05 February 2007

Dare You to put Your Tongue against the Subway Track...

Breach of etiquette: I triple-dog dare you.

That's also the subject of today's movie-quote quiz. I paraphrase, of course, but if you know it there should be no problem winning today's finsky.

Polar Bear swim at The Pond! Last one in is a higher order of human being who doesn't succumb to the pack mentality when it could mean his or her ultimate peril!

Seriously: I want to cuddle with anything with a pulse, in front of a real fireplace, whilst drinking mulled wine and humming sea shanties. Instead, I am diligently returned to my day job and, like an early evolution of tiny mammal, merely overjoyed to be within a contained structure that has heated air being pumped through it. On my way up from the F train today I saw a homeless person laying out in the middle of the concourse floor, covered by a ratty comforter. Show me the police officer who would kick out such a person in such weather, and I will beat that officer mercilessly. Because violence solves problems. ( <--IRONY ) Today I had the opportunity to come into closer contact with Mona's clients than I normally do. In point of fact, I had not so much contact with her client, as with her client's soon-to-be-ex-spouse. (I think as long as I don't name names I can't be fired for this disclosure.) Yes, today I actually had to venture back out into the f'ing cold to serve a summons for divorce on someone. This is the third time, in four years of working for the same attorney, that I have been blessed with the honor of this particular sort of task. It was definitely the most pleasant of the three. The individual seemed very nice and was certainly cooperative. You don't get that a lot in the business of matrimonial law. It may seem cold to perform this task under any circumstances, but I like to think that when it falls to me to perform it I have the opportunity to at least make it as painless as possible, whereas when a service service (yeah--that's accurate) is made incumbent to the same thing it is of necessity professionally cruel. That's how I comfort myself. I have no real comfort to offer the people I meet in this role. Thanks to Neil Gaiman for suggesting (via his characterization of Death) that such a service is necessary and not necessarily vile. Just tough to accept.

An artist's life is invariably an interwoven mess of his or her personal, creative and professional lives (possibly best visualized by a Pollack painting). I'm not going to label myself an artist (leave that to the teeming masses) but I believe this metaphor extends to all those pursuing The Third Life (all rights reserved pending the apocalypse), and I sometimes wonder about the interrelationship between the elements of my particular pursuit. Today's task being a case in point, as is the fact that all my adult relationships to this point have been of necessity--to one extreme or another--long-distance ones. It doesn't exactly lend one an overwhelming confidence in one's ability to commit to and make work an ongoing relationship with someone, and I mean this both in the context of romantic entanglements as well as platonic ones.

Friend Patrick has made it something of his mission to remind me:
  1. Stability is not necessarily contrary to The Third Life; and
  2. Struggling ________s shouldn't fret over spending time/energy on things that simply make them happy.
For which I am eternally grateful. However, this encouragement has yet to make much of a dint in my wonderment over why the ol' personal life hasn't gone quite according to Hoyle. Not that I'm eager to attribute it to forces outside of my control or anything, but occasionally I have to wonder how best to make it work. And that's on good days. On bad days, I wonder if I've lost every chance for a long-term, meaningful relationship with someone by merit of prioritizing the career to the extent that I've had too many relationships fail not to have become jaded and absurd.

I try hard not to whine about it, but I am frustrated. The simple answer is, "Let go of the acting." You want a family, choose that and let the rest go. No dice, Cochise. I get about as far with that as I do on solving a Rubik's cube. It's not an option, and when I try to force that square peg into the round hole (minds: kindly remove yourselves from that gutter) it all goes to De Moines in a hand basket. Of course, there are varying degrees of compromise on this topic, and I've tried to explore them. Again: Rubik's cube. (I'm going to invent a "rubrics cube"; it can only be solved by speaking parenthetical advice at it until it suffers a system error from trying to process it all and catches fire, burning red until it's turned to slag...anyway...) Somehow I'm not yet ready to get a "real job" and practice community theatre, nor to apply to grad school and channel my creative energies into directing the senior class' production of Angels in America. Nor any of the other possibilities that spring to mind.

