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Starting a directing gig that I'm unprepared for, mostly because the script hasn't been completed yet (it's a solo show written by the performer) and I thought I'd have at least a couple days with it before I had to be smart about it. But because the sun is shining I woke up with a brilliant idea about how to approach it, especially how to approach the unknown, which I think will benefit everyone, including the sound designer and musician who will be in the room today. So yay for staying up too late and waking up with the sun.
The thing about our fears is that, generally, we've earned them honestly. If I'm afraid to put myself out there, it's because I've been crushed by people who I trusted. If I avoid conflict, it's because I spent too much time around people who can only express themselves with shouting and vitriol. If I'm afraid of sharks, it's because they can eat me. The other thing about our fears is that they hold us back. I must be vulnerable. I must stand up for what is right. I must go swimming. Life is empty without constantly breaking through these walls.
The drive from one side of Washington State to the other other is always kind of showy. Today we drove through the North Cascades into Methow Valley, through the evergreen forest, up the mountain, cool and piney scented air coming though the window, seeing snow up ahead, climbing up to it so that if we wanted we could have a snowball fight at the side of the road and then downhill, the pines turning to sage bush, the jagged rocks becoming rolling hills, and finally (just half an hour from the snow) we're in the desert and its 93 degrees.
Dear B&B owner: Conditioning shampoo is not a thing. If I'm shelling out $100 a night for country cute and awkward breakfast conversation with middle aged strangers, please consider providing one tiny bottle of shampoo in addition to one tiny bottle of conditioner. I know this makes me look silly and cheap and I probably am. But I also like to pack light and there is no shampoo containment system that does not somehow become uncontained in transit, flooding my overnight bag and all my clothes with nice smelling viscous fluid. Your consideration in this matter is much appreciated.
I thought this would be a sort of retreat, to soul search and make lists and figure out the next thing and pay attention to what I'm struggling with inside. Instead, I'm reading a trashy novel picked up at the local bookstore because the kindle decided to die this weekend of all weekends. Instead its a retreat of another sort, a pause, a few days of no pressure to perform, no expectation of doing anything except what I want to do at this exact moment, even if it's nothing. Funny that I still need this even without an official job.
Seattle always looks different to me after I've left it for a few days. Everything is familiar, but novel. This feeling seems more intense than ever this time, maybe because we were in such a small dusty town, maybe because of the heat, maybe because I've been on the road for awhile. Even when the reunion isn't entirely shiny and beautiful, it's one of the things that keeps me living here--the sense that this city can always be a little bit new to me, that I can be surprised, that all it takes is 24 hours in another place.
This weekend was the first break since I decided to leave my day job and I'm amazed at how much I needed it. This adventure of finding my bliss has been slow and my ability to let go of the fear (of starving, of being useless, of giving into sloth and depression) has been a struggle. Yet the mini vacation returned my energy and purpose to me, even more than it would have even if I was in my office at my old job. The best thing about this is that now I don't have to regret spending the money.
Today I am: Feeling like I'm moving through jello. Waiting for the sun to come out. Ignoring two perfectly reasonable tasks that need to be accomplished. Reading internet stuff that depresses me. Making bread that is rising in the kitchen. Worrying about things that don't deserve the energy. Drinking coffee that has gone cold. Wishing I had some chocolate. Thinking about the strangely busy week that will kick in when I leave the house in the next couple hours. Mourning my broken kindle, especially since I'm going to Turkey next month and will have to replace it. Petting the cat.
Last night I had a dream that I lived in a house with every cat I've ever loved. All the names I used as computer passwords before I knew better. I was the ultimate crazy cat lady, but didn't quite cross the line into animal hoarder. The house wasn't actually covered with cats; there were merely a lot of them. They were mostly well behaved. Even if permanent kittens crawled over fatter, more stoic piles of fur and claws, everyone seemed to get along pretty well. It was a good dream, the kind that makes you giggle in your sleep.
When I was a kid, I remember the cruel mockery of the back to school commercials that started just moments after the 4th of July passed, just a hair before the summer boredom started to kick in, when riding your bike and going to the swimming pool every day started to seem like old hat. Ho Hum, I guess I'll have another popsicle and then run through the sprinkler again. Life is hard. But back to school? Oh no, not an option. Look busy or some parent is going to take you shopping and make you try on real shoes.
