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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Almost Sane

I like to joke that, when I’m bored, I either masturbate or try to get something published.

“The two, of course,” I said to my wife a few nights ago, “are very similar pursuits.”

Clearly, I don’t just masturbate or try to get something published when I’m bored. I also do dishes and blog. Aren’t you bummed you can’t take this winner home?

A few days ago, I sat down at the computer and (after I’d masturbated, of course) sifted through the vast collection of my unpublished work, this time, I reviewed my work for the stage, and I surveyed it, for the most part, disapprovingly. A slap-dash collection of obscene, off-my-nut, angst-ridden one-acts filled with characters who are thinly-and-not-so-even-thinly representations of yours truly, engaging in a variety of farcical acts, meant to send the audience into spasms of laughter. Meant to mask spasms of pain.

Clearly, nobody needs that.

Then, one peculiar play caught my eye again. A play I started in (EEP!) 2006, the year I (SNART!) got married!!!! A play that I have picked up at least once every year since then to do major facelifts on. I play I have sent to playwriting festivals and directors and playhouses, a play that has gotten little but lukewarm praise and a kind rebuff (“not right for us at this time”) such business. What’s it about? The international investigation into a major airline crash.

What. Is wrong. With me?

? ? ?

Seriously, I need a very ambitious therapist and super-strength, gold-plated insurance card.

So, because I’ve been obsessing over this thing (when I get tired of masturbating and the dishes are all done and I’ve blogged for tomorrow) I dusted this tired old motherfucker off and re-read the most recent draft.

I liked it.

And maybe that’s the first sign of trouble.

It’s funny. At my job, I work with delusional people every hour of every day. One of them thinks I am personally responsible for bringing the slaves back from Africa (“WHY DO YOU PUT CHAINS AROUND THEIR NECKS AND BRING THEM BACK HERE TO DO THE WHITE MAN’S WORK?!”), another one thinks there is a baby trying to slice open her belly so it can get out and kill cops. Another patient is convinced that we put poison in the water cooler and we’re trying to kill everyone in the hospital. A surprising number of them believe there are microchips or radios implanted in their bodies. Delusions like that are pretty easy to identify (though I really did bring back slaves from Africa—but it was only a couple, and my hedges really do need frequent attention) and we laugh about it in the chart room.

“Don’t feel bad, dude,” one of the nurses said to me yesterday about a particularly delusional patient who has negatively fixated on me of late, “she thinks I’m bombing the Vietnamese and so she refuses to take the yellow pill from me.”

But, as I sat there, re-reading my airplane accident investigation play for the manyth time, I suddenly got the shivers a little bit. Am I delusional? Continuing to work on this absurd little probable non-drama, sending it to legitimate, though small and indie-ish theatres in the hopes that they will take kindly to an ambitious, fledgling Philadelphia-area playwright?

Ambitious. Or delusional?

And then it hit me: Oh. Right. It’s all about the perceptions of others.

If some Artistic Director opening up my email with that query letter and that attachment and reads it saying, “Man, this guy’s nucking futs,” well, then, I guess, to him, I am. If another one reads it and says, “Hmpf, this thing isn’t half bad,” then, to her, I’m not. As far as my own self-perception: I’m not sure. I suppose we’re all a little ambitious and we’re all a little delusional, or teetering on the edge, until we’re given a pink slip or an award or a kiss on the forehead or a kick in the balls.

That’s what the rest of the world is for: to let us know where we stand.

1 comment:

  1. Good to know it's the woman giving you the benefit of the doubt. Miss you, Oinker.


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