My roommate has been gone for over two months, but I haven’t been alone for one night, between the parties and partying, and going out and dating and having my friend crashing on my couch in between apartments. Part of why I wanted to live alone was so that I could entertain like this, cook and drink and not have to leave the house. I love being a host. I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I haven’t written a page in almost two months, not for The New Old Gay nor for the show I’m hardly working on.
At first, I didn’t – running around on roughly the same schedule I’d kept pre-job, only sleeping a lot less. That caught up with me. Then, I retreated into a working/coming home to relax and sleep/working again schedule, reasoning that if my life started to feel empty and meaningless, that was good, maybe that would inspire me or connect me to something inside myself, maybe then I’d have something to say, an idea. See, I realized that I’d come to see my directing career like a bus I was trying to catch. After launching myself with fairly original productions, shows I had produced myself as well as directing and whose success was a satisfying testament to my tenacity at least as much as my talent, I just wanted somebody to come along and offer me a gig. I would sit and think, “Oh, Josh is directing the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar? What a hack! Good luck, Josh. God, I could do such a better job with that show. That show is mine! Fuck!”
Chapters could be written about the bad vibes, but the other key issue is my transition from an artist who created projects for himself because he loved them to someone waiting for the phone to ring, refreshing his inbox, just trying to do what everybody else is doing. Okay, I started to figure that out, but then what? I didn’t think of myself as a writer. How would I create anything?
My most critically acclaimed work had been a cabaret act cum environmental theatre piece, Leslie Kritzer is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches. Many people had suggested I try something else like that, but I balked, “Lightning doesn’t strike twice. I can’t just go recreate some other diva’s club act. The inspiration preceded the show the first time…” My writer friend, the great Sarah Schulman, told me that what moved her about …Les Mouches had been its evocation of a lost time, New York in the 70s and 80s, a time of sexual and economic freedom, anything goes. I loved that, but I didn’t know what to do with it.
I started to feel like I peaked and fallen and was numbly loafing along towards irrelevance. I looked around at young people – kids! – ten years my junior who were making great strides.
I saw their passionate self-promotion elevated in this modern age to an art form, to part and parcel of their work itself, these youtube stars and facebook gods…
You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube videoI felt like I’d lost my chance to make it in show business, like perhaps I’d never had it. Here’s the gutsy montage where I turn it around (cue: amazing 80’s music). I got on twitter, not exactly early to the party, but not late either, just part of the evolution, the way I’d migrated from Friendster to myspace and then facebook. Maybe it was the public forum of twitter, or maybe it was the timing of my joining in the midst of feeling over-the-hill and lame, but I was self-conscious on twitter. I knew I didn’t want to tweet with zero filter the way my facebook statuses often reflected the mundane or even scatological.
I was composing tweets. And I liked it. Then, I started this blog. And I liked writing. I realized that all the epics I’d tried to write in my youth were biting off more than I could chew. This simple narration of my perspective on my experiences felt doable. I liked reading my own voice. And I started to see possibilities for my life and career, for my future. I started working on a solo show for myself to perform. What? I was getting excited.
It was all going to so well. Then the holidays, indeed the holidaze, and now, what?
Last week, I went to see my friends, Dan Fishback and Max Steele, perform Queer Texts, an evening of them reading from some new performance and performance art and theatre and writing pieces they’ve been working on. They are both younger than me and far more prolific and I was incredibly entertained and moved by their inspired work, Max finding the poetry in desire and the laughs in poetry, Dan exploring a New, Old Gay perspective while taking personal stock of the meaning behind each of those categories with insight, humor and absolute integrity.
In the context of this casual reading, I could see that for all their wit and wisdom, these were just two human beings making sense of the chaos of life for themselves on the page.
The other great thing that happened to me was that an old friend emailed me some writing I had shared with him in 2003, long lost in the death of an old computer years ago. It’s just a few pages, but there it was, my perspective on my experience put into words.
I could see last night how I have looked at my shoulds list as obligations to someone or thing removed from myself, when what I crave most is that peace that comes from finding some meaning at the end of writing through the confusion, the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s a start.