spending my whole life gathering grain

Wherein theatre feels the strain

Finally home after a particularly lousy dress rehearsal.

Oh it was bad. Just bad, bad, bad. And that stress. That stress, that heat in your face, that drop in your stomach when the whole theatre is dark except the lights on YOUR SCENE and everything is silent and you know they’re waiting for you and you have NO WORDS.

The past couple years I’ve started getting the early signs of panic attacks when I get up on stage. Not all the time, but often enough that the fear of the attack is as dangerous to me as the fear of actually doing something wrong. Oh God. It just sucked. And I was so nervous. And that’s just not me. Not there. The stage is my safe space. It’s always been my safe space. But tonight I just felt panicky and scared and sick.

Oh and then, THEN!! we were told we were doing PHOTO CALL so please go get into costume. Yeah. No announcement beforehand, so there I am with no makeup on, my hair flat and static-y and full of weird bends from being in a ponytail all day… getting my picture taken for the publicity shots. WHY DIDN’T THEY TELL US BEFORE?! Unreal.

And then, of course, the cool shoulder for missing rehearsal last night due to impassable, snow-covered roads. There was no way I could’ve made it to the theatre in one piece, and I know the director totally gets that. But still: stink eye.

Dammit, dammit.

Wherein nature feels the strain

The muck before the storm.

The muck before the storm.

The roads coming home tonight were slushy and icy. It’s snowing and raining outside. I can’t stop in time. I’m afraid I’ll hit something. I can’t afford to hit something. I’m scared to get behind the wheel. I can’t breathe. And it’s so dark. Outside. Inside. In-inside. It’s just darker and darker all the time.

Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a movie of myself falling out of God’s favor, except that it’s on film, and there’s no projector, just my own hands speeding the frames in front of a light bulb as fast as I can trying to get to the end so it’s just over.

I don’t want to wish my life away. I don’t want to waste away, sleep away, idle away my youth, my life. But for the life of me I can’t find a reason why I should bother. It’s just dark. Dark everywhere. I don’t even want this any more. I don’t know what to do with it, and I don’t like it, and it’s collapsing with no hint of reconstruction, no glimmer of ‘maybe tomorrow will be better.’ Why would I want that? Because it’s called a gift? Why is so much of this gift so shitty? And why has it been that way for so long? Why are my parents suffering when they are so faithful? Why are the good moments so short, so fleeting? Why do I have to be thankful for my QUEST card instead of thankful for a job and a paycheck that enable me to buy my food my own damn self? What am I supposed to be learning out of this?

I feel like I’m whining. I feel like I have no right to be upset since I have all my limbs and my house the bank’s house is still standing. This is ridiculous. I feel guilty for acknowledging my own pain!

From "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by Green and Levithan

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by Green & Levithan

Wherein God

DAMMIT GOD WHERE ARE YOU? I KNOW YOU HEAR ME. I’M TRYING TO HEAR YOU. BUT EVERYTHING IS SO RICKETY AND FALLING APART AND SHITTY THAT HEARING A “STILL SMALL VOICE” JUST ISN’T HAPPENING. You know this. All of this. There’s nothing I can say that you don’t know I’m thinking. Nothing I can feel that you aren’t feeling with me. I am crying into your heart. Weeping into you. You know the state my brain is in. You know my chemical levels. You see this depression. You feel it. You built me. You rebuilt me. And I just want to know how come trying and working hard are never, ever, ever enough? Please. Please! I don’t want to come to the conclusion that there is nothing more to this life than rationing my toilet paper and wearing holes through the thighs of all my jeans, all the while watching the friendlier, happier parts of my personality get chipped off and blown away by yet another contract that doesn’t get signed, by yet another bill that must go unpaid.

Wherein Me

I liked who I was. I miss who I was. I don’t even know what to do with who I am now. I just want to tuck her into bed and tell her I’ll wake her up when this is all over. Please, God. Please. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.

