Friday, August 29, 2014

You Should Be Happy

On paper I am living the dream. Like, literally. I dreamed of performing at the _______ theatre since I was twelve years old. And yesterday, I did.

You should be happy. This is what it is all about. But I couldn't have known when I was coming back from that summer mainstage on a school bus fulla kids who got most of the jokes but not all of the jokes that when it happened, when it really happened, it would be at the end of the longest week ever. The week I was sick to the bone. All my parts heaving and mucus, a clogged ear and too much lost lunch. I don't get paid enough to lose that much lunch, I thought while I was yakking in the bathroom on the floor above my classroom. I didn't want one of my students to see me wipe the slop off my face. It has been a shut-down week. Too tired to even respond to text messages week, certainly too tired to write, half-functioning just enough to sludge to the bus stop and cradle the stacks of copy-machine minted syllabi up the escalator.

You should be happy to have this job even though you need another if you want to do anything besides pay your rent this semester. You have to buy your own dry erase markers. Adjuncts are only administered two per semester, and yours haven't arrived yet anyway. Meanwhile there are all these new papers with all these moldy sentences and all these fresh faces who deserve a good education.

The show was okay. Just okay. We've all done so much better. But it was late and actually stunningly non-magic considering dreams and such were coming true. I walk out the doors of the best comedy theatre in the world, get in the car, snatch a chunk of toilet paper, blow my nose. This is the way it ends.

This is what dreams are for? To arrive at. To see the next mile post down the highway. "Maybe once I am there," you think.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two Reminders, Basic

1. The amount of people you are severely disappointed in is way way fewer than the amount of people who are severely disappointed in themselves.
2. Everyone else's disasters always appear redeemable. Sometimes even "for the best."
The night Muffy and I got two v different cups of froyo and they weighed the EXACT SAME.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Logically But

Logically we all know there are literally millions of people in the world who wish wish wish they had what we have. Logically this is true, but, oh, it is so hard for that fact to make a difference when the days are a little too rainy and the pizza is a little too abundant in your diet.

I wonder why that logic doesn't help almost ever. Like, you can say the words, "I should be happy," but it never sinks in. But keep making the list. Fake the gratitude til you make the gratitude.

Maybe your mom will make you her famous cheesy chicken, or maybe you will get to dance to BSB at your high school best friend's wedding, your boyfriend will hug you in the bread aisle, and you can fall asleep on your dad's couch for however long it takes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bad Things Olympics

There's no need to be offended that someone thinks one bad thing is worse than another bad thing. As far as I am concerned, it's all the same bad. Pick a bad thing, and do a good thing about it. But CERTAINLY don't hear about a bad thing, argue there are worse things, and do zero good things about any of aforementioned on varying levels of bad things!
Flowers in the park. Just bein' happy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

All Stories Are Valid Part Two: An Unfortunate Story

The new Murakami book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimmage came out this week. I haven’t read it. Full disclosure.

I have already seen multiple people on the internet disgusted by this novel because the main character is a man who was falsely accused of rape by a crazy woman. While I obviously have major suspicion about any rape case involving a woman people dismiss on the vague and usually sexist grounds of “crazy,” it does happen. From time to time. It’s obviously the worst thing ever because even one instance of a false accusation is all anyone can remember every time someone is legitimately asking Help. Please.

Perhaps we don’t need more stories about evil-rape-fiction people. They permeate bigoted brains. Why add fuel to the fire? Well, maybe if it’s a good story. Or an important story to the author. Writers have responsibilities to their audience and culture as a whole, yeah, but they are still artists and get to do what they want.

Hey, I for one think it would be really really hard to be a man falsely accused of rape. Just because many men lie about a woman lying doesn’t leave the truthful ones in any less pain. Metaphorically, be wary. In considering what the world has already heard, use care.  ALL STORIES ARE VALID.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All Stories Are Valid, Part One: Genius Resting

Spent most of yesterday feeling "So it goes" about Robin Williams. I, like every oxygen-breathing human on this earth, respected and loved him greatly. How many people can say they were given an okay doofy family comedy script about a cross-dressing old woman/dad and made it a beloved cultural artifact? The genie, the "stole my line" line. But it is what it is. Then last night I was just scrolling through Twitter and seeing how many people are deeply affected by this loss. I don't entirely feel allowed to really care about celebrity death because it's not like I have a personal connection with these people. And, yet, a sadness did lay its dark weight on my chest as I scrolled through all the tiny tweeted stories of a great man.

Bisque and I were driving into the bits of city sparkle. I mentioned how I wished it weren't physically possible to commit suicide without a letter. I am aware that a lot of the time (especially in these national headlines) there might be letters, but they are private. Bisque's response was, "I have trouble demanding something from someone who is in so much pain." That's why he's a better person than I am.

I just can't imagine why you wouldn't at least leave some questions answered, some clues for prevention in the future. Maybe some nasty, ugly viewpoints that people could digest and refute for themselves. People don't want to be remembered that way, okay. But what do they care? They will be dead. Yes, it's a different legacy than expected, but I just don't think there's anything but good from honesty.

No one would dismiss the man's greatness from his scared, sick confessions. It would give us something solid to build on. People say, "Don't glamorize suicide," but then what do we do? We gloss over the crusty parts of the human condition, cut to montages of the person at best, and how is that not glamour? Do not leave. Speak.

