Emilie Rasmusen 5.1.2019
Saturday night, I went to “Clean Poetry,” a poetry reading at Art Obscura, hosted by Liz Liano. The event lasted from 7 pm to 10 pm, and the readings began at 8 pm.
On its flyer, the event was described as “a night of local words for people with dirty rooms,” and it featured illustrations of a hairbrush, a chair full of clothes, and a happy guitar with outreaching arms.
I arrived at about 7:30, after being very nervous, changing my outfit several times, and finally deciding to eat a grilled cheese sandwich before leaving (my go-to for when I have literally no time and feel very stressed).
By the day of the event, my room was the messiest it has been in months, and I think that that fit.
“I named the event Clean Poetry because of the discourse my poems have with the conflation of goodness and cleanness and the attainability of ever being clean,” explained Liano.
A blue lamp stood in the corner of the room. Liano had put together a looped video of her hands. Her hands slathering mud onto her arms outside, then using a water hose to wash off the mud. A cat silently watching her. Then, Liano’s hands washing in a white sink, with soap and water. It was mesmerizing, and I think that I could have fallen asleep to it. The first to perform was Melissa Herrera, and her performance incorporated movement, chanting, and decorating herself with various electrical cables.
After the Herrera came performers Chauncey and Shelley, both of whom read personal pieces.
“The purpose of my events at the core is to share and connect with people,” said Liano. “I want to express performatively things people have a hard time talking about, and then encourage conversation of these things,” she continued.
Liz performed some poems that she had written when she was younger. Later on in the evening, she read more recent poems, plunging them into a a small tub of water after she read them.
In between the poets, music was performed by Simeon Beardsley and Kt Neely.
Simeon’s music feels as though you are sitting by a window and the light outside of the window is very white because it is overcast. However, the room that you are in is not too cold, and you have a blanket and a cup of turmeric tea.
Kt played a loop of fuzzy conversations behind her performance, and it felt as though ghosts were hanging out right by us. She mixed eeriness, femininity, and emotion to produce something that felt very mother of pearl.
During one of the breaks in the show, Liano set out a light blue blanket on the floor for attendees to sit on. I considered lying on the blanket on my stomach, but I stuck next to the wall.
Sometimes things are not meant to be comfortable. But this was comfortable.
“…I just hope no one ever feels alone or hopeless because we all feel weird sometimes. The least we can all do it talk about it,” said Liano.
Food and Me: Notes from a Food Journal
Emilie Rasmussen 4.17.2019
I have problems with eating, and it’s really not great. On the surface, what I am doing probably seems fine. When I go have lunch in between my classes, what I am eating seems perfectly reasonable and healthy.
But when I go home, I tend to overeat because of my anxiety—and on some weeks, because of the same anxiety, I forget or don’t have time to eat. My relationship with food feels strange to me. I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends and people I love feel the same way about their relationships with food—they feel strange, and they see these relationships as works in progress.
We overeat or we under-eat, or we think too much about what we are eating and how frequently, or we let ourselves grow hungry, and in the end, it hurts our bodies and how we feel about ourselves. How can we deal with this? I haven’t done all that much research on eating disorders, or abnormal eating patterns, but I am beginning to understand that everyone has their own story about food and eating.
I interviewed one of my closest friends, Javier Bocanegra, who is a Music Education student, and asked them what their relationship with eating is like.
“My relationship with eating habits tended to be complicated over the course of my life as a result of being bullied for being a larger child, not exactly fat, but rather bigger in size, resulting in self-consciousness in my adolescence, teen years and now from time to time, my adult life,” said Javier.
Javier continued: “However, as I grew older in my college life, I began to understand I needed to eat in order to support my body as a vegetarian and avoid collapsing from a long day, yet in order to feel confident about myself, I attempt to not overeat, progressively building a healthy relationship with how I eat.”
Either I overeat or I under-eat. Neither way is good for me.
I decided to log what I ate in the span of a week. These aren’t exact measurements, but they give you an idea as to what my eating habits consist of. I didn’t eat very much this week, and it wasn’t on purpose. Being busy and stressed pushed me into an unhealthy rut of waiting until very late at night to make myself a minimal amount of food.
• A cup of oats
• Half of a strange taco—I was in a hurry so I fried tofu and chorizo and wrapped them up in a flour/corn tortilla. It was actually very good.
