Wednesday, January 28, 2015

But when it works

I read this via the ever excellent Meg Fee, who always manages to pluck out just the right words whenever I need them - this is a snippet from an essay by Rachel Syme, which after some snooping I found is in 'Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakeable Love for New York'.

As a friend was moving away, he told me he wanted to go somewhere where he can still build things.  "What," he asked, "am I building in New York?" I didn't know what to tell him then, but this is what I would tell him now. 

In New York, you are demanded to build yourself. The environment calls for it. You build on pure speculation, a foundation up from the salty bedrock built upon something that was there before, as many stories high as you want to go, as fast as you can get there. It is possible to fail, possible to outpace yourself, to not turn a profit, to remain empty inside with your lights still blazing for show. But when it works, what you build becomes a beacon. Here is our poetry. Here are the stars bending to our will. Here we are touching them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stand up what

Those who know me well are familiar with my principle that you must pursue any idea that persists with you; if you have even a wink of an inkling that presses at you over time and just will not go away, then this your heart's way of saying 'hey, let's give that a go'.  I've felt a nudging towards stand up comedy since I read an article about how you can take classes on it years ago, so in a bid to stick with my own advice, this is what I've been doing for the last few weeks (with holidays in between).
There are worse places to be on a Tuesday night.
The beginners class went for four weeks, we formed a little band of newbies who after class would go for (far too many) drinks and perform for a few minutes each, in the basement of an Irish bar in North Beach.  These were off-the-cuff three minute slots at a time, on a Wednesday close to midnight, so we often made up half the audience ourselves.

Having wrapped that up late last year, tonight was my first week of 'advanced' class - these evening sessions are run by giving each member 7-8 minutes each, standing up in front of a group of other aspiring comics, trying your stuff out and getting critiqued.  Coming fresh out of the holidays I was wildly underprepared and just threw some brain fluff out there.  As always, I got more laughs than I expected, in all of the parts I didn't expect them, but it was still the roughest 8 minutes I'd had in awhile.  I'll spare you the details (largely because I can't bring myself to relive them by typing them), but there is something about standing up and trying to connect with a group of people you don't know very well, and telling them stories which you ruin by trying to be too clever and then having these strangers say you're still funny and you are still enough that is very emotional.  Anyway, this is how I ended up eating a tuna melt downtown, close to midnight on a Tuesday.

I wanted to stretch out a reflective journey home, so I opted out of calling an Uber and hopped on the muni instead.  The bus driver who happened to pick me up was quite amazingly the same driver who first taught me how to flag a bus down (i.e. you don't have to), buy a ticket and use the 3 line to get home when I first moved here two years ago and kept forgetting my cross streets.  He remembered me, and I told him all about how I've settled into San Francisco, including my latest comedic trials.  There has been a lot of growing up between bus rides.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

She is looking for it

“I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.” 

Taken from Lena Dunham's book 'Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"'.  I got a lot more out of that book than I was expecting, this being is one of my favourite snippets from it.  No, I can never be who I was, but I am looking for it.  Here's to 2015  :)