And, internet connection willing, the post-a-day November super-spectacular begins. I will be using random "word of the day" entries from online dictionaries for suggestions.
ENSORCELL: To enchant or bewitch
Here is the truth. I fall a little bit in love with almost every lady I meet. Whether it be their smile, their laugh, their wit or, yes, their body, I always lose a little of my heart to them.
It's tough when you're a hopeless romantic with a hyperactive imagination given to unfettered flights of fancy. A smile, a nod or even a tilt of the head can inspire a moment's indulgence of "what if" and "what then."
The DVR of my mind is then immediately clogged with little cute meetings and silly first dates, awkward moments and riotous revels and, almost always, the inevitable break-up.
That part I could never figure out.
Why the hell does every imaginary relationship that flits through my brain invariably end badly? It's like Nora Ephron writes the opening two-thirds of my daydream then sub-contracts out the last third out to, I dunno, some maudlin creative-writing goth girl who sees the world in shades of Nihilist Black and Overwrought Blacker with the occasional Ennui Blackest sprinkled in.
I took a standing shower for the first time in a long while.
I crutch-walked all the way to the Addison station for the first time since my blow out.
I walked into Starbucks.
I found out I had the day off.
I crutched over to my doc's office. 45 minute wait. Hunter S. Thompson's HELL'S ANGELS couldn't allay my impatience, but chatting with the nurses who remembered me passed the time. They were happy the Playground's liability insurance would cover mah knee. When they weren't talking to me, they would gossip in Spanglish. I pretended they were talking about what they read on perezhilton.com.
The doc checked me out and made it official: ACL and MCL torn. MRI and surgery are next. As I was getting on the elevator afterwards, the doc grabbed me and had another doc, doc2, look at me. After tugging, palpating, rotating and generally making my knee miserable he agreed about the ACL and MCL and worried about the status of my PCL...not to mention the bugaboo of the Meniscus.
On the plus side, they want to work on me as soon as possible...and get me in a brace to limber (or unstiffify) my knee up as opposed to the immobilizer before then. The only thing slowing down the process of getting me gear and operated on is working through the insurance process.
No big deal, it's not like I'm running da marathon soon.
OR AM I?
no I'm not. TWO DAYS AGO
text to my friend
gray skies, orange leaves rude chill winds force faces down chicago autumn
her text back
yeah. do you think we can trust it not to turn back into summer this time?
goodby stolen kisses on a neighborhood promenade and hello comfortably tangled limbs under threadbare flannel blankets. THREE DAYS AGO
Femme Squad met for their first rehearsal. Funtimes ensued. Even though their first show won't be until February, I'm already worried there isn't enough time. Then again, with every group I direct, I never I feel I have enough time. Never. It always works out well in the end, but I know I'll still be thinking and plotting and planning and considering and reconsidering and pondering and unpondering then googling "unpondering" then thinking some more until the moment they take the stage.
Laundry. I need to do it. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. But first I will nap. Well, maybe surf the internet. Then nap. Then laundry.
Doc reminds of Al. Doc2 reminds me of Ed.
Ed was my high school tennis coach. Al was the in-town rival school's coach, who I ended Assistant Coaching for many years.
Ed was, well, not technical, but a very drill-centered, very organized coach who really loved his job. Practices were tight. Discipline was solid. While you had fun, you never forgot this was a Varsity team and you earned your letter.
Al was, well, not casual, but a very amiable, laid-back coach who really loved his job. Practices were loose. Discipline was relaxed. You had more fun than you should have and it didn't take too much to earn your letter.
But both got results in their own unique way: League titles, tournament wins, dominating players and cultures of success.
I brought a lot of Ed with me when I started working for Al. I was a student of the game. I knew the Whats and Whys and Hows of strategy and tactics and practices. I ran tight drills and pushed people. From Al, I learned the hard part, how to read people: when to push and when to lay off, what to ask for softly and what to demand for loudly, how to deal with cliques and broken hearts and failed tests and ohmygodthelimotothedanceisatmyhouse! When I finally became head coach, I was a blend of the two: work hard, play harder, laugh hardest.
Doc is Al. He jokes, he makes me comfortable and you feel he's really on your side through the whole process...but the entire time, you kinda wonder if he really knows as much as he should.
Doc2 is Ed. He's obviously knows his stuff, and that's reassuring, but the competence is clinical and you never forget that he's the Doctor and your the Patient.
I hope Doc is there when I'm going under and Doc2 does the kneeball operation.
TWO DAYS AGO
I sidelined myself...even though Bella had a show, I had the Doctor's appointment the next day. I sucked it up and stayed at home.
It used to be the end of the world if I missed a show. I came to Chicago to PERFORM! I need to PERFORM! I must get on stage and PEFORM!
After 7 years and 400+ shows, the urge and desire to get on stage is still there, but the need is not so overwhelming.
That said, even now, I feel a twinge of regret I didn't play. I should have been there.
