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My life as a snob

Yes, I am lonely at times but I will die with my unspoken standards held high.  We all have unreasonable expectations, some of us are just more unreasonable than others.  Let us speak of our discerning palate before we die of emotional hunger.

Humor

I would love to be a humor omnivore but alas I am not. I have been known to laugh at talking animals but that is an unhealthy weakness. Here is an example of the level of humor I would like my friends and I to share, were it possible, on a daily basis.

I will never be so funny.  Maybe I would if I were undead, or surrounded by like minded people or undead people. It is a shame to have such high standards. I don’t know what I would do if a person did not find this film funny. I might shed a tear at their shallow sensitivities and allow for their simple delight in Transformers. I might have to move very far away from them before I barfed.

I also find comedy that addresses racial and political issues funny as long as it is not on a fake news show. Please stop this trite setup. I know it is a money maker which is loved by millions as was Mad Magazine and The Three Stooges. I confess that this dislike might arise because I would prefer anyone but a white man to deliver my comedy. Now my prejudices are revealed and my advice will be discredited and discarded. Oops, it almost always is anyway.

Dessert

I hate boxed brownie mix. It’s the Pringles of dessert.  I have met brownies that were overpriced, salty, gritty, hard and then there are the unfathomable “cake like” brownies.  No one loves a hybrid. Eat cake if you want cake!  There are many good brownies in Anchorage. George and Deb at Side Street Café have a good gluten free one. If you want to be sure of quality I instruct you to look for The Illusions label. Illusions is a wholesale bakery in Spenard which sells the highest quality of moist brownie-ness to retailers in the Anchorage area.

So you don’t live in Anchorage? How about this?

It was enormous!

It was enormous!

This I had in Paris. I shared it with my sister but just barely.  Giant raspberry macarons have not hit Alaska yet but there are many ripe berries poking out in the alley up the street from me. They are fair game as far as I am concerned. Raspberries look like little crowns because they are the king of berries. Strawberries and blueberries are so weirdly large and bland when cultivated. I suppose fresh home grown ones are okay. Even a frozen raspberry is a gift from God. If you doubt what I say, visit The Holocaust Memorial in Boston where you will find this.

A tribute to love and to life

A tribute to love and to life

and to a raspberry.

I don’t care for dark chocolate. I am not that kind of a snob. I am a shaky snob and the higher the cacao content, the more I shake and the less I sleep. I don’t like coffee for the same reason. Drink whatever beer you want. I do not judge as it means nothing to me.

Writing

I enjoy the occasional Viking in Ireland novel or Icelandic murder mystery but really one can not beat existential or post-apocalyptic fiction. I can not fathom why The Road was an Oprah’s book club choice. Was she high? I don’t believe Oprah and I read the same books.  She may have some choices that were not necessarily mass marketed. We may actually have more in common than our love of bright colors and lack of desire for matrimony.

I do not like fancy decorative writing about birds or the desert. I want something that is less fine and detailed, something that has character not bouquet.  I may have a mediocre mind but I want to see some angst sans literary musings on anything less than the suffering of humanity. Do not try to uplift me with your American Sniper or your Unbroken heroes.  They are just that, heroes. I want to hear about you and me and the other broken snobs of the world.  That should be my new name for a book club.

Theatre 

I get lonelier by the minute. I like theatre, but I can’t see plays for which I auditioned  and did not get cast. Sorry, I am an actor and I am insane.  I have given up on  ever seeing Wicked but still embrace the possibility of seeing Hamilton. As a mediocre actor, I am accepting of mediocre acting. I can not stand poor direction.  I figure a good cook should be able to produce a good meal even If they have slightly withered produce or a tough piece of meat. If you put yourself in charge then don’t blame the vegetables! I do not care to see Arsenic and Old Lace again or even hear its name spoken, please.

