Today at the zoo turned out to be productive. It wasn't enjoyable.
A little Spring cleaning was on the docket for this weekend, but didn't happen. Other things were accomplished. The weekend started in a leisurely manner, getting up with just enough time to get ready for rehearsal on Saturday without rushing. There wasn't quite enough time to suit up and such for the motorcycle, so it was a commute in the truck. Rehearsal was good, though it is rough in a play like this where there aren't many lines or appearances, so it's mostly kicking one's heels. It does provide time to daydream a bit, and build the character so it is not wasted time. Generally that kind of work is nearly as productive during rehearsal or backstage as in a more meditative state.
That was challenging. A longish paragraph in my journal without using the word "I."
So, there were some nice discoveries in my characters during rehearsal. Afterwards energy was low, and my stop at the office to work for a few hours was more like 30 minutes, and instead of cleaning when I got home I read for a couple hours. I was in a very weird state. I felt lonely. Can't remember the last time I felt lonely. It has been years and it made no sense, since I'd just come from a five hour rehearsal with a lot of people who enjoy each other. A bit of the past which didn't need to show up. As long as there was that reminder of days gone by I read to relax away the feeling. It served to remind me how enjoyable reading is, though there was no way I wanted to keep it up for as long. Soon, it was time to cook dinner, and contemplation. Aaron is up in Canada this weekend, spending the holiday with Sonya, leaving me the house to myself. Dad suggested I use the time for some thinking about where I want to go with my life right now.
It is all he meant. My folks, Dad and Joyce, are so wonderfully supportive. Whether I continue along as I'm doing now, invest more of myself in theatre and art in general, or pull back doesn't matter. They encourage me to follow my dreams, and if that is art, that is what they encourage me to do. Pretty damn cool, eh?
The more I think on it, the more I want to make a bigger commitment to art. It means tearing down some things I have built, and that makes me apprehensive. I realized at work last week that while I enjoy Expedia and my group more than any place I've worked, it is not enough. The isolation inherent in the high tech world and the isolation it promotes over human interaction does not satisfy. Lord, is that where that feeling of loneliness came from? We insert ourselves into a small office or cubicle, give our life-force to our tasks for the day, go home, stopping on the way to pay for some gas at the pump, bag up groceries at the self-checkout lane, and insert ourselves into our house without having directly interacted with another human all day, where we can shop online. Those with kids put them in this class or that activity, limiting outside exposure as much as possible. It's safer, more nurturing... Good training and conditioning too. It occurs to me a big part of my job is 'shielding' people from human interaction. Matrix is not so fanciful as we think. With these thoughts spinning around in my head, is it any wonder my day job and life in high tech is becoming less attractive?
I had to clear those thoughts before I could think. They are rebellious and independent, but those are not things I want to seek for their own sake. That is a big stumbling block, leading to free floating resentment and anger. It is as much or more of a block to finding my path than the perceived comfort provided by my day job. Obviously there are things I want to say, and once I freed myself from them I could truly think. It didn't take long. Getting there was the challenge. In the quiet I chose art. A lone bird just chirped beautifully, soulfully. Tomorrow I may choose something else. That's a given, but today I know where I want to go.
Saturday evening I didn't feel like having my ritual drink. The night before I'd had a third drink, albeit a very small one, and fifteen minutes later realized I didn't really want it. Wasn't at all difficult to skip the drink on Saturday. Even the normal one or two drinks generally mean I'm giving up a couple hours of the day, just to relax. I was tired of it, and I've learned to listen a touch better. It was just my evening ritual, a habit, and I was bored with it.
Woke a little earlier than I'd expected, especially with the hot evening. We had quite a heat spell with temperatures in the nineties, which finally ended Sunday. Even in my basement it was uncomfortably warm Friday and Saturday night, and I didn't sleep well either night. Still, I woke up in time to get to the zoo fifteen minutes or so after they opened on Sunday. The elephants and patas monkeys resonated, and after rereading my notes since, I was not sure which characters are which.
After the elephants, I was walking and wondering if I'd find another animal. I didn't think so. "Hi Scott." Wow, it was Eric who is taking the Meisner Progression this year. I was wondering how he recognized me from behind, figuring it was a fishing call to see if I'd turn. There is any shortage of big fellows like me, so I was curious. I guessed he was there finding an animal for his final scene for class, and he surprised me again. "What Chekhov play are you working on?" I didn't remember telling him about this project. We chatted a while, longer than either of us intended, and went on our ways. He was having trouble finding an animal, and I was thinking how I was always surprised at what I found. An elephant for the servant role, then I encountered the patas monkeys. Could be either the Passer-By or the Stationmaster, though after today I know it will be the latter.
