F is for Fickle

 

F is for Fickle, capital “F”.

Fickle is a good word. I would call most things fickle.

  • love
  • attention
  • concentration
  • resolve
  • relationships
  • work

Fickle means changeable, marked by sudden or unexpected changes in the nature or quality of a thing. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

The challenges that I set for myself this month:

  1. Camp Nanowrimo (write 50,000 words in 1 month)
  2. NaPoWriMo (write a poem every day this month)
  3. Blogging A to Z challenge (blog according to the alphabet every day)
  4. 21 day challenge (retrain your brain through meditation/exercise/gratitude)

My attention is fickle, my resolve is fickle. People have called me fickle, but I don’t know that that is a bad thing. A synonym for fickle is mercurial. We tend to dislike Mercury, the god of change, of speed and all the rest. But, why is that?

Mercury was based on Hermes, a beloved character in Greco-Roman myth. He was one of the few beings in existence that could outsmart Apollo. He was the fastest among the gods. He acted as a messenger. He was the comic relief.

In the modern pantheon Flash is Mercury. He is quick, smart, loveable, & affable. And dare I say fickle?

So fickle doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but we treat it like it is. Why is that? I think because we prefer the idea of stability. People who are consistent in their reactions are people we can trust. Yes? Well, yes and no.

We like people being consistent because that makes them predictable and to a certain extent that is healthy. Right? I mean it is outlined in basic psychology:

Secure attachments vs. avoidant/ambivalent attachment. Secure attachments are developed when people are consistent with how they show love to their children. Ambivalent attachments are developed when parents are inconsistent. If you are greeted with either love or hate when you show love, you aren’t going to show that love very often are you? So inconsistency can be really unhealthy.

However, in this time of political polarization, we are approaching a society of tribes. People are choosing movements over ideas. With a remarkable certainty if you know someone’s stance on one thing, you will know their stance on a number of other things. Case in point, here are some hotly contested topics in politics:

  1. gun control
  2. birth control
  3. immigration
  4. health care
  5. education

Now, none of these are interconnected. You can safely reason that guns have very little to do with babies. You can have completely divorced reasoning about both. Yet, with almost absolute certainty (some studies have shown) if you know someone’s stance on one of these topics, then you know their stance on all of them.

Without knowing anything else about me, if I say:

I support the constitution with regards to the second amendment.

What can you glean from that? What does that tell you about me? Everything you need to know? I hope not.

Because I do support the original framing of the second amendment, which states:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Emphasis on the “well regulated.” Surprise! I support gun control as outlined in our constitution. You can be a supporter of the constitution and believe that some people deserve to have their guns taken away. Who knew? I knew.

Because I’m fickle. Because I’ve supported both sides over the years and I have finally settled on this idea that I don’t need to belong to a tribe or a group. I can make up my own damn mind all of the time.

E is for Everything

E is for everything. Capital Eeeeeeee!

That was a scream by the way. A scream of terror. I don’t know if you know this about me, but this time of year is hard for me. I don’t know if I knew this about me. My life long partner wasn’t. So it goes. I’ve been pretty skittish around relationships ever since.

Turns out I’m polyamorous. People don’t like that in a straight guy. Who knew? I never saw a problem with loving more people. The people I fell in love with did. So it goes.

My company just hit a rarefied wall of “Fuck You”. They said it nicer than that, but they still said “Fuck You”. So that has to be thrown in a dustbin. So it goes.

Taxes are due so I write checks that cut like knives. So it goes.

I started two new jobs in the time since and haven’t cashed a single check because I’m afraid to look at those balances. My heart rate picks up and everything gets tunnel visioned.

The people I am closest to seem to be vanishing down rabbit holes. I can’t tell the difference between static, radio silence, and ignoring me so I just assume most of my relationships are fled. So it goes.

I pick myself back up only to be pinned to a wall by friends, family, and myself screaming at me why I haven’t done the right thing. How could I let this happen? Morale falling apart, arguing over forks, trying to keep everything clean for one more day before everybody starts packing only to discover the bags are already packed. So it goes.

