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5/25/2016

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 the 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 tough 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 and keep it in reasonable condition. He spent much 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 and see my paintings.”

Many years went by and the painter became more and more impatient. Sometimes, he would let the ship fall into disrepair and neglect. But no one came in then, either. Sometimes, he would spend extra time painting the boat, almost enough to make it as beautiful as the other painters’ boats, who spent so much time on their boat, they had no other paintings to show, but he didn’t really care as much about the outside of the boat.

“After all,” he thought, “the boat still is a boat, whether it’s painted well or not, and it’s such a strong boat. Surely, people will see that it is strong, and now it has a fresh coat of lovely paint, and 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.

But The Percival was still strong, even after many years. It creaked more than it had, but it still split waves, and dared the sun. Many crews would sail it, but when they went below decks, there was a howling they could never quite identify. And, when they would find a painting, a nervous and angry 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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5/17/2016

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.

DarkSouls-02_zpsc90ba4d8

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5/16/2016

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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5/13/2016

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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5/10/2016

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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5/5/2016

Red Letter Day

Finally got to work with my heroes at Red Letter Media. It was a fun day, though as always, I wish folks would catch me in my better days. I was funnier years ago, fitter, and more enthusiastic.

I wish I could donate my life to someone who better deserves it, so that all this free love wouldn’t go to waste on someone like me who cannot appreciate it.

I enjoyed working with them, and I wanted to turn down the money, but I thought it would insult them. I hope they liked what I did. The stunt work I did looked pretty good, and Jay did an amazing job with a prat fall.

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5/4/2016

What it is

Just before meditation this afternoon, I had a realization, as I so often do in quiet moments. Unfortunately, meditation was difficult today, and I found myself slipping into sleep more often than distraction. Dreaming is difficult in the noting process used to meditate, so I’m not sure I’ve gained much in that regard in the last couple of days.

I wonder if I am able to capture these thoughts with voice memos. For a while, when I was at UW-Milwaukee, I would use voice memos on my phone to record great ideas, but like dream journals, I found them less useful when I finally got around to trying to re-envision the thoughts. In that case, maybe my epiphany this afternoon was not as ground-breaking as I thought it was in the moment.

I would wager the Germans or the French have a word for that feeling. Something like deja vu in reverse. A strong feeling that eludes remembrance. A thought that has value only once.

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5/3/2016

Relate

I’m in the middle of casting, that blessed curse of getting to paint with a palette of people. I’m glad to have a lot of talent in the group, but the size of the pool makes it almost impossible to cast. Too many friends, too many promises made by others on the production team, and too many considerations for partnerships.

I don’t know why people get up in arms about auditions. If I don’t get a role, it’s usually because I’m obviously not right for it, it was pre-cast, or I was not given a reasonable chance; however, if it’s none of those things – while I’m certainly accustomed to the taste of sour grapes — I don’t blame people or hold grudges. The lesson is learned, and I often genuinely feel like I wasn’t good enough for the role.

I hope others can relate to this dilemma, but I think I am the exact amount of close to too many folks in the industry, which leads to hurt feelings. That is, I’m their friend, but it would be easy enough to drop me and join the anti-me brigade if I don’t act right. I guess that’s not being friends, but it’s all I have right now.

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5/2/2016

Workin’ on workin’ it

Despite my disappointment in my own discipline at keeping my body in working order, in defiance of my depression’s insistence that doing deepens the darkness, I agreed to work with a couple of my heroes on Thursday. The minds behind some of my favorite internet videos will direct me to be a tough guy. I am trying to stay excited rather than nervous.

Every once in a while, I read back the things I write here for my own edification. I suppose that is the purpose of a journal and not only self-indulgence. What I note most, however, is how I only feel connected to the things I write that come from my self-loathing. The times when I make the effort to be positive make my ass twitch, to steal a phrase. They seem disingenuous. Perhaps I just have more practice in the dark.

I remember I once wrote a short piece called “Why I can’t be the bad guy,” for a writing class when I was attending Parkside. It was well-received for its poetic language, but no one really understood what I was driving at. I was in a position then to believe that I had more to learn, but that I had great potential as a writer, if only I would write.

I have more drive now than ever, commitment to purpose and awareness of the waste that most leisure-time activities create, but now I have none of the feeling of potential or interest that would have kept me in love with my own writing. I want to throw up when writers say their characters won’t talk to each other. I don’t like the way they give rational credence to the daemon. Maybe that is why my own soul’s code is so foreign to me. Arcane, even.

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