Meditation and Medication

July 27, 2006 at 3:46 pm (Personal)

I dreamed last night that I was driving on a road in the wilderness, and that dozens of animals were standing, stone-still at the sides of the road, some of them frozen mid-stride while crossing it. I drove to avoid them, concerned that I would kill one of them if I wasn’t careful, but for some reason I didn’t slow down… couldn’t slow down… and the dance of life and death went on until I woke up.

My dreams are filled with more life — and death — than my waking life. The surrealists would apply a fair amount of meaning to that.

With such dreams clattering around in my head, what was left to do but drive out to Giant City state park and absorb the primal rhythm first-hand. I drove out with a backpack full of paper and a small lunch. I parked near the trail up to the bluffs, feeling the call and heeding it, for once.

I climbed my way up to the bluffs and sat on a rock overlooking the woods. It was beautiful… green all around me, firmly planted on a million year old piece of granite, I closed my eyes and let myself drift.

I thought about all the recent changes in my life… my depression and the cycle that feeds it, that makes me someone I don’t want to be… the steps I am taking — feverishly — to fix that part of me and become a happy, healthy human being.

I thought about the things I’ve let go of recently… finally. Allowing baggage to be lifted away. I saw my ex when I was back home, and when I told her to take care of herself, I truly meant it. I saw her for the first time not as evil incarnate, but as a human being who made a bad decision. The difference between those two things is staggering.

I mulled over the trip some more… when I was afforded the opportunity to learn that I’ve had positive effects on people… that people look up to me in some way. I had honestly never realized this before… that I could affect anyone. From inside, it appears I’m nothing but a mess… from the outside, I must look different. I wish I could see what you see…

I pondered my goals, my hopes, my dreams, the journey I started ten years ago and am coming to the peak of… life… but most of all…

I thought about how I wanted someone to share this moment with.

Which made me ask myself, “What do I really want?”

I asked the trees, the butterflies flitting around my head like tiny ethereal bats around a belfry, the ancient rocks that have hosted such thoughts for two thousand years… this place was built up by those who lived here in 400-900 AD. How many times in the history of this place has someone sat in this spot and thought about where they were headed? Lamented a lost love? Considered jumping down to the forest floor 100 feet below?

And I figured out what I want.

I want life. All of it. I want experiences like this one. And I want to share them with people that understand that fun is more than chemically altered nights of bad music and smoky, expensive pool halls. I want someone to understand me.

But… can anyone really understand us?

Or should we all find our own rock and meditate on it until we crumble away and rejoin the Earth?

A cleansing. A letting go. More soul healing. A road before me.

And I’m walking.

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Surreality on the backroads

March 4, 2006 at 1:33 pm (Personal) (, )

I took a journey out to the vineyards today. For those of you who are unaware, Southern Illinois is a beautiful forested region in the heart of wine country.

The plan was to pick up something for my girlfriend’s birthday.

After driving the hills and curves of SoIll while listening to Mike Patton’s surreal and bizarre musical project Fantomas, my mind began to play tricks.

I got a bit lost, and the curves began to make impossible shapes.

I envisioned a man standing in the road behind me.

On second look, it was a long strip of tar.

A donkey and I stared deeply at each other as I passed a farm.

Chickens walked in the road.

At one point, I felt like I had left my body and was careening through the countryside unfettered by mortal constraints.

The suburban white man version of a vision quest?

Perhaps.

And no, I didn’t have any port wine in me until the trip back.

“I don’t take drugs. I am drugs.” – Salvador Dali

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Worst Day Ever

November 30, 2005 at 6:58 pm (Personal)

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh wonderful, another whiny blog wherein someone tries to elicit sympathy from random internet friends because they have a hangnail and their dog barked at them wrong.” This is different. I could care less about pity. If I don’t write about this day, just to record the ridiculous degree to which it sucked for posterity, I’m afraid my mind will blank it out as a self-defense mechanism and I won’t believe it actually happened.

1. The wake up call: I awoke to the sound of my cellular phone. It was one of my two cast members for my final directing scene (that’s 50Àplease keep in mind) to tell me rather hesitantly that due to an engagement in traffic school, he would be unable to be in my scene if we were to perform on Dec 10th, as planned. I told him I understood, but of course the main problem was convincing the professor that my special needs were worth his attention. He is not generally known as a reasonable fellow.

