Sparkle On…

Earlier this summer I made the decision to make a huge change. I didn’t plan it and I still don’t know if I’ll survive it financially.

But wow, MY BODY.  Parts of me felt permanently tied into knots and hurt. Parts of me felt debilitated and frozen. I survived by getting frequent massages and taking too many cabs. I felt worthless almost every single day. I struggled for energy no matter how timely I was with my synthroid.

Flash forward a month:

I walk more than I have in years. I walk further with no pain than I have in years. I am physically taller and noticeably less tight. I ran out of synthroid for over a week. I needed an afternoon nap but felt great when I woke up.

What I’m saying is no matter what the trade is, make sure you are truly valued and appreciated for what you bring to your life.  If you’re not, you won’t even notice that you feel subhuman and every part of you is responding.

I am a fully equal human person again. Now to get some dollahs.

PTSD & Improv

Avoidance: Diagnostic Criteria for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder 309.81:

C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:
1. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
2. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s)

Source: “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”, Fifth Edition

I haven’t directed since grad school.  Actors make me super nervous.

The only reason I can improvise?  THEY CALL THE ACTORS IMPROVISERS.

Once Upon A Time (Knitting)

She picked up the needles at 11.  She learned to make a single knit stitch from her grandma, the Old Witch.  And she repeated that knit stitch again and again until her needles had released a scarf.  It was an awkward scarf, misshapen.  The music of the needles had sung beautifully, but her hands had created such grotesqueness. 

The Witch counseled her that the magic of the needles took time.  With additional practice someday she would create the amazing gossamer wings of her Witch-mother.  But first she needed to make many scarves with her needles.  “There are many scarf souls that need to born,” the witch told her, “that is your work now, your needles your responsibility.”

She wasn’t ready for their responsibility at 11.  She put the needles down.  The song called to her, but it had a mocking bitter edge after that.  She knew what she would produce.  She knew it could not equal the sound.  She looked for her magic in other realms, even as the Witch-mother beckoned with the song.
Thoughout her teens this song followed her, luring her, even as she rebelled and fought to find other ways to create. Quilts, jackets, dresses and even an elaborate corset were completed on her sewing machine.  The machine kept the magic at bay, it kept it at a distance.  The machine allowed her some sense of control over her Gift. 

“You can’t deny your destiny, daughter of mine,” her Witch-mother scolded with a twinkle in her eye.  “You’ll see in time.  You fight against your nature, but your nature will out.”

 She fought a long, hard campaign against that destiny–vicious, even.  On her deathbed, the Old Witch bypassed the Witch-mother to give the girl her grimiore  and her tools.  In the ultimate act of rebellion, she threw them away, desecrating the magick her Grandmother had meant for her.  Then heavy of heart, she had returned to college with an empty space she claimed she needed for other things. 

The Witch-mother silently retrieved them until the day her daughter grew in wisdom enough to want these tools for herself.  She grieved for the hard path the daughter chose, but she understood she must need to take this path. 

***
The clacking of her needles accompanied her everywhere.  Industriously, she worked away creating her creations, making simple pragmatic items she could wear in the cold.  The song was muted in her proficiency.  She could barely hear it anymore.  Her knitting was just knitting and served its purpose—warmth, the occasional gift for a new baby.  It surprised her to discover her mother had held on to the items her grandmother had bequeathed her, and wounded her that her mother had left her own collection to the 7 year old girl sitting next to her, working on a simple garter scarf.  On her mother’s death bed, she had learned of it.

“The Gift sometimes bypasses a generation.  Your daughter has the Gift.  Don’t let it die in me.”  The Witch-mother looked at her only daughter a long while before she became too weak and drifted into a state of unconsciousness. 

Not a word of love, her daughter thought without anger, just of that gift.  She wondered at the secrets in her mother’s eyes.  The gulf of their estrangement after high school never quite healed over.  They were not of a similar mind.

Sitting on the train, the daughter worked on two socks.  Two tiny strips of fabric centered on two cables.  These cables attached to her needles and with the smallest of motions slowly the sock would emerge.  Each days commute brought another quarter of an inch, even an inch on a long commute, of sock.  Each day the sock would grow long enough to cover her foot.  Until the day came when she would finish and cast off the pair from her needles.  Her mother had called this releasing the socks’ souls into the wild world.  She laughed at the memory—of the fanciful way her mother spoke about a hobby.  “Daughter, I always felt a thrill on the day to release one of my Creations.  So much time and effort into each one.  There are no words for the joy of this process.  It’s the answer and the mystery in life.”

