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  1. I Always Feel Like I’m Starting Over…

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013


    By Helene “Little Tramp” Gresser


     

    I am burnt out.

    I am sitting on a bed in my friend’s place, using his laptop, and all I want to do is eat strawberry ice cream with caramel sauce and watch a movie on his ole-timey VCR I bought him at the Goodwill for Christmas. It cost about fi dollas. Yes, I said “fi dollas,” which is how my friend (from Queens, New Yawk) says it. Neither of us subscribes to cable, and so we watch movies, which is a great relief from the endless inundation of horrible news and insipid reality teevee shows. We are about to watch Jackie Brown starring Pam Grier, and I just now realized Quentin Tarantino directed it. I spent most of the day giving myself the most thorough mani-pedi in the world, sorting through my massive piles of clothing I compulsively bought last year on ShopGoodwill.com, and was thrilled to discover I can now fit into the jeans and dresses that were waaaay too tight when I bought them (thank you, stress, Adderall, and limerence. Yes, limerence. Look it up here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerence. It is the best appetite suppressant in the fucking world. Word.) I needed to have a day of mindless puttering. As I said, I am burnt out.
    I have not written my blentries for the last couple of weeks. Maybe three, I don’t remember. I keep misplacing things like my keys, my wallet, my bajillion lighters, and my cell phone. This last object I left charging at an outlet under a payphone at the Phoenix airport last week. Luckily, I was due for an upgrade and got a fancy new Droid that I have yet to figure out beyond answering calls and checking personal email and texts. I have not been able to get my work email to open on this new phone, and part of me fucking loves being unable to incessantly check the damn device to see if I am urgently needed for a real estate-related matter. I feel like I’ve been on call 24/7 for three years and want to run away to a remote island and sip tropical drinks on a hammock and stare at the ocean. I dream of this daily.
     
    I am thinking of taking a break from writing and comedy and just trying to figure out what the hell I am doing with my life here in NYC.  I suppose I should make some sort of concerted effort to be a better real estate agent. I suppose I should go to “round-table” discussions, and REBNY classes, and schmooze at “power broker” events, and try to make some goddamn money so I can have that coconut beverage and salt air vacation and my own apartment and a good credit score. Fuck my life. I feel like Henry Chinaski in Bukowski’s Post Office – “With everything on the line and no way out, you don’t even think about it” –
     
     
    I need to make money to change my life to something better, or so I thought. Maybe I am going about it all wrong. I am going about it all wrong. I have been for twenty years or more.
     
     
     
    This October I will have been living in New York City for twenty years. Fresh out of grad school, after working a summer camp job as the theater program director and then travelling for several weeks throughout the country camping and fighting with my boyfriend, I landed here with three hundred and fifty bucks and a an offer to crash on my friends’ couch in Jersey City until I found a room to rent.
    Twenty years and twenty jobs later, I am renting a room in Bushwick and as scared walking home late at night as I was walking to my friends’ place in Jersey City in 1993. 
     
    The happiest time I had in these past two decades was when I was touring with Charlotte’s Web in a ten-cylinder van and sleeping in Econolodges and Knights Inns in places like Fort Smith, Arkansas and Zanesville, Ohio. I was a working actress. I was making three-fifty a week (that magic number again) and thirty bucks a day for food and lodging, and I got to see the country and had a boyfriend on tour who whispered “I love you” for the first time while we danced to Unchained Melody at a gay/lesbian bar in Indianapolis. I was twenty-nine and sure that I was on my way to a career in theater and  a love that would finally stick.
    I am not defeated. I am not pessimistic. I am cursed with hope, with dreams, with the never-ending determination that I will prevail and succeed as an artist, if not at love. I am afflicted with the lifelong condition of needing to communicate, to share, to touch and be touched by the process of making theater and connecting with people; whether it's through acting, stand-up, storytelling or whatever.

    I often recite this dressing room backstage exchange between Thereza (Claire Bloom) and Calvero (Charlie Chaplin) from Chaplin’s Limelight to those who question the wisdom of my choice to continue this creative life pursuit:
     
    Terry: Well, whatever happens, there's always that little home in the country.
    Calvero: This is my home. Here.
     
    Terry: I thought you hated the theater.
    Calvero: [soft laugh] I do. I also hate the sight of blood, but it's in my veins.
     
     


    It’s in my veins.

    God help me.

     
    -hmg

     
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  2. 1 comments:

    1. Rhonda said...

      "But it's in my veins." Ah yes...

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