A Bit of Romance

Eli and Annie are sitting on a small balcony about five stories up in a boutique hotel in the Le Marais neighborhood of Paris. They can see the Pompidou from this vantage point and the sun is setting over the rooftops. They finished a quiet and romantic dinner and are snuggled together sipping wine. Eli sits up from his lounging position forcing Annie to shift so they are facing each other. He lifts his glass of wine.

“To our last night together!”

Annie’s romantic smile turns suddenly to a frown. “Oh, right. Cheers.”

Eli pulls his glass away, “you don’t want to cheers to that?”

“It sounds final.” Annie says doubtful.

Eli takes her in for a moment, watching the glow of the sunset on her cheek. “To our last night together in Paris.”

“Ah yes, much better.” Annie cheerfully clinks Eli’s wine glass. “Maybe you could visit me?”

“In LA?” Eli asks.

“Or Phoenix.” She responds.

“Right.” Eli ponders without visibly showing interest.

“Or not, look, Eli…” Annie attempts to ease the awkwardness.

“I would visit you in a heartbeat.” He interrupts.

“Oh! Great.” She says relieved.

“What are you going to do in three months when you’re done filming? Do you know where you’ll be? Or thought about that at all?” He asks reluctantly.

Annie studies him before responding, “I guess, I’m hoping to come back to London.”

Eli perks, “Okay.”

“You’d… would you, uh, shit Eli. I really like you.” She says.

“I know.” He replies confidently. “I’m having the time of my life with you and I’m too old to know that this doesn’t come around often.”

Annie inquires “what is ‘this’?”

“Us,” he gestures, “it’s sorta magical isn’t it?”

“Absolutely.” She agrees.

“Feels like fate,” he adds. “If you believe in that sorta thing.”

“Seems silly,” she offers.

“You don’t believe?” Eli says inching closer to her.

“I want to.” She says putting her hand on his cheek.

“Can you believe that I’m in love with you?” He asks quietly as he puts one hand gently around her neck.

“You are?” She asks through a catch of her breath.

“Madly.” He says kissing her gently as the sun fades down over the horizon.

The Year of Wee

In 2019, I was texting my Dad on New Years Day “Happy New Year”. At the time I had my old iPhone SE the 6 in a 5’s body. Ya know how Apple like to do. I loved that phone, but texting was a total nightmare. Autocorrect had me saying all kinds of unintentional things, so I had previously turned that function off, choosing to deal with typos instead. So circle back, I texted “Happy Nee Year”, then to justify my mistake, as improvisors often do… I followed up with “it’s the ‘new’ new!” Being at my best friends house while this was happening, I shared with her my delightful typo and we collectively decided that “Happy Nee Year” was too fun, not to employ. And so 2019 became the “Year of Nee”. We decided that we wouldn’t define what “Nee” meant and let the year take shape, allowing Nee to become something meaningful over time. And by golly… Nee ended up meaning “No Expectations Ever” a perfect idea for a reset, a transition year, a year of discovery, and fearless adventure.

If you have a year of Nee, then there must be a subsequent year, I mean you can’t year of Nee every year…. so in 2020, after experiencing a perfect Year of Nee… the natural next step seemed “The Year of Mee.” Time for reflection, for grounding, rooting and growth to your potential self. I know… it’s a lot of hippy dippy stuff, but it works for me. I’m far too philosophical and curious in nature to not find my own sense of life. Ya know what…? 2020 was the craziest of times and functioned as a “Year of Mee” without permission… grounded by nature. Forced to reflect on what we’ve done. At least this is very true for me. A definite “Year of Mee.”

2021’s moniker was a conclusion of immense clarity, within no time upon the turn of the year… I labeled 2021 the “Year of Wee”. Two meanings here, time to re-connect, which is personally very important to me and a hopeful outcome of the whole quest, but also, reflective of humanity, which I find interesting….

Tangent: As if I had some sort of sixth sense this was all coming… I mean, I started cooking before it started. Why? Sixth Sense. I stopped going out places and got really comfortable being alone. Why? Sixth Sense. I severed many of my obligations and did not have any major plans to be disappointed by (also if you spend an entire year in the “Year of Nee” focus, you tend to get very comfortable with not having expectations, if that’s a good thing, I don’t know yet, still collecting data). Anyway, my point… perhaps there is a God, no that’s not the point of this…. that’s for another post.

Getting my point back on the road…. the second thing, The “Year of Wee” is about releasing the pendulum, heading down the other side of the mountain, choosing the slide instead of the stairs.

In conclusion. I hope we all enjoy the ride! Together.

WEEEEE!

