Claudine Jones

Woke up quite early this morning after the VP announcement yesterday.

I had been actively taking a little respite from politics up to that precise moment, just fiddling with FB, and there it was.

Although that's an insanely contradictory sentence: FB is nothing if not political these days. Even after repeatedly telling my machine(s) that I'm not into whatever they're pitching, they track me relentlessly anyway. Buy something online or donate to a cause, and they'll never let it go. Unless you spend every second of your meager existence battling.

I'm into online classes now and that means a bit of a reckoning; around scheduling, around "homework" (god save me). Around the subtle effects of this relationship. Paid or not, the teacher or mediator or leader—whatever he/she is called—is a stranger whom I am trusting with some raw personal material.

 That's not even beginning to factor in the screen full of new faces, clearly all in differing levels of awareness or commitment. Willingness to participate. How's that different from my past experience? It can only be the presence of actual bodies.

One of my top current interests lies in communication, so that's where I going with the exploration. A colleague gave me his list of texts delving into this area—he is/was making a handsome living being jetted around the globe, gathering various corporate slogs in a room and helping them ferret out exactly how and why they were failing in global intercourse. Culture, misinformation, missed cues, speaking style. He is/was a voice coach/composer, tall, exuberantly loud and charming, emotional and passionate. We last met in Paris where he was perched half the year for tax reasons, and we dove deep into Portuguese wine and Mindfulness.

I told him horror stories about my days in the theater, which was probably the effect of the wine, and he laughed and cried about the future and iniquities in general.  Love of Portuguese wine. He now lives in Portugal.

When I returned to the States, I had that list of resources in my suitcase. It's been on my hallway bulletin board for a while, that is to say, some years, to remind me of his encouragement and of my intense interest in the subject of communication in all its permutations: Non Violent, Active, Compassionate, Empathetic, and so on.

It had it genesis in me in uncomfortable childhood situations, powerlessness, female role-modeling.

Well, that sounds fucking bloodless: "uncomfortable" with someone's hand in my pants, "powerless" being four years old,  "role-modeling" any woman around me including relatives, seeming to guard secrets—if they did, why not me?

I needed/need to be heard and it was apparently up to me to make it happen.

Pealing back layers is a great exercise in discovery of a play, of your character. Trotting out your learned skills in tandem with some innate ability, to see where it leads. Absolutely no question of the attraction to the work; the fitting of the parts together and survival of clashes in (god I hate this) "vision".  Although I shouldn't say that; on the few occasions I directed and otherwise took part in the technical side of a production, I was thoroughly aware of the push-back when talent didn't see it my way.  Pretty impotent when at last in performance, one or more of my treasured bits were casually ignored. More's the pity, since the show suffered, in my humble opinion. Of course, when I was "talent" my choices were always the right ones stifled laugh.

Here I go again. Is this an avoidance technique? Where the F was I heading? Into pain, I think, because I definitely was in pain this morning at 5:45am and I don't mean my hip (although that's not exactly great.)

This morning's consciousness consisted of a fine layer of barbed wire, such that if I shifted a thought, blood was drawn. I could sit up, scoot my tablet over, check emails, NYT, FB and YouTube, in that order, but also quite calmly observe that with very subtle decisions, I was inexplicably entering into areas best left alone or at least set aside, for example: a 22 minute documentary on a palliative care doctor whose focus is dying babies. Didn't exactly cherish bloodletting, I wept quietly. Yet I've long believed that weeping is an excellent method for release of toxins. 

I also began inquiring of myself the reasons for my particular recent viewings. This week, I watched Pride and Prejudice (Knightly version) and sobbed accordingly. Next day, West Side Story in its entirety, Girl-crgrimly acknowledging its faults, and blubbering nonetheless. [Fun trivia: my down-the-street neighbor, two years ahead of my brother in high school when I was just a 7th grader, sprung aggressively up our walkway to visit, forcefully warbling th' Jets are in gear, our cylindahs ah clickin'!  in his joy over playing a gang member for that lunatic director I hadn't yet met. Four years later, that same neighbor happened to give me a ride home from a school dance in his clunker, salvaged from the gas station where he had ended up a grease monkey. With teen-age sophistication and a bunch of parts non-romantic  under my belt, directed by that same madman, I got my very first kiss in the front seat of a Pontiac. Grist for the mill.]

This fucking morning, my robotic choices cobbled with week 3 of  Universal Human List of Needs/Values/Motivations, and beholding that of the items on that 4 column page-long inventory,  I could probably own fully goddamn 95% ...well, I appeared to be losing it.  Faking. Performing. Not okay. Ready to...? Pop a bunch of pills? And in the middle of this catastrophic acknowledgment, my phone rings.

It could have been a free trip the Bahamas, but it wasn't.

It was a friend.

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Claudine Jones has had a long, full 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.

©2020 Claudine Jones
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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