Wow, am I grumpy today. I had a hard time convincing my body that regular sleep was enough and I had strange dreams featuring all my relatives, dead and alive, all swimming at some resort in the mountains and getting on each other's nerves. No wonder I woke up with a headache. Situation improved somewhat after coffee and crepes. I'm glad the boyfriend has a robot club meeting today because I don't think I should be around people. Or not people who I love enough to be snippy with. I'm nice to strangers unless they are awful to me first.
I spent my weekend singing in the woods dressed in blue as part of a performance personally created for an intentionally small audience. I'd only met one of the other performers before and, although I am acquainted with the recipient of the event, I didn't know it was for her until I saw her. Having recently dedicated my life to making theater, I've been thinking a lot about its purpose and I think that we hit it on the head. We should make each piece of art as though it is an individual gift to each member of our audience.
I'm officing outdoors today, setting up shop with my laptop on the patio outide my apartment in the beautiful, comfortable outside space that I created for myself last year. I'm in the shade with the sun shining over the valley and noisy birds are chattering above my head. Technically, this is shared space with the whole building, but no one else ever uses it because it's outside my door and everyone else has their own balcony or deck. So mine my default, which is better because it doesn't affect my rent. This is the best of summer and of work.
Do you ever wish that you could just magically fix someone? I can't...ok won't...give the help that he thinks he needs, and the help that I can offer will only be perceived as an attack. Knowing how others failed him and knowing how he brought this on himself...I don't even know what I'd wish for if I did have the magic. Do I wish him into being something other than himself? I'm failing too. There is nothing that I can do that will be the right thing. There is nothing that I can do. There is nothing.
I was walking down the street still brooding about the shit I wrote about yesterday, having an imaginary conversation in which I lay down the truth Judge Judy style when a woman stopped me to ask for directions. I would like to apologize to this woman for the intensity with which I gave them and assure her that I was not annoyed with her and I'm not an angry sociopath. I just had a bunch of crap in my head and it took me awhile to switch gears. Please enjoy your bargain shopping at Ross and have a nice day.
Our heat wave hit today and knowing that it's unlikely to last more than a couple days, I'm ready to kind of enjoy it. I'm ready for the heavy air and wearing clothes that touch my body as little as possible. I'm ready for cool showers before I go to bed and jumping into a cold lake. I'm ready for ice cream for dinner and peaches for lunch. I'm ready for sweaty unbeautifulness. I'm readying for late nights and early mornings on my patio trying to catch any kind of breeze that the world has to offer. Bring it on.
An astrologer friend gave me an impromptu reading a couple weeks ago that resonated with me in a way that other simple truths have lately. Among other things, he said today would be a good day for reflection, but as it turns out I've barely had time for such a thing. After rehearsal and errands and getting myself fed and before meeting B for his official birthday dinner, I took a nap and that was it. It was over. That was all the day allowed. And now I'm wondering if I've missed some window of opportunity and now I'm sunk.
I've been spending a little too much money in the last couple weeks. Nothing big, just saying yes to little treats more than I should. And almost everything on my to do list right now involves some cash AND I'm really tempted by a couple of things that I really don't need. I had a requisite dumb credit mess when I was a young adult, but since then I've always lived well within my means. And I'm not really into "stuff." But there is some part of me reacting to having limits that I didn't have before I left work.
A perfect summer moment: the night was cool and we watched the sunset through filtered clouds. Sunlight reflected in a distant pool on the sound, which lit up in fiery orange, and the rays of the sun reached down in odd angles to illuminate the purple mountains behind. As the clouds blew and the sun lowered, the colors shifted so that the landscape was new with every passing moment. Then a short trail walk though the woods and I lied on the grass, bundled in a blanket, until it got dark and what I think was an owl flew overhead.
I have a trick, a practice really, of finding a moment when I can reach out to the universe, usually in a public place like a coffee shop or today the beach, and feel myself as the speck that I am completely in tune with the great world outside. Something inside me--I call it "the spark"--responds and I know myself and I know the world and I am drinking coffee and it is good.
You are here.
But today it just makes me feel sad and lonely. I hope that it's all me and the universe is ok.
Sometimes it's the simplest truths that take the longest to sink in. I feel a sea change coming, a sense of "yes" to something that I've held at arm's length for awhile, mostly because I'm afraid of failure, afraid of exposing myself if I'm going to be honest about it. There was a time in my life that I considered myself brave, but now all I can see are the places where I am cowardly and scared. Our fears exist to keep us safe and some of them are good to hold onto. Shark invested waters, yes. Living free, no.
