So You Wanted A Sign

I was having a bad day. It was one of those days where everything was going wrong: I slept through my alarm. I ripped my shirt. I gave myself a charlie-horse putting on boots. I watched my bus drive away two minutes early and the next one was five minutes late. I ran out of bus tickets (you know, since I lost my bus pass two weeks ago). My key pass wouldn't work in the building door so I was locked out. Everyone I tried to call for help was in a meeting. I arrived late for said meeting. My computer wouldn't work. When it finally did work, I couldn't get access to certain programs I needed nor could I get it to print. My Rogers service suddenly cut out on my phone. I lost my favorite sweater somewhere (if I knew where it wouldn't be lost now would it?) I got stood up (again). But what really made me go crazy, what really did me in was the fucking (I'm French, I can use that word) elevator being out of service. Since the previously mentioned key was not working, this meant I could not take the stairs or I would be locked out of the building (again). I had finally decided that I was going to give up, grab some readings and have lunch, but I couldn't even do that. I felt trapped. I felt nauseous. I felt like the walls were closing in and I just had to get out. It seems so stupid. I don't have a bad life. I have a roof over my head. I have food in the fridge. I'm employed. I work with nice people. I have my health. My world was not literally shaken up by an Act of God (or you know, whomever that was). I'm not stuck in the middle of a war. I just had to spend an extra 15 minutes on the floor I worked on. That's all. And I panicked. In a fight or flight situation, apparently I choose flight.

People think I have my shit together, but frankly, I don't have a fucking clue.

So I ran away. I'm good at that. Years of practice. I contacted a friend for support who immediately told me to join her at the Rideau Centre for a hug. Since I am a firm believer that a great hug can solve everything, I did just that.

Getting back on the bus, I noticed that someone had forgotten a book in the seat. I felt bad. I've lost things before (see above, re: bus pass & sweater) and I hate when that happens. Then of course the selfish part of me thought how much I love books and hey, what's one more? But I shoved that aside and opened the cover to see whom it might belong to. It turns out it didn't belong to anybody. No, no, not in a "there was no name on the cover kind of way." The book actually belongs to everybody. This book is a traveling book. It's been logged onto a site called BookCrossing. Now, I had heard of such things before, but I had never actually encountered one.

Could this be a sign? This book is about philosophy and life and probably holds all the answers my soul has been longing for. In my darkness, could this be the beacon of light I was hoping, nay yearning for? Could it be? Could it?

The book? The Outsider (or The Stranger or L'étranger) by Camus.

Uh, yeah. Have you read this book? I now have. Let's just say I may have been a tad too exuberant in quest for answers. My realization: if you're feeling bummed out, Albert Camus may not be the best guy to go out for lunch with... you know, even if he were still alive. Which he isn't. Which probably doesn't matter to him anyway since life is pretty much meaningless. At least that's what I got from the read.

I got a sign alright. A sign that The Universe was having a laugh.


It did get me thinking however, in existentialism and the absurdity of life and all those other things I had to look up through Wikipedia because I couldn't remember exactly what they were from my first year philosophy and political thought classes in university. So I open up the floor (or the comment section or whatever) for a meaningful philosophical discussion.

Go nuts everybody! In the meantime, I'll be dropping this book off at a coffee shop somewhere in the hopes that someone else gets a little more out of it than I did.

Living the Dream

Am I truly awake?  Did last week really happen?  I've got the receipts and ticket stubs to prove it, so I guess it did. I took a big leap and went down to Toronto for the week.  As previously mentioned, I had done some advanced prep work and went down feeling confident and apprehensive all at the same time.

Things were off to a good start when I arrived.  I had an Ottawa friend who was auditioning for the Stratford Conservatory and we met for lunch.  We followed that up my a trip to TheatreBooks and the World Biggest Bookstore.

Here's a little bit of info about me.  I don't just love books, I adore them.  The treasure trove of information found in each and every one, waiting to be unlocked and discovered;  the personalities hidden within the words;  the stories waiting to take me away to places unknown...  It's all incredibly sexy and addictive.  I'll go throw genre phases - these days it's books on marketing, new media, and spirituality (or marketing your spirituality through new media) - though there is always room on my book shelf for plays, plays and books about plays. There's just something about the written page between my fingers that just makes me so very happy.  And I'm good to my books (I never bend corners or write in them), so I rarely get any paper cuts.  I'm starting to run out of room though.  Guess I'll just have to get more bookshelves.

I got to see a few shows while I was in town too.  First up, there was a wonderful adaptation of Miss Julie by Canstage.  This play really made me realize that for an audience to understand the themes in the original piece, it does have to be updated.  In this case, we're in 1964 Mississippi aka Freedom Summer two days after Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.  I can't even find the words to tell you how much sense this adaptation makes (granted there are a few groaner moments, but these were Strindberg's fault - I mean come on, a bird in a cage?  Gee, I wonder what that refers to?).  There's also incredibly strong chemistry between the main actors and the esthetics for the show are just wonderful.  I really appreciated the Marilyn/Jackie O dichotomy you see in Julie (unfortunately, she'll never be a Jackie), but that might just be because I've been watching too much Mad Men lately.  Anything from that time period just tickles me pink these days.

Next, I saw a musical without knowing that's what I was going to see.  A friend invited me to see A New Brain by Acting Up Stage with him and it was a refreshing surprise.  Thanks to my dabbling in stage management with the fine folks at Zucchini Grotto, it turns out I already knew a few of the songs in the show.  It also made me realize that I prefer the smallish, independent musicals to the big budget ones.  Though I'm in no way an expert, I'll take Evil Dead: The Musical over We Will Rock You or The Phantom of the Opera.  That said, and I'm sorry to say this to all the purists out there, I really did like Mamma Mia!.  Shut up!  ABBA gets a free pass from me.

Anyway, its a good thing I like the little new musicals, since I then went out to Sheridan College to see a friend in, yup, another musical.  It's called Big Time Operator and it's a new show set to the music of the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies.  I'm a huge swing fan, so this was a bit of a treat.  Though this was as cheesy as musicals get ("bad" guy finds out he has a son, meets a "good" girl, falls in love in like 5 minutes and decides to change his whole life around if he can just stay out of jail, happy endings all around - It's like Grease meets... something else and swing music - Sorry, I really don't know my musicals), it was a lot of fun.  I was actually really impressed with the choreography, though the prop "drinks" could have been anything else than what they had.  I didn't realize so many speakeasies served daquiris.

To top that off, I had a great meeting with a Toronto agent that I need to follow up with and a fantastic reference from some former teachers, which led to an audition prior to my departure.

I also somehow managed to work out everyday for five days, which is some kind of record for me, and the long train rides gave me plenty of time to write and, of course, read.

And now I'm back in Ottawa, finishing up some grant applications and organizing a fundraising event before jetting off again.  This time, I'll be off to Kitchener to see a staged reading of a show I wrote and after that, well, I'm not sure.  Will I be popping by Toronto to meet with that agency again or to shoot an industrial video?  Or will I be heading back to Ottawa to study clown with the craziest bunch of Fools I know?  Only time will tell, but until then I'm just enjoying the sweet, scary embrace of the unknown.