Magic & the Big Reveal

Grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon. What can be more uneventful?  After leisurely sauntering through the aisles, I guided the trolley to the shortest checkout lineup.

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The cashier is a young woman. She is wearing pastel Easter bunny ears in commemoration of the upcoming holiday season.

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After a pedestrian exchange of pleasantries, she casually, yet conspiratorially reveals her evening plans in a manner of two gals chatting over cocktails. She’s seeing a man that she’s been “talking to…a lot.” Her mouth wraps around the words.

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“Have you met him before?” I ask, leaning in slightly.

“Yes, but this is the first time we’re going to really hang out. We have so much in common; there’s so much to talk about,” she sighs.  

That seizes my heartstring a little bit. That twitterpated-kind-of-feeling is simply magical.  And really, it’s the only thing in life that matters. That friendship connection. That spiritual recognition. When that you meet someone, and you know that you know. Or you know that you want to know them…you know?   It’s like finding other people that seem to share a slim fraction of some ancient soul.

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It’s also exactly like when Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly discover their commonalities after a brief feud in “Stepbrothers”.

“Did we just become best friends?”

“Yup!”

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The cashier was enthusiastic but cautious. Clearly, she’s been burned before.  “There are guys on ‘POF,’ that just message: “sex?” When it clearly says, ‘no hook ups’ on my profile.”

I furrow my brow trying to figure out what “POF” means. Finally blurting out “Oh, PLENTY OF FISH?”

“Yeah,” she says with just a hint of “Duh.” Obvs, lady, catch up.

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He lives alone. She still lives with her parents. As the owner of a rather sizable dog and rodent collection, she’s finding moving out a challenge.

The date will take place at his home (naturally). The plan is to watch YouTube videos.

The containment of her excitement is like steam whistling under a pot lid.

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“I’m looking for something lasting, you know? I just want to be honest. I just want to be myself.”

This girl hungry-hearted girl is killing me.  Jamming cans and loaves of bread together in the same bag, while pouring her soul and exposing her loneliness. She speaks with absolute certainty; as if she wants to believe it, but can’t quite conceive it.  As if love is like wanting to live on the moon and wear nothing but flamingo feathers and Chanel.

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“Well, that’s a healthy attitude,” I say, reorganizing  the provisions in the bags. “Sooner or later, our true selves come out.”

What is “our true selves” anyway? Under the aesthetics and armour we simply skeletons and skin stuffed with sad stories. We’re red hot messes, emotional icebergs, tangled twisted piles of traumas and tragedies.  Still, we cling to the veneer for as long as humanly possible don’t we?

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Whenever a relationship was on the cusp of ending– when all those red flags were flapping in the wind as the storm started to pick up, I’d think about the beginning. I’d remember being coy and unfamiliar as you approached intimacy. When you didn’t know about each other’s failings. You weren’t disappointed yet; you were all hopped up on the possibility of finding everything you were looking for. Isn’t that a Feist song? Let it Die?

“The saddest part of a broken heart/Isn’t the ending so much as the start…..the tragedy starts from the very first spark?”

Yes, yes it is, and now I’m listening to the album in its entirety. Let’s go down that emotional rabbit hole, shall we?

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“The last guy I was talking to, he met me once, and then never texted again. I mean, what did I do wrong? I wish he would just tell me,” the cashier huffed.

Sheesh, what do you say to a single bunny with shaky romantic past?

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Sometimes, it’s not about doing wrong; it’s about not being a right fit. Ultimately, it’s about not having the emotional connection that equates to the matching of ancient necklaces. Or you have the matching necklace, but you get taken you in opposite directions. It doesn’t make less of the love; it’s just that you sometimes just have to go.

OMG, this is SO Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were.” How those two couldn’t make things work out is beyond me. Still, the love is unending. In the final scene, she brushes the hair off his brow, and gives him a look that says, “Get out of here you gorgeous bastard before I kiss you on directly the mouth.”

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At the root of this fear, is that all magic is just an illusion? When we reveal our “true selves”, perhaps it’s more akin to wrenching the mask off a Scooby Doo villain as opposed to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a top hat.

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Where did I go wrong? Did I reveal too much? Too soon? Too late? Not enough? Too much? In the matters of love, a sleight of hand is essential part of the act.

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We all want to love and be loved, accept and be accepted. Meanwhile we build walls around ourselves to protect and defend from unknown enemies; we tear the wall down and then…build up new walls, brick by flipping brick. We trust, break trust, fail, fall, open up, clam up and clamor back up to seek that connection.