Day 14/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. muffins
  2.  my brain
  3.  making it through the day

3) Muffins.

It’s a funny little thing. Comfort food.

Do we eat it to feel good or do we eat it because we feel bad? I have noticed a trend with comfort food that I get for myself. It tends to be always a bad idea. Taco Bell, muffins, too much popcorn. Anytime I make comfort food for myself, it tends to be an excuse to wallow in my own sorrow. This may not be true for everyone, but I have noticed time and again that things get really rough whenever I get it for me.

Taco Bell was something I had as a kid. My father would always take me after one of my matches. I couldn’t eat before weighing in or during the meet, but I could eat after. It was quick, it was the only place open after 10pm when I got off, it was the solution. Oh, and I also always lost. So the Taco Bell helped gloss over that.

I didn’t mind losing. I minded losing all the time, but I didn’t mind losing. I was upset because my training montages never looked like what I saw from the movies and television. I was upset that I never looked like them or knew how to even begin. My sensei always said: he never skips push ups. I really hated push ups. Like a lot.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Muffins.

So I never buy comfort food for myself anymore. I try to get it for other people. Or I make it. That way it isn’t for me. It is for other people. I can’t do comfort food for me anymore. The last half dozen times I got Taco Bell I almost put the car through the median. They were really bad days and I don’t think the Taco Bell made them better. Instead, it felt like an acknowledgement that I had been beaten that day. That I wouldn’t get around this funk.

But, when people make or get comfort food for you? That shows somebody cares. I think that is the key to comfort food. It can’t come from you because what we find comforting is the acknowledgement from somebody that another person cares about our well being. This may be just because I am built to hate myself so effing much, but I think there is a kernel of truth there. Comfort can and does come from others taking care of us.

We can build and do that for ourselves, but very rarely is that going to come from consuming unhealth and that very much is what comfort food is. Show me the nut whose comfort food is a kale vegan protein smoothie and I’ll give them my firstborn.

Point being somebody got me muffins and that’s great. Today might even warrant eating them. Who knows? It’s still early where I am when I’m writing this. Things could always change.

Day 13/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. good ideas
  2. an abundance of good ideas
  3. time to write

2) Ever since I was a kid I have loved Tolkien.

Like really loved Tolkien. My father had his first editions that I have worn down to the spine. He has a 10 year anniversary edition that is absolutely stunning. So the family love of Tolkien runs deep.

Tolkien spent his entire life crafting a single story. That story is remarkable.

Growing up, I always wanted to write. I was, shall we say, dissuaded. I blame a number of things: teachers, friends, family, idols 

Really it was me. I dissuaded me. I led me to think I had a single story in me. One that was not nearly as good as Tolkien’s.

So I worked on it. I crafted the hell out of my  story. I worked so long that I never wrote it. I never wrote anything. Part of it was the fear–the very real fear that if I emptied out that story, I would be hollow. There wouldn’t be another story.

I had a new idea the other day.

It wasn’t the second idea I’ve ever had. Or the third. I’ve had dozens of new ideas. The fear still lives in me: what if that is it? What if I never have a new idea again? What if instead of one it’s a limit of five or six or eight?

So I fight the fear with new ideas. I don’t believe in writer’s block.

D is for Detroit

D is for Detroit. Duh.

Detroit is Detroit. There really aren’t other ways to describe it. Ask anybody outside the city an you get things like: it seems to be coming back OR it’s not as bad as it was. Ask anybody inside the city and the fandom is rampant. Ask anybody who has lived here for any length of time and you get a different story:

Detroit never went anywhere.

That’s the thing I take most away from this city. If you think Detroit is going through a renaissance, you don’t know this city. If you think Detroit is bouncing back, you don’t know it.

