Thursday, July 31, 2014

End of Part One

Every time I start to think that life makes any kind of sense, I'm reminded of that time I saw that Hobbit movie...two?...years ago. I was arguing with my dad before seeing it about whether or not it was going to be one movie or three movies. "There's no way that book fits three really long movies," I laughed at my dad's obvious naiveté. I mean, it's the smallest book in the series.

I graduated from the conservatory at Second City a little over a week ago, and holy hell has this year been a year. I moved to Chicago the day of new student orientation on June 23, 2013, and I finished my last show in the conservatory on July 21, 2014.

The year was long (I'm still suffering from PTSD because of the polar vortex), but not nearly as long as the years leading up to this exact moment. My road to taken more twists and turns than I ever thought possible...when I graduated from college. That's a good thing, you know, because I've really been striving for a while to live the life of an autobiographer.

I used to tell my college boyfriend how I dreamed of going to Second City. The mere notion that people like Gilda Radner (who taught me that I wasn't the only weirdo), Mike Myers (who basically wrote my 90s experience), and the Ghostbusters (the Ghostbusters!) had studied at this institution in Chicago, made it essential on my list of places to be, if only for a moment, before I die.

He bought me a coffee table book about Second City from the bargain book table at Barnes and Noble. My first teacher at the conservatory is in that book.

Skip ahead to another chapter. I was a few weeks away from defending my Master's thesis and moving to England indefinitely (and what a fun turn that was), when my mom asked me, "what would you do if you weren't moving to England?" "I guess I would go to Second City and audition for the conservatory."

That was 2007.

Those seven years between then and now were just as earth shattering. In fact, every minute of my life I spend moving forward tends to crush it. How weird is that?

I don't know when I decided that I wanted to stop waiting to arrive, but it was in between all these places and spaces.

My favorite book as a kid was The Monster at the End of this Book, starring Grover. If you're familiar, you know that the fun is in the title. As a kid, you can't wait to turn the page because every turn gets you one hilarious page closer to seeing the monster. Even though Grover is so cute and does such a silly fun job of trying to keep you from doing so, you eventually get to the end. Don't worry. I don't do spoilers.

GUYS! We know that there is a monster at the end of our book, and it's a scary monster. Nobody wants to die, but most of us turn the pages so damn fast, it seems like we have a death wish.

Who the hell invented "settling down?" It's a crock. Settling down is something I want to do when I'm six feet under.

As scary as it is to know that we are all moving as one towards a similar fate, the thought of stopping, or slowing down, is more terrifying than any inevitable outcome.

So I checked off a bucket on my list..or something, but I'm not anywhere near done, and coming to that realization is terrifying and wonderful.

My only problem now, is making my opening metaphor match my final message. You see, I was NOT happy when I came to the end of the first Hobbit movie to find that there were TWO more movies that were just as long to be released over the next two years. There's a monster at the end of that book too, but I know what it looks like, and I know how it all goes down. Maybe it's the fact that this installment in the Peter Jackson wheelhouse feels less like art and more like watching a bunch of nerds masturbate (and, friends, masturbation is a sin) that makes it tiresome, or, perhaps I just don't like having to wait to pee for that long multiple times in a series.

I'm excited about the end of this chapter of my life, however, because I know that it only means the beginning of another chapter, and I can only speculate about the outcome of this one. I've read the Hobbit and the other books. They're old news. The books are better, is this guy's version of the book in question.

In my case, however, as a future autobiographer, my actual book will just make the (billions of) readers jealous. Take that little bit of advice for what it's worth. *wink

Totally unrelated side-note: If you are a fan of Sesame Street literature, may I also suggest this book:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I didn't buy the most expensive cherries. I didn't buy the second ones down from that. I bought the cheapest cherries at the cheapest market. Still, every time I take a bite of one of them--stopping at the pit, nibbling the rest away, and slurping the last of the sweet flesh--I am suddenly on a patch of grass, on the yard of a weathered cottage no bigger than a front porch, eating warm cherries that I had just picked with a Czech student, from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Czech Republic, who was currently learning English while I was teaching it.

Ask any Czech, at least from Bohemia (Moravians might think differently, but I haven't tested that hypothesis), what he or she did over the weekend, and you will receive, "I went to my cottage and I picked berries," as an earnest and matter of fact response.

At the time, I was in a transition, twenty-six years old, making steps that I invented rather than those that had been invented for me...ages ago...before I had any choice in the matter. Here's another fun metaphor: I was writing my own recipes for success after tossing aside the recipes that had been handed down to me. Wasn't that nice?

I lived in an apartment, waited tables, studied literature in graduate school at the University of Memphis, drank a lot of cheap beer, drank a lot of rum (because I am a pirate), tried cocaine a few times (I get it, but also, no. No, thank you), made out with a writer who thought he had fleas, waited up an extra hour to get McGriddles, shopped at Target, Best Buy, Wal-mart on the frequent, and my favorite shot (as I joyously announced to all who would listen at the bar) was a Red-Headed Slut. I also dyed my hair red. I was a (fuckin') American (girl), and, despite not always being great, life was still...not actually that bad.

Then, mere months later, I was sitting on this patch of grass, listening to this student talk about his passion for public transportation, and it was fascinating. I met a lot of men in Europe, actually, that were enamored with public transportation systems.

He invited me to his garden to pick berries, and everyone giggled when I told them what I was doing after class that afternoon.

He had two cats that lived at the cottage and roamed the rows of raspberry and blueberry bushes, currants, and strawberries. They mastered the branches of the cherry tree and kept a close watch as we climbed ladders to reach and pluck the lovely fruits from the organism that built them.

Oh, and his mom had baked a blueberry pie with blueberries from the garden. And we ate it. All of it.

He didn't ask me a lot about me, and if he did, I usually found an awkward way to spin it back around to effective ways to learn English.

We ate, and we lounged, and we spoke, and we enjoyed the company of two curious kittens.

He took me back to the tram-stop I needed and kissed me in a way that was awkwardly confident...or confidently awkward...if that makes more sense. And that was it.

I knew there had to be something more, and I was seeking it, in desperation. There had to be something better than the monotony of consumption. I cried a lot that second semester of grad school. I was a confused gal (mostly because of Derrida).

If you look for anything, confident that it is possible for you to find it, you will (I'm usually basically just writing euphemisms for all the things Emerson said).

I don't always remember what's important. I get caught up in an excessive amount of what simply boils down to insecurity...aching and sweating, terrified, insecurity.

Then I drop a couple of bucks on a bag of "sold as is" cherries, take a bite of one, and there I am again, at that cottage, full of blueberry pie. And I remember.