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« Your Future's Truth | Main | transmitting hope(part four; el fin) »

a dose of self reliance 

Standing on my own two feet takes me decades. Arriving. In form proof positive. In my dotage. While I'm still breathing. October 31, 2017. Inside the Madrid Airport. At 6:30 in the morning. The second person on the Value Added Tax line. Waiting for my 26-dollar refund. From purchasing one orange and one green sweater.  When a mix of twelve Chinese men and women. All carrying Gucci, Prada and Chanel shopping bags. Cut in front of me. Without saying a word. Put down their packages. Take out their receipts. Chat in their native tongue. To the woman whose back is in front of me.        

Deducing. She’s saving their places. I'm irate. I'm taking them in. They're ignoring me. What gives? I exist. I'm no dust under anyone's feet. Which is my arm goes straight up in the air. Doing what next. I’ve yet to ponder. But I need to react.  Establsh a position. Declare myself. 

I wave my hand wildly. Attracting the attention of an official. Who comes right over. I say.  Puedes ayudarme? Can you help me? Tilting my head towards the interlopers. Una vez que soy segundo. Once I am second. Ahora soy catorce. Now I am fourteen. She smiles. Recognizing the obvious. Cups one hand close to her lips. Whispers. Into my ear. Los chinos estan en todas partes. The Chinese are everywhere. Getting my point exactly. And we depart. Movng to another counter.

Thanking her profusely when I have my cash. As I board my plane to New York. Sit in my seat and think of my mother. Who's responsible for the the procurement of monies owed me. She who births me. Then ignores me. And who has been dead for ten years. Teaches me early about her persona . I'm eight-months-old. Sitting in a baby carriage. With a bag of bagels and cream cheese. In a deli. Looking at a wall. Waiting for her to return. She's next door. In the drug store. At the soda fountain. Having a sundae.

Forgetting me. Called there by whipped cream, chocolate ice cream, hot fudge and maraschino cherries. My competiton. Offering clues. I'm one of her interests. There's no doting mother here. Get used to it. Baby girl. It's me who has to bring me up. It's going to take years. 

With a mother who enters amateur singing contests. With "Blue Moon". Does a Charleston in a dance competition. Wins a bottle of champagne. Leaves my father bent over with laughing. Wth her Marilyn Monroe imitation. Then tells people who say she looks familiar. She's Bessie Love. Star of silent movies and talkies.

Wanting to explore her shenanigans. through writing. I take classes. Including ten solo performance workshops. Most comfortable with the autobiographical type. Growing up in a family with four strong personalities. There's no telling what will come out. Yet each script I produce. Is disjointed. Requiring revisons. Which I refuse to do. Being no rewriter. Until desire overrules habit. In early July. 

I'm invited to participate in a solo works in progress festival. Saying yes. Surprising myself. The requirement a sixty-minute piece.  When the longest one I've produced is thirteen minutes. Yet my reasoning's clear. It's a conversation I have April 4. With a stranger who follows me into Duane Reade. Taps me on the shoulder. Gives me a buffalo head nickel. Telling me."Use it as a talisman. You're an artist. Your dress and energy give you away. Get gloing. Time's fleeting. Especially for you."    

Figuring into why. When the creative director of the solo event advises. "Get a dramaturge. To jump start your writing. Help you shape the piece." I do. Hiring Colleen. We begin soon thereafter. At the end of July. She asking questions. Examining text. Becoming my writing's ally. Getting from me what I want to say. By the second week in October. We've a stage-worthy script.

"A Coffin Turning Clockwise: A Comedy In Real Time." Title reflecting my mother's funeral. Where proper etiquette's applied. Her coffin going twice in that direction. Leaving the chapel. Into the hearse. Activating reality's intrusive metaphor. She has used up her time. And that's the script I've with me in Spain. For eighteen days. Glancing at it once. Thinking I'll be reading it daily. But I'm living with a language barrier. Frrst things first. When I return I rehearse. For two weeks.

Performing November 14 and November 15. In a 60-seat black box theater. On West 54th Street. Matching words to action. I move with purpose inside blocking. Going up on lines. With no freezing in place. To the end. I've committed myself to character. Endowed with one. Finally. One finely honed. By trial and error.           

And a dose of self reliance.

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Reader Comments (9)

Nice analysis of your journey.
Glad to be a witness to your progress.
Wishing you continued success.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

You had me with the line-bucking Chinese. In 2005 in Italy, our bus tour took us to Piza, letting the 60 of us out at a shuttle platform. Patiently, we awaited for the next suttle, completely alone. When the shuttle pulled up and opened it doors three hundred Japanese raced up behind us and nearly crushed us to death. Where they came from none of us knew..
Those kind of experiences certainly kick politically correct tolerance in the head! I didn't feel one kind thought about any of them.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTip Biggs

What a journey you've traveled...and continuing to do so. I look forward to each installment! Best wishes to you, and hope we get to NYC this year. Don't want to make you feel old, but Martin turned 35 a couple of months ago. Yikes! :-)

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCathie Fowler

Lovely reminder of your journey to your 60 minute performance xx I hope you gave the group of line jumpers a superior look...if no other time is possible, your ability to use Spanish in that instance was totally worth the time and effort!

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFizulu

What, no Hermes shopping bags? The bright orange color might have served as a beacon.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLee Gelber

Don’t cut in front of Jane. They should have known better. But all these experiences add up to you having fabulous detailed stories about your work, your life and your adventures. We all hang on to your words. All so rich and visual. There is no one like Jane. We are so grateful for you.♥️

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnita Lippman

Great story on a cold, wet day .... as I read, it feels as if I am with you in Madrid!

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Maggio

The strong, resilient, talented woman you are speaks for itself—no translation required.

March 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNetta

You are an amazing person(woman) . Is there a second person out there? I like your bravery and your positive attitude . Overall you are remarkable. Great writing as always.

March 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHalbert Hollingsworth

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