Wherein user error

God, you guys. I just feel so lied to about how this operates. The fact that I even think it “operates” any particular way is probably just another sign of how misled I’ve been. I feel like I’ve been cheated out of the family farm after spending my whole life gathering grain. Useless, useless grain, rotting under all this rain and snow.

I don’t want me to be over. But the alternative is so empty and stupid and sad and disappointing and full of lies and I can’t keep up with the pace and the weight of this bullshit piling up and piling up and piling up.

Wherein Mindy makes a promise

I’m not going to do something stupid. Don’t worry.

Actually I’m probably going to do something worse. I’m going to do nothing. Just… nothing

I count the day’s successes in blog stats, in Facebook game scores, in ferret yawns. I used to be so full of hope. What remains could fit in my shoe.

What a waste.

but my brain’s all

I’m currently…

  • Rehearsing for the opening of a show written by a 6’4″, gay, ginger, Christian semi-socialist who loves and comforts my soul. It’s about a “temp agency” of sorts that helps ex-cons find work after they get out.
  • Putting off doing laundry.
  • Itching to leave town. There is a balm in Gilead, which I hear tell is just a couple thousand miles west of here.

Dinner tonight will involve tuna fish, which I love.

I should be working on my lines.

Sorry for the silence lately, but my brain’s all muzzy and tired.

Whadd’ya say, Lord? You? Me? Envelope of used greenbacks stuffed under the ladies’ room door? I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

Muzzily.

Not subtle and expertly timed

Earlier this year I was in a play where I was in two scenes; one with my stage boyfriend, and one where I come on broken up over his suicide. There’s no time to build up to the second scene, no chance to work out the feels within the created reality of the story. It’s just: Backstage being hungry me and wondering if I have anything at home to eat, then onstage being devastated her having just lost the love of her life, all while one of the guys backstage toots out rancid SBDs and tries to sneak away with a “no one will ever suspect me” look.

It’s an odd situation in which to attempt to feel someone else’s chaos and loss in a realistic way. So to ‘prime the pump’ I thought about one of my ferrets dying.

Ferrets chilling on their towel

I guess it needed to be laid on. Thanks dude.

See, some time shortly before the show opened I had had this terrible dream where I was in a strange house and couldn’t find my ferrets. I saw a heating vent cover at the bottom of a wall had been knocked aside, and wondered if they’d gone in there. Dark, warm, enclosed- a perfect nap spot.

I looked inside, and in the darkness I saw the face of my little sable just out of reach. There was another vent closer to him, so I tried that one. The cover was closed, and heavy. I lifted it and saw my ferret had been sliced in half by the weight of the heavy grate falling shut on him when he’d climbed in.

And oh how I cried.

When I woke up I was still heart broken. It was the saddest thing I had ever seen with my own eyes.

So when it came time to run that second scene in performance, and I was backstage waiting to go on, every single time I found a spot near my entrance where I could stand facing a black, masking curtain. I stood close so the folds hid my face, the dust filled my mouth, and everything around me was dark and gone. I could hear the other actors on stage, could hear the story playing out. It was sad, but it was just a story, and the atmosphere backstage was less than conducive to identifying with memorized lines being spouted for a crowd of strangers. So I thought of something slightly more real. I thought of my dream, and of my ferret. Of seeing him so pitifully broken. Of what it felt like to scoop him up in pieces- limp and wrong.

And oh how I cried.

I received an award for that performance, so I guess it worked.

But I think I’m ready to move on to something new. To take on a new acting challenge. Bigger tragedy, deeper devastation. Medea. Lady Anne. Rose Tyler. Because today? Today I topped that dream experience. Today I shopped for blue jeans.

And oh. How. I. Cried.

I’ve been poor for so long that I’ve forgotten how to even want nice things. And while I was never much of a fan of shopping to begin with, over time it has become a downright panic and nausea inducing activity. Today I had a $15 in-store cash voucher from my grandma for the store I visited, so I thought that might put a nice spin on the trip. But after trying on several pairs of jeans- something I truly need- and having one pair after another not fit, I’d given up and decided to just spend the money on something- anything- so I could get. out. of the store.

