band · change · family · fear · hope · job · scarcity · self-care · theater

Stay to Play.

I’m at my new Monday morning desk-trade shift at my gym (unlimited classes in exchange for checking people in…. at 5:30am), so I don’t know how extemporaneous I feel while techno music blares in the background, and my pulse finds center again… so perhaps this’ll just be an “update-y” kinda blog:

The play I’ve been cast in (Queen of the Amazons…!) begins rehearsals at the end of July, to perform over weekends around Labor Day. I haven’t actually opened my script since our first table reading… but I continue to take it places with me, in a good intention to read it.

In the meantime, I went to play bass yesterday with a friend and his friend — it was super fun. My poor un-practiced fingertips are a little swollen, but … man, just to be back in the loud, the beat, the fun. It was so much fun. (Did I mention it was fun?!) We’re looking at playing a date in October, and are meeting up again next Sunday. I feel… like myself, having this in my life again; being a bassist again.

My dad didn’t actually receive the Father’s Day card I sent, since he’s moved back up to New Jersey from Florida for the summer. I still haven’t returned his return voicemail, but now that I got the card back in the mail, “unable to forward,” I suppose I should find out what their “Summer” address is. And also endeavor to keep my bile and perhaps envy to a minimum.

In an exasperated flurry, last week, I sent my photos to some modeling agencies in SF, and heard back from one they’d like to see me this week. … Then I looked them up on Yelp — and if there are worse reviews on that website, I haven’t seen them! So I’m going to gauge whether that’ll be worth my time to meet with them, just for the experience, if not for the professional service of them.

I’m also in conversation with two professional leads for actual work, one I’m meeting this week, another I hope to. Both are in the “helping/teaching” professions. And I haven’t quit my job yet — YAY!!

That’s honestly been the biggest success of this whole time, for me. I am unhappy, but I’m not cut-n-running. Which is my M.O.  — In jobs and in relationships.

Granted, in both, I tend to get into them without much thought as to whether I want to be in them, get through the “honeymoon phase,” look around and say, Uh… is this really where I want to be? And that is when the cutting and running happens.

It’s not that leaving is not the appropriate move, but in jobs at least, doing so without a safety net is a recipe for desperation, low-self esteem, and the tendency to get into the same situation.

So, this “sitting on my hands” that I’ve been able to do (with the *enormous* help of friends) has been a really new thing. And, like a cigarette craving, it seems to be waning.

The more I stay in this place of active looking and active staying, … I don’t feel my throat constricting every single minute as I have in these past few weeks. That feeling of crawling out of my skin, of needing to do SOMEthing ANYthing to make this feeling stop.

The “some”thing I’m doing right now is not running. That’s been my only move before. A one-trick pony: Uncomfortable? Run!

Instead, I’ve been asking for major help from friends in helping me not to do that. And during that time, I’ve discovered … been forced to discover … other modes of action. For example, actively seeking work, finally sending out my photos to agencies, and just showing up for the rest of my life anyway.

Even though I’m unhappy, I don’t have to be unhappy.

There’s this picture I drew once in response to an exercise in a self-help book last year. It’s called “Creating a Life Worth Living” (and now sits in my Kindle, unread past Chapter 2!). But it asked us to draw a picture of how we see our life being a year from then.

In it, I drew several things, including the back of a curly-haired head facing a computer, a phone looming large near it. The only thing you see is the computer. Me staring at it.

It’s the most depressing image!

So, what would I like to change about the image, the prompt asked me? Well, I’d like that experience to fade. To fade in importance. To not be so activated and aggrieved by it.

The longer that I “sit on my [active] hands,” the less running seems like the right option for me. I like having a job while I look for other work, while I “figure out” my life. I like not feeling panicked about how I’m going to pay my rent.

But mostly what happens when I quit a job is that I cut back all the things that are fun in my life.

I can’t be a volunteer usher, because I don’t have a job. I can’t come play bass with you, because I need to be sending out my resume. I can’t laugh, because I’m in scarcity.

Staying in a place that is not ideal is not ideal, of course, but I feel like I’m developing alternative ways of dealing with that, ways that include having fun, even as it’s hard.

action · career · despair · exhaustion · friendship · hope · hopeless · job · jobs · miracle · perseverance · persistence

"We Need Back-up!"

