Scene4-International Magazine of Arts and Culture


Claudine Jones-Scene4 Magazine

Claudine Jones

It occurs to me that there's a certain way of approaching things I might be missing—everything from erogenous zones to television shows to food to listening skills or music—and I've got so much on my plate, even more now that the semester is starting. I've gotten eight pieces of music to learn. I'm plugged into so many blogs and online courses, control dramas my thing right now, so what do I zero in on?

How about I want my arms to be covered when it's not really too chilly. It's more a question of sunblock I guess cuz I don't like putting cream on; I would rather just wear a long sleeve shirt. So I get out my favorite cotton lightweight thermal shirts. This one's a sort of vibrant orange color and I wear it for exactly one day. In the evening when I'm undressing I see a patch of rash on my left inside elbow and a small patch in my armpit same side. What the hell? That just bugs the piss out of me. It's cotton,  it's not any kind of polyester plastic nightmare fabric, just straight-up cotton. And I like layering, I like putting on a long sleeve shirt and then putting a loose t-shirt on top of it preferably with a political message, the likes of which I have quite a few to choose from. So I don't want to give up my long-sleeve cotton shirts god dammit. But I certainly don't like having a frikkin rash. R says that it's probably an allergic reaction to the dye, and my response is what could that possibly mean, I mean I have last count probably eight of the same style in different colors, does that mean that the company who makes those shirts is using toxic dye? Holy crap. I've had those shirts for a long time. I've put up with having a little bit of a underarm rash because I assume it's because of cold weather and cold weather rashes are just a thing, a fact of life. But if I now have to go back after several years and let's say contact the company and say dude are you using toxic dye? Or I could just give away all my shirts. I don't like that. You know what? I'm going to Google underarm rash and just see what comes up because now that I think about it, my ecologically produced long sleeve thermal shirt from 15 years ago, the one I bought at the SF Mime Troupe show which is no longer available but which I love, does the same rash thing. So it's got to be just a personal thing where my body just doesn't like up close and personal fabric. Rats.

Speaking of which my sister-in-law who is a fabulous artist in textiles and ceramics just finished doing a crap load of work for the last oh, I want to say 6 months, in preparation for a show where she was going to feature her latest stuff, some finely crafted purses involving sections with a whimsical patch of criss-crossed ribbon work, very intricate, and incorporated into the side of the purse...anyway after this weekend show, sold some, got a lot of great feedback from other potential sources for showing her work and selling it, and she admits it was not a great idea, but she left everything in the car overnight. The next morning it was all gone. The only recourse would be check out Ebay or Craigslist or local flea markets, swap meets and such in search of her work, but she's not going to do that. She said that she spent a brief period mourning over her lost items and then realized there are so many fires in California and so many people who've lost everything...there are more important things, and she's just going to get back in the studio and keep working. And here's what I thought was pretty cool: she also hopes that whoever has her purses enjoys them.

So where am I going with this? Well...there are many things that I'm in love with for example I am for the most part still resting up with broken foot syndrome meaning I have to spend a lot of time lying flat on my back, foot in the air, but I do have my tablet on an articulated arm above me. This means I can do everything from listen to music, read my emails, play Bounzy, watch a show, check Facebook, read the New York Times—although for some inexplicable reason my tablet sometimes just goes on and offline with such startling rapidity that the Times page loads and then disappears and then loads again and disappears and then loads again rinse and repeat, so yeah I not really able to be patient I just read it on my phone later—anyway, I'm in love with the Sherlock Holmes' latest iteration I found on Hulu, Elementary. I'm in the 4th season and not looking forward to it being over. My son told me last week that it's still running! Cool. It has led to some interesting conversations. One of the things I noticed was how in typical crime dramas like maybe Perry Mason or Murder She Wrote—anything that has confrontation at the end where everything gets resolved—the thing that the writers don't seem to trust on a cellular level is that the audience will be able to figure out, once you've identified the perpetrator that, yeah, he or she is upset or ashamed or belligerent or apologetic...whatever. The point is we don't need to belabor it. That's the thing that sets Elementary apart, that with minor variations we reach the end of the search and the police and Sherlock and Watson are explaining, both to the audience and to the perpetrator, how their nefarious machinations were finally uncovered. And we get a shot of that person's face, and then Cut! We're done! On to the more personal teaser/intrigue tag. Actually saved ourselves the repetitive motions of beating the dead horse, which I think everyone can agree is the reason they call it beating a dead horse”. So yeah that's why among other reasons I really dig the show. Except last night— after I've gone through all the trouble of pointing out this wonderful exception-to-the rule to R, who is not actually watching the series, and running through all of the other reasons that I think it's great—what should happen but I settle in to go to sleep with my quasi ritual 11:30 p.m. episode and at the end I'm flabbergasted. They've broken the rule. The worst episode in the entire Series so far. Not only did they break it, they shattered it. The only thing I can think is that maybe somebody, some writer had some weird epiphany, walked in on the process and said no no no, so and so needs to say blah blah blah. This better be an aberration.

