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.” Read More

Starting Over without the Expectation of Anything

I’ve been taking improv at UCB since last summer.  I go slow because I can’t afford to go fast.  I’m old. I have bills. I find it challenging.

I really loved my first class, and enjoyed the second. Met some nice people who were fun for the time. I met some people that may be around in the future.

It’s odd going to class when you reach the age that you longer imagine you’ll have your discovery moment and become the next…Gilda Radner or Kristen Wiig or Maya Rudolph.  I find myself surrounded by 20-somethings who are changing the course of their lives for it. I did that. I’m a secretary.

Clearly, I chose wisely. More wisely than a Nazi faced with a 1,000 year old knight but less wisely than, say, my friend with an MBA.

My boss likes to point out that I’m so much more than my job title, but my title is actually less powerful than the usual admin title. I’m a modern day secretary who uses excel; I’m not even an Administrative Assistant. That takes a psychic toll, the powerlessness.

Anyway, learning at this point in my life becomes much more about the process. It’d be weird to make a herald team or a house team, since it’s neither my aim, nor what I’m carefully planning.  I no longer carefully plan. I just try to have fun and feel alive for a minute. I’m both impressed by drive and repulsed by it. I vaguely remember my own drive in my early 20s and I missed as much life as I lived.

Mostly, I wish I could find that spot to relax and work and just learn. It’s hard when you’re surrounded by people who imagine they could & would & might…and fuck it…you just want to be better with people you can enjoy–building random fleets of beavers–without considering a career move, or whether someone will get me to the next place on the grand linear climb to fame.

That shit’s nonlinear. The next spot is not leading naturally at all to the next thing. 201 only leads to 301 in school. It makes me wonder, though, what I want and for now it’s to be better at improv.

For standup, I want to get fucking amazing at it.

No pressure.

Random notes from a workshop two weeks ago:

Marry yourself to the choice.

Don’t doubt it.  Stick to it.

Play the game, move on, play the game again.  Music, rest, music.

The game is the butterfly of the scene. It’s the first laugh. Grab it and run with it together.

Don’t argue; turn it into a positive for your position.

If you argue, because that’s what happens in reality, move on, come back to the premise underneath it.

Heighten the premise of the joke of the scene…the game of the scene.

I am fraglie. (It’s Italian.)

So, for three straight weeks, I’ve been doing stand up on Sunday night. Open mics, a class show. My joke writing is picking up speed. My ideas come faster. Not everything sounds like depression on tap.

I sigh with relief.

I worry.

I have 2 acts of a 3 act play written and its intense. I have to finish it this month. Cripes.

I fret.

This is the time of the year the sucks my soul dry.

I budget.

And through it all I mutter, “Why didn’t I get a degree in business?”

Then I look at that picture and go, “Oh, obvi…”

****

When I did my set, I did the best stuff from Sue Smith’s class show, and made a few changes – tightened it up here and made certain things more specific. Things got much better laughs.

Things like a joke about sexual abuse.

Things got weird feeling. I’m wondering as I tighten things up if I should insert other jokes into that line of jokes. Neither I, nor the audience, should feel like we’re married to Floyd Mayweather. Manny.  Why do boxers have names from 1956?

or Clifford Odets?

I felt exposed.

I felt fragile.

Power through or Decompress?

****

Anyhoo. Here’s to a Sunday filled with improv practice, joke writing and an open mic. This is now my DAY.

And a Saturday at the park with music and friends. Equally important.

And the dentist.

I DO WANT TO HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MY TEETH AT–AND DURING–69.

ETA: My mom liked this post and then unliked it, I think she got the 69 joke.

Mah Jong, Jelly Beans, Cooking and Fear [Freewrite – 101]

Since I’m new to WordPress, I decided to sign up for their Blogging 101 class.  This is an assignment for that.

I am seriously obsessed with Mah Jong or Tai Pei or whatever you wanna call it.  If it involves matching stacks of tiles, I’ve been playing it since 1994.  I’ve written plays, research papers and had lightning realization to this game.

Jellybeans to my cognition.

Jellybeans are cocaine to my sugar addiction.  They actually hurt in my body and I love Sweetart Jellybeans.  All other jellybeans can eat their gelatinous grossness and die. STAT.  They are NOT the amazing goodness of the crunch of tart flavor shell filled with mushy pure sugar inside.  HOLY SHIT. I cannot buy these things for another year.  HOW IN GOD’S NAME WILL I MAKE IT?  I am going to be digging around in my purse, looking in my couch cushions and eating them off the floor.  I can’t imagine life without a steady supply.

This happens every spring since I discovered them.  The sheer panic post Easter of no longer getting my fix.

Like Mah Jong. When I finish this blog I’m gonna play another hour and try to relax.

