MADWOMAN: A contemporary writer

I have no portraits to post today.

I’ve taken no pictures.  I have had no time.

After a year of complete unemployment (other than the self-employed non-stop existential meandering occupation of Writing), I have just completed a full week of full time work.  I have been employed to work at a patisserie cafe.  And I suck at it.

Today and yesterday have been my weekend.  Time has moved with diligent abstraction.  Even now I hurry to write this because I’ve scheduled two artistic meetings and meanwhile, I’ve written twenty pages all week.

Life has changed.  It used to be days of character construction and playtime as an alter ego who knew everything and wanted only what she was sure would complete her ornate Being, who wrestled with makeup and hair all day only to show off digitally what the world had to see of her, and the world would only see that one thing she let out for display:  a casual sexiness, a worthwhile trendiness, a structured beauty.  Now, it’s days filled with a new alter ego, a barista alter ego, who clumsily drops food on the floor and burns meals if they aren’t completely cold because she can’t figure out how to work the oven and there are too many people in line so just take your fucking food.

I don’t know if I like this change.  It’s been a shift from creation to destruction, from I to Her, from ease to strain.

When this blog began, I was dealing with personal stress, having trouble eating and sleeping, a balance of cliche symptoms thanks to a change in my social life, a little bit of heartbreak and a collapse of what I knew to be Friendship.  I then got a job:  Immediate relief.  The job has begun:  Back to stress.

There is nothing steady about being a female artist, about being she who hopes to be heard, who’d like to fight to be heard but who must also fight to avoid accusations of acute hysteria.  “She’s crazy”, I’ve heard frequently because I create all day and have little to show for it.  I’m not. I’m not crazy.  And look, now:  I have a job.  I don’t stay at home all day creating because even when it seemed that I was doing that, I was looking for a job.  And now I have one.  I am completion.  You cannot call me crazy because I fit in now.

When I was in twelfth grade, I had only been attending my high school for one year prior because I had transferred from a Hebrew school after tenth grade, but, still, I was notably The Drama Geek.  The only one.  We had no club, no zeitgeist of theatrical fascination, no one to really jive with over my immature understandings of Beckett and Pinter.  It was just me.  Dreaming of New York.  Working hard in the theatre.  Thanklessly.

We did have a drama committee, whose dealings are still a mystery to me because I was not voted onto this committee for lack of sanity and I know that because the elections proceeded as follows:  Each candidate had to write a speech and the teacher would read the speeches to each drama class every period, the students from these classes would vote and the winning candidate would be elected onto the “committee” (mystery committee).

I did not write a speech.  I recorded (on a tape because iPhones were not a thing) myself singing a musical revue of  Wicked and I asked the teacher to play it for each class.  I still think it was genius.  No one liked it.  They voted in a girl named Courtney who promised to do something with the something something so that drama could something something something something more that year.

She dealt with the election through the sane tactic of what had been asked of us.  I did not.  I invented an insane version of what was asked and I insisted that it be counted as Ok.  I freaked everyone out. I, the freak, used my freakish freak freak to freak everyone out and I thought that: Hey, though, this is theatre and look how theatre I am.  No.  No one wanted theatre.  Everyone wanted sanity.

I am now brushed up against sanity.  I have a full time job.  I go to work, every day.  I cram shit into my weekend.  I never relax.  Hi:  I am sanity.  No time for photos but then, that was all a mirage anyways.  All I have time for is sane reality.

There is a difference between insanity and psychosis.  Insanity is a pejorative, denoting a contemptuous evaluation of non-societal behaviour.  For example, I did not write a speech, I sang a musical revue. something that made no sense within the confines of what was asked of me, therefore, insane.  Psychosis is a medical term used to refer to the supposedly unhealthy behavioural glitches of an individual when he/she is exhibiting delusion, hallucination, hyper-expressive traits or any other over-blown extension of the human brain.  It’s a big deal.  Psychosis is a big deal.  Insanity is just that thing we refer to when someone makes us uncomfortable.  It hardly has anything to do with the need for intervention. It has everything to do with the need for everyone to slowly back away from the freak they can’t handle.

If you Wikipedia Insanity, it allows an immediate link to an opera entitled Madwoman: A Contemporary Opera.   I have never seen this piece but it sounds like an operatic freak show, which is incredible and at the same time horrific because this is what it means:  It means, we feel like freaks.  I am also writing a freak show so I am giddy with validation upon finding this opera, this is just further proof that women in the arts feel like freaks.

