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« As Time Goes By | Main | flawed perfection »

Thank You Penny Arcade

I’m here to reiterate, there's no telling which plan you’re presently making,  will or won't, come to fruition. It's all a roll of the dice. Let's say a crapshoot. As an instance, take January 10. Around 5:30. I was sitting on the Q train, expecting to be, by 6 PM, at a showing of an animated version of “The Little Prince,” in a screening-room in a building around Times Square. I was curious as to my reaction to that fable, having read it years ago and only once. That's where the fox claims, "It’s only with the heart that one can see rightly."   

Then, as the train left the 72nd Street station, it lurched forward, instead of sailing out. I fell back into my seat. A few standing went flying. A woman slid into a pole. The conductor announced, “We’re on lock-down. The engineer’s investigating. Hold tight.”  

With no additional news forthcoming, soon it was 5:45. I began to doubt whether I'd get to 48th Street and 7th Avenue, my ultimate destination at all. I pictured myself on the street,  trying to race through hordes of crowds, all acting like roadblocks. I could feel myself begin to hyperventilate.

That's it. I was not going. Even if the train was to move shortly, which it did, I'd get out at the next stop, which I did; and I walked home with my equanimity intact. What I had done, just then, was to to embrace every nuance of where I was at, seeing it all as a gift,  which I alone could unwrap. After all, it was my fate. I had to be its master. I'll adjust and I'll love it all, or pursue in Latin a philosophical school of thought known as “Amor Fati. ” Love of one's fate. And Penny Arcade taught me that.    

Susana Carmen Ventura was her real name, changing it after either an LSD trip, or as an act to show her admiration for drag queens, or both; to which I shared a similar appreciation. For a while, I wanted to go as Ms. Directed,  since I never knew where I was, what I was going to do, or what I'd say next. 

Yet, I'd an inkling as to why she did what she did. Her mother was mentally unstable, abusing her, and her father was a down and out drunk. At 13, she ran away, not finishing high school, and getting into trouble, and later saved herself by hanging out, before any of them were famous, Andy Warhol and his crowd. They accommodated her mood swings. They were all artists.   

With booze and drugs joining them, they'd often be seen in the back room of Max’s Kansas City, that paean to art, music, sex and wearing what you want; and I'd be there as well, exuding due deference in the front, my obscurity most profound;showing we were also contemporaries.  

Therefore, when I read she was performing in her own solo show, “Longing Lasts Longer,” December 1 to December 11, at St. Ann’s Warehouse, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, I bought a ticket.

Besides, I was a student of solo work. I'd taken twelve workshops, starting in 2001, writing several short vignettes myself, performing them at works-in-progress festivals,  feeling only frustration. My eleven or twelve minute pieces betrayed my intent. I wanted a 60 minute set, but I kept on changing the subject I'd write about.      

Nonetheless, there I was, at the December 4 matinee, with its 3 PM curtain, arriving at 2, sitting on a stool in the lobby behind the snack bar. I occupied myself by taking a photo, with my phone, of my recently arrived chicken salad sandwich. It was my friend Jocelyn's favorite. Then I texted it to her. She couldn't be with me. She lived in St. Louis, and in doing such I pretended she was. 

She has fourth stage gall bladder cancer.  In March 2016, she was diagnosed. The oncologist said, "You have six months; if you do nothing. Maybe two years with chemo."And it was her prognosis, and I got shook up. Time was, indeed, a limited commodity. Her illness showed me what I had forgot.

That's when a woman sitting to my right, asked, "Do you need another ticket? My friend didn't show up. She was afraid of getting lost in Brooklyn." Where upon I retorted, "She is making no sense. No one knows what's going to occur next. We're here only to accumulate new experiences; staying home is a repetitious act. "

Then the usher announced,  the house was open. Soon I was in my aisle seat, passing a man in a skirt, and in minutes. I was watching a diminutive platinum blond, full- bosomed and all, holding a hand-held mike, talking as she went up and down the aisles. She said something like,  "I do this before my show. It reduces the jitters and I want to introduce myself to those who don't know me or my work. I use metaphors. A lot. Stay with me. And if I limp, it’s my sciatic nerve. I've already had two shots."

Then for eighty- minutes, she spoke, danced and moved about in sync with tunes controlled by her musical accompanist. Always, she returned to the rationale behind that title, “Longing Lasts Longer," which was her desire for the old, affordable New York, the one hospitable to all types of artists. 

Yet simultaneously, she admitted she was the happiest she'd ever been; no regrets; no idealizations; no distractions. She embraced all aspects of who she was, including accepting her four rapes. It was her fate, and so it goes with those who follow  “Amor Fati.”  

That's the moment I felt she was talking to me. Be kind to your heart, was what I heard the kernel to be in her message. I left with a lightness in my step, which stayed unabated, even when I found out the F train was not going to Manhattan, and where the A train was I'd no clue.             

For what that fox also claimed, "what’s essential is invisible to the eye," I see as true. 


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Reader Comments (13)

Awesome Jane!

Amor Fati !

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBob & Jan

Trains eventually show up. That's easy. But Being kind to your heart isn't always so easy. Having a friend on borrowed time makes us look closely at everything. This is such an insightful, sensitive article. I really appreciate it.
You have a keen eye. Not much is invisible to you. ❤

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

I concur! Beautiful! xo gail

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGail Mardfin

Profound & beautiful! I needed this at this particular time & day! Thank you Jane!

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShirlzy

Don't worry ! Keep moving ! Amor Fati

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

You are kind and insightful with a beautiful heart as anyone who knows you can attest.
Amor Fati!!

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJudyL

It was great reading your blog...I admire your never being flummoxed with getting lost in NYC...you always know where to go next!!! I loved this blog...reading it was like going along with you.on another adventure..


January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLuAnn

Jane you are so insightful. What a keen eye for things happening around you. Keep moving .

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHalbert

Amor Fati...
Amor Jane!

January 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNetta

This is wonderful. And you are wonderful.

January 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

Good stuff, Jane. I copied on an index card your observation to the woman with the extra ticket and a friend who was afraid of getting lost in Brooklyn. (I was once-Joe left me there alone, but I, who grew up in a Wisconsin village of 1,043, found my way back to Manhattan, thanks to his directions, actually.) Especially relevant for me is "staying home is a repetitious fact." I've been very repetitious lately. Hope all is well with you.

February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDen Adler

Great story.

February 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnita Lippman

Being comfortable with yourself and accepting what we can't control and fighting for what we can is a good goal. You really are fearless and I love the circular style of your storytelling - very thought provoking and enjoyable to read Xx

February 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFizulu

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