Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sheila's look back on 2016

Shelly Mosman asked me to stop by her studio after seeing me wear this coat at the Walker Art Center recently. I'm looking forward to possibly working with her next year. 

As in past years, I’ve been engaged in some intense year-end rituals these past few days. I get no small amount of pleasure from filing my 2016 folders away and making way for a clean slate that is 2017. I’ve been writing lists, checking to see how many of my goals from last year that I accomplished (a sobering practice), and reflecting on the highs and lows that this year brung.

In the personal sphere, it was a shit show, but in terms of my career it wasn’t so bad. I definitely hit some of my goals and had other accomplishments that I hadn’t even planned.



Let’s start with the career highlights. The story I’m most proud of is my piece for Fusion about a makeshift school started at the No-DAPL camps. I have to pat myself on the back for reading about the news from Standing Rock, wanting to cover the story myself, and finding an outlet that would pay me enough to actually go there and write about it. It was a short trip, but it was a powerful experience to see the movement happening out there, and to write a piece which I think was pretty unique.

Here it is:
Amid Dakota Access Pipeline protests, a makeshift Native school empowers young activists

I also, by sheer luck, reached my goal to write for Salon. An editor there had reached out to my friend Mary Turck to cover the Philando Castile killing, and she couldn’t do it, and passed them on to me. So I wrote that and also another piece for Salon about Bernie supporters who were planning or thinking of voting for Jill Stein.

Here are those two pieces:
Mr. Rogers with Dreadlocks”: A grieving community remembers police shooting victim Philando Castile

Minnesota’s Bernie voters turning Green: Jill Stein courts progressive voters in an uncommonly independent-friendly state

Besides my piece for Salon, I wrote two other pieces on the police brutality beat for Complex:

How Michael Brown's Death Affects the Way Black Parents Talk to Their Children About Racism

Underground Police Brutality: Why There Won't Be Justice for Freddie Gray


I did a lot of arts writing this year. I got to write profiles of Rory Wakemup, Rosy Simas and Karen Sherman for the Star Tribune, in addition to my reviews for that publication. I had a lot of fun covering Lee Kit’s “Hold your breath, Dance Slowly” at the Walker, for Hyperallergic (Slowly Dancing to an Exhibition About Love) in addition to these other pieces for Hyperallergic:

The Salvaged Belongings of a 1980s Punk Drummer

A Dance of Constant Movement, Propelled by Light

A Public Display of Our Private Belongings

Five Years After His Arrest, a Chinese Artist Continues to Tell the Truth 

Why Can’t Artists Deduct Donated Artworks from Their Taxes?

Nine Mexican Women Fight Stereotypes in Their Printmaking

From Challenging Kant to Elevating Moss, an Artist Upends Hierarchies

I also wrote some arts features for the Growler, in addition to my work with City Pages, and had a piece that took a year to write published on MN Artists (Truly "Public" Art is Messy Business). I continued my contributions to the Minnesota Women's Press, which is always a pleasure. In December, I was pleased to learn that I was accepted into an arts writing mentorship program, funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation. In 2017, I’m thrilled to be working with Rachel Corbett, a fantastic writer and editor based in Brooklyn.

In the miscellaneous category, I wrote a food feature for L.A. Weekly (A Food Stylist Takes Us Behind the Scenes of a TV Cooking Show) and wrote about Collin Mothupi for Macalester Today.

Creative ups and downs


One of my goals for 2016 was to act in one project, which I randomly did because a friend of mine dropped out of a feature film and asked me to take her place. The film is called “Lake Street Detective”, starring Paul Dickinson, and I’m playing a wealthy CEO. This year I got to see the short film I acted in, directed by Pablo Jones, called “The Mountain”, screened at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. I also hear that a film I was a part of a number of years ago, called “In Winter”, finally is just about done and is going to get submitted to festivals soon.



In the fall, I had the wonderful opportunity to present a play I wrote back in 2013 for the American Society for Theater Research conference. The play is dystopian fantasy, and it was originally created for the Outlet Performance Festival that my friend, Jaime Carrera curated (Jaime passed away this year, more on that later). Next year, I’m looking forward to flying out to Stockton, California to see the play performed by students of May Mahala, my friend who has been one of my strongest supporters over the years.