2. Get a horse!: After trying unsuccessfully to return to sleep for another hour and being unable to due to my nervousness about this new obstacle, I dragged my way to school. The parking there was in a word: ludicrous. I have never seen the parking lots this full, ever. I actually had to park so far away from the building that I no longer needed a sticker to park there. Yes… a residential zone. I should have walked, but then I would have been late for class, adding yet another wrinkle to my day.

3. All in the Timing: After getting to school, I attended my first class, which was fine except that it ran over, forcing me to try and pack an hour worth of teaching preparation into twenty minutes (this is minus walking time). I arrived at my class ill-prepared and without lesson plan. Luckily, it was largely an administrative day, putting them into groups for the final. I did have one fellow tell me (after he was in the group) that he might not show up, since he already has an A. Lovely.

4. Messages from Hell: I got back to my office, feeling tired, annoyed and generally disdainful of everything. I talked to my professor and after I threw out some seriously overwhelmed looks, he agreed to let me go a different day for the final. I had just enough time to eat a Clif bar for lunch. I checked my messages and noticed that there were two. The first was from the OTHER member of my cast, saying that he was mistaken about possible rehearsal times and that he had class. I couldn’t move the rehearsal time however, because of other things both the cast and I had going on today (a friend’s staged reading, classes, etc) so we’ve missed yet another practice, and there’s only a week to put all this together into a coherent mess.

5. Flood Damage of the Auditory Passage: The other message was from my guitarist, who informed me that my drummer had mysterious fluid leaking from his ears, and would be unable to play tonight. Since I had no time today to prepare a backup plan, I reluctantly told him to cancel the show indefinitely.

6. What would you do for a Klondike Bar?: To cheer myself up, I decided to walk over and get my paycheck. Only after grabbing another friend to walk with me did I remember that paychecks don’t even come until tomorrow. After some choice words, I let him go and sat down for the meeting which I had previously thought I’d be unable to make it to due to rehearsals.

7. I’m an idiot.: The meeting for Theatre 101 teachers was about to get underway when copies of the recent papers were mentioned. To my horror I had forgotten to make these copies before handing them back to my students; something that is important and necessary for the university. I apologized of course, and my supervisor was kind about it, but now I have to ask 55 students who could care less to give me BACK their papers (if they still have them) so I can do my job properly.

There you have it. The lucky seven. As long as I don’t inhale a wasp tonight or fall off a pier, perhaps that will be the end of my cursed luck. Nothing too tragic, I suppose, no… but everything that could possibly go wrong did. I feel like I’m in a very unfunny sitcom.

Tomorrow will be better. It couldn’t be much worse. (None of you had better die, or I’m going to be SO pissed off).

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One Thin Line

September 9, 2005 at 1:22 am (Death, Personal, Writing)