One of my new shirts. :S

Death Lasers: Wastefully soft.

But I couldn’t do it. $15 is so much now. I couldn’t simply throw it away on some “just get me out of here” top, no matter how cute it might be, no matter how badly my own tops fit, no matter how much faster I’d be able to call the trip Done. Especially since I had already splurged with real money last week when I bought myself two $10 tees during a big online sale with one of my favorite vendors. Spending on myself, even though I have some money now from a job last month, makes me feel guilty. And I haaaate that! The two shirts I bought are fantastic, and so me, and I want to love them. Instead I see them and feel like hiding them so I don’t have to be faced with my wastefulness.

Oof.

But I wasn’t ready to give up and go home yet, so I walked around the entire store, slowly, to work up the energy to find other pants to try on. And I moped. I didn’t mean to, of course, but in failing to plan ahead I had neglected to pack a spare countenance. *shrug* It happens.

As I approached the Juniors department toward the end of my rounds, I figured I’d rummage through its clearance racks and maybe come away with a festive sweater, or yet another dress to like-but-not-wear. Instead I found myself standing in a corner and crying behind a purple scarf (20% off through Sunday).

My sadness is nothing if not subtle and expertly timed.

But my butt isn’t the only thing that’s XXL in Juniors! There’s also my heart, which refused to let me disappoint my grandma by not using her$15 voucher. So I marched myself right back to the Women’s section and tried on a damn pair of $40 pants. And they fit, dammit. So I forked over the cash, brought home the pants, took off my shoes, and crawled into bed with my head under the covers.

And cried some more.

Does this stupid emoting thing never end?!

My depression is nothing if not subtle and expertly timed.

Mom came in with the dog, who jumped onto my pillow and licked my snotty nose while mom shared her dish of dry cereal with us and said the sorts of wise and compassionate things that make her so warm and so right and so lovely. So lovely, in fact, that I didn’t cry again for at least another half hour (that jag prompted by the prospect of going out with my folks for a treat of fast food for dinner, aka another $15 suspiciously spent).

One Filet o’ Fish sandwich later I am blogging in the living room while watching Season 5 of The Big Bang Theory with my parents, and refusing to feel guilty for giggling at the snippets of blue humor. It helps that my parents are giggling too.

It’s just blogging. It’s just TV. It’s just the watered down remains of a McDonald’s Diet Coke. But it’s good. And I think I feel better. Not XXL worth of better, but I’ll take it.

Oh God. Dear God. Dear, dear God. I don’t want money. I don’t want an end to all of my troubles. I don’t even want to see the Women’s pants section destroyed by a giant fireball belched from a Revenge Volcano. I just want to rejoice. Help me with my lack of rejoicing. I want to be restored.

Holy, holy, holy.

Restored, restored, restored.

(But I wouldn’t say no to a new house, an idea on how to end the story I’m working on, and a roll-top desk.)

Mud nests

I told my parents last week that it looked like my fella and I would soon be parting ways.

Mom gave me a hug, told me she loved and trusted me, and that she knew I was strong and loving and that whatever decision I made it would be the right one for me.

Dad came upstairs to my living room and sat down on my couch.

Sceliphron caementarium (Mud Dauber)

Dad: I wanted to talk to you.

Me: Okay.

Dad: About bees.

Me: O…kay…

Dad: You want to be careful with bees. Don’t let them get too close to you, because they will sting you. And then they will build a mud nest on your house.

Me: Got it.

Dad: And birds?

Me: Yeah?

Dad: Birds eat bees.

Me: Great!

Dad: I’m glad we had this talk.

Gladys Bentley sings the arcade blues

Thursday night I dreamed I went to an arcade.

Yeah. Me. At an arcade. Me and my total lack of ANY discernible inclination toward attack strategy, and even less obvious hand-eye coordination.