Music

I prefer popular music that is not about love. I despise love unless it is broken. I am single. I like broken people. I don’t trust unbroken ones. But I repeat myself. I like happy songs as long as the people aren’t in love. If you like love songs, I look down on you. You believe in magic and probably have visited Disneyland. I will not. I am a vampire who can not tolerate the sun and has many roommates. We have turned away from and are turned away from Disneyland.  These people I live with are men. They  force me at times to listen to their musical choices which I can not fathom without a shot of testosterone to ease the translation. They let their musical tastes define them. I let my distaste for all define me. I embrace diversity of taste only because I find it  so entertaining and challenging. I like real drag queens but I can not enjoy The Rocky Horror Picture Show no matter how hard I try. Its sad. They have auditions so often.

I’m sure you’re a snob about something if not about everything like I am. Let me know in the comments so I can laugh with/at you.

My toe demands a chocolate donut and other distressing thoughts about luggage

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I ran over my little toe with a full luggage cart. The cart was running away from me towards the busy street and I slowed it with my shoe at the expense of a very angry toe. That was over a week ago. Ever since then I’ve been dreaming of donuts. Last night I was in a big homeless shelter/visitors center where hundreds of delicious donuts had been donated. Because it was a dream I was, as usual, anxious, not being homeless or a tourist, I was not sure I was entitled to but still craved a donut.  I don’t buy donuts in Alaska. When around Boston I am compelled to as there is nothing more Bostonian than to be seen with a Dunkin Donuts bag. Anyone can wear a Red Sox hat, but the true Bostonian buys a donut at the airport to rekindle the accent and the attitude.

I am in love with luggage carts. The ones we use at The Captain Cook Hotel are brass and can carry about 15 bags max. I feel like I am in another century when I roll down the tile floors and out to the motor coach.  Like library carts, they have a preferred direction of motion which I have just figured out in my second summer here.  If you have ever tipped a full library cart or a luggage cart in an elevator, you know of which I speak.  Do not F* with the preferred direction! For those of you using one for the first time, make sure the wheel with the support at 45 degrees is in the front!

It is not clear on this cart which way is front or back so prepare for one hell of a ride

It is not clear on this cart which way is front or back so prepare for one hell of a ride

To accommodate my angry toe, I ate some chocolate and bought new shoes. They are incredibly boat-like and comfortable, basically Birkenstocks but not quite as hippy.  They were not in my salary range as a summer worker but I figure that I will wear them when I get another job as a therapist, God willing.  It is a dork’s shoe and I am a big dork. I work moving luggage and getting people from one place to another. I would have been a good shepherd.  I am not particularly religious like the lady who  turned her key in the other day. She said she could not stay in a room numbered “666”. I wonder what she thinks people do in the other hotel room beds?

Makes your foot look very big and feel very good!

Makes your foot look very big and feel very good!

I love working with people but forgive me if I posit that luggage is a mirror of the soul. So many people are afraid of identity theft that they are not putting any kind of identification save maybe a ribbon on their luggage. Here’s a hint:  It will not follow you without a name.  Maybe it will follow in your general direction as I am aware that you are amongst a group going to a certain hotel. But it will not be in your room. It will be sitting somewhere where someone can look up your identity!

Just tell us your name. If your name is John Smith, I feel your pain. Your luggage will always go to someone else. Sorry. Just carry it with you. Same with Jose Garcia and Jung Lee.  Even if you have a zebra striped bag you are doomed because although you recognize it as yours, we don’t if it doesn’t have a name on it.  What kind of person doesn’t put their name on their luggage? A person without faith in humanity? A person with so much anxiety that they believe their luggage must go under cover? A person so narcissistic that they believe their luggage is special? A person who doesn’t think ahead to realize we might be more inclined to open it up than other luggage in order to find out whose it is? Really, most of you have more stuff in your bag than owned in total by people in other countries. Consider your luggage a potential gift to a stranger or an opportunity to purchase new, better clothing. Get the travel insurance if you need to but put your name on the bags!

Some people write their name in big fluorescent letters across the top. I like that. Some have funny tags which read, ” This luggage belongs to the guy standing behind you!” I would prefer a tag  reading, “Choose again, no booze in here.” or “All clothes contained within are not necessarily clean nor odor free.”   Here is my favorite one:

Thank God, Bones!