• Coffee (two cups, minus what I spilled onto my pants)
• Rice plus onions in curry (made probably around 9PM)
• Rice plus curry (the leftovers)
• A combination of lots of protein (I made tofu and chorizo and an egg and ate all of that in the same kind of tortillas. Plus spinach.)
• Lots of tea
• Indian taco, 80% of it was consumed
• Strange ramen, full of sesame oil.
• Half of a peanut butter and peach jam sandwich
• Tomato pasta!
• Vanilla yogurt with blackberries
• Creamy tomato pasta!
• A veggie burger and fries!
• Flautas and beans and guacamole
• Pasta with pestoooo! And cream and mushrooms!!!!
• 4 Mozzarella sticks
• More Tea
• A grilled cheese with onions and tomato soup
• A grilled cheese sans onions and tomato soup, again!
Looking at this list of what foods have gone into my body feels weird, and makes me realize that I’m not exactly having three square meals a day. There are two solutions to this: either I need to focus more on eating small meals all day long, or I need to sit down and plan out how to somehow make breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s also important, I think, to remember, that I’m drinking four to five cups of tea a day…
I’d like to point out that this was also an off-week for me. I was busy with studying for my second calculus exam, doing homework for my engineering classes all week long, rehearsing for a theatrical show, and preparing for a student film project. Maybe it wasn’t that much, but I was also trying to sleep and go to class. Not eating very much fueled a cycle of continuously not eating much. I asked Javier how they feel about their relationship with food.
This is what they said: “My relationship with food reflects on how I feel at the moment and how I establish my (religious) beliefs. For example, I tend to eat very little food in moments I feel uncomfortable with my body that have little sweets or oils, yet I tend to eat more baked food with bread and cheeses when feeling more content.” Javier also explained that their eating habits are often affected by their depression and anxiety: “when my depression and/or anxiety settle in, it is hard to eat and I avoid all contact with food and at times water,” they told me.
I’m just starting to think about food more, and I’m waking up to how it affects my body as I work harder, make my own food, and spend more time outside of my home.
Emilie Rasmussen 4.3.2019
The House V, an event put together by Lavender Thug, was held on March 15, 2019, in downtown El Paso. The show, which was in a bookshop, began at 7:30 PM and consisted of various local artists, musicians, drag performers and vendors.
Most of the show’s attendees were young adults. There was a bustling crowd both upstairs and in the basement, where musicians and eventually drag queens performed.
The House V’s theme was love and the earth, and was organized by Lavender Thug, whose name is Joshua Yrrobali. Lavender Thug was raised in El Paso, and explained that “As an artist and performer striving to make it big, I would perform at and attend shows others would throw…I figured hey I could probably do this better!”
“I wanted to create that same energy of being free and dancing and not even thinking twice about what someone would say or think…” said Lavender Thug. They continued: “…because hey, I’m being free and you’re gonna love me for it! And you’re gonna love it so much you’re gonna wanna join me in being free, it’s all about expression of self in the most creative ways.”
Lavender Thug explained that sometimes, organizing shows is overwhelming. However, they said that they “…wanted to create an environment where people felt at home and felt free to be themselves and not judge or be judged, this is why I say ‘welcome home’ when people arrive, because I want people to know they are safe in these four walls wherever the show is thrown, it is their home.”
Benji Martinez was a part of the event, offering makeup services. Martinez began using makeup on July 4th, 2017. “Whenever I got a chance to practice I would and eventually I got comfortable enough to actually wear it out in public… The love and support I receive always pushes me to get better and get more creative with my looks,” said Martinez.
Bomb Beauty Products offered Martinez an opportunity to work a pop up at The House, where he would, he said, “face paint and do creative makeup looks on people that came to the event. Of course, without hesitation I accepted because being able to do what I love is a no-brainer. It was an awesome way to meet new people and get them out of their comfort zone.”
While at The House V, Martinez was able to meet and work with another makeup artist, and gave many people different makeup looks.
Martinez said, “Being a part of this event really helped push me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to meet a lot of awesome new people… I can be introverted when it comes to meeting new people, but the energy at the event was so happy and positive, it just made the event so much fun.”
At the end of their interview, Lavender Thug said: “We are all living this extremely lucky and unique human experience, we are all one still though, and karma is real, so just love everyone and everything unconditionally, including yourself, and the world will be a better place! That’s the mission, love.”
What did I think? This was my first time attending one of Lavender Thug’s shows. I’m still feeling intensely excited about it. I love the idea of creating shared experiences like this one, and I love shared ideas and shared feelings and shared excitement and happiness.