We can’t all be Felicia Day, folks. G’head and take a moment to mourn that fact, and then let’s move along.

Ready?

Okay.

Takes all kinds of game guts to make an arcade.

So Thursday night I dreamed I went to an arcade. I was wandering around by the older games in the back, a twenty dollar bill in my hand. I wanted to make sure there was something I really wanted to play before exchanging my cash for what would be a pretty heavy pile of quarters.

There weren’t many folks actually playing anything. Mostly the place was just one machine after another crammed into the space side-by-side at odd angles, creating passageways through the arcade. I kept thinking how this would probably be a pretty fun dream for, say, Wil Wheaton, and how it was a shame it was being wasted on the likes of game-oblivious me.

I turned to head out when I noticed an open door tucked in a back  corner, and heard laughter coming through in short streams. I poked my head in, and saw the room was packed with rows of folding chairs filled with women watching something projected up on the wall. I want to say it was an episode of M*A*S*H. A few of the ladies saw me, said hi, and waved me over to an empty seat in the back so I could watch the show with them.

We laughed and chatted as the women introduced themselves to me. They were all dressed pretty casually, looking like they’d just left work at jobs where they don’t interact with the customers. One of the women threw an arm around the shoulders of the woman beside her, and I realized she wasn’t the only one doing so. I surveyed the room again, and saw that most of the women appeared to be there in couples.

In that dream kind of way you get where you just “know” what’s going on without anybody telling you, I realized all the gals around me were lesbians, and that this back room at the arcade was where they’d go to hang out and socialize after work. It was their place to unwind and share a few laughs away from the public eye before heading home. But something about it was– well it felt kind of secret, you know? Like they weren’t just hanging out so much as they were hiding out. I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t dreaming of the present day, but of some time in the past when this sort of secrecy would’ve been in all ways necessary.

Wondering if that was the case, I now felt really clumsy for intruding on their secret spot. Like– what the heck kind of right did I have to know where they’d found to chill out in private if it was, in fact, a secret room? The whole time they’d been totally cool to me- very friendly and welcoming- with not a hint of concern that someone had discovered their hiding place. As such I figured they must’ve just thought I was gay too since I knew about this place, not realizing I’d simply stumbled across it by accident. But I still felt bad for my unintentional intrusion, so I decided to head out. I said my goodbyes, was met by cheerful farewells, and ducked back into the arcade.

Gladys Bentley, an American blues singer during the Harlem Renaissance

As I walked toward the front door to leave, I came upon a family walking in — with speed, with purpose, with furious indignation. First came a husband and wife dressed in all black Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, complete with hats and gloves. They were followed by their two teenage sons, also dressed all in black.

In another flash of dream-knowing I realized I was back a few decades, and that trouble was coming. I knew this family was heading back to the secret room to kick all those women out of it before exposing them publicly as lesbians, with the specific intention of getting them in trouble over it.

I looked at the mother. Studied her face real hard. African American, mid-40s, married, mother of two, and sad. I knew she was sad. I knew the only reason she knew about that hidden room was because it was full of her friends. Her family had no idea, but I knew. I knew her secret. I knew who she really was.

I tried to catch her eye as she passed. Like– what? What did I think I was going to do, you know? Was I going to figure out some kind of coded way to say “Stop!” Some way to say “You don’t have to do this?” Some hand signal, some whisper, some look that would say there was still time to not bust up movie night and get all those women kicked out and sent to jail?

But she would not look at me. She knew that I was on to her, so she kept her eyes up, up, up high over my head, the black feathers on her hat bouncing as she marched through the bells and the whistles and all the tiny lights as they blinked on and off.

My mind was on the moon

Mom and I just got home from grandma’s and I realized I left my best scarf there.

Guys guys guys: I LEFT MY BEST SCARF THERE.

It is NOVEMBER in WISCONSIN and I left my warmest, coziest, burgundiest scarf AN HOUR AWAY FROM MY NECK.

