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my show next week (July 16th)

Do you like shimmery weird comedy? Do you want to start liking it? Do you want to know which community pools in south carolina were like celibate key parties in the 90’s? Do you like really good french fries?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you might want to come see my show.

Tickets are $15.
Kenny Mellman–who is in a band called The Julie Ruin, and also made Kiki and Herb and Our Hit Parade–will be playing the piano.

Tickets are here:
http://www.joespub.com/component/option,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,40/id,6693

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I want to be the kind of person that a little sparrow on the sidewalk sees and thinks to itself “I’m gonna jump into her hand right now and nestle my little feathery head into her fingers. I want her to hold my whole little fragile body there and be so sweet to me.”  But I never get the vibe that this is what they are thinking. House sparrows are everywhere in New York. There are about 14 sparrows for every one human in New York. Does that mean I have to hunt for the 14 that want me to hold them ?

Once I was asked to do an outdoor performance for a street festival in New York. Outdoor performances require a lot of planning. You have to compete with the sky and the architecture and all the people who didn’t mean to be in the audience and actually don’t care that you are doing a performance. I don’t mind these constraints, but they are the kinds of constraints that I usually don’t work with.  I can’t just slap on a costume and rattle off a tried-and-true favorite that works on a normal stage or club or gallery. For this, I had to make something new, specifically conceptualized for the feel of being outside on the street in the east village of New York City on a Saturday afternoon in 2009.

This is what I came up with: I would buy a box of saltines and a jar of peanut butter. I would spread peanut butter all over me, head-to-toe, and stick the saltines to the peanut butter. I would have a tiled, crispy saltine skin.  I would climb the stairs to the stage, put the empty Saltines box at my feet, fill the last peanut butter spot on my body with the last cracker, and extend my arms. Cue the music. A karaoke track.  I would start to sing “Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag)” from Mary Poppins as stylistically close to Julie Andrews as I could. After a while, hopefully some pigeons would try to eat the saltines off of my body while I sang. Maybe by the end, I would be a human covered in Pigeons. Another part of me felt hopeful that some pigeons would NOT try to eat the saltines off of my body while I sang. I had never had wild animals eat anything off of my body and didn’t feel that confident or at-ease about it.  I also had some fear around pigeons not really noticing or caring.  Even though I knew this would potentially be the most hilarious and dangerous and glorious piece ever, a couple hours before the performance I called the festival and told them I was sick.

I know there are people who can charm birds. But they have worked at it. You can’t just “have a knack” because you want a knack. You have to develop a knack. No matter what people think a knack is.  I want to have a knack for everything. And then when I realize what kind of time and effort it takes to develop the knacks, I get mad.  Because I truly do want to put in the time and the effort, but NOT if there are only 24 hours in a day and if i’m not immortal.

When I got back from France a couple weeks ago, I became really determined to be a French speaker. Not really being in a position to spend money on tuition, I arranged a barter.  With a French school. I will clean their office every Sunday at 11 am and they will teach me French.

It is a toughie. Knowing that the most efficient way for me to be an elegant French speaker is to become a janitor.

I started the cleaning a couple weeks ago. My classes don’t start til mid-november so I’m not a janitor who speaks French yet –AKA a French Maid. I am simply a janitor.  There are several pieces of me who feel embarrassed about this.  But I think the embarrassment comes from the fact that I like it so much.  There are very clear goals. Wipe the toilets down. Wipe the marker boards down. Vacuum leaves. It is easy for me to understand how to achieve the goals and I achieve them. It takes me two hours. I don’t strategize before or evaluate after. It feels perfect. It  is not a job where I have to get people to want to hire me back and respect my work and believe that my ideas are credible in the world of art, that I’m young and hungry and pretty. That i have the kind of potential anybody could tap AND OIL WOULD FLOOD OUT OF ME AND WE’RE ALL GONNA BE MILLIONAIRES.  It is a job where I move my arm really fast to the Die Antwoord Pandora station.

But what if liking being a janitor means that being a janitor is my destiny? From the day of my birth, I’m pretty sure my parents made it a priority to get me into college so that I would never have this destiny. (But if they knew that letting birds eat peanut butter saltines off of you while you did your best Julie Andrews was a job they would have hoped for janitor. Or lawyer.)

I am being told by multiple people in my life right now that you don’t just decide you want something and get it immediately. Or that it’s wrong to believe that you are something when you haven’t really proved it.  The value of practice versus the value of imagination/entitlement. I lean towards valuing the imagination parts of me.  But now i guess it’s time to believe that there are more than 24 hours in a day and that I am immortal so that I can put in the time to develop the real knack for all of these things that I want to be and do.

