the entire time, which is a rarity in the theater, for me, a long-time theater artist and theater goer.  My kudos and deep appreciation to all who worked on this show.  Kept me awake a long long time last night.

Patrick Dooley, artistic director of  Shotgun hosted a Q and A afterwards, which is standard at that theater (and something I totally support to enrich the experience and create a larger, community conversation).    But herein lies a troubling “reality.”  oh oh oh, so hard, so hard, so hard…to talk about any of these themes.  It’s hard enough to share our thoughts about Identity, Truth and Art, as we reveal so much and become so publicly vulnerable.  But to broach the subject of race?  We try…I guess...but everyone is polite, everyone is cautious, downright scared?  Even the subject of talking about talking about…becomes repetitive, even cliche?  We are trapped these days…have we trapped our own spirits somehow?



Discipline. Practice. Belief.

When you’re not writing on deadline or for an already established gig,  then this is what it takes to get to the keyboard…for me.

One of the dangers of working online for most of the day is similar to watching any other screen for too long–it flattens out humanity.  Everything has a gloss to it in some way., whereas real humans are so often messy,  coming apart around the edges, fragile, layered, so very beautifully imperfect.  Maybe that’s why I prefer the gesture drawing, the blurry lines…and fragmented theater, literature, even music…  Sometimes prose, in all its lovely form and glory, puts a sheen over the beautiful “imperfection” of the lived experience…


When layered with myriad parts,  music is an art form that engenders the layers of human experience–getting those melodies and harmonies at the same time…

I’ve always wondered what makes “melody” melody,  and “harmony” harmony?  Is the human ear tuned to certain notes and chords in different ways?  what gives?




Words words words

July 31:  Fluency…I’ve been working on the form and function of this little website.  See, I do all this by myself…it’s not a good thing, the way I approach these tasks.  I’d rather putz around with trial and error for hours rather than face a workshop or teacher of sorts… Maybe because when I ask for help on tech support, I’m usually left feeling like an idiot.  Of course I have a history of feeling like an idiot when it comes to all things digital…but I am making some snail’s progress here.

I am getting to know this “user-friendly” wordpress stuff.  But I’m a toddler, trying out a few new words, as they begin to stick in my  head with some meaning.  My keystrokes feel a bit less random as a few rays of light begin to be shed…there’s some kind of patterns going on here, concentrate LePell, try to see the patterns…

This is how we proceed toward fluency —  we begin to recognize patterns…  eventually we can manipulate the language instead of it manipulating us…ahh…  this could easily take me beyond my years with technology.  But I am snailing my way into the ether…


Children are starving in Yemen.  Refugees and Human trafficking are killing hundreds, thousands perhaps.  The Rohinga are facing genocide.   All this keeps happening while so many of us stare at screens,  attempting to increase our tech fluency.    Oh the patterns…the patterns…

July 30:  I’ve been a bit waylaid for a few days by a raging tooth, which has interfered with my more playful stream of words.  Somehow, dental pain is so resistant to self-management, refusing to cooperate with the gentle strums of meditation.   “Raging” is apt here,  the tooth screaming for attention,  an explosive tantrum,  a fire let loose…

Pain — oh what an inviting experience to explore. What a phenomenon– what exactly is it? what does science tell us?  why and how does it vary so much for different people?  Why and how do pain thresholds work?  What does it mean to “surrender to it?” Does pain always carry an emotional component? A source of some kind?  How much control do we really have over it?  What does it mean, “all in our heads?”

We hear “pain is a teacher.”  I believe that pain is a guide… it’s letting us know,  we’re letting ourselves know,   we need to pay attention to something –something is out of whack.

I do know this — pain is not stagnant.  It moves, it pulsates, it rises and falls in uneven patterns.  It is never still.   It is vibration, and as you will note over time, I am quite intrigued by vibration,  by energy,  pulse.

I get headaches, like many of you out there…I used to “fight” them, determined to ignore them, soldier on through my day, cursing and spitting at the fact that I’m plagued for the day, or 2 or 3 days.  But now,  I often try to  “enter the pain” as fully as possible,  try to let it have a shape, an identity of sorts. I try to be in relationship with it, with myself. Hard to do this when consumed with work tasks,  but given a chance to lie still and let it roam around its territory,  sometimes it’s transformed from pain to a companion of sorts.  Strange but true.  I look at the pain as experience…and experience is always worth examining.  What is it?  Exactly?  Can I put words to it?

