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. Truth is I have nothing to come out about. I’m still 100% heterosexual and boy crazy. But 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, but also, it seems like a positive one. 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.

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.

Old Intoxications

transcribed from an old entry (circa 2014), from sloppy handwriting clearly representing my state of being

It is a day… It was a day. No day unlike the other, at least, by way of any other. It was a good day because there was perspective & fear. Not forbidden fear. Attacking fear. Jumping in & finding air. A breath. A breath of fun & laughter. Smiles that beamed so bright. A rainbow of opportunity and… and the ability to accept. Say Yes. Yes And… yes and arise… make a path… a path filled w/ gold. But not just gold, stars & moonbeams. Rivers that run wild w/ joy. – Two turtle doves in the moonlight. Only to know the wonder of sharing a moment. A special moment that screams passion. Passion is the word… it is the word! … the word that whispers… “today… was a good day”.

This AWEsome Life

Over the last week I traveled twice for student film shoots. Once to Tucson & once to Flagstaff. Both quick and easy day trips that took four hours round trip that make you realize, we are not as far from the rest of the world as we may think. The sights are gorgeous and you can’t beat an Arizona Sky. As for the on camera experiences, hmm – one was a phenomenal experience and one was eh? Both were learning experiences and had completely different feelings of interest in the work. Needless to say, happy to have had the opportunities but still on the fence about what it all means. As an actor, I recognize my journey being confusing. In 2018, I was sure I wanted to do more and I did, but what I experienced made me more confused. As I tried to gain momentum with auditions & seeking an agent, I find the static moments drive me to question my intention, my ability to stay focused. I have become very undisciplined as an actor, not doing the work, not seeking the challenges and unwillingness to dedicate the time. On the other end, I am writing more and I have returned to improvisation with a vigor, trying to regain my confidence and status on stage among my peers, in my community. Recognizing more how to meld my improvisors mind with my newly honed acting skills and excited to show off my talent in that regard. This is a great thing, as recent events & pathways of life have created an odd cliff of this life’s focus. A recognition of letting go and moving forward, at first, to do so meant letting go of my commitment to improv in Phoenix as a leader, creator and community facilitator. I have certainly recognized that I have a knack for management and as such, I got under the thumb of being a producer, juggling multiple hats and eventually neglecting the artist in me. It’s hard at this time in life, near 40 to decide I want to be an artist, let alone unsure what kind, someway, somehow. I can create, but sharing is where I fall short… This is where I get over that, this platform, the internet, building our own websites, gives us a voice, whether people find it interesting or not, it is a vulnerability, a start at that which makes us individual artists worthy of recognition.

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Happy trails!

Alternate Opening or Flashback to Untitled

Vivian is working for a newspaper. Ace reporter for crime & corruption. She is working on a case about the crime families in New York and Vivian witnesses a meeting in a restaurant that kills four major members of two different families. Petrelli and Vasquez unloaded into Cannonade and Detrickson.

Later the next afternoon.

Vivian walks in with her sunglasses on and coffee in her hand. She stumbles towards the Chief’s office. Meanwhile people are congratulating her on the breaking news story.

Vivian: Chief, I have to quit.

Chief: Viv there you are, Agent Dixon.

Vivian: Agent.

Agent Dixon: I’m assuming you know why I’m here.

Vivian: Sure

Agent Dixon: That’s all you have to say.

Vivian: So far

Agent Dixon: I’m sorry about your father.

Vivian: I doubt that.

Agent Dixon: Do you mind if I ask you a few questions.

Vivian: Go right ahead.

Agent Dixon: When was the last time you spoke to your father?

Vivian: Directly? Five years ago. Indirectly, I got a birthday card on my birthday three months ago.

Agent Dixon: Do you have any idea what that was about?

Vivian: A father sending his daughter a birthday card. I think it’s about courtesy. (he stares at her) No more of an idea than you have agent.

Agent Dixon: We’re looking for a witness.

Vivian: Good luck, gangsters have a knack for covering their tracks.

Agent Dixon: Except for your father.

Vivian: Ah Agent, this wasn’t about that and you know it.

Agent Dixon: What is it then? Come on humor me.

Vivian: This is about power and control.

Agent Dixon: Who’s going to succeed your father?

Vivian: Listen Agent Dixon, I have not been around that shit in over seven years, I have no clue what goes on with my father nor his business anymore.

Agent Dixon: It is a family business, last I heard the it gets passed down to you.

Vivian: I gave up that right.

Agent Dixon: I know you’ve been poking around in New York, and by the story you wrote about the “Roadhouse Massacre” I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t there. I would even bet on it.

Vivian: Save your money Agent. I didn’t witness the massacre, my father died, he was my family that is my privilege to know the details.

Agent Dixon: From the way you wrote this, I’m surprised you didn’t have any names of the shooters.

Vivian: Agent, my source did not witness the event, only the mess that was left behind.

Agent Dixon: Who was your source?

Vivian: I can’t reveal that information.

Agent Dixon: If your worried about the hit on your head, the polic …. we can help you.

Vivian: Agent Dixon. I already have a hit on my head, I live with a hit on my head.

