that as long as you want to keep traveling, it’s no use trying to stop.
After a long dry heartless and unfathomable spell of silence I thought of another line of a poem last night – I thought that the stars were scars on the sky’s face. Although this is a personification, it does not bother me, because it is a comparison both in rhyme and in content.
It’s probably not good for anything. When you take time off and have to start up again you always think of such bland stuff. Stars, roses, the moon – too much poetry about all of them. Blah.
Speaking of roses, I was in Letizia’s on Division last week, which may as well be last year for how different it is from this week, and a man was handing out pink roses from his garden to all the girls in the muffin line. Chicago springtime – exuberant. Excessive. My friend from the yoga studio calls it “overcompensating,” and she makes it sound like she’s talking about a short man with a big car.
I took a rose, and the man behind me struck up a conversation about roses, and he couldn’t remember the Shakespeare line he wanted to remember, which I was able to supply to him, having assisted on ROMEO AND JULIET.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” I said.
He looked at me like I had memorized the OED. I have never impressed anyone so much with so little.
Sometimes I think that if I could only remember everything everyone has said to me, all the conversations with strangers – like the guitar player in the Seattle train station, like the Coors employee in Colorado, the woman in the bathroom in the basement of the downtown Chicago library – I would have enough material to write for the rest of my life.
Today I got sick of being ear-infected and quarantined in my apartment. I went up to Ravenswood and wandered: brunch, the library, the Grind, an hour of a movie I’d already seen.
The best part of it was sitting in the sunlight and writing on the granite curb-seat outside the Ravenswood library, and watching the kids who went by – and watching them watch me.
As one little family approached me, I heard the mother saying, with resignation, “Don’t climb up there – DON’T climb up there – ” and I saw the girl looking at me like “She got to climb up there! What the hell, Mom?” She even put one hand up onto the curb, longingly, and kind of looked at me as if she hoped I would overrule her mother. I couldn’t help her out.
I wrote, a very little. (Stop with the Austen constructions.) I found myself wanting to draw, probably because I read SLOTH (graphic novel) at the library, about teenagers in comas and lemon orchards. I drew a planter and a tree and wrote “I can’t draw” on top of them.
At the Grind, I was reading WHEN SHE WAS GOOD, by Philip Roth, and the girl sharing my table with me (tiny cafe) was like, “That book’s really good.” I do like the way Chicago is so demonstratively literary. And I also like the way that strangers tell you what they think.
Tonight, I am cooking the severed legs of four different chickens, and the potatoes of the Midwest, in the oven of Humboldt Park. Tomorrow, I don’t know.
Today, I overheard nothing. I have no dialogue to share because my ears were closed to the world. I only spoke to computers. I worked a day shift at my job and a volunteer shift at the theater where I take writing classes – thanking donors, paper-cuttering fliers. I watched actors walk into a rehearsal without walking in after them. It was hard, but not as hard as it would have been earlier this winter, because this time, I had a secret of my own. I’m going to be in a rehearsal some day soon. Tomorrow, I don’t know.
Yes, two weekends from now, I have decided I’m going to have a rehearsal, but not for what. I just know that it’s been long enough. It’s time to start a new project. I’m hoping to get together a small group of actors and just do some text experiments. The thought of this makes me feel, at once, like my own legs have been severed and also like I have grown eight new ones. It’s been so long. I miss it so much, and yet I am still wary about returning. Tomorrow, I don’t know.
It is a sign of the generosity of my performer friends that many of them have agreed to come to this “rehearsal” without knowing what it is we intend to “rehearse.”
I wish I could remember exactly what it was that made me feel like I had the courage to begin again. Springtime, maybe – or riding the Green Line with my actress friend – or C moving up here, at last – or hearing my friends sing at a piano bar – or the persistent pain in my shoulder finally simmering down to a manageable level – or discovering that the man who gave my computer a new brain is a playwright. But I have had all these things for months. I have been surrounded by performers. I have had connections and chances and every opportunity to work in the field I love, and have turned them all down, in favor of a winter of writing and moping and yoga. Tomorrow, I don’t know.
It’s not the first time I have pretended to myself to “give up” theater. But this time, I didn’t know I would come back. At least not to directing.
