A letter to Jessica (and Jess)

by childofwine

I met an amazon this summer in Saratoga. It’s true. She’s tall and an arm wrestling champ’een. She’s got crazy hair and a wicked laugh. One of those no-nonsense, totally awesome types of gals. She’s one of those types that I am immediately drawn to and naturally, terrified of! So strong and confident, surrounded by all the exciting people and knocking us all out with her laugh. I’m not normally a fan of Jessicas, quite possibly because I am not one but everyone thinks I am. But it was all about the new wasn’t it. There were three of us actually this summer. A Jess, Jessie and a Jessica. We were a pretty rockin’ trio. Thing is, both of the other Jess’ managed, perhaps unbenownst to themselves, to give me a much need boost, a much needed slap upside the head vote of confidence. This blog here, this of late much neglected attempt of mine to write and explore my life in the arts, was greatly encouraged by both these amazing ladies. I’ve been wanting to get back. I’ve been saddened at how this fall has grabbed me by the ankles and slammed me down on my face with a series of shitty life ‘things’. So I’ve been thinking recently I need to start writing here again. It’ll help me step back from the mess, it’ll help me remember what was so inspiring and motivating this summer. And then, there in one of my mailboxes is a message from the amazon. You see, this is all surprising to me because I assume that I disappear from your mind if I’m not around. You see, I assume that I make no impact, that while you may laugh and debate and create with me while I’m there as soon as I’m gone well… So, I read this message and she’s writing to find the link to my blog because she wants to share it with someone as an example of what the program is like. Next message comes before I can respond. She’s found the link but, she says, she still wants to know what’s up.


Dear Jess,

I can’t tell you how well timed your message was. How are you?  I keep seeing wonderful things about shows and friends and happiness scroll through my facebook feed.

This fall’s been, well, a bit of a fail! It has and it hasn’t.

I was so high off of this summer. I owned the world. I shifted gravity in Saratoga and I dove into some fantastically soul bearing ghost outing Commedia in New York and almost completed a cartwheel in Halifax (that is a much bigger accomplishment than you might imagine!)

I had a plan, I knew what was next: I would spend a month at the cottage crafting a brilliant essay on my experience at Saratoga and the subsequent weeks. This was most likely going to launch my professional career as a writer and everyone would think I was awesome. Then I would return, triumphant, to Toronto. I would really buckle down and get myself as many piano students as possible to recoup some of the costs of the summer so that I could make another odyssey next summer. I want France again, and to see England again and go to Germany and Italy and and and… But I was going to have to buckle down. Really work at the money making. This would be okay because I had my company that was really moving forward to its first production a year from now and I really believe in it and even though it’s mostly non-creative work righ now it’s rewarding and exciting so I wouldn’t feel like I wasn’t doing any theatre. I had plans to make my own little piece. You know, just throw something up just for the sake of it. I was going to Chicago for two weeks of Bouffon with Gaulier. I wasn’t interested in Directing and Producing a piece of Indie Theatre in the City scrambling and running around to make something that I would be mostly frustrated about because of the amount of concessions made, no, I had grander aspirations and was going to find people wanting to gather and train…

This is where you take any and all of the cheesiest shitty metaphors for what life can do just when you think you’ve got it all in hand. You take these, you send them to Hallmark and get them to personalize a card that plays some broken melody (Rite?) and sprays me in the eye with a horrible attempt at perfume.

My home has been sold by the owners and I’m searching in a 1% rental market with a piano and a barely poverty line income (frankly, I’m proud I make that much!) Gaulier was cancelled at the last minute and well, I’ve just been floating really. Yeah, to be honest, I lost my shit. September was a disaster. For the first time in my sketchy memory I called my shrink to schedule an emergency session. I was miserable.

Thing is, I think I’m coming out of this on top. Thing is, I think, like week 3, this total collapse was actually a productive step in a journey I started just over three years ago, a necessary challenge. Thing is, that journey that started three years ago is a result or just another part of the adventure that began just over 3 decades ago – a moment to be commemorated in two days. Thing is, this summer, the people like the Jess’s, the challenges, failures and successes, all of it are but a piece of a puzzle from a box without a picture to guide me. I can try to jam them together or I can go bit by bit, find the corners, separate the colours…

I don’t know what I’m going on about anymore.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop working on prep for an interview I was approached for, an interview towards being hired to direct and facilitate a theatrical experience for young women in their late teens. Earlier today I sent in a pretty damn good letter and cv for a practical directing training opportunity with one of the leading theatre companies in the city. This weekend I helped produced a reenactment of The Brazen Head from Robertson Davies’ novel The Fifth Business. I may have lost my shit a bit this September but I sure as hell am getting it together now. In moments of rationality and mindfullness I see that, while yes I did have a bunch of shitty cards dealt to me this Fall, I could only have had a fall of some sorts after flying at such great heights. This summer gave me tools and clarified strengths I previously would only have pushed aside or smothered.

So, really, all things aside and in perspective, life is good Jess. I wish I was in a room playing like I was this summer but I have to earn it and I have to keep putting myself out there to find the right people who are out there looking for me.
Let’s get some of our friends together and make a reason to get together. I got some ideas. We just have to make it happen.

I’m so glad you wrote me Jess, the timing was fantastic. Just don’t challenge me to an arm wrestle, I’ll end up on the other side of the room! And to Jess of the magnificent coffee cup art, keep walking up walls lady!