Monday, September 22, 2014

This Charming Man (The Smiths)

Things have been strange lately regarding someone from my past. It’s not someone I had a deep involvement with. Friendly acquaintance and school mate would be more apt terms. I met him when I was 18 and new to the city. Then again, he was 18 and new to the city as well. We were starting first years at NYU. 

The whole place seemed weird. This had always been a dream of mine, to study acting in New York. Here I was at the studio I had always dreamed of too. The doors were glass and the place smelled as if there were hopes and tears of aspiring theatre students in the floors of each room engrained in the wood. I still remember meeting him, and how he just had these piercing, dark, mysterious, eyes. In a way they scared the hell out of me, probably because deep down I feared I was some sort of phony and the university had let me in by mistake. Years later, I would find out I suffered from what is known as Imposter Syndrome.

The fellow with the piercing, dark, mysterious piercing eyes seemed confident in a way I wasn’t. He knew himself in a way I didn’t. I had to convince everyone of everything, including myself. He didn’t have that problem. Maybe it was confidence. Maybe it was life was easy for him and he was blessed that way. Maybe it’s a man thing, part of being on the upper end of the paradigm where they are born without the self-doubt women are gnawed and plagued with on a daily basis.

There was a light about him, and he shined first year. He wasn’t like the others who shined first year that would later burn out on acting never to pick up a play let alone enter a theatre again. I had a feeling the whole theatre thing would be good to him. Life would be good to him. Again, he was blessed and lucky that way. Maybe the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes had magical powers unbeknownst to me.

I wasn’t so lucky or so blessed. I wasn’t born with his natural charisma or charm. First year was a nightmare for me as New York handled me like a misbehaved puppy dog. Over and over, the city that was supposed to make me a star was taking my dreams and puking them up on my over made up face, monochromatic wardrobe, and uneven fake eyelashes. Each day, I oscillated between anxiety attacks where speech was hard to depression so terrible I could cut myself. I never did cut myself, I was too chicken.

I wasn’t like the people around me, so arty and attempting to be different they were asinine balls of conformity. I hadn’t gone to prep school or boarding school. I wasn’t a slut, I wasn’t a prude. I felt the existential Esther Greenwood crisis, somewhat self-centered yet universal as I struggled to forge an identity away from my parents and hometown. Not to mention I loved puppets and still do. Most thought they were weird or laughed them off. The one with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes thought they were neat. It was during one of the few times I had the guts to speak to him my first year. It was one of the few times I had the guts to connect to another human being. One of the few times I didn’t take the emotional cowards way out and escape.

After my first year I ended up leaving the studio I was in. The place was unbearable for me. It emphasized imagination. They said they welcomed art and original thought. I found real quick that was a lie. My teachers were failed actors for the most part, bitter they had to teach and took it out on their students whenever they could. I especially found I was unhappy, putting myself on diet after diet to quell the pain I felt from being stifled.

More often than not, I butted heads with my teachers. My imagination wasn’t grounded in reality, translated, they wanted a boring choice. Boring like themselves. Boring like the dreams they still had about the careers that never materialized. My choices had no truth they said. Neither did the boring choices of the sheep who blindly followed them, nor did the choices of the dippy girls and pretty boys they favored.

One teacher in particular made my life hell, Ariadne. A frustrated, tired, worn out shell of a woman, she looked like Meryl Streep if Meryl Streep had a crack baby clone. Ariadne, named after the Greek Goddess by her theatre critic father, had the talent to make it but didn’t have the guts to take it. Then again, most bullies never do. Ariadne Schwartz had studied with our blessed mother petagauge before her passing years ago and had been a prized student. From day one, Ariadne had an axe to grind with me. She informed me I had no imagination whatsoever, and no sense of craft. Over and over again, we did these stupid exercises, and in return for her insulting me I would roll my eyes and make it obvious I was tuning her out.

Ariadne was eager to see me kicked out of the studio for some odd reason. I had done nothing to the woman except exist. In any case, she would go to the head of student affairs and claim I wasn’t listening to her which was a complete lie. She wanted to terrorize me, and did so because she was in a position of power. Most of the time, my choices were original and she couldn’t stand that. I had more of an imagination that she did.

 “You have no future onstage.” She said to me calmly during the conference we had at the midterm. I felt crushed. This was my dream. I just cried. Her bug eyes fixed on me, as if she defeated the plant named Audrey and now bug girl could reign supreme.

Ariadne looked satisfied that my soul and spirit were successfully crushed. I was looking at leaving New York, and my parents suggested I maybe switch life goals. Deep in my heart I knew this was right. Someone at Tisch suggested Lee Strasberg and off I went. I went to a place where the teachers loved to teach, and the learning environment was healthy.  My refuge was an artistic home where the Method made sense, and our teachers didn’t trash talk other techniques. No one such as Ariadne would have been allowed on faculty at Strasberg. Since Ariadne, I have gone on to perform comedy and have been on national television several times. I also write and star in my own work. The best she ever did was no pay theatre work here in the city.

Who has no future on the stage now, bitch?

