Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Theresa Giacopasi

Today I'm featuring someone I've wanted to feature for ages and ages, my dear friend from high school, Theresa Giacopasi. (For having been a very normal and run-of-the-mill public high school, we really produced quite a number of interesting and good human beings.) We've been buddies since the days of Drumbeat. Theresa is a ridiculously talented playwright, who is studying at Iowa right now. Her plays are touching, funny, and subtle. I can't wait until she moves back to New York and starts getting me comp tickets to all her plays on Broadway starring James Franco. (Or, like, Patrick Stewart. That is your post-grad plan, right, Theresa?)

Theresa Giacopasi by Matthew Posorske
Photo by Matthew Posorske

Who are you? I’m Theresa! I’ve known Kristin for ages now, since we were wee fellow poets on our high school literary magazine. Kristin, thank goodness, followed poetry (she knows, I hope, how dearly I love her work) – I moved on over to playwriting. I studied it at NYU for undergrad, and am now getting my MFA at the University of Iowa.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? You can find a barely-passable website for me at; it’s just a headshot and bio, but it’s a place to hang my internet hat. You can also read an excerpt of my play Chicken. here.

I’m always trying to articulate a specific feeling or thought I have, usually intangible or barely a sentence long, and often by smashing incongruous things together. In The Monster Play, I’m placing fairy tales and monster stories alongside autism to explore fear; in Chicken., depression and surrender of agency with playing chicken with cars. I’m currently doing rewrites on Order Now, a play where I’m exploring the recent celebrity of SEAL Team Six and what that means by placing it alongside infomercials.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I’ve never not written. I started dictating stories to my mom around three, and apparently was very bossy about it. I went through a lot of writing “phases” as a kid and teen: journalism, prose, poetry. It didn’t occur to me for a long time that I could write plays, even though I loved theater and acting (although I wasn’t very good at it). The light bulb finally lit up around 17 or so. It felt like finding the perfect size in a dress you’re madly in love with, or eating the perfect meal when you thought you were too hungry to know what you wanted.

Why do you write? I write plays because theater is, I think, the best tool we have to experience and teach empathy. You can turn off TV or the internet. You can put down a book. You can walk out of the movie theater. I guess you can walk out of a play too – but the fact that it’s real live people up there, who can see you doing it, changes the interaction. That immersion and awareness is important to me.

On a larger scale, I write because if I don’t, I become intolerable. I think other people experience this with exercise; I know athletes that become absolute monsters without physical activity. I do the same thing, only with writing. But just like exercise, I do dread it until it’s over, often.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Oh goodness: everyone. I don’t read established playwrights to get jazzed to write; they just bum me out with their success. But anyone in my playwriting “cohort” is a superstar to me; the members of my writing group in New York, The Cockpit, knock my socks off. I like my peers. I like reading what they’re writing: poetry, long form journalism, weird unnecessary memoir, short stories. That’s what gets me inspired.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Bhutan. Australia, because I don’t think I’ll ever justify the expense otherwise. I have a long-held yen to spend a month or so in Argentina, so that would be swell, too.

What is your favorite place on earth? A quiet bar, made mostly of wood, with good people in it drinking good things, on a cool summer day with the water nearby and trees visible from the table I’m sitting at.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I’m teaching playwriting to ages 4-14 this summer, and you know who gets structure and clear storytelling the best? The youngest kids. Those guys have Freytag’s Pyramid DOWN. If you ever have an opportunity to have a bunch of kindergartners shout “exposition!” at you, take it, for god’s sake.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Wedding of Emily and Taylor

My oldest friend got married to the man of her dreams last weekend, and I couldn't help but share some images I took at their wedding, which was a very traditional Episcopalian ceremony. It's rare that I'm truly moved during wedding ceremonies, but I found myself choked up during the reading of Corinthians 13, which feels trite in NSRV translations but profound in the KJV, and during their incredible minister's sermon, which was just beautiful. Now Roger and I are thinking of joining the church. The traditions and translations felt perfectly matched to their personalities, and the simple reception with friends and family that followed was relaxed and such a blast.