I want to gather the women I know who work in the arts, I want us to sit in a circle and I want us all to admit that we feel like freaks.  Traditionally, the genius men who have worked in the arts have won the kind of heroism that women literally die to achieve.  Think of the men who have led historic movements and then been led to bed by any number of googly-eyed women who cannot believe that they get to speak to a genius.

It does not happen this way for women.  I pronounce myself a writer to someone who doesn’t know me and suddenly I’m adorable, striving to be smart, hopefully I’ll get there one day.  Recently, I was seated next to a male writer, a veteran author, and he said “I see you’re still writing.  You must really like it.”  Yeah.  I really like it.  I love spending all my time crying over verse and then stepping back to the reality that no one will read this, leaving my house and burning my skin while I serve coffee to people who think they’re brilliant because they have two kids and they still make it to their retail management jobs every day, hey by the way, they push verbal assertions of my idiocy my way, this coffee is cold because the milk is under-steamed and are you new here and is there anyone else who can do this for me because you clearly aren’t meant for this.  I am not meant for this.  I am meant to write.

Yes, I really like it. I love having a hidden talent that hardly makes me human and horribly paints my insides with complexities that make daily nourishment and the pursuit of relationships an impossibility meanwhile terrified that I’m doing everything wrong because I am doing everything wrong because I am only meant to do one thing.

I really like it.

But, I do really like it.  I love writing.  Everything is just something to write about.  Failure especially.  Pain particularly.  That morning where I walk my dog for three hours and arrive home unsure that any day other than today has been a real day or that anyone around me is anything but afraid of knowing me,  that feeling, definitely.

I really like it.  I love it.  I hate that I have no time to do it now.  That said, sitting at home all day was a completely different type of torture.

Do you ever sit and wonder about yourself thirty years from now?   I wonder a lot about my body.  It could go one of two ways at the moment:  I could get really fat or I could disappear.  I wonder a lot about my body and how I can use it to write more, how the pain or elation of physical existence can fuel what I’m writing so that everything I’ve written is visceral, captivating because it’s muscular and bloody and soft.  I wonder about my body and I wonder about my work.  For me, nothing else exists in the future.  There are no people.  There is no job.  I live where ever I live now.  I have nothing other than files of work on my computer and a body.  Nothing else is cherishable.

I think about this in terms of Kara, in terms of someone who lives in her body right now as if it were a spectacle, a construction and she the manager of it’s display.  It’s about her looks.  When I played her all day, I had time to care about my looks.  This week:  I just needed my body to keep working.  I wore no makeup.  I sweat profusely.  I wore men’s clothing because it’s looser and the shorts aren’t too short for a workplace.  I didn’t look Good.  And no one looked at me.  I became the products I was selling.

The chefs who I work with are incredible.  They dedicate their lives, all their time, to making this incredible food and I’m meant to serve it and how dare I fuck it up. It’s like when I work for years on a play and someone breaks it with one production because of sheer laziness and misunderstanding. That’s what I’m doing to these chefs.  I am ruining their production.  This isn’t about me.

Kara was all about Kara.  This isn’t about me.  This barista person is a servant, she serves, the end.  This isn’t about her, it isn’t about me.

I am just a writer.  Used to being a freak.  But, now, five days a week, the “type of person I am”, it doesn’t matter.  I just have to do this job so that when I leave the job I can tell you, I can answer “what do you do” with an answer that isn’t freakish.

But I really like being a freak.  I really like being a writer. I really like…

Turn the tables over, stack the chairs, mop the floor, ring out the mop so that pools of water don’t leak into the kitchen, wear non-slip shoes, heat the food, serve the food, cut this sandwich in half:   Do it all and that’s what you do.  Five days a week.  Those are my days off.  Those five days, those are the real days off granted to me,  away from true freakishness and artistic tension.

I suck at my job?  Good.  Five days a week I suck at something.  I take no photos.  I show no one.  Only the people who see it will see it and then they will leave, the world will never know until the world DOES know and when they know, it will be a controversial display of freakish humour for the sake of an elevated understanding of our Now because I wrote it that way.

I only do things to write about them.  Second reason I do things, to tell you I do things so that I don’t need to tell you I write about them.

Consider yourself a thing I’ve done.

I’ll do the same.

And if it’s ok with you, I’ll have to assume that I’ve done it wrong.  Because, then I can write about the pain of you leaving.

 

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