I started my new job this week. And I’m not feeling completely exhausted. Somewhere in my head, something doesn’t compute. Wait. I’m not completely, utterly exhausted, both mentally and physically? I didn’t have to commute down Lakeshore and hope not to fall asleep at the wheel? I didn’t have to forgoe things like lunch and peeing, just for lack of time? I wasn’t yelled at by… anyone? What is going on? Am I seriously getting paid for this?
I also received a bouquet of beautiful roses at work today. They are the kind of roses that hit the special “girly freakout” switch in me and take me back to being in high school, receiving one of those carnations during the annual Valentine’s Day carnation-sending fundraiser, where you blush down to your ankles and feverishly rip open the card. “For meeeee? Reallllly?” Thank you to Jeff for that moment of girlish glee.
Who was that girl?
I am feeling farther and farther away from this girl: “I woke up yesterday unable to envision finishing the day. I could not picture myself in front of a classroom, ostensibly in charge, guiding the class forward. I could much more accurately picture…. sleeping.” — 4/5/06
I am glad that I don’t literally haul myself through every day, hour by hour, anymore. I am still, however, in denial that I will not be going back to teaching.
Last night was the last Diary Project show of our 8-week Playground run. We had a beautiful time, and the show was just fun. I enjoyed watching the whole damn thing, if I do say so myself. Jade and Caitlin were there, and gave me big hugs and said I looked radiant. I am sure I did, compared to how I looked on Tuesday nights at grad school. Patrick was there too, and it was good to have supportive faces in the audience. We are done with our first run, and we’ve only gotten better and better. I’m proud of us.
Things have happened
Jeff told me recently that “sometimes good things happen.” A very simple statement, but one which I fail to fully comprehend on a gut level. I am not going to be teaching next year. Instead, I’m going to work for one of my favorite theater companies. This is a job that does not involve a traditional corporate office, and it does not involve emotional torture. Therefore: Does this job actually exist? I’m sure it will have its own pitfalls and quirks, but for now, I am quitting TFA, shelving my lesson plans and curriculum books, and waiting to see what’s behind Door #3.
Is this thing on?
Lately things have stopped working. Not “life” things. Actual things. Little tiny object things. Like the flimsy plastic top to my take-out container of pad thai. Can’t get it back on. Like the cork in the bottle of three-buck Chuck. Couldn’t get it off. Like the top to my bottle of contact solution. Couldn’t get it off; left toothmarks on it. Like the lightbulb in Eliina’s room. After getting myself up on the top step of a high ladder and unscrewing/rescrewing a heavy glass light fixture to change them, I realized I had accidentally replaced them with two burnt-out bulbs.
“Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”
I am completely amazed that it’s August 10th. I feel like I got conked on the head somewhere back in mid-July and am still expecting it to be, well, July. My paychecks will soon cease to arrive, and… and… what? The Diary Project needs a new coach, our run at the Playground theater is ending, Becca and I need to finish our show so we can perform it the first week in September… Who decided it was time for transitions?
Starting the show
The D-Proj and I have been discussing how best to open our show… given the nature of things lately, this post by an improvisor might be the most honest intro for us:
“Show of hands, ladies and gents… Who’s really unhappy to be here tonight? Who felt like it took a massive effort to brush your hair and teeth, put on clean clothes, and finally make it out the door and into the car to come here? Who thinks they might still have visible eye gunk? [Loud cheers]
“Well, cats and dogs, have we got a show for you! Because what you will see tonight, besides being made up entirely on the spot (god help us) is also a product of four gents and lady who all feel the same as you! And what is worse, most of them used excessive bingeing on alcohol, food, or drugs to help them numb that pain so that they can ‘entertain’ you!
“That’s right folks: we won’t really commit to it, and you won’t really like it, but we’ll all have a gay old time because for 2 hours we will all channel our social anxiety disorder, depression, and rage into the magic of improvised theater.
And with that… can I get a suggestion of anything at all?”
I suppose this is not entirely true — we did commit to it. But we sometimes get tripped up by our desire to be hilarious, and by our respective disorders, and it unravels a bit around the edges.
Regardless, I am completely head-over-heels for my castmates. I know. Gag you with a spoon. But it’s true.
Suck on the loose
Lately, I’ve felt chased by a giant improv cloud of suck. For some reason, I’ve also been thinking a lot about my high school chorus. Our choral director was probably the most skilled teacher I’ve ever had. (Debate amongst yourselves, Clarence High grads! But for sheer teaching ability, I have to vote Vehar.) And singing was not my forte. No, I sucked at singing. But I was so damn determined to get better that I actually took voice lessons over the summer in hopes of improving. And this is what I remember from that time: You have to hit it hard. You need a lot of air in your diaphragm; you need a lot of power for the high notes. You will botch them if you don’t go in with a ridiculous ton of energy. The same, I think, holds true of improv. You put in less “hit it” energy because you’re afraid of sucking, and you will, automatically, suck.
I remember sitting in the old chorale room for voice labs, absolutely dreading my turn to sing in front of everyone, holding my little Xeroxed notes and trembling. Vehar would come over and literally straighten my back and chin into alignment, then run to the old upright piano and plink the same notes over and over again until I got it mostly right.
A kick to my Italian head
Jeff and I went to Bucca di Beppo last night. Somehow we’ve begun to take a perverse delight in chain restaurants. For example, Chili’s. I think our delight stems from some combination of irony and nostalgia. Plus a huge desire for menu items named things like “Quesadilla Explosion.” Anyways, at Bucca (my own affectionate nickname for it) I thought about two things.
1) I remembered the only other time I’d been there, with the staff of the Daily Northwestern, when I was too young and intimidated to say more than three words.
2) The bajillions of photos on the walls most prominently feature, as Jeff put it, “pets, children, boobs and wang.”
In other Bucca news, Jeff was complimented twice by separate waiters on his Saddle Creek Records t-shirt, and we ordered so much food that I will be eating Macaroni Rosa for the next five days.
An additional Italian update: Becca and I ventured to the Bridgeport neighborhood to pick up a package at DHL, and ended up at 31st & Halsted for some awesome Italian ice. Becca got the watermelon flavor, and it had real pieces of watermelon (and a couple of seeds) actually in it. My lemon ice was dreamy.
… been missing Eliina and Henry, been biking in 100-degree sauna weather, been waking up for a late breakfast and then falling back asleep, been working hard at things that should be easy, been looking for a new job, been writing the play with Becca, been collaborating with geniuses, been watching a scary centipede bug skitter across the wall, been paying way-overdue bills and watching the bank account drain, been listening to friends get more and more addled by life, been lounging and lunching like a lady of leisure, been helping Jeff move by drinking Gatorade and watching the truck, been wondering whether I am qualified for anything I actually want to do, been thinking that the world is a vampire.