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I pay my bill, and wish ole bunny ears the best of luck with her evening plans. I leave the store, my mind buzzing from that conversation.  Love can be quite the magic trick. Some days it’s about illusions, distractions, angles and disappearing acts. Other times, it’s such an inexplicably magnificent experience that it’s best not to question the spectacle.

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Images Courtesy of Google, and the fine people behind the internet  

Frock Fright Night

Ah, the Halloween season is upon us.  How the hell did that happen?  It’s worse than Christmas, the way it sneaks up on you.

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You can’t gift card your way out of this, and you don’t want to look like one of those last minute costume kids, wearing a shitty t-shirt and cheap mask, holding a pillow case out for candy.  No thank you.  But I really feel that a good costume should be topical.  But I also feel that nothing makes a Halloween concept shine like time and money.

heidi-klum-halloween-costume-sheeva-5 Of course, Halloween is also happening at the exact same time as moving house and a theatre festival.  There’s a party tomorrow night, but I have yet to throw something together.  There’s plenty of time to sort something out.  Although not if you ask the girl behind the counter at the Halloween store, who asked about my costume as I purchased a strip of white hair and silly string.  “Oh, this is actually for work, I coordinate children’s birthday parties.  I don’t have my costume worked out yet”. “Well, you’re running out of time” she says with the shock of a college senior without a major, or urgency of my biological clock. Snooty bitch. I’ve got all kinds of time that she knows nothing about.

hollywoodhalloweenDon’t tell anyone that I have no idea what I’m doing for Halloween. 

Where most girls go for sexy “Slutty cop, slutty doctor, slutty teacher, slutty nun”, I’m assuming that this is supposed to be a slutty bee…

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Personally, I like to hit of the humor angle.  Something fresh.  Something topical.

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There is nothing better than a rocking costume party.  In the past I’ve prided myself on clever costumes.   You take on the persona of the character, make friendship connections with costumed strangers, bond with the person who also came as Lindsay Lohan.  The most important thing is that you never want to explain who you are trying to be.

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Like these kids down below…they would have to explain themselves, because I’m not sure what look they were going for.  But they sure do look happy to be there…(some good Barbie toe as well, Tyra Banks would be proud).

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As I search the internet for ideas, I am constantly struck with brilliant costumes.  Over course, if I had Ryan Seacrest‘s stylist, I could get authentic Bonnie and Clyde costumes and a little something for the dogs.

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I am running through the lengthy list of costumes from the past.  A Pregnant Britney Spears with a blonde wig, truckers hat, and a white ‘wife beater” tank that I scrawled “Shoulda stuck with Timberlake” in felt pen…with a grocery bag and newspaper belly of course.  That night someone told me that I was the ‘hottest pregnant chick he’d ever met’, and then bought me a shot.  I was once pregnant prom queen.  Actual high school prom gown, more grocery bags and newspaper. I did a great Amy Winehouse, (the one and only time I used the gap in my teeth for hilarity).  With just a hair straightener, a neck tie and striped socks on my arms, I was Avril Lavinge at the height of her “Sk8r Boy” phase.

I once made a Nicole Richie costume out of a skeleton suit, a red bikini, large sunglasses and a white headband.  I did a Jennifer Lopez with the hugest ass (which as far costume craftiness goes, is just like being pregnant from behind.

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My friend Megan once made me a fairy costume. I was covered in glitter, and wore delicate pink fairy wings over a pink tube top. I wore pink tasseled boots and a skirt made of thin strips of pink iridescent material that barely covered the bottom of my bottom.  It was pretty provocative, a grand departure from my usual humorous schtick.

Moulin_Rouge_0123Later that night my on again-off again boyfriend, who had gone to a separate party dressed as a Sasquatch, called me up somewhere around three in the morning.  I made the cab stop off at a convenience store before I ended up at his apartment.  He called me as I headed towards the condom rack.  “Do you need anything?” I slur, my pixie wings flapping gently. “Yeah…yeah man, get me some beef jerky”.  I shuffle over towards the till in my pink Pocahantas boots, put the Trojans on the counter.  “Where’s your beef jerky?”.  The salesclerk, pointed to the display and I grabbed the one nearest and dropped it next to the contraceptive three-pack.  When the cab pulled into the parking lot, Big Foot was already there waiting for me.  I walked up to him, shivering in the cold…which was fair as only 32% of my body was covered.  I approached him unsteadily as he eyes me up like a cartoon wolf on a leg of lamb.  “I brought the beef jerky”.  (One of the greatest opening lines ever).  But he wasn’t terribly concerned about the jerky then, and crushed my wings in his wolfish embrace.  The next morning, with a throbbing head, and no sunglasses in sight, I slunk out of the apartment, feeling wildly underdressed as I waited for the cab in the still rising sunlight.

