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I can’t seem to motivate myself to write here, but I want to nonetheless; therefore, I’ll compile a simple list to get myself started, or at least finished.

Ten things that happened while I was away:

  1. I created some excellent, short pieces of fight choreography, one or two of which particularly pleased me.
  2. I worked with mostly non-union actors who all, nevertheless, stayed true to the work on an a compressed schedule.
  3. I confirmed that some actors in the union exhibit poise onstage and off, but many simply reap the benefits of the genetic lottery.
  4. I learned about myself in my time alone, mostly that I might prefer solitude to the company of others.
  5. The cast bonded over physical training; I may attempt to enact such a policy on my actors in my next show.
  6. The director taught me much, but above all, I learned more humility: my vision is not unique, though it is strong.
  7. Meeting a famous person left me starstruck, but talking to him reminded me quickly to see people as humans, as trees in the Ram Dass sense.
  8. I charmed people when I decided to be charming, and alienated them by isolating myself.
  9. I treated my work a bit too much like work and forgot to find joy. The schedule may have contributed to that, as may have my unwillingness to open up to people.
  10. I completed a piece of art at a company that will likely increase my reputation. Maybe that will allow me to feel more confident.
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I will defend you whether or not I am armed, but some people don’t have the choices and fortune I do. For example, a paraplegic man in a wheelchair.

Those who want to carry firearms should be subject to more stringent rules, however, if they intend to carry a weapon that makes it so simple to be lethal. The people I know who carry firearms understand the rules, and live by them, so this shouldn’t be difficult for them. But why should we not create a negative incentive for those who do not live a life worthy of the privilege?

Is it a fundamental human right to own a weapon, particularly a firearm? That is the actual question at stake. It is certainly a fundamental right that a living being should be allowed to live free from harm.

We don’t extend this right to most animals or plants; should that enter into our discussion here?

We don’t create a world where we are free from disease, the infringement of that one basic right by bacteria, viruses, and problematic genetic. Do bacteria have the right to live free from harm?

We don’t seem to understand that ISIL is now fighting the way America did against the British, the way all freedom fighters assault a larger, more technologically advanced enemy who seems bent on their destruction. Should we allow ISIL the right to live free from harm?

Should I carry a gun so that I can fire on an assailant? Is it the only way to stop them? Isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure?

Is this a question of escalation? That is, once we know people are armed, will there have to be a new way for criminals to assert their dominance over such a population?

Is is true, really true, that a mentally ill individual (not a criminal for whom the gains are reasonable) will get a gun no matter what they have to do? I could legally buy a gun to kill myself in those moments of doubt, but I don’t. My reason? It’s too much of a hassle. Anecdotal.

It’s a complicated topic, obviously.

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No one would have blamed Heath for wanting the bauble. It sat with delicate weight on the pedestal and gleamed with inviting indifference. Although it flashed light onto his face whenever he moved near it, this was true of most treasure. Treasure attracts the senses. This tiny happiness for which he had searched bore all the signature traits of sin. He coveted it, he lusted for it, he wanted, badly, to steal it from its owner. With his artful, almost poetic sophistry, he even argued himself into believing that it wanted to be stolen — nay, freed — from its comfortable pillow, nestled in an embrace of sunlight from above.

“I would wear this trinket proudly,” he thought, “I would make sure everyone saw it. I would even share it, if it wanted to be shared. People could take turns wearing it, so long as they returned it by the end of the day, so I could spend my nights in adoration. I would never tire of gazing at it, of caressing it.”

As his fingers extended to touch the facade of the bauble, however, a deep sadness suddenly made him feel heavy. Heavy and weak. How many such objects had he touched in the past? How many had he stolen? Yet, here he stood, with child-like petulance, ready for another. He remembered then, the trophy case he had built, foggy now with dust each time he walked past it. And there, on the mantle, the clock he had built. Intricate gears which represented infinite care, its housing etched with carved grooves and careless gashes. In the yellow glow of his home, he heard its soothing, reliable tick.

The bauble fairly hummed now, chirping delight as his fingers tickled its gemmed surface, shivering under his breath.

He stepped back from the pedestal and the walls of the room warped and wobbled. He felt ill, and he began to dig the pads of his fingers into his temples, tearing his own flesh with funereal purpose. As his vision blurred from pain and the red wash of blood making a dire concoction with his tears, he could hear the chime of the hour.

