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.)

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.