High School Crush

I’ve written the last several blogs in lieu of doing things that I really should have with that time, and today is no exception. I am acting in this new play that we’re producing, and I haven’t done any acting at all since earlier this year, and that show didn’t really count. As much like riding a bicycle as it is, it also isn’t. Especially as you get older. There is no other way to look at it, the life of an artist matures with their years, and fame and fortune can often prolong an artist’s adolescence to the point where they become totally insignificant by their sophomore effort, and sometimes fame and fortune can bring on a second adolescence late in someone’s life that render them meaningless rather quickly.
This totally sounds like one of those “Fame and fortune ruin people which is why I’ve avoided it” kind of things, but that’s not true. I’ve never avoided it, it avoided me, it ran from me in great gazelle strides my whole life. But it has left me in the wonderful position, over the last two years, of acting purely as an expression of the art of acting, knowing that I will never make any money, never be a success. It has allowed me the presence of mind to obsess over the minutiae that I used to be unable to address because I wanted, so badly, to be attractive.

There is a long standing debate among my friends in the theater, one that is unspoken largely but still glaring through every moment. The fight between the artist and the careerist, between how the person can serve the expression and how the expression can serve the artist. If you look at Courtney Love, you are obviously looking at a person who has dabbled in acting and in songwriting and in different artistic pursuits, but always chosing projects that will further her profile, the work serves the artist. If you look at someone like my friend Matthew, his obsessive devotion to a script that he’s working on coupled with a complete inability to insist that people come see his plays, even an inability to pursue larger works or even audition, you are seeing an artist who is serving the project.

Now, in both cases, it isn’t possible to do only one thing. Love is a performer of great power, her albums are reviewed well, her performance in “The People Vs. Larry Flynt” was extraordinary. And Matthew has headshots, he does let us know when his shows are performing. But it’s the approach to one’s life that defines whether they want to serve the art or they want the art to serve them.

I have a job, a job that pays me a little bit, and I haven’t taken care of the job very well. I also have a house that I am supposed to be repairing, and I haven’t dealt with that as well as I probably should have. I mean, I’m not a contractor and I’ve managed to do everything from dry-wall to plumbing to electricity, but we have been living in this house for five months and the kitchen isn’t usable yet, so I guess that’s a problem. There are also a series of projects that are music related that could be better served if I just set aside an hour a day to work on them.

This stuff snowballs around me. I honestly don’t care about any of it nearly as much as I should, and that’s a problem because all of these things are normally very exciting to me. I love parts of all of these things. Maybe not the job, but the house and the music, God, I love those things so much. But I’m having trouble being of service to these things right now.

The only time I feel good is when I’m in the script. Rehearsal, and the time I spend working on the script alone, have become like massages to me, in that I almost don’t enjoy them because I know they will be over soon. I hate when they are over, I hate going to do other things. I hate it. In a way, it’s a real tragedy that I love acting so much, that I honestly pine for it when I’m not doing it, that it’s hard for me to watch other actors do roles I want, that it’s like watching someone fuck my wife. It is such a shame, because I’m much more like Matthew, I won’t ever be able to find a way to make a living doing this.

I won’t ever make a living on stage. I won’t, and I’ve accepted this. But when I accepted it, it made me a little sad, and that sadness changed me just a little. It’s always in the back of my mind, it’s like the whisper in “The Rocking Horse Winner”, the walls shift and a subsonic boom that you can’t hear, that only rattles your ribcage says “this thing that you love will never love you back, this thing that you love will never love you back…”

And yet, still I believe. I started banging on the door fifteen years ago, and slowly all the bones in my hand broke and shattered and turned to dust and eventually my hands fell off and I’m still banging, quietly, with my nubs. I saw it with musicians when I was a child, a soul-deep satisfaction with the turn of one phrase, with the translation of the math into music, and I still live for that one moment, that well-delivered line, that moment of truth that happens. I used to think it was applause, but I know, in my 36th year, that I’m not as shallow as I’ve always felt, and that the moment of truth is what I’m living for.

Please know that I roll my eyes at my own self-indulgence as much as you possibly could, and I know that this isn’t a tragedy. I’m not trying to say that I live a tragic life. But man, I would be one of those roly-poly, happy as a pig, fat guys if I could have ever found a way to live my life as an actor without becoming a door-to-door salesman at the same time.