But tooth pain is another animal–buried down in the nerves of my teeth, tucked inside some serious fortresses, hard to reach…

(so I did manage to have an emergency dental procedure…a root canal through an old crown, and the doc thought it might be painful for 3 more days, so he gave me some lovely Norco….I haven’t taken any, and the whole thing is subsiding enough now for me to get to the keyboard)

I try to get my dentist to think holistically about teeth…about how when one tooth hurts, others seem to respond in kind, some kind of connection between the two sides of my mouth… I ask him if he’s ever tried letting his patients get their feet massaged while he’s drilling through the enamel?   What about letting the patients participate more in the procedure?  could they help the doc get to just the right spot in the gumline?  Has he eve heard of people poking at their teeth for the endorphin rush?    Can we talk about energy, pulse, vibration, pain?      Of course we don’t talk about anything…who can talk when their mouth has barbaric little instruments of torture moving in and out…

There’s something seriously wrong with some dentistry — the patient is way too passive in the whole thing..and we don’t really know what’s going on in down there in the nerve canals since the anatomy of teeth is not really covered in basic science class, and doesn’t exactly make its way to social media very often…  And we can’t talk…this is, perhaps, the most debilitating part of the whole process–rendering us silent and then poking and prodding us with steel devices.  And not even any herbs to ingest or acupuncture to hold our hands… we’re still, silent, and passive….  and it costs a lot of money…and then there’s the time it takes…and oh, what about the pain?  Maybe we should be grateful for having a guide to some inner meaning… a chance to have an experience…

Maybe I’ll take some of those pain meds instead.


July 25:  I have managed to launch this very simple blog/website thingy.

It has taken me way too long to figure out how and what to do; I’m still discovering the opportunities and the limitations of this site.  I ask for your patience…

Of course, I refuse to watch and/or read the tutorials because I just don’t do well with those–I’m impatient and frustrated when I try to learn in that passive way, so I just start playing around, keystroke after keystroke, hunting and gathering… At least there’s a few photos and links…it’s a start.

What do I want from this online presence?   — Yes, a chance to connect with you readers… yes, a chance to refine, shape, share, and grow an idea, a thread, a cell of some kind… yes a chance to reach more than one person with my words–more than the friend who I badger with this phrase: “oooh, let me read you what I wrote this morning.”

Here’s to a larger conversation…cheers.


I write almost everyday of my life– I intend my writing to outlive me in some form.

Inside. Outside.  Reflections.

I look inside.  What is actually happening down in the tissues and cells of my being, how is my very breath and mind working in concert?  When and how is energy released and transformed?  what IS experience?  Is it possible to capture in language?  what is language anyway?  when does it illuminate?  when does it hide?  how does it really function?  where does it “live” in our bodies?  What, where, why and who am I, a swirl of chemical and electrical actions?   Or more than that?  In some ways, all my work is a kind prayer –a conversation with god.  (that’s not God, but god.  I do not belong to an organized religion)

I respond to the inside.

I look outside. At times, my work is  like a creative column for a newspaper. I might simply chronicle or observe the uniqueness of the day. Other times I may be on fire with urgency, writing furiously.  Other times, I may be composing critical commentary on contemporary ideas or events in politics, art, and culture.  I write about education, science, books, movies, plays, conversations, concerts.

I respond to the outside.


I am trying to be at peace with the notion that no one will ever read much of anything I’ve ever written…maybe a grandchild or grandchild of a grandchild…?–the whole “discovering grandma’s journal in the attic” sort of thing.

But it’s 2018,  and dusty, old, pen and ink journals can now be shared and stored in this new world —  somewhere on a screen…this shared experience, a collective consciousness in some way.  (I write about this present and future world throughout my volumes.)

Since I have 114 hand-written notebooks, 12 binders with an average of 150 typed, single spaced pages,  thousands of saved emails from me and others that are filled with piercingly beautiful prose,  I think it might be time to think differently about the future of all these words.

As I alluded to,  much of this work, if not all of it, constitutes a kind of prayer, a kind of meditation, if you will.   And therefore,  if there is no “you” out there reading it,  then so be it.    It is the act of doing it.  The “you” is me/you/it/spirit/god/wind.  You will see this lengthy spliced up phrase used in my past work over and over again.

Come back soon,   I will be here.



Inside. Outside. Reflections.


To know is to love.  To love is to be humble.

To be humble is to be generous of spirit.

To be generous of spirit is to love.


I am a writer and theater artist.  This website will contain professional materials, some swatches of my  creative work, as well as visuals… a place to get to know me?  And I’m looking forward to knowing you
It occurs to me that the phrase, “it’s who you know” in the professional world still rings true.  We often want to collaborate with people we know and respect…then we can just get to it–get straight to the work at hand,  and not waste precious time trying to impress the other, or competing with the other,  or just trying to read some basic signals …  augh, who has the time, the energy really?
so this might be a shortcut in some way…of course, in many ways, it might be impossible to know someone from their words and pictures online…but you will get a whole lot closer look at me from reading my words than you might realize…
So I’m working on a clearer specificity here for my blogs and my website in general.  What do I want?  ahhh…what a resonant question…I ruminate upon it more often than most folks…
So I write it out…sometime here on this blog.   When it’s Time.  Doing this has much to do with Time…herself.

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