Solo no go at the mo: A diagnostic.

September 8, 2007 at 3:54 pm (Bloom Status: Sideways)

 

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.

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I am afraid to write my solo show and then I am afraid to do it.

January 2, 2007 at 10:48 pm (Bloom Status: Sideways)

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.

shrub

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.

salieri

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.

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Meditation, quit eluding me! Me, quit eluding meditation!

August 23, 2006 at 11:44 am (Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

Oh, my god. I know. I know! I know I’m supposed to be doing it. I want to be doing it. I mean, if there’s one thing in the world to be doing, that’s it. What is it, what’s the quote, something about the world rolling at your feet….?……ah, well. Can’t find the quote. But I know that meditation is the ultimate enchanted magic chip that we all have in our pocket, and I can’t get myself to cash it in.

fear not buddha

I’m afraid of it! I’m afraid of meditation! Hello, up there, Buddha in the Fear Not position. So, listen. I’m going to grab a flashlight and march into the cave where my fear is, and I’m going to examine it. I’m going to chronicle the shit out of it. I hope to suck all the power out of it, and leave it sitting there blinking lamely in its chair.

(Yes. It’s in a cave sitting in a chair. Or it’s in a cave stalking around near a chair.)

(Hey! What if that were a past life memory?! What if I were afraid of meditation because in a past life I was doing it in a cave and some tiger came in there and stalked around and ate me?! Huh?!?! No wonder I’m afraid of it. I was eaten by a tiger. And then he didn’t sit down.)

Anyway. So, here in this life in Seattle, meditation freaks me out. I know I’m not alone in this. I sit down, and immediately I feel vulnerable. If my eyes are closed, I feel like someone’s going to sneak up behind me and stab me in the back. So I open them a little, and focus on one point like a candle or a pebble or a spot on the floor. Okay. I’m all right. Maybe I’m saying my mantra. (I got a mantra from Ammachi a few years ago. In another post I’ll talk about Ammachi and tell you all about my relationship with her.) After a while, I’ll start feeling some sensations. Like some energy around my head, or, I don’t know, just some different sensations. (Wow, Tina. What a pointillist picture you’re painting for us here. The specificity is dizzying.)

The sensations! That’s one thing. They make me jumpy. I’m afraid I’m going to start flying around the room or something. Or that I’ll disappear or….die or something. (Read this blog long enough and you will know that you are keeping company with quite the chickenshit.) Also, my grandmother was a famous clairvoyant, and I get tweaked out that the sensations are the embryonic herald of some abilities that I’m not sure if I want. I used to go to sleep at night when I was a young girl, and say out to the ether, “I don’t want to see anything….please don’t let me see anything…I would appreciate it if I could just go to sleep without seeing anything, thank you….” And I didn’t, so that worked!

Okay, so there are the immediate fears about any given meditation session: that I’m going to fly around the room and die, get stabbed in the back or see freaky, needy monster beings with my third eye.

But then there are the long term fears about meditation. These are maybe the most potent ones. Fears of actualization. Brrrrr! So, this is what my fear imagines. I’m a regular meditator, I’ve been doing it for years. I fly around the room meditating, eluding death, seeing weird monsters and not minding. And I get really powerful! I’m powerfully calm in the face of the most egregious crisis. I could be walking through a 9.7 magnitude earthquake and simultaneously getting mugged at knifepoint, and I’m like, eh. No biggie. I got this one. So then these egregious crises start getting all cocky and testing me all the time! I attract them! I go from flood to serial killer to crumbling building to hostage situation, because the universe is trying to top itself! I’m like one of those guards at Buckingham Palace that nobody can make laugh, only it’s not tourists, it’s the universe, and it’s not trying to make me laugh, it’s trying to scare the shit out of me.

Okay. So that’s one thing. That’s one problem.

And then, there’s my insides. I’m so kind! I’m so kindhearted and loving and compassionate that I can’t contain myself! I’m wide and diffuse and dense (yes, both) with overwhelming kindness. I’m a giant eye roaming the earth, welling up. I am unable to turn away from anyone’s pain or anyone’s beauty. But instead of breaking down, I just get bigger all the time to contain it. So I’m too huge! I get vertigo just opening my eyes!

So, as you can see, my fears are extremely realistic. Is that all of them? Um, let’s see. Well, there’s some vague stuff about what if I meditate so much that all the above things come true and I totally finish the curriculum of the Earth? Then I’ll have to switch schools. Switching schools is scary! I don’t even know what high school I’ll be sent to. Oh, man, I’m going to have to compliment myself on that analogy. For if this Earth is not a giant junior high, I don’t know what is.

So, I think what I need to do is maybe underestimate the power of meditation. I need to perhaps get the thought in my head that meditation will make me a touch calmer, a drop wiser, a skosh braver. (My fear is yelling already at that, TIP OF THE ICEBERG, TINA!)

Okay, JESUS, so, what, then? What then, fear?

Fear: Ha ha! Don’t meditate! Renew your subscription to Us Weekly!

