Creative direction…going up or down?

Pylon and chairThe crazy ideas, the connection with people, the debates, the arguments, the laughter, the tears. When creating anything – a painting, a play, writing jokes, making bridges, doing a short film – you go through steps that are pure creation. Invention, messiness, playing, debate.

My creative process always lands me in one of two places – high or low. I’m ecstatically happy that everything I’m working on will be well received and the world is great; or I’m super- bummed that this is going to be the worst piece of crap I’ve ever created and everyone will hate me and I’ll die alone and misunderstood. Dramatic, I know, and this project probably has no bearing on the chances of dying alone vs. with other people.

There doesn’t seem to be anything in between. I’m never simply satisfied, nor happy with progress. I never think – “this is going okay.” It’s either fantastic or devastatingly lousy.

This week was  nearly completely on the low end. Everything seemed bleak, pointless and painful. Things I thought were funny seemed terrible. It went like that all week. I kept writing into the darkness, mired in the dramatic pointlessness of it all.

Then something changed. The last two days were heavy thunderstorms, which has turned into alternating storms and sunshine today. It was surreal but broke the pattern in my mind. Everything is great again. Just like that. Getting my stuff out there seems like a great idea again. Up I go again.

So it swings – from high to low, then back again.  I guess that’s just how it goes – I get to feel it all.

And it’s pretty sweet, just the way it is.

Dear Internet…

Here are some general comments and questions I have of you:

– why are you so mad?

– why are we falling off discussion topics so quickly?

– why are couches so expensive?

 

 

 

Beauty Bar Betty

I go to spas or beauty places very occasionally. Sporadically and on a whim – that also describes my beauty regimen.

Regimen is far too strong a word – it implies some kind of consistency. Fleeting thoughts is more like it. Followed by thinking I really should do something about that.

If I do end up going, I’ll go under the guise of “treating myself” – a phrase I know was made up in a board room by a group of marketing people. But it is also a mistake. If I need a treat, then I’ve been too busy, which means my schedule has been dragging me around for weeks or months and I haven’t taken time for myself. In this state, I’m not thinking clearly.

There was an “open house” this week, that showed some of the most recent technologies for youth and beauty at a spa that I’d visited on my last post-deadline stress out. I made an appointment to go, even thought I knew what it would be – a sales pitch for the latest beauty line. And it was. Complete with crackers, cheese, sparking non-alcoholic wine and awkward conversations about what I was thinking about getting done. Which was nothing, until now.

There was  woman who must have been in her late 80s. She was testing out the latest in skin tightening treatments.  I will call her the Beauty Bar Betty. She knew her way around the beauty treatment scene. The skin across her forehead was stretched tight and wrinkle free. Her make up was very evening-like, but it was early afternoon. I was staring. I’d never seen someone close-up who spends a lot on surgeries and beauty treatments. I feel myself judging, which I realize is unfair. I didn’t know her. Maybe she didn’t get anything done and had hearty and youthful genetics that concentrated themselves solely in the forehead area.

When she took off her robe to get on the testing table, the floral dress she wore revealed that she was in amazing shape.  She transformed before me from a woman with “too much done” to a woman who knew what she wanted and took care of herself. Which made me feel like a schlub. And a judge-y one at that.

She wanted to look her best. I don’t know how she got the money – these treatments run in the thousands of dollars. She happily discussed her impending trip to Europe and how she’d left her credit card at home. She’s come back tomorrow to get this done once she’d tried it out with the test treatment. I couldn’t tell if she was a rich woman with disposable income or a shrewd deal-finder who got lots of free treatments under the guise of buying them “tomorrow” – either way, I was impressed.

For me, I was impressed enough to sign up for a series of treatments with a down payment. Which I regretted by the time I got home. How stupid to just spend a bunch of money without thinking on something I hadn’t even researched. I got no sleep that night, worried about money and not having enough.  I wanted to do a lot of things…why spend money here….I need a vacation…what if there’s no more work….how will I pay for anything…like that. All night. I think I slept for about an hour.

The next day, I decided that I’d have to get out of it. With a good story, of course. A story of woe and sadness that they couldn’t say I had already agreed. A personal emergency. That’s vague enough that I am not actually lying, but sufficiently tragic sounding that they wouldn’t want to pry.

I got the charges reversed after some doing, but was so paranoid that I canceled my credit card (it was expiring anyway) in case they came after me. Ha. I showed them.

Until I went to pay for parking and had to walk 5 blocks to an ATM because I had no credit card. Yup. Sure showed them.

