Listening to Tortoise's Millions Now Living Will Never Die this morning, I learned that the walk from my house to the subway is almost exactly three minutes, because that's how long this song is and I pressed "Play" when I shut the door to my apartment and the song ended when I got to the subway platform.
On Thursday night I had to kill time before my appointment with my Analyst and I went to get a slice of pizza. "Open Your Heart" was playing, and I remember thinking that I hadn't listened to the song in a while. I was really excited to go to my analyst on Thursday. I had been looking forward to it all week. There's probably a library, museum of traditions of more glamorous ways to say this, but: I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. Last week. I really did. I might have been. I'm still not entirely convinced I didn't have a nervous breakdown. Have you read Murakami's 1Q84? It's sort of based on a premise that feels like that right now: I walked through a door and now everything is different. I feel like I am coming to or have recently come to a breaking point in my life, where I can't deal with the amount of shit I have to deal with. And unfortunately a lot of the shit I have to deal with is stuff I'm putting on myself, without even meaning to, I guess. So it was hard. I've been having a really difficult time and I don't know what to do. I sort of cried in analysis, which is weird for me, because I never cry. It's totally a problem. It felt good to know that I had the physical capacity, but freaky and weird. I don't know what the next thing to do is, or how to proceed in a way that makes me feel better or even sane. There are some adjustments that I need to think very seriously about making.
One of the adjustments is taking less shit. When my analyst said that it sounds like I really do actually put up with so much shit, and asked why I take so much shit from everyone, that is when I started to cry. I didn't realize I was doing that but I guess I Was. So: adjustment number one: take less shit from everyone including myself. I started to think of the slogan: "Don't overthink it." as a way to get out of this. Maybe that's not really the take-away. Maybe that's unimaginably lazy of me. Maybe not.
On Friday night I went to go see Erin Markey perform at Joe's Pub and it made pretty much everything feel better. Kenny Mellman played piano, Ben Rimalower directed, and I sat in the very front row (like literally) next to dear heart Sarah from Hey Queen. We had an awesome conversation before the show, and I was in a good mood. And Erin totally killed it. I often say that I don't believe in something line in-born talent, that I don't believe certain people are somehow divinely blessed with special powers from on High. But then I see Erin perform and it makes me question whether or not I do believe in magick. Maybe the miraculous is achieved here through the earthly marriage of hard work and inspiration. She clearly loves what she does. That's why she can do what she can do. And she can do it all.
I was thinking of Marina Abramovic yesterday, how obsessed she is with a sort of mortification of the flesh. It's perverse and sort of old-fashioned (in an Old Testament way of meaning "old-fashioned"): that idea that performance is there to illustrate the human's relationship to the eternal/divine through ritualistic mortification, which Abramovic sees as a universal theme.
Erin Markey's work is, to my mind, much more contemporary and complex. Maybe a bit more New Testament, in a way. When she began singing one of the songs (Jewel's "Foolish Games"), she tone of the performance, which had been kind of jovial as she was telling a joke, turned deadly serious in an instant. A few bars into the song. It was freaky and powerful and I almost cried for the second time that week. I was thinking about Erin is a Leo (like me, duh, and Sarah, in the front row), and how Leo is the Fixed Fire sign.
The thing about fire is that fire can kill you, right? People often think about how fire can provide light and warmth, but can kill you by providing too much warmth. Can kill you with heat. But a fire can also kill you by asphyxiating you. Fire eats oxygen. Watching Erin onstage on Friday night, there were moments when all the oxygen in the room seemed suddenly used up. There were moments where we were kept at arm's length, chuckling along to an absurdist gibberish joke, or laughing in spite of ourselves at a particularly dark story. But then there were moments where there was no space for laughing, and there was no time to reflect and there was no oxygen to breathe. Shit got fucking real. She has power. It was amazing. Absolutely the highlight of my week, in a week when I really, really needed something wonderful to happen.
