Well, I know what I’m thinking about lately, but the question is how deep do I feel like getting into it today. I have so much to do and I can easily spend far too much time writing blogs and not doing what I have to do. (Like figure out how to make more money because rent has skyrocketed in LA and we’re apartment searching and why oh why do we live here)
Here it is: I had a funny experience at that Jason Isbell concert this Saturday (Which was incredible by the way and I totally walked past Kevin Bacon. Apparently Bradley Cooper was there too. Oh and apparently we also walked past Sterling K. Brown literally holding his Emmy on the street after the show and Chris saw it and I missed it! Anyway.).
Honestly it’s not worth getting into because it basically came down to a couple of bitchy girls in the bathroom line between acts (it’s a tone thing etc. and I can’t/won’t explain it in a blog – that’s what screenwriting is for, eh?). And it sent me reeling for whatever reason (actually I can think of a few reasons – there’s a lot of hard stuff going on in my family right now), and I just got horribly depressed and anxious and tearful and felt entirely stupid.
Ugh. Sometimes it just happens. Especially when the guard is down. It’s kind of amazing how being a really awkward middle schooler/teenager/college student even (yikes but true I think) comes back like that. And I felt that vestigial 14 year-old inside myself come out and despite trying to fight it, there she was, completely self-conscious and ugly and unable to form proper words for anything.
It’s horrible. I hate that this still lives inside of me. Once awkward, always awkward it seems (never mind that our culture systematically punishes the quiet, but that’s another topic). But despite feeling rotten for the first few songs of the evening, I eventually let it go (mostly). Because I looked up at the stage at Jason Isbell singing his wonderful lyrics. Sober after some really hard years. And capable of putting the feelings of hard-working and sorrowful and hopeful and downtrodden people into the most precise words and music. And I felt a lot less alone.
I don’t think you have to suffer or be an outcast to make art. I think that’s ridiculous. But it can help drive certain personalities toward it. And it can be a real safe haven.
My last two years of high school I went to a charter arts school, and it was full of misfits a lot like me. It was a safe place for punks, for gay kids, for loners. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me because I was not okay in my previous school. I was “sick” constantly and missed way too many days of school. I hated my life, hated myself, and too often didn’t want to be alive. Art was the only way to make sense of everything. Watching movies with my parents, painting in my room, ballet classes, playing the piano and being late for dinner, playing bad guitar in my room during the Homecoming dance.
When it comes down to it, I don’t know how to live without art. I’ve gotten better at communicating with the regular world since high school, but it’s been a long, long journey, and art has been my trail.
One of the things I love most about art is creating your own culture around how you want things to be. I remember being fourteen I think and watching the behind-the-scenes on the (oh, embarrassing, but whatever) The Princess Diaries DVD and seeing Garry Marshall running his set with what looked like a lot of love and cakes for everyone on their birthdays. I loved it and watched it again and again.
And here I was now, on Saturday night, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires and all the musicians onstage just having a complete blast. There was such camaraderie and love and fun coming from them. And a deep sense of integrity emanating from the core.
Watch this video and get a feel for what I’m talking about:
I recently read about Amy Adams’ horrible experience working with David O. Russell on American Hustle (which sucks because I love that movie). And I just don’t want that. Nothing is worth that. So many of us fall into art because life is hard enough. I know making something good tends to be a struggle, but I like that part of it. But treating people well is the only way to do it. I don’t have patience for assholes. Every single person who worked on June Falling Down was a sweetheart and the prayer is that everyone we choose to work with in the future will be as well (and we’ll come to that roadblock when we come to it).
I was very lonely growing up and awkward and always on the outside. I still feel like I’m on the outside (and I can’t help but suspect I like it out here) but now through making art I can draw the kind people out with me and we can start something new. And I feel a lot of comfort in that.