Thanks a lot, Beauty Bar Betty. I blame you, but if I see you again, I’m going to buy you a glass of wine and talk about life.

Panic!

I always thought it odd that people said they got panic attacks. That they admitted it, because it takes openness to ‘fess up. I didn’t think I knew what one was – but I was just in denial. For fear they’d creep up on me and steal my breath. Bastards.

I realized I’d had them before…when I’m really afraid of something abstract – like how big the universe actually is or being dropped into a bottomless pit and never landing –  ever. I start breathing hard, feel really frantic and get a wicked stomach ache. Mostly I walk quickly in multiple directions, trying to figure out where to go. Except that I’m trying to get away from my own brain. Which isn’t possible while living, I think. Except for an out of body experience. And those are hard to summon.

But I have a fear of eternity (its abstract length as well as living that long), burning in hell (thanks catholic upbringing) ..and never losing that last 5 pounds. The final one just makes me annoyed, for the record. I only panic about large abstract things.

Wow – I have lived my whole life having no idea that I’ve been trying to avoid summoning a panic. Like if I admit it, I’d start getting them regularly. At present, I can keep them at bay.

This epiphany was brought to me by being up all night worrying about something else. Thanks, life.

Save the Pigeon

It’s times like this that I love people.

I was heading into a grocery store and so was a pigeon. He was walking, as I was. Let’s call him Ben. However, Ben didn’t realize the automatic doors that had just opened would then close. It caught his tail and the tips of his wings – he was stuck.

A young girl ran over and the doors opened. Ben walked hurriedly into the foyer, deeper into the store.  He looked a bit hurt.  After discussion, we decided that didn’t really know his condition beforehand. He might have had bad wing already.

We spend 5 minutes talking about what to do. Four people with lives and places to go – we all  stopped and talked. What’s more – we were concerned for the life of this animal. A pigeon. Now, the city is filled with pigeons, but we were connected to Ben.  He needed something from us.

After an unsuccessful call to animal rescue, one woman got some crackers from the soup area of the store and we fed him. He didn’t seem like he had any plans to leave. I did. I had a meeting that I didn’t want to be late for. So I left him there…in good hands.  When I was leaving the store, all of them were gone, the women, the young girl and Ben. No one was around.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that connect me to people. Thanks Ben. Hope we helped.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

From stand up comedy to character pieces to video – the moments leading up to performing or displaying my work are incredibly debilitating – I literally shake, feel jittery, can’t eat, drink to much coffee or wine, suddenly need to clean my room, organize my socks or buy groceries – the mundane that suddenly seems more important to mask the fact that I’m afraid.

Often, I avoid the whole thing by blaming someone or my circumstance so I don’t actually have to do it. Like, “I’m far too busy” or “If my ex-boyfriend was more supportive of my work…” or “I’ll do the next round.” The truth is that I don’t like the discomfort that I feel before displaying my work – never mind promoting myself and what I am up to.

This past week, along with a great crew, I put together a trailer for a web series that I’ve been developing for the last 5 months or so. Lots of work – writing, planning, casting, funding, all of it. So it was a big project and it’s a big deal to me.

When I was about to post the trailer online, I was suddenly struck with the urge to run, do something else, get away from it all. “Who did I think I was and why would I succeed” kept running through my head. All those negative thoughts that keep me from doing what I want were chiming in full force. It took everything I had to post the trailer and tell people about it.

I guess I have to accept that this is just the way it goes. Feel the fear and do it anyway.  What I am committed to is on the other side of it – the feedback, connection to people, seeing my work go out there, doing what I truly love.

Here’s the trailer for the series:
http://www.roommateexperiment.com 

Please share it, comment on it, say what you like. Tell me if you’d watch it and why or why not.

It’s out there for me, but also for you. Because I do my work for all of us. Sometimes I forget that when I get wrapped up in my own fears.

Ode to Take Out

Oh, take-out dinners, the kind you can phone to have sent over, this one is for you.

From the mere idea of you…warm comforting food that someone else will make, saving me the trouble of cooking or even thinking, for that matter. You save me time. Make things easy. I’m going to call and have your steamy loveliness sent over. What could be a better idea than this?

Soon after, you arrive in the smiling hands of a driver. Your plastic bag outfit is quite becoming, but I tear it off – there’s a knot I can’t undo. As I open the styrofoam containers, I feel a tinge of regret at the wastefulness of a single-use-container and plastic bag that I can’t use again.  But the steamy goodness, the bounty of your excellence is spread out before me. Inviting me.  I can eat as much as I want. These foods I had no hand in making, but I can eat. Different flavours plus some for lunch tomorrow. How lovely.

