When people ask me how my solo show is going, I always hesitate and then I come out with some bullshit like:
It’s…you know…in transition, at the moment. It’s….yeah. It’s…things have sort of shifted with it, where I’m not sure if I think what I wrote before is true anymore. And so it’s sort of…there, but in the void? The humming sort of void? There, but like, not overtly active? Kind of thing.
Where what I should say is:
Oh, fuck, fuckers, I am blocked! Block-ed! I can’t go write it. I’m not writing anything at the moment. What is this show again? Why am I doing it? What the fuck was I talking about? You know what I like? Eating Doritos. I’m just on my way to buy a bag so I can’t talk to you anymore. Bye.
I had come very far, too. I had written like 90 minutes of material. And it’s true, some of the bullshit I say when people ask. It’s true that the meditation class has changed my perspective on my show a great deal, and that I feel like I’m sort of half starting from scratch. But I never mention how…what is the word?…repulsed I am by the idea of sitting down and working on it. And that is probably because I don’t enjoy even thinking about how I feel about it. I like to stay away.
So, fuck. So, at least I’m going to try to find out, here, what my problem is. What I am so afraid of, that I refuse to work on it.
Well. I’m thinking. Let’s see.
Some thoughts. Perhaps garbage. Let’s start with the queen doozy. Maybe I’m not supposed to do it? Not supposed to, like in the sky? Like, this God or the divine I’m talking about or like my dead family members, they don’t want me to?
(Have I even, on this blog, gone into what this show is, that I am theoretically making?) (I go back and check later. I write now.)
I’m afraid to hurt some deceased people’s feelings. And also some living people’s feelings. All right. This is true. Ding ding ding. This is some of it. It’s not that I’m not supposed to, by some divine decree, because come on, but that the subject matter feels delicate and I’m afraid to do it wrong.
Delicate subject matter. The relatives, the Theosophists, don’t wish to hurt them. And also, I’m talking about God, for lack of a better word. I want to get it right in the same way that when you’re visiting some church that isn’t yours, or is yours, you want to be right in the temple or space, you want to hold yourself respectfully. So, the delicate feeling is pervasive.
Also, somewhere, is: how do you make a play again? Because I’ve never made one before. I want it to be well-made. Now, I have a great director and guide. My friend Kristen Kosmas. She’s on top of that shit. She can help me there. So, this shouldn’t get in my way, this fear. But who cares if it shouldn’t because it is! I don’t want to make something that is boring or self-indulgent or irrelevant to the people.
I took a class from Mike Daisey about storytelling from your life, and he opined that you best make your show better than the average episode of Law & Order otherwise you have ripped off the people who can stay home and be well-entertained for free. So before I even go back to revisit my material, I’m like, Law & Order, okay. I’m gauging it from the inside, how good it is. The bar. Where has Law & Order set it? And then I’m trying to feel the quality of my show, and weigh it next to the quality of Law & Order. This one is this… good…and this one is this…good? Hmm. HMMM.
I like being alone on stage. I’m doing a little show that Kristen wrote right now, which is mostly just me talking. I like being with everyone face to face, without the fourth wall. I also enjoy having the floor, as it were. So, I don’t think it’s so much fear of being alone out there. If I can get my material right, I think I’ll be happy out there.
Maybe if I just can let myself write it as poorly and offensively as possible, do a This Would Get Me In Trouble draft. That might help.
Also, I am tired. There’s that son of mine. He’s a toddler. Enough said.
This is at least something. At least I looked it in the eye a minute.
Ah, you, you person who has come by. Thank you for listening. Thank you for reading.
Maybe you’ll remember something like a year ago when I wrote about how meditation eludes me. And maybe you won’t remember that, because MAYBE NO ONE IS THERE because this space has been stagnant for so long.
But many things have moved. My weight, it moved down. It has moved down 40 pounds. My muscles, they’re moving now. A trainer makes me make them move three times a week, which makes me able to keep my large, wild baby boy from throwing himself into the way of traffic or off of high things.
My show, what I wrote about before, it’s moving. It was moving fast for a while there. And now it’s moving slow while I try and catch up with myself. Long ago I was writing about a stupid trip to jail I made. And then, fortuitously, it changed to a story about spirituality: mine, from springboard to mid-air to present location.
I have a present location, because I now am the proud possessor of a nascent spiritual practice.
