I kid, I kid. I like to give Austin a hard time for some reason. I love Austin, but it’s fun to poke fun now and then. It’s like the guitar guy at the party. (Watch this Mike Birbiglia vid if you haven’t before.) Cool cities have always annoyed me because I didn’t live in one. I do now (Minneapolis), so I’m on the bandwagon of touting why one town is better than another. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Or just stop trying to beat ‘em. None of it matters really, but still. Minneapolis and Portland are what Austin would be if it could get over itself. (Important note: I mock what I fear and/or envy. Don’t get me started on P90X.)
But I digress.
Being a playwright is the best thing to be in the entire world. I don’t know what it’s like to write books. I don’t know what it’s like to write poems or grants or haikus. But I know what it’s like to write plays and screenplays and stories. Writing plays and seeing them performed is the best. Hands down. ”That’s just, like, your opinion, man,” hippie Hemingway might say. But he’s wrong. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing a screenplay produced that I helped write. (SIRONIA – buy it on iTunes) It was a great experience but if forced to choose, I’ll take a play any day. Fortunately I don’t have to choose. (And the universe can feel free to bring on a day where I’m busy and sought out enough to have to choose). I’d like to say it’s strictly an art thing, and it mostly is, but it’s also an ego thing. It’s just simply the best.
Today I had lunch with the director. His name is Brandon and he’s a rock star and he’s very important. He dutifully took me to a burger place where I ate two little cheeseburgers and french fries that were cooked or doused in truffle oil or some such. (I know it was truffle oil, but I felt self-conscious typing it.) It was fantastic. Brandon then showed me around Portland Center Stage, where he works, and I daydreamed about hanging in the green room or treading those specific boards or having those boards tread upon by actors saying my words. Then I came back to my room with four hours to kill before rehearsal and called my wife Sherry to ask her what I was supposed to do now because my only guess was to watch Food Network in my underwear. She reminded me that I was in Portland and the sun was out and I complain at home about not having time to run although I don’t have a job or any real time commitments of any kind. So I laced up my shoes, stepped outside, and got on a bus to nowhere in particular. After twenty minutes or so I got off the bus and went into a Rite Aid to buy some hair product and melatonin. My hair is longer than it’s been in a long time. And I’ve put on some weight. I basically look exactly how I did in college, plus several grey hairs on my unshaven chin. Plus I’m wearing the same flannel jacket I wore in college. Point being, my hair needs product. Like big time.
I went to rehearsal and it was fantastic. The theatre (CoHo Productions) is very intimate. It’s a thrust stage and it just feels right for the play. The actors (Laura Faye Smith and Isaac Lamb) are perfect. Amber, the stage manager is a delight. The whole time most of my brain is focused on the rehearsal and the rest of it is focused on getting back to the hotel room to blog about the rehearsal.
That’s what I’m doing right now. Writing words and then hearing human beings say them under imaginary circumstances is just the most sublime experience in the world. I heartily recommend it. Hearing them say the words exactly the way they sounded in your head a year or more earlier is amazing. Hearing them say the words differently than the way they sounded in your head is equally thrilling, because odds are they’re saying them better. Also, they found a glaring mistake in one of the character’s timelines because I don’t bother to do math really at any point in my day to day, much less my make ‘em ups. So that’s fixed now.
Before the rehearsal, when I was waiting for the bus, I got a phone call from my mom in Minnesota that Sherry had fallen in a parking lot after slipping on some ice. She hurt her ankle rather seriously and will be laid up for several days. I feel horrible being so far away. But here’s the real ugly truth, since I’ve chosen to be so honest… I was initially annoyed. What a buzz kill for me. I wouldn’t say that I have a problem making everything about me, but I have a problem making everything about me. Last year I was in Nashville for a film festival screening and my mom fell down the stairs and broke her collar bone. Now Sherry’s hurt her ankle. Again, I’m not saying it’s all about me, but it is.
Tonight, it’s all about me.
(I love you Sherry. I’ll be home soon.)