That’s the question, now. How do you work with fear? What’s the way to do it? Maybe I can enlist fear to think about what could happen to me if I don’t meditate. Maybe I can make a freaky picture there. Give fear something new to avoid.

Maybe if I don’t meditate, I will live more and more in a world where George W. Bush is the president, and I will become more and more the sort of person who would vote for him. Maybe if I made the commitment to not meditating, my world would grow increasingly plastic and violent and deadened and meaningless. Maybe my eyes would get dim and I would start befriending people with dim eyes and bad senses of humor and vicious mean streaks. Maybe I’d get lost in a stinky, jingling, polluted video game maze where everyone’s eyes are on the opposite of the prize.

All righty. There’s that.

And then there’s the best way to attract myself to something, which is to disguise anything as a spa visit. I love nothing more than a spa. If I can convince myself that meditation is more of a spa treatment than slow-acting spiritual TNT, I might be able to get into that. Not that I’m opposed to spiritual TNT. In theory, I love the concept. But I’m working with a big old chickenshit, here, so I need to get realistic and sneaky. I’m like a giant child whose vegetables need to be hidden in a large pile of macaroni and cheese or cut into nonthreatening shapes like bunnies and daffodils. If I can successfully equate meditation with hot stone massage, I might be golden.

baby meditating

Well, at least I’m thinking about it. At least I’m talking about it. I’ll let you know if I ever actually do it.

Today: Wrote about meditation, examined fears.

Ergo, bloom status: Sidewaysupwards. Sidewupwards. Diagonal.

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Additional greatness features

August 22, 2006 at 12:37 am (Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

11.  Foreign languages!  Oh, how I speak them.  I speak, in my dream of greatness: French, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, German and Russian.  Japanese, in my dream of greatness, is the language that I talk about learning one day.  For, dude, one cannot speak them all.

jeanne moreau     sophia loren

akira kurosawa's dreams

12.  I suppose I better learn how to ride a bike.  Naah.  That’s nowhere in my dream.  But swimming!  And running!  (I know how to run already.)  I have actual dream-dreams, like nighttime dreams, wherein I’m either an ultra-buoyant, swift, effortless motherfucker of a swimmer or I am a crazy-light-on-my-feet nearly-flying cheetah runner.  Whooooooosh, splaaaaaaash, whoooooooooooomp, whooooooooooomp.  Yes, so those are good for my dream of greatness.  Also, yoga.  Ba-doing!  I’m like a rooted bendy yoga arrow.

13.  Always a great haircut in my dream of greatness.

14.  My teeth are whiter, and I don’t have this one side of my front teeth that sort of aims outward.  I call them my friendly country horse teeth.  Nobody can see this problem but me, but it’s a hillbilly feeling that is totally gone in my dream of greatness.

15. I am a firm, calm demander of justice in my dream, in situations ranging from trivial to grave.  I am like H & R Block, in that when I speak, people listen.

16. I’m psychic in my dream of greatness, but it never scares me.  Meditation never scares me either.  My psychic information comes gently, like pouring watermelon juice out of a pitcher into a small nice glass.  The beginning of a meditation session feels like a visit to a purple-walled spa, and the middle is like riding a glass elevator up to the top floor of the Mall of the Gods, which is this blinding white sparkly light place that’s not blinding at all, wherein I can talk to Ganesha or Jesus or Buddha or the Divine Mother or Green Tara or whomever I find wandering around up there, or my higher self, or wait, I am my higher self up there, so I get to feel what that feels like.  Or it’s white but quiet, or dark purple and quiet, but a quiet that’s not frightening.  Not quiet that feels like some kind of ambushy boogieman is behind me ready to get me.  Quiet like the finest spa treatment of all, one that allows every old weird pain and constricting idea to fall out of me, fooop, and not readhere to me once I return to daily life.  Then it’s down through the purple-walled spa again for a spell, and then I’m back.

17.  I can use a sewing machine! I design clothes.  I design chic, folksy, flattering dresses that look like a cross between something French and something Scandinavian.  I just make them for myself, but then people start clamoring for them, so I make and sell a few which become these elusive, desirable items like Faberge eggs or somesuch.  Also I make modern, charming quilts, and I sell them, too.  And give a bazillion of them to people as gifts.

18.  I’m neat and tidy and organized in this INCREDIBLE PIPE DREAM* of greatness.  I don’t live in a world of weird, topply piles of books, cushions, unopened mail and used bibs.  You could pop by my house any time of day for a sudden photo shoot and I’d be like, oh, hello, come on in.  Not like now, wherein if you’re dropping by my house for five minutes to say hi, I would prefer a week’s notice.

* I like how it appears that this dream of neatness seems so much more far-fetched to me than the trip to the top floor of the Mall of the Gods, so much more far-fetched even than enlightenment.  Wow.  I must be one deeply sloppy bastard.