One thin line… that’s all that separates us from death. Just one, insignificant little line, one moment, one choice, one conk on the head, one trip of the foot – or the tongue. One line.
I remember the first time death became a concrete reality for me. My father’s friend. He hung himself in the basement at Christmas. Ho ho ho, right? It affected me profoundly for a long time, that mostly silent hospital visit, all those presents under the tree lying there unopened… unopenable. Hell, I even got a decent monologue out of it years later. But that’s another story.
My parents often tell the story of when I was just a wee little fella, stalking around the flower bed while my parents played gardener. I came across a dying flower, its head pointing at the ground, making an arch. I asked the question: “Why is it drooping?” They told me why. I cried for an hour. It was pretty, and I guess I felt that it was unfair that something so pretty had to die for no reason. There’s a lot of life lessons right there in that moment, and all before I was even dressing myself.
I was eight years old, and I couldn’t sleep. I was lying there in bed, sobbing my heart out, and I couldn’t stop. It was the most pressing feeling in the world… suffocating, really. My little boy heart was being crushed in my chest by a certain realization that I’m sure we’ve all had. My mom came in to see what I was crying about.
“What’s wrong honey?” she asked.
Through my tears I said “You’re going to die someday!” and then I fell apart all over again. My parents weren’t going to be around forever. Holy shit. At the time, I wouldn’t have used that language to illustrate how it felt to realize this, but now that I’m a cynical adult and pretentious artist, it seems appropriate. Holy shit.
So when I got a cryptic message from my mother on my cell phone telling me that my dad was admitted to the ER and they didn’t know what was wrong, all these moments flashed before my eyes. He had woken up with a terrible headache, she said, and he called her at work that afternoon because, try as he might, he could not get up off the bathroom floor, and he had been throwing up all day in terrible pain.
Tick tock tick tock… the line gets thinner.
They did a CAT scan. No results. They shot him full of morphine, because the pain was so intense that he couldn’t move. That done, they gave him a spinal tap. For those of you who don’t know, that’s when they literally pull out some of your spinal fluid. Morphine or not, I’ll bet he feels that in the morning.
The thing my mom forgot to mention in her haste? Dad isn’t dying. I told her that next time she really should begin her phone message with those words – as long as they’re true. But still… my grandma, my cat, various extensions of my family tree… all dead this year. I’m taking a stand. No more tragedy this year. Not for me. I refuse to accept it. So Dad needs to remain in this liminal space where life and death are close but they never touch. He’s standing on the line.
The one that’s right outside of mine.
Because my grandparents’ generation is disappearing at an alarming rate. That was the line I grew up with on my periphery. The one that shielded the line right next to mine. That line that represented my parents. And when that line is erased, there’s only one line left to cross. There is no more barrier, no more shield. You’re left alone coping with those lines that have already been erased.
My father is in stable condition as I write this. He’s sleeping, all doped up on morphine as detached strangers in lab coats stroll about with vials of my father’s spinal fluid… my spinal fluid, by way of genetics. What can I do from twenty hours down the highway but hope that the next message from my mother isn’t simply: “You need to come home, right now.”
I should probably mention that I was pretty much raised by my father. No nuclear family, we, instead striking a blow for alternative families everywhere by having my mom work and my dad stay home nursing the back and leg that time in the Air Force had left a tangled wreck of screaming nerves. At the same time, he was raising another bundle of screaming nerves, namely me, as best he could.
Now he lies in a hospital room with holes punctured in his back and dope in his system and pain in his head and I sit comfortably here, reading this, my feeble writer’s brain trying to put something into words that will summon up some physical thing to relieve my father and make him whole again.
What marketable skills have I? I can show you an imitation of an action, in the Aristotelian sense and make you forget your troubles for awhile while you look at someone else’s. In fact, I’m doing it right now? I can write a play or a song to make people laugh or cry or kick over chairs, but no matter what I do I can’t stop the inevitable, and no matter what I write, the ink won’t flow into the slowly disappearing line around my self that is my father.
My mother sits in a waiting room, hoping for the best, dealing with her own stress, and watching the time tick away… tick tock tick tock. Is she thinking about her generation’s buffer? It’s almost gone, and now she’s the one. My friends are having children. We’ve moved up a notch in the cosmic game of waiting, and so our lines become brittle and used and soiled and perhaps they’ve already started to fade for some of us.
A kid in my high school class took pills to erase himself.
No buffer there.
End of the branch.
When I said stable condition earlier, I didn’t know about the possibility of aneurysm. The final message of the evening was that it’s possible… not necessarily definite, but certainly possible, that my father’s brain is bleeding inside his skull at this moment. Does this make him a dotted line? Halfway solid?
When a brain aneurysm ruptures, it causes bleeding into the compartment surrounding the brain, the subarachnoid space, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage or if you like acronyms, an SAH. Often the aneurysm heals over, bleeding stops, and the person survives. In more serious cases, the bleeding may cause brain damage with paralysis or coma. In the most severe cases the bleeding leads to death. Statistics: 50% of those people die within minutes of a massive hemorrhage. Of the 50% who survive, half will suffer delayed death. The remaining survivors, depending upon the level of hemorrhage, usually live with severe long-term deficits.
So now I sit and ponder.
I will not accept more tragedy. I am not fucking Oedipus.
One thin line. Life and death. Perched precariously, like a tightrope walker. There’s no net. Just the endless infinite point out there somewhere that our lines stretch to until they fade into the horizon and are gone.

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The inevitability of informational trancendence

August 22, 2005 at 10:52 pm (Personal, Theatre, Work)

First of all, I apologize to those few people who care for my lack of posts in the past few weeks. Things have been occurring at an extremely rapid pace, and I find myself reeling in the wake of all the changes life has brought me as of late. I suppose I should begin at the beginning, go through the middle until the end, and then stop, as that’s how most stories go.