Carpe diem. Carpe diem. Carpe diem.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Let's Assume

1. I begin all my writing courses with this: Let's assume everyone is talented. Let's assume there's something special in everything brought to this class. Find that. Seek out the shiny penny, perhaps even the diamond, in what may first appear as a dirt clod. Do not assume your peers are down in the garbage. Maybe they are in a dumpster, but who knows? There could be some real fine freegan Trader Joe's ginger snaps down there.

2. I'm trying very hard to do this thing now. When people show that nashing spitty side of themselves, I am trying to flip the image. This person looked like a Fannie May trinidad. I tasted the chocolate coconut shell! But the centre was roach eggs. They fooled me good, they did. No. Flip it. The inside is always the nougat. The outside might have a mold problem. Scrape it off. Choose to see what's real. Don't let the worst part of someone be the, "Ah ha. Now I have seen their true nature!" moment. Let it be the brightest whitest star.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Qualms at Steppenwolf

Saw Bruce Norris's new play The Qualms at Steppenwolf on Wednesday. Much enjoyed the production while I was watching it. It kept me thoroughly entertained on a philosophical and comedic level. The acting was superb. The design appropriate. (Side: It might be my ignorance to what goes into design that makes me think this, but doesn't it kind of seem "appropriate" the only compliment for design 99% of the time? The 1% is for The Lion King and, like, reboots of Shakespeare done underwater.) Anyway, I was happy to be seated, not at all willing this play about swingers to be over before it had run its 90 minute course. Nor after really. And yet, what I left with was very little.

Norris's most famous work Clybourne Park is still nestled in my ribs when I consider the city of Chicago, gentrification, and the times that are generally a changin'. I left the theatre after Park with new opinions and questions, an open brain, and a lot of respect for the script itself. This summer night it was all too easy to pass the Crate and Barrel with Bisque and spend the entire walk from theatre to red line gabbing about how much we covet the blocky parsons table we pretended to be interested in there when we were really just trying to use the bathroom but then actually fell in love with the dang thing. It wasn't until we were downtown about to make our connection I was like, "Oh yeah, what did you think of the play?"

Here's what I thought of it: P. lazy. Keep in mind, there were parts that were masterful, and who am I to talk, right? I know "everybody's a critic" but everybody's also in the audience, and can't help having opinions.

Some characters were truly charming, yes, but what did it all add up to? I'm a champion for plays that are a lot of talking and not much of getting somewhere, but this was a lot of talking that wasn't particularly new. Maybe that's my bias as a 20something who knows a bunch of polyamourous people/couples. I've thought about it all before. I've asked the questions, shared my qualms (har) and nodded carefully. There was not a single viewpoint brought up in TQ that I hadn't heard at least a few dozen times before.

To be fair, in the program interview, Norris mentions how kind of dumb it is people think of this play as "dirty" when all other art forms have launched so much farther down the contemporary sordid path. Theatre is being left in the dust of what is taboo relevant. So, maybe I'm tapped into other comedy pipes that make this play's themes snoozy for me alone. Everyone around us was 30s and up--mainly 50s/60s. (WHICH leads me to a whole other question: when will my demographic being represented in mainstream theatre? Is it always going to be a waiting game? Actually I am okay with this? Like maybe there SHOULD be an art form where middle-age is the median for writers to offset Twitter?)

More re: lazy.

There could have been such better choices. So much was so petty, which, on one hand is part of the life of rich Californians, but, come on, make me care. A huge hinge of the play is an itty bitty lie. While representative of true life's complications (maybe), it was just so inconsequential. The climax was an outburst of huge the most (up until that point) correct person on stage. I don't buy it. It was too simple. Make a better choice.

There's a lot more I could say. But I will leave with this. In the talkback a woman noted that the play didn't take a bold stance. (See: much talking, not much getting anywhere). On the surface, perhaps. However, the arithmetic of the piece was completely lopsided. A room full of people on one side, one man on the other. That's fine. That's most drama. Except the one man was so terribly small-minded and ugly. So, like, the only person on team monogamy was utterly gross. In writing this I suppose you could argue the literature shows the lilliest-white attitudes can still be hateful--and which is worse? But in playing that game, you still accidentally call anyone who doesn't want to swing stupid. Funny because Norris says he wrote this play in response to being uncomfortable with "the lifestyle." Perhaps in an attempt to provide a fair fight, he fell much too hard on one side. NOT that I think falling too hard on the swinger side is wrong, it's just done, I think, accidentally, and rather clunkily.

Well this was boring, wasn't it? But it's nice and terrifying to know the greatest Pulitzer winners add lame mugging-gags and half-baked beginnings of dramatic choices to their new work with dynamite resources. Writing is hard, you know.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gone With The

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The entire world was before her. A partner beside, a glowing family shoving her along with promises of cherry cookies and perhaps a golden dollar or two from the bookshelf treasure chest.

And yet for every sun-doppled lake walk there was a cranky little landlord (bald) who lied about an application fee. Or a calendar whose pages kept flipping and falling faster than she could pick them up. I moved here to write, which I have been, but not more than I worry about the tab. I moved here to do improv, which I have been, but not more than I consider what the steps to Belmont will be like caked in ice.

And people have been just ugh so ugh deceptive and tough. But others have been giving and fowarding of helpful emails. That's not an adjective, but, yeah. It seems the first group sucks up most of our brains. The second kind of evaporate like cotton candy in rain--just the sugar stuck to surface remaining. That's the important part anyway, but it takes long embittered speeches at the 24-hour cafe to scrub the filth of the uggos off this life. And meanwhile I blink away the cotton folk.

Put on your long curtain-made dress, Scarlett. Tomorrow is another day.