At the end of September, I went to Zagreb, Croatia for a week.  I was dancing naked in a show. And then I went to Paris for a week. I walked around for hours every day, ordered a lot of “veh” and muttered “Je suis desolee. Je ne parle pas Francais. Parlez vous Anglais?” to people who chose to talk to me. I did it so they would like me for my American modesty. OR. If they weren’t sold on that look, then maybe the classic “a girl who is sorry.”  I felt embarrassed to love France so much and to be so dumb in the mouth.

I’ve been home for a week and a half.

The hardest thing and the only thing I am obligated to do right now is work on my own musical web series project. Which is why I’ve been trying to find lots of other things to do. Like, I enrolled in a French class.

Also, I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed and found an article somebody had posted: “How Capitalism Can Save Art” by Camille Paglia.  One of Paglia’s claims is that young artists don’t have any vocational skills. They don’t actually know how to do anything with their hands that doesn’t involve a computer. And that this creates a really sterile liberal-upper-middle-class-studio-art BFA/MFA alienation from the rest of the world. Paglia’s very “THE SIXTIES MEANT SOMETHING REAL.” And I felt very YEAH about it.  I immediately google searched “trade school NYC.” I wanted to find something along the lines of fixing a car or making a tiny stool out of wood—a class I forfeited in middle school to take keyboarding. So the first thing that came up in my google search, of course, was a conceptual trade school, a school that operates on a barter system, being run out of a gallery at the New School.

Forgot about the stool. I took a two day course called “Digital Cinemantics: Movie Making in the 21st Century” taught by a guy who renamed himself Noemi Charlotte Thieves after moving out of his Mom’s house. He had a Muslim name, and  as a thirteen year old in post-911 Florida, he got detained at the airport for hours every time he tried to fly anywhere since.  His old name included parts of four of the suicide bomber’s names. His first name is now the same as my Grandma’s. She died when I was really little so it felt pretty special to be at the table with another Naomi as a big girl. In exchange for his grandmotherly 21st century digital filmmaking knowledge, I brought potato chips with ridges to his first class, and for the 2nd day of the course, I will be making him dinner.

I also took an i-ching class. I brought Polish cookies and  learned how to read people’s fortunes with nickels using the oldest spiritual book people still care about.  I’ve been reading some of my fortunes too.

Yesterday, I held my nickels between my palms and asked the i-ching, “What can I expect if I choose to produce the musical webseries, The Dardy Family Home Movies, myself?” I tossed them six times. And this is what she told me.

Hexagram 7: The Army 

or Organized Discipline.

If you hold or aspire to a position of leadership, remember that the true leader captures the hearts of the people, and articulates a clear, simple vision that binds them together….  Only when the state is economically prosperous can the army be strong… Only when the army is disciplined can the state be protected from disruptive outside forces.

Modesty and generosity at the center can be a magnetic force that keeps the relationships intact.

Solidarity among all elements is essential for success at this time.

Steven is letting me borrow his snare drum.

Tomorrow I am taking a software coding class and a cyanotype photograms glass.

Then I am obligated to rally the troops. Rat a tat tat.

I am at a café and now my digestive tract is coated with cappuccino. It is hopefully my last brush with espresso.  This year I was self-diagnosed with “hypochondria of the liberal” which means I know too much about food I love to keep on letting it inside of my body. A big thank you to principles of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

I have psoriasis. I have noticed with wide silent eyes in the mirror that it is getting worse as time passes.

I went to an herbalist in Chinatown who put his thumb on the underside of my wrist for some moments. I let my heart beat for him and then he said the word “Liver.” Liver it is. Cappuccino is very bad for the liver, says my acupuncturist. Her name is Famous. That’s what she told me to call her. So I do and then I let Famous stick pins inside of me and tape aluminum foil to my back while she shocks me with an electric wand.  I leave with tiny thumb tacks taped in a circle around my lower back, and when they fall out I put them in a tiny jam jar my mom gave me. She has every kind of jar you can save.

This summer, I brought The Irish Horse home to meet my mother and she gave us part of her old jar collection for our new home. They say that Psoriasis is genetic, but I am the only person in my family that has it. I have my dad’s cankles and my mom’s hershey kiss tits but I’m the only one with the linebacker jaw and the auto-immune skin disorder that goes by the name “White Dagger Sore” in Chinese Dermatology. I get what this means.

In high school, a boy accused me and my best friend of being Ellen Degeneres and Anne Heche. He said that I was Ellen. For some reason, it was way more humiliating to be the Ellen of that relationship. If I was going to be accused of being a lesbian, at least let me be the one that wears dresses.