I got to school the other day for grad orientation. In our Theatre dept. all the grad students must be there for workshops, policy changes, introductions to the new students and other such happenings. Several people needed to speak with me all at once, which was a bit disconcerting. Turns out that they’ve completely changed my assistantship.

I’m teaching a section of Theatre 101, Theatre Insight, which is an overview of the whole of being a theatrical artist. Interesting subject matter, but the terror in my heart springs more from the lack of experience teaching than the lack of information on the subject. Of course I know more than them… of course I can talk in front of people… but every time I close my eyes, I imagine them as angry pirates who want to pillage me.

The second part of my duties this year include the position of House Manager for the McLeod Theatre. This was interesting news, as such jobs are highly coveted and quite an honor to receive. I’m the fellow you see in the lobby shaking hands, kissing babies, putting out fires and pointing ushers toward confused patrons! I’m looking forward to the PR opportunities there, but of course that adds another brand new experience to my acclimation process this semester.

The teaching was still terrifying even as I walked in to the classroom for the first time today. 55 students, about half of which were there when I walked in, were waiting for me to impart grandiose wisdom on them, or at least looking for an easy A. I tried to explain while going through the syllabus that this is not an easy A class. I hope that they believed me, although somehow I doubt it.

For the first half of class, I was hyper aware of my own nervousness, which made for a lot of pacing back and forth, the occasional “uhhh” and a good deal of confused note-checking by yours truly. I definitely need to work on my classroom confidence, or they’ll smell the fear and eat me alive. Happily, once we got going, they paid attention and were generally participatory.

One group near the back of the room was working together on my “What is theatre?” exercise. A couple of guys who looked like they’d rather be in metal shop, and an Mtv princess type — or so I thought. After going through most of the answers, I called upon them to answer whether or not my walking into class that day with bright red hair and asking them questions about the nature of theatre was indeed “theatre.” They surprised me with an excellent answer: “Yes, because I’m standing in front of an audience and conveying information or emotion.” THE MESSAGE. YES YES YES. I’m starting to look forward to this? Well well…

One source of amusement for me was looking out on the crowd and seeing three or four freshman girls in various parts of the room paying rapt attention while I talked. They looked at me with doe eyes and cute smiles that told me all about why they were paying attention to me. At least they’re paying attention, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. One of them was her group’s spokesperson and they also did the question about me lecturing (what is theatre) and she said it was… because there was costume to it (my shirt and hair) and I was entertaining the audience… then she said “And you’re… arousing…” I stopped. The class stopped. Then we all laughed. She continued: “Arousing… interest in your students!” The poor thing looked pretty embarrassed, but it was pretty funny.

That’s where I’m at… my own classes start tomorrow. More stories to come, I’m sure…

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Muttering Pit of Angst and Loathing

June 30, 2005 at 12:03 am (Personal)

From the subject line, you would guess I’ve fallen into a time warp and returned to be a sullen teenager again, but no, I have real reasons behind my rather acidic state these days.

The main crux of the aggravation is my car. It was broken into three nights ago by some unknown asshats. They smashed my driver’s side window, pulled my CD player out, and made off like the thieving bastards they are. Of course in the process they did a good number on the paint job as well. It’s a hell of a way to wake up, I’ll tell you. 8:00 AM my neighbor is pounding on my door, and when I groggily answer he tells me I might want to come outside… my car’s been broken into.

I hadn’t adequately prepared myself for the sight of the broken glass all over my interior and the hanging wires that screamed from inside “I used to have a CD player in me.” So now, in the poorest season of the year, I am about to hand $500 to the repair shop. (Insurance is paying half that… the total bill is around $750… my deductable is $500.) So now I’m hoping that I can afford to pay rent in this shithole where everyone steals anything that isn’t nailed down or in my pockets. One person I know said “Well dude, you do live in the ghetto of Carbondale. It’s the 2nd worst neighborhood here!”

Why isn’t there a pamphlet distributed to people when they move to a town telling them where the neighborhoods are crap?

Note to self: Create pamphlet.

In addition to this, stress from work and such are degrading my happiness at an alarming rate. Perhaps a short trip to St. Louis this weekend with a certain special girl will re-ignite my passion for life… that is, if there are windows in my car by then.

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R.I.P. Vertigo

February 21, 2005 at 5:07 pm (Death, Personal)

I love you, my kitty. Thank you for being there all these years.