Look at this website. The Way of Seeing. I don’t remember how I found it. Grace and good fortune, I think. These folks offer free meditation classes. The whole thing appealed to me – I couldn’t find anything to object to, it all seemed so reasonable and humble. So I went, and have kept on going, and I’ve moved from the beginner’s class to the practitioner’s class.
In the morning, I meditate for 25 minutes: a counting meditation. Then I lie back for a few more minutes, attempting to keep a quiet mind. And then, in the ideal world I’m hoping to live in soon, I do 3-5 more small meditations a day, where the object of the meditation is what one is feeling at the moment, experienced as completely and wordlessly as possible.
The theory in this Way of Seeing is that backlogged feelings and needless thoughts create a lot of the stickiness our lives, and if you can turn a flashlight on them, their power over you diminishes and you get to experience your being in a very much more vital way. I think this makes a lot of sense. I also appreciate that there’s no dogma. It’s all just experiential.
Another aspect of this path is silence. You want to create a lot of it, as much as you can for yourself. Build it in all day long. I’m not very far along with this. But there’s an older woman in our class who seems to be very good at this, and whenever she talks I just sit there in wonderment. I find her so gentle and accurate and non-defensive and open and brave. She sits there pulsing somehow with both great feeling and deep calm. I’d like to be like her someday.
On August 19th, I think I’m going to meet the main teacher of this path. (The classes are taught by advanced students, who I find to be excellent advertisements for Ken. They’re so warm and calm and friendly, and they inspire trust.) I’m excited. I will tell you how it all goes.
Bloom Status: Very far upward, now, let’s face it. It’s cumulative. But now that I’ve recorded these changes, the needle is in neutral again. The bloom needle.
This space needed a little new blood in here. So this is a drawing I made while trying not to think. I’m trying to spend less time thinking. I will tell you why in the next post. It won’t be in a year. It might even be in like 15 minutes. I feel bloomerangy.
Hello. Not dead! Writing. Writing! Thank you for all your comments!
This is for Illustration Friday, which is….a thing where you illustrate something on Fridays. The theme this week was “Remember”. This was all I could remember.
I will return. One fine day, I will return. Soon? Not soon? No one knows.
I have my topic for my solo show. I am thrilled. It has life in it, it has a charge for me. It’s not the jail story. I’ll say more soon. Hot damn.
First of all, thank you for your kind responses about my solo show. They were each really helpful and much appreciated. I stayed up late and read out loud the jail story on The Gallivanting Monkey, and realized that I’m not starting from absolute zero. Though many segments of it need to be rewritten for stage-friendliness, there’s a lot there that’s fine as is. But then there are the large matters of Why This Story and What Kind of Show is This that lead me to What Else Do I Need To Write. Also, I need to find a director – someone rigorous and fun who’s a movement ace, since I need a movement ace, as I’m not a movement ace. I’m thinking about asking George Lewis, for all you Seattle theater types who would know who I’m talking about.
Also, hilariously, I had a psychic reading with Erin Pavlina (who’s linked on the right over there) and the subject of my show came up. The advice from the spirit world was to skew the show 75% towards material I’m very sure of and 25% towards experimentation. That sounds pretty good. Also, the spirit world suggested I do a lot of different voices, because I’m good at that. I will take that under advisement. But the best part was that Erin said that a man is going to come see the show – this is Destiny – and book it somewhere else, somewhere perhaps fancy. This man is in his 50’s, she said. He’s portly, wears a suit, has a moustache. He’s sort of an abrasive guy, maybe a chauvinist, but I’m not to let that bother me. I’m to overlook that stuff and let him do his thing – and don’t piss him off – because he’ll take me somewhere I really want to go. My word! Heidi put into words well what I was thinking, that this is definitely going to add a sort of Waiting for Guffman dynamic to the show when it’s in performance. If anyone shows up in the audience who answers at all to that description, I’m going to notice and maybe get all weird. After the reading I was like, how do I look into this? Do I google “portly moustachioed theater brokers”? “Rotund besuited chauvinist movers and shakers”? “Fat bastard theater wizards with facial hair”? In any case, this is excellent because it will provide levity before I walk out on stage. Here I come, Guffman. Tonight’s the night. That’s the worst thing that could happen. And, of course, the best thing would be if the big dapper crank were to actually show up and rocket me to the stars.
