Friday, August 31, 2012

Nausea, Potatoes, Love

Wednesday night I went out with Blue Eyes and Boulder to our usual post-class haunt. I had had a headache at the end of class and knew I needed to eat. Pretty much as soon as I dismounted from my bike and walked up to their misted table, I wanted to vom. I needed food, and I needed it now. Extreme nausea extremely fast. I tried to be a decent human being but my cement mixing stomach was screaming, and I had to go sit in the bathroom for ten minutes because it was cool and I could avoid conversation (which was great conversation, but it made me open my mouth, which brought me closer to throwing up out of it).

The waitress did something I love waitresses to do--bring out appetizers (if that's all you order) with other people's food and not their salad. BUT NOT TONIGHT, LADY. I NEED THOSE POTATO SKINS IN MY BODY. I know it's silly in hindsight, but I did think I was going to implode, so I lost all sense of social grace and put my head on the table. I held my temple. I stripped my mask of "I'm okay" and let my peers see what was happening: my painful death. I whined a little. Blue Eyes looked concerned, and it's probably the first time I've ever seen what he's like as a father. "Oh no! This tomato is on my fork, but it's headed to your mouth!" Boulder airplaned a bite of salad to me. I scowled. I wanted a friendly potato--not an acidic demon plant. He did not act offended. He understood.

Finally my food came. I stripped the skins of their cheese and painfully ate one. My boys kept chipper but watchful of me, the island across the table whimpering as I chewed up two skins and boxed the rest. Blue Eyes paid for my meal, and Boulder offered to drive me. I said that wasn't necessary. He said he'd walk my bike back to my condo. I genuinely was feeling a little better, so I rode back alone. So grateful. I was supposed to go out with Pinto at 8. I cancelled via text like a jerk, but he responded, "Should I bring some soup and a cheesy DVD?"

I guess, what I mean is, people are really good, and we are cared for.

Also, that's how I ended up going to bed at 9 PM and thus waking up at 4 AM on Thursday.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

One Nation, Of Individuals (with Liberty and Justice for All)

This semester my Dramatic Writing Workshop is reading Anne Bogart's A Director Prepares. Yesterday we discussed her essay on Memory, which is largely about Americans' lack of memory (recognition) of the shoulders we're standing on when it comes to theatre. A classmate noted that visual artists learn to copy before they can create. They're constantly making art, turning around, revisiting Picasso, Degas, Rembrandt, then mimicking for a while, then facing forward again and marching on.

Playwrights don't much do this. We think it's important to know the basics, but no one holds you to it. The sentiment appears to be "There's too much"--which is kind of true--we definitely don't have as succinct a canon as art history (or maybe I'm just telling myself that because I still haven't read, say, Raisin in the Sun). Not only are we forgiving about neglecting our past, we are absolutely unforgiving when it comes to dragging it along with us. It is not good to be impersonating another writer. If possible, our work should be nothing like anyone's ever seen before. Not only is this basically impossible, if it were possible, approaching the goal of sheer uniqueness in this way is like just deciding to take a running jump off a roof and say we will be the first human to fly. We need to walk before we can run--and absolutely before we can soar.

Why are we this way? Why do we want to be so new? Why can't we stand to repeat classics, to learn from what has come before us? Bogart says it's a matter of not recognizing and using our own culture because American culture is so jumbled and illusive. You can't pin it. Are we religious? Yes and no. Are we helpful? Yes and no. Are we obnoxious? Yes and no. We're not even unanimously rich or talented or polite or impolite. We have almost no common literary background. We have no ritual. I can get behind this theory of not using our culture because we don't have one, but I think a more likely reason we don't go back and reflect what has come before us is because part of our culture...actually probably the only consistent part of our culture is being individual. We were founded because of persecution, we like to protest and riot and be free, and thus...write new new works.

Desert morning. April 2012.

Just some stuff I'm thinking about at 4 AM...which is another story.

The world shines as I cross the Macon County Line.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quotes from Ru

"Alice, I guess my question is why aren't we watching 'Clueless' and eating Oreos?"

Yosh, Shellz & Cheeze, Ru. May 2012.

