Archive for March, 2003

Jordana’s Grandmother

Wednesday, March 5th, 2003

When someone in your family dies, you can’t really help but be kept up thinking about your own mortality and the meaning of it all and the rest of that stuff that makes people’s eyes roll when you bring it up. Jordana’s grandmother died yesterday after years of struggling to live, and it is customary to consider it a blessing, but it actually just fills me with dread knowing the end is looming for me and my loved ones.

It isn’t possible to conceive of our own insignificance, the mind has a shut down response to understanding it. But when you feel a matriarch slip away, it really slams you in the face. I was up most of the night last night tossing, thinking about the years I wasted feeling sad, stopping myself from success, loving too well and not too wisely, etc…

I am really well loved now, by my family and friends and particularly by the aforementioned Jordana. So let me jump straight to what occurred to me while I was spinning in my bed. Jordana’s parents love her incredibly. They adore her. If it is possible, they love her as much or more than I do, they totally celebrate her, they see no wrong in her behavior, they would kill anyone who tried to hurt her.

Her mom shows her the best, because her dad is a little bit tied up in his immigrant ideological inability to show too much affection. But Jordana is loved openly and rhapsodically by her mom. Her mom in turn was loved in the same way by her mom, the grandmother who just died. It was the grandmother who began this cycle, from what I know.

And since I have been with Jordana, I have felt so much more freedom to love my friends, to be a good brother to my siblings, to try harder to be a good son to my parents. For the first time in my life, I have a constant awareness of not only the existence of my family and friends, but how much I want to be someone that they can rely on for my own love. Like, suddenly, the love I have been given is honestly too much, and it freed me up to realize how much I love the people who were just outside the blinders.

I am inherently a self absorbed, immature person. And sharing my life with someone like that would never have allowed me to want what I want now. Sharing my life with Eleanor’s grand-daughter has made me a better person, or at least has filled me with the want to be a better person.

And maybe that’s it. That’s the sum total. Eleanor is dead, Kije is dead, I mean, Jesus, Alexander the Great is dead. He ran an empire and now he’s gone, and knowing his name can’t be the extent of his legacy. It’s possible that sharing love and loving someone so well that they love other people more is the only real legacy we have.


Monday, March 3rd, 2003

Coca Cola, are you kidding me? Is there anything in the world that tastes better than Coke? What did people do before Coke? I think we ought to sneak Coke into Baghdad for a month or two, and then cut off their supply and tell them they have to be cool and then we’ll give them more Coke.

I’m actually only sort of kidding. I am a great believer in the white devil, I think fast food and bad funny movies and the sitcom Scrubs are not just good, they are great. When I was in St. Petersburg we sang the Ave Maria (Bogoro Ditsye Dyevo, or some such thing) in Russian and they were touched, but then the Russian choir ripped into ‘Soon Ah Will Be Done’ and we were all crankin’. As the old song goes, Rock and Roll is here to stay, it will never die.

An idea almost certainly as bad as that one happened this morning and I was a part of it. We did the Lysistrata Project here in New York, one of hundreds of groups of actors around the world who are performing the piece in an effort to stop the war in Iraq. Jordana said on the way in on the subway, ‘I know there are millions of people protesting this war, but just wait until Bush finds out we pulled out the Lysistrata! He’ll crap himself!’

To be fair, everyone involved was psyched basically to be acting in a fun script with a bunch of really talented actors. There was the requisite 60 year old nutjob (who said “I remember the first Gulf War”, and then stared at us. I mean, we all remember the first Gulf War…then she pulled out her tambourine and said “I brought my friend!”), but mostly no-one even talked about the war. The director was really careful not to even discuss it, we are actors who are giving our time to make a piece of theater, if anything comes of it, fine.

The show was bitterly cold, it may have been the coldest morning all year. With wind chill it was –6 degrees when I left this morning, and around 8 degrees when the play was over. But we had fun, jumping around and screaming at each other.