Yesterday I celebrated Friend Kira's thirtieth birthday with her. This March, the girl I moved to New York to be with is finally having her dream wedding. When I got out of college and was touring with children's theatre to save up enough money to move to this big city, I set my thirtieth year as the absolute, no-holds-barred decision date for hitting it, or quitting it, as regards pursuing a conventional family life. My thirtieth is impending, occurring in early June, at which time I will hopefully be in Italy, performing a clown piece in Piazza Navona. (Hear me, big G? For reals, yo.) So much has changed for me in the past seven years, I'm no longer assured that deadline was a good call. Nevertheless, it weighs on me occasionally. Okay: more than occasionally. RATHER FREQUENTLY. Yeah. That much.

I would like to go back and delete the last two paragraphs there. If you know me, it probably sounds like whining. If you don't know me, it probably sounds like relentless self-justification. Wait: Maybe it's the reverse. If you don't know . . . aw, to hell with it. It makes me vulnerable to admit that stuff, but come on. All you have to do is observe me for a short while for all of the above to be self-apparent. I'm not fooling anyone. Well, maybe Santa. Because I have yet to get just coal. Though I often wonder if generic electronics might not be today's equivalent.

What might be really hard to deal with is the fact that, of all my fantasies about how my life could go, which is my fantasy for this milestone of three decades? In Bocca al Lupo. Acting for spare change in a city in which I don't speak the native language. Not the fireplace. Not the Willsian progeny. Hat tricks and laughter in a piazza in Rome, which is really just a kind of New York with about two more millennia of history.

So there's no simple answer. Except, perhaps, to say that life is full of surprises. I figure if I can avoid choosing to apply my tongue to sub-zero-temperature alloys, then I'm still making reasonably intelligent decisions. So: I'll see you guys at 5:00 AM tomorrow morning at The Pond!


dave said...

"Hat tricks and laughter in a piazza in Rome, which is really just a kind of New York with about two more centuries of history."

Tell me you mean Millenia and nobody gets hurt.

Also: A Christmas Story for the win.

I have a lot to say about the topic at hand here, but I don't think I can do it right in print. Sometime, lets brew up some hot apple cider or something and chat about it.

Jeff Wills said...

That's ten I owe you. Sheesh. You're putting me out of house and home here! I'm going to have to make the quotes more difficult, that's all there is to it.

I did mean millennia, but can I include the native Americans in New York's history so it's less embarrassingly off?

The cider talk is so on...

Patrick said...

Ah, so much is made clearer by this entry... And I would go further in my assertions re: the creative life. I never quite lose the feeling that not only do you believe stability is anathema to the 3rd life, but that you believe it REQUIRES suffering. That is to say, you don't think you're being true to your vocation, mission, life-choice etc. unless you're miserable. And the moments of joy/pleasure are okay, as long as they're seen as brief interludes. It goes beyond 'no pain, no gain' (which I think has its place) to 'no pain, no point.' And I think that's not serving you well. I too have more to say, and will wait my turn after Dave to engage you in mulled wine. And for once I knew the movie reference, but was too late for the win. This is a seriously big deal in my world. I NEVER get movie references. Mostly because I haven't seen any of the movies.

Jeff Wills said...

As ever, Patrick, I am grateful for your perspective. And as ever, I'm not sure how to put it into practice. To me, it usually seems my life is already a little too gratifying. I could always be doing more for my career, and there's so much recreation thrown in my lap by it as it is. It's an overhaul of perspective that's called for. Where to begin?

And sorry you didn't get to win your finsky. You get a gold dtar, though! You have to get up pretty early in the morning, literally, to beat Younce to a movie quote...

dave said...

Give that fiver to Patrick, as he's hit on something I think I agree with in the area of Willsian Analysis. Not only do you believe your chosen path requires suffering, but you WANT it to. After all, Bruce Wayne could have devoted his fortune to helping people and coming to terms with his tragedies, and could have lived a peaceful, happy life. Instead, he has _decided_ an unhappy, lonely, gray world is, I won't say more rewarding, but he's chosen it. Either to punish himself or because it really is who he wants to be. Maybe that comparison isn't fair.

Anyway, give the movie quote to Patrick.

Jeff Wills said...

Holy. Crap. Psychologically undone by my own love of The Batman. The scary part? That makes it all the more believable a theory to me. Patrick, the five is yours. Dave, I'm sort of humbled. For myself, AND for Bruce Wayne.