Many years ago I did a directing internship at a summer festival. My official duties were few: assisting one mainstage show, coaching apprentices, etc., and most of my time was supposed to go into my own intern project, for which I was accountable to no one except myself. I have never in my life, before or since, been able to make such good use of unstructured time. I was driven. I got up, I went to the library to do my research or use the computer lab (many years ago, before cheap laptops), I attended rehearsals, and it was good.
I set an arbitrary goal and spewed it loudly on facebook so that I'll have to answer to someone if I don't stick to it: I will finish the draft of the play I'm working on before I leave for Istanbul next month. I realized that part of the problem here is that nothing I'm doing is very concrete...some fuzziness in my life right now is needed and necessary, but I also need to have something real that I am accountable to myself for getting done. It's a simple concept that I somehow missed, like most of life's lessons.
A really good day. A little art. A little chocolate. A long talk with a friend. A little bit of getting things done. A generous response to an awkward moment. A thoughtful surprise in the mail. I know happiness today, just the simplicity of "this is my life and it is good." The air seems clearer. Something inside is loosening and making strides. I'm looking at those things that I don't like about myself but choosing to love myself anyway. Doubt, fine. Fear, ok. It's all part of the game. All part of the struggle. All part of the world.
My patience is tested. Hell, my patience is failing the test. I have swallowed the words "I told you so" about seven thousand times. I'm trying not to be swallowed by the low level annoyances cranking up into ever higher levels as the day goes on. In all fairness, I am tired. It has been a long day of getting a lot of stuff done and the fun and productive to annoying and circular ratio is probably just fine, but annoyance is what I'm left with. But I did find good shoes and bras, so I win. Victory is mine.
My brain is like jello today. I'm forgetting things. Living in a blank space. There are errands that suddenly seemed unimportant. Looking around and barely recognizing what I see. My dreams were odd and disturbing and mostly about losing control, things being misplaced, my limbs being moved my some force other than the impulse from my brain sending messages to my nerves, being overrun, being overcome. So a little spacey is ok, I guess. Better. Preferable. Almost like I'm recovering from living something that I only dreamed. Space. Books and movies. Nothing much. Tomorrow demands more focus, better to be.
I'm feeling less like a roller coaster than a see-saw. It's still high and low, but not too high and not too low, in a predictable pattern with a predictable bump when you reach the high and a predictable thud when you reach the low. It can be regulated with proper use of your leg muscles or thrown into chaos if the person on the other side wants to cause trouble. But it's still more or less just up (bump)...down (thud)...up (bump)...down (thud). A little tedious, but still slightly jarring. There is no adrenaline, no terror.
One of the oddest unexpected consequences of leaving my job is that my fingernails have grown long for the first time in my adult life. I'm a little prone to picking and, yes, nailbiting, especially when I'm stressed or anxious. And with that particular stressor gone, my nails have grown without any particular effort on my part (except for the right index finger which I must be using for every fingernail punishing activity that life demands). There have been fun polish experiments, but yesterday I finally had to cut them. I'm not sure that I'm cut out for glamorous fingers.
Today I met a woman who was a version of the future I fear for myself. She was my mother's age, lonely, and so in need of someone to talk to that she spoke to me for almost an hour. She was full of things that she wanted from life and unable to overcome herself to pursue any one of them. Full of regrets, fear, and anxiety. Strangely, this encounter calmed my own fears. I have no idea what will happen to me in the next 20 years, but I know that I at least have the strength to try.
I was a little grumpy about all the running around I had to do today, but honestly it turned out to be the best sort of running around. I had a fun rehearsal with all of our technology coming together, a not entirely useless writing session, and a fun SLAC potluck and planning meeting. Everything was art making, all day and the sun kept shining. Sure there was schlepping all over the place, but all for a good cause. There are gifts in this life that I'm living, some that I longed for and others that I couldn't have anticipated.
I went back and read some of the uncompleted batches that I started between the last one I finished and now. There are some gems in there, some things that I wish had seen the light of the internet...and yet the ephemeral bit of it is somehow satisfying too. I used my words to create a few moments of clarity and humor and grace, if only for myself. The attempt is all. I leave the country next month and life is going to get a little nuttier when I return, but I miss this daily discipline of expressive restraint.
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