Maybe it depends on your point of view:

Now’s the time to visit Detroit, finally on the verge of a real renaissance

For sale: The $100 house

About That Detroit Renaissance

Depending on who you ask:
Detroit is going through a “revitalization” where buildings are bought up, renovated, and made habitable again for new tenants.
OR
Detroit is the city where the black community won the race riots. Detroit is the city where it has continually been punished for winning those riots.
They can both be true, in fact, I think they probably are, but Detroit is a city where the official statistics state it is 88% black population. Can you understand why a city that literally tore itself apart might be upset at a process some call gentrification, which is also a nice way of saying pushing out the current population.
The way it was put to me at a meeting of people of color I was fortunate to be a part of:
There aren’t white saviors for Detroit. There is an invasion happening. Recolonization of Detroit is happening.

Day 12/21

Today, 

I am grateful for. ..

  1. Friends coming over
  2. Fun at work
  3. Space to breathe

3) The problem with bad days is that they make transience hard to come by. 

Every single thing feeds into your present state of mind. 

Last night the heat cut out. The heat cut out and I saw no way out. No where to go. 

I’ve been trying to fix it, but with the weather refusing to break, I felt abandoned. It felt I had nowhere to go. It felt like all of my problems were wrapped up in it and if I could only fix it. 

So I kept trying. Because I fix things. But, some things cannot be fixed. Not right away or not at all. 

Accepting that, getting out of whatever situation is triggering you, and getting on with your life is the most important thing. 

I am really happy that I have space to forget about it, even for a little while. 

Day 11/21

Today, 

I am grateful for…

  1. Having somewhere to go
  2. Having a way to get there
  3. Having down time

1) I have a need to flee. 

It is very real and can be deeply upsetting. 

When I’m healthy it translates into wanderlust. When I’m unhealthy it translates into running away. 

When I feel trapped, when it feels like there is nowhere to go and nothing to do: public places, libraries, events, parks (because this is the land of perpetual winter), then there are very few places that I feel I can go. 

When I have nowhere to go: friends, family, etc. I almost always switch to running away. 

Today, I woke up upset, which seems so unfair. 

Fortunately, I had to head into work, spend time with people I like, and then get paid. 

It was a good day. 

C is for Hipsters

This one is a bit silly.

So I heard a rumor back when I moved to Detroit.

Detroit is the birth of hipster. 

Basically that everyone was too poor to purchase CD’s when they came out so they bought records. Everyone was too poor to buy designer clothes so they bought off brand and thrift stores. 

Now, I am not an expert. I have no idea if it’s true, but it was a fun bit of trivia living and working in Detroit. 

That is the extent of my hipster history knowledge. But, there is something more. ..nobody positively identifies as a hipster. It is definitely a counter culture movement that nobody seems to want to be. People never self identify as a hipster and I wondered why that was. 

I mean, think about it. 

A hipster is

  • Thrifty
  • Environmentally conscious
  • Aware of musical trends 
  • Well educated

A hipster also tends to be

  • A douche 

Which again is weird, but that feeling doesn’t go away depending on who you ask. A hipster is vegan or fruitotarian or only hand makes their clothes. They tend to be white, work as baristas, have rich parents, have liberal arts degrees, also dreads. 

Like none of this should be a bad thing. Yet over and over the counter culture movement of the millennial generation is viewed as negative by both older and present generations. Why? 

It got so bad that articles were written claiming counter culture was dead. Mass consumerism had consumed the counter culture. Found a way to box it and supply it to the masses. 

Full disclosure, I have been called a hipster. When asked why people sort of gesture at me. I think they mean my graphic t-shirts and large board game collection, how I use the word socialism and anarchism appropriately and not communism, my glasses and the fact I’m an artist. I make all my own food, am vegetarian, and am looking into how to garden. I identify as Buddhist, recognizing the beauty of the philosophy while also appreciating the Buddha intended it to be a living doctrine and so explore what it means for me. Also atheist.  None of this am I ashamed of. 