Emily and her beautiful mother, Mia, the first woman I knew who wrote poetry.

Emily made their incredibly delicious cake the day before the wedding, and wrote about the experience here: She's completely right - sometimes homemade is absolutely perfect.


Emily and Taylor reacting to the best man's beautiful speech and song.


Pixie cut twins!

Best wishes for a long and healthy life together, Emily and Taylor! I see many years of joy and love in your futures!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Meals Upon Meals

This was a very good weekend for eating. It began on Friday at J'eatJet, which was very tasty (we had the macaroni & cheese balls, and I had gnocchi while Roger really loved their burger), but a little pricey and very cash-only. Sigh. At least having to run to get cash meant we had cash to pay the cash-only pizza place that let us buy a pie from them the week before on trust and store credit. Brooklyn: It is cash-only, but it is also full of very incredible people.

On Saturday, I woke up early and cleaned, and then ran twelve miles with Jennifer. It was probably the most productive morning I've had in months. And the twelve miles were great! I was definitely sore afterward, but I was so glad I had her there to push me along. We finished our run along the Brooklyn Bridge and then headed to Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for a victory cone. This has me looking forward to Trail Running Camp even more than I was before.

View from the bridge.

Really love Jennifer's shirt here.

That evening, we had Alana, Mered, and Sarah over for dinner, which, because I ran 12 miles that morning, was a TJ's chicken package with polenta and veggies. Have I ever told you that my mother is the most laid back person I have ever known, and once threw a mini-dinner party for long-lost friends that consisted entirely of Italian take-out? And it was such a blast and a definite high-point memory of mine? So basically every time I have a dinner party I try to channel her and feel good about the very fact that my house is clean enough to open the door to let them in and that there is food they can eat, whether it is good or homemade or not. Anyway, we had a good time. Sarah handmade buttermilk puddings, which I really enjoyed. They tasted a little like yogurt, but with the texture of flan.

On Sunday, we had Danielle and Beth over for brunch (quiche, plus mimosas courtesy of Danielle, plus amazing muffins that Beth brought over), and it was also a great time. 

We decided to start a food blog, called The Chowder Box, to record our weekly food salon. It turns out we all love to eat. There aren't any posts up yet, but there will be soon, and in the meantime, you can check out our About Page to see what all the hullabaloo is about.

My hope is that it really takes off and I get to move to a cabin in New England one day soon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

{This Moment}

 A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • This week's Writer Wednesday was Julie Schwietert Collazo, a talented writer and author of Pope Francis in His Own Words and Moon New York State.
  • Yesterday, I posted a little Weekend Wandering, pondering the upsides of always living so close to the place I grew up.
Writing Elsewhere:
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'm looking forward to a nice long run with a friend, and then we're hosting dinner and brunch!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Friday Night

Kevin Carter, Will Fleming, Chelsey Morar, Kristin Maffei, Roger Arnold

I just really love this photo, taken by one of my favorite people, Alisha Levin, who refused to get into the picture, and instead captured each of us perfectly.

This past weekend was one of old and dear friends. I've known Alisha for twenty-one years, since she was in my second-grade progression class. I met Will and Chelsey and Roger in high school, over a decade ago now, and Kevin I met for the first time in college, and knew instantly that this guy Alisha had been talking about for ages was a keeper. After dinner - the best kind, enormous and long and filled with drinks - we met up with Danielle and Rachel, also dear high school friends. I'd managed to get drinks before all this with three of my cousins and one of their friends who is now one of mine. On Saturday, I celebrated the wedding of my very oldest friend, the first person I met in Mahopac, Emily, and was surrounded by a family that feels so familiar they're almost my own. And on Sunday, I did celebrate with my own family: my parents and my mother's best friend and Roger's family all joined together for a barbecue.

Sometimes it can be hard, being so close to the place I grew up. It can feel as if I've never left, never rooted myself in unaccustomed earth as Lahiri and Hawthorne would say. But sometimes, it's feels like New York, with all its personal and public histories, is exactly where I am meant to be.