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Take a break

Stories of great men, apocryphal or otherwise, depict them as being singularly committed to their goals. Lest we create idols of them, however, the story then changes to their support system, typically their wives. In these stories, the wives are constantly grounding them in reality, asking them to relax for a moment, which then allows them greater perspective and leads to their greatest breakthroughs.

Similarly, when I entrench myself in my work, my satisfaction increases. I cannot equate myself with these great men, because I allow myself distraction too frequently. Validation arrives too late in the case of work, which kills my spirit in the form of impatience. When people want release from their obligations, I cannot understand it. If one cares enough to commit themselves to the completion of a work, then how can one take any satisfaction in the release from the pursuit of its completion, if not perfection? Late nights, frustration, starvation, weight gain, loss of friendship: any of these casualties become necessary under the burden of creation, because what else even exists?

Supporting characters obviously earn their place in history, but if I must ascend to feel worthy…

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The Percival

It was an indomitable ship, from the look of it. Big, strong timbers for masts and the bent-beams of the hull had such flexibility that the strain of their fibers bowing to the wave-cutting shape of the prow made them look defiant and unbeaten.

In the water, it bobbed slower than the slap of the waves, as if considering. When each crew member took a step in, The Percival barely rocked. Gliding out into the sea, it split the water in two, and sent sprays high and away from the sails. Even the sun left no marks in its rich, red sides.

Below decks lived a painter, who cared for the ship. Much of the time, the painter knew that the ship would be strong enough not to need him. He would spend months at a time laying in his hammock, painting little scenes and caricatures of people he knew, or even some he had never met. When he felt it was needed, he would come out and give some attention to the outside of the ship to keep it in reasonable condition. He spent more time on the little paintings in his quarters below deck than on the ship.

“This is such a strong ship,” he said to himself, and others who would listen, “Surely, people will see that it is strong, which is all a ship needs to be. Then, they will come inside to see my paintings.”

Many years went by. The painter became more and more impatient. Sometimes, he would purposefully let the ship fall into disrepair and neglect. But, no one came then, either. Sometimes, he would spend extra time painting the exterior of the ship, almost enough to make it as beautiful as the other ships, whose painters spent so much time on them.

“After all,” he thought, “the ship still is a ship. It’s been painted enough. And, it’s such a strong ship. Surely, people will see that it is strong and that is what a ship should be. Now, that it has a fresh coat of lovely paint, they will want to come in and see my paintings.”

But no one came.

Eventually, the painter grew tired of painting, and left all the scenes and caricatures curl from their frames. Even if people had come to see the paintings then, they were dusty and peeling and their edges were rough. They were not the paintings anymore.

The Percival was still strong, even after many years. It creaked more now, but it still split waves, and dared the sun. Many crews would sail it, but when they went below decks, they would hear a howling they could never quite identify. Occasionally, they would find a curious painting lying on the ship’s floors, but a nervous and thin man would come from the darkness to snatch it away. When they would go back above decks, sometimes they could hear him say, “It’s a ship. It’s a strong ship, and that’s all it needs to be.”

And the sailors would nod and agree and sail on.

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Try the Pen

I have been encouraged by my therapist to write more. In our sessions, I often mention this journal because I think, despite many rambling unedited passages, I come to some lovely little turns of phrase that sum up difficult feelings. Today’s session revolved around the concept of authority, and how I’ve always understood its necessity and butt heads with those who don’t. Not dictatorship, not authoritarianism, just authority.

Eventually, the buck must stop. Where you lay that burden, you must also invest your trust. Representative democracy in America has become a site of lax accountability with maximum power, as authority no longer requires trust, but the same looks-driven awe that we grant our entertainers. Perhaps it is only nostalgia, but I seem to remember a time when people became handsome or beautiful by way of their talent, and were not suddenly granted a status of talented merely for being beautiful. Models and actors were dumb until otherwise noted, not seen as members of some cultural elite who knew better than our leaders.

I am glad that Obama is handsome and hip, because I believe he had great things in mind for the country many of which came true. I am halfway onboard with his drone policy, but only halfway. It seems more humane, and we cannot fall victim to the fallacy of slippery slope when it comes to privacy and totalitarianism. He is a good leader, and with whatever places I might criticize, I grant that he took on the burden of leadership as bests he could, unlike say Bush, who was not a leader, but won his presidency — if we accept that there were no voter conspiracies — based on a sort of snuggly harmlessness in the face of a world which then seemed to be on the mend.