Thank God, Bones!

Let’s talk about those fancy hard shelled bags. Do you think a hard boiled egg is going to look much better than a cooked one when handled roughly? Not really.  The only other rule I have for luggage is “Don’t put your baby in the bag.”  If your computer is your baby, or your wedding ring or your bottle of champagne, CARRY IT ON!  In reality a cardboard box would work just as well and be recyclable. All luggage breaks down eventually. The little handles are quite spindly. The wheels are not really industrial, you could not skate on them. The heavier you pack, the harder it is going to land on a truck.  When you freak out about luggage that has not arrived, we empathize. It has happened to every person who has ever travelled to Alaska, myself included. Your crying will not get it here faster because as humans that makes us nervous and then we make more mistakes! Go have a drink with someone who carried their booze on with them and let us sort it out logically.

I am a little jealous of pretty luggage. Some bags look like a tardis. Yesterday I saw two matching pink leather bags with rhinestones.  I could choose someone to date by their luggage. Ideally it would be very small with a funny tag on it and of course their name.  Perhaps it would also have a Dunkin Donuts sticker.

Thank God that’s over with – Farewell to Solstice and Father’s Day

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Did you go to the big Summer Solstice Celebration in Anchorage? It was brilliant. Free barbeque with coconut/lime macadamia  cupcakes from the Captain Cook and a Kayak pool brought in more than a thousand people. I enjoy a good party but alas I also have a mood disorder which does not respond well to vast fluctuations of light and dark. So as I found myself weeping uncontrollably for the better half of the day, I also had some fun.

Father’s day followed with an emotional hangover  which did not benefit from my attendance at a free herb walk. Said walk  involved no walking, just endless standing, actual tree hugging and a diatribe about dandelion root as the new/old cure for cancer. Meanwhile the mosquitoes feasted and I found the proportion of spiritual to scientific information upsetting to my stomach.  I should have gone to see the re-release of Jaws.

Father’s Day used to upset me because I didn’t know my father that well and no one likes to speak ill of the dead. Now it upsets me because it seems everyone’s father is dead. Facebook is filled with tributes. I am sad for everyone. These dads were so strong and full of life even if  they did drink too much or vote for Nixon. The overwhelming message is that we are next. Even the vegan must die. This is another way I know I am in a bit of a depressive cycle, by counting the times I reference death in each post. Does wanting to go see Jaws count?

On a brighter note here are some photos from The solstice. I love hats. The opera association brought out some of their costumes to try on in order to induce folks to order season tickets. I intended to order them but the line was so long for the barbeque that I never got back there. I do however have some lovely memories.

My best Captain Cook imitation or the very model of a less modern, eaten, admiral.

My best Captain Cook imitation or the very model of a less modern, eaten, admiral.

The opera is not doing HMS Pinafore this year but The Mikado instead. Anyone from grade school interested in coming up to Alaska to attend? We can go in costume and sing along.

I'm going to play the ponies, it's in my blood!

I’m going to play the ponies, it’s in my blood! Note the Captain Cook hotel in the background.

Even though I was having fun before my crying jag. This is what lay underneath.

I am crazy insane with all this light! Stop me before I burst into tears.

I am crazy insane with all this light! Stop me before I burst into tears.

I did not spontaneously combust into tears. Other people were exploding and I just caught on fire. Unfortunately, the way my brain works I can not self smother, even with the many medications I faithfully ingest.  It takes more time than the usual human for me to calm down. It’s not that I don’t know how to “self-soothe”. I just have a very acid chemical bath inside my skull and I need time for it to neutralize.  Some people are fine right after a conflict or an exciting adventure. I need time to recover just like a deer in the headlights.  Remember how long it took to recover from your first romantic break-up? It took me about  six months. I’m doing better than that now.  My father was similar. Once he got heated up it was difficult for him to calm down so he would take off. Most of the time his destination was the American Legion. He walked lots! Not such a bad idea sometimes. He and I are/were mostly string and bone.