Speaking of students, I had a mostly fantastic year teaching theater. Highlights include summer camp at Stages Theater, where I was immersed in princesses and fairies all summer, and an incredible experience this fall doing a residency with Barbara Schneider Foundation. For the latter, I designed a residency at Avalon, a charter school in St. Paul, working with students to create a play about mental illness and crisis intervention. It was an incredible experience, and I was so proud of the kids for the work they accomplished.

I had some dismal failures too, this year. In the spring, I co-wrote and directed a series of videos that my partner and I shot and began editing. Unfortunately, due to a number of personal issues that came up, we didn’t complete the editing process and I don’t think it will ever be finished. Then, this fall, I was given the go-ahead for an investigative piece in which I poured hours and hours of work. I did finish the piece, but it didn’t feel ready to submit, and now I think too much time has passed. One of my goals for the new year is to try to re-visit the story and hopefully get it published.

I’ve alluded to some of the negative things that happened this year, and there were plenty of them. Besides the horrifying results of this election, which spiraled me into a depression, I lost an uncle and my grandfather, and my friend Jaime Carrera passed away. I also had some real drama happen in my personal life, and I became estranged with at least two, possibly three friends. I truly hope that next year will be an improvement.

Other than that? I took a trip to San Francisco and got to see my dear friends Sasha Warren and Martha Lincoln, and spent some time with my Aunt. I drove up the 1 and saw the beautiful huge trees and the ocean, took a stroll down Haight-Ashbury, and spent some time in City Lights Bookstore. I wasn’t able to find a place that would take an article about my trip, which was a disappointment, but I’m glad I was able to go. I’m looking forward to traveling to California again this year, and hopefully do at least one other trip before the year is out.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wisconsin Dells

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This is the Vegas of Middle America,
a giant playground made of water
for the pleasure of children,
their poor parents and the young at heart.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
Strip malls lined with faux coliseums
Depictions of the indigenous coaxed
within the colonial gaze
and Noah with his menagerie
make up the city's landmarks.

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The masses converge at the indoor
Mt. Olympus Water Park
In the middle of February.
Molting their puffy coats
They don trunks and swimming skirts,
And Parade amidst the Tiki adornments
And plastic palm trees.
They are waited upon
By teenaged life guards that quell
the simmering discontent.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
Ten dollars gets you a locker.
It's not big enough for your belongings
so just hope that no one robs
you as much as the one percent has
stolen your humanity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Consent

You can legally fuck her before she can vote
Before she can choose where she wants to live
Before she can have an abortion without
the permission of her parents.

You can fuck her before she can legally
change her gender to a he

We say: we trust you to make decisions
about the dicks that go inside your body
but we don’t trust you to make decisions
about who should lead the country
or make the laws that govern your body

She’s a party girl. Look at those boots,
that skirt. that pair of of delectable lips.
Her tits are big, her clothes fit her better
than they will for the rest of her life.

But open a bank account? She’s not old enough
to have that responsibility.
Buy porn magazines so she can find out
what turns her on?
Not that either.

We don’t trust her to smoke, or drink,
or gamble or own a gun
or watch an R-rated movie.
We don’t trust her to run for public office.
But we trust her to fuck.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year! I'm not feeling quite as enthusiastic about this year's fresh beginning as I usually am at the beginning of January. That's in part because I'm still smoking, despite several recent attempts to quit. I am drinking a LOT less, however, and TRYING to cut down on the cigs. I'm also a tad disappointed in myself with how little theater I did this year. I started out strongly, performing with Teatro del Pueblo at Orchestra Hall, but that was pretty much the only play I was a part of, though I was in one other small improvisational project and acted in a short film, which was screened at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival. I did make some strides with my writing: contributing to the Star Tribune, which has been fabulous, and contributing to Hyperallergic, Classical MPR, City Pages, etc. I've had some bigger projects that I've felt proud about, which somewhat makes up for my lack of creative output. In 2016, I do have a project in the works that is going to end up as a video series. I'm thinking about race, and about being a white ally. My boyfriend is helping me out to create a video series that looks into these topics in short, informative and hopefully entertaining video snippets. How will we pay for this? I'm not sure, but I'm excited to get started!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Freedom Train

It has become an annual tradition
set amidst the backdrop
of Starbucks and Barnes & Noble,
Jamba Juice and Nickelodeon Universe.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
I was there for the round dance of 2012
With drumming and a thousand Native voices
filling the rotunda for treaty rights.
And the next year when they arrested two women
who had organized a protest that never happened.


