Friday, August 11, 2017

It Is the End of Days and I Have Chosen to Write

We could be nuke dust any day. I have no pretenses about avoiding desserts in this vacation wonderland. If I die, it will be with a cinnamon roll in my belly.

As things collapse and teeter I imagine myself dirty in a roving commune. My last job won't matter, but the skills I learned at it will.

Looking ahead I wonder what I will finish. What are the last words I want to speak on a stage or send to a reader? I thought about canning my book until I feel more than 50% certain I will see October, but once I have journaled, read a chapter of Ghost Story, drank my amaretto coffee, watched Big Brother, and even fallen down the Twitter void, my computer shines like a Zelda treasure chest. I sit at the desk and kick it open. A four note victory plays.

Monday, August 7, 2017

On Offense

We opened the show with "Option" last night. It's essentially a typical short form improv scene that morphs into genre switching at the audience's whim. I played a girl on a date and then at the suggestion of "horror" a cast member said he had slipped a serum into our blood. I did the first thing I could think of (pretend my face was melting off) and then the audience had us switch genres to rom-com. I kept my face distorted and said, "I look like this, but I know you love me for what's on the inside." (Laugh, laugh.)

As soon as I said it I had a little shiver up my spine. Some people really do have distorted voices. I wasn't aiming to make fun of them. I was just...acting like I was in a horror movie. As the game ended and I sat on the sidelines during the next piece, I really thought hard about how someone in the audience with a disfigured cousin might have taken that twenty seconds. Then I tried very hard to think of other options I had in the moment. I could have pretended to be a horror-trope ditz, which would have been satire (or problematic?). Or maybe I could have been the killer. I shook it off and sang a mini-musical about a purple alligator (lol comedy).

When we returned from intermission I started an intro for the next game and for the first time looked into the front row. Dead center. Staring up at me. A burn victim with missing fingers and a disfigured face. I flubbed a word. Ultimate universal irony. Then I made a point to finish my speech and give a winning smile to the dude. I creeped on him for the rest of the show. He was having an excellent time, clapping and hooting.

Earlier this summer I taught a "song parody" camp to middle schoolers. I played Weird Al's parody of "Complicated" "Constipated." The song ended and I asked the group why it was funny. A blonde 12 yo's practically screamed, "It's not! It's not FUNNY." CoMeDy Iz HaRd, u gUyz!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Girls Need More Secrets

After two weeks devising work with young women attending summer camp in Maine in 2017, I have some new thoughts on girlhood. The 4th and 5th graders fought to the death for single solo lines and the high schoolers refused to perform. I want to know what happens to girls in middle school. I want to know why one girl started most scenes with "I should have listened to my mother. I hate you." I want to know if she thought that was funny, or if it's all she could think of. I want to know if that's still a joke in her mediasphere or if her family is old school and watches black and white TV. Or if her mother really should have listened to her mother. I want to know why the 2nd graders wanted to do all their own original choreography and the 9th graders wanted to be set like china for dinner.
I want to know what it is about a secret, whispered between two teens, that makes even me want to know the juice. And I want to always remember what it feels like to be the third girl they beckon in and the fourth girl they don't.

Smidge and I were in a corner of the gym before Poms practice vowing to tell each other our crushes. We each spoke a boy's name (same boy) and screamlaughed, intoxicated in our good taste. We skipped around the three-point line singing The Sound of Music. It didn't matter we were in "competition." We weren't. We were in 8th grade. When "going out" didn't mean going anywhere. It was how we showed our loyalty and our love, these private passings.

It had been this way a long time. I didn't fully trust my best friend because she would never admit to loving her obvious affection-target. She was my favorite person, but I watched her carefully. In fourth grade someone said she didn't have any crushes. "But you have to," we pressed. "But I don't," she insisted. I can't remember if I really didn't believe her or if I just didn't want to, but we pushed until she practically yelled, "OKAY FINE IF I HAVE TO, I LIKE ____ HAMPSTER!" There was a boy in our class named _____ Hampson. In her total distress she had misspoke.

Later, once we had boyfriends, the new secrets were about us. Who said what about who to who and who retold. We ate our own tails in gossip and serious nods. I see a past of closed mouths and deep deep treasures of family darkness. I see wives of important men with tight lips. I see a future where a lack of bragging saves our butts. Where female generals refuse to disclose and never lose. But to prepare, first, girls need better secrets.