Some people mourn the passing of the solstice as the days are getting shorter. I can’t imagine focusing on the loss of a few minutes a day when we have such an abundance of summer left.  Here is a view from Cuddy Park in midtown. Note that the mountains have very little snow since Boston stole all of ours this winter.

Mountains of flowers, with snowless mountains

Mountains of flowers, with snow -less mountains

The carnival is still in town. When I went to investigate the rides I was repelled  by the smell of rancid grease. I can still smell it hours later. Perhaps my nose is getting as sensitive as my brain.  That’s not going to work when  I go to the bathroom several times a day. I suppose I can try a mantra like ” My SH*T smells like roses.”  Wish me luck.

Can you smell it from here?

Can you smell it from here?

Happy/sad Solstice & Father’s Day

Why being called “passive – aggressive” should be considered a compliment

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Is my acting stupid instead of directly confronting you

Is my acting stupid instead of directly confronting you “passive-aggressive?”

At the counseling office where I recently worked, I liked to play Columbo. Not because I wanted to trick people but because I find that people are more apt to enter into a profound discussion if I feign ignorance. This goes for both staff and clients. I fit the part most excellently as my hair is always a mess and I usually have one side of my collar turned up. One day I asked my colleagues what “Passive-Aggressive” meant.  Here is the Merriam dictionary on the topic:  “being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness.)”

My co-workers gave examples of many ways people dealt with problems which were in no way passive but outright amazingly active and creative.  In the therapy world, where verbal communication is lionized and cognitive processing glorified, I adore the unconscious power of the crazy action to communicate more clearly than appropriate language.

Here is a personal example – At my new job yesterday morning I began to tape together some luggage tallies to make it easier for me to read on a clip board. A co-worker asked if I could not use so much tape and use the tape in different areas as it is more difficult for her to remove. Since I was doing the tally and would be removing the tape, I thanked her and stuck a larger than necessary piece of tape across the entire paper.  She replied something to the effect, I deserve that,  sorry.  We got over it very quickly as it was 5:45 am and we are not all at our best. Was this passive-aggressive – NO! It was a clear non-verbal communication.  Even stubbornness, staying in the house when asked to leave is a clear non-verbal communication.

People who have an experience of disempowerment, people who are more emotional than verbal, people who have a sense of humor and whimsy are amongst the folks that one might label “passive-aggressive.”  Kids that don’t do homework because they don’t want to probably know that it is hard to give a rational reason for this dread of towing the line. Why did they say they would take out the trash and not do it?  Believe me, it’s probably not because they want to piss you off. It’s probably something they don’t really understand either. Power issue? Obsession with sex? Feeling like they see no point in arguing? Who knows? It may appear passive-aggressive but it is really just a mystery like the sort Columbo pursues.

I had so much anger at a roommate  who had money issues that I thought about placing a $10 bill in a glass of urine to see if she would fish it out.  I did not do so but I thought about it in a resentful, angry way. I knew that I couldn’t change her and that is why I didn’t bother. It turned out her issues were very deep, having had to support her parents for many years.  If you live with a mental illness yourself or live with someone else who has one, you can understand the creativity necessary to deal with the frustration at not being able to eradicate your condition or that of your friend/relative.   Acting like a dumb Columbo has served me well even though it sometimes feels like I am laying a trap line for people. I had to use my anger to come up with creative solutions while I patiently waited for the  answer to be delivered.

Gossips are considered to be passive aggressive. I believe they are nothing of the sort. They may be people who feel fear around the person they are talking about. They may be people who feel little worth in talking about themselves. They may be entirely worried about their place in the world and have to make others look bad.They may need allies badly. Are they any more negative or less effective than the person who let’s their boss know how they feel verbally? Are they any worse than someone who picks their nose? Is there anyone who does not pick their nose?

Is note writing worse than the oral confrontation? Is Facebook bashing boorish venting or is it dangerous slander? It has  been legally established that Facebook venting and threats are not a crime in themselves but that doesn’t mean that the FBI might not find a way to friend you.   I have come to the understanding that negativity in all its varied faces is to be expected as a symptom of stress. And for you folks who always “use your words” correctly. There is a special place in hell for you filled with passive-aggressive people and mimes.