I missed Black Christmas last year
but covered the trial afterward.
Today I have no notebook.
I’m not working, but I can’t stand still.
I work the room. Chatting with my artist
friends who have shown up to
mingle by the Christmas tree.
Alleen is in town for the holidays.
Carl’s having a baby soon.
Corrie gives a rundown of his new job.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
Shoppers line up along the tiered balconies
Watching through their cell phones
the ground floor of the rotunda
where bodies mill about
under the hovering proclamation:
“This demonstration is not authorized”.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
The storm troopers create a circle
around the people who have gathered here
Later, a photo on Facebook reveals
the riot-gear welcome brigade
under the Mall of America sign.
There will be memes, it’s that kind of day.

A video posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
There’s shouting. A young man is being
taken away by three cops in bullet proof vests
One of them drops his helmet
and they have to stop for him to pick it up.
A crowd forms around the scuffle
but we are being told to move away
to head toward the trains
A short, black woman waves her arms
to us that it’s time to leave

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
Inside the freedom train,
the light rail to justice
We tetris together. There’s a song
but it dwindles.
So far, this has been a quiet protest
No chanting, no speeches.
We are heading somewhere
but I don’t know where.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
I’m afraid in the not knowing.
But I know I’m in the right place.
I don’t know where I’m going.
But I know it’s the right direction.
A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on

Friday, October 16, 2015

From Denver to Vegas in a Budget Truck

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Remember that time we flew to Denver and drove a truck to Las Vegas, then flew home, all in two and a half days? Yeah, that sucked.

In the future, we will tell ourselves this. Actually we already have told ourselves this. How did we actually do that? What set of circumstances made such a ridiculous journey necessary?

It was for my boyfriend's work, of course. He’s done these types of trips before, and I’ve always worried endlessly about him for various reasons. This time, he asked me to come, and since I’ve said no the last couple of times he’s asked, I agreed, even though because of my schedule, I had to be back on Wednesday, so I couldn’t spend an extra night in Las Vegas with him.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
Therefore, my Vegas experience was limited to about three hours, which was just about the perfect amount of time. That city has never been one that has enticed me in any way. Gambling? Bright lights? Hookers? Uh, no thanks. I’d rather go to New York or San Francisco.

Hector actually asked me to come to Las Vegas earlier this year. It had been a hard spring, and despite my preconceived notions of Vegas’s unpleasant debauchery, I actually was looking forward to it. It would be a chance for us to have some fun, go out, relax, and maybe I could do some writing about it.

That trip didn’t end up happening, so all I got was the three hour version. But that wasn’t even the best part of the trip.

We arrived in Denver on Sunday night. Hector had to load the set up for his work the next morning, so the main thing to do was relax. At the same time, I knew our eating options wouldn’t be great on the road, so I put the pressure on to go someplace nice.

There’s a place I found called Tamayo, a fancy Mexican joint, that I felt would satisfy Hector’s tastebuds and my need for a heightened experience. There’s always a danger with my boyfriend anytime you go to someplace that serves Mexican food, because he’s quite critical, despite the fact that he’d prefer to eat that type of food over anything else. But the Yelp reviews were stellar so I thought I’d risk it.

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We took an Uber to get there, and I liked it right away. There was a bright mural that took over the front wall that I thought was neat, and a long bar with almost nobody there, so we had a chance to chat with the bartender.

What Hector really wants, almost always, is carne asada. The only option they had for that was a dish with beef doused in a mole-esque sauce. Hector was skeptical, as was I. He makes killer mole and carne asada, but one time when he put mole on steak it didn’t taste very good. We ended up liking it, though, because the mole was really more of a light sauce than a traditional mole. What was annoying was that they charged extra for tortillas. Who eats carne asada without tortillas? Just lump it in with the cost of the entree, dummies!

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We also had Mexico City-style corn on the cob, which was delicious and spicy, and I wanted to have an extra helping.

We pretty much crashed right away to start our day in the morning, which started with a  trip to the Budget Truck place. Oddly, it was located in a furniture store, and the guy running the joy kind of cracked me up. He was on the phone when we got there, mouthing off to a surly customer.

After he got off the phone, he asked us: “Where you headed?”

“Las Vegas.”

“Oh, you mean Lost Wages?”

Har har. He picked up the phone before he finished with us (Budget employees take forever), he answered the phone and started complaining to his boss about the guy he had been on the phone earlier. “I told him to sock on a rock!” he said on the phone.

Finally, we were on our way. We loaded up the set and started on our crazy journey.