And I'm also in love with Mozart in the Jungle, mostly because Rodrigo has this wonderful way of starting a sentence and then doing a complete 180 having the opposite opinion, making stuff up on the fly, searching for his Muse, trusting his instincts. Remind you of anybody, I say to myself. Oh God that brings up so many memories of times when it felt as though the creative process was being hijacked. The business of hewing to someone's Vision, as it were, was effectively killing any input from anyone else. Zimbabwe-crAnd sometimes done with an absolute vengeance, as if control over the process were more important than the outcome. I know this isn't news.  Anybody who's been involved in anything creative with a hierarchy knows that so many elements can go pear-shaped, everything from who's supplying costumes who's in charge of the overall look of the production who is providing backup in case somebody drops out... Everything seemingly at the mercy of fate and yet... I don't know. I had a perfect image for this the other day and I'm blanking, so I'll just make up another one: let's say you have just opened a conversation with someone, presumably someone worth talking to at all, and you forget that you have in fact another human in front of you who actually has something to say, possibly important. You are listening to yourself listening. You're waiting. You're not listening.

Now let's just put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say that you do the exact opposite. You, figuratively speaking, leave the door open letting the sound of that other person's voice come through the door at you, bathing you in the wash of impressions from that person's sensibilities. That could be pretty toxic, could be angry, could be sorrowful, could be petty. But you are letting that wash over you with your impermeability coat on. You got the sense that you'll survive it. What you don't have unless you allow it is any idea of where it's potentially heading and what form it's going to take. In short order it could go from being toxic to being a balm. Or it could go careening off, the point is you'll never know unless you let it. So what the hell? How does it figure in the creative process to effectively block any kind of emergence of input from a part of the—for lack of a better word—team? This doesn't mean a damn democracy. It does mean that especially in the case of a higher up the inability to hear, and I don't mean the damn person is deaf, I mean the inability to Hear, in my humble opinion constitutes one of the highest forms of egotism on the planet.

Myself?  I've gotten into an unfamiliar, unprecedented space with one of my closest and craziest relationships, of course that of my elderly mother and her finicky French foibles. Her way of looking at the world as French and the Other, and the fact that I've been laid up and unable to drive means our regular Tuesday afternoon has been put on hold so I'm forced to just call her and give her an update on how my foot is doing, and ask her how she's doing. That's been going okay so far. It does have its ups and downs, however, it has intersected in a surprising and somewhat serendipitous way all because we haven't seen each other in a couple of months not including the two weeks in South Africa, so yeah a long time. This has allowed, as my caregiver support group folks reminded me last night, a certain healing distance to develop. Sometimes the proximity to a problem is in itself a problem. So what I have done purposefully is surround myself, with what I consider historically, intrinsically, beneficial to the point of life-saving, at least psychically anyway: the business of transmitting some kind of genuine empathy, underline genuine. You can't fake that shit. And it's not woo woo. I don't think I'm being taken in. My bullshit detector is pretty finely-tuned. I especially get turned off by something that ventures so far out on the religious plane that it just becomes something I can't identify with at all. I know that about myself. So no, it is grounded, again, in my humble opinion, in inclusivity. That's a lot of ins. But it certainly works because I've had so many conversations (!) in the last few weeks with this person who's been so Central, and has been giving me messages of what it means to be a fully developed person...

Does that mean educated? Does it mean operating with head versus heart or the reverse? That of course would mean do I skew more towards my father, famous for flying by the seat of his pants, showing up for the final exam without having done any of the homework or even attending most of the classes and acing it, which to my mother was like spitting in her face. I never operated in such fashion so I don't know why she would think that about me except it was a repeated message: Don't do that. Take typing. You never know. My recent conversations with this person have had to reach some level of diffusion of this overarching theme of Our Lives...pick me or him... I did tell her probably 6 months ago or so back when we were still meeting in person that she couldn't ask me to choose between her and my father. That was not going to happen; she was probably going to have to just give that up as a goal. I could see in her face that she was not happy because she still blames him for a lot of shit. But I was adamant sorry Ma but that's not something you can ask me. I love you and I love him, he's not around anymore and I cannot gossip about him when he's not present to defend himself and I will not choose between my parents. Yeah she was pretty upset. But the current conversations?  No. They don't involve that. They are close, in the present moment. How are you? How is your foot? When are you coming to see me again? I miss you. Oh I can tell you're disappointed. The doctor's happy, but broken bones take a while to heal, they have their own schedule. I'm getting out of shape and I can't drive, but it's coming around.

The only thing that makes me a little bit sad is I don't imagine I can at last tell her I think I'm finally a real person.

I don't think she'll get that.

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Claudine Jones has had a long career as an Actor/Singer/Dancer.
She writes a monthly column and is a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2018 Claudine Jones
©2018 Publication Scene4 Magazine




September 2018

Volume 19 Issue 4

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