Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Our Own

Missed Monday rehearsal and found out today our musical improv team set tonight was going to be a golden age musical about a pop culture event. NBD.

I felt nervous, which is unlike me pre-improv set. There's just a lot to juggle when creating a specific style musical on the spot. And what if I didn't know anything about the pop culture reference? I couldn't do it on my own.

Our suggestion of a pop culture event was "Dumbledore is gay." I made the first move--I set our ensemble as kids reading the 7th book at an opening night party. One of them questioned, "Is Dumbledore gay?" Soon Cashew was gay Dumbledore even singing, "Accio spotlight." We became Slytherin snakes, talking portraits, and quidditch stars. There was a Hagrid dream sequence, and all of these moves were made bit by bit, evenly, from all ten of us. By the end (a finale ensemble number in which Dumbledore announces "I'm gay/ I was sorted that way") we had a great little piece of theatre that will never be seen again. And guess what? I didn't have to do it on my own. I couldn't have. If I would have tried, I would have failed. Them's the facts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rejection: Part IV

For our last class of Level Five of The Program, our teacher (Rachel Mason, improv goddess) opened a Q & A. Background: She has a fabulous reputation in Chicago theatre. That said, she auditioned for SNL four times, Mad TV five times, and was never on a mainstage cast at SC.  I asked, "How do you deal with rejection?"

She gave a big sigh. Then: "I've gotten to the point I never feel rejected. They just found somebody else. At the end of the day, if you don't get an audition, you didn't lose anything you didn't already have."

And the math is forgettable, but it's so true. Failure feels like a loss, but no one actually takes anything from you. The only thing you no longer have are your expectations of success, which are often wrong anyway.

RM seems like a genuinely happy and useful person. The best type to be. So, she seems to have come out on top, eh?
My cohort. Our last night in the disgusting classroom with no windows.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rejection: Part III

If you keep putting yourself out there--in every aspect of life--you eventually fail into your place. It sounds like a terrible game plan, but it's pretty effective. Sometimes process of elimination is really your best bet. It's not like you've got the entire universe to eliminate. You wade from pool to pool until you eliminate square feet of a discipline. The truth is, you don't want to be invited to every club--however would you know which was best suited for you? You want to be rejected into your very best place. It's so easy for us to decide where we're supposed to be. Truthfully, we rarely actually know what being there will be like. Instead of focusing intently on an arbitrary and unknown goal, why not just be, and see if you keep being closer to that Thing or farther from it?

Love hard and honestly, speak your mind, try for anything you may want to do.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rejection: Part II (The Upstairs Concierge by Kristoffer Diaz)

A couple weeks ago Bisque and I went to The Goodman for a Sunday night date. The Upstairs Concierge by Kristoffer Diaz. It was a comedy, and about thirty minutes in neither of us had laughed once. More than that, I was bored, borderline offended someone thought this extremely cliche set-up ("We're in a new hotel where there are no locks on the doors, and everyone is highly sexualized!") would be entertaining to me. I was so shocked by how bad the play was that I legitimately awaited a humongous "JUST KIDDING"--like all the characters suddenly became zombies, or it was a bad play within a play. But no. It was just a very under-developed in terms of character, super over-developed in terms of cheesy punchlines, and over-zealous physical comedy for physical comedy's sake plot garbage pot pie. We actually considered walking out. "Are we nuts?" Nope. We weren't. The next day the reviews came. And woof.

The lead of the show is an extremely talented woman who I have seen perform at SC numerous times. With few exceptions, everyone on stage was fun. The playwright has been previously nominated for a Pulitzer. The ensemble developed this show over the course of three years. Then, it was put up at the biggest commercial theatre in Chicago. Flop City. How did this happen? How could people not see?

I so respect Diaz's motives. He wanted a big farce because regional theatre doesn't have any modern pieces to do. Everyone's still Noises Off! forever and ever. He wanted to showcase minorities in big fat comic roles. Yes! I want that too. But, I want it to be good. I won't go into more detail because the critics already bashed the piece to smithereens. The point: maybe, and that's a big maybe, it was good for this piece to happen and fail big, but ultimately, it should have been rejected.

I'm not sure when The Goodman officially slotted the play, and I'm not sure when something can be pulled, so maybe by the time it was definitely bad it was too late. But, a rejection would have been a blessing. And wouldn't we rather that? Be sifted into the spaces we will shine in rather than never be rejected and spoil like cabbage in public?