Agent Dixon: I can offer you protection.

Vivian: I don’t need protection, I just need to get out of town.

Agent Dixon: Where will you go?

Vivian: Collect my father’s money and go somewhere pretty.

Agent Dixon: So I’ll be seeing you in New York real soon.

Vivian: Only if you’re lucky.

She walks out of the room.

Agent Dixon: I don’t understand, Vivian Cannonade flies to Buffalo New York at 5pm Tuesday night, then flies back to Chicago from Buffalo at 4am. That’s less than 12 hours. Her story was on the press by 5:30am, she beat ever paper in the east through the midwest. Granted it was her father, even his right hand man Donzelli and five other of his goons were murdered and someone else within the family “could” have gotten word to her immediately – but…

Agent 2: Do you think she’ll take over the family?

Dixon: If she does, I don’t think she wants to.

Agent 2: So this chick is Franco Cannonade’s daughter?

Dixon: Only child from his wife who was murdered when she was three

Agent 2: Oh geez.

Dixon: He raised her all alone among this web of corruption and crime.

Agent 2: No wonder she turned into such a great reporter – her writing is so descriptive.

Dixon: Especially this one about the massacre. It’s almost like …

Agent 2: She was there?

Dixon: Well, I was going to say, like a movie.

Agent 2: She had to of been there.

Dixon: I get that feeling too – it’s just, why would she be, and if she was, why wasn’t she killed?

Agent 2: Maybe she was spared or maybe no one knew she was there.

Dixon: Vivian Cannonade is whom I believe to be responsible for most of the convictions made within organized crime in the last three years.

Agent 2: Huh? Like a vigilante.

Dixon: I can’t prove it…. like she said, gangsters cover their tracks. She may not like it, but, she’s a gangster. Born & raised.

Agent 2: So she’s been using her gangster skills to incarcerate other gangsters? What if they killed her father to bring her out so they can kill her?

Dixon: They don’t need to kill her father to bring her out – she’s a journalist.

Agent 2: You’re right. Hmm – a lot to think about. We could be dealing with a sleeper mastermind.

Dixon: Someone whose been waiting seven years for this moment.

Opening to Untitled

Vivian Cannonade lingers in the shadows outside the wharehouse waiting for Dominic Vasquez to leave for the night.

Vivian: Nic

Dominic: Viv

Vivian: Suprised to see me?

Dominic: Well, I can’t see you, but it is surprising to feel the barrel of a gun in my back.

Vivian: Are you trying to be funny Nic?

Dominic: Viv you’ve always had a sense of humor.

Vivian: There’s nothing funny about betrayal.

(fade to black)

Overheard: Dominic Vasquez commonly referred to as “Nic” was found dead in his home last night. He was know as the “Boss” of the lower east side and had his hand in the great massacre of Ridge Way Roadhouse.

Vivian is sitting in the office of her father’s house when Dr. McGovern enters.

Dr. McGovern: Hey Viv

Vivian: Doc! Scotty, get the Doc whatever he wants.

Dr. McGovern gives a nod and Scotty makes him a drink.

Dr. McGovern: Dominic’s all over the news Viv.

Vivian: Yeah, I noticed.

Dr. McGovern: People are gonna start asking questions.

Vivian: Let them ask.

Dr. McGovern: Vivian, I know it wasn’t easy being your father’s child

Vivian: He wanted boys.

Dr. McGovern: I know

(pause) Whatever, I am who I am because of that.

Dr. McGovern: He never asked for his fate.

Vivian: Doc. I know all of this. I know how he got where he was. His fate was decided for him, and like a lost soul he accepted that. My fate’s been decided now, and like my father I accept that.”

Dr. McGovern: Your father was never happy.

Vivian: Doc, forgive me if I seem insulted, but I left this bloody place because I couldn’t watch him any longer do the thing that made him most unhappy. I’m here to make it right. I have chose to do what I despise so I’ll have the freedom to do what my father could not.

Dr. McGovern: Vivian. I think your in over your head honey.

Vivian: Doc, do you really think I’m in over my head, or are you just saying that because I’m a girl and girl’s shouldn’t be doing the kind of things I’m going to be doing?

Dr. McGovern: I – you’re father, we always wanted better for you.

Vivian: You are the one’s that made me who I am. You’re the reason I am capable. If you really wanted better for me, you would’ve made the choice I am making now.

Dr. McGovern: Viv, don’t blame us. We needed the money. Then it got complicated.

Vivian: Doc, if didn’t get complicated, you got greedy. Both of you.

Dr. McGovern: Vivian, turning around all the coruption within a family. . . it’s nearly impossible.

Vivian: Oh it’s possible, although I imagine, very bloody.

Dr. McGovern: Have you got any help?

Vivian: This is my own battle. Don’t you worry about me Doc. You obviously weren’t worried about my father. By the look on your face I think you should spend your time worrying about yourself.

Dr. McGovern: I have power too Viv. Don’t you forget that.

Vivian: No one fears you Doc, otherwise you’d be dead already. – oh! by the way, remember that you came to me.

Dr. McGovern: Huh?

Vivian: Exactly, Scotty please see the Dr. out.

(end scene)