I’m switching my blog to a different URL so those who don’t necessarily want to know what’s going on in my head won’t feel tempted to read. If you’d like the new URL, feel free to message me. The first new post is already up.
Bea Arthur told a story once of when she was in a Broadway production of Anne Frank. Pia Zadora gave such a miserable performance as the title character, that at the end of the play when the Nazis storm the house, audience members began shouting, “She’s in the attic!”
It’s these unfriendly, non-talkative days that get me overanalyzing. The sotto voices and the one word answers. The change in attitude between one person and then another. These days bothered me nine months ago, too. What is being hidden? I’m bad with the unknown, especially now that I know what the unknown has been lately. Ow at least the known part of the unknown. I don’t approach because I can’t keep making first contact. That’s been a little better lately. not perfect, but a step.
Silence keeps me in my head. Thank god for this blog.
And then a message pops up. Little gifts remind you how nice an effort feels.
A few nights ago my actions were compared to that of an old ex, and the comparison feels…broad, so I want to take this opportunity to work it out.
The relationship with the old ex ended for a number of reasons. Chiefly, I became too powerful. I was loved so much that the desire to please me took precedent over what was actually wanted or thought. Dependency developed, which isn’t bad — we get into relationships because we don’t want to be an island anymore — but the dependency created a fear of loss, which led to a smothering of desire. And then I lost my own desire. So it was time for something else.
The night before my latest breakup, I checked in on my soon-to-be ex. “How are you doing?” “What are you working on?” That sort of thing. Checking in had become a touchstone of that relationship. Unfortunately, I irritated with too many questions, too. This checkin bothered me. “I am trying to be less outspoken. I am trying to be less blunt. I am trying to do less things to upset you.”
I didn’t like that at all. Despite my best efforts, history was repeating itself. What was I doing wrong?
And the next day an apology was demanded over excitement for someone else. Sitting on my bed now, I’m linking that moment with the evening before, and with the subsequent lies, and with the discoveries and changes of heart.
Nothing matches. Words and actions aren’t matching.
If I could have a superpower, it would be mind-reading, hands-down.
So maybe comparisons to the old ex can be blanketed under “How Not to Succeed in a Relationship.” Because, as both sides broke down, both sides found faults and comparisons.
I’m not seeking dependency. I’m not looking to be dependent, myself. What I want is an equilateral triangle. To lean perfectly into each other. I know, I know, those shapes don’t exist in nature. It’s a goddamn shame.
Power. Humility. Family. Another equilateral triangle.
Wanting to lean does not mean wanting to be leashed.
So this desire to lean – to be in a relationship, for chrissake! – was compared to the dependency of an old ex. I tragically watched this girl hide away her personality, desires, and opinions in hopes of making me happy. I agree, sacrifice and uncharted waters are necessary and even exciting in the pursuit of a successful relationship, but I don’t see how desiring excessive love compares to dependency. Smothering, perhaps. Irrational, probably.
By the way, from an outside perspective – social media, etc. – this old ex looks like she’s doing okay. A little jaded, a little unforgiving, a bit of an icy exterior, probably a little untrusting, but okay. And certainly different than four years ago. Aren’t we all.
I don’t trust people who aren’t at least a little miserable. And I don’t trust people who like themselves. And I don’t trust people who haven’t changed lately.
Jesus I’m a wreck of a person.
I was having drinks with someone last night who, like me, trained in Suzuki for actors. The training taught me discipline. While you train, you repeatedly try to create precise shapes with your body. Over and over again. Shape, change, shape, change. And as you do it, gravity defeats you, fatigue defeats you, your thoughts defeat you. It’s an impossible task. But you keep working at it, because the closer you get to achieving impossible, the closer you get to unlocking every inch of possibility that’s dormantly waiting inside of you.
This translates to acting because, unlike music and ballet, we have no standard of perfection. We know it when we see it, but the art is defined by choices rather than precision. But, as individuals, we can’t accept that. We need to introduce the concept of acceptable and unacceptable into our acting vocabulary.
On the flip side, introducing acceptable and unacceptable into anything creates anxiety. I suppose I could defend my anxiety and say that it’s what has allowed me to achieve whatever grains of sand that I have achieved so far. Restlessness has its perks.
So I’m restless because I want to achieve something. And then I want to achieve something else. And, ultimately, I want to unlock all of my possibility.
An impossible task, but a star worth grabbing for.
Wait and see. Wait and see. Wait and see. What do I do while I’m waiting? To put it in terms of an objective and tactic, where does waiting fit?
I don’t know how to wait, and it ruins things.
I’m wildly undersexed lately.
I always talk about gardening at work. It always goes back to Eden. We’re looking for Eden. It’s why explorers explore. It’s why architects design steeples. We are all reaching for the moon. Because maybe Eden is up there. Or maybe it’s on a stage. Or maybe it’s inside of a woman. Or maybe it’s the ability to forget. Or maybe it’s the tiniest space between one person’s hand and other’s face. If we stop looking, then we stop living.
I did something this afternoon that I have been avoiding for weeks. But this afternoon it happened.