Consarnit…

My casserole was a hit tonight, because Duh: Who doesn’t love tuna casserole? Grandma and I both had two helpings. Mom, because she is a responsible adult, had only one.

After dinner grandma retired to her chair and mom and I took over the couch where the cat sleeps because I am allergic to cats and was in the mood to snot out a few more gallons before bed. There were bowls of “fun” size Butterfingers and Kit Kats by the couch- Bonus! – so the three of us snacked, chatted, and unmuted the TV for the occasional news update.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

We were talking about Hurricane Sandy relief efforts when suddenly Grandma doubled over in pain in her chair, clutching her right leg just above her knee. Twitching in pain from whatever was happening, she gasped out that it was a nerve… it hurt so bad… it just happens sometimes… so sorry we have to see her this way…

Mom and I just looked on, helpless, as she waved us away and explained there was nothing we could do or get for her. Nothing we could move out of her way, nothing we could lift or prepare or pour. She shook four nerve pills out of a small bottle and tucked them into her cheek to swallow when she had the energy to refill her water bottle. (She didn’t want us to get it; said she wanted the walk to work out the pain.)

On her way back to her chair the pain flared up again, leaving her curled over the back of a dining room chair, wincing, shaking.

How do you watch somebody do that and not want to just fix it?

I went to her, put a hand on her arm and another on her back. Rub, rub, rub. I wanted to pray with her, but didn’t want her to feel stuck there in case she needed to sit down. Instead of simply praying in my head I argued back and forth with myself about the merits of praying out loud anyway, and whether she’d really feel “stuck” enough to stay and how I shouldn’t over think these things and how too often I under think these things and soon my mind was on the moon.

Stupid.

So instead I just kissed her shoulder and kept rubbing her back ’til she was ready to sit.

Sometimes I just want to find people who hurt and hold on to them really close, really tight, really true. But then, that’s the easy part. Loving them – sacrificially – every day is the hard part.

She took two (prescribed) morphine pills and explained how the doctor told her the only option was to have the nerve cauterized, which would cause her to lose control of the leg. She doesn’t want to not be able to walk, but the pain, she said, the pain comes on so strong and fast and unexpectedly and she can’t live like that, she said. She can’t live like that.

A head in 5 slices, courtesy of Genesis12

“We don’t want to take pills every day, but sometimes we have to. We don’t want to lose control, but sometimes the pain is so bad we have to.”

I came home, answered questions in a social networking help group, soaked in the tub, fed the ferrets, downloaded free books for my Kindle, and missed my scarf. I took no pills. Nothing hurt.

And save for a couple of grouchy sinuses, every single thing worked.

Playground gravel

I know I must be stressed out if the ol’  Texidor Twinge acts up. I spent my morning  sneezing buckets, and every time- POW! Stuck right in the ribs with the invisible knitting needle of Precordial Catch Syndrome.

Holy crap! I can get it ON A MUG!

I used to get it all the time back when I was living in Los Angeles. I’ll never forget looking at talking Darth Vader masks in the toy aisle of Target with my boyfriend, when all of a sudden a helluva bout kicked in and he just held me there, real quiet like, while I cried for several minutes until it went away.

It’s not some big, bad thing, you understand. It’s just that it comes on so suddenly, and hurts so awful bad — like getting a piece of playground gravel stuck between your ribs — that it can really get in the way on things one might want to get done during the day… like sneeze. Or breathe.

The dog is sitting here with me. She’s licking her front paws, except it sounds like she’s trying to use the part of her tongue where it’s attached at the back of her mouth. Sounds like rhythmic vomiting. Good grief, dog. Have some manners! You’re like to make a girl sick over here! These people don’t want to hear about your barfy grooming noises! Mercy…

Tuna casserole makin’ time. I shall endeavor to not sneeze on the dish.

Not that I’d tell you if I did. I’d just let you wonder.

Forever.