Year One: Thank you. Thank you.

At approximately 3:05 pm on this day I completed my first year of graduate studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  Almost immediately I began to feel this huge sense of gratitude  for the road that got me here and the road ahead.  I wept on the train for happy reasons this time (v.s. my in ability to tolerate one more round of “show time” on the 2 train). None of this was on the trajectory for me even 3 years ago, and even when the blips did start to show, I was very doubtful of my ability to get accepted to a “reputable program” and excel in any way.  The truth is I wouldn’t be here had I not had the kind words, good deeds, financial support, and sweeping generosity of others.

To my family: You’re the greatest. Thanks for supporting me even when you didn’t quite understand what it is I’m going after. One day it’ll all make sense.

To my friends: Your love, light and laughter keep me going on sooooo many days.  You have no idea how many times I look back on our text conversations/emails or listen to voice mails just to feel connected when I feel like an idiot or like I’m all alone in this thing (yes, this makes me weird … and a little stalkish, but you knew this about me already.)

To my classmates: My special group of comrades in the trenches, who get how emotionally crippling it can be when plot lines don’t make sense, or your protag doesn’t have a proper antagonist, or when your story doesn’t have a dramatic arc, but by god is it fucking funny. Thank you for the time spent looking at my work and sharing your opinions in an effort to help me make it better.

(and to my Tisch Asia crew … YOU MADE IT MUPHUCKAS!!!! Party up!   I look forward to growing long friendships with you all that with any luck leads to us swimming in a sickening amount of cash … that we can then hand over to the government for our student loans.)

Ok, this is getting longer than I wanted it to be and I don’t want it to come off like some douchey acceptance speech, but I do think it’s proper to stop, observe, and give thanks because I definitely didn’t make it this far on my own.

Salute!

Rosie.

p.s. If you’ve stumbled upon this blog at a point in your life when your deciding whether or not you’re good enough for … whatever … fuck that. You are. Just do it. You never know where it might take you.

and this … cause dammit it’s inspiring

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Judgement Day.

I was struck by this bit of Divine insight while journalling about my meditation today and thought it could be helpful to other creatives or just human beings:

When taking critiques of our work (whatever your work is) it might be helpful to think of yourself as being an observer from the inside of your house during a powerful storm. You see and hear things you think are “good”.  You see and hear things that you think are “bad” but overall you won’t be consumed by them.  When the “storm” is gone and the notes/recommendations are given. You allow yourself time to recover from what you heard and saw, then open the door, go outside, and start cleaning. Consider the notes/recommendations as you clean and hold on to those things that you feel in your gut to be truth of your work regardless of what the notes/recommendations are. Let go and follow the bits of advice you know to be true even when your ego is telling you otherwise.

All right.  I’m done channeling.  Happy working y’all.

Rosie.

Unrequired Love.

LIGHTS FADE UP ON:

10:35 on a lonely Friday night. Why? Because stories about love have to begin with lonesomeness, that’s why. LOIS, lonely Lois, slightly older than 30, looks like’s she’s 40. Sits at a table for two in a Chinese restaurant that’s about the size of a closet in the east village. It is Valentine’s Day, and she’s trying really hard not to give a fuck. She busies herself with things she brought along to busy herself. In walks LESTER a strapping young man, of 39. He walks over to the counter and without waiting for anyone to show up he starts viciously ringing the bell on the counter. A young but tired looking Asian man named JIN walks out. He knows this fucker.

JIN:  Udon and ox tail.

LESTER:  Indeed.

Jin disappears to the back. Lester meanders around as if he hadn’t been there a thousand times. He decides on the seat directly by Lois at her table. He makes himself comfortable by moving her shit.

LOIS: There’s another table over there.

LESTER: I know.

Lester goes in his man bag and takes out a disreputable news paper. Probably the New York Post.

LOIS: So why don’t you go sit at it.

LESTER: Because I don’t want to.

Lois watches him read for a spell then …

LOIS: I don’t want any shit outta you. I know what this is. It’s Valentine’s day, we’re in this intimate place and you are trying to strike up some convo and maybe make some type of connection. Hell, maybe I’ll take you home and fuck you on the sofa real quiet like as to not wake Mother out of her opioid coma. You’ll make promises in hushed tones about calling me the following Friday only you won’t, I’ll have to spend the evening watching Wheel of Fortune with Mother and her group of degenerate Senior Citizens. So save your rap buddy. I don’t wish to connect with you or any one else with a penis or a vagina for that matter. I’d like it very much if you would take yourself and your trashy fucking newspaper and relocate to the table that is sitting in dire need of someone to occupy it.