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And here I sit, all these years later, feeling perfectly spent on a good idea.

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Let’s not panic.  I’m refusing to let the Halloween store clerk get into my head.  Still that uncertainty creeps in.  I’m working full time, I’m living amongst packing boxes.  I have rehearsal. I don’t have time to slap together a hilarious, fabulous, yet topical ensemble.  Oh my god, this is a nightmare.

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I’m that kid with the pillow case. I’m that wearing all black with a witch hat kind of unprepared.  I’m ready to go through boxes to see what I can piece together, but I’m approximately three steps away from being these kids.  And frankly, I’d rather just stay home.

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Alas, I did not publish this blog the same day I wrote it, as if finding my costume was the end of the piece.  Without a costume the thesis of this article would have been “I used to have awesome ideas, and now I don’t”.  Drag.  The piece also makes reference to drunken promiscuity, and you know…what can I say? It’s a fine line.  And the Sasquatch and the fairy mauling each other in an empty parking lot is just such a good image, it would be a crime not to share it.  I abandoned the blog, walked out of the office, the walls now bare as we are days away from moving. Tick, tick, tick. I wandered through the house.  The boxes and little piles everywhere.  Who can think under such conditions? I idly flip through a back issue of People magazine. The thought strikes like lightning.  Of course.  A costume that could be funny, but still kind of pretty.  And not slutty.   Sweet relief.  We have come to a decision! Come Saturday night I went out as a right proper lady, and Prince George had a very nice time as well.

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Joy Division in the Morning

I have a medical procedure later today and because of that my husband and I have an unprecedented day off together.  Ben, in his excitement to sleep in, forgot to turn off the alarm clock, which went off at 545 am.  And just like that, we were wide awake and could not drift back into a peaceful slumber.  So why get up and go out for breakfast? As we walk through the door, Ben noted that the restaurant has WiFi, and that he’d show me how to access it on my new mobile.  I am slowly learning how to use my phone–I have been so reluctant to get with the wave of cell phone culture, where some people can do everything but make a stir-fry with their tablets–(Oh, Apple is already working on that? Okay, so there’s that to look forward to).  Ben is always encouraging my writers platform, saying the phone would allow me to Tweet anywhere–instead of “sitting in front of the laptop…again”.  Though, I feel reluctant to share everything–isn’t it enough that I tell you all about my marriage, my choice of contraceptives, my darkest fears and deepest hopes…do you need to know that exact moment I eat a sandwich?  (Oh you do want to hear that? Duly noted.)  But, as we waited for our eggs, Ben showed me features on my phone that I didn’t even know I had.  And he explained how to tap into the WiFi.  I didn’t really have any pressing internet business so it was all a bit anti-climactic, but it was good to know nonetheless.

The music playing in the restaurant was heavy, upbeat dance music.  Ben says: “This is not morning music, this is ‘I haven’t gone to bed yet’ music”.  Suddenly, the music switched to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John singing.  Don’t worry, it was from “Grease”, not from their latest (ahem) album.  The song that followed was Captain and Tennille‘s “Love Will Keep Us Together”.  Ah, delicious musical cheese.

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But this reminds me of a Joy Division fun fact (is that an oxymoron?)–I try to explain it to Ben–that someone in the band–Ian? Curtis? Heard this song–is it circa late 70’s or early 80’s? And then wrote “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in response.  Take THAT Captain & Tennille!  Everyone in Joy Division was impressed with the song, not noticing the dark lyrics, and possible cry for help.  He then committed suicide– shot himself? hung himself? While the Captain is probably out there somewhere, tickling the ivories and still wearing that stupid hat, singing the song that drove Joy Division apart.  There are so many factual holes in my fun fact, it was like telling a joke improperly, ‘oh wait–it’s important to know that the elephant was on a bicycle’.  Then I remember–I’m a modern woman, and I’ve just figured out how to access wi-fi on my phone.  And so, I Google Joy Division and get all the facts–he hung himself at the age of 23, in 1980, the night before his band was to go on it’s first North American tour.  You kind of have to feel bad for the band–bags packed and stars reached and then Ian Curtis has a tangle with the washing line, leaving his wife to find him, and causing his band to reconfigure the group into the aptly titled; “New Order”.

