11 Feb 2009, 2:50pm

without a map

that picture looks a lot like hawaii to me, but it was actually snowing (well, slushing) when i took it yesterday in my backyard. (the water was coming off of our gutters.) today there’s blue sky up there. spring in portland is like this. two steps forward, one step back. i am framing it that way because i am SO EAGER FOR SPRING.


i can’t remember who i was talking to recently who suggested that we are leaving the postmodern, so to speak, and moving into the pre-apocalyptic. or already there. hah! way more than two ways to look at it (glass half full/empty) of course, like everything else in the universe. we live in interesting times. that’s something that’s been said probably as long as we’ve had “time.” viva our evolutionarily-bestowed sense of self-importance!

a few days ago i took the bus to rehearsal ’cause, i dunno, i felt like taking the bus, and as i walked to the the bus stop i watched cars rush back and forth across intersections in front of me and i thought, well, the bus teaches you patience. everyone ought to ride the bus and learn some patience. you’ll get there when you get there. then the bus was really late and transit tracker (a number you can call to get real-time bus arrival information) stopped working and i didn’t know if my bus would ever show up and i finally ended up running across the street to catch a different bus. i was afraid i would be late for rehearsal and i started worrying, furrowing my brow, writing in my head already the excuses and apologies i would overflow with when i finally arrived, panting, to the rehearsal room. oh the bus! i should have ridden my bike! i’m sorry i’m late! the bus! oh i am so frustrated! i tried to guess which second bus i should catch from the route i was on in order to get there fastest. i was frustrated! and angry! and frazzled!

and then i got on my second bus and rode it downtown and i got to rehearsal twenty minutes early (usually i am a half hour early–it’s kinda part of a stage manager’s job description). and as i sat on the bus, i realized…

that the only reason i was feeling what i was feeling was because i felt like i was expected to! like if i walked into rehearsal late i would need to be sufficiently contrite, would need to express a certain level of anger and frustration at the darn bus. obviously it would be problematic if i habitually showed up late, ’cause i’ve signed a contract and am being paid for my time, and that would indicate a lack of respect for the director and actors. but this was (would have been) one time, and it was ’cause the bus was late. my frustration changed nothing. the frustration that i felt was genuine–but the impetus for it was completely artificial. and totally pointless–just a social game of sorts. as soon as i realized that, it disappeared. all it did was raise my blood pressure for a half hour or so, and that’s all it would have done if i were late, after all.

i am having such a hard time giving a shit about that sort of ritual these days. it seems very artificial, and i am eager to figure out what the fuck is real. i feel like a hippie cliché, but lately i have the feeling it has a lot more to do with the smell of tomatoes and the sounds of birds at dawn than with prop tracking spreadsheets and the tick-tock of clocks… oh i am doing my job, oh i am totally a functioning member of this culture and society, i am, but i’m making less assumptions.

recently in my interminable internet wanderings i stumbled across this blog entry in which the author talks about “walking away.” it made me think of ursula le guin’s short story, “the ones who walk away from omelas” (which you can read online here or here, and you really really should). i reread it and i thought: the child in the basement is our poverty and disease and war and hypocrisy and wastefulness. and by living with it, we are… living with it. but how do we walk away from omelas? where do we go? and is it irresponsible to walk away?

“At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or woman much older falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”

so there you go. that is some of what’s been on my mind.

i am thinking about not looking for a place to live after my lease expires this summer. in the time i’ve lived in this house (since august 2007), i’ve spent at least three months not actually here but still paying rent. what a waste–and i want to do more of that stuff, not less. i mean, i’ve been thinking about where i want to live after this (in portland), and–there is nothing. i mean there are places i would love to live, but not in my daydreams. do you know what i mean? my daydreams are full of the woods and wwoofing and bike touring and long-distance walking and learning to identify edible mushrooms and learning other stuff and theatre workshops and who knows what else. and god’s dancing lessons. this does not necessarily even mean “leaving portland” in any kind of moving-away sense. my parents are moving to portland and i would always have a place to stay at their house.* i also have a dozen friends who i think would be happy to offer short-term couch hospitality. if i find myself spending most of my time in the city, or if i am getting theatre jobs regularly, then i can maybe look for a place of my own. but i want to see if i can give myself that freedom and make something of it. of course it depends on a lot of things, and time will tell. i don’t want to give up on my theatre career here or anything, but i don’t think it would suffer particularly from a year or so of laissez-faire, so to speak. maybe i will find a new passion. remember when i wrote about that big windfall i’m gonna get sometime soon from getting hit by a car and all that? and how i felt this weird need to Decide what to spend it on? i guess this is option 3, Stop Worrying and Love Your Freedom.

you know. depending.

about six months ago i wrote this in my journal, after saying goodbye to a friend who was leaving town:

he said, “are you gonna be in portland?” (forever?) and i slowly nodded my head, yeah.

it’s that i love portland but it’s also that i can’t imagine learning the streets again and meeting everyone again and all that comfort zone stuff that may or may not be very/any good for me. i dunno. the area between my throat and my ears gets all tight and hurty and i feel like i’m going to burst just thinking about it. a year ago when people asked, “are you staying in portland?” i answered, “for now anyway.” maybe now that i am answering “oh, god, yes” i will find myself executing every plan b: bike across the country! wwoof in hawaii! whatever! i could do these things if i wanted! i know i could! i have nothing to prove! but yes it’s true i have lived nowhere but the pnw since i was 8 years old…! traveling is so easy ’cause you know all you have to do is turn around and fuckin’ click your heels together three times and have a place to call home.

hah! hah!

* re: family:

a.: does [your mom] think you’re too much of a hippy?
me: i think she’s getting used to it
a.: did she used to think that?
me: i dunno
a.: do you think your parents “get” you?
me: i dunno, i’m not sure that’s important in order for them to be my loving supportive family [and vice versa], if you know what i mean. i think that’s something we’re learning.

12 Feb 2009, 2:54am
by Andrew Snyder

Enjoyed the omelas story. Sounds absolutely like india, from the clamor, to the unmanned temples, to the chaos, to the simple joyfulness, to the poverty to the wanderers. Except in India, it all takes place at once and nothing is hidden. The skeletons are not in the closet but in your face and you just go about the joy of India.

See you soon.

It’s all artificial. There isn’t any ‘real’ world hiding under the superficial layers like the expectation of frustration. I think I am a lot happier now that I have come to embrace the fact that absolutely everything is socially determined. I both ignore the parts I don’t like because they aren’t ‘real,’ and I allow myself to thoroughly enjoy whatever it is I happen to like without shame or concern that it isn’t ‘authentic enough’. I cut out huge parts of myself with those sorts of thoughts, and I wouldn’t recommend it. So feel free to let your frustrations dissipate because of their inauthenticity, but don’t stop caring about your core values just because they are inevitably just as flimsy (no matter what they are). I am just starting to care about justice, science, knowledge, and truth again after abandoning them as artificial, and I have finally learned to fully embrace love despite it being obviously social and biological (obviously this has never been a problem for you, but the point about not abandoning the artificial stands).

hey landon,

i have never been as attached to objective truth as you have. maybe i should have added “subjectively” before real and artificial and all that. maybe i am just creating for myself a worldview in which that which is harmful is not real…? hah, i dunno. just exploring my feelings about stuff. and which social rituals are worth it to me. obviously, yes, love is. but love is a lot more active and performative than it used to be, for me, i think. it is itself a creative force… maybe. thanks for sharing your thoughts.



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