Either way, when I left that studio, I left the boy with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. He became a face filed in a part of my life I wanted to forget as things steadily got better for me. Slowly, the wardrobe saw more colors. The lipstick became less loud, and the fake eyelashes became a thing of the past. So did any thoughts of the comrades from my old studio.

I would see friends from that place, and we would still be friends of course. Inside, they brought back memories of something I sought to forget. Sometimes I would feel anger about what I had experienced the year before. Other times, I would get this sense that they were mad I left, and that in some ways I had left a cult. Then again, that particular studio was a religious compound in a sense. You were either one of them, or you were not. They were intolerant of other forms of the Method and other techniques. I was at Lee Strasberg, the evil empire. It was time they condescend or completely ignore me.

I didn’t have that experience with the boy possessing those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. He always waved when he saw me, not forming an opinion as to why I stayed or went. Unlike many busybodies, he seemed to have a life. I saw him twice really to be fair, once he was playing guitar with an upperclassman in a hole in the wall joint in Chinatown. They looked like the young Beatles. I was set for perform with May Wilson, and I looked like some tranny had kidnapped me and did my wardrobe. They came and left and I went on two acts afterward.

Then I saw him again at some party where I was relatively drunk. The poison helped calm the nerves that were still ever present in my young body. I said something to piss him off, I know that much. It was pertaining to a theatre company a classmate of mine started. Feminist voiced, they put on weepy pieces where everyone was raped in some way, shape, or form. “There was a lot of rape going on, and I didn’t have time for it,” I stated. He didn’t find it funny. I only know this because someone told me later what transpired.

Third year we had an academic class together. He still had those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. The hair was a mix of a young Beatle still but now with a smatter of aspiring Beatnik. There were a lot of folks from my old studio there. I felt weary to and from class, feeling a ripping in my stomach. It was the same gut wrenching kick I felt whenever I walked through the glass doors of the hell I had tried to escape from. Sometimes in my mind I felt them judging me as inferior. Like the haunts in Harry Potter, I always tried to run from them after class had dismissed.

I judged them too. After all, I felt it only fair and justified. Sure, my life was working out, but they reminded me of everything that had gone wrong that first year. As the semester went on, I found I was actually quite hard on them, and they were not evil at all. That time in my life wasn’t happy, and I found it easier to vilify them than to let go of the resentment I felt, and let them symbolize a place that had wronged me. Actually, they turned out to be imaginative, fun, and engaging. The one with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes turned out to be the most insightful and he also had a wicked sense of humor. Thus we became friendly once more.

One day, through idle chatter I found they had elected to leave the studio I had escaped from. At NYU, two years of primary training is done, and then one elects to do advanced training. I had broken the mold after being put on probation by my primary training studio, and thus the first year counted as part of my advanced training. My two years at Strasberg, however, were more artistically and academically successful. As we talked, the group revealed that they had the same thoughts I did about the studio I left. They felt it was a mecca for maladjusted, frustrated actors who were afraid of the industry that were now teaching, and frankly were angry about it. Some of them even told me they admired my courage to jump ship when I did. The young man with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes was most vocal.

Through the conversation, he mentioned he was doing Experimental Theatre Transfer Track and he was much happier. Then his eyes lit up, yes those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes, as he mentioned possibly studying abroad. I found myself comfortable, as if I were relaxed among a group of peers. That part of my life suddenly didn’t hurt as much. I didn’t want it to, and it didn’t have to.

Life was crazy in other ways, still. The gnawing anxiety and feeling of never being enough still ate at me. Most of the time, although it was only once a week as opposed to every second of every day, I still felt like an imposter. While school was better than it had ever been, my life choices dictated that I didn’t like myself so much. I was in a so called “adult” relationship that progressed to the level of dysfunction of a bodybuilder on steroids. Slowly, I isolated from my friends and school became harder and harder. Yet somehow, I still maintained A’s for the most part. Needless to say, as the quicksand of that craziness pulled me down, the boy with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes was just a member of the chorus in the operetta on my stage.

For the rest of college we didn’t cross paths. We graduated, and the continued gnawing anxiety and feeling of being an imposter cause the bottom to fall out in my life in ways I never imagined. School became an idyllic memory as the nightmare of the reality I had tumbled into smacked me in the face. Things got worse, and I almost made it my business to forget the past and the people in it, good or bad. I didn’t want to be judged, and feared they would do that. On the other hand, I was behaving so terribly perhaps I deserved a little ridicule.

I did see him once, and I was having a day. Running, I had spilled coffee on myself and he waved. That was the beginning and the end of our encounter. I don’t know whether or not he took note, or if he reported to the sources at the camp I was a bigger disaster than ever. I doubt it. I think the hello was just a hello.

As I struggled to climb out of the grave I had dug for myself, combination of bad decisions and low self-worth, I saw him on the front of a magazine. He was in a show. Yes, I knew them, those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. There was a part of me that envied him, and how things had always come so easily. Then there was a part of me that downright hated him, because his life was so good and my life had become such a struggle. Yet there was a part of me that wished I had his ease, the one someone has when their self-worth is at a healthy level. Yes, the ease that men have more than women. I was also happy for him. He was truly talented. I could say I knew him when and happily grovel like a peasant.