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Ah-technology, as Nora Ephron said “Google replaces memory”…or something to that effect.  I like to think that it builds your memory, remember that time we went out to breakfast, and I learned to use the internet and immediately looked up a dead musician?”  If I had more time before the benzos kick in, I’d do more research, but now I can do it on my phone that I just look it up right after I tweet about the delicious sandwich I just had.  But first–lets have one more picture of the Captain and his overall wearing lady.

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Songs about Wanting More

Lately I have been thinking about wanting more.  I don’t want much, I just want more.  Gosh, did I just inadvertently quote “The Little Mermaid”?  Nope, sorry, I just realized that I quoted Barbra Streisand’s ‘Everything’ from the 1976 classic, “A Star is Born” (and boy, she got more than she bargained for in that picture).  But this is not to say that The Little Mermaid isn’t filled with yearning either. Yes, she has possessions galore but what she really wanted were some lovely legs with which she could pursue a prince.  Anyhow, to go any further into depth about this fairy tale would really get this whole train of thought off the track.  But nonetheless, somewhere between Babs and a Disney cartoon is little ole me: wanting, wishing, hoping, and praying for just something along the lines of everything.

I don’t know why I feel that success is something that happens to other people.  As if for myself, I will always live well below the vaulted ceilings of greatness. Never once will I feel my fingers brush so much as a structural beam, even if I stood on my tiptoes and stretched my arms nearly out of the socket.  It’s right there, I can see it, but I cannot, will not, be able to reach it.  But more recently I use the mantra ‘Why not me?’ which has a slightly cynical flair, it suggests that success could be achieved, but it also might not.  A lot of that depends on me.  What I really want is to have a collection of personal essays bound together in a book that I didn’t fashion myself at Staples.  But there are significant, necessary steps before one could publish a book, the first being is to actually write, which can be an awfully pesky obstacle.  In truth, before the first of March, when I started this blog, I was a writer who didn’t write much.  I was a procrastinator that couldn’t even finish “The Artist’s Way”—a book designed to unlock the creative self. I couldn’t commit out of reluctance and anxiety.  For fear that opening up the cavities of memory in order to write and attack the creative block would be akin to opening up a musty trunk in the forgotten attic; there could be some amazing treasures, or there could be a dead body…it’s anyone’s guess.  Still, how is it that one can want something so badly, but be as lost as to how to achieve those goals?  Perhaps the greatest concern is that the product you figured you would one day unleash into the zeitgeist, and the talent precipitating that magnificent work was actually non-existent, just a figment of an twisted imagination…and the only thing you ever really created was that fantastic lie with which you could only convince yourself.

In amidst of this existential block, my mind continued to sing like a sewing machine, endlessly stitching sentences together. Unfortunately, the fabric of thought always fell flat if ever I tried to replicate these pieces in print.  Suddenly the clever pithy dialogue or heart wrenching reflections seemed menial, trite and clichéd.  And all I am left with are useless scraps of material—not an actual, cohesive, tangible product; just shreds of bright colours and splashy patterns—these are samples of talent, but are not actual talent.  Talent is realized through bravery and fearlessness, and action is everything.  From accomplishment comes art, and from that creation, dreams are realized, goals are achieved and summer houses are purchased.  As for myself, edging deeper into my thirties, I have not built a terribly sturdy writing platform to reach that elusive ceiling.  This leads into the even peskier second point to publishing—after writing, you have to show it to people.  I have a small circle of individuals who have read my personal essays, but otherwise, they are filed away.  I keep hoping some important looking person in a serious, tailored suit will ring my door bell and say: “Excuse me, but I’m a prolific publisher…do you by any chance have a binder of potentially decent, half written stories on hand?”  To which I would reply: “My goodness, I do! Please come in”.  A thought had crossed my mind while watching the Australian “X-Factor”.  Enough with the signing contest and talent shows, what someone needs to do is develop a competition show for writers—and contestants can read excerpts of their own work.  The panel of judges could be Margaret Atwood, Danielle Steel (wouldn’t that be interesting?) and Stephen King for a mature masculine element.  They’d get to make delightful puns like: “I’m sorry, but you’re not ‘write’ for this show”, or “You are doing the ‘write’ thing”—the show could be called “Write On” or “Write this Way”.  I don’t know, I’m just spit balling ideas here, but let’s be honest, we’re not all singers and dancers, and how else do you get noticed these days?