"Omg I don't wanna talk about [only having on semester of school left]. I'm taking the whole "I'm just so over school and I'm ready to get out there and perform" approach. While secretly shoveling ice cream into my mouth to cope with the hysteria."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Best Sandwich Ever

Slab of mozzarella, laced with leaves.
Ciabatta as good--no--better
than the ones Kay's dad brought home from the bakery in Monterey.
We ate them on the couch while watching 12 Angry Men.
Buttery. Flakey. Thick.
I didn't think I could taste bread so good
and yesterday revisited that disbelief.
Hill said, "I will take you to the best sandwich ever,"
and it was not even a lie. Not even a little bit.
The semi-circle was hand-sized, comfortable,
and although the stories my friend told me were not pleasant,
there is something pleasant about it--
holding that cradle of tomato over brown butcher paper.

Life might be unfair, but it is just--
because we are walking justice.
Our positivity is the criminal system,
and if you refuse to be locked up,
you can't be.
Let them try.
You might bite down so hard your braces brackets break,
but still,
let them try.

In the end,
you might be at a picnic table
filling up on a champion lunch
and spinning your straw
in fresh whipped cream.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer: The Ghost

So many things happen so fast.

Kath & Me in our little wooded home and office. June 2012.

There was this book I read and loved--
the story of a ship,
who sailed around the world and found
that nothing else exists
beyond its own two sails
and wooden shell 
and what is held within.
All else is sure to pass.
We clutch and grasp
and debate what's truly permanent,
but when the wind starts to shift
there's no argument.

I sing and drink and sleep on floors
and try hard not to be annoyed
by all these people worrying about me,
so when I'm suffering through some awful drive
you occasionally cross my mind.
It's my hidden hope that you are still among them.
Well, are you?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Other Day!

Woke up to a text from Heart who reminded me "Today is August 23, 2012! There will be no other day quite like it."
There's something about the first day of school. Something good.

This is surreal. I flew in yesterday--met by a giant bear hug from Boulder and a dinner invite. I sit at his counter getting the gossip and watching him chop peppers for his eggplant parmesan, which is my favorite.

It's effortless to punch in my garage code, second nature to climb the stairs and drop my bags in the bedroom on the left. "I have grown," I decide, so I shove my bed into the opposite corner.

I bike to campus like I've done it hundreds of times. Because I have. Curly is on the corner of Mill & University. We embrace like we've done it two times because we have and his shoulder hits my jugular as I say, "It's good to see you" so I sound like a drunk chipmunk.

I TA. I see many a familiar face. I TA. I regress to 14 as Hill and I write summer Q & A on the backs of syllabi while the professor lectures during Sex & Violence. Class is out early, and I decide I'd like a smoothie. I run into Blue Eyes! Who hasn't eaten all day but can be persuaded to make a meal of froyo with me. I wonder what we look like--the chicadee with first day braid and the grey-haired family man, discussing Mormon youth over pomegranate non-ice cream.

First day of Senior Year 2005 with SVC & Hunny. So long ago!

So this is happening. Year two, here we go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Grander Ambition Is There?

Reflection Hill. August 2012.

"Beloved children, the world has need of you, — and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world."--MBE

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Today's the Day

In the green room before my class's final performance, we stood in a circle, hands on backs on hands on backs as an ensemble for the last time. I have truly loved these people. The combination of acknowledging I might never play with any of them again mixed with standing in the historical spot where teams of old pros to newbies to originals have paced in anxiousness almost brought me to tears.

Today is the day you decide to move, or risk, or speak we have learned all month. This is the 1% of time Life is grand and wild. Today is that day.

Be in the scene you want to be in, I was told--more barked--this week. Why aren't you having fun? Our teacher yelled, genuinely angry.

Walked down Addison for what seemed like the last time ever. It's probably not, but it will never be the same. Not like it was on August 9th, 2012 when the rain had just cleared and the cool set over the peanut peddlers and the giant aluminum pop can cut in half--Wrigley Field. And the crowd crushed a crashing sound wave. I scuttled to the Red line for the last time--not the last time, but the last time on August 9th, 2012.

Del Close's notes taped inside a cabinet backstage. "Weird" written on the flat where the audience could never see. Listen and response.

Horrible photo of my classmates, but also kinda cool--like it was taken from a disposable camera in 1985.

IN OTHER WORDS: My improv class is over, I've learned a ton, I feel so grateful.

ALSO: Breather from blogging while I work on a few projects. Be back soon.

And, baby, isn't this your chance to make a break from circumstance?
And isn't it enough to prove today's the day?
And isn't it enough to prove today's the day?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Not Meeting TJ

Something rad about the Chicago improv scene is how transparent everyone is on the performer-to-performer level. Like, on Sunday I got to see my teacher perform in his show. I'd just spent the whole week chatting with him. He said, "I encourage you all to befriend me on Facebook."