Lester turns the page in his newspaper.

LOIS: Now!

Lester folds his paper up and sits it on his lap.

LESTER: I don’t want to. There is a large disgusting garbage can directly to the right of that table. The thought of a discarded bit of typhoid leaping from the trash in to my Udon is simply too much to bear. If you’d like, you can displace yourself over in yon sewer, but I, don’t intend to move.

Lester unfolds the paper as Jin arrives with Lois’s order. Jin, btw, does not have an obnoxious Asian accent. He was raised in East Orange, NJ.

JIN: Shrimp fried rice, with a side of tartar sauce. Enjoy. Let me know if you need anything else. Your udon will be out in a sec.

LESTER: Fantastic.

Lois organizes herself before she begins. This is pure OCD ritual. Fork cleaned and organized, rice arranged around the plate, shrimp plucked out and set neatly on the side, the whole nine. Lester lowers his paper and watches. He’s captivated by this shit and when she’s done, right before she takes the first bite …

LESTER: That’s why.

He lifts his paper again to read. Lois sits her fork down.

LOIS: That’s why … what? From behind the paper.

LESTER: You’re single.

Lois sits her fork down.

LOIS: Excuse me?

LESTER: I mean you’re not terrible looking, a little fleshy, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for most men these days.

LOIS: You’re a real bastard. I suppose you know that though.

LESTER: I do, and I also know the reason why you’re single is your freakish habits.

LOIS: No freakier than you sitting down next to a complete stranger when it’s clear that they don’t want you there.

LESTER: Good. We’re both weirdos with freakish habits.

Jin enters. He sits Lester’s food down with far less costumer service zest he offers him not a damn thing else and is trying to walk away when.

LESTER: Chin?

JIN: Jin. My name is Jin.

LESTER: Right. Jin. Jin, can you please get me those nice plastic chopsticks that you have?

JIN: We’re out of them.

LESTER: Well that’s awful.

JIN: I guess so.

Jin attempts exit again.

LESTER: Jin, I’ll take a diet cola.

JIN: Sure.

Jin exits. Lester puts his paper away, grabs one of the napkins Jin gave him, places his hands in his lap on top of the napkin and watches Lois eat. Her eating is laced with as much ritual as the set up for her meal. This goes on until Lois chooses to notice him watching.

LOIS: Fuck off.

LESTER: Language.

LOIS: Move then.

LESTER: We both know I’m not.

Jin comes back out.

JIN: We’re actually out of diet cola.

LESTER: Really? That’s unfortunate. Water will do then. Bottled water.

Jin exits again.

LOIS: What do you do?

LESTER: I do a lot of things.

LOIS: Your work.

LESTER: I’m independently wealthy. I don’t work. My job is to observe and participate in life.

LOIS: Hmn.

LESTER: Hmn?

LOIS: Yes … Hmn.

LESTER: My name is Lester … should you care to know.

LOIS: I shouldn’t. I could have died without knowing actually.

LESTER: And you are?

LOIS: None of your business.

LESTER: Suit yourself.

Jin comes out and sits a bottle of water on the table.

JIN: Are you still working on that?

Lois looks down at the plate of neatly dissected food and decides she wants to go a couple more rounds.

LOIS: I am.

Jin exits then re-enters.

JIN: Oh, we’re gonna be closing in the next 10 minutes. Don’t rush, but I’m just gonna be locking the door then … the holiday.

Jin doesn’t wait for a reaction, he’s out.

LESTER: It’s funny what constitutes a holiday for some people.

LOIS: I told you, no Valentines Day talk. If you’re looking to “hook up”.

LESTER: Madame, even if I wanted to hook up, you would be the last person on earth that would happen with.

LOIS: Gee thanks.

LESTER: This is not to insult you it’s just that I’m a homosexual and therefore have no interest in you sexually, although I do find your meticulous habits fascinating.

Lester finally starts to eat.

LOIS: You’re queer?

LESTER: No, I’m a homosexual.

LOIS: There’s a difference?

LESTER: There is for me. Being homosexual means that when I am sexually aroused there is a 99.9% chance that attraction to a man caused it. Queer is an identity, a political one used to seek a certain status within society. All the labels are Black, White …, I choose to not identify in that way. I seek no level of status in society. I choose to merely exist. Exist and observe.

LOIS: Aren’t you fancy.

LESTER: No, but I am at peace which is more than I can say for you. I’m not the one sitting in a hole in the wall Chinese joint on Valentine’s Day night trying to forget the fact that there’s no one who is going to have meaningless sex with me and give me a card.