I would like people to show me how they feel rather than tell me.  Everything gets lost in the telling especially amongst me and my verbally defended friends. Draw me a picture of how mad you are. Give me a gift that expresses your dismay! This is far more entertaining than using your practiced syrupy “I” statements. I highly endorse so called passive aggressive actions ( an oxymoron if I ever heard one) over directly hitting me or screaming obscenities at me. I will be more likely to compliment you on your cleverness and laugh at my own stupidity for not recognizing the clues.  Thank you Peter Falk.

What I noticed today in Anchorage

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5:10 am

Today I biked to work. As I rounded the curve by Valley of the Moon Park, it was sprinkling and a beautiful young moose turned to look at me. He was thin with tiny velvet stubs poking from his head. We observed each other as I whizzed by. I said hello softly.

5:15 am

It is not a food pantry day. No one is lined up outside the church as they frequently are early in the am.

5:20 am

I know I’m downtown when I hit the seagull zone. Technically, these are probably Mew Gulls.

9:30 am

I’m working in a downtown Anchorage hotel. Outside I see two young white robed Catholic clergymen scurrying down the street. One is very tall and thin, the other short. They have ropes around their waists and the way they move reminds me of Pekin ducks. They wind up waiting in the long line for breakfast at the hotel cafe.  Even though they hurried up to wait, their running wasn’t wasted on me.

2:45 pm

On a tip from a co-worker I discover a food cart at the NW corner of the Performing Arts Center which serves Poutine!  I have always wanted to try Poutine and it does not disappoint.  The French fries are cooked right in front of me, the cheese curds warmed, then the whole thing covered in Brown Gravy.  It’s the Canadian version of The Kentucky Fried Chicken Bowl.  Yum!

3:15 pm

The  grandchild of the folks next door is staying with them for the week. She is sitting outside on the grass between our driveways and shows me a bug she has found. Later on in the evening, she and her grandparents and some of the neighborhood kids are on the porch blowing big bubbles.

7:00 pm

Bike ride with The Anchorage Bike Coalition to see Pocket Parks of Anchorage. The first thing I notice is that the sun is out and the wind is strong, just the way I like it. Also I love biking with other people. It’s like a parade but you get to talk. There were some people I knew and others I didn’t which is perfect.  Most of us are wearing geeky tee shirts. We are encouraged to use an App to register our visits to the parks so we can win prizes but this proves too frustrating for me. I can hardly see to take a photo with my phone in the bright sun, let alone get the app started.

7:15 pm

Lovely, lonely, Sandhill Crane  right next to the Coastal trail. If the priests were ducks, this is me.

7:20 pm

Can you see the geese?

Can you see the geese?

Geese in pairs, huddled in the tall grass of the estuary. Nesting?

7:30 pm

The trees are having a vigorous conversation with the wind. It’s fun to listen in.

7:40 pm

You know you’re in Alaska when you see a little league game in June where three people are  standing in the sun wearing long blankets to keep warm.

7:45 pm

Some penned up dogs bark at us from across the street. I dub this tiny park stop “Mad Dog Park.”

7:50 pm

The Turnagain neighborhood is too quiet. The houses are huge and beautiful but when I was young  houses that big meant there were kids. There are no children playing in the streets. Maybe everyone is older or people don’t have so many kids these days. It feels sad, like living in a place where there are less bird sounds.

7:55 pm

One of the other riders comments, ” Why do we have to ride so fast? I feel like I can’t enjoy the sights.” I agree, it seems that even though the ride is leisurely, it is about destinations and one wants to enjoy the journey.  I vow to visit these neighborhoods more often, maybe for yard sales to meet the neighbors.

8:00 pm

Forest Park – Ferns galore!

8:45 pm

If I were in a car or looking at my phone constantly I would have missed most of this.

Life is short. Eat pancakes in L. A!