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Honestly, the drive was scary as shit. Driving up and down these mountains, especially with the amount of road construction, was enough to give me a heart attack, especially in the truck. It was gorgeous, especially when we were still in the rockies, climbing up and down these breathtaking passes of rock and sky that took my breath away, but I got a stomach ache thinking we were going to tip over at any moment.

There were also some things we saw that Hector said meant they were fracking, which was quite disconcerting. To think they can just tear apart some of the country’s most gorgeous scenery to make a quick buck is awfully sad.

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Still, the light was beautiful as the sun set against the pine trees and the yellow trees on the rocks.

A photo posted by Sheila Regan (@sheilaregan) on
We stopped the first night in Grand Junction, where we had a decent hotel and Hector had a chance to watch the Chargers game (they lost). We decided to order Chinese food, and when I placed the order, the woman over the phone said that it would take an hour and a half since there were two orders ahead of us. “We’re slammed!”, she said. Hilarious! I guess that’s small town for you!

The drive on the second day wasn’t quite as scary, although the first part of it was every bit as beautiful. By that time we were in Utah, and there were long stretches of what seemed like desert, but with these ghostly rock formations reaching up into the sky. Some of the rocks were bright red, and there was one stretch of rocks that rippled like waves, and I thought that was really cool. No wonder they call this God’s country, is what I thought.

I forced Hector to stop at this “Viewing Area” where we were supposed to be able to take a look at “Ghost Rock” or something like that. It actually wasn’t such a spectacular view, because there were trees in the way, but there was a Navajo lady selling pottery and jewelry and we ended up getting two pots and a necklace. Because, why not? I asked her if I could take her picture and she told me no way. I felt like an asshole white tourist for asking, but she wrapped up our purchases very nicely. She told us her relative made them- which I’m choosing to believe (there’s a nagging feeling in my stomach they might be mass produced but I don’t care, I really like them).
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By the time we got into Nevada, the drive got a lot more boring, and by that time we were so extremely tired of driving. I just wanted it to end but we kept having so much longer to go! It didn’t help that traffic was slow.

We made it into Las Vegas at about 8:30 p.m., and amazingly found a parking spot right on the street. Apparently, not many people drive in the city. We checked into the “D”, and after some anxiety about what to do in the short amount of time, we decided to just walk down Fremont Street and see what there was to see.

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What we saw was the fall of Rome. I mean, it was everything I pictured it I guess. As we walked out of the hotel area, we saw the drones at the slot machines and the go-go dancers looking bored. One of them, in a red-sequined bikini, was actually dancing, but the others seemed tired and were lethargically going through the movements.

On Fremont Streets there were lots of entertainers hawking whatever gimmick they had to make money on. There were some people in costume- pirates and the like, and mostly naked girls in feathers etc., charging people for pictures. There were musicians- a really good saxophonist, and a terrible group on one of the stages. There was actually one guy that was handling a Native American marionette, which was fascinating and also horrifying. Las Vegas hasn’t seemed to caught on that cultural appropriation is not cool.

At some point, Hector had to go turn over the keys to the theater guys at the venue, but then we were free to get some burritos at a place called “Nacho Daddy”, which was frequented to what seemed to be mostly working girls. We chatted with a fellow that was explaining that he somehow makes money by shaking people’s hands or giving them high fives. Apparently someone had written up a newspaper article about him. He seemed nice enough- and Hector talked to him about peppers and Mexican cooking. He also, in the spirit of the moment, bought me a “Nacho Daddy” t-shirt, which is embarrassingly sexy and I probably will never wear.

And that was that. We finished our food and headed back to the hotel (where we didn’t sleep the night), and from there we were back at the airport.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

When you can't see everything

Maybe because it was my last day in Rome, maybe because I got to spend so little time here on this trip, but today I held a nagging desperation throughout the day. I wanted to see so much, do so much, experience everything there was to experience that I ended up feeling spent and frustrated. Even as I chided my parents, who traipsed across the city with me, furiously studying their map, for worrying too much about the destination and not enough about just being in Rome and seeing all that there was to see all the time and listening and smelling (this is it, I said to my dad as we hustled down the sidewalk- this IS the vacation), I didn't take my own advice.

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We got a late start to the day. I woke up at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m., but there was waiting for Mom to wake up and then Dad and then we had to put the laundry in but before that we had to find a store that would sell us detergent. Finally we went to have our coffees at a little cafe on the Trestevere plaza.