I don’t know where any of this is going. I don’t have a plan. I just know it’s time to stick one foot back in the pool. Tomorrow, I don’t know.
I look forward to it more than I look forward to sleep. I understand now how it is I have slept so much since moving here. I haven’t had rehearsals.
Maybe we won’t even do choruses. Maybe I’ll try out the French rhyme stuff. Or maybe we’ll do some simultaneous text that’s not choral. I don’t care, really. I just want to get in the room again.
If you were me, you would be happy to think of this. I know I am, and I know that having the strength to come back to it has taken more willpower than an exponent. Tomorrow, I don’t know.
The 70 Division eastbound from Ashland to North Branch.
GIRL: Dude, you just, like, jabbed your elbow into my gut.
MAN: You want to go out with me? I have a phone.
MAN: I can call you.
MAN: I’m only 61.
GIRL: I’m 16!
MAN: That’s, like, 61 reversed.
A seat opens up and GIRL moves to sit down.
MAN: Don’t leave me!
MAN’S SEATMATE, A WOMAN OF FEW BUT APT WORDS: She thought you were a dirty old man.
MSAWOFBAW: Ha, ha, ha.
MAN: Yeah, all right.
Friday night at La Pasadita, one of three of the La Pasadita taquerias in the block south of Ashland and Division. B and her friend C are eating carne asada Super Tacos.
A: Where did you ladies get that beer?
C: Around the corner.
A: Around that corner there?
B: There’s a giant arrow sign pointing to it. You can’t miss it.
A: We appreciate it.
In rereading a portion of this blog yesterday, I decided that the parts I like reading the best are:
1) the observations about writing, which I’m getting better about doing regularly
2) the dialogue excerpts, which there aren’t enough of. I’m going to create a new category.
I will try to have dialogue even when, as is typical in my plays, there is no action. Maybe by writing a little bit of dialogue regularly in the blog I will find more action in the sound of people’s words.
The 52 Kedzie/California bus south at 7 AM on a Friday morning after a Bulls OT victory against the Celtics, in which Ray Allen scored enough 3-pointers to become part of the times table.
MAN ON BUS
Ray Allen. I’m telling you, that Ray Allen – watch out! Ray Allen, Ray Allen, Ray Allen.
Ray Allen, Ray Allen.
MAN ON BUS #2
That’s what I’m talking about!
MAN ON BUS
Ray Allen. I mean – come on!
MAN ON BUS #2
Yesterday, I met an actress friend on the Green Line. We both traveled from our jobs toward the Loop – her to an acting class, me to the library. My pants were tucked into my (Green) rain boots. She told me I looked like a British horsewoman. I told her that my horse would be waiting for us at the Ashland station, and I meant it.
The thought of this horse was more real and more pleasant to me than the presence of my friend, the clouds outside the train’s windows, or the sense of my own breath moving in the gallon accordions of my lungs. I am still thinking about that damn horse.
I told my friend this. Imagination, she told me, is an escape. I wonder – I know there is – if there is a danger in practicing escaping – just like when I was a kid, how I used to practice unfocusing my eyes.
(I seem to bring a better quality of observation to these posts when I am forced to do them less often. You know what they say about absence. )
Chicago, ebullient, shaking itself like a wet dog.
Riding home today on the Division bus with a grocery bag full of five boxes of matzah, I felt like Golda Meir, shopping for her sister’s Denver Seder for all the tubercular Zionists, and meeting Morris, perhaps. I have no idea if that’s what she did or not, but it made me think of her.
The pigeons and I both rejoiced today at the removal of the Winter Snow Covers from the fountain in the concrete public-triangle-square at the Ashland/Milwaukee/Division intersection. Soon, pigeons, soon, the fountain will run freely again.
If, for the sake of argument, you waited until you were 27 to read THE TURN OF THE SCREW because you were creeped out by the hype, you’re going to be kind of underwhelmed. You might also decide that you have read your last novel about governesses. Nonetheless, I am still trying to plow through aaaaall of Henry James. One of the advantages of aging is that I am able to take him in, and I want to take it all in before it’s too late. I feel like I have a limited James window. Next: THE BOSTONIANS.
My pink phone is dead. Maybe it was too pink.
My roommate has TWILIGHT on Netflix.