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What better way to show disdain for the dominant culture than by eating syrupy piles of gluten in the city of thin. I went out for pancakes three times with my sister on my recent visit to California. That is not counting our visit to the Danish bakery in Solvang or my pestering her to drive to The Headquarters of IHOP in Glendale.( We ate there once and the service is excellent).  I am as gluten friendly as they come, having proudly spent 55 years avoiding dieting of any sort. Yet even I was put to shame by the pancakes at The Griddle Cafe in West Hollywood.

This is a place where you can truly be embarrassed to be an American. The portions are so big that I am sure there is a vomitorium located on the premises. Take a look at the biggest dinner plate you own. Now imagine a half inch thick pancake covering it, draped a bit over the sides. Add butterscotch chips, coconut, pecans, whipped cream and syrup. Lest I forget put two more half inch pancakes on top of it like a breakfast birthday cake. This is what I got.

These pancakes are even bigger than they look!

These pancakes are even bigger than they look!

Unless you have a wasting disease or have chemo scheduled for later in the week this is so wrong.  I ate what might be considered to be one slice of the three layer cake.  The rest wound up in a to go box for my brother in law, who like myself, enjoys pancakes, but had to work through our Griddle visit.  For a reason I can not understand, the pancakes seem to come in threes unless you are hip enough to know better. A guy at the next table had only one Red Velvet pancake that he did not  come close to finishing even though his partner took frequent bites. On the other side of us were a couple who appeared friendly but were discussing getting legal record of  his court proceedings expunged so I avoided looking at them and their pancakes preferring to discover what kind of crime he was found innocent of. Alas, they gave up on their gluten far too early.  The Griddle is too loud for eavesdropping, perhaps because it has a bar instead of the counter that any self respecting pancake/diner would have.. You will get a sore throat if you try to communicate over the voices of the soundly packed in hipsters catching up with their visiting relatives, braying waiters ( I saw no women employees), and loud superfluous, surrealist music.   There was also a television with one of the many American sports teams running around on it.

Here is the website for The Griddle Cafe although it does not in anyway communicate the degree of overkill/disgust that the in the flesh experience will afford you. In that way, it is a food parallel to internet dating.

http://thegriddlecafe.com/

The to-go container was abnormally heavy, probably because I insisted we douse the pancakes with real maple syrup before we left. But better to be carrying this heft in your hands than around your belly. It wouldn’t make much difference to me since I am entirely invisible.

Mindy Kaling, not quite as invisible as I am

Mindy Kaling, not quite as invisible as I am

You may have seen the commercial where Mindy Kaling does nude yoga in the park, pigs out on whatever she wants and squeezes men’s muscles because she believes she is invisible.  I am invisible because I am old and have white hair.  But like Mindy, sometimes I do get seen just when I least expect it because the lights are low or someone misplaced their glasses and mistook me for a blonde.  So I often resort to calling attention to myself just so people don’t  trample me on the sidewalk. I did so when my sister and I walked down Rodeo Drive.  This is another strange place but in a more traditional Beverly Hills kind of strange. Rodeo Drive is a block of chic shops with items priced somewhere over $1000. (that would probably be the price for a pair of sox).  But the people who walk down the street do not go into the shops. They just look in the windows because we are middle class people. It is not so bad to be a middle class American tourist.  There are some people from other countries who are actually shopping but they are also tourists who don’t know that they could probably get this stuff cheaper if they just waited until the season changed. Maybe they want to buy it full price because some of them were taking photos of themselves with their bags in front of the stores.

When I found myself surrounded by people who amazingly were NOT texting but taking photos, I grabbed my phone and pretended to take photos too, since I can’t see how to pull up the camera in the brilliant Californian sun. My sister kindly pointed out “The RastaVan”  which was no doubt carrying music loving tourists through the neighborhood. I noticed that the windows, however did not open so we could hear the music or enjoy the aroma.  I  did enjoy seeing the security guard on the roof of The Cartier shop. He did not look like he had a gun, probably just had a phone like everyone else. I will tell you that lightly quilted white kimono wear is big this year as well as bo-ho flower patterns. No one walking on the street was wearing these but  maybe we will, when these clothes eventually come to Marshall’s in sizes which accommodate  people who eat pancakes.