From years of tabloid reading and E-channel watching, I can easily deduce how one gets to the place fame and fortune: through shameless self-promotion, sheer determination or by stroke of luck.  I read about these glamorous women with beautiful husbands and children, careers, money and travel.  Oh, how I wish I could be so successful and chic, with a multitude ‘upcoming projects’ and witty anecdotes about my celebrity friends.  At this point in my career path, I feel so far behind the eight-ball that I can hardly see the pool table.  Having immediately followed my university graduation with three years of travel, I was strapped to temporary working visas which was grossly limited my career aspirations.  There have been times in a minimum-wage-work-life when I feel I am an inconsequential ghost, a waitress haunting tables, a phantom in a kitchen, a spook casting a shadow in a shop front, holding a vigil for a ‘career’, as opposed to a ‘job’.  Now, I go to work and smile, do my best and receive a paycheque, but I’m not always present, I’m sometimes dreaming as if I were a girl, playing with Barbie dolls, pretending to have control.   If my childhood fantasies actually came to fruition, I would be wildly successful by now.  The details of my fascinating life would appear crisp news print, my photo in the Who’s Who pages of glossy magazines:  my eyes just meeting the camera’s gaze, my freshly styled hair blowing in the breeze as the paparazzi captures me mid stride—an impressive shopping bag in hand, or a thick manuscript clutched to my chest, effortlessly maneuvering through the crowd in striking sky high heels—a goddess amongst mere mortals.  Always busy, always popular, always in demand—this snapshot would be a rare, unguarded moment of a graceful, talented woman of whose star has continued to rise.  The caption would read: “Alicia Ashcroft, taking a break from her hit talk show/Broadway musical/book tour…”, or “Alicia Ashcroft, fresh from her Oscar win…” or “Even without makeup, Ashcroft has a natural beauty that humbles us with her presence…”  If photographers were to snap an actual shot of me the caption would read: “Fresh from being unable to pay off her student loan, Ashcroft looks as though it may never ‘happen for her’”, or “Now over 30, Ashcroft is looking like she’s beginning to wonder what those eight years of education was for, and we are starting to wonder the same”.

Of course, I don’t believe that one should create with the sole purpose of wealth, fame, and cosmetic endorsements.  It should be to satiate the hunger to express, celebrate an avenue that has been paved, allowing all of one’s brilliants thoughts and ideas to course through, reaching the delighted masses.  If it is appreciated, or relatable to the reader, and if that leads to lecture tours, adaptation to film and television, the occasional flattering snap in a fashion mag, worldwide travel, wealth beyond imagining and a career that allows you to be at home with the adorable babies you and your gorgeous husband can’t stop making…then so be it.  I’m willing to do the work, take the risk, because this life is happening right now, and this time is slipping through my fingers, even as I write this down.

‘Curse of the Starving Class’

Last night my husband and I went to the University to see Sam Shepard‘s “Curse of the Starving Class“. Michael (though I call him Vivian–long story), my dearest theater friend, played Weston Tate, the boozy patriarch of a poor and starving family, a foul alcoholic who terrorizes those around him.  To know Vivi in real life is to know that he is capital- f-Fabulous, hilarious and deliciously bitchy.  His performance was truly transformative; so angry and aggressive and heartbreaking.  When the play ended, and the actors made their way to make their final bow, I was up on my feet, hoping Vivi would see me and know that I was there to support him.  On the way out of the lobby, I noted the large board of theatre bills, plays of seasons past.  There is a poster with my face on it, and others from where I played supporting roles or worked behind the scenes, and something about that paper-homage blew through me like a warm breeze. A thick, nostalgic lump began to grow inside my throat.  We were walking to the car and I noticed the door leading to the green room was open.  I dashed off and crept in, knocked on the door and asked the person if “Viv-er Michael was around”, he came to the door and we shared the biggest hug, and just let that embrace linger.  I felt like a proud mother, he had done so well  We agreed to meet the following week, after the show closed, and I left in search of Ben.

