Change | Be

I learned something this week.  I was in class yesterday and my teacher, Karen was noting character study for plays, films and TV. She mentioned this to us, ‘Archetypes are characters who evolve. They have revelations, they change, and they move on to the next part in their journey. Stereotypes are characters who don’t. They learn the same lesson every week but the very next week they make the exact same dumb mistakes they made the week before. They don’t change. Sitcoms are full of these’. I didn’t think much of it at the time but now it’s become something to chew on.

It reminds me of the previous week’s class, where another teacher Sean was answering a student asking for help with change. He delivered his own version of the four stages of competence. It went something like this. ‘The first level of awareness is when you make a mistake on stage and your friends point it out. Even then you can’t recall and aren’t aware of when you’re doing it. The second level is when you make a mistake on stage and you realize it after you step off stage. The third level of awareness is when you make a mistake and immediately realize it. And then the final stage of awareness is when you are about to make a mistake but you make the realization before the action happens. You’re able to stop and correct yourself. If someone has the realization immediately after their mistake, that is great! It means you’re almost there. The next time, or maybe the next time after that, you will be able to do it. You will break the default reflex. You are this close.’ At which point my teacher made a squinty pirate face while gesturing a tiny gap with his right hand.

Both of the lessons have been thought-provoking and enhanced clarity about the material I’m learning. The four plays being studied this term each have a main couple who are detrimental stereotypes. Each couple closely represents the four stages of competence. For the most tragic dynamic, the male lead believes he is a good person who saves damsels and helps others. However the exact opposite is true and he ultimately ruins both his and his lover’s life. When I see tragic stereotypes like this, people who never change, it makes me deeply curious about my own consciousness. Have I changed? How have I changed? Do I raise the consciousness of others? Am I someone who supports the maintenance of change for others? Some people never change and some do but don’t sustain it. The plays have reinforced the idea to me that pure awareness is not enough. There needs to be a support system to make freeing changes last. Friends, lovers, and mentors should be made with decisive intelligence. A person’s circle of influence is often the threshold for permitting change from who they are to who they could be.

Pep Talk: Mentors & What Not

I’ve been searching for a mentor for a very long time, since probably the the age of 5. So as you can imagine I have a lot of rejections. A slew of them. I am incapable of hiding my fandom for the potential mentor’s craft and accomplishments. The rejections were rejections in my approach. If I made it past the approach, they were rejections to my personality.

I use to be hot and bothered by this but not anymore. Because I found a mentor. And I have literally zero difficulties jiving with this fantastic person.

I’ve learned a lot because I use to think it was me. There’s something wrong with me. I’m not doing it right.

For the most part I now know that this is not true. They were wrong for me. They were people who had no interest in mentoring. I was trying to force a formal one sided relationship.

And you can’t do that. You can not force it. It has to be mutal like falling in love. You just jive with the person. You respect them and they respect you right back. They want to help you. You don’t have to ask for it outright. But it’s important to have something to offer them too; a coffee, a good book recommendation, a great joke. It doesn’t have to be much.

It’s like the beauty thing I struggled with all my life. I was a goofball and a tomboy and didn’t like dresses. People didn’t like that. I now like dresses and can put powders and dyes on my eyes lids and look like a cutie-petwie. But it doesn’t matter cause those people still don’t like me! I’m still a goofball behind the heels and the updos. No amount of pretty or any product will ever be enough to hide my jokester, squirrelly, le freak c’est chic vibe.

You are who you are and its better to surround yourself with people and mentors who like you for present day you. The only changes you make should be for yourself. Other than that you’re not doing anything wrong and it’s all going to be okay.

Woman at Finch Subway

Before all of the photos and videos and nonsense goes viral, I hope that I can provide a different perspective from someone who was there at the incident.

On Friday, September, 26th around 10pm an elderly white lady with spiky short white and gray hair wearing a long black dress began shouting “This is bullshit, this is bullshit”. She shouted this in the subway on the top platform where buses are loaded and departed. People began looking at her. Soon she walked up to a young pair of individuals and did something that cause the crowd to roar. I was curious but I didn’t want to be involved. I didn’t want to look in case I saw something  I couldn’t unsee.

She began walking around, dancing. She was surrounded and it was hard to see what she was doing but it was lewd enough that young adults with cell phones in hand were video recording and picture snapping.

I don’t plan to make excuses for her. She might have been in her right mind but through the glimpses that I did see it was very possible that she was drunk or mentally ill. In any case the laughing, the smart phone waving, the pointing and talking was enough to make me wish it would stop, or that I wasn’t there.

She’s a human being. To me she looked like someone who needed help. We always talk about mental health, especially in Toronto. There are CAMH (Center for Addiction and Mental Health) bus ads and Bell Let’s talk billboards to promote against the sigma of mental illness and raise donations for mental health issues. However when it comes down to the facts, and to the face to face incidents like this, everyone laughs. They photograph. They instagram. Young black men standing near me were throwing dirty drink cups at her, half empty bubble teas and dark roast Tim Horton cups. When they ran out they fished more from the TTC garbage.

