trapped in camas

My friends Nate and Bailey got married this past Saturday. Weddings are great, they bring a lot of people together to celebrate the prospect of true love. You get to watch two people stand in front of many humans (and, for some, God) and declare that goddammit, they are going to try to spend their lives together and make babies and fret about mortgage payments and maybe the guy one day when he’s 45 goes out and buys a scooter and the wife is like, “A scooter? Really?” and they have an argument about it but after he buys it anyway she finds out that she secretly kind of likes riding on it with him on cool summer nights. They get old, they die having spent the majority of their adult lives near each other. They are in love, or whatever love is when you’re that old. Some kind of antediluvian force beyond love at that point. This is arguably one of the greatest pinnacles of achievement for mankind: long-term monogamy. Even if you’re not into the concept, you have to agree that it’s a fucking ballsy choice to make, to decide to spend your life with one person, come hell or highwater. So for that, I like weddings.

However, being single, what I like more are wedding receptions because there is booze and dancing. The reception was held at Bailey’s father’s house in Camas, Washington. You’re probably asking yourself, “Where is Camas, Washington?” and I will tell you: I have no idea. I don’t think I ever will know. I’m not even sure it existed prior to someone telling me about it. It may very well be the Brigadoon of towns in Washington. For far too long, however, I was stranded there. But I get ahead of myself. (Read more…)

looking at a job listing for “bowling desk clerk”

Job TitleCashier / Bowling Desk Clerk (JL ID 865478)  Description:

* Age 21 or over to take orders for or serve and sell alcoholic liquor. As opposed to non-alcoholic liquor.
* Minimum 1 year experience as a cashier.
* Effective oral communication skills.
* Skills to work as a team member.
* Skills to provide customer service.
* Strong interpersonal skills.

When are these things NOT a thing that a job requires? “Must be able to work alone, preferably with bowie knife clutched between teeth, in the jungle in Paraguay.” (Read more…)

let’s talk about humiliation

This quarter at PSU I wrote a full length play for my Script Development class. Since I’m a grad student, I can do that kind of thing. The play I wrote is called 21st Century Love, and it deals with a former Texas high school football coach falling in love with a transgender woman. My original thought was to write a play about two diametrically opposed people falling in love, and I thought those two characters would make an interesting story.

So I wrote a rough rough draft (obviously there is more to the story than that, but I won’t go into detail), and we read some scenes in class and I got some good feedback, and one of my classmates mentioned that they went to school with a man who has now transitioned into a woman and wrote a series of articles about her life on McSweeney’s. I thought, great, I can send this to her and get feedback not only from a transgender woman, but also from a writer. Her comments would be more focused and particular, which is exactly what I wanted. (Read more…)

late night ramblings

There was a time, not so long ago, when I enjoyed acting. I’d like to think that I know a bit about myself and the way that I work, and so when I say I enjoyed acting, I mean that there was a point in my life where me — the guy you would see every day — was honest and open about himself. Acting, then, became a great way to inhabit the minds of people I’d never think to inhabit, people who had wildly different thoughts than I did, people who weren’t as honest and open as me, who tried very hard to obfuscate and keep secrets. But me, Josh Belville, just a silly guy with broken glasses and a very general lack of fashion sense, I was here, and I was me. Acting became a way to fuel emotions that I might not necessarily have on a day-to-day basis, to explore some inner workings that I was familiar with, but didn’t spend my life exacerbating, simply because I didn’t have to. There’s a proverb that goes, “Happy is the man who has no story to tell.” That was me. There was no facade, no mask betraying inner feelings. There was just me.

But now, as I’m writing this, and as I spend time delving into the double life of Don Draper (yes I’m watching Mad Men, and yes I’m watching it quickly), it occurs to me that my life has changed. No longer am I the man who is happy to be honest and open about himself and his life. It’s affected my work. Now I wear a mask every day, which I don’t even remove when I’m therapy; most of my time there is spent talking about other people, rarely about myself. So when I get on stage to perform, the words are meaningless — they’re not real, and I’m not real. The two cancel each other out. There’s no need to wear a mask when you’re already wearing one.

I mean, people get in this business for a variety of reasons. Some do it because they just want to be seen, acknowledged, loved by scores of strangers in a dark room. Some people desire the disconnect from themselves, because their personal lives are tumultuous and require distance. And some people, people like me, do it because our regular lives are relatively empty, meaningless, and donning someone else’s persona for a couple of hours a night is just a lot of fun. An added bonus is that we share a human experience for a group of people in a dimly lit theater, who may find themselves transformed by the end of the performance, as much as we were transformed in the beginning.

Performance is about the simultaneous act of giving yourself up for a character, and giving yourself into a character. It is a transformation unseen in any other art form. When Anna Deavere Smith performed her play Fires in the Mirror, she brought that transformation to light, and some people didn’t like it. Say what you will about the play, her contribution to theatre is one of illumination of the act itself. She was herself being characters. The incomplete transformation, the ability to be yourself and be the character. No man is Hamlet, but every actor who has performed Hamlet was Hamlet.

My problem is: I can’t invest in being Hamlet because I’m too busy being somebody else. Someone who is not me. Someone who doesn’t find joy in the world like he used to.