Once home, I couldn’t shake the sense of melancholy that had enveloped me.  In truth, it’s a difficult, unpleasant play about difficult, unpleasant people, but it wasn’t the context that bothered me.  Ben was lying in bed, reading a book and I was on the other side of the the townhouse, sobbing inconsolably.  I can hear his voice calling out to me, he can hear me catching my breath, but I don’t go to him–it’s kind of like crying during a sad film…I don’t need you to hold me because Kate and Leo can’t figure out how to share that bloody door in “Titanic”, that’s the point of drama: catharsis.  I finally come to bed, and Ben puts his book down expectantly: “What’s going on?”.  I sniffed and sniveled, wiping my nose on a crumpled tissue.  “I don’t know, I’m just feeling…homesick…I guess”.  “Homesick?”  I’m supposed to be a writer, and I can’t articulate how I’m feeling.  There is something about that space, the black box theatre, that represents a happy, creative time in my life.  It also tacked on an extra three years to my university education, but that’s a small price (who am I kidding? it cost a fortune!) to pay for those memorable and life altering experiences.

I was finishing my English degree when I had taken an Oral Interpretation course, which was essentially using different vocal qualities to bring the story to life.  Though I’ve always been a dramatic, gregarious sort, I was just not meeting the expectations of the course.  My friend Monica, a former actress who dated the course’s professor, had worked tirelessly with me through each piece.  Come presentation day, I would succeed, but never knock it out of the park.  The final reading was to be a dramatic piece, and it was worth a huge percentage of the final mark.  Monica suggested Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class”.  I was to read a conversation between Weston and Wesley, the father and son.  The day of the reading, I was standing in the hallway, muttering lines to myself–not uncommon in that part of the Old Main Building–when I was confronted by a woman.  She was involved with a man whose dark side I was very familiar with, and she wanted to know just how dark it could get.  The exchange was sudden, shocking and deeply upsetting.  I told her what I could, but then dismissed her: “I can’t talk about this right now, I have a presentation to do”.  I headed toward the classroom in a delirious state, my face red and my eyes like a dam about to break.  I spotted my professor, and between the look on my face and my inability to string a proper sentence together, he understood.  “Go home, we can do this next class”.  I left without a word, and was half-way across campus when I called Monica. We lived in the same apartment building and I wanted to see if she was home so I could pop over for some tea and sympathy.  “What? Are you fucking crazy?”, she says, her raspy voice rising on the other end of the phone.  “What do you mean? I can’t do this today”, I sputter.  “Today is the perfect day, what are you going to do? Come home and feel shitty? You are going to turn around, and go back and do this piece…take your feelings and just give it away…then you’ll come over and we’ll have a drink”.  She hung up, and I stopped dead in my tracks.  I turned around, and with great resolve, marched toward the theatre department. I opened the door of the classroom, and everyone looked over at me, with my red face and bloodshot eyes, and I nodded to my teacher.  Today is the perfect day to do this.  When my turn came, I spilled my metaphorical blood and guts, cried real tears, and delivered the final monologue as if the words belonged to me, as if I suffered Weston’s pain and disillusionment.  ‘I was a flyer’…but I’m not anymore.  It was the theatrical equivalent of an exorcism, and I have never known such relief.  My professor was so enthusiastic, he insisted that I enter the program full time, and it never occurred to me that my life had any other direction but to go onstage.

In those three years, I was involved in several plays.  My first play, Arthur Miller’s “After the Fall”, introduced me to the concept of a theatre family, (Vivi was in that show), and I grew close to Shannon, a committed actress who took the craft so seriously, she would disappear into her roles.  I loved the work, loved what I was learning, and mostly loved giving my emotions away to these characters–the rush of emotion, feeling lighter for having read those lines. Monica worked in the Box Office, and was an endless source of information and advice.  She died suddenly in the middle of my education, on a show night, and I still mourn that loss, now five years later.  After graduation, Shannon was severely injured in a car accident, and though she lived, the girl I knew is lost, and I miss her so much it hurts.  I think about all of this, lying in bed, staring into the darkness, feeling fortunate and affectionate toward that very special time in my life.  What a resurrection of emotion– to come back to this space, to sit in the audience and watch my friend disappear into his role, spilling his blood and guts on the stage.  It filled me with so much longing for that feeling of the lights, the sensation of giving in and letting go–the craving of catharsis.  I eventually drifted off to sleep, imagining the moment before you step out onto the stage, heart pounding, hands trembling, and a head full of someone else’s thoughts.