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I have no back-up, she said.
My friend with two kids, impending divorce, move, life,
told me a few weeks ago. Trying to figure out if she could go back east
for a family reunion and see her great-aunt probably for the last time. To
figure out if she should bring her kids, even though she couldn’t afford it.
Trying to figure out who would take care of them if she went, because “he”
wasn’t available.
She felt alone, lost, and hopeless.
When I was leaving, she picked up her phone to check a text.
The kids’ other grandmother would be happy to come up and stay with them, it read. No
problem.
Her eyes went wide. She laughed. I laughed. We laughed about
the energy we put into feeling terrible about things. 
A few days ago, I saw her again. She was telling some of our
friends how she’d found a house in the town she wanted to be in because of its school system for her son. I hadn’t heard this part yet. Only how pained she’d been in the
looking, months and months of looking. Fearing, wondering.
She regaled us with how she went online on Wednesday, saw
the house on Thursday, and on Friday, signed the lease.
She told us how there was another house that she really wanted for $800 more a month. The kind of dream house she “really” saw herself living in.
But guess how much the tuition will be for her girl at the
school she wanted to be in? $800 a
month.
The litany of things that lined up were astonishing.
Each little piece of it having fallen firmly into miraculous and perfect place.
Each need met, better than anticipated. And “right on time.”
My friend was ecstatic and a bit winded with all the
resolutions that worked out in her favor. Eventually.
I said that it was like the “Universe” was tittering with a
present hidden behind its back. “Oooh… Look how upset she is that she has
nothing, that nothing’s coming out right – She’s gonna be SO BOMBED when I show
her what I have for her!! What I’ve had for her this whole time — Ha! It’s
gonna be AWESOME!”
And it’s true. It’s not that these things just came about
“miraculously.” It’s that she had been reaching out for help, grasping at any
straws, and finally, some of those straws bore fruit (to mix metaphors).
Desperate and despairing though she was, really distraught
at feeling abandoned by the Universe, lost in this HUGE transition in her life, she was asking for help. She
was taking action.
And that’s what
produced the miracles… to my mind, at least.
I report this whole story, I think, for obvious reasons.
I am currently grasping at so many straws, I could line the Augean stables.
I am reaching out to places I haven’t before, and listening
when people have things to say. (Even if I’ve heard their advice or platitudes
before and are silently telling them to shut it.)
I am feeling so lost and desperate and hopeless and
wondering and flailing and floundering. In short, I am feeling just as she was.
I know that we humans are meaning-making animals. We, or at
least I, want to make sense of
everything, even the things that don’t. So, I know that I want to make meaning
out of her story, make it into a tale of heroic action and
divine
desperate
patience.
I want to make this story Job. Because if it is, then in the
end I get a flock of sheep, too. 

* Epilogue

Look. I know this sounds like a lot of self-obsessed, self-centered bullshit. I know this isn’t Rwanda, or even East Oakland. I know that no matter what happens, I’ll likely have clean water to drink.

I suppose, having always been a late bloomer, I just am getting an advanced jump on the whole mid-life crisis thing.

I think the argument with authenticity is an important one to have. I think the screamings of a soul that feels trapped is an important one to answer. I get that that looks like a lot of navel-gazing sometimes, and I get the pain all that staring causes in my neck.

But I just want to say that I see both sides, here. I see that I have it immensely “better” than a hundred million people around me. I get that my life is infinitely better than it was 10 years ago.

But, I also have the capacity to listen to myself at a level that I have never been keen enough to hear before.

Last night, someone recommended I read the chapter on Withdrawal in a 12-step book. I did. This “not quitting my job without having another one lined up” thing IS withdrawal for me. It’s causing me pain. It’s causing me to act out. It’s causing me to have conversations and intrigue with inappropriate people, and to eat enough cupcakes to stock a shop.

I’m in pain, and it comes out here. This is my place. I feel badly about putting it up so that you have to read daily about it. But, you don’t have to read. And I don’t have to feel.

And yet. Here we both are. Xo.m