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Don’t Mind Me

Don’t Mind Me

by Jacqueline Arend

There are moments where I can’t bear it. There is so much inside of me, so many different feelings, thoughts, ideas pulling and tugging at my being. Working through these moments are a blessing… so don’t mind me.

A friend asked me recently if I’ve always been conscious, “woke”, per se, before “woke” was a label. I know I have always been self aware, self conscious and believed that life was bigger than me. Sensitive beyond understanding as a young child, constantly adapting to behave in ways that are socially acceptable, misunderstood and labeled weird. This caused me to become very observant and inquisitive about life and the meaning of my own.

In my 20s… during the days when I was living more recklessly, when driving over bridges, I used to have visions of just driving off them. Imagining what the fear, thrill and shame all at once would feel like to make such a ridiculous choice and then the cause of effect, dropping below on oncoming traffic, the sound of the crash, the impact, the panic in others, the potential casualty beyond my own and it’s no longer a thought. Too much pain and suffering on the other end. Too much unnecessary destruction. I did not imagine this to take my own life… but to understand the experience of such a situation, if an accident was incited by someone else, I may have no control in the action of my car going off a bridge. The sudden realization that your car can be a very deadly weapon, intentional or unintentional is an intense feeling of fear. And so the responsibility to be safe when driving is reiterated and respected. I don’t imagine that scenario as often, yet, still become aware of the impact my vehicle can have on the lives around me… and so, I still become suddenly anxious about it. 

One day, about 5 years ago, I got in my car, pulled out of my complex and felt instantly anxious about taking a left turn onto a busy street, during rush hour. Without thinking, my imagination saw me in that car and began zooming out, the car on the road, the road on a grid, the grid on a map, the map on the globe and the globe in the solar system. For a split second I was made aware of how insignificant my car and I were in the bigger picture… yet still, like an ant, part of a working system…. belong in symbiosis. Then, it didn’t seem so daunting anymore. Much of life became less daunting. I am a part of the whole, like matter… and so, fluidity. Funny. I didn’t know that’s where I would end up… with fluidity, but a good enough place for the now of my life. 

At the ripe ole age of 41… the introspection is maddening. It’s… also beautiful. It’s true what they say about the mid life crisis. I hope everyone is lucky enough to have an awakening of mortality, inventory on quality of life and the drive toward positive growth. If you’re lucky, you have a chance, at this point, to live another amazing 40 years, what are you going to do with it? I have the good fortune to take my time with myself, be mindful and recondition. With that comes a new sense of self that is not clouded by requirements of traditional standards. i.e. dress codes… specified routines… responsibilities even. I don’t have kids, I’m not chained to a career. I’m self employed, work remotely and set my own hours. I don’t have any assets, just my husband, friendship, family, handful of jobs and a few cats.

In 2017, at 38, I had that moment. I took inventory on my quality of life. I made a point to try and begin living my life unapologetically, out loud, shine my light and turn up my volume. I had all these voices in my head about who I was and where I was going, but none of them were mine, so I had to find “my voice”. With this focus comes bold new behavior. One of the first mental choices I made was to extinguish the guilt for saying “no”. I said, “I will not do anything that gives me anxiety.” I have to dull the anxiety, I have to reprogram that feeling into something positive. This meant that I said “no” a lot and… confused my entire understanding of myself by becoming introverted. I was shocked by how easy it was for me to hide away, to avoid people, small talk… to say hello and goodbye and not engage any further. How easy, and how relieving it was. For my friends, it was difficult, some friendships still haven’t recovered and lots of that is buried under piles of dirt… I had to be transparent with many what I was doing so they knew that it wasn’t personal. This is about me and what I need. Saying “yes” led to anxiety, saying “no” led to guilt, guilt led to anxiety. 

So… the guilt. Much of that was dependent on me understanding that how I was operating was beyond full capacity… and full capacity is all of you and then some, so if you give everything to your work, to others… what happens to the stuff that you should be giving yourself, it overflows the cup, spills, shame, guilt and creates anxiety. I began living by the “love yourself first to love others” motto. I love community, I love people and supporting others… but if I don’t have that love for myself… am I truly living? The realization of how much I loved myself was disheartening. I was becoming aware that I was existing purely on the reflection from others. I did not truly have an identity beyond my life in the eyes of others. Well, I did, I was just afraid to make it important.

