the state of things

I gave up my blog for nearly a year so I could write a bunch of monologues. As with most of my ventures these days, it ended with a sense of ambivalence. I wrote some good stuff, I wrote some bad stuff. I pretended song lyrics were monologues during FAWM. I wrote part of a NaNoWriMo novel in first person, pretending those were monologues. I delved a bit into my own battles with depression, a thing I keep meaning to write about but end up not doing because, of course, I don’t think it’s worthy of your time. (Then again, this is my blog, and if you’re reading it then you obviously have devoted time to it.) It’s funny; in my teens and part way into my 20s I spent a lot of time being open and introspective about my own life. I’d write tons of material on Diaryland and LiveJournal–completely open for people to read (which got me in trouble a couple of times). I did it so much that I realized I was being repetitious and I guess I decided I didn’t like that. Not for me, per se, but for you, the reader, whomever you may be. My repetitions were usually negative in nature and being repetitious about how I’m bad at dating or how I suck because I don’t want to go out ever ground me down like a weathered rock on a riverbed. Polished, but dull, lacking edges. Same as all the other rocks.

So later on I just gave up writing things. I decided to be introspective in my own head. Folks, that’s not the best idea. Ideas in your head roll around forever, they get stuck there, trapped in your consciousness until you let them out. And I’ve always been a man who needed an outlet, especially for my creativity, which tends to diffuse sadness or depression vis a vis working distraction. Taking my problems and internalizing them to the extent that I have been has only pulled me down, in ways I didn’t know I could be pulled. I’m still climbing out of that pit. Writing monologues was an excuse to be creative every day, to try and inhabit another person’s mind for at least an hour or two a day. Truth is, some days I forgot and had to make up for them later. Other days I didn’t want to get out of bed. And then around June my job got so busy that I didn’t really have the energy to devote to writing monologues, so I stopped prematurely. Not bothered by that one bit. I wrote 267 monologues! That’s nothing to sneeze at. (Sneeze at? Did I just make that up?)

Point is: I think my goal for this blog now is to continue being introspective, to be honest with myself, and to write about my life in a way that, I hope, is accessible to everyone who cares to read it. Because I always want an audience, but I think the audience wants to see me be honest with them, and not hide. On the other hand: I hate when I talk about what this blog is about. Who fucking cares. It’s a goddamn blog. It could be about my favorite hot dogs, who gives a shit? Just write you big dummy.

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…)