************

Today we took my son for his first shots.  HORRIBLE.  And the doctor looked at his eczema again, and suggested that I give up dairy and see if it helps.  So I’m suddenly sort of vegan.  Vegan except for eggs.  So, that solves my ice cream problem!  Except when I went grocery shopping after Finn’s appointment, I was like, I better buy a bunch of Soy Delicious and Tofutti Cuties.  I am constitutionally unable to visit deprivation upon myself.  It will never happen.  Deprivation, if it must be visited on me, must be visited on me by forces beyond my control.   Also, I bought myself crayons, markers and a small pad of paper, so I can start drawing my dream of greatness.  A-ha!  Ha HA!  I am bounding forward on my path like a nighttime dream cheetah!

Bloom Status: A skosh upwards, a little sideways. I only ate one Tofutti Cutie.  That can’t possibly merit a full-on downward.  Yeah, screw that.  Upwards and sideways.

green tara

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My dream of greatness

August 21, 2006 at 4:57 am (Bloom Status: Downward, Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

Everybody has a dream of greatness about themselves. Everybody has a picture of what it would look like if suddenly: WHAM! They had their shit supersonically together and had no fear and could make anything under the sun happen for themselves.

fireworks
So, this is some of my picture for myself:

1. I’m an actor, and a writer, and I’ve long wanted to do a solo show. Well, in my dream of greatness, I’m the LORD of the solo show. People see my show and they’re like, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! That woman smokes the solo show all over the stage! It’s fucking fireworks out there! Pop pop bang! She is in her sweet spot, people.

2. I also love to sing, and compose music. So in my dream of greatness, you cannot believe my CD. Nor my live show. Cap. tiv. ATING.

3. And I love to draw. The cover art on the cd in my dream of greatness? Totally drew that. Plus I have a website wherein I draw pictures of people surrounded by their dreams of greatness and they sell like hotcakes.

4. In my dream of greatness, I’m crazy limber. I’ve figured out how to move my muscles, and I like moving them, and I’m strong and lithe like some kind of dancer. I can totally wear a leotard, and people are like, yeah. That looks right. And not like, oh, the sad fat little ballerina is here. Was not your recital thirty-odd years ago, sad fat little ballerina? Can you not hang up your little toe shoes now? No. They’re like, what? Leotard? Okay, whatever. She’s clearly a dancer. It’s cool.

5. And I’m an author, in my dream of greatness. My book, whatever it is, it is so beautiful. It’s not a novel. It’s not a cookbook. It’s a…book. A great book. A very charming book. One of many very charming and profound books. And so popular. Thank you, Oprah. I know it kept you up at night. The charm would not allow you to sleep. And the profundity also had you rocking ’til the break-a-dawn. I know. I know.

6. Let’s not forget that in my dream of greatness, I found a way to get enlightened. No lie. I either suddenly took up meditating really diligently or the powers-that-be decided to just cut me a break and spring enlightenment on me. So Nirvana is totally an option for me once I kick the can. And I can pop in whenever I like before then. Hey, there, Nirvana. What’s shaking? Same old bliss? Excellent. See you in a little bit. Or something.

7. Plus I can cook!

8. In my dream of greatness, I have got so much money it’s bananas. I’m rolling in it. ROLLING IN IT. And I can do so many fun and wonderful things for myself and for the world. Travel, classes, clothes, houses. Charity up the ying yang! I’d start this dream place for kids, like a Hogwarts for children who’ve been treated poorly in their lives and don’t believe in themselves. They’d come for a week or a month and have great classes and counseling and crazy dream-come-true fun, and the place would be decorated like a radiant, colorful, magic castle. And all these great, loving adults would work there and instill as much self-worth in the little bunnies as could be stuffed into them during their stay.

9. In my dream of greatness, I’m the mom of all time to my little son – who’s real, he’s here. He’s no pipe dream. He’s a wee actual angel person who came out of me four months ago today. In my dream of greatness, I’ve helped my boy feel so loved, so supported, so himself in the world. So ready for this place.

10. And in my dream of greatness, my husband (who is also really here in real time) and I get to live to be 100 years old, and we die at the same moment, laughing our way into sleep. Is that my dream of greatness? No. It’s the dream of greatness I have for the universe, that it is so kind and benevolent and miracle-bestowing that it would make this happen for us. You can do it, universe. I know you have it in you. I’m behind you all the way.

***********

So, there you go. All of that, that’s what I’m looking for. Now, to the job of this blog. What did I do today to get me closer to all of that?

I had a meeting with the theater company of which I’m a member, and we talked about my solo show. I’m doing one. I found the balls, somewhere. So, that’s totally something.

And I did this blog entry, trumpeting my dreams out into the world. That is also absolutely not nothing.

And I woke up today with the feeling that I could probably stop eating ice cream for a while and still be happy. So I made a plan to do that. But I had to eat a bowl of ice cream to help get the ice cream out of the house. So, uh, yeah. Also, I imagined myself walking on a treadmill. But even in my imagination, I was like, eh. Feh. Forget it. So I got off.

ice cream

So, bloom status: Upward, sideways, downward.

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