It’s true you attract things, well, I think we’re always attracting things. I had a boyfriend once who was reading the necronomicon and bad shit kept happening to him. I was like “duh, stop reading the necronomicon”. Anyway, I had a full cup, I am making room, because my cup was gross… it was once delicious, but it spoiled or I didn’t want that taste anymore. So I emptied my cup… and I’m being very picky about what I fill it back up with. I’ve carried a number of beverages in my hands as a server, I could carry up to five with two hands. I was amazing at it and still love to show off at parties. Strong hands and amazing balance. I loved to impress myself and others with the skills. Now… it’s like, one glass is nice, just enough for me. I’ll let others get their own drinks for a while. And, let’s leave room, ya know, no need to have to walk around all day worrying about spilling. And, let me try to attract a variety of things before I decide what to add to it. And funny enough, when you have room in your cup, things come round to fill it. When you vibrate high, things will attract to you. Once you’re comfortable saying “no”, find your own voice, it becomes much easier to choose quality for that cup, guilt free. A lot of this is also understanding your value. I never could sell myself, I did not believe in my value. I did not love myself.  

So, I look in the mirror everyday, I wear what I like to wear, I look how I want to look, and slowly, I began to love myself, more and more with each passing day and soon my body began to look right, my face, my smile, I began to see my own glow. I admitted to a friend a couple years ago that perhaps if I was born later and a youth in this age, maybe I’d be non-binary. I can’t claim that today, I’ve lived too long in society, where it was, to accept my biological womanhood and truly appreciate the gift of having been born a woman. However, my image of myself is very androgynous and my own ability to see gender within is incredibly fluid. I was this way as a young girl, where I rejected super feminine clothing and liked my hair short. I conformed, over time, especially because I wanted boyfriends and it was made clear to me that boys don’t like girls who look like boys. Eventually, I got boyfriends, a husband, and then…. in the advent of loving myself… here I am. Living my best androgynous life, trusting that in being myself inside and out, I will love myself more for being brave, authentic and bold… 

I know many woman, people, friends, like myself, getting the hair cuts they want, dressing how they want, turning up their volume and living out loud… These people are inspirations on others to do the same. You see people living their best life and you think, I want that. Slowly you start to make bold choices that fully represent your innermost self, your authentic self, that which you’ve hidden so that society will accept you. I’ve seen people around me bolder and braver… 

So perhaps I’m not alone with these things I’ve shared… and isn’t that meaningful in humanity, to be reminded that we are not alone. Yes, we have individual thought, but those thoughts resonate with others. We can relate to more than we imagine. After all, any which way you look at it… we ALL come from the same ilk, we are all a small spec on the planet, we are living in symbiosis. 

My life, at 37 was like a metaphorical car crash. A pile up, and I went off the bridge. Ultimately, we as people can do damage too, we are a weapon of the heart. That year and the events within, changed everything I knew my life to be. I had a passion for something, a purpose, and suddenly it was gone. I tried refocusing, I thought, oh, this has made it possible to put more into acting, writing, what the fudge is it? … turns out it was me. I had to come to terms that I wouldn’t find the answers right away. I had to become okay with just being. I’m grateful for that event in my life… the “car crash”, cause I wasn’t happy, I was no longer living my best life… I’m now grateful to be alive and to look everyday, every moment for the opportunity to feel alive, in all its pain and glory. I believe this is where the joy of humanity lives. I still have no clue what’s ahead, I don’t know my purpose, I don’t have a burning passion driving me. However, my energy, my heart, my mind, my all… is open to whatever magnificence this life has to offer. I do believe I still have a purpose waiting to be realized, a calling, something to do yet on this earth, whatever that thing is that has been eating at me my entire life, telling me there’s more for me. I don’t know how else to get there, other than love life more and be better than I was yesterday. Knowing that is enough is a wonderful place to be.

Don’t mind me, I’ll just be wandering this party with my half full cup, having a ball.

Golly… Finding Your Identity

… I struggle with this topic and my interest in sharing with people. On one end, I don’t think it should be a big deal, but on another, it’s been a part of me my entire life, never truly addressed. It’s about my identity. Truthfully, I did label myself recently, but shortly after, I thought it was still trite. I feel strange about what it is exactly I’m saying, discovering, exploring with this post, however, it also seems necessary. I’m still boy crazy, and I’m pretty sure that supports my heterosexuality I’ve claimed my entire life. Yet, I am not opposed to the idea that I may feel the same about a woman, or a trans woman. My sexuality although mostly heterosexual, is more fluid than concrete and so I can not claim 100% anything.

In terms of my looks, my charm, my demeanor. It’s all dude. This is not a physical thing I struggle with. I love my physical form, and love being a woman, however, the androgyny is the look that best represents my personality. I like cool, looking cool, acting cool and feeling cool. I have spoken to it before, I aim to be more interesting and more charming than each moment before. I feel slightly weird about this objective in life, and incredibly frustrated that I see this manifested in traditionally male concepts, i.e. pants, suits, oxfords, and classic short hairstyles. I want to feel confident & sexy as a woman and honestly, without a doubt, I do that by dressing like a man, the hope is that in doing so, I am all woman. So removing gender from clothing & fashion seems like the best way to soften the lines that may plague other folks from anywhere on the spectrum to celebrate their sensibilities without judgement, labels and boxes saying “now you will forever be this.”