And yet when people call me a hipster, I feel as though I should be. It’s really ridiculous. Why are we so compelled? Is there a reason to despise? To not identify as a hipster? Is there anything wrong with living off the grid, trying to be sustainable? Abstaining from having children? Or is it more a matter of privilege and people having the resources already to do it? 

I don’t have any of these answers. I’m trying not to block myself into categories so much anymore. I feel really strongly in this case because hipster does not define all of my weird, though people try. 

Oh, also the title:

Hipsters are too cool for their own letter “h” so they wound up here. Also I thought it was really funny. 

Sue me. 

Day 10/21

Today, 

I am grateful for…

  1. A vocal email
  2. Dinner with my work people
  3. Bedding down for a night in

1) Today, I received a, shall we say, strongly worded email. 

It was among the first I’ve received. It was based on my blog here. I was very surprised. 

Words, man. Words can send people over the moon or straight into hell. This was leaning toward the latter. 

I was ashamed. I was angry. But, I remembered all of my lessons of the last few weeks:

  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Milo Yiannopolous
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Sam Harris
  • Neil degrasse Tyson
  • Noam Chomsky

How they comport themselves, how they work with words against unimaginable blow back.

I decided to engage. 

I said them you to the vinegar, treating it like spice instead of poison. 

I asked why they felt the way that they did and was genuinely surprised at what they said. 

In the end, I won’t say we were friendly, but we were more neutral. 

It was a place that no one in my support group that we could achieve. It just n means that at this time if polarization we can still find a middle. 

B is for Bullshit

B is for Bullshit. Capital Buh-

I wrote a not so good stream of consciousness post not very long ago about this very issue when it comes to the theatre and, in particular, reviews:

Critical Response (Why Everyone Hates Reviews…Fuck ’em)

I thought I said everything in that blog post. But, it just keeps coming up. So let me address something that has been on my mind for a while now: Bullshit.

Bullshit:

usually vulgar

  1. :nonsense; especially:  foolish insolent talk

I’m tired of bullshit in the theatre. Endstop.

What do I mean by bullshit? Let’s do a run down of some of the theatre reviews. Let’s do Detroit (c. 2017)

Detroit:

  1. Slipstream brings zany French farce to Detroit-centric ‘Nain Rouge’
  2. MOT’s ‘Girl of the Golden West’ is gold indeed
  3. Purple Rose tackles marital truths in ‘Vino Veritas’
  4. ‘1984’ feels very 2017 at The Williamston Theatre
  5. Outvisible shines with Mamet’s ‘Oleanna’
  6. World Premiere: ‘Clutter’ at Theatre Nova exposes the pain of no do-overs in marriage
  7. ‘Disgraced’ at The Jet is rough, real and revelatory
  8. UDM’s ‘Avenue Q’ a sharp-edged hoot at The Boll Theatre
  9. Premiere: ‘Capital’ good time at Detroit Rep
  10. Riverbank’s ‘Shrek’ a fairy good time

These are the top 10 newest reviews for Encore Michigan, the region’s only review website.

Full disclosure, I know a lot of these people. I even like a lot of these people, but if the last 10 shows were all unequivocal successes, I’ll eat my shoe.

Nain:

For optimum enjoyment of Nain Rouge, it may be best to surrender one’s sense of disbelief and any strict reliance on plotlines. Farces are meant to be enjoyed, not understood.

Golden West: “gold indeed” it’s in the title, mate.

Vino:

Unfortunately, the staging of this significant reveal feels clunky. Lauren re-enters but stops short, as if to eavesdrop, despite being in Ridley’s and Claire’s line of vision. In this way, logistic questions – like, if the wine makes you tell the truth, wouldn’t Lauren’s presence not affect Phil’s words? – threatened to distract attention from one of the play’s defining moments.

Would you look at that! I’m just about ready to eat my shoes.

But the play sticks the landing, with as satisfying an ending as you could hope for.