The woman who INVENTED longform bops around the building. We do our lame warm-ups on the same stage that Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler etc. played on. They were all once in Level One. I spill coconut water as I'm trying to tip-toe through a talent crush's class. He waves his hand like, "Eh, don't you worry!"

Some people are comfortable with this easiness. Javvy and I talk about how amazing the Tuesday night set was. A member of said set walks by. Javvy says, "Hey man! Great job!" I keep quiet. I know people like compliments...but all the time? From randos? Maybe he's just trying to get to Starbucks before he teaches, you know?

This leads me to how I haven't met TJ yet. For those of you who don't know, arguably the best improv show in the world currently is one called TJ & Dave--featuring, as you may have guessed, TJ and Dave. TJ is a phenomenal performer. I've gotten to see him a few times in different shows, and every time I am totally blown away by his skill.

I'm also blown away that for being THE man of improv in 2012, he is so accessible. He just walks around the theatre kindly and patting friends on the back. He hangs out at the bar for a moment. Tonight as I left a show he was in, he was outside on the sidewalk with some dude chillin'. I keep having opportunities to meet him. I mean...this is THE GUY. I SHOULD meet him. But...I think of what questions I have, and then I don't really have any. Like...I know what people say secrets of improv are. I could ask about his experience, but I could also save his time and find an interview online. Honestly the only thing that's not a dumb question is "What does your arm tattoo signify?" But what? Am I just going to meander over to him sometime and ask and then peace?

At the very least I could just say, "I love your work," shake his hand, and then I will have officially met TJ. But, honestly, as I thought of that, I realized that whole interaction would be for me. I don't want to GIVE him anything. I just want to be able to know TJ held my hand. In twenty years when people are talking about "the greats," I want to be able to say, "Yes. We met." That's rude of me, don't you think?

EDIT: Right after I wrote this post, I went to sleep. I dreamt I was auditioning for the second role in a two-person play starring TJ. Wut?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekend Things

Improv workshop with Susan Messing
Navy Pier ferris wheel, popcorn, giant pretzel
Hating Lollapalooza for ruining every bus route ever
Pizza Pot Pie at Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinders
Fraiser & hot fudge sundaes
Four mile run
Ice cream for breakfast
Pirated Louie
Reading--a tad
Looking up useless junk online--colossally
Mainly staying in bed
Not enjoying Workaholics--still watching it
Ice cream for dinner
Sunday Brunch at Waffles
Walk to Frank Lloyd Wright house
Beach frolic

Soon to come:
Farmer's Market veggies
Improv shows
A late train home
Final week of improv intensive starts tomorrow!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

CTA Gender Politics

If I see an older woman standing on the bus, I feel I need to offer her my seat, but if I see an older man standing, he has to be really old for me to get up. Mostly I wouldn't mind, but it's really more for his benefit. Like it might be a little embarrassing for him to be seen as weak.

When I get offered seats, I don't usually know what to do. It's a gentlemanly thang, which should be encouraged maybe, but it's not really necessary. If the guy says nothing, I take the seat. If he says, "Here you go," I say, "Oh, its okay" for some reason and keep standing even though I really do want to sit down. If I'm with classmates or a friend and a seat opens and I am gestured towards it, I do take it.

Last week on an extremely packed train, I was annoyed to be standing. It was a very tiring day in class, and my feet hurt. I looked over and made brief eye contact with a guy I recognized from another section of the intensive. I can't be sure, but I think there was a glint of guilt in his eye. Every time I kind of peeked over, I could tell he was debating standing up or not. But he also looked very tired, and I'm sure he really didn't want to. If I had been him, I probably would have just stood. It's never worth it to be a wee bit more comfortable in the face of guilt. But, he didn't, and I endured the miserable, uneasy ride home.

Part of me is like, good for that guy because I really have no business thinking I deserve a seat. We both have feet. But the other part of me is like, WAAAAAH PAMPER ME, STRANGER DUDES! And the biggest part of me feels bad that guys have to constantly ask themselves these stupid questions about politeness (getting up, door holding, "after you"ing, etc. etc.).

UGH. I really don't get why we couldn't have all been created one asexual gender. There would be so many fewer problems in the world. That's a fact.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012