At the end of the play, both sides are united in ending *civil* war, and together they sing of how wonderful it is now that they are together. They say

Sing, Memory. Bring the old days alive again.

The Good Old Days

Sing of valour, of victory

How Athens sent a cloud, a storm of ships

To sink the Persians;

How Sparta sent hunters, boar hunters,

To trap the beast in blood.

Persians, countless,

Numberless as sand, sweating, running.

Basically, they are united, as Greeks, against other foes now, including, strangely Persia. Persia isn’t present day Iraq, but it is present day Iran. This is the song they sing in celebration of the end of Lysistrata’s rebellion.

Just sort of strange that this is the piece we are begging for peace with. Sing of the good old days when we kicked Arab ass! But, it was still fun and it was nice to get up at 6 in the morning and run and do a play.

Therapy and Clan

Sunday, March 2nd, 2003

Most of the rest of my family has a blog. My brother Steve refuses to put a talkback function on these things (which is more than okay with me, I like to write and pretend no-one is reading), he says people ought to address blogs by writing their own. So that is sort of what I am doing.

My family is really a miracle. I am sure at some point I am going to write blogs detailing each person, but the unit as a whole is something to behold. There was a time in maybe ’86 or ’87 when I thought I was entering a life that had very little to do with my immediate family, I was going to pursue my life and maybe get cards around Christmas or something. I honestly thought my life would contain uncomfortable bi-annual visits and phone calls, odd backstage cards from one of my parents. I even stopped talking to my Dad for a couple of years, thinking this would just be the way it all happened.

But we aren’t built like that. We are a clan, and despite the fact that more than a few days spent together leads to homicidal rage, we are incredibly tight knit. It could be the residual mormon nonsense, but my brothers and sisters and parents are the people I think of as my people. It’s only in talking to them that I feel like I have cleared the air and actually gotten any perspective.

It isn’t genetic. I have so little genetically in common with my nephews, and yet I get more out of hanging out with both of them than I do with my friends. And they are teenagers, notoriously unstable and retarded people, but both of them make me laugh and, there really isn’t another word for it, enrich my life.

Two people with even less genetic comparison, Tessa and Jordana, have also become part of my clan. Tessa, a wasp southern debutante and Jordana, a northern Jewish AV club geek, couldn’t have less in common, but when I look at either of them, I see my cousins. It’s the long nose and big blue eyes, maybe, but mostly it is that ineffable thing that means they are a little bit crazy mixed with a huge dose of smart, it’s that they are a little too tall to hide and they swing from self-consciousness to celebration with ease. I actually don’t know what it is, but they are my family,too.

All of us, at some point, have had to break down and meet with a therapist. When I first started going to therapists, I tried to see if I could outsmart them, and I always did. I loved going in there with stitches in my lip and a mohawk and totally deflate the counselor to the point that he would tell my mom I was fine.

But the admission that we are in therapy is, for some reason, tough. Why? Every single one of us has done it, I’ve probably done it more than anyone. But I think it’s hard because our forefathers pulled coal out of the ground in Wales and died at 32 of black lung. Our forefathers pushed carts across Wyoming. We know this. And we can’t bear to admit that something like Feeling Bad About My Life would be able to derail us. We should be able to shoulder this shit and keep digging.

Therapy has helped so many people, and God knows every single person in our family should be in it. My Dad, who I love very much, gave us the short end of the stick as kids and my mom, who I love very much, was so busy getting the short end herself she couldn’t help too much. All of us are still sabotaging ourselves in little ways. It just took me over three months to get my headshots and I still haven’t collected on promised voice lessons, not from this past Christmas, but from two Christmases ago.

So, in short, we have a clan, one that I am always aware of, and we are all a little bit crazy. We should never feel alone, and we should always be seeking help. We aren’t coal-miners, we are artists, and although a coupla hundred years might have softened us slightly, we are what we are and I think our forefathers would be proud. When I ask, ‘Where are my people?’ I remember my family, and when I say ‘Why do I need therapy?’, I do the same.