She wondered sometimes at this—what she now treated as a family secret—the crazed menopausal minds of her grandmother and mother.  She worried for her daughter who she overheard her with her dolls describing the family’s magick.  The Old Witch and the Witch-mother lived on in her mind in such a colorful and profound way—not as they really were, housewives who knit to pass the time—but as powerful witches who needles blazed forth creation.  She thought it dangerous to let these ideas linger in her daughter.  To let the family’s craziness become a contagion as her mother and grandmother had with each other.

There was no reason to believe in a shared song between the four generations.

Invisible

    
I have a need to be seen and to be heard. 

I have a need to 

write something/say something/do something 

That communicates my 

history/experience/feelings 

I write into ether. 

I speak into ether.  

I do into ether. 

All I hear is the echo of my words. 

It’s loneliest when you believe that you aren’t alone

In your feelings. In your life. 

And it turns out there’s no one there to hear you.  

Secretary

I’m glad I found a job as a secretary.  They call it an administrative assistant, but who they bull shitting?

I’m a secretary.

If I didn’t have this job to define myself by then I might have to consider whether my talent and my intelligence mean I should try to actually do something, something maybe worthwhile. Maybe, I might even be forced to achieve something.

Good god. NO.

Instead I go to work every day safe in the knowledge that no real challenge awaits me and no unnecessary displays of brilliance will be demanded. I don’t have to produce a masterwork. I don’t even have to produce a lot of rough sketches of terribleness with just a hint of potential.

I am a secretary and all potential withers at my feet.  All flashes of insight dissipate into a wisp of smoke. The siren call of creativity is but a whisper of intense systematic organization. The random incongruities, the potentially funny moments I see, assemble themselves into neat rows of numbers in a spreadsheet.

Thank god. Do you know how much work it is to take responsibility for yourself?

I need a nap and maybe a half-day of vacation just to recover from thinking about it.

9/11, 10 years later

I wrote this in 2011. I was living through an infestation. I was never comfortable or at peace until I looked at the window of my soon-to-be home and let go of the fear of what I would bring with me. I wrote this that evening, Frankensteined together from various blogs entries over several years.  They travel with me, like baggage.

I post this in remembrance of that day and this city of people.

I’ve just moved into grad housing at New School in the West Village a month ago. My apartment faces South down 7th Ave. I have the perfect view of WTC and have opted to give up my a/c in favor of the view. I frequently sit at my window and stare out, marveling at the fact that I live in NYC, and am actually studying dramatics. The towers fascinate me because they are so large I can’t believe they’re real, and yet they are. Frankly, I’m fascinated by skyscrapers, they are like manmade mountains to me, and make me feel impossibly small and frail.

In the week afterwards, I lived with a friend on the Upper West Side. I would go grab a cup of Joe at a local coffee shop, and chat. One morning, I ran into an old guy—a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. The Towers came up and he let off a speech of absolute rage that they had been built. He’d actually been really active in the fight against building them in the late 60s, and he hated those Towers. They were “an architectural crime, and empty much of the time.”

Monday, September 10th, 2001 is the first day that my mind has started to leap across the space from my window into them. I wonder who goes to that building and why. I look through the cloudy, gray mist of that day and wonder if anyone is looking back at me. Are they happy to make scratch or do they envy the freedom others have to be about and not in an office? The North Tower looks like a ship’s mast when it first breaks through the fog. I promise myself I will visit the top soon, as I frequently do with the Empire State Building.

So I said, “I guess you’re not wanting to see them rebuilt then.” Continue reading “9/11, 10 years later”

Rain on the roof – My week in Comedy

I spent the weekend sleeping and finally feel like a person. That flu was awful and rendered me useless for a lot of the last two weeks.

Finally, I’m feeling human.

Jimmy Dugan was wrong: you can cure the clap with antibiotics; avoid the flu!

I rifled through a journal yesterday and found a great joke. I’m adding it to my set. I’m working on more material. I’ve almost figured out 3-year-old activist.

Last week I saw Ted Alexandro’s week at the Creek performance. It was an hour of new material. Some seriously political. Seeing Ted’s set reminded me of my preferences in standup and answered some questions I raised a couple of weeks ago.

  1. Breathing room
    • The audience needs time to think and process what you said.  If you’re throwing something tough at them, give them a moment to hear it.
    • Reassure them you are okay and they are safe to laugh at your pain.
    • Shit sandwich, that’s all I’m saying. The center can be a statement that will become a joke you just haven’t found quite yet if you’re talking long enough.
    • Funny observations around the serious observations makes the seriousness pop and seem more important.  Both are funny.
  2. Important points
    • See shit sandwich. It doesn’t matter if it’s funny. Sometimes you just need to say it.
  3. Saying what’s important to you
    • The core of everything I create.
  4. Saying what’s funny to you
    • The core of comedy, an intricate dance for me since I’m super serious. Thanks therapy for the seriousness!  Now I take my feelings seriously!

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