Time doesn’t do any thinking, doesn’t even speak in a way that makes sense. Whatever Language is, it has yet to negotiate itself with Time or even with my stomach or, worse, no, sorry, better, no, sorry, even, Language even has yet to negotiate itself with Fairness.
An abstract efficiency is not what helps us get through anything.
My new job at a local coffee shop is absolutely a job and definitely not my vocation. If a show involving me working as a barista could exist as part of Toronto’s current Clown Festival, I would think it would be the only redeeming feature of exhibiting foolishness publicly. But, being an idiot isn’t applauded in real life.
A list of failures won’t count as an article here. The only thing I can write about is the slow transformation of my ego, from some one who sets camera up just to film myself looking stupid, proud to display satirical behaviour if it allows the consideration of genuine craft, to some one who is ashamed to display idiotic behaviour because it makes a blonde lady with a mysterious accent completely comfortable ridiculing me for serving her a “flat” cappuccino.
If it isn’t performance, what am I doing?
I grew up hiding in closets. I used to stay with my grandparents, as a child, for periods of time when my parents were traveling or otherwise unavailable and I used to hide in the closet. It might have been a punishment. I’m not sure. I liked it, though. There was a blue suitcase in the closet at all times. I used to pretend it was mine and, with it, I was on a train. Upon leaving the closet, I could pretend I had arrived somewhere new. With an imaginative sphere of Elsewhere, I was an activated imaginary entity too. Then, everything could make sense according to my own logic.
I still operate in this way.
I operate in this way every time I write a play, every time I write anything and especially, within the last month, every time I put on Kara’s wig. Reality is ok when I am making it up.
Today at work, after I cut myself across two fingers, burnt my hand purging the milk steamer and flung half a hot pressed sandwich across the bar, I defensively tucked myself into a delusion. I am not sure what it was. I do know that, within the imagining, everything was very important: The coffee was very important, the egg sandwiches were very important, the blonde women with accents were very important. And they needed me. And I invented coffee. And I invented food.
Shaking for lack of sustenance, I engaged as quickly as possible with very important tasks but the delusion couldn’t overcome the physical demands of what I was doing. My body isn’t used to making two americanos and two sandwiches at the same time while taking another order and trying very hard to remember what an order is, what money does and by the way the sandwiches are burnt now and there is no cup under the dripping espresso. Correction: I did not invent this.
I could not invent these rules because these rules make sense. There are steps to each process, there are things that need to be done, my brain cannot come up with things like this, things that travel in straight lines, things that have a one, two, three attitude, no, my delusions require that nothing makes sense and that I can respond to impetus with absurdity. What am I doing in this coffee shop?
I am an illogical person. I am a creative. I create things. Anything already created for me is confusing. Too bad the world is no longer a place where we can clown in public, make no money doing it, live in a hole and go back to work the next day, eating the food that is flung at us while we make public fools of ourselves for the sake of widespread humane relief, for the sake of “You’re better than I am but I can make you laugh so let’s have an interaction because we both happen to be here”. Clown is no longer an occupation that covers life’s landscape of needs. We all have to be baristas now. The artist cannot just be or, she must be a transferable entity in order to survive.
At the local coffee shop where I’ve been hired, I find the only rescue from complete failure is a creative level of awareness. To take in, with entire body and mind the activities required of me and their consequences so that failure is just an event passing through me. It happens, I experience it and then know, viscerally, not to do it again. To think about it would be a mistake.
I cannot think. I do not think. The second I think, I think too much and then my body shuts down. I am not wired to think. I am wired to feel and do. That’s how I work: Feel and do.
During the improvisations I do as Kara on camera for her web series, if I think at all during the hour of performance, I lose momentum and all of a sudden become more complicated than the conversation she is having. She has a rapid-paced conversation style and, speaking as her, I’ve learned to listen and trigger action based on the immediacy of what’s been heard. In other words, I forget about logic and work only from associations.