The dreams of the mothers

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I am not this person, I am playing this person

I am not this person, I am playing this person

I was in a short film today. This was a dream I inherited from my mother.  She might have enjoyed it more than I did but perhaps not. I  love the idea of  being in films but I would rather not be paid because I act better when I am playing than when I am performing. Today we attacked the issue of power and bullying in University faculties. When performing this live, my sense of play was activated by the effort to involve a live audience. Today, I had no audience or perhaps I had just my invisible one, my mother. After thirteen takes, I could feel tears building. I reminded myself that tears are important messengers whether they rise from sadness, shame or frustration. They are however, incredibly inconvenient when one is playing a professional scholar who is supposed to be in control. I shoved them down, cursing my sensitivity. I longed for the gift of play. My mother was always playing, even when she worked. Some days I can get there. Today was not one of them.  I was tired. When I was alone I wept and that is how I came to write this.

My mother liked people to think of her as “ballsy.” She actually was sensitive and easily discouraged.  She didn’t have enough cheerleaders for her team.  Most people want to be seen as confident and competent but there are a few of us clowns who  challenge this idea because of the damage it does to our humanity. My mother never hid the fact that she stayed back a grade and was not considered college material. She was an avid reader and forward thinker.  She seemed only allowed to be proud of her children, her singing and her good looks.

I notice on the set that much of this thinking is still with us. The women get extensive color makeup, the men just a base.  In the 1980’s I wore just as much eye shadow and lipstick as any other woman or man but I wear much less now. I’m older. The creases show. I live in Alaska, a state which produces red cheeks even on the warmest of our summer days. I still rise above the wearing of fleece anywhere outside a campground. I think a lot. I read a lot. I dress up just as oddly as I ever did. I never grew out of my David Bowie phase. I admit to purposefully trying to confuse people about my gender over the years and have embraced not fitting in. My mother tried her best to protect me from this choice. She enrolled me in a beauty contest because she participated in them and enjoyed them, but I could not tolerate it. She saw me closing in on myself and attempted to pull me out through theatre. I enjoyed theatre the most when I could clown or challenge the status quo. That is the part of her I carry off best.

Today, one of the actors introduced himself as an attorney who is currently engaged in three theatre projects. I introduced myself as a comedian with little experience in film and asked for the patience of the crew.  He chose high status and I chose low. He talked on and on throughout the shoot probably as a way to tame his own anxiety. I stayed quiet. At one point, the director noted that I didn’t seem relaxed. “Be less stiff”, “Have you ever tried yoga?” This is about as kind as film directors get but I still felt like punching her. She was probably just as frustrated as I was. As my eyes threatened to drain down my airbrushed cheeks I focused in on the other actor in order to ground myself. He looked away.  Honesty is frightening . This made me laugh because I thought – he might be feeling superior now but he would fail a class in Meisner Technique! Afterwards the sound technician told me he appreciated my performance because he could hear compassion in my voice. That was the inside part of me I could bring to the role even if I could not impersonate a person in complete control.

Living in a wealthy community, working as a housecleaner and an aide to the elderly, I think my mother gave up trying to wear the middle class mask. She could be herself and fall to pieces around her friends Grace Walsh , Lillian Theriault and Pat O’Leary Steech, Chukki Mains. We all need a place to play and a place to fall apart. Then we have the energy to try something new. My mother learned to drive at age forty.  She was at her best in the moment, playing with the neighborhood kids, dressing up for a date and singing as she hung out the clothes. I am at my best when I remember that film is not a dream. It’s a “cool medium” which inspires not through the perfection of its actors but through the humanity of its stories.

My mother’s story, the story of one woman and many women, has moved forward incrementally  through my life.  Just because I  don’t have children, her dreams do not die. They live in each honest tear and each dream approached,  however hesitantly. Keep the faith.

My mother goofing around with her sister Audrey

My mother goofing around with her sister Audrey

If you have lived a dream of your mother’s, one she had for you, or for herself, feel free to share it in the comments!

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