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    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    By Helene "Night Train" Gresser

    Okay, so I completely forgot to post last week. Sometimes I forget what day of the week it is. I work many jobs, and often on the weekends, and I don’t have a 9 to 5 office job, so I will completely lose track of the days, especially lately. That is me.

    I am usually a night person. My mind tends to wake up around 10 p.m., and I want to get dressed up and go somewhere. I used to go to the fabled Elaine’s after midnight, because my fellow night-owls congregated there, and staying up until 3 or 4 a.m. and then going to the diner for corned beef hash and eggs was a normal routine. Now Elaine’s is no longer, and I now live in Bushwick, and I am getting restless and anxious at night. I can’t wander the neighborhood, as I used to do when I lived on Madison Avenue on the upper east side of Manhattan. I can’t go to my 24-hour deli and get a snack and sit on the bench outside my building smoking and drinking coffee as I watch the sky get lighter and the hospital folk walk to work.  My new neighborhood is dark and deserted of nightfolk and not a safe place to wander aimlessly.

    Last night, after an exhausting shift of tending bar, I felt the pressures building again – I want to go do something fun, talk to somebody, but where? I should save money. I am losing out on life. Stupid money. Stupid career choices. I hate this shit. – all the dark thoughts. I contemplated taking a break from performing comedy. I thought of leaving New York.  I wondered if I should just find a fucking office job with benefits and two weeks paid vacation and have some financial stability. This thought makes me even darker.

    I get home to my rented room, and my roomies are already in bed, though it is not yet 11:30 p.m. I resist the urge to call or text the guy I’ve been seeing (I need to stop calling him My Guy – he is not My Guy. If I am not His Girl, he cannot be My Guy.) I want to have somebody to talk to before I go to bed. Someone to laugh with.

    I am built for performing. Theater people, comics – we are night folk. We thrive on the community of weirdos and misfits and Charlie-in-the-Boxes so we have decided to forgo security and 401K accounts and “normal” lives. It’s not the applause and laughter that we crave – it’s our fellow weirdos. When it is midnight and I am sitting on my bed, I cannot bear the thought of turning off the light and going to sleep. Alone. With my thoughts. I have been this way my whole life. As a small child, I’d get out of bed and snuggle next to my mom and watch Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett and Tom Snyder and eat Ritz crackers with tuna salad out of a big bowl. Wide awake. Getting up early - for school, for college classes, for a 9 to 5 job – does not sit well with me.

    It’s been troublesome to have this late-night anxiety settling in. In my old apartment, I could turn on the TV, surf the net, and rearrange my shit. Now I don’t have a TV, the internet is boring me, and I am devouring books, but my stomach is in knots and my brain is racing. I cannot wait for it to be light outside. I am a vampire, but the light of day changes me into a calmer person. I regain hope, feel like things will work out, and stop the self-flagellation. But it is dark outside as I write this. That weird nausea is tickling my stomach once again.

    I have an offer to do a set this Friday.  I should just do it, despite this urge to stop for a while.  I don’t know if I am funny anymore. That’s usually when my best sets occur. When I am in the darkest of places, alone, flailing, sick inside – I can climb on that little stage and grab the mic and something comes out of me that I wasn't planning. It just happens. It might be the train ride to the venue, the text I just received, the way a beer was served to me right before I walk into the room. It might happen as I walk up to the stage – a sound, a thought, a new audience member entering the darkness to sit and watch the freak show.

    We few, we happy few.  I smoked all my ciggies and it's past midnight. I may just have to go for a stroll here in my deserted neighborhood. 


  2. 4 comments:

    1. Anonymous said...

      That "little stage" exists for everyone, I think. And it's usually not an actual stage. But we put on the demeanor that we need to put on, and we perform, and we smile, and we dance in strange little circles in big places. And if we're lucky, that's just exactly enough to please our internal audience.

    2. thanks for writing. i enjoyed reading. whatever you decide to do with yourself, you are a creative person, and it will express itself some way.

    3. Anonymous said...

      I always feel better after a gig - I would do the Friday show. My Mom even said that to me once, I was complaining, depressed. She told me to go perform, because it always puts me in a better mood.

    4. She So Funny said...

      Great post...and great to see you Friday. Keep laughing about the lips. Happened to me...more than once. ~Samantha

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