For example, in a recent on-camera interview with a local actor, Kara responded to the actor’s presence as follows:
KARA: There’s mango in that drink
ACTOR: It’s nice
KARA: It’s not organic, do you only eat organic
ACTOR: No, I–
KARA: But you’re an actor, don’t actors only eat organic
ACTOR: I don’t know I–
KARA: I mean pretty actors like you, I don’t mean Danny Devito, like he probably eats hot dogs
ACTOR: He might–
KARA: Do you think Danny Devito eats only hot dogs
ACTOR: I don’t know, he might
KARA: How can you not know
Her responses are self-indulged and quick. She knows, she has decided that all actors only eat organic so she cannot take no for an answer. The slightest utterance of “No” has her jumping on the same assertion she originally came up with because she believes she’s right and she will not be wrong. Her entire objective is to push her credibility and therefore the conversation quickly bounces back and back and back to her being right.
When playing Kara, I don’t think about anything, I just make sure that “I” (Kara) am right. One goal. One world. Her world. Her goal. The result is comedic. My job as creator is done. I have created a performative arena for an I-Thou interaction between Kara and an artist. The audience can thereby respond to the ignited artistic conversation without pretension and with laughter. We can all therefore relate to Art through the recorded interaction.
I know exactly what I am doing when I make this show. I invented the formula for funny, for interesting, for useful. There’s no rules, there’s no one way for them to have a conversation, there’s no mechanics, it’s just physical, soulful impulse.
I cannot describe the skills I am equipped with to make this show or any other show that I’ve made. I do not have a resume of skills. “Funny” might be a skill. “Charming” might be a skill. But, really it’s just instinct and the instinctive ability to be creative makes me employable absolutely nowhere, apparently. So, I work in a coffee shop and I suck at it and no one thinks it’s funny.
Everyone purchasing food and coffee expects a level of respect and excellence that I cannot even understand. No one has a sense of humour. No one expects to walk in and employ whatever sense of humour they might have. They just expect me to be good at serving coffee.
I cease to understand how serving coffee is a more noble cause than serving intelligible humour. A scone seems better entertainment to most people than any show I could ever craft.
Toronto, you are wasting your artists. We are serving you scones. We are going home burned and cut and tired. Yet, we can give you more than a shot of espresso. Why do any of you even need this much espresso? Do you know what espresso is? Do you know where it comes from? It grows in a field where there used to be forest, often children work to harvest the beans while countries base large percentages of economic growth on the addictions of scary blonde women with mysterious accents and their lost purposes in life.
That sounds harsh but if they really understood life’s purpose, they’d be more interested in clowns than espresso.
I won’t quit my job because I wonder if I can get really good at it. The art of espresso is somehow very impressive to those who drink it, when it is done right. In my head it’s much funnier to watch a short woman spill hot water out of every americano she makes because why has no addressed the fact that the cup does not fit properly under the boiler-head. No one has really told me how to make anything and it will take a long bit of time watching demonstrations on YouTube before I return to work feeling like I am not ruining everyone’s day. Ruined coffee equals ruined day. That’s the formula. I did not make that up. I have just watched the logic of it for a full morning and I understand. I understand only because I remained aware. Despite thinking it’s a little funny, I have to fix it.
There is no audience. If there was an audience, this would be a very funny show. But, there is no audience.
My imagination is not needed here. What’s needed is an awareness, physically and mentally, an integration into a new space with new tasks and a new logic.
This will become imaginary. There is no way for me to avoid painting life with delusions. The interesting question will be: Which delusions will save me from failing?
It might be Kara, her quick responses and confidence, her charming flippancy and exact physical gestures.
It might actually be a whole new ego…A barista but what is her name and how does she command herself?
I don’t know yet. From every instance comes a creative signal and, if we follow that signal to the end of it’s noise we find new spaces, new products, new gifts. Creativity is a lot like love in that way: It finds us when we’re open to it and then leads us towards completely new sensations, drives us crazy while fixing everything and ultimately dies (even if death only means Metamorphosis) with the promise of a new start. I believe if I allow everything to be creative, I will always be in love. Failure then becomes just another jealous joke, the failing circumstances easily overcome with illogical laughter and a rejuvenated awareness. The love remains a distraction and gentle reminder: It’s just coffee and I am still somebody to somebody.
We learn as we live and until we know everything, we fail a lot. Most jobs that pay are centered around a logical form. I will never intuitively operate according to logic. I will only ever be a creative freak with her own way of Trying. Burned skin, cut skin, coffee stained skin, it’s still mine and I feel one day I will be making you laugh full time. But, for now, I make you coffee and meditate cup-by-cup on how lucky we are to not even care that our favourite beverage is wildly instigating the end of the world.
There’s a few jokes in there that I haven’t written yet.
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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