My mom really loved Ellen’s first TV sitcom, Ellen. Ellen is also my mom’s name which was part of the reason she liked it. It must be cool to see your name in lights. On the show, Ellen came out as gay over the loudspeaker at the airport by accident.  I’m not sure how accurate this is, but it is inside of my memory that that is the moment my mom stopped liking Ellen. It was years after this moment and before Ellen’s comeback that that boy accused me of being Ellen. It maybe was the double whammy of being accused of being the most notorious lesbian of all time and of being my mother, Ellen. Two things women who fancy themselves as straight don’t like to be accused of. 

I am not allowed to drink anymore. Or have coffee. or wheat. or dairy. And that’s mostly what all these thoughts are about. But the cappuccino is inside of me right now. We are hugging goodbye.

I’m sitting on a chaise lounge in the lobby of the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto drinking free coffee and knowing for sure that my leggings are the thing that keep this travel outfit from working.

This morning I woke up in room 311. The room has a name and the name is Trading Post.

On the website, they describe the room like this:

Room 311 has a strong masculine feel yet strives to be comfortable and warm and give the dweller a feeling of calm. This room has humorous qualities as well and tries to contrast rural, self-sufficient qualities against urban luxury.

That room description could also be an Erin Markey description. And I might start using it as a bio.

I’ve been traveling for twenty days now. Touring with Sister Spit.  Everyday is both a winding road and a new destination.

But mostly it’s been about finding new flavors of potato chips and making observations about my body that I’ve rehearsed a million times before.

 

I’ve been living in a luxury hotel for the last 40 days and 40 nights. There are routines here.

I am in a play. The setting of the play is a hotel room. Our production is site-specific. I live in the hotel room where we perform the play twice a night, five nights a week. So half of my home is covered in army netting, bamboo, tropical plants, a crushed velvet tiger painting and houses 28 chairs for audience members. It’s lush. There are fruit flies. The sheets have big flowers on them. Pink, Red.  I watched How to Marry A Millionaire here on Netflix Instant and Marilyn Monroe kept calling things Creamy.

Yesterday I was sick with a gross cold. I was in the other half of the suite. It is bleach white and charcoal. Plates on the wall. Faders on the light switches. The deepest bath tub in America. I spent 32 hours in a king size bed with a pile of dirty kleenexes, a casio keyboard that me and my sister and brother got for christmas one year, a sack of clementines, and some really slow wifi energy charges inside of my laptop computer.

I heard a maid come in. I heard her walk through where the audience sits, past the bed where I pretend to almost have sex in front of an audience eighty times a night Wednesday thru Sunday, and then I saw her peek her head around the corner to where I was lying with my kleenexes.  I muted the episode of Smash I was watching on Hulu. She wanted to know if she could clean the room. I didn’t know. Could she? Is it her job or my job to clean this up? If I’m sick, isn’t it my mom’s job? Could I go somewhere in my pajamas? Or could I just lay in the bed while she changed the sheets? Am I a quadriplegic?

We both had these “honor thy mother and father” looks on our faces like we were about to get the shit kicked out of us if we did the wrong thing.

“I’m sick,” I said. And laughed a tiny bit to let her know that being sick is…funny?

When should she come back to clean, she wanted to know.  In my congested nasal passages, the answer was Never, but I didn’t want to get her in trouble with mom and dad. I made up a time. 5pm. But I knew how Groundhog’s Day that would be. She’d come in at 5pm and walk past the chairs, the ferocious tiger painting. She’d turn the corner and see me still trying to stream Smash on Hulu at 240 pixels per second, but this time it would be obvious that I had eaten some microwave oatmeal.

So I backpedaled on the 5pm thing. And we hovered in anxious silence. Sad giggles. Neither of us spoke the other’s language.   I wanted to be honest with her. (And with everybody I would ever meet.) And once I remembered that, I knew what to say. I pointed to the phone.  “Oh, I’ll just call down when I’m ready?”

Our faces changed. It was like we were giving each other secret back rubs in another dimension.

“You just call them.”

Now we knew the things to say. We said them.

She walked back through the Tennessee Williams set and was gone.

Until the next day at around the same time.

I didn’t drink or do drugs or have any sex in high school. I was compulsively extracurricular. I was in every play. I was an editor of our newspaper. I was president of the Thespian Club. My best friend was president of the Latin Club. Not Latin as in Latino but as in the Latin language almost all western languages are based on. I was studying Spanish. I was jealous. But not because Spanish is just a beauty mark on Latin’s pretty face, but that she was in a club that I was not in. I liked the idea of being in “clubs.”