I guess what I’m saying is: I’m unhappy. There. You’re welcome.

the oresteia

I’m reading Aeschylus’ The Oresteia for my theatre history class. If you haven’t read it, and I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that most of you haven’t, then I will explain: it is a tragedy in three parts, buuuut I would take the term “tragedy” loosely here; it’s more a “drama” or “not a comedy,” mostly because it ends happily, and because there really isn’t a feeling of tragic flaw, or really even a feeling of a protagonist. The theme in general is revenge based on Fate. The first play, Agamemnon, deals with King Agamemnon of Argos returning home following the sacking of Troy. He brings with him a slave woman, a prophetess named Cassandra. His wife, Clytemnestra, is angry with him because he A) sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia1 to the god Artemis so that he could receive favorable winds on the way to Troy, and B) he brought back Cassandra, who, while a prophetess, is pretty much his concubine at this point. (Read more…)

  1. By the way, did I mention that I typed these names out off the top of my head, without looking? Because I did. Oh yeah.

a bit about breaking bad

WARNING: This post has massive spoilers. If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad yet, get over your hangup about watching people cook meth and watch it. It’s one of the best shows on TV, period.

Have you watched it? Okay, good. I mean, you don’t have to watch the whole thing. I’m only halfway through season two, okay? So don’t freak out. (Read more…)

deconstructing a random mix cd i found on the ground

As I was walking home from Fred Meyer with my grocery bag, I happened upon a CD lying in the grass by the new BBQ place by our house. It had one word written on it in iconic black Sharpie: Jose. I walked past, thinking nothing of it, but curiosity got the better of me and I went back and grabbed it. I have since popped it into the DVD player on my computer and am going to talk about its carefully selected tracks right here, right now. (Read more…)

decisions, decisions

So I’m thinking about dropping out of PSU at the end of this quarter.

I was at work yesterday, talking to one of my coworkers, and when they asked me how school was going, instead of just saying, “Fine,” and letting that be the end of our conversation, I found myself blabbing about how unimpressed I was with the whole thing. Here I am, taking three classes, and all of them are a mixture of grad students and upperclassmen. I wouldn’t have a problem with this, except that all of these classes are ones I’ve taken before, as an undergraduate at Boise State, and to be quite honest, I feel like I received a much better education on theatre at BSU than I’m receiving here. (Read more…)

fast food

This shit goes in Tumblr because if my girlfriend found out about this she would have one of those “silent fits.” And I don’t mean a seizure, people, I mean she would not like it but wouldn’t say anything. Eventually we would talk and she would be “disappointed,” and there’s nothing more devastating than when your significant other is disappointed in you. However! I am a Free Man in a Free Country, and so…

Today I ate my first Big Mac ever, in my lifetime! HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT IT. (Read more…)


Ten years ago yesterday I was eighteen years old, working at a gas station in Nampa, Idaho, making (luckily) more than minimum wage. I had graduated from high school three months prior, and was, as usual, lax about getting into college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and the prospect of a real, concrete job, even though it was at a gas station, was enticing. Little did I know that I would have to quit a month later because I was too young to sell beer.

I had worked the late shift the night before, and was planning on sleeping in to, oh, two, three PM, but instead was rudely awakened by my father at about ten-thirty in the morning, shouting downstairs toward my basement door, “Josher! Wake up! It’s World War III!”

The next minute or so is crystal clear in my mind: so many jumbled thoughts at once. Mydad wasn’t making light of the situation; hell, for all I know he really did think World War III was coming, or was here, or something. I’m sure a lot of people felt the same way. But to be awoken from a deep sleep by your father, a man you put a lot of trust and respect into, telling you that a war was happening, and that it was world wide, well, that will freak you out. And so I woke up half-asleep, in a stupor, scared shitless that they would reinstate the draft (which I, like every other eighteen year old male in this country, forcibly signed up for) and that I would be sent off to wherever the hell they were fighting with an M1 Garand and an Army helmet with a pack of Lucky Stripes strapped to it.

Hestitantly, I crawled up the stairs and walked over to the TV, and saw that my worries were not as bad as I had thought. Though what was happening was horrible.

Looking at my LiveJournal entries from that day, I saw that I wrote a lot of misinformation (I even wrote about a fake Nostradamus quote that “predicts” 9/11. At this point, is Nostradamus even real? It seems like every quote attributed to him is fake). Five thousand people dead? Three thousand? And then, the very next day, a post about buying CDs from Fred Meyer. So I guess that’s proof right there that terrorism doesn’t work. Especially on the other side of the country.

I had never seen the World Trade Center, though my brother Russ had, and got photos ontop of one of them. I had never even been to New York, or the east in general. I was sheltered, and seeing planes slam into buildings didn’t affect me as it did everyone over there. Still, patriotism ran rampant in the days following, as did, for some of us, the onslaught of national introspection.

Now, it’s ten years later, and the brave men and women who went through hell trying to save people in those towers can’t even get their health problems caused by the dust and smoke covered under their insurance. The number of innocent civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past ten years is more than 1000% of the number on 9/11. The amount of money George W Bush spent on mindless war is so big, it’s impossible to understand, so we almost forget about it.

Talk about terrorism.