I keep wondering if I should hide my brilliance.
A pile of white dog hair in the dog park reminds me that I haven’t brushed my own hair since I was probably ten years old. Hair brushes are like hammers to me: Mythical in their handiness. Still, the fluffs of hair piled beneath a stand-alone tree are a keen reminder that this morning is just leftover momentum from a previous day.
Trains travel behind me as I write this. My dog keeps “accidentally” nipping my toe while he almost too-joyfully pulls apart a rope toy.
My stomach hurts, destructively crumbling after a vegan lunch with my mother, eaten on her lunch hour in her parked car for fear of the rain drowning our salads. I am cancelling my plans this evening for reasons I could list but I know are only kind of true. The main reason: My gut is nervous.
Nervous stomachs are common, common enough not to really need medical investigation or, if medically investigated, are usually the subject of slight ridicule from the gastro-so-and-so who has seen the likes of completely collapsed stomachs, malfunctioned colons and other disgusting occasions for visiting That Guy Who Looks Into Your Bum To Study It For More Seconds Than You’d Even Think Possible.
I’ve tried very hard lately to get through things by scheduling other things, labeling them Life and moving on, down rabbit holes of New People and New Circumstances which is fun, admittedly, but it also seems not right in many ways. As a former art student who graduated a year ago from an institution who believed her to be “brilliant”, or any other variant of that word, surrounded by people who were also brilliant, in a home with a gas fire place ignited via our brilliance, we the fuel for a place that made sense only to us, compelling ego-maniacal comfort in a way unheard of in most other situations, I was special, we were all special and, having graduated a year ago, I can boldly state: Nobody cares.
It’s been one year since I graduated from The National Theatre School of Canada as a playwright and I have finally started meeting new people, people who haven’t gone to that school, haven’t even heard of it. I could go on to tell you “and I don’t feel special anymore”, cry writing this and hope that it means one of you or maybe even all of you will show up at my next show, congratulating me on “deserving” something, I’m not even sure what that something would be but, I am not really interested in feeling special.
I am scared of being special again.
Yesterday I met a man named Daniel.
Daniel asked me “so, how is it that someone ends up producing a web series?”
I told him, “I wrote it. And now I’m making it.”
Daniel says, “Oh, are you making other things.”
I say, “I write things and then I make those things. That’s practically most of my life, yes.”
Daniel says, “I know what you mean, I write a sports blog.”
It would not be fair to say that I don’t like Daniel. It’s true he has no idea that I’m capable of creating things a lot of people would term Glory (despite the fact that most people don’t know about any of those Things that I make). I don’t want to tell this to Daniel. I just want to let him awkwardly arrange himself within the throughway of Interesting that he’s decided I am. He has not decided I am special. He has not decided I am brilliant. He, rather, is staring at me as if I’m a species of Tree he’s never encountered and he still can’t figure out if my leaves are poisonous or not.
I drink whisky.
I say, “So you work for the government.”
He says, “Yes I work in transportation, I spend most of my time staring at parking lot diagrams and assessing whether or not their ceilings are constructed at a safe height.”
This is the part where I thumb through my phone and decide a friend is messaging me to go find them for a very sincere reason.
He says, “Do you have to go”
I say, “No”
He says, “Oh good because I because I because I I I like you.”
Turning point: Daniel feels special. I can make men feel special. And I’m only 5″2. Turns out if you listen to someone, they feel special. Are we all really that sad and lonely? Yes. Do I want a refund for the three years I spent being trained as a special person when, it turns out, all it takes is a “good” date to provoke that feeling? (deep sigh)
The point is: Daniel likes me. He stuttered through it, cute, but he likes me.
Joyous, no? Confidence boosting, right?
No. This makes me nervous. He likes me. My stomach turns. I now really either have to focus hard on the whisky I’m drinking or find a reason to leave.
It makes me nervous when a man likes me. I don’t understand how he can like me. He likes me because I gave him attention, likely, but he certainly doesn’t like me because he Knows I’m brilliant. He can’t know that. He might never know that. I don’t even want him to know that. I don’t like when people pigeon-hold me, terming me “artist”, get intimidated or judgemental of how “crazy” I am and then decide I’m too much of a novelty to be the woman they really want to know. I don’t like being brilliant. I don’t like it. So: Why can’t I cope with being, just simply, liked? If it isn’t for my comfortable brilliance, it must be for something else. If I don’t know what that something else is, I cross my legs and search for a reason to leave early.
I didn’t give Daniel my phone number. I took his. Goodbye. He was sweet but I don’t care. Give him your number, he’ll kiss you, let him kiss you, he’ll try to come home, if he comes home, what will happen to my nervous stomach which knows, my stomach knows that I’m not excited by this man at all and he likes me and that makes me feel bad.