LOIS: But you’re here, just as here as me. Why come out at all on a Valentine’s day night? Why not order in and find a hot twink on Grinder.

Lester pushes out a minor giggle.

LESTER: Where do you get this stuff, reality television?

LOIS: I have gay friends, I know how this works.

LESTER: I don’t dabble in Grinders or twinks. I am for lack of better wording asexual. Anal sex is a messy affair that I want nothing to do with, and love is far worse than that. A human being needs only food and shelter to survive. Nature vs. Nurture is a myth.

LOIS: And this is why you’re single.

LESTER: By choice. By a very deliberate choice. One I don’t think you’re making right now. You have friends? Why aren’t you out with them empowering your singleness.

Lois drops her gaze. You already know what it is.

LESTER:  They’re all out on dates aren’t they?

Lois sits down her fork, picks up her purse.

LOIS: Sir!? Jin!?

LESTER: I’m not picking on you.

LOIS: Of course you’re not. Jin enters.

Lois fumbles through her bag and reaches a credit card to Jin. In her haste, she drops it. Lester picks it up, looks at it and hands it to Jin.

LESTER: Lois. That’s an interesting name.

LOIS: Are you gonna tell me that’s the other reason why I’m single?

LESTER: No, I’m not. Actually I was going to tell you that there is no need to feel … down or anything about today or any of supposed things that are supposed to go along with it.

LOIS: You’re just on top of it all aren’t you? You float just above the level of feeling and look down on those who have the audacity to want anything. Like your ability to “choose” to be and stay single is something that makes you a superior breed of human. You’re just a pathetic as I am only you don’t know it. The day will come when you are old and all you will want is someone to hold your hand while you’re dying. Not only will you not have someone to hold your hand, you won’t so much as have a name to call out when you draw your last breath. I’d rather be in shitty relationships for all eternity than to be like you …

Jin enters with her credit card receipt. Lois signs it with the quickness.

LOIS:  … at least  I’m alive.  At least I’m living.

Lois slams all her shit in her bag and heads out the door. Lester watches. A long while passes as he pics over then abandons his food. Jin enters.

JIN: I need to … I need to ring you up. I gotta get out of here.

LESTER: I see.

JIN: Uh … You want a box?

LESTER: No. No, I’m good.

Lester goes in his wallet and leaves exact change on the table. Jin disposes of his plate and disappears to the back. Lester rises and stares through the front door of the shop. Jin comes back out with a dozen roses and a gift bag.

JIN: I’ll … I’ll be here later tomorrow. It’s just today —

LESTER: I understand.

There’s an awkward moment when Jin does everything but tell Lester to get the fuck out.

LESTER: I understand.

Lester steps out and takes off to the left. Jin heads off in the opposite direction.

LIGHTS OUT.

Suspending Disbelief

There is a blissful dismissal of logic that comes with being a child. It enables them to be the gorgeous pile of mush that leaped, curious and unbridled out of their mother’s womb and into a world hell bent on making them into what they “should be”.  It happens earlier and earlier these days, the domestication of children, but if you browse a playground (that is if you can do so without being dubbed a pedophile) occasionally you come across a group of children locked in a heated debate that sounds something like this:

Kid 1: I gone be a super hero when I get big watch.

Kid 2: What kinna stuper hero you go be?

Kid 1: One dat could fly and a-a-and smash big buildins

Kid 2: Nuh uhn

Kid 1: Uh huh!!!

Kid 2: Nuh uhn Nuh uhn

Kid 1 Uh huh Uh huh!!! But you could be my super hero friend tho

Kid 2: I gone be able to to to PUNCH real hard like da Hulk … GRRRRRRRR!!!!

Kid 1:  Les go practice!

Kid 2: Uh K!

And off they go to conquer evil and place bugs in the belongings of unsuspecting peers.  Now, while no one can argue with the sheer entertainment value of hipster babies in skinny jeans with their diapers sogging full of recycled Pabst Blue Ribbon formula; One has to confess that the freedom that comes with being a child over the years has been severely compromised. The openness to have a the free range of emotions that guides the process of becoming an emotionally well adjusted adult is squelched. The result, stuffy assed adults too obsessed with not seeming “thirsty” or “messy” to feel. Some medicate either legally or illegally, still others seek alternate means (e.g. cars, homes, clothes etc.) so that to the outside world will think they are A-OK. Meanwhile they are dying on the inside.