It was refreshing for me to be surrounded by lots of positive energy and other creative people my age. Knowing a few people was also a really neat feeling for me. I decided that I want to make more art in the next few months, even though I’m usually pretty busy.
The next House will be on April 26th, and its theme will be sex and sex education.
A Few Minutes with Maki
Emilie Rasmussen 3.13.2019
On February 28, Ryan Maki (whose musician name is Maki) had an EP Release show at Art Obscura. Simeon Beardsley and Nicholas Roche performed before him.
Art Obscura is a small, local art gallery located in Mesilla Park. It was my first time visiting the gallery in the almost year-and-a-half that I’ve been living in Las Cruces. I realized that it’s ridiculously close to where I live, and that I really have been missing out on something. I went with my friends Alex and Christian, both of whom really love music.
We drove over at about 8:00, thinking that we were going to be late, but the performances only really began at about 8:30. We walked around the downstairs gallery and then went upstairs to take a look.
The downstairs gallery was sparsely but warmly lit, and the upstairs was bright but filled with interesting things. It felt like a safe and comfortable place to be.
When the performance began, the three of us sat down near the front of the small crowd. It was a very intimate performance. Nicholas Roche performed, then Simeon Beardsley, then Maki.
Maki performed the songs from his new EP, “In My Head,” and then a couple of his older songs. “In My Head” includes the songs “Live,” “Crossroads,” and Mercy.”
On Wednesday, February 27, I sat in on Myra interviewing Maki for an episode of The Blah Blah Blah. In the interview, Maki explained that music is something that he can lose himself in.
About the song “Live,” Maki said: “As I was writing this song, it was like the words were just spewing out of my mouth… Honestly, I’d say the same about the second song [Crossroads].”
Maki went on to explain what his song “Crossroads” means to him.
“Crossroads…that one hits home because, without stating who it’s about, it’s about a struggle I have with someone in my life that I love a lot, and we have just had a very hard time finding a good balance between each other. That song is basically about that and how I feel like this person struggles listening to me and understanding where I’m coming from,” said Maki.
“It’s the closest thing, when I play it again, to ever… fully expressing how I feel in the moment,” continued Maki.
Later in the interview, Maki told us that the music he writes is for himself. Because of this, he is always amazed when people connect to it.
“You don’t really think about how that really impacts them until someone comes to you and really tells you how they feel about your music,” said Maki.
About writing music, Maki said that it “…is very worth it. I can evoke that kind of emotion or connect with someone because of something that I wrote, that is about me, or something that I’m going through. It’s incredible. There’s nothing like it, honestly…it’s amazing.”
Maki also said that performing in front of people is “…amazing. I love it. It’s amazing. I’m really fortunate to even have that platform, to be honest…”
Being with other people who care a lot about artistic expression is refreshing.
During his performance, Maki talked about how vulnerable the musicians before him had been, and how he admired them for being able to do so. This was something that I had noticed, too.
When I watched Nicholas Roche sing and strum his guitar, I realized just how personal what he was performing was to him, and I felt amazed that he was able to share that with a group or twenty-or-so people. This reminded me that vulnerability and connection to other people are very special things.
An Entire Film In 48 Hours?
Emilie Rasmussen 2.27.2019
I acted in a short piece for the Las Cruces International Film Festival’s 48 Hour Film Challenge. The name of the piece was “La Petite Ferme,” and it was produced by Chromatic Stories, directed by Hannah Antholzner and Lauren Flores.
I somehow became involved because I’m taking a journalism class (the journalism department is in the same building as the film department) and happened to walk by Hannah one day and tell her that I was interested in acting for the film department.
The genre we were assigned was mockumentary, which was absolutely perfect. (Have you seen Documentary Now, with Bill Hader and Fred Armisen? “Juan Likes Rice and Chicken” is my most favorite thing. Please watch it.) The prop we had to use was a funnel. The line we were given was about Las Cruces. Incorporating the funnel was way more natural than the weird Las Cruces line.
I played the role of Margot, a simple furniture farmer who loves and respects the chairs that she raises. After many local furniture farms are seized by the company “Furniture 2 U,” Margot swears to save all chairs taken hostage and raised by them in their terrible furniture factory farms.
In the film, Margot and her brother, Theo, who was played by actor and Theatre Arts major Calvin Chervinko, have to put down an injured chair, take care of their baby chairs, and take in a chair saved by their neighbor, Riley, played by Mara Carmona. Theo is more pragmatic than Margot, but still does care for their precious chairs.