This is what my stomach tells me: Men who like me want to get somewhere with me and I am terrible at stopping them. To the woman who didn’t grow up admired, a man just all of a sudden liking me without knowing me, when I don’t feel any kind of spark, that’s the man who is turning himself on with anxious horny fantasies of What Could Be Made Of This Night. I get nervous just speaking to these men, just knowing that they want it to move further. I hardly like any of them. The pressure is real.
When I was in art school, I felt all kinds of pressure to be brilliant. Now, no one gives a shit if I’m brilliant, but there is still a pressure-filled obligation to give the person in front of me the kind of experience he wants. He came here for a reason. It is on me to deliver that reason.
As a writer and entertainer, my absolute favourite part of my job is satisfying the audience. Hearing laughter or even eventual silence is, to me, a job well done. People show up to experience a routed visceral adventure. Come here, sit here, feel here, leave having Felt, the whole body moved, the whole mind transformed: Something was invented for you, did you like it, if you did, we did that for you. It is my job to fulfill people.
Artistically, I hardly do it anymore. All my shows are in development. Kara comes out to play every so often. I write these posts to reach you. But, I cannot measure the effect of this writing. I crave a physical representation of my impact. Please do not let that mean that Daniel can get lucky. Do not let that mean that he got LUCKY that he was out with an artist who is just ending a dry-spell and looking for a thrilling outlet for her creativity. I do not want Daniel to be the outlet. I do not want him to falsely like me. I do not want him to like me at all.
At night, I sit in a room with a man and he asks me what I do. I’ve heard this question for the millionth time this week. I wish constantly that I was Kara.
I wish I had beauty enough to interrupt the conversation with a true investigation of his intentions. I wish I was so gorgeous that an utterance of “do you think you have a chance with me tonight” or “when was the last time you fantasized about marriage” or “tell me your last girlfriends worst sex story”, I wish I was expected to ball-bust, to get away with the shit I get away with in my shows, to be really hysterically dark and genuinely interesting and not at all shy. I wish I could sit tall and investigate men. But, instead, I just sit, willing my stomach not to explode and, in the shy wake of his pronouncement of “liking me”, I give a sick smile, reciprocate the statement and hope that my mere “I like you too” doesn’t corner me into an awkward rejection of his actual intentions.
My stomach is ruined. I recently lost the person in my life who would often validate my work for no reason and I miss him but he’s gone. And I can’t eat. Now, instead, I sit at home, waiting for a man to invite me anywhere and sometimes I go but most of the time I just wait for them to tell me I’m interesting and then I delete them from the app’s roster of men who might feel like liking me one day. This is what I do because I want to hear a Him who is ok with my brilliance. I had one (sort of). He’s gone. I feel scrambled for lack of context.
I don’t like being interesting but that’s what I am. I wish I wasn’t brilliant but that’s what I am. It would be easier to be a pretty Kara with un-revolutionized thought, headspace for days and a non-desperate approach to everything.
I can’t eat. I’ve eaten but I shouldn’t eat. Three weeks have passed since I’ve even toyed with the idea of meeting new people and my body has changed with little effort. My breasts have shrunk. I feel awkward in my clothing. This might be temporary change but you can never know. Nerves devour too much of us sometimes, sometimes there’s no renewal, there’s just a steady growth curve towards something unfamiliar. And, then what?
Do I meet a man and let him watch me shrink with shaking nerves and leaking stomach until he one day sees my work and hates me for it because, and this is what I’m afraid of: they think what I do is interesting but wait until they see it. Wait until they watch my true fear of men, dancing on stage with word and action and thought all constructed to signify, not a hatred, but a true fear of men. Let him be with me then, when all the nerves that have lived in my stomach, that live in my stomach, that disrupt my beauty, whatever beauty I have, let him be ok with the true vision of what’s in my gut.
In art school my work was Brilliant. In reality it’s just fucking insane.
They don’t come from art. They don’t know theatre. One day one of them will be afraid of something I made and I’ll never hear from him again. And he will have said he liked me. And I will have believed him. I will have liked him. But, he didn’t know. So: Watch him leave.
He didn’t go to my school. He doesn’t have to think I’m brilliant. No one has to think I’m brilliant. But, honestly, he can’t be with me without having to get to know it at least.
They told me I was special and I listened. Now, I know I’m special. No one cares, it’s true. No one ever has to agree again, ever, that I’m special, that what I do is special. But, it’s still what I do. My stomach turns. I fear: He will like me but hate what I do. I can’t hide it forever. Unless I stop creating, which, for me, is impossible, one day he’ll know. And, if he doesn’t think it’s special, because he might not think it’s special, he better love me past the point of fear.
This blog is updated daily, detailing my transformation into a fictional character who is being crafted for a larger theatrical project. If you like it, please share to social media, follow the blog and come back soon
You can read Kara’s blog at http://www.okkarablog.wordpress.com
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