Brash Young Thing

OMG.  I am typing this on a new computer y’all.

For those not personally acquainted with the previous Swim Pony computational control center this is a big frickin’ deal. I will no longer have to look at the wine stain in the lower left corner of the screen. I will no longer have to deal with the processing speed of a drunk hamster on a rusty wheel. And best of all, I will FINALLY be able to walk away from my computer for more than 60 seconds without worrying that it’s turned off.

“Woah.” You interject, “What did you mean in that last thing?”

“Well…” I sheepishly shrug, “I kind of of had some issues with the circuiting on the keyboard which meant that the power button constantly believed itself being pushed.”

“What?” You reply, aghast. “So, what? You just never walked away from your computer for more than 2 minutes?”

“Yeah…”

“So what if you’re editing a video and it needs to export out of that program? That takes hours.”

“Yeah…”

“Oh my God Adrienne. What is wrong with you?  Don’t you work 90% of the time from home? Wouldn’t that make any small thing you had to do on your computer a giant decision about whether to turn on and reboot your laptop? Wouldn’t that prohibit you from using it for any kind of movie or music playing application? Wouldn’t you also have to constantly live under the tyranny of whether you’ve saved your documents every 60 seconds? Wouldn’t that make even simply answering the phone and getting caught up for a moment too long a danger? Might you not have lost tens, nay hundreds, perhaps thousands of words that you had slaved over due to a single second’s distraction?”

“Yeah…”

So you can see why this is huge for me. After three years of the “Oh, yeah, sorry, I need to keep fussing with it or my computer might turn off” shame and embarrassment I am finally free.  And so you’d think that as I sit here not having sprung for the “idiot spill protection” insurance that cost just a bit more than I’d budgeted I wouldn’t be staring a label on a bottle of spring water in the face. But no, it’s right there, to the right in fact, in the same spot where the cat knocked over the coffee that began the last big mess I was in.

There. That’s moved to a far away window sill. Maybe we can learn something and not repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Anyway.

As I bask in the literal glow of my new toy (PS I just walked away from my computer for 5 minutes and came back to type this sentence) I am forcibly required to look into my past, at least for a little bit, as I sync the accounts and passwords of the old with the new. I keep my spam to a minimum on my personal email and so I generally send things requiring me to “verify this” or “click to sync that” on my old right-out-of-college email account.  And as I went to check one of those “please click to update your account” emails I saw a notification for my old blog, the one I keep back in the early aughts of this century. The comment of course was spam, as I’m sure no one has looked at the thing in nigh on a decade, but I was caught in a little moment of nostalgia and clicked back and read a few. All I could think as I read was:

Brash Young Thing.

It is sweet and a little bitter to see oneself from the past. This person that was very much figuring it out, this persona of knowledge and bravado, this was what I needed to be at that time. I needed a self as oversized and hungry as the lack of real meaning and control that I felt. I wrote with complete certainty about life and work and love, replete even with seemingly aged wisdom on how I had grown and changed and come to deeper understanding of all those things. I wrote because then, as now, I needed to. Because something inside felt twisted up and boiling and I had to throw it off my chest. I wrote veiled messages to others, wrote with heart and passion and fervor, wrote little missives that I threw out in blog bottles to the internet ocean hoping they would come back to me some day. I wrote, in part, to help myself define what I currently was and what I wanted to be soon. The writing was the thing that helped me try and chart a path from one to the other. And more than anything, that writing was the thread between the work I had done as a student and the oh-so tenuous idea of the “professional” I was striving to become. I didn’t know how one made theater. I didn’t know where to begin. I just knew I needed to create something.

At the start, in the first awful year out of college, the very worst year of my life so far, I created drama. I created chaos. I created illusions that were bound to come crashing down so that I had something interesting to pay attention to. It worked for a little while, until I realized that the thing I’d created was a mess that I didn’t want. It was nothing I could hold or touch or care about.

Oh my dear, dear, Brash Young Thing. It took all that mess to finally kick you in the ass and realize that you needed figure something out, had to find some way to make something one would actually want to share with the world. That mess is what started the writing every day. And eventually forced your to make a play, and then another, and then another. It took so long to realize that you didn’t have to wait, that your art is nothing more or less than the stuff you manage to make. It took you so much longer than necessary to realize that there’s no such thing as “enough to get started.”

I had a meeting with a lovely young woman the other day who is just beginning her own journey. She asked me how you start to make theater.  I said, “If you want to know know some tips on fundraising, I can pass that along. But the truth is you just figure out how you are going to make theater. And then you have to go make it.”

As I read the words of that Brash Young Thing I see both the need and the pain that she was in. I cringe a bit at her ignorance and I mourn a little for the confidence that she simply had to lose to actually start getting shit done. We all have to get off our high horses a little, don’t we? Brash Young Thing wanted to be smarter than everyone else. She wanted to magically know how to do it. She wanted to be the prodigy that everyone had told her she was for a long time. She wanted an A. She wanted a prize.

And I have to keep reminding myself every day that the work is the prize. This life, as insane and poverty inducing as it is, is the prize. I love what I do so much that I am afraid of it. So much that it scares me. It literally manifests the struggle to be be and create something amazing. And here I am, with a partner and a house and some savings and decent health insurance on the cusp of a new chapter in which that struggle may soon be the only thing I do every day.

Brash Young Thing, don’t despair. You’ll do just fine.

A

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