We filmed on location, in a rural field by a house about twenty minutes away from NMSU’s campus. Since it’s mid-February, we were attacked by wind all day long. I found sand in my ears. When I woke up the next morning and moved my face, I felt the crinkling that meant that my forehead had been sunburnt.
I left the shoot exhausted (I can’t imagine how the rest of the team felt, I was only an actor!). But now I’m hungry to act in more films and learn more about film making. Throughout the course of the one day that we filmed, I felt as though a bond was formed between everyone involved. A small bond. But still, it was a shared experience (maybe I just imagined it?). Anyway, it made me ridiculously happy to have been involved in this project.
I’d acted in a couple of small film projects before—mostly film and CMI students’ class projects. And I’d never had that many lines before. I find it a little wild that the filmmakers trusted me to portray this character.
Working on this project was obviously not like working on other film projects because the team had to get everything done in under 48 hours. I feel that if we’d had more time, the directors would have given us actors much more specific directions. Although we had limited time, Lauren asked me lots of questions about Margot and how Margot was feeling and why she was reacting in certain ways. Hannah also told me that usually, she’s more particular about lighting.
I felt slightly more relaxed acting for a camera. Memorization is helpful, but forgetting a line isn’t disastrous. However, acting for film is way different than stage acting. The point of stage acting is to reach everyone in the audience, so emotions have to be large and movement has gotta seen by everyone watching. Film acting is more personal and subtle. It’s meant to be natural. Both are about finding truthful reactions to different situations.
The film having been a mockumentary meant that the actors were allowed to have a specific relationship with the camera and the people behind the camera. People interviewed and followed in documentaries have reasons for accepting to be in them, and they have real connections to the people observing them. This, I feel, added depth to our story.
People keep asking me why I like acting, and I feel that at this point, I should really come up with a sensical answer that I can give people. To do that, I’d also have to look super deep into myself. For now, I’ve just been saying that it’s fun being someone I’m not. It’s like a game. It’s playing around. It’s some of the most fun that I can have.
Everyone Knows that Kissing on Stage is Weird.
Emilie Rasmussen 2.13.2019
Monday evening, I went to a theatrical intimacy workshop.
The Theatre Arts department at NMSU brings in several guest speakers each semester. I try to go to the workshops and talks that interest me. The workshop was led by a (magical) lady named Chelsea Pace, who is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).
Theatrical intimacy is always something that I’ve thought about. Intimacy is a common part of theatrical productions. Junior year of high school, I was in a really awful production of Hairspray where I played Amber. Amber’s romantic interest is a dude named Link Larkin, and they share a few kisses in the show. I remember feeling extremely stressed out about having to possibly kiss the actor playing Link (he was two years older than me and had a girlfriend). Senior year of high school, I appeared in a scene of our school musical in just a chemise. Although it was modest, and I was wearing both tights and shorts, I still felt a little weird onstage in what was supposed to be my character’s underwear.
Chelsea began the workshop by introducing herself and telling all of us that we had three ways we could choose to interact. We could work with a partner, furniture, or observe by ourselves.
“Your boundaries are perfect exactly where they are,” Chelsea told us.
The point of the workshop, she explained, was to teach us how to first approach intimacy in theatrical productions. By intimacy, she meant anything from the hay loft scene in Spring Awakening to making out onstage. Everything was about working with consent and having conversations with our colleagues about what we are willing to do and naming what our boundaries are.
The main exercise that we tried was meant to teach how to work with consent with a partner and physically establish boundaries. I feel that it was also meant to make us become comfortable with touching others in nonsexual ways.
Two partners shared their boundaries with each other—first with watching, next by touching, and then finally by saying what the boundaries were.
I did not have a partner for this exercise because all of my friends who were there went and paired up with other people. I sat down and realized that one girl was doing the exercise on her own. This made me think about what I’m comfortable with—what my own boundaries are. I realized that I would have been perfectly fine with performing the exercise with one of my close friends, but not very comfortable trying it out with the one girl. This led me to wonder about how I feel about intimacy.
Chelsea told us that when working with consent, it’s important to ask open questions—not just questions that have predetermined answers. For example, asking someone how they feel about something is more freeing for them than asking them if they’re “okay.”
Desexualizing the language around sex and intimacy onstage, I learned, is important because it makes things a lot less weird, much more specific, and more about exactly what actions are occurring.