I hate cooking a big meal for myself. I finally learned how to be single when I learned to make a meal I could eat for days. I barely ate it today.  After smelling it while making it for 2 hours, it tasted like cardboard.  I’m hoping for better when I reheat my quiche.  It shouldn’t take two hours to make it.  I need better knife skills.  I lived with a pro cook once and she did all the chopping.  She was a human food processor, my AndreART.

I miss my food processor, but the roomie owed me money when she left.

I spent the day drinking presecco and St. Germain’s. It was the perfect Easter cocktail.  Delightful.  Now my head hurts. I better have more water.

I am working on a standup class, but god is it terrifying. Between this and improv, I will never be funny again.  I’m so stressed and tense about being funny.  Something that comes easy to me when I’m not thinking about it. This is something I’ve wanted since I first saw standup as a terribly young kid in the 80s. I wanna be funny onstage the way fish want to breathe through their gills, and like a fish…I’m out of water these days on a stage.  I’m just gasping up there.

I need to relax, or smoke a legally RXed joint, or a massage, or could I just get fucked already? In the positive way, not the “well this shit” way.

Yeah. I really wanna have got aggressive sex followed by some serious play time and maybe coloring in my adult coloring books (read: My Little Pony.).

Because $1 at Target has all the health benefits of $10 on Amazon.  WORD.

Also twistable crayons are the bomb.

Smile for Me, Baby

I am 12 and sitting in a front row desk in my advanced English class.  A fellow student sits down at the desk next to mine.  I ignore her because experience has taught me that my fellow students do not want the social scourge of the 7th grade to speak to them.  She appears upset by something and focused on her books anyway.

A few moments pass and I hear something unusual—a friendly voice saying “Hello?”

I look up and find my classmate smiling at me.  A big friendly smile I return. For a brief shining moment, I see our similarities.  Long brown hair, hazel eyes, we are both overweight and boyfriendless.  We’re in the Seitz Jr. High uniform in 1989:  French-rolled jeans, turtleneck under a sweatshirt, gold necklace dangling.  I am beaming at someone, maybe a new friend?

She opens her mouth to speak and I lean forward with a bit of excitement.  She speaks clearly and with great precision.

“You have the stupidest smile I’ve ever seen.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing.  All my life people have complimented my smile, how friendly it is, how kind.  It is one of the few things on my body that I can unequivocally say is AWESOME. “Excuse me,” I sputter.

“You have the stupidest smile I’ve ever seen.” Remarkably, this is said with even greater precision.  Not bad for a tween with a mouth full of marbles.

I can’t help it.  As I stare at her now victorious eyes, I laugh and laugh and laugh.  I can barely choke out, “No, no, I don’t.  What is your damage?”  I laugh so hard I have tears streaming down my face.  I snort.

I watch as this girl who was so puffed up a moment before, deflates and slides deeper and deeper into her chair.  I kinda feel bad for her in that moment.  I mean, how lame are you when the social outcast of your entire grade thinks you’re a ridiculous loser?

Marissa’s monologue, 2014

(This is from my first play with some editing, and updating. This is the first thing I ever wrote that I fell in love with. I would change it so much more if I knew where it belonged.  This is delivered to a character who is considering suicide and may be a bit of a drama queen. )

My brother OD’ed. My family’s whole relationship to each other to changed completely.

My brother OD’ed on pills and some hard ass shit liquor. He figured visually this would be the least damaging thing to see for whoever found him.  That’s what his letter said.  He was wrong.  I found him. I walked through the door and there laid Dan strung out on the couch. Nothin’ unusual.  He was a user. So I said “Hey, bro.”, and he muttered some incoherent thing back to me, and that was that.

I turned on the TV, and for about a half hour I watched a dumbass  sitcom. I was watching a stupid, motherfuckin’ sitcom, and my brother lay there dying. I don’t know when, he just started moaning—apologizin’ left and right for somethin’. So I reached over to wake him up—I figure he’s having a nightmare—and I don’t remember how he felt or anything spectacular—I just remember thinking, “Oh my god, he’s dying.”

I remember I called 9-1-1. I remember the ambulance came, and I remember my parents running into the hallway demanding to know how Dan was. My brothers and sisters came—all the family. No one talked to me, no one even noticed me, except Dan. I was the first person he asked about when he came to, first damned thing out of his mouth.

Later, when we’d left his room, my folks yelled at me for not getting an ambulance sooner. They blamed me because they didn’t wanna blame themselves, and they still do. But I’m not gonna kill myself as punishment. I don’t consider it punishing myself to kill myself too. Or settling the score, or whatever else is floating through your lunatic mind.

When you tell me your suicidal, it tells me you don’t have a shitload of respect or concern for anyone, and maybe too much interest in the somebody who already fuckedyou over. So, you just keep wallowing in your self-pity because it’s easy. It’s so damned easy. And keep on hurting people friggin’ care enough to fight for you. Cause you are worth fighting for. So, fuck you.

Imaginary Ryan – A Mythical Ending?