Speaking of Old Testament, Joe's Pub has a delightfully old-fashioned two drink minimum, and I got hammered (figuring as I do that if I have to spend money I may as well get my money's worth). I saw so many really awesome people at the show, it was overwhelming. Friends and celebrities and strangers and cute boys and weirdos. It was after all a sold out show. Miss Molly Pope, one of my absolute favorite performers in NYC, gave me a present of three brand new Deborah Lippman nail polishes! What an amazing surprise. I feel like I have been blessed by the gods of glamour. Like this is a special-meaning gift. I guess, honored. After the show and chitchatting with folks outside, we piled into a cab with Herr Direktor Lady Rimalower, to go to a fancy afterparty dinner event downtown, hosted by Miss Geraldine Visco and Michael Cavadias. It was at a very swanky new restaurant downtown (which I guess is "new" only in the sense that it used to be called something else and have different decor). I hung out with lots of folks there and ate a ton of food and drank wine and only after stuffing myself for a long while, had the slightest inkling that much of the food I had been unscrupulously burying my feelings in was probably cooked in animal fats. One of the songs Michael DJed was, of course, "Open Your Heart". It makes me wonder if maybe that should be my slogan, rather than "Don't overthink it". But you know what? I couldn't possibly open my heart any more. I really do not see how. I feel that my heart is already too open. Weepy. I feel like I am dripping blood all over everything, my heart is so open. I resent the candy cloying of Madge imploring me to open my heart, especially since she is of course an icon of the icy facade around a closed (if not wholly absent) heart.Anyway. We further retired back to Ben's legendary angular couch for snacks and wine and conversation (PLD ate cheddar on top of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, which I swore to never let anyone forget). I kept trying to tell people about my ultimate fantasy for plastic surgery, which is to have my face completely flattened. No contours, no curves, no shapes. A perfectly two-dimensional face. I want to be flat and easy to see and easy to read. Facile face. I had fun but got exhausted and everyone begged off eventually.
Saturday morning I did the Teen Arts Conference at BAX, where I performed a small section from the beginning of ENCOURAGER for a group of teenage artists from all over NYC. I was of course mortified, but the kids actually really got it, had a totally nice and rational and even really moving response to it. It kind of blew my mind. I felt very grateful afterward. This is part of my "don't overthink it" slogan forming. Maybe I'm just thinking too hard about potential but not actual outcomes. About fear of feelings. The kids got it; why can't I get it? Another BAX A.I.R. presented one of her pieces, and I really loved it and think everyone should check it out:
After the conference I came home and realized that I was in fact hungover, and I slept and then I went to the gym. Sam and I went to the Gag! 9-year anniversary party at the Metropolitan, and ran into so so many friends from over the Gag! years. I had fun, I gotta say. Lauren Devine performed her newest single "Love U Far" and had a really cute look on. It was a fun night. I was exhausted and I did beg off pretty early (2am is early) and got a Hana Food sandwich. I just want to do things that make me feel good because before you know it, they stop making you feel good. And then you can't feel good anymore. Smoke them, I guess, if you've got them, then. Right?
Sunday I went grocery shopping and watered my plants and went to the BAX Studios to work on my show. But I ended up not really getting so much new work done as other sundry correspondence, thinking, planning. I think my final presentation might not have to be so different from the version I did in January. So if you came in January, come back to see the ending. And if you didn't come in January please come right now to see the whole thing. I practiced singing for my set on Wednesday. I came home early and just wanted to sleep, for God's sake. I ordered take-out and watched Young Adult, which everyone said would fuck a person up. And it did fuck me up. I totally identify with Charlize Theron because we're both blonde and we have the same birthday (which Kristin Hersh, who is also our birthday buddy, informed me is the Birthday of Secrets). The movie is kind of about someone who is a fuck-up. I identified with that, to a sort of eerie degree. But her character peaked in high school, or at least feels like she did. And I did not. I don't know if I feel like I ever had a peak, but I do identify with the character, in that people knew my at my best, and that I'm incapable of feeling happy, or something. It was heavy, but I really liked it. And I'm glad I don't have to watch it again. I've been reading Anaïs Nin's The Novel of the Future every night to put me to sleep. It works pretty much perfectly.
So, finally, you guys. This Wednesday 3/20/13, I'm going to perform a set as Max Steele and the Party Ice, which I haven't done in a long time. It's at Apocalypse Wow, a really fun comedy and performance series thrown by Max Bernstein. It features really cool performers and is upstairs at ISA, which is a very nice restaurant in Williamsburg (and one of Gwyneth's favorites-- hope she doesn't show up and ruin my set!). I'm excited to sing these songs, including my Helium cover. If you're in town you should come. It's free and easy and fun. The FaceBook event link is HERE.