When it’s all done, I feel too full.  The dull ache arising from just a bit too much food coupled with the over-use of oil, salt and sugar. Far too unhealthy for me to make myself.  But as long as someone else does it, I can ignore it for a while.

Suddenly, you are a bad idea, sitting in my stomach like a stone. My satisfaction turned to discomfort. You turned on me. How could you? I charged this to my credit card and now I have to work it off. Both at the gym and at my job. You have become a deficit. How do you manage to seem like such a reasonable, inexpensive idea until afterwards?  In the wake of empty styrofoam containers laid out like a group of dead clams, your relationship with me has changed.

Why must it be like this every time?

10 life lessons from my dog

1. Calm down and look around. There is something infinitely interesting in every spot you are in, like the smell of grass or saying hello to strangers.

2. Hanging out is better than everything. Time is for the people or dogs you enjoy. My teenage self was right, hanging out at the mall or in a friend’s basement actually does rock. A lot.

3. There’s no where to go, we are already here. Why go out when we’re already somewhere, like the couch? Good question.

4. A good long walk is important. Nothing clears my head like a good walk with a good canine friend. Or a human friend, come to think of it.

5. Love is unconditional. ‘Nuff said.

6. Dog kibble tastes terrible. I tried it once and it’s gross.

7. Everything is better with sauce on it.  A good gravy transforms the taste of kibble to something entirely enjoyable to the dog. I haven’t tried that one yet. But I do like a good sauce.

8. Everything can be exciting. For Maggie, doing something is fun. Like this one: “Do you wanna go poop? Huh? Do ya? It’s gonna be a good time! Woohoo! Poop!” Try shouting that the next time you go to the bathroom. It will make it more fun.

9. Snorting is funny. Maggie’s snort-timing is impeccable – it’s as though she’s weighing in with agreement.  “…and that’s why we have nuclear waste.” SNORT. Sure is.

10. Blame your farts on someone else. Maggie will get up from a nap, awoken by the stink of a fart she just created. She’ll look at whoever is nearby, as if to say, “That just woke me up. Phew that’s a stinker. Did you have to do that?” Then she walks away, disgusted. Leaving you with the smell. Good plan.

One of my irrational fears

Recently, I decided to purchase a TV from Craigslist. After reviewing what was on offer, I got into an email discussion about the TV I wanted, did my research and decided to buy it. OK, so far, so good.

Now, it was time to meet this person to exchange the goods for the cash. Nothing sets off the fears in me like going alone in my car to meet a stranger. It’s not the money or being robbed. I don’t much care about that. I have an irrational fear of strangers being psychotic killers. I know it’s ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop it from showing up.

Even a stranger that lives in my neighbourhood, who geeked out about the video capabilities and how they don’t make plasmas like they used to – I found him on the internet. And checked out  his web site. He gave me his phone number and email and home address. If what I know from Dexter is true, that is not exactly psycho M.O. – rent an apartment in a crowded city neighbourhood, get a phone, upgrade to a bigger TV to sell your old one – all to lure an unsuspecting woman to your house.

Still, it could happen. I’m in the car outside the house. The wheels of paranoia start rolling. His phone could be a 7-11 store phone with no traceable calling. This might not be his house, just a set up place he uses. Who knows I’m even here? I run through the people in my mind – my roommate, who is at work. That’s it?! I only told one person? What was I thinking?

I’m sitting in my car with the message typed to this guy to say that I’m here, and ready to send the text. And I’m sweating. Damn it. Shaking a bit, too. I know this is ridiculous. Just hit send. Just hit it. And I do. But, I’ve got the key in the ignition, and my hand on the shift. Ready to bolt if the situation gets dangerous.

I will just drive away. Vamoose. Scram. Diana, you are not driving away. Don’t be silly. What if he comes out with an axe?

A few painful seconds go by – dramatic tension. He came out with the TV. Not an axe, nor a chainsaw or sickle. Just a dude holding a heavy TV. He was friendly and put the TV into the car for me. We talked a bit. Still, after it was all done I drove away feeling like I’d survived a close call with Jason or Freddy or one of Dexter’s victims. Before they were victims of his.

Why do I get a case of the fears to go with the great TV I bought? Sheesh.

I have never really confessed until now. Irrational fears.

From Wikipedia. A phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is, when used in the context of clinical psychology, a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.

 

 

 

Directing, joking and such.