On the way to the outdoor patas monkey area I realized how Eric recognized me. I pulled my script out of my back pocket to check something. I like to carry my script at all times, even if I'm not reading it, and even put clear packing tape or shelf paper on them for protection. Then, I put it back and pulled it out of my pocket again. This time I pinched my thumb to the cover where the pocket covered the script. Sure enough in the top right hand corner was my name, with the playwright's name, Anton Chekhov, in larger letters below it where it could be seen. End of mystery on how Eric recognized me and knew I was working on a Chekhov piece.
Then dashed off to rehearsal, which was almost cancelled because one of the primary character's plane wasn't in yet. We worked anyway, and I studied my notes on the animals and the daydreaming and there was a transition of sorts. As the characters started differentiating more in my mind the urge to satisfy the future audience faded. Rather the desire, a platonic lust, to inhabit these different characters started to rise. I still want to honor the audience, the means of doing so just became more self-satisfying. Selfish generosity. I nearly used that as my title today.
I was very drained when I got home. I was. Nothing more, just existed for a bit. The weather changes, the characters starting to crack, the big changes I'm contemplating, all landed. I was just getting some food prepared. Sliced potatoes about half an inch thick and marinated for an hour or a bit less in balsamic vinegar, then warm air dried in the oven at about 100 degrees, and brushed with olive oil, then sprinkled with seasoning and salt. I put them on the upper rack of the gas barbecue which was at max. Then the steak. Cooked the steak about eight minutes, the potatoes about half as long. This experiment is onto something. The potatoes need a different spice combination, and a light sauce or butter when served. With the right combo they will be extremely good.
Just as I was getting ready to put things into the heated grill Paula called. Star Wars was about to start and did I want to join them? Yes and no. I still felt drained, didn't want to rush, but my friends were going. Ultimately, I begged off. Good thing, as I wouldn't have been good company. I felt drained the rest of the evening. Still didn't feel like my evening ritual. Maybe I'll change the ritual for a wile.
I got to the zoo about a quarter after ten, 45 minutes after they opened today. A totally different crowd. Yesterday's Sunday crowd was nothing like the last day of the holiday crowd. I found myself getting really cross at the people who talked incredibly loud in the exhibits where big signs told them to be quiet for the animals which were easily startled and upset. Then I started getting pissed at all the people with strollers bigger than my truck who seemingly used them to shove people out of their way, misdemeanor assaults I thought. Plus all the other little pushings and rudenesses. And, I couldn't find another animal. Nothing resonated, and though I got some nice digital snaps of the animals I picked yesterday, they didn't resonate for me today.
There are a couple stone lions along one of the paths, and it struck me yesterday how sad the one I first saw was. Lost, weary, miserably majestic. A tragic figure. I wondered if he felt joy or despair when the children gleefully climbed over him. I wanted to see if I could capture the look, and while I got the same hit today I won't know if I captured the feeling until I load the image. If so, I'll post it here in a few days. I suspect I'll need to return with a tripod. Maybe that was my animal. Then it hit me. My animal was me. The human. The Passer-By is beaten down by life, living among the Russian gentry who are oblivious of the menials around them. I found myself comparing the stereotypical Russian gentry of 1900 with stereotypical (perceptions?) of American behavior today. Good juice for the character, though not a cheerful view of our society.
It was a poignant discovery. Makes me wonder if the people were so distasteful as they felt this morning, or if it was a gift from the muse. A bit of both I suppose. Turns out I was pretty dehydrated too. The last few days have not been so warm, but they aren't cool yet, and the overcast sky also helped me forget to hydrate. Lots of water is helping. It is comfortable in the house now, but I am feeling a little chilled. Bother. I hope it doesn't mean I'm coming down with something.
I'm happy to have had a long challenging weekend. I've got a nice start on some of the character work. I've pushed ahead on my thinking about the Ensemble Training Intensive. I've got some other contemplations done, well started, and got totally lost in a book for a couple hours. I'd forgotten how deeply involved I could get in a book. That is what theatre should do. Involve the audience even more deeply, while still leaving them with the freedom of personal experience you find in the pages of a good book.
Happy Memorial Day from a combat veteran.
Honoring the Fallen <>
Supporting bushps - "<>" is one of the common programming symbols for "Not Equal To"