Gene took his niece and nephew to the movies, just like every Thanksgiving. Made stuffing, and took ambrosia to a homely altar of family togetherness. The meal was tasteful, subdued, and lubricated by some spiritous liquors. Still, dysfunction…
… and I noticed, even though it’s buried in the back. Scrape my memory off your little electronic memory book, huh? Ok. Like I was some sort of bad apple, when all I ever did was make people laugh.
it’s ok. Nobody stuck up for me in my absence. I see what kind of people you all are now. Not all, some. The rest are too busy with their own lives, doing more important things, like I should be. Still, this nags like a broken tooth, or a scab that never quite heals. I keep pickin’, though it’s only me that hurts.
Someday, I’ll have a last laugh about this. It won’t be soon, if ever, but even if it’s one short chortle, the day I choke out that last breath? I’ll be square.
whiledaringgreatly asks: I know this is a very basic question, but I’ve been working to adopt your process of focusing on one scene at a time as a way to get myself through a particularly long and daunting project. What makes, to your mind, a great scene?
In general terms, if your character…
Joe Hill is awesome, and I think I like his output even better than I liked his dad’s.
Also, I just bought a copy of 20th Century Ghosts yesterday that I’m diving into today!
How I Reacted Internally When She Replied on LibroFace.
She asked me why I hadn’t written, and I told her I felt no pull in that direction anymore. She thought I’d be “as prolific as ever”, and I wondered what that meant. As prolific as I was… back when we dated 15 years ago? As prolific as I was angry at life in my early 20s? Or as prolific as all the weight I gained, diving headlong into binge eating, stress eating, and secret cigar smoking and occasional drug use? As prolific as all the late night trips to Wawa, accumulating the stained, mouldering wrappers of sandwiches and soft pretzel salt chunks on the floor of my car?
She has a much better vision of me as a writer, preferring to remember me in a good way. Like Elvis in his gold lame suit, rather than the victim of a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich atop everyman’s throne. Denis Leary might send me a cease and desist order for stealing that joke, but he’ll probably just tweet about it, compile it and write another book for people to buy.
The only winner here is Denis Leary, or maybe the ex-girlfriend, who wins by having the good thoughts about me. Me? I always lose, but my consistency makes me smile.
Pass the snacks, I have an emotional hole to fill.
The postal clerk tagged and stickered all the separate boxes, bound for different places, then rang up her total, asking “anything we should worry about, like drugs, weapons, or body parts?” Her face never changed as she handed over her credit card, paid and walked out; it was only later he saw the red liquid leaking from the big square box.
Walk around with an undefined hatred too long, it eats at everything you are. Same with an unrequited lust. The best thing you can do is define the elements, the people, the objects of hatred, forgive them and move ahead. I still haven’t shaken a few things, and maybe i need to hate more to finally forgive.
I am not divine, and i will continue to hate, to question, and maybe, one day, to finally get beyond. In the meantime, I am what most are…. Unresolved.
I could say I’ve had a rough year, but that wouldn’t really be true. More like an unstable year, but it’s helped clarify a few things. But as I close in on my 35th birthday, I get a head cold. In the heat of July.
Sympathy cards can be sent to email@example.com.
I loved that Schleprock song when I first heard it years ago. It was poking tongue in cheek fun (or maybe it wasn’t so much fun?) at the need for people who can’t do their own thinking to be corralled, led, and inspired by something like a 3 minute song, a groovy commercial or continuously recycled messages promising Bigger Better Faster More. That song did exactly what anthems are supposed to do: it made me pump my fist in the air, sing along, and even dance, being led by a melody and crunchy, repeating chords and grooves, even as I knew I was being manipulated.
Years ago, I’d heard about Ayn Rand, and her The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged being landmark novels that outline something called the objectivist philosophy. I’m not going to outline that here, but after years of circling around her work, I finally read one of her shorter works today, the book known as Anthem.
I’ve read post-apocalyptic works before, and I’ve read works where a person breaks from the crowd and goes against the collective, only to succeed in carving out a life for himself or herself. In a way, Rand is far more succinct and plain about things like George Orwell wrote about in 1984, namely the idea of “thoughtcrime”. The narrator lets us know that to have thoughts of singularity is criminal, and that there is a word that, learned and uttered, leads to a death sentence. And yes… that word is the singular pronoun, “I”.
Now, being a person leaning liberal for most things, I had to avoid seething at what I perceived to be this reductio ad absurdum of a conservative notion that passing laws to help govern and regulate society would create a world where independent thought was criminal. Of course, even the idea that, all around the world at the same time, there were simultaneous civil wars in which massive dumb majorities fought against smaller, superior intelligences, wiping them out, and then deciding a way forward that rejected technological advances and the sum of human knowledge to that point… well that’s just stupid. But then, maybe Rand was only operating within constraints when she wrote ANTHEM.
I will say this, though, that the idea that independent thought being ground out entirely is horrifying. Even in places ruled by the “evils” of “socialism”, which seems to be the thing that most vocal conservatives fear the most, independent thought continues. Trying to quash it, corral it, and drown it out can only last so long; even that massive beast of Marxist Leninist Socialism, the USSR, only lasted about 70 years. And really, that’s the message Rand sends through ANTHEM.