My muse passed away Feb 20 2005 5:00 PM, painlessly and peacefully.

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Naked and Screaming in the Rain

February 7, 2005 at 9:15 am (Personal, Theatre, Writing)

The title of this entry doesn’t have a lot to do with the content, although emotionally I feel rather naked, thus my entry, and mentally I’ve been doing a lot of screaming lately. Also, it’s raining today.

I knew graduate school wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but I feel sometimes that my mouth is full. It’s not more than I can chew, but it hurts my jaw and makes me want to spit some out just so I can breathe. With the immense work load in tow, the assistantship job in publicity is sucking the life out of me lately. It’s one of those jobs where nobody notices it until they feel something is amiss, and then you’re blamed for not doing the tasks that you didn’t know were yours in the first place. It’s terribly difficult to publicize information when you aren’t given the information in the first place, and when you ask the people who should no and they simply shrug and tell you to ask someone else, you’re pretty much up a creek.

Despite that, life in general has been okay I suppose, although I haven’t really been here for it. My full length play “Louie’s at 1st and Main” opened for it’s second production this past weekend, this time at my old college, Minot State University. I’ve been informed that it sold out 2 out of 3 nights (opening night was almost full), which is incredible and great news for me. I’ve been getting emails from people who I only knew in passing telling me how “beautiful” and “moving” my play was; a much needed boost of confidence. I would have liked to have been there for it, but I can’t do much about that, given my distinct lack of time and money.

Thus begins another week of screaming. Hopefully there will be some rest as well. I don’t know if my brain can handle all that noise.

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Adventures with the green faerie…

June 13, 2004 at 5:59 pm (Personal)

ABSINTHE…

The word that sent 19th century French abolitionists into a frenzy by mere mention of it’s name. A powerful liquor, rumored to give the drinker a sense of clarity, well being, and even possibly auditory, visual or kinesthetic effects in addition to the regular alcohol buzz typical of liquor thanks to the thujone in it, a chemical that comes from the distillation of wormwood. Illegal to purchase in the United States and Canada.

BOOKS…

A collection of ink printed on paper that hold information and/or entertainment for the reader of said material.

FIRE…

An extremely hot element naturally occurring in the universe, which man (through trial and error) has somewhat learned to control.

These three elements were brought together last evening for a party that blew away most of the others I’ve been to in the last… well… ever. I arrived early, as the party was to begin with a barbecue. After stuffing myself with various meats and sweets, and priming myself with a couple of malt beverages, I and my partner in crime broke out the bottle of Francois Guy Plantes D’ Absinthe. I had acquired this treasure through a contact far away, and had paid half of quite a bit to be a part of the fun, but how often does an American get to try Absinthe?

We followed the ritual to the letter, using the sugar cubes and traditional methods of imbibing the elixir. Several sips later, I found myself to be enjoying Absinthe quite a bit, and found it not nearly as bitter as anticipated. It had a nice herbal anise flavor…

After showing off our extremely cool beverage of choice, we wandered toward the fire to get to the true reason for the evening’s festivities: The BOOK BURNING.

It was beautiful. I laughed as my much-hated Spanish books curled up in flames. As each of the pages burned from various hated books, members of the circle, mostly English majors, rejoiced as the flames ate up all the negative stigma attached to such things.

Then came a rousing round of truth or dare. Being an extrovert and something of a psycho, I was more than willing to do whatever necessary to play, usually choosing “dealer’s choice” as opposed to “truth” or “dare.” By now of course, the absinthe was kicking in, and although I didn’t see any faeries or have any hallucinations, I certainly got the sense of clarity expressed by those accounts I read online. I was quite clear, as I stripteased for various people I probably shouldn’t have.

I ended up in a rather difficult situation at the end of the night… there were three females all avidly pursuing me (and two more that seemed interested but married, and thus uninterested by default.) This is an unusual situation for me, and I was having trouble deciding what to do, or who to pursue, if anyone. I certainly don’t need complications in my life (any more than usual anyway). I did however, “choose someone” by the end of the evening, and we had a… good time. No regrets this morning, so I think I did the right thing. Now to deflect the glares of those I did NOT take home and damage control any ill will coming from that direction is the next step I suppose, but that’s how it goes.

All in all, one hell of a night. I need more parties like that one…

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