It was a bit too chilly to be sitting outside, and the waiter didn't seem to be paying attention to us. I felt that unpleasant feeling of it not being perfect. Because nothing ever is but when you're on "vacation" you have this ideal that your whole time spent will be one idyllic experience after the next. My dad ordered "cafe con latte" which he thought would bring him milk on the side, but instead we got "cafe lattes" which is fine, but not as good as the cappuccino that was my true heart's desire. You see how I am? It's amazing how ridiculously privileged I can be, how ungrateful, how foolishly focused on the immaterial.


We went back to the hotel, did some more dawdling. Mom and I got a second coffee- this time a real cappuccino (you see? I shouldn't have worried) and after more dawdling and losing each other we were on our way. We went to an outdoor square where venders were selling fresh produce, t-shirts, jewelry, knick knacks and anything else a tourist could possibly think of to purchase. It was the start of feeling like a giant herd of tourist cattle.


Then we went to another square with a bunch of Bernini sculptures, where Dad insisted on getting his picture taken with the guy who sold selfie sticks. My parents bought a drawing from one of the venders (they wanted to know if the guy selling it really did draw it himself and he insisted he did). 



Throughout the day, I got some nice footage of all the street musicians (see my little video above) which I really did enjoy and always tried to give money to, especially since I was filming them. Even that, however, turned unpleasant when they got too aggressive with asking for money. 

By chance, we happened upon the Chiostro del Bramante, which we had planned to visit later in the day. They were having an exhibition of Chagall drawings, prints and paintings. I had seen an advertisement for it and thought it might be fun, mostly because I thought it would be somewhat tolerable for my Dad. It turned out to be a 45 minute wait, which unbelievably my Dad was all for doing. I felt guilty, because my parents were obviously tired of standing up. But I think they did enjoy the show. I refused to listen to the audio tour, but missed some of the key points because of that. I didn't want to feel like I was working, but I did anyway because eventually I started taking notes. I thought maybe I should pitch a story somewhere until I convinced myself that I was supposed to be on vacation. It was kind of cool though, both for the art and because of the interactive elements. Yes, the whole selfie thing can be annoying, but they had this other feature too that was video animation projected onto the black and white drawings. The projected video were in full color, bringing to life the dreamlike images of floating couples, musicians melting into their instruments, donkeys and circus performers with a swirl of color. 

We had some lunch, all thankful to be able to get wifi for a moment, and headed to see the three Caravaggio paintings of St. Matthew at Cantarelli Chapel. That's where the cattle herd feeling was at its height, and my dad simply had to go home after that. 

I got home and was exhausted, furiously uploading photos to Instagram. I supposed I should have just taken a bath or read or done something to relax, but I wanted to go do something else. I didn't want it to be the end. It was only 4 in the afternoon, after all. So I looked up different places to see contemporary art, but they were all just so far away- it would have taken me over an hour to walk. I particularly wanted to see the Maxxi Museum, mostly to see the architecture. But finally I had to accept that it wasn't going to happen. 

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Then, around 5:30, I got the idea that I wanted to see the sunset, and was consumed by this notion. While I did see one sunset in Sorrento, I actually technically missed the sun going down, only seeing the colors after it set, and on another day I missed it entirely. So I really, really wanted to go see the sunset even though I was so late in deciding it, as the sun sets at about 6. 

The problem with seeing the sunset in Rome is that there are so many buildings in the way. Dad suggested I get Mom to show me how to walk up the hill, and I started to go with that plan before realizing she would be too slow and I wouldn't see it. So I walked myself, feeling bad for being rude.

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I found a hill and started walking up it, eventually finding steps to climb as well. Climb. Climb. Climb. There were so many steps. I got to the top and there was a spectacular view of the city, but it faced East, not West. Perfect for sunrise, but not set.


It took me a while to figure out that latter point and by then I realized I would never find an uncovered view in time. But I decided to try. I walked and walked, feeling so frustrated and really devastated actually that I would miss it. I walked along a busy street with no sidewalk, almost getting killed and kept running into dead ends. Finally, at about 6:15, I came across this park and I could tell the sunset would be on the other side, though at that point I realized I wouldn't see the full one. Still, I walked and got a nice picture of the pink sky behind this old relic building and felt somewhat satisfied.

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Of course, there are sunsets in Minneapolis too. Just as bright, just as beautiful. And maybe, just maybe, I'll come back to Rome again. I'll try to plan better, perhaps, or maybe I'll just try to remember to breathe.