Letter to L.

Dear L--

I don't know where to start. All kinds of drama, and good things, too. I miss you, of course; daily I encounter at least half-a-dozen stirring or strange things blooming throughout our conceited little city, things I note down in my addled brain to talk to you about, but then I always remember you're in another hemisphere, and then I get all curt and snappish, if at the House, or mopey and distracted, if at Workshop.

We're at WS right now. My writer is having twins. She nearly gave birth on the last day of Week 1, and they had to rush her to OHSU before we even saw her that day, because her babies aren't actually due until the end of May. And we've just started Week 2.

I've evolved into the resident Willy for every demonstration of Death of a Salesman; previously, I'd been the reigning Hamlet. I'm personally happier--Willy has more ground to cover, with less cultural baggage, fewer cognitive obstacles than Hamlet. But there's also some pressure. Wily is not an easy piece to play. I usually get wiped out on Day 1 as a result.

Due to the vagaries of the Workshop hierarchy, I now possess sufficient rank to regularly lead day 3 or 4 of Week 1 and compete with M for leading workshops L or K aren't available for. Which is strange, considering I don't believe myself to be that more skilled than P or A, who are next in standing. But with C gone, T unwilling to lead whole workshops and likewise A, and with this glaring you-shaped hole in the room, we make do with what we got.

And I'm not even going to go into all the sad disasters at the House. Suffice to say that Mr. P is gone; I now assist V in the Level 2 groups; someone f'ed-up next door and now we can't afford paper towels or relief staff; the guys have come out to every single Workshop performance except RM, and I'm already looking at other jobs. And that's just the big-picture stuff.

There's a rhythm now, that I know you're familiar with, between the Workshop world and the House world. I'd built similar rhythms of my own in my other working-life setups. It's dangerous because, as I get better at it, I get safer. My ideas and my tactical choices--how to handle writers/clients in crisis, how to apporach the long days when they all stack up on top of one another, how to write a proper progress note--which is a whole new thing, by the way, we now have to note everything with real attention to detail, and we can't give a guy units unless their MSP reflects the activity as an established objective... you can imagine how thrilled N is by this. The guys, too, such as they are... so now the last hour or two of every shift is spent noting what's been done, and while I personally kind of enjoy and appreciate this--it makes us more communicative, more deliberate and ultimately useful--I also know it takes time away from actually working with the guys. And on a busy day, this is crippling...

But my point is, as time goes on and I gradually get better at stuff, this work gets tamer, it loses my interest, as the urgency to solve things cools, and the not-sexy drudgery of simply doing the long, not-mysterious work it takes to actually do things, emerges.

But by nature I'm built on triage principles, and my ability to deal effectively with crisis stems from a kind of amnesia I suffer, an emotional amnesia, where the grand and staggering insights or the truthful and epic experiences are, not so much forgotten, but sealed away in various chambers, cleared from the decks in order to be ready for the next thing.

This 'clearing of the decks,' is what makes things get successively easier over time. It's troubling to me, that I've drawn myself together with essentially self-confining and self-sabotaging features, a built-in and gradual self-destruct mechanism, without which I would probably be busy destroying the world right now.

Instead of which, I'm now finally moving, inch by excruciating inch, on developing my own work--about which I'm too close and too vulnerable to go into detail here just yet. But I am performing on 1 April, which is apt, as I'm pretty much a fool for doing this, and in so little time.

B is making more noises about developing post-Workshop stuff for successful writers, and of course in my insomniac moments I toss and turn and wrestle with half-formed, fiery ideas about what to do and how to make it work. I'm in touch with Clackamas County Youth Corrections to put together a performance program there, too.

But these are like a small pageant of paper lanterns floating along on a vast, long, dark river, of which I can only see so much. These and more beatiful and terrible little things, proud of themselves, but only so much, while the endless current carries them along, and I do not know where this current leads, I only know it's strong.

Travel safely, you. I can't wait to compare notes with you, and share a drink, and maybe plot our next podcast again--