It took me about 10-15 minutes before I saw a TTC driver on the phone in his stationary bus that it dawned on me I could tell him what’s happening. I could help. I wanted to help her. I didn’t want to be recorded. Even if I was recorded helping her, I wouldn’t have known what to do once I reached her face to face. If she wouldn’t come down from the bench. If she refused to stop dancing.

The TTC driver informed me he was already calling it in. I got off his bus to return to waiting for my own when a woman strode towards me. She was middle age, Indian and had the look of motherly worry that told me she too was thinking of reporting what was happening inside the station. We talked briefly. I asked her if the woman in question had been flashing people with her chest. She confirmed to me she had.

Eventually my bus came and I saw that the crowd had dissipated as I got on. I thought that getting on the bus meant I could just forget all about the incident and push it aside in my mind. I sat in the back, in the first top row. A woman quickly sat down next to me. She chatted very excitedly with whoever was on the other side of the line. She was speaking in her own language but I was beginning to fear that she was talking about what had happened. She giggled and squealed as she spoke.  Then when she finished she happily looked through her phone, confirming to me I was right. There were pictures of the incident on her phone.

Fuck.
Do I say something.

I really wanted to tell her this wasn’t okay. I really didn’t want to be involved. After a few bus stops I decided I couldn’t accept staying silent. It was wrong and if that’s what I believed I should say something.

You should delete those pictures.
What?

The bus was pretty loud and full.

You should delete those pictures.
What? Why are you looking at my phone?

You should delete those pictures.
It’s none of your business. You shouldn’t be looking at my phone. It’s my phone. I have a right.
One day you’ll be drunk and people will be talking photos of you and you’ll know how it feels.
Why did you look at my phone? How would you like it if I looked through your phone.

I didn’t want to see her pictures but since she was sitting next to me everything she did was in my range of view. I almost offered her to took through my phone just to null her point. I was hoping to guilt her, or make her empathize. I knew I had upset her.

I wasn’t the only one to say something. Another guy spoke up at the station as he was getting on my bus. He looked at the air cadet smiling to himself about the whole thing. They were both Asian and looked like teenagers.

You shouldn’t be smiling you should be helping. You’re in uniform.

What if we were all in uniforms. What if we all obligated ourselves to focus on helping rather than ridiculing. Can this be possible?

August 15th 2014

I am tried of waiting for the right moment to make a choice. I’m tried of trying to connect with something that isn’t there. I’m tried of connecting with things that are only time wasters. I’m tried of this sick hungry feeling. I’m tried of being a coward. I’m tried of being stationary, and running the same old  routine. I’m tried of the discussions on problems that will never change and the answers that exhaust pointless energy. I’m tried of the how-to’s and fix-it’s. I’m tried of lethargy. I’m tried of Samsung. I’m tried of not letting myself be seen. I’m tried of getting bored so easily, I just want commit to something for the next one hundred years. I’m tried of the discomfort and the confusion and the unsureness. I’m tried of my slow, shity, squiggly, progress. I’m tried of my own aggressions. I’m tried of being in a man’s world. I’m tried of women judging women in the new world. I’m tried of being apologetic. I’m tired of being late all the time. I am really tried of the new found fear and emotional difficulty dreading me from improv class. I am tried of plants dying.

I Remember

I remember falling in love over words. I remember feeling like I was part of something bigger and more special than I ever was. I remember thinking I was better than addiction and better than my friend’s addiction and that writing about the red picket fences on her arm would solve it all because I was one of those people that thought love could solve all problems. She did read it. And it did mean something but it couldn’t change everything, as I had hoped.

I remember writing Cashier’s log and how for the first time I found a way to be authentically myself without needing someone or something else.

I remember sitting on the kitchen floor crying at 4 am and feeling more afraid than I ever have in my life.

I remember the first day of class and how the rush of it took away all the pain from going to my last school.

I remember wanting jobs and opportunities so badly I wouldn’t sleep for weeks designing an infographic resume, and a video game case resume, and a multi-media interactive cover letter, and whatever the hell the idea of the week was.

I remember friends. I remember love. I remember loss. I remember falling apart. I remember the family and loved ones that gave up first. I remember feeling like I was crazy.

I remember all of this.

Quote

“Through the following decades, I struggled to conform to the identity I thought the world wanted me to have. I became acceptably pretty, but then needed to work on being more outgoing. Once I became outgoing, I needed to work on being sexually adventurous. Once I became that, I needed to work at becoming a good housekeeper. And so on. Frankly, I’m exhausted. It turns out being pretty is just the beginning of a lifelong set of ridiculous expectations imposed on women.” – To je smůla