December 2023

Five Reasons for Fucking Around

Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones

My current routines, for the last couple of years anyway, revolve around weight loss, friends, family, music and mental health. To flesh out the details seems worthy—at least more so than teasing out yet another pithy comment on WaPo.

The first goes in the how-to column for encouragment:

Walk over to Trader Joe's for a bag of apples.

Glean grapefruit off of a neighbor's tree--with her actual permission, met her in her yard and she introduced herself and said she can't eat 'em. I have one of those baskets on a stick, otherwise I just pick them off the ground and I end up with so many that also means potential juice, so bought a new gadget of the masticating type. And the composter in the backyard is hard at work.

Swap out the water jug on the mini-cistern; a less finicky water filter for the tap means no excuse not to drink lots of H20, which in turn forces biofeedback practice on the old ahem plumbing.

Plan out menus to last a week; the same breakfast lunch, then experiement with dinner. Not much thought involved, except sometimes inspiration: the spontaneous addition of an ingredient. Although it's true the apple for lunch routine worked for a while until I reached my weight goal and was now bored and starved, so I air-fry me some nuts—pecans, cashews, almonds, peanuts. Walnuts, but set those aside for salad. And the 4oz boneless pork chop/chopped-kale-in-a-cast-iron-skillet dinner worked for a while, too. Ran across a food hack: smearing seasoned mayo on either side of meat makes it not stick and gives it a good browning. The accompanying beeps and clicks from the little kitchen timer add to the hypnotic process. Some modifications can emerge; post-pork chop half-grapefruit, sliced very thin, now goes well with some sugar & milk decaf, instead of TJ's dark chocolate because I ran out one day. I love dried blueberries so my salad is nevah boring.

I watch these things morph; breakfast has become black coffee and a green belly meal2go, initially somewhat pricey except the cost is halved when I make 2meals on the whole bar. And I still get enough calories. Like Pavlov's dog the idea of my coffee and one of those four flavors is plugged in as my wake-up. Except wouldn't you know it, yesterday I was on the prowl for something else and ran across nugo which used to be my favorite protein bar to take to work. So for sentimental reasons gotta have some of those, don'tcha? Switching it up, baby.

Then we have:


Shoot, I knew that was going to be a tough one even before I opened my yap. I blame it on my ex-therapist who for all our difficulties had annoyingly reasonable opinions about intimacy. I suppose I could take him at his word; he has years of experience unpacking relationships and has observed that true friendships involve intimacy. True intimacy is rare as hen's teeth. It doesn't work unless it's true, and truth is often not acceptable because it leads to pain and pain is not welcomed because it hurts and we don't want to hurt. Since I lost my main person, I know I'm mostly down to talking truth to myself. One of the worst aspects of looking in the rear view mirror is I have to admit it's kind of shocking: true intimacy is so difficult the chances of spending an entire lifetime without it are abysmally high.



As I mentioned to Rupert at my first week long retreat couple years ago, I wanted advice on how to reintegrate when I returned home since none of them are into this…whatever it is I'm exploring. I began to list my quote unquote small family. Two brothers three sons one grandson daughter-in-law sister-in-law, and Rupert interrupted and said doesn't sound so small and everybody laughed. I thought it was a wise-ass remark but in retrospect there are folks who have nobody, so I guess having eight people at dinner minus one that's sick is still pretty damn good. No, I think the issue is probably that old saying you can choose your friends, can't choose your family. I feel not exactly an obligation but more of a pull. I love them all but they do, we do, have all this history. And at present I'm in the same boat as gazillions of others. Fucking cell phones.

You're in the middle of conversation and you can't remember X, so you say okay google, who played [fill in character] and there's your information, not necessarily accurate but at least assuages the brain fart discomfort. My current (un)favorite is an obsession over finding some artifact with imagesearch that matches your tchotchke and then seeing what it's selling for. This has come about because my particular family has antiques in their DNA. I blame my mother. Although that's contradictory because I seriously have come to terms with my surroundings, might be from rewatching Roman Holiday and experiencing such a demonstrably loving feeling seeing all those crumbling sites around the City. That's me! My little brother however, spends so much time worrying about both fixing something antique and being actively annoyed when someone doesn't honor its patina. And then he shows up at my place wrinkles his nose didsomethingdie?

Meanwhile, second son who is our BBQ expert now, since he often demonstrates, sells, delivers and assembles them for work—we're talkin' high-end Green Egg in which we like to do a turkey—has come home in a low key dither. He doesn't want to do Thanksgiving; he prefers to watch the 49ers. I respond swiftly: anything that requires I get behind a group of people and push them towards a food event is at present, for me, quite easy to let go. I recall the languishing frozen steaks bought a month ago from his colleague (such a deal!) and he perks right up.

We'll see what reaction we get from others.



I have two performances coming up first week of December. The repertoire is pretty unique stuff, definitely a brain workout to memorize Quechua, Indonesian, Basque, when they essentially sound to me like a string of nonsense syllables: mag baba ya tana wun ah kan een tahn. Very little to hang your (my) hat on. So if it's that intriguing, why am I compulsively re-watching seven seasons of a beloved old detective show instead of practicing? Not sure. It's not like I'm dis-enjoying the show, hell I got all the way to the last two damn episodes, made some popcorn and had a
good cry.

But the ole arm still has a few pitches left—going to India in January with the same folks from the previous years and I'm in the soprano section like my old conservatory days—get to enjoy the bitsie solo work but there's a lot of uncertainty around where I'm going ultimately to land, results of auditions, loyalty to previous groups, disappointment at seeing some opportunities dry up. I was kind of counting on a large organization I've worked with couple of times that is cast in the late summertime and gets on its legs in time for Christmas. The whole extravaganza has disintegrated due to covid.  A real bummer. On the website they've even admitted at present they can't even get a board of directors together.

Now with this current multilingual repertoire, a very loving and supportive pair of directors, minimal egos amongst the so-called section heads, all signs point to heaven. Yet when a conflict means I'm going to miss new choir retreat to go to my next Rupert retreat, I actually spend several hours doing mental gymnastics trying to devise some kind of magical transport from 15 miles away across the bay on that Saturday morning. I have been with the Rupert gang five times now. Couple of years ago when I was first told about 'Last Night Celebration', my contribution was Frank Mills from Hair . It was well received. After that pretty much the first thing anybody says to me first day when we meet in the hall or the lobby is so are you going to sing? It's very sweet, but a wee bit annoying. It has come to roost in the form of running potential repertoire or actual lyrics during meditations.

Meanwhile, since I don't have the car getting to the new choir Retreat would mean figuring out transportation at 7:00 a.m. to get there by 9:00, finishing up around 1:00 p.m., getting back by 3:00. That would also mean missing Rupert meditation Saturday morning, missing lunch, hanging around waiting for 4:30 Q&A, traditionally somewhat intense since everybody knows it's the last one. And then having the energy to sing at Celebration Night. The point when I realized oh my God what am I doing and just dropped the whole idea was really quite wonderful. Even though I had permission to be absent, I spent the week somewhat predictably vacillating between guilt and liberation.

And as the days went by it was pretty clear I've established once again a habit. A comfortable Rupert routine, which even with the best intentions leads to:

Mental Health

Naps. A lot of naps.

I may possibly be a slow study, but here's what I believe is happening:

F ood is comfort I'm denying myself.

F riends are getting old and dying, and my best one is dead.

F amily is not going to change.

M usic is now, and always has been, a joy and a threat.

I don't want to feel my grief.



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Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

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

©2023 Claudine Jones
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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