Imaginary Ryan was born in a snowstorm, by a garden window, filled with Christmas decorations. Over local wine, a witches’ brew, catching up and shooting the shit evolved into a drunken bliss. I was explaining twitter and bravo and who the Ryan I make so many jokes about was.

“I swear, Cynthia, it’s like he’s imaginary to most of them!  I mean, to be fair, if I describe him, he sounds like the hero of a Harlequin romance… tall, good looking, snazzy pocket squares…Sometimes I wonder what would happen if his fans saw Ryan in a normal context, like a date, or at a supermarket, how they would react? Would they still think Imaginary Ryan is the most perfect man ever?  I mean I know he’s an actor, probably a rich kid, he’s probably a jerk, I mean, a fun, silly jerk, but a self-centered jerk, nonetheless.”

“Sounds like a great story to me.”

“A self-centered TFB?”

“No!  You just said it.”

“What?”

“What would happen if the audience saw Imaginary Ryan in a normal context? Is Imaginary Ryan the most perfect man ever?” Redefining the term leaning in for me, forever, Cynthia sips wine and demands, “Tell me this story.”

“Haha!  They’d all freak out.  Imaginary Ryan would the perfect boyfriend, the best date, sensitive, the soul of a dreamer, and a moneymaker, kind to old ladies and children, a hero who saves lives and oh yeah, you’re his princess, so he’d take exquisite care of you.  He’d take you on a date or three dates, specifically, before sex. Because this relationship is by the book–the book of our expectations of what relationships should be.”

“Perfection! I wanna know what kind of dates this guy takes you on.”

“Aaah–No one is perfect, Cyn. I can’t see that happening. I’d punch a guy that perfect in the face.”

“I was there the last time you did that and he wasn’t perfect, Kim. It’s a story. What would it take for you to tell this story?”

“I’d tell the dates like they are really happening, but the pictures would be awful, terrible shop jobs, like obviously. Then I’d DM people, drop hints that I think it’s real, like Nascar Girl. (old school LiveJournal crazy busted for stalking crazy.) Full on convince people that I am crazy crazy.  We do the whole relationship in a month and just when you think he’s gonna propose….”

“what…?”

“He turns into a purple dragon, flies around my apartment, destroying everything and then directly into my TV, shattering it in an explosion of electrical shazams–sparks!”

“Ha! Yes!”

“It’d be a tribute to Andy Kaufman.”

“How?

“Andy Kaufman climbs out of the broken television set. It’s the clip from Saturday Night Live with Mighty Mouse.  It plays.  Scene.

Andy Kaufman performs Mighty Mouse – watch more funny videos

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?app_id=138711277798&href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.funnyordie.com%2Fvideos%2Fcc038c770a%2Fandy-kaufman-performs-mighty-mouse-from-andykaufmanfan&send=false&layout=button_count&width=150&show_faces=false&action=like&height=21

“Ha! No one will get it. It’s been 40 years since Taxi and 20 years since the Jim Carrey film.”

“OMG…Taxi was still on when I was a kid…feeling some feels here…”

“You’re not that old…not as old as me…so how do you say Andy Kaufman to people your age?”

I lean back and really let the scene fill my brain.  I nod slowly when an image emerges.

“When Andy Kaufman puts the needle on the record, the clip instantly changes to this:

And then the words, THE END”

“So we know it’s over? Like in elementary school?”

I nod.

“OMG….That’s hysterical.”

I lean back and, as if on a subway car, I take all the room needed for my enormous ovaries by spreading my legs…wide. Then, crossing my legs, I fold my arms behind my head.  “It’s motherfuckin’ mythic, baby.  It’s a goddamned mythical ending.”

“You should totally do that.”

The End

Imaginary Ryan – A Happy Ending

As I stare into into Ryan’s now changed face. I realize he did this for me. I feel so much guilt. I was just upset that Ryan had blown me off after being so attentive. I feel so insecure. He’s not my usual type and I don’t know for sure what he sees in me. Insecurity is not a good decision making tool.

“I’m sorry.” I offer. I don’t think I realized how out of my depth I feel. “I used to guys that are bigger jackasses. I dont’t know hoe to react to you.”

“It’s okay. I’m a little freaked out at how well it’s been going. It’s been comfortable and exciting at the same until tonight,” Ryan laughs. “That doesn’t happen everyday.”

“I enjoy the time I spend with you, Ryan. I just have to learn to trust that you are real. I really didn’t mean you needed to change yourself for me. Not like that.”

“Good. I’m glad. That’s important to me.”

We look at each other. I can’t hold it in any longer.

“I love you.” We say it together.

“JINX?!” Laughing Ryan pulls me into his arms and I melt into a warm circle of love.

“Any idea how I change back? I kind of prefer my original face.”

“No idea. Maybe after a nap?” I wink suggest.

Ryan scoops me up and off he carries me.

ETA: We lived happily ever after. He woke up fine the next day. Just a bit of a hang over.