I was and quite often still can be guilty of just this. I suspect this is what lead me back to theatre and writing.  The ability to play and bring to life the characters that are running around in my head without getting the hell side-eyed out of me by society.  Theatre has brought to my life a level of inner freedom, joy and peace that I don’t feel like I’ve ever knew, even during my bittersweet childhood.  The first piece read at a play reading I held last evening is “Reasoning”.  It was the first vignette written for a show called “The Waiting Place” that  I wrote while at UNC Charlotte and is the first complete theatrical piece that I ever had produced. The show gets its name from an excerpt of  “Oh the Places You’ll go by Dr. Seuss.” The passage goes:

“The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or a No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.”

This past year has contained enough waiting for me to slay father time.  While waiting I’ve tried to remain open and blindly hopeful as a child. I’ve not always succeeded, but I’ve remained aware of the message in the waiting. The same type of awareness that allows for the adult eye to see the beauty and depth to Dr. Suess’s message and long for the comfort of it’s rhyme scheme and ridiculous creatures when the adult world seems to scary to confront. I escape back to the freedom of childhood every time I sit at the key board, sit in a dark cinema or theatre, or pick up a good book waiting for my disbelief to be suspended so my imagination can run hi-knee laps around my mind.

A young woman named Ira Yarmolenko was in the original cast of “The Waiting Place”. Tragically, the May after the show went up she was brutally murdered under circumstances that I still struggle to understand.  In one of our last conversations we sounded a lot like the two children in my above scenario.  We were at the cast party for The Waiting Place” and we almost simultaneously said.  “What are you gonna do next.”  I’m not sure of what I said, but I’m almost sure the path I’m on now wasn’t even in my trajectory at that point. Ira said, “I don’t know.” and smiled a little. In such a care free self-satisfied way that I thought for sure she’d just figured out the meaning of life. Maybe she did, maybe in that moment her disbelief and any fear had been suspended and she was free to just live.

Rosie.

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Ira Yarmolenko and Joshua Ozro Lucero
“The Waiting Place” UNC Charlotte 2007

 

 

PE: The Unseen Enema!

I’m not sure if I ever feel “special” or “wanted”. I have determined the reason for this is an undiscovered birth defect that children in the future will be tested for.  They may even develop a vaccine.  It’d play out something like this:

(A happy couple with their new baby in tow, walks into a pediatrician’s office for baby’s first appointment. The doctor sits behind the desk, shuffles mindlessly through papers. It is apparent that all tests and labs are normal. Then he stumbles upon a piece of paper that causes him to stop and furrow his Andy Rooney like brow.)

Doctor:  Mr. and Mrs. Happy?

The Happies: (anxious) Yes?

Doctor:  I’ve got some difficult news.

Mr. Happy: What is it?

Doctor:  There is something terribly wrong with little Johnny.

Mrs. Happy:  Oh no!  But I did all the right things during my pregnancy! I exercised, ate the right foods, kept my pot smoking to a minimum, and refrained from contact with undesirable societal elements.

(Mrs. Happy dissolves into tears.)

Mr. Happy: (stiff upper lip) Alright doc.  Lay it on us.

Doctor: Little Johnny has PE.

Mrs Happy:  Oh My God No!!! No no no no no no no nonononononono! aaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

(Mr. Happy slaps the shit out of Mrs. Happy)

Mrs. Happy: (to Mr. Happy) Thanks Honey. (to Doctor) Um, what’s PE?

Doctor: Perpetual Emptiness. No matter how much or how little love and affection you shower that little sonnovabitch with, he’ll still feel like a useless sack of shit, and act accordingly.

Mr. Happy: So, there’s a name for that now?  Thanks modern science!

Doctor: Yes, there is a name, and we are mere decades away from a cure!  Aboriginal children at a camp in a remote area of New Zealand are currently being used to test the vaccine.  When those little bastards stop bouncing off walls and spontaneously combusting we’ll know we’re almost there.

Mrs. Happy:  What do we do in the mean time?

Doctor: (ponders) Well it’s too late too abort.  There’s always abandonment or general disinterest in his life.

Mr. Happy:  Does that work?

Doctor:   I don’t know.  Go ask your father.

(Mr. and Mrs. Happy share a puzzled look.)

Doctor: Go on, get him out of here. There’s nothing else I can do for him.

(Mr. and Mrs. Happy leave with Little Johnny in hand.  Three months later, they divorce.  Six months later, Ms. Happy, under the assumed name of “Thunder Clap”, begins a lucrative career in striptease.  Little Johnny?  I’m not sure, but it is likely that he’s well on his way to becoming the savior or condemnation of modern society.)