Here is a piece of dialogue from something I’m currently writing. I can often tell when I write dialogue that I have some personal things to work out, because I can’t help writing my own truth, to an identifiable outcome. I suppose that is part of the writers curse. Everything is a thought that belongs to them, it’s an incredibly vulnerable process. It’s frightening to share anything, because all my best stuff comes from truth. I am trying to strengthen my courage to share more, to believe that I have something to say that’s interesting. Or even to say to myself, “who the [beep] cares, no one cares about me, they just want me to be happy.” hahaha. Cause, ultimately, I have something kinetic going on within me. It’s a dragon of energy, I’m feeling open and I suppose this is the best time to put myself out there a little more and more with each passing day. I know there is more for me, but first I have to arrive.

MICKEY

Ooo, that’s big. I struggled with it for some time. I guess it started about 5 years ago, I just was, like I said, finding my light, transitioning… like you were, which is also why I think I was so drawn to you. On order to find my light, I needed to understand my voice. What am I trying to say, what am I wanting to represent. It’s that idea of presenting who you are, so that when people see you, they can get a sense of your personality. Before I got on the right path toward that, I battled with the urge to be more masculine, not be a man, I don’t identify as a man. I just feel normal, like myself, in giving myself the permission to appear the way I feel then I would in return have a stronger connection to my true identity, and sexuality. I feel sexy like this, because it’s me. I hope men find it attractive. Otherwise, life’s gonna be a total bummer. Anyway, I did give myself the permission eventually to just go for it as I started really winning at the light thing, and I eventually labeled myself gender-creative. Then almost a few weeks later thought, that wasn’t necessary at all. I’m just me. This is who I am… but more importantly, I’m a constant changing living thing who is always striving to be who I want to be. This means that nothing ever remains the same. So who I know myself to be today, will not be the same for who I am in two hours. Who is hopefully a better version of me now. 

in addition, I’ve been playing men recently in a couple of small projects. I played Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon, linked below. And Nixon in a student project, which I can’t share, but it’s pretty [bleep]ing great. I loved it. Proud of it, feel motivated by it. I think it’s the first thing I’ve ever done where I felt, yes, I definitely have something, keep going Jacque. You’re doing it… think happy thoughts. haha. That’s not to say I hope to play more men, not at all, but I certainly welcome the opportunity and my courage to say yes without fear. Playing men in improv is what I do. I’m good at it. Why not celebrate that with something a little different. Why not be the normal. It’s acting. Anyway – here’s Sam Spade:

I have been talking about this to a variety of people over the last years, and those individuals have always been so kind to support my image, my vibe, to enjoy it and recognize it as me. To ensure that I am remaining true to myself, and reminding me that I am not crazy, but wonderful. This has been invaluable to helping me remain confident to continue being bold in how I engage with the world around me, down to the socks & shoes.

The Saga & Evolution of Oh Captian, My Captian

This was a fun quarantine project, I have to say. There were some days where I couldn’t imagine putting on the wig or taking the time to write silly nautical digs. Once I was able to get over my own darn perfectionism I could have more fun with it, and let the moments strike me. It was a great little exercise in writing for a character and trying to lock onto a specific vocal accent. I decided to make Oh Captain, My Captain pratey, but also Irish, and if you watch all the videos, the accent is a real wok in progress, and changes with every video. As easy as it is for me as an improvisor to apply a voice to my character work, accents scare the bejeezus out of me. My ear will catch a mistake, I don’t quite get the pronunciation right or my tongue is in the wrong place of my mouth and I am immediately aware that I am failing, I am instantly dragged from the moment and feel defeated. It’s an interesting look at failure and how we treat it, how we view the stakes and how much importance we put on succeeding. Learning and perfecting accents are a journey, much like like life and we can perhaps expect that it would take lots of dedicated time to be perfect, if such a thing were to exist. Don’t have to let the process of failing at it hold you back from sharing  your work, because your attempts at growth are the only way to make this life you have, a rich and satisfying one. And… you might just inspire another along the way to do the same. And… failing is actually fun! When the stakes are clear, when you realize it’s actually celebrating your courage and unique gifts, it’s fun to entertain, to perform, to be seen. It’s fun to prove to others that we can continue to get up again and again and again. “Aye! Every journey has a battle, and right now i’m winning!”