…Never mind

1984:

Director Tony Caselli deserves credit for these key shifts in his actors that give this production an intensity and intelligent interpretation. He paints a chilling picture from the very beginning and uses the staging and pacing to communicate the fear that is ever-present in this world. He knows when to build things up to a point of suspense and when to provide the audience with some relief, though don’t expect many laughs during this presentation.

Mamet:

The play flies by in one act at just over an hour. Get to the theatre a few minutes early and you can hit the Dairy Queen just the other side of the parking lot.

Clutter:

The writing here is razor sharp and the acting is more than up to doing it justice.

Disgraced:

The script and this production are is brilliant, taut and razor sharp. The 90 minutes flies by.

Avenue Q:

The cast is truly strong across the board, there is no weak link in either acting or singing.

Good Time:

The Rep’s compact stage doesn’t lend itself to run-around comedy but the cast manages pretty well and some moments are especially choice:

Shrek: Come on! This is Shrek!

There were a few musical moments when the mic balance was not ideal, and there were a couple scene changes that could have been a bit smoother, but that is not what audiences will remember. They may not even leave the theatre raving about the music, which felt incidental to the story in many places. They will, however, be talking about how thoroughly funny this show was, how many times they laughed aloud, how the little details brought the characters to life. There is no better way than humor to teach a wise lesson: don’t ever judge a person on outward appearance.

Fucking SHREK?! Really??

What about New York?

New York:

Aladdin

If a genie had sprung from my teakettle last week and offered to grant me three wishes, I might impulsively have asked to be spared any more children’s musicals. Since a certain blockbuster feline arrived well over a decade ago, Broadway has been lapped by wave after wave of big, often gloppy songfests adapted from animated movies, mostly from the mother ship, Disney.

So the prospect of “Aladdin,” promising another weary night in the presence of a spunky youngster and wisecracking animals, didn’t exactly set my heart racing. But this latest musical adapted from one of Disney’s popular movies, which opened on Thursday night at the New Amsterdam Theater, defied my dour expectations.

The Broadway version of “Aladdin” sticks to the movie’s formula, but also infuses the conventions of the genre with a breezy insouciance that scrubs away some of the material’s bland gloss.

We can’t even speak ill of the Disney babies?!

Amelie

This mild-mannered musical adaptation of the famously divisive 2001 French film is unlikely to inspire similarly passionate responses.

I was like! Yes! Finally! Some serious critical reviews here.

Instead I get:

it is pleasant to look at, easy to listen to and oddly recessive. It neither offends nor enthralls.

WHAT IS THAT?

Now, this is not a call to “bash”. I don’t want people to be torn apart in reviews, far from it. But, vigorous, spirited conversation is what I hope the people want to read and what we want to engage in. If I read “pleasant to look at, easy to listen, and oddly recessive,” I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Let me recommend the reviews for Clutter, Vino, and 1984 in particular. They are quite good reviews. And, to be honest, the New York Times does do good reviews, they can afford to go into much more detail and I know much less about the theatre scene in their area than I do in mine.

Let me recommend Nain Rouge @ Slipstream, Oleanna @ Outvisible, 1984 @ Williamston, & Clutter, oh and Good Times. Those are strong companies with solid work.

My point is this: not everyone is going to produce gold every time. Not if what they are aiming at is art. If we can’t speak truthfully about a theatrical event without letting bullshit get in the way.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Shrek really was a great musical as it is billed to be and as the reviewer seems to think. Who knows? But, if in the damn review it says: 

They may not even leave the theatre raving about the music, which felt incidental to the story in many places.

Then, it wasn’t a very good musical was it?!

Simply say that! I enjoyed it, it was fun because it was funny, not a good musical. Here are some specifics.

People’s trust in main stream media, news sources, and enthusiast press are steadily declining. I don’t think that journalism is any worse than it was. However, I do feel like we dance around the issues at hand when it comes to our enthusiast press simply because we are afraid of something.

Normally I’ve got hope for the end of my blog posts, but today I’m just tuckered. So I’ll leave you with this:

Let’s do better.