The End.

(Cue Cape Fear theme music.)

I may suffer with PE, and we may be saying hello to my son’s great-grandchildren before there’s a cure, but dammit I know you like me! You really like me! (Please say you like me 😦 … and want me :/ .)

Alright I’m done being a jackass.  Happy Valentine’s Day to the all the lonely hearts!

Rosie.

A moment: At Caribou.

Setting: Caribou Coffee – Park Road Shopping Center – Charlotte, NC

Time:  December 18, 2102 9:15 am

Lights Up. 

(I’m sitting in Caribou coffee, paying my cell bill before they cut me off, arranging my oatmeal, coffee, and water.  I take out my journal to write when a group of children enter followed by their doting teachers.  I try not to look. In short order they begin to sing a song that I am not familiar with about cultural unity followed by a traditional Christmas carol which I can’t remember because by this time I have dissolved into tears. Across from me sits a woman and her baby who is no older than about 9 months.  She sees me.)

Woman:  Oh my God, are you okay?

Me:  I can’t … it’s just … just.  The kids you know?

(She turns to the children and quickly turns back.)

Woman:  Yeah. (pause) I can’t even watch the news.

Me: Me either.

(I cry a little more.  She squeezes what looks like pudding into the baby’s mouth.  She … I think it was a she … she has chubby rosy cheeks and is adorable.)

Me: (still slightly distraught) This is the kind of stuff they were probably doing.

Woman:(sighs) Yeah.

(We both pause.  The children finish their song.  We look at one another and we clap for them. She goes back to tending to the baby.  The two of them play and laugh.  The children have exited.  I have put my headphones back in.  Mo’ Betta Blues plays. I go back to my journaling and glance up just in time to see the woman leaving. We mime:

Woman:  Have a good day.

Me:  You too.  Happy Holidays … Have a happy …

(She’s gone. Back to my journal.)

Lights Out.

Coming Out.

Once upon the time in the ghetto, there was a little girl whose mother had taken very ill in her lumbar spine.  Her mother would be restricted to bed for at least a few weeks, this making for the most terrible of living conditions as there was, no interweb, no DVR, No TiVO … hell there was no cable in this particular ghetto (not until the mid-nineties anyway). The little girl was in a state of deep despair.

“How,” she pondered “will I save mother from a fate worse than death … BOREDOM!”

She wouldn’t ponder for long before an idea came to mind.  After gathering bed sheets, shoes, kerchiefs and anything else she felt might be useful the girl mounted a one woman show: Gone with the Wind Redeaux! With pain staking attention to character movement, vocalization, and wardrobe she seamlessly became:

Scarlett O’Hara –

“Fiddle-De Dee … I will never go hungry again!  Tara!”

Mammy –

“You ain’ spose tuh show yo bossom fo three’o clock Miss Scarlett, but go’on since you’s a hoe anyhow!”

Ashely –

“I would love you Scarlett darling, if I weren’t a homosexual married to my cousin, and if you were a man.  A hot, hot man.”

Melanie –

“Oh Scarlett. Sweet Scarlett.  I’m Ashley’s beard.  Besides, only a woman can give you what really need.  Ooo look there between my thighs, I think I’m having a baby.”

and

Rhett –

“You ought to be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how! And I don’t give a damn!”*

*which oddly explains why the little girl as an adult often fell in love with emotionally unavailable men who screwed like champions.
 

Guess what?  The heroine of this trite and tale, is yours truly.  I never conceived of my childhood shenanigans being anything more than me being silly to get people to laugh, and more important, like me.  What I was being though, was an actor.  In the last few years I have sheepishly studied the craft  particularly enjoying dialect and character study.

Despite being officially learned, and pretty good at it by the assessment of others, I’m often too intimidated to put myself on stage. I have forced myself through here and there, but now I’ve committed to do the first honest to God play  that I’ve done in years. There are multiple roles that will force me to flex every acting muscle I have, to utilize every drop of dialect training I got and …

I LOVE IT!!!!

I’d forgotten how much I love it. There is a reason why I choose to consider myself a “theatre artist”.  It is because while writing is and always will be my first love, I want it all. I am theatrically poly amorous.  My attention starved inner child – you know, the one that parodied one of the most racially inflammatory movies of our time for my bed ridden my mother – craves the adoration that only a live audience, captive or liberated, can provide.

I shall not deny myself that pleasure a moment longer.  Why did I wait so long to embrace this side of myself?!  No matter. It is here and now that I make my confession to the world: I. AM. A THESPIAN!

Rosie.