The individual can’t be buried forever. Amen… and for now, the late Ayn Rand, I can say that I’m (at least partially) agreeing with you.
Weird dream department, Chicago by way of Bristol version.
Found myself on a run-down and abandoned amusement pier with a girl named Michelle from the education masters program I abandoned. I asked her why we were there, and she said she had to show me something, and that it was really good to see me, after so much time. I agreed, and then, as we walked among the rubble, I wondered aloud why everything was backlit and I couldn’t make out much. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even sure it was Michelle, but then, nobody looks the same, backlit with orange arc-sodium lights.
In the shadow of a derelict ferris wheel (was this a post-explosion Navy Pier we were on?), Michelle called to me to come over to where she was standing, but to watch out. I put my foot on a pile of broken concrete and twisted rebar, and up flew a camp of bats. Most of them flew over to harrass Michelle, but one seemed particularly enamored of me, and flew up under my shirt. I freaked out so hard that—-
—-I woke myself up, still fumbling with the shirt I was wearing, and had to rip the shirt off my head, just to make sure there was no small brown bat invading my personal, undershirt space. There wasn’t, and though I thought it would be a good time to go back to bed, I stayed awake and stared at the ceiling.
Was this because Michelle and all my other Chicago Dawgs just ended their year of servitude to the program we were all in together? Was the disappearing bat the program, or the fear I had in going into/leaving the program? Why was it Michelle and not one of the people I was closer with?
All I got are questions, and a residual fear of bats. Mr Lydon may ride again, just the same.
Looking for a job right now sucks, but that’s not what I’m really thinking about. I’m in a scripted show right now, the celebrated play about teaching evolution, Inherit the Wind, and I’ve had a great time. No doubt, whatsoever, that my background in improvisational theater has helped me create the two characters I play in this show. When I’ve had a couple of the principal actors mention to me that they like the work I’m doing, it feels really good. Still, my mind wanders back to improv, or more to the point, it wanders to the idea that I’m not doing improv anymore. And I think I’ve finally determined…
In fact, the last improvisation show I went to was in Chicago sometime around September. Though the performers were top notch, and one or two were actually my friends, I found I was forcing myself to laugh. So I drank more than I had intended, stayed for the second show, and the same thing happened: forcing myself to laugh and hoping that I would find a genuine laugh in there somehow. I didn’t, and after a final drink around 1 am, I tottered to the Brown Line L train at Belmont, and sank into a seat so I could change trains down in the Loop, in Chicago’s downtown. After changing to the orange line, taking it near the apartment I lived in then, and eating an over-large portion of White Castle burgers, I staggered the mile or two home. I must have been pretty pathetic, because a guy, drunker than me and swerving on his mountain bike, looped back around to make sure I was okay. I told him I was, but thanks for asking.
And that was it, I was done with improv. I was even in an improv class at that point, but I was about to move back to Philadelphia, and I didn’t go back for the last class/show. To be fair, it didn’t fit into my travel/moving itinerary, but it wasn’t a big loss to me that I couldn’t attend. The people in the class were/are incredibly talented, and it probably would have been/was a great show, but I wasn’t there to say one way or the other.
And that’s when it hit me: improv has become baseball in my life.
I played baseball for 5 years, from age 5 to age 10. Every year, I’d join, and by three weeks in, I’d complain that I hated it, but my mom wouldn’t let me quit, because I’d bugged all winter to play in the Spring. 5 years we went through that, until age 10, when I was on the worst team in the little league and caught a baseball in the face during a game, which led me to quit the team, and baseball, summarily. The reason I equate the two now, though I never got hit in the face with terrible bits or rubber chickens, is that I got into the same rut with improv, about 3 years in. I started hating it in cycles, and wanting to quit, but never doing it because the laughter would come and waft me forward. Truth was, though, I wasn’t experiencing the joy even in the good moments.
My move to Chicago helped me gain perspective on it, and moreover, that I was lacking joy in a lot of things in my life. Maybe it’s the depression I don’t get treated for, maybe it’s being almost 35 and having not figured out what I want to do with my life. What I do know is that I can’t keep trying to make up everything, that, like a good scripted piece of theater, I need a plan, and I need to sit down and do that work for myself, for my life, and for my (eventual) greater happiness.
Right now, it’s okay that I’m miserable and at-sea with a lot of things, because there are things in my life that are bringing me joy. I just had to move 1000 miles away and come back to find them.
The more I am connecting to the digital intangible world, the less I feel connected to the real world around me. Most of you don’t seem to have this problem, but then, how would I really know? Maybe some of you are suffering this same imbalance that I am. How do you deal with it? I’d appreciate your input on that.
I’m looking for a new job now, but until I land one, I’ve got an opportunity to make some changes by putting down my digital leash and start using the rest of me by getting outside. Any suggestions for this for this couch potato pancake will be eagerly accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will I overcome my inertia and see you on the other side of Walden?