The Right Amount of Much

Photo of Lena by Fi Mims, montage by Murielle Marie

I am so much.

I won’t say I’m too much. I’ve learned better by now than to say that.

I am the right amount of much. So much.

I am embarrassed to be so much. I am proud to be so much. I never want to be less than this much.

Every plan I ever make is in the hopes that somehow, someway, I will arrive at the state of laughing so hard I can hardly breathe and my sides hurt and I hope I don’t snort. But if I do, that’s okay too.

Which path leads to awe? I’ll…

A Pandemic School Day.

I’m not doing well.

I can sing by heart the song of gratitude for what I have and that my family is healthy. It’s all true. I have food in the cupboard. My apartment is warm. I am deeply grateful.

Still, I’m not doing well.

Remote school is my job now. I’m supervising a 7th grader who chooses my closet as his domain all day every day. I get it. I have a studio apartment. The closet has a door and LED snowflake lights inside. It’s private. I’ve given him my best sofa cushion to keep it nice. …

By Lena Gilbert

April 4, 2017

Growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I had the privilege of being bused. Anyone remember the controversial busing program? It was a practice of moving children from different residential areas to redress segregation so that schools could be more fully integrated. And to be honest, it has only dawned on me recently that that was what was happening. Because isn’t that the magic of childhood? Whatever we experience as children is just normal. I just went to my school. The fact that I — a white girl — rode a bus and that our elementary…

Dec 9, 2016

In lieu of a written story this week, I’m including a piece that my wonderful friend Donna Klimek encouraged me to film. I wrote it a couple years ago, and this time we upped the production value.

Here’s a little something for the holidays. I hope you enjoy it:

November 14, 2016

The way to show your love for someone is by respecting their privacy.

That was the ethos of the Scandinavian-Midwestern household where I grew up. Of course that was never, ever explicitly stated. Stating things explicitly is confrontational. Confrontation is rude. And worse than rude, it’s uncomfortable.

Naturally, adult relationships initially confused me. It’s tricky to figure out when someone is respecting my privacy (out of love) and when they just don’t give a shit. Because the actions of the first and the second are, in fact, identical.

This election has been tough on my family of…

A Brooklyn Halloween

“Django! Sit!”

We’re in front of a house with spooky lighting and styrofoam tombstones. There’s a crowd of little princesses and scary types of all ages crowded on the sidewalk. I’m standing back with the grown ups. I’ve got ghostly white face, bloody lips and a spiffy black cloche hat with which I fancy myself Lady Edith — the Undead. Next to me is another grown up and he’s also in ghostly white and bloody lips. His daughter has a pretty blue dress and tiara. My two boys are a scary pumpkin-head and a spider.

The pretty princess returns from…

October 26, 2016

“What kind of dance career do you want?” I remember being asked once by someone slightly older than myself — an interested party who wanted to be encouraging. “Do you want to choreograph? Have your own dance company? Teach?”

“No!” I said. “I want to dance for other people.”

“Oh, a dancer-dancer,” she said with a laugh, “Not a dancer-choreographer or a dancer-actor?” This woman had just choreographed a piece that I had performed. I was always the fun one in rehearsals — the jester — the one cracking jokes and making people double over with laughter.

Oct 20, 2016

“What are you hoping for from this third debate?” the interviewer asks a panel of undecided voters.

“I just want Donald Trump to grow up a little and talk about the issues,” says a self-described grandmother.

“I want Hillary Clinton to show some sympathy and empathy and to understand why I’m so angry,” says a millennial woman.

“Yeah,” says a man in his 30s, “The one thing I like about Trump is that when he hears something he doesn’t like, he just reacts — like me.”

“And which one do you think is more likely to happen,” the interviewer follows…

Lena Gilbert

Lena is a performer, storyteller, choreographer, writer, self-taught philosopher, and coach.

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