Authority is not granted me despite my track record NOR my obvious genetic tendencies toward leadership. I am tall, hale, and strong. I am tactful, clear-eyed, and efficient. So, where the disconnect? Must I be a tyrant to be heard?

Thus, the pen. After all, no one can hold any authority over my writing, and I may be able to express myself best in this environment, whatever self-doubt may linger. I am already a shut-in, so bonus points there. I have a degree in the subject. I have been called a natural storyteller. I even hold awards, however far out of date, for my writing.

I have been making a sincere attempt to write more for my own mental health, and my ability to exert self-discipline has grown in recent years. Writing it may have to be.

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Not ok.


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Fight like me

It’s good to know that I’m good at what I do. I spent the evening with B&B’s R&J, teaching a number of knife fights, and some unarmed. Plenty of good actors there, and lots to love in that group.

I wish I could do more things like that, but really, I think it’s time I got out of the game.

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The Powers That Be

Considering my size, I get pushed around a lot. I think I was told early in life that a bully is the worst thing one could be. Or maybe, because I felt bullied by so many people, I found it the worst thing.

Even when people assert themselves with the acceptance that I might say no, I give in. Almost always. Because, I think to myself, there has got to be a compromise where every person involved gets — at least, mostly — what they want. And me? I give the most, the most often.

I don’t think it seems this way to other people. In my perception of it, perhaps due to my privilege as a white male in America, others see me as always getting my way. In reality, even should I win any such battle, some small part of me dies. What I want is not to succeed, but for everyone to see how much time and effort I have spent making the best option for everyone, even if they didn’t get their first, best choice.

Hypervigilance, they call my behavior in psych-speak. Sounds about right. I have no assertion. I am the “sensitive 90s guy” that my director makes jokes about. “That guy has feelings, you guys,” she says with an eye-roll. The joke lands, and I do think it’s funny. But it also means that all of my identity, the time I spent going to Lilith Fair and being open-minded about how masculinity should be defined, has been for naught.

Because I listen and consider and forgive, I am considered too vulnerable to lead. Because I will not assert my size over people, I am perceived as weak. Because I find it poor behavior to needlessly assert my will over another person dishonestly or manipulatively, I am a big softie. Because I display respect and compassion, I am seen as ineffectual or wishy-washy.

I understand why. No one is doing the same for me. No one is taking into consideration my reputation or my feelings or the work I have done, so how can they possibly empathize? I have fallen once again into a position for which no one will thank me. I am the enemy, the hidden obstacle, rather than the giver and the facilitator. My contributions are forgotten or discredited in favor of more aggressive egos.

People wonder how I can hate it so much. I do not ask for credit, but none is offered, either. All of this happens around me, rather than with me.

Is it depressive falsehood, or depressive reality? No way of telling, I suppose.

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Dream Journal

I drove through the corn field to escape the stuntman. I had finally escaped the trap.

It began on a rainy road, shining with streaks of colored light, reflections of signs and street lamps turning the slick pavement into a smeary chalk drawing. My charming new friend and I had just counted all the money that his kindly grandmother had earned from her wise investments and recently had liquidated into cash. My mother had crossed the line by telling everyone some of my most guarded secrets, so Charming Friend, as a way to blow off steam, however ill-advisedly, took me to a baseball game. We got there late, and the rainy road was the setting for us to receive the elderly baseball manager who gave us some granola bricks laced with cannabis.

I saved half of mine for later, heeding his warning that it was quite strong. Charming Friend indicated that the after-party was a short car ride away from the parking lot where we had all gathered. I climbed into the back of a small truck, and it peeled away before Charming Friend could get in.

Stuntman and Driver chuckled that they had me stuck now, and mused that the Friend’s Grandmother would have to give over the cash. We drove down a now sunlit country road — in that Ed Wood continuity of dreams — and I managed to overcome them, drop them out of the vehicle and make my way back down the road in their truck, carving a path visible from above through the corn field, creating my own crop circle.

No, I don’t really know what it all means. Possibly, it has more to do with being woken up by a dog throwing up on the bed at 5:15pm.

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