The Rambling New Year

It’s 2013 – good thing I’m not superstitious or I might be stuck on the 13. In the last year I went to Victoria and New Westminster along with Disneyland, was in my first play in twenty years (and was blessed to have it be an awesome production, with awesome direction and an awesome cast – did I mention it was awesome?) And I turned 40.

40 hasn’t really been a big deal. 30 sort of was, but not 40. Maybe if I had kids growing up around me and they were teenagers or even, as is the case with some same-aged peers, graduated and/or parents themselves, I’d feel something. But no – just every now and then I’ll see a picture of someone else’s kid on Facebook or more rarely see them in person and be shocked or surprised that they’re not still the baby I kept remembering them as.

I get sleepy around 10. I wake up around 6. A story from this Summer’s cast party notwithstanding I’m not interested in daily or even weekly drinking and my liver doesn’t handle it the same as it did at Old Thekla in the 90s. I don’t care if I need a haircut for a job. My paycheck goes to utilities, insurance, bills etc. instead of CDs – little things like that are my only clue that I’m older than I was back then. My 30th birthday was all about Jim Beam and naked strangers in a hottub, my 40th was about chocolate cake at Dirty Daves, my nephew, some friends and family I don’t see often, it was over at 6:00, and that was just fine with me.

My contribution to the entire experience of being in Titus Andronicus this year was partly made possible from me being older. Sure, I could’ve been cast in the same production the way I was in ’93 when I last did a play, but I wouldn’t have been able to grasp my character in the same light. I hadn’t experienced the full true gamut of life back then and wouldn’t have been able to retrieve from my own memories how to work it with Sempronius. And no, I’ve never been in an outlaw MC, been in a war, seen comrades (or anyone for that matter) die in front of me, participate in a gang stomping, commit murder or desecrate a body. I’ve never even really been in a close-knit tribal group – although the bonding experience with the cast itself almost fit that bill for the 3 1/2 months we worked together. Over twenty people, often packed in a tight space, and unless I missed something the occasional grief and gripe that’s inevitable in those conditions never escalated into anything intense or which wasn’t quickly subdued and forgotten.

There’s a bond of trust that happens in fight choreography. In the one I was involved in we had 7 active fighters and a handful of others on that stage – a relatively small stage in the middle of the room surrounded on three sides by the audience, of whom we needed to be aware we weren’t going to accidentally strike or plow into. You’re trusting that your fellow actor takes their responsibility serious enough to not make a mistake that hurts you. In live action there’s no camera angles and hardly any optical effects. The guy getting slapped was really slapped (rules were don’t hit the eye, don’t hit the ear.) When I kneed my victim that was the optical example – he moved toward me, I raised my knee straight up (instead of straight in) while he simultaneously leaned over it. The speed of the movement along with our fight grunts made it look like the real thing. I accidentally made grazing contact during one performance – I apologized to Chris offstage and he didn’t even know what I was apologizing about! He was trusting I wasn’t going to hurt him. I was needing to keep that trust. Even if he had felt the accidental blow the trust was strong enought that I have no doubt he would have accepted it as an accident while it was still going on.

Twenty years ago I most likely would’ve pinned the blame on him. Twenty years ago I would have tried to find a chance to upstage someone instead of keeping the play strong by keeping my supportive character supportive. I used that sixth sense, which I didn’t even realize I had, to back away from some of the action to insure I didn’t distract from it. Not just me, everyone did. Nobody upstaged anyone, and the stars didn’t push the rest out of view. And that’s why it was a strong performance. A strong performance that you probably didn’t see – I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of people who said they would be there yet weren’t, including the ones who wasted my comp tickets even as it was okayed for them to be reused on a separate night. Maybe someday the video footage that was taken will finally be made available.

This is a meandering distracted blog. That’s partly due to me having not done this in awhile. Facebook Status Updates and shared articles allow me to get most of what I would have to say out to what counts as my audience. Because I have to face it, whoever comes across Kalhoun is only reading it after they saw the link on my FB wall – and as that goes, it’ll be maybe 0.02% of my 500 connections. I know with consistency and prolificacy might come a supportive base, but it’s been about 5 or 6 years since I had that. Every year I pop in again saying I’m starting up, there’s only one way to find out if this is the year I keep it up, unlike last year which was supposed to be the year, or the year before that.

I’m 40. In half a year it will have been ten years since Tammy and I became a couple. My longest time spent with anyone. (My longest time married too, but let’s not go into the comparison) We have had a crazy ride. Too crazy at times. But it’s a ride I wouldn’t give up. Maybe, if I was allowed to go back, I’d change the speed here, the direction there, but as long as we’re on this ride together – driving down a road, taking random or mapped turns and finding out where the road takes us – hopefully coming to destinations that let us park the car and watch the sunset while eating grapes and ice cream sandwiches just like that first date one decade and many lifetimes ago – that’s all I want.


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