Another good thing: I will see Kristoffer Diaz's next show. I get it. Sometimes work doesn't work. I still believe in him. If I can see this, perhaps those who have seen me fail can too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rejection: Part I

I had three big rejections in a row a few days ago. I've written previously about how important getting used to rejection is, but sometimes when they come in vicious waves, there's not much else to do but go grocery shopping alone, but a large bag of flamin' hot muchies, and watch Dance Moms.

The worst has passed, but I did quite a bit of soul searching over the span of three days. I dug deep into what rejection truly is and how to cope thanks to many talks with friends, blogs, spirituality articles, and even a lecture by Carl Sagan.  I will try to synthesize what I learned from my "study" in pieces here.

One cool thing is it's a really great self-exploration exercise to figure out what rejections have stung the most for you, and if there are any you actually still hold onto. I've learned a lot about even close friends by asking about what their memorable rejections have been. Rejections that wouldn't bug me, really hurt others and vice versa. For me, I've discovered a huge rejection, when warranted, dissipates in the breeze for me. On the other hand when someone rejects me from something I know I can do, I it's very hard for me be chill about it. EVEN when in hindsight the rejection worked out for my benefit or something, I am itched by someone misjudging my ability. I'm glad I figured out my rejection pattern because I think it will help me deal with it in the future. I am not one hundred percent sure about how to say, "C'est la vie," when I feel I have been incorrectly assessed. Yet. But now I know I need to know.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Feelings/ Fixings: I

My heart is broken for Eric Harrises. The Eric Harris who was accidentally murdered by a bumbling police volunteer and was yelled at and belitted as he died unarmed in a street. I googled his family to find out what they are saying, if they're okay. But all I came up with was the other Eric Harris--the Columbine one. And my heart breaks for him too.

People need so much love. We are endless love vacuums. I cannot possibly fathom what kind of life the Tulsa policeman with his big black swoop arm tatts has had to make him believe screaming at a dying man was okay. Police training needs a huge HUGE overhaul. Sensitivity training should be the most important thing they learn. The world needs an overhaul. Remembering those poor Littleton kids--how come they didn't feel love? What could have been different? Is it run of the mill high school bullying or is it a worm in our souls that can never be satiated until it is free?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Walkin' Around Buyin' Stuff

Today is the one year anniversary of getting my tattoo.
Bisque is in LA for a film premiere.
Chicago was predicted to be above fifty degrees.
All this is to say I hatched a plot.
I laced up my new flower tennies and dug a sundress out of my summer suitcase.

This bakery had the highest Yelp reviews.
I asked for a Pop-Tart.
There was only one flavor (peach) left for the day.
The last time I ate a peach anything
was the second to last time I saw my cousin alive,
and it was bad too. A watery orange hand pie.
But, yes, I did come all this way.
I didn't like the cafe.
There was a fluffy boy at the register who listed every single thing in the bakery case.
In a Rainman-esque way.
Even though my previous sentence was, "I'd like a Pop-Tart."
I sat down, made notes in my planner, and took a bite.
The pastry was just chewy enough.
It tasted like brown butter.
No canned peaches.
Real deal, simmered slow.
But the place still creeped me out.
Maybe I should have gone to the second best Yelp bakery.

I packed up my journal and walked another half mile in the opposite direction.
This place was hidden in an alley.
There were no tables or chairs.
There were five Pop-Tart options, so I chose cherry with chocolate icing.
I found a sunny patch of grass to dine on, but I became distracted.
There are possibilities today!
I'm still a chubby wren delicately hopping along.
My pay is meager. My schedule too full.
But right now, it's Friday afternoon, and I have nothing to be.

I went to a barber for a trim.
I can afford this today, and so, I afforded.
The number 8 bus was due to arrive in 9 minutes.
I pulled up my grey hood and ate the pastry after all.
When I saw the CVS in the bus window, I pulled the cord.
Cashews on sale, a birthday card. and a new eye shadow.
Swim with the tide, and buy when it's time to buy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

No No Nobody

Easter ice cream double date!
No no nobody cares--
except for you.
No no nobody is worried--
except for you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Subliminal Teacher Power!

When I write grammar quizzes I decide on a theme for the "correct this sentence" sentences. For example, tomorrow's grammar quiz:

Add the commas:
"Sherry had fun at the bar but she woke up with a headache."

Correct the pronoun:
"A parent should consider how much they drink in front of their children."

