Aloha, y’all! I’ve been doing an incredible amount of things, just lots of things, to get my head straight. I believe the last time I wrote (more than just that I was going on hiatus), it was right before I moved. The move went alright, but my emotions got the better of me and I’ve since made some pretty serious lifestyle changes in order to start taking steps to become a better person.
Things got really dark and ugly pretty quickly for me. I’ve been trying to believe that I’ve been fine since February, but I have not. The way to handle a problem is not to ignore it; you need to face it head on. The thing is, I couldn’t. I wasn’t equiped to do so at that time.
A lot of my friends mentioned how incredibly well I was handling the break up. I was, because I was ignoring it. My attitude towards Alex was either angry or ok for about ten minutes and then straight to angry, even though little of that anger actually had to do with him. It was mostly anger at myself, misdirected towards him and eventually, to most everyone. Living with someone right after you break up is really fucking hard, and I don’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary, because, even though it might be slightly comforting occasionally, that they’re still in your life somehow when you really need to step back from the situation and maybe get away for a while to clear your head, well it can be mentally dangerous.
So a few days after I moved out, I went back to collect some things, but majorly lost my shit on Alex which was really bad. I got back to the new place, smoked my last cigarette (sorry mom but also hey I quit!), and decided that things were just going to be different from then on, no matter what. I made a list of things to start to work on. I needed to be better. I didn’t want to be me anymore. I really hated me, even though I kept lying to myself that I was TOTALLY fine! You really shouldn’t lie to yourself, because yourself will start getting you into serious trouble to show you how fucked up you really are.
The next day, I went back to the gym. I wrote up a real budget where I would keep far better track of my money. I kept with the not smoking. I smiled at myself and told me that I was going to be alright. I called a shrink to make an appointment to work on my mental makeover to keep up with the entire “be better” makeover. I am finally working towards really caring about myself.
There have been rough days, yes. This past Monday, I pretty much fell apart. I finally had my “Oh my god, what the hell have I done?” moment and I cried, for eight hours, and ended up looking like I rubbed poison ivy all over my face for the next few days. But it felt good (the crying. Please don’t rub poison ivy all over your face). I had the rumored “Good Cry” about everything, three months later than I guess it should have happened.
Many people will tell you that you need to love yourself before you love someone else. It’s true. Don’t get me wrong, there are many people that I love dearly, but in order to love someone in a romantic and honest way, you really do need to take care of yourself. Which leads to the improv part of this post:
I have now completed AP5 with Susan Messing. This class was the most eye-opening class I’ve ever had (I feel like I say this a lot but hear me out), as it helped me learn so much about myself as both an improvisor and a person. I learned that I don’t live in the moment. I don’t get the most out of my time with people. I am not specific when speaking with people. I don’t give people the teeny details who make me who I am. I am “Ambiguous Smiley Face,” that person who’s character never gets named in a scene, in both improv and in real life. I can be forgettable, even if I might add something to a scene or to a moment. Punchy and witty is good, but smart and memorable is better.
We did this exercise last week based solely in the idea of specificity. Be as specific as possible. We were tasked with the object work of cleaning something, as ourselves, with two other people. The scene would start, just cleaning and talking, and at some point, someone would say “This reminds me of…” and go off on a monologue. The thing of it was, just because you started your monologue talking about how something reminded you of puppies, that didn’t mean your monologue was about puppies. For those curious about the whole exercise, after a while, another person would interject and say “that reminds me of…” and begin their monologue, and so on until everyone had done a monologue, full of truths, full of detail, full of specificity.
My monologue started out, I think, about how I was allergic to dust, (I think? I don’t even remember) and ended with me talking about how, in the town I lived in ’til I was 17, in North Eastern Pennsylvania, people had southern accents and confederate flags on their cars. I intended on talking about doctors. I never got there, because that just wasn’t where my specificity took me.
Instead, my specificity took me to a town that I haven’t really spoken about in almost 12 years; a part of myself that I have kept out of sight as best I could and only occasionally reference by talking about how much I hate Pennsylvania and never want to go back. I’m really sorry if you love Pennsylvania and are offended by what I am saying, but my time there was spent mostly with me thinking about how to either run away or kill myself. I didn’t have the balls to do either, and I’m pretty happy that I didn’t.
The improv lesson that I learned was that specificity is what keeps your audience hanging on. They want to know all the details, and you can get a reaction out of something as small as giving them the name of a town or an ingredient. Give the audience a break and give them all the minute details. They’ll eat that shit up.
The life lesson that I learned was that I don’t share things about myself. I’d rather listen to you talk about what you had for breakfast for the past week and then be like “Oh I’m not interesting.” rather then tell you about that time I almost had my first kiss in middle school but when the boy I was “dating” hugged me I accidentally smashed my face into his hockey stick (not a euphemism) or that I once went on a road trip to Maryland with one of my best friends from high school, and on the way back, we broke down and this trucker stopped to help us but we were both pretty sure he was going to try to kill us so we made him stay back while we yelled to him that we were alright and I kept flashing my cell phone like a rich little badass (it was 2002 and I had a Nokia…SO I WAS AWESOME) even though I was total white trash.
The main takeaway, regardless of real life or improv situations, is that I don’t know how I expect people know me if I don’t let them.