January 2024

Okay change of plans

Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones

Last night I crashed at about 10 o'clock after a very light, in fact almost invisible Thanksgiving. Peculiar to be sitting there at a lovely table with an empty plate and a glass of seltzer, watching everybody else eat.

One result of the non drug-related medical marvel of going a couple of weeks on little but water, bread and sipping broth appears to be crazy dreams. This dream is sequential and feels like it lasts pretty much all night with a couple of breaks for pee? Anyway the last fragment builds upon the earlier ones because the stage has been set, as it were.

A group is busy breaking each other down because we have mysteriously discovered that our identities—being so tangled with how we defined ourselves—at the core must be absurdly and utterly wrong. That means that all of the research all of the documentation all of the science going back Millenia was flawed at its foundation. We've caught on, so now a joint re-identifying of ourselves as another species is going to be the trick. Are we numbers? Each of us assigned to do a sort of monitoring of each other to see if we are part of the Inner Circle or are we still asleep.

We contemplate an increasingly colorful phantasmagoria, entering a sort of Person-Factory where every facet of your actions, movements, decision making, implementing, follow-through, happiness level, response time, is based on such ridiculous tasks as choosing something to eat, washing an implement thoroughly after you used it and then put it away, and being instantly reprimanded if you slip up. I not only begin saying out loud this is nonsense, but actively either stall or sabotage. Or just stand there. I'm met with uncomprehending faces of others more or less robotic in their obedience.

A somehow familiar threat hovers.

I woke at 10:45 a.m.


I love watching myself analyze; I isolate something and then stare it down, wait for it to blink.

Just before Thanksgiving, after a jolly morning over at a neighbor's house with my Makita helping take down some shelves, I got blindsided. Went home, got some lunch. About 8 p.m. I was staring down into a bucket, thinking all right, I probably shouldn't have ate that. This was followed by weeks of playing footsie with my gut, or dodgeball, to see how close to enough calories can I get in there so I can stand up and actually attend final rehearsals.

Cuz yes! After months of work, this is not why they call it hell week, but a personal occasion for private terror, runaway fantasies, moments of painful hilarity such as when our choir director announces surprise! we're invited to do a set at Carnegie Hall in March (2 weeks after I return from India choir trip which is now also hovering on the dread horizon). Ordinarily I would not even hesitate, more than that, I would actively promote my participation. I would do anything.

Instead, I hear an incessant tap dance inside: which nightmare could I land on? Overextension? Flat-out denial? Pride? Disappointment? Fury? Back against the wall slide down to the floor is bitter.

At the dress rehearsal my section leader is uncommonly kind. I have to say something so I tell her I'm dehydrated. It's as though she's forgotten that we are not her students--she's a retired teacher, and feels comfortable being Mom. That's okay but again, I am watching myself respond to her since I'm coming from my accustomed guilt and having her response allay instead of making things worse soothes me like my yogurt drink. Sweet.

Maybe I'll get through this is my little mantra.

The two performances come and go and I feel the notes flying out into the space, the audience on their feet. And I'm not that dizzy, but the whisper is lingering in the background.


Today I spend a couple of hours doing absurd administrative tidying: deadline is tomorrow for switching Medicare plans, the doctor's recommendation of a CT scan for my gut is stalled in Authorization purgatory, the loan app I downloaded to buy a fancy juicer on payments is misbehaving. Plus it's raining. My bathrobe is warm but the body is exhausted. At least the cup of broth now includes an egg and some toast. I'm down 6 lbs.

But goddammit, whoever answers my 800 call is gonna get the full me. My customer service experiences—Medicare, HMO, loan company—will receive a form of unfiltered direct inquiry. Not even an attempt to disguise it when I can't actually decipher what is being said through an accent. Just straight up I'm sorry could you repeat that. Or say again. I'm just happy to have a phone in my hand and a brain that works.

Laughing at ridiculous bureaucracy with some little joke, I get an unexpected remark:

Miss Jones, I hear your smile.



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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.

©2024 Claudine Jones
©2024 Publication Scene4 Magazine




January 2024

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