Revise for clarity:
"Spending tons of money on advertising is something alcohol companies do."

These are just quiz questions, but I believe everything we consume is changing us from the inside out. Some other things I like to do--women in example sentences are always extremely successful, men are often sensitive and talking about their feelings, the environment is a reoccurring character. Nobody is mad.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin

My assignment for this week's class of The Program was to write a scene that included a self-made special effect. Car keys for rain. A flashlight shooting star--that type of thing. A couple days ago I lightbulbed this:

REPORTER: We're here with Randall Thomas, a resident cat-caller. Mr. Thomas, you've been known to defend the aggressive and sexist habit of catcalling.

RANDALL: I think women like it.

REPORTER: We go live to those women now.


So, not exactly high fiction. A stupid black-out sketch that would require a homemade tumbleweed. I had an idea for how the tumbleweed would look--a mass of twine mainly. I wasn't worried. I went to Michael's and hour and a half before I had to leave for class. I bought two foam circles to hold the twine and twine. It cost fifteen dollars. I spent fifteen dollars on a faux tumbleweed.

At home the troubles worsened. I spent half an hour wrapping twine and sticking the foam with paper clips and then sadly throwing it across the living room. It didn't roll. It looked like a hairy frisbee. I started getting anxious. I wasn't dressed for class, time was running out, Bisque saw me practically foaming at the mouth, covered in styrofoam bits and offered to try.

He patiently coiled the skeleton for ten minutes before showing me his final work. It was not a circle--but flat. I said I would redo it. He was obviously sort of annoyed, but he sweetly unstrung and restrung the whole thing. I spent ninety minutes and some good graces of my relationship on a faux tumbleweed. We had to jet. On the way to dinner we found some dead leaves and branches to tie into the prop.

In class, my sketch was close to last on the running order. I strung up a pulley system to make the thing roll at the appropriate punchline. It bumped across the floor looking like a small forest spaceship. The sketch was over. I said, "It's a tumbleweed." "Oh," everyone said. Star added, "I thought it was a cat toy."

The tumbleweed better not be a foreshadowing of the rest of my writing career.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Little Feeling of Freedom

Hunny texted me to ask if I had seen the video Taylor Swift put on her Insta tonight. Apparently she was hosting her best friend's birthday, so she hired a member of Dashboard Confessional to sing an old favorite song of theirs live. The song is "Hands Down"--an old fave of me an Hunny's also. Aw, it's like, their friendship is the same as our friendship. Except for a few million dollars. I went to the Instagram account and immediately remembered why I wasn't following it. Taylor Swift's life in pictures makes me hate mine.

In reality, I'm doing pretty well, and I am generally happy. I wouldn't ask for much to be different right now. I think I'm where I need to be. But...maybe I could have a mansion and hire rock stars for fun and also have very cute blond hair. I KNOW for a FACT, it's not as easy or exciting as it seems in pictures. I KNOW, but it's so hard to believe when all the squares are just so.

Why do I follow any celebrities on Instagram? I guess I figured I liked them so I would like seeing them? But, um, hold on, can we talk about how destructive that is. Waiting for the bus, casually scroll through people way richer and skinnier and "loved" than you. And then go on with your life. It seems like a highly unhealthy way to pass time throughout the day.

I have stopped following all the celebs I did on Instagram. I wondered, "But I want to keep up." With WHAT? I'm going to see the TV Show/movie/hear the record etc. I don't need to see the boats and the trip to Europe and the new headshot with fifty thousand comments. There are other things that are more important! Look at those.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Flannel Coat

Putting away clothes piles last night--
Bisque has dubbed me "Piles" because little stacks
of my stuff accumulate all over our apartment.
Piles of sweaters on the ground by my half of the bed,
piles of papers next to the couch, piles
of candy wrappers on the kitchen table, it goes on.
So putting away a pile last night your flannel coat
fell on me from the back of the closet.
It is blue checkered. You lent it to me
when I was 20 and never took it back. I quite liked
it and paired it with my daisy slip-ons.
The next year we disagreed about a girl's short story
in Advanced Fiction Writing. In the story some girl
was talking to an ex-boyfriend and told him she still
wore his old band tee to bed. You said, "That's weird,
you would never wear an ex's clothes after you
broke up." I said, "I would if I liked the clothes!"
It's my flannel coat, and I don't remember you
in it. I wear it, me. This was the first time in years
I thought about
where it came from.