Finally, in my ongoing Weight Watching, I have lost 27 pounds. This officially escorts me out of the overweight category and deposits me on upper rim of normal healthiness. Huzzah! 13ish pounds to go to reach my goal, which is the absolute middle of the healthy range. Meanwhile, I’d like to give a shout-out to Quaker Oats Weight Control Oatmeal (with a special nod to Cinnamon flavor), Barilla Plus Pasta (whole grain, full of protein, tastes far better than it should), apples, water, Rudi’s Organic Seven Grain & Flax Bread, the Weight Watchers Flex Plan (a system which allows me to eat anything I like as long as I balance things out) and breastfeeding, which burns 500 calories a day. Eat up, buddy.
Bloom Status: Upward
I watched Inside the Actor’s Studio tonight, the interview with Matt Damon. He was great, I thought. Whenever they have somebody really good on there it lights a fire in me. And the fire it lit gave me a good look around the joint. (The joint = me.)
Here’s what I saw:
HOLY SHIT I AM TERRIFIED OF MY SOLO SHOW.
In March I’m slated to do ten minutes during an evening of solo bits. And I have a deadline to have a first reading of my script in March for a little invited audience, people in my theater company and whoever else makes the cut. So, the time is now for getting to work in earnest. There’s no way I can really get momentum started unless I address this fear thing. In fact, I think I’m going to use Bloomerang as a place to process this fearsome journey.
Ten years ago, I saw my friend Kristen Kosmas in a solo show she’d written called slip. I remember going home afterwards – and I’d never had the thought before that I’d want to do a solo show – and sobbing. I felt like Salieri. I felt like I’d seen Mozart at work and that I was Salieri and that I would never be able to do anything like she’d done. I felt hamfisted and dense and unformed and coarse and stupid. It was brutal. I remember grabbing a book off of my bookshelf in desperation and doing a book oracle for some comfort. (You open a book at random and point at the first passage your finger goes to and there’s your divine message right there.) I pulled an Osho book off the shelf and there was a passage about being your own plant, some advice to the effect of not being jealous of a rose if you’re a wisteria, just growing your own way. I remember doing my best to embrace whatever plant I was, this Not A Kristen Kosmas Rose.
Ten years later, I’m a better actor than I was, and a better writer than I was, and I don’t feel like I’m supposed to do a show that’s just like Kristen’s or Heidi’s or Sarah Rudinoff’s or Lauren Weedman’s. I know that I’ve got something I can give that’s worth giving if I can find it – maybe not on the level of these women, but something worthwhile in its own way. But can I find it? Will I be able to get past my fear enough to do it? Or will I be able to work with it? Will I be able to see clearly enough? Do I have the right skill set for this task? I don’t know.
I can’t say I’ve never done anything scarier, as I have a child now. But, yeah, wait. Yes, I can. I was afraid to give birth, and had qualms about becoming a parent, but I knew it was right. And there’s a lot on the line in becoming a parent, but nothing that it worried me to put there. This is different. So, yes. I’ve never done anything scarier.
With a solo show that you write yourself, you’ve got a recipe for all the terror possible that an actor can face. I mean, having a solo show get stomped on is about as personal as it can get. It’s you out there by yourself, your material, your presence, your artistic sense. And there’s such hubris attached to this kind of undertaking – real and perceived – that people get positively gleeful with their vitriol if it fails. I have a couple of friends in L.A. whose theater company has a show they do called Easy Targets, wherein they put on faux solo shows and have people throw tomatoes at the actors. I went out to dinner with these guys last week, and you can bet your ass I wasn’t all like, SO HEY, I’M DOING A SOLO SHOW! What’s new with me? Uh….the baby…and uh…nuthin’.
Oh, lord, people. I’m slated to do this show in the fall of this year. How I wish I didn’t feel this weird imperative to do this. And I do! I feel sure in the worst way that I’d be furious with myself on my deathbed if I chickened out of this. Son of a BITCH. No way but forward. I might crash and burn, mofos.
All right. Enough for tonight. Next time I’m going to be yammering about the process of choosing material. YACK GACK. God help me.
Bloom Status: Um, do I have to keep doing this bloom status thing? I only use it to pat myself on the back, it seems. See, normally I’d be like, look at ME all TALKING about my FEAR! How BRAVE! Bloom Status Upwards, bitches! But let’s face facts. I have got a lot of work to do here. Bloom Status is Sideways. If I quit, then it’ll be downwards. But doing this post was a lateral move if there ever was one.