While my brain knows I did the right thing, my heart aches a bit.
THREE DAYS AGO
Joe Canale. Jim Carlson. TJ Jagadowski. Abby Sher. Karen Graci. Jeff Griggs. Angela Forfia. Kevin Fleming. Bill Arnett. Ross White. Dan Telfer. And many, many others.
Just as Al and Ed influenced my tennis coaching, all my improv coaches influence my improv coaching. I've stolen so much and tweaked so much more from them that I should be paying a tithe from any rehearsal fees I've earned.
But more than exercises and concepts, I try to bring their love for the art to every rehearsal and show. Sure, some directors were more about the ART and others more about the BITS, but in the end, it's about us enjoying playing with each other and doing silly and fun and sometimes mindboggingly cool things that make us laugh our asses off. Some rehearsals are better than others, but the love of what we do and who we do it with is always there.
ALL THESE DAYS
I'm sure I could tie all of these together with some awesome insight, but I'll let you do the work. I've been up since 5 am. Time for a nap.
Well, it's been a long week. I have no illusions of a literary masterpiece today.
DA KNEE The knee things still sucks, but folks have been great; from offering rides to and from rehearsals and shows, to helping out when I'm house managing or just giving moral support, a lot of people have made my situation tolerable.
Rene D. helped organize a fundraiser at the Playground. God bless him. Peeps showed up at the PG to hang out and have beer and chill to some music. Those who couldn't make it, sent money along with folks who could be there. Not only that, I'm still getting some folks telling me they'd like to donate some cash. Every lil bit helps and I was truly humbled by all the well wishers. I think that night's total came out to $750 plus some more as folks dropped in later.
Thanks everyone. Thanks very much.
DA INTERNET One hour on hold. Latency issue not resolved by them, but seems to be clearing up. We'll see... DA AUDITION The Playground held it's all-female improv ensemble audition this weekend. I was hyped for this all week as I pushed for creating this audition and Incubator Liason Melissa Cathcart was awesome in getting it going and running it come audition time. About 50 ladies auditioned, many of whom we've never seen before, which was awesome for the Playground and the Incubator program in general. After two days of auditing, we narrowed it down to 10 lovely and talented ladies who I am very excited to work with.
Congrats to: Sarah Beckman Colleen Breen Mel Evans Jessica Farmer Lauren Glass Molly Henderson Kyna Lenhof Carrie Long Mary Beth White Molly Willbanks
DA SANDBOX Two weeks in and it's going fine. The Sandbox is my little idea of renting the PG for the night and splitting the rent evenly across all three groups, so everyone shares the burden of covering rent and, once their individual portion of rent is covered by ticket sales, the ensemble can actually make $$. While the houses haven't been huge, or even moderately mediocre yet, the fact that I'm *still* getting inquiries for slots and folks asking about *next* year's slots means I've hit on something. The big bonus for all this is that Bella headlines every show, so it's a nice way for us to play once a week and mess around with forms--with my bum knee, we are gonna have to get creative as the weeks wear on :)
DA WINGNIGHT They're good. Come check them out. Sadly, I missed two weeks of rehearsal for the Incubator Audition and the Second City Instructor Workshop, but I'm pumped to get back into rehearsals with them. My one year anniversary with them is at the end of this month and, honestly, I can't believe how the time has flown.
DA MOVE I moved. Yep, with a bum knee. Hilariously, I moved in right across the hall with the subletter who stayed with us this summer. So, instead of 3F, I'm 3R now. Piero, Mike (my new roomie), John and Kara were the awesomesauce folks who helped my gimp ass out. Thanks, all.
Well, that's enough for now. In upcoming days, the life of a gimp, the life of an improvisor, the life of an uninsured person desperately scratching for some sort of coverage...
#1 The intern at the hospital put the immobilizer on my leg upside down. I was wondering why it fit so poorly and took it off, noticed some writing on the side, and flipped it around. Much better.
#2 Always have the attending doctor double check the intern's work.
I can put some more weight on my knee now, but with the 5-day window between the ER visit and the Ortho appointment, coupled with the the complete lack of pain, has me paranoid my knee is absolutely jacked beyond jacked, doublejacked if you will, Freejacked if you won't.
Friday, unavoidably, I had to do some running around. Or hobbling to be more exact. Slow, sweaty, old man hobbling. Nothing like a fat guy on crutches, my friends.
Jumped in a cab to Starbucks to get my paltry paycheck. Hopped a bus to Thorek to get a copy of my x-rays. Grabbed a cab to Corus Bank to deposit aforementioned paltry paycheck. Snagged yet another cab to get home. Collapsed on couch for several hours. Attempted to clean my room. Slept better.
Saturday, luckily, I got to sleep in. Then I finished some of my cleaning and then zoned in and out during football.
THINGS THAT SUCK SO FAR: Learning how to use crutches...when you can't bend your bad leg.
Getting exhausted easily from crutching around...then getting super frustrated from the fact I'm exhausted.