I always took a voluntary extra early morning class too. Nobody was forcing me and I didn’t even really want to. It just felt like I should always be at school. I was at school from 7am til about 9pm every day. When I wasn’t at school I was hanging out at Kroger. Which is a grocery store chain in the South. They had a campaign called “Dare to Compare” which allowed you to compare the tastes of, say, Snyder’s hard pretzels to the taste of Kroger brand hard pretzels. Me and Natalie would shut our eyes and dare each other to compare. In a blind taste test, the name brand always tasted better than the Kroger brand. And we felt really smug about our scientific process of finding that out. If the price hike was simply about money spent on Chips Ahoy’s ad campaign, then YUMMY.  Those commercials are delicious. And all you have to do to find that out is close your eyes, stick out your tongue and trust your best friend. Not a problem.

We decided to do a Kroger photo shoot. We had to do it in aisle that didn’t have a lot of traffic. Paper products. Not as beautiful as canned goods or produce for a photo shoot, but it bought us time. Natalie pretended to run over my body with a grocery cart. Garrett snapped the photos. I tried to make fake pain look different each time. Natalie had to change her motivation for running over me each time. Sometimes she feigned malice, sometimes it was a tragic accident, sometimes she was heroic. Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” played over the PA.

This is my first memory of reverence.

I said to Natalie, “My future husband will have to sing this song to me.  And mean every word of it. And he will have to think of it on his own.”

I never felt so sure of anything.

Setting up nearly impossible rules for my romantic future. Only Natalie knew the rules. I drove Natalie and I to school every day and we would always play oldies. It was hard to get her to sing. (She was a stage manager theatre person.) But if you sang hard, she would forget herself and do the same thing. In my Volvo.

Right now I am in love. With somebody who seems like a husband. Strong. Short hair. Big dad kind of smiles. Freckles. We are trying to live together. We currently do not.  We’re trying to live in this one apartment with stained glass windows and no buzzer.

I looked up the etymology of “husband.” It’s a combo of the Old Norse hus which means house and bondi which means dweller.

It’s a much simpler idea than I thought it was. Everything’s always like that.

The Kroger photo shoot pictures were part of a surprise calendar that Natalie made for me for Christmas. One picture for every month of one year. When the year is over, the calendar no longer serves a purpose. I keep it in my bedroom at my parent’s house.

I am playing a newlywed right now in a play. She is covered in bruises and scratches and although the source of these bruises is the mystery of the play, I choose to believe that they are from her husband. I choose to believe that she feels lots of different ways about this, and one of them is turned on.

 

I remember when Lovefool came out on the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack. I would shut my bedroom door. Lock it. Blast that shit. Watch myself dance in the full length mirror. Once, my friend Logan pretended like one of the posts of my canopy bed was a stripper pole and did sexy dances with it. to Lovefool. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen anybody do. I knew it was bad.  So I just quietly checked the doorknob. To make sure.

Last night, I got to be in a show with the singer of that song. Nina Persson. She wore a mustard yellow blouse and a grey pencil skirt and pretended to be a therapist while she sang the Bruno Mars chorus of Lighters. Everybody in the audience put their lighters in the air. But I don’t smoke.

So I held up a candle.

I guess it really is Fall. I guess it’s Autumn. I guess this happens every year. But this elephant always forgets.

I am a sucker for Dumbo’s eyes. and Pinocchio’s.  I guess the thing they have in common, besides/because of the whites of their eyes, is that people want to exploit them as performers. In the circus, Dumbo has to dress up like a clown baby and stand in the window of a burning building. Top floor. While a bunch of fire department circus clowns “rescue” him. A clown dressed in elephant mommy drag histrionically screams “my baby! my baby! save my child!”  while Dumbo’s real mom is shackled to the inside of a car on the circus train. The car is labeled: MAD ELEPHANT. At the end of the act, Dumbo jumps out of the window (correction: he’s pushed and made to look like he jumps) to land on one of those fire department canvas landing pads. But the canvas is a facade. He falls right through it into a pool of whipped cream.

This sounds fun to me.  But you can tell it’s not fun for Dumbo.  He’s humiliated and scared.  The clowns/ringmaster were sort of banking on that feeling. They knew that’s what was thrilling about the number for the audience. the humiliation and the fear.

I feel very Phantom of the Opera fantasy mask about it. Like part of me is the ringmaster and the other part is Dumbo.  I can get into humiliation. I usually learn a lot about what my fucking problem is.

Tonight I’m going down to Occupy Wall Street for the first time.  So are a big group of Marines.