Life continued to treat my friend with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes kindly. We spoke once, and he was in another successful show. It was a fun, cute, but rather short conversation. I couldn’t tell whether he wanted to talk to me or was eager to lose me. Later that day, I would deliver a Hershey Kiss singing telegram proposal to a bride. In my adventure I would risk getting struck by lighting. This would help spark the inspiration for my book. Life would continue to get better for me. Maybe one day I would join the party that he was at.

We both popped up in each other’s news feed from time to time online. Other than that, our paths never crossed. Once again, in my life he became an afterthought as those who are out of sight, out of mind typically do. Recently though, things have gotten a tad strange if you will.

For the past several weeks I have been threadbare, what else is new? Before bed, I went on facebook one more time. Apparently Mr. Piercing, Dark, Mysterious Eyes is in a new play and seems to be doing well like he always is. Never a hard day in his life. Not that I wish that on anyone, and maybe I just see ease and no struggle because I want to play the eternal, professional victim. Either way, then I went to bed.

Well the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes appeared in my dreams. Except in my dream, he was my boyfriend! WTF!!!!????!!?!?!? He wasn’t even my type. For one, he has goals that he fulfills, and has never been to jail or drug treatment even once. There was no way someone like that would ever want me for real. Of course this was a dream. I had never been into him like that either. He was just a classmate. This was so bizarre. The Sandman was up to something and I didn’t know what.

Yet he was the best boyfriend ever in the dream. He didn’t have a criminal record or drug problem, and he still wanted me. Not to mention he was a good boyfriend: patient, kind, caring, and I trusted him. This never happens with the dudes I date. At the same time, he was a complete guy and didn’t let me push him around. We laughed and had a good time, and had mad, passionate sex. Yes, I looked into those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. No, I didn’t feel tempted to cheat or to ask for an open relationship. No, I wasn’t my typical I will be mean and nasty the second you are nice to me self.

Then I woke up. Shit.

Wondering what the hell had inspired what went on, I went to his facebook page. Life was good to him as I suspected, no rough patches in his extensive feed. I was happy for him. Still, why was I dreaming about a dude I had never previously been attracted to? I had had rough, raunchy, jungle dream sex with an old school mate that I was acquainted with at best. Granted, the dream sex had been sweet but still…..This was risky dream behavior. He did buy me dinner in the dream, though.
I also saw he was dating a gorgeous, leggy Argentinian model. There was no way he was lusting or holding a torch for me when he could go home to that. I didn’t expect him to be. We hadn’t spoken in years. Still, I had sex with her man in my dream. Did that make me a dream wrecker? Dear God this was a mess. Piercing, dark, mysterious eyes could have his perfect luck, his perfect life, and his perfect looking lay. I had errands to run, and I had to shake off this dream before it occupied the rest of my day.

I told myself I had manufactured this because the winter had been hard, and the summer had been sent bingeing on work, wearing the career like a full body tattoo instead of a loose garment. As of late, my career was in freefall and I was on thin ice with my boss. Of course I needed an escape. I also told myself it would never work. He’s an actor, a man who says someone else’s lines. He’s a guitar player, a real suavecito. He’s a DJ, need I say more? Not to mention he is a Capricorn, a true ram in the china closet and wants to be in charge all the time. His perfect life and perfect luck would get under my skin. I would resent Lady Luck’s constant favor in his direction. I would give him all the bad days he never had. Maybe he has had some, but I would just give him more because I could. And when he was kind to me, I would rebel. I would eat him alive, ha!

After my errands, I stuck some new photos and videos online. My usual people commented and messaged me telling me they liked Mortimer, my new blue monster in the closet puppet pal. However, I got one new message. It was someone from my past. Someone I hadn’t thought of for some time really until my dream last night. It was someone who’s passionate albeit imaginary kiss I felt deep on my lips and deep into my core. Yes, the guy with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. My jaw dropped open in complete shock.

I called my mom to tell her about my dream fling. E Harmony had expired and this was the best I was doing at the moment. My mother agreed, this was indeed freaky. It was almost as if he had read each other’s energy streams. Either way, this was easily a “holy shit” moment.

Maybe this was the beginning of some crazy love triangle I would end up entangled in, one that would end in murder/suicide. Maybe this was just be being lonely and pathetic, knowing in my heart I would be too awkward and shy to pursue him for real. Or maybe the universe is gently reminding me that while enemies come out of the woodwork, so do friends, new and old.

Also, perhaps it was an amends to myself for the mini-nervous breakdown I have experienced this past month. It’s a reminder to be gentle to myself, I am only human. The fact I push myself is my best and worst quality. People might love me or hate me. I can only do my best. If that isn’t good enough they can eat shit and die. My imagination is my gift. If only it could clean my socks.
When I sleep, maybe Mr. Piercing, Dark, Mysterious Eyes and I can have more hot, steamy, imaginary sex. 

If he reads this blog, I think I might die.  Hopefully, he won’t read this blog, because he might get a hot, steamy, real life restraining order. “Officer, security, I am telling you, it was only a dream.”

Then again, actors aren't the biggest eggheads let alone readers. So he probably won't see it, after all, he has the Argentinian model......

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