I talked to my mother about everything.
God dammit I didn’t want to.
Because I’m sensitive about Mom’s thoughts. My ex is sensitive about Mom’s thoughts.
But she wants to help me with the move so I felt like I owed her a reason as to why it’s happening in the first place. Or maybe it won’t happen, but I’ll save that for another article. Plus, a part of me needed to work through some things aloud.
She defended everything I’ve done. She even defended me when I was telling her how wrong I was. She gave opinions that I didn’t want to hear, and she ultimately told me that I deserve better.
I hated it. I hated every moment of it. I don’t like worlds colliding like that.
"Mom, I called her selfish multiple times. I made her miserable."
"You didn’t do anything wrong. You need someone who treats you like you’re wonderful, because even if I wasn’t your mother, I would think you were wonderful."
Does every mother use that “Even if I wasn’t your mother” line?
I hate this.
It was cousin Alex’s 14th birthday party on Sunday. The whole family was there except me. In an attempt to not talk about Aunt Denise’s cancer, Michael took it upon himself to bring up the breakup and all of the half-truths he had heard about it.
Maybe that’s why I hate it. Because no one has any idea.
Alex joked, “Just when I get used to one girl, Brian goes and screws it up.”
I avoided specifics with my mother. I referenced a couple of bad afternoons. I recalled the day of the breakup — McDonald’s breakfast and flowers and quitting smoking and demanding apologies and leaving and nine hours at Dunkin Donuts and walking through the rain and getting lost in the Bronx and getting drunk with old men. I alluded to what’s been happening since.
"If she keeps lying to people that are close to her, so that she can keep up appearances, or so that she can do what she wants, or because it’s easier, then no, Brian, you deserve better."
Stop mom stop mom STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP.
I don’t want this.
"She’s struggling, Ma. She’s doing what she needs to do to love herself and be happy. I accept it."
"Then you need to do the same. Email my coworker’s daughter in DC who you met. My friend Amy says she’s gorgeous."
Jesus Christ I didn’t want to have this conversation one bit one bit at all.
So then I asked Mom a question that I wanted to ask.
"Why do we keep trusting people, Mom?"
"Because if we stop, then we will always be alone."
"Do I work towards something?"
"No, stop working. Wait and see."
So I lay here in pieces again. I didn’t want that conversation. I want to work towards trust. I want to trust again. But instead I had a thirty minute train ride where I wrote my way through all of my struggles right now.
"What do you want me to be in your life?"
"Whatever you’re willing to be to me."
"What do you want us to be?"
"I just don’t want us to hate each other."
The words and actions aren’t matching.
Are things being said because they’re the truest of truths, are are things being said to keep me from feeling hate?
If it’s the latter, then that’s not fair.
I don’t know which one it is.
I hate not being a safe space.
Yesterday was good, but there’s a long road ahead.
This man killed his kids. In a rage, in a moment of passion, he blacked out and killed his children. They were going to kill him in prison, he tried to kill himself in solitary, so he needs to be under constant surveillance Alone with his memories, he displaces himself from reality and lives through the events of Macbeth. This keeps him from killing himself, because he has to finish the story. The doctors begin to understand this, so they go so far as to act the play with him — the male doctor plays a small part towards the end — so that he may finish the story. At the end, the doctors visit the room and reset it. The heightened moments get calmed down with injections. The doctors know exactly what they’re doing. Their goal is to keep him alive long enough for him to snap out of his displacement.
So, while Macbeth provides the text of the show, it is not the relationships between the Scottish King and Queen or the political power struggle that anyone cares about in this production. All we care about is the well-being of the patient, who reveals his story through someone else’s words. That is to say, it is not as if Cumming played an excellent Lady Macbeth — he used Lady Macbeth to channel the sorrow of his murders. In fact, this show has almost nothing to do with Macbeth. The most moving moments come during Macduff’s discovery of his family’s murder and “Out damned spot.” But not because we care about Macduff or Lady Macbeth. We care about the patient.
No matter how much he displaces his memories, you can see his thoughts. There are always thoughts. They don’t go away. Moments play and replay and get distorted and get questioned and recycle and take over your soul. You need to escape somehow. Forget things for awhile.
He’s the same as Don, just not as good at it. Is that enough for us to like Don and hate Pete?
“Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal”
By Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952)
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
Working towards something again. Being part of something bigger. Reacting. Jesus Christ do I miss it. Messing up and feeling lost and reaching for the furthest, reddest apple on the branch. Not taking anything less. Getting lost on purpose. Sounding silly because I’m trying something. Leaning against each other because we’re all lost.
I”m at home.
I have different shades of my life. As a tour guide, I’m front and center. I tell everyone where to go and where to look. As a server, I’m a servent. It appeals to my peasant blood. I help, I assist, I suggest, I serve. The lowest of the low. It reminds me of my own humility. I fail every table, because I want $100 per person. I find peace with my own failure. I learn to love it. It’s healthy.
I’m lucky to say I’ve found all three.
We just had the most wonderful fight in rehearsal. The emotions made me fall deeply in love with everyone. Effort turns me on.