The sheer annoyance factor of not being able to do simple household chores.
Living on the third floor of a three-story walk up.
Googling ACL surgery costs and just dying at the quoted totals.
THINGS THAT DON'T SUCK SO FAR: Very nice e-mails and text messages from my friends.
My knee doesn't hurt. I have the occasional discomfort, but no real pain.
Not feeling guilty about sleeping on the couch at any point in the day.
THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT IN THE FUTURE: (all pending the results of Wednesday's Orthopedic visit)
Money. I can't work at Starbucks unless I can stand for a couple of hours. Just when I was crawling out of the financial pit... although if they let me sit in a stool and just run register, I might be back in business in a couple of weeks.
Improv Projects: Can't rehearse or perform with Bella due to my bum knee. Can't perform with BYB. Luckily, I can still run the Sandbox on Mondays and run BYB on Thursdays. I can still coach and sub-coach, but then it comes down to $ to get to rehearsal vs. $ earned.
Moving: I was supposed to move out at the end of this month. After a little over three years at Halsted and Addison, it was time to move on. Bum knee and money complicates things greatly.
BUT THE THING IS... I'm still a good-natured optimist. Things happen for a reason and it all eventually works itself out. So, I'm strapping in for the ride and hoping for the best (or at the least, hoping for not the worst). Ever since I quit my Loop job last year, my life has been a chaotic mess. A delightful, entertaining mess to be sure, but a mess nonetheless.
Thursday night during the Big Yellow Bus, I did a jumping kick to support the move of Jorin, who was playing a soldier of Blood Squad Alpha. I landed badly, felt a pair of pops in my left knee and tumbled to the ground. During the rest of the scene, I just laid there, clenching my teeth and breathing deeply.
Oh man. My knee.Oh man.
It didn't hurt. In fact it was slightly tingly bordering on numb. As Jorin did some sort of justification bit, I just laid there, trying to gather myself.
It's the next scene? Dammit.
I wasn't sure if I should move yet, so I slowly pulled myself forward once or twice, meowing like a cat every so often.
Ok. Ok. Slowly work your way off stage...dammit, another scene.
After laying still for a bit, I pulled forward. Then, hearing a scene opportunity, I just rolled over and played an interpreter in the scene, albeit one laying on the ground.
Edited! Get off. Get off. Almost there...phew.
I chanced standing up.
My left knee slid all over the place.
I rolled over, set myself against the wall by the entrance and sat out the remainder of the show...just sitting on the floor and looking up at Matt Larsen, that night's host, standing in the wings.
* * *
After the show, I got pulled up into a chair by the entrance and chatted with the performers about my knee. Kat went to get her car to drive me to the hospital. Meanwhile, I bid goodnight to the patrons as they filed out. I even tried to hold the sponsorship meeting I had planned with that night's opening ensemble, The Riot! After a certain point I'm sure I was just babbling and they went off to do their own thing. Even though I was doing bits and making conversation, my mind was already locked in on one thing
I have no health insurance. Fuck me.
* * *
At Thorek, the attendant plopped my 300 pound frame into a wheelchair. He then promptly wheeled my bad leg into a wall. No shit. I laughed through my grimace. Of course I'd get my leg banged up more at the hospital. Heightening! --Doing a bit for Gotsick's cameraphone--
Kat and I did bits, joked with the staff and listened in on the other cases being attended. I wasn't in pain, just discomfort; my knee felt bloated on the inside, but no real pain. Hell, I was sending text messages to pass the time. Eventually, a doc came and looked at my knee and confirmed what I thought--probable ACL injury.
Fuck. I told Kat to go home since I had no idea how long I would be there waiting for X-Rays and whatnot. The X-Rays came back fine, I was given an immobilizer, crutches and a prescription for Vicodin (which I haven't turned in or used because I'm not in pain, well, not in my kneeball, but my armpits chafe something fierce). I took a cab home, crawled assfirst up three flights of narrow stairs in the dark, sent some e-mails out to friends, then crashed on my couch since my bed is in a loft and slept fitfully to the noises of drunk gay men and party girls yapping the night away.
I spent the weekend watching Incubator auditions. Luckily, there were lots of new faces and some solid 'prov to be had...and plenty of auditor bits to be had, which really makes the whole commitment of a weekend much more tolerable truth be told.
Monday morning, I landed a job. It was a follow up interview from the Starbucks job fair thingy I did last week. And it was not so much an interview as, hey, you're hired. So, I'll be your early morning barista should you stumble in bleary-eyed to the Broadway-Lawrence Starbucks (which is conveniently next to the Annoyance). Thank god, I need that money. That sweet, sweet mocha money.
Monday night, I swung out to the Armando. Afterwards, one of the folks who had audited the SC Diversity callbacks gave me feedback on my audition from a couple months ago. It was pretty much what I suspected--solid 'prov, shaky acting. They would like to see me take acting/scene study/cold reading classes and improve my acting chops before the next audition.