Songs for the Struggling Artist

Put Up Your Dukes
August 10, 2022, 12:21 am
Filed under: anger, Justice, masks | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In case it’s not completely obvious, I’m a fairly conflict averse person. I hate when people argue. I get anxious when tensions rise. I do not enjoy a debate. I would almost always prefer to exchange smiles then to exchange “words” with anyone. Sometimes, on-line, people will think I like heated “discussions” because I have strong opinions and I express them through this particular medium. Just for the record, I do not. I will do a LOT to avoid a heated “discussion.”

As the time for jury deliberation got closer for those of us sitting through the trial, this one juror seemed positively excited about it. She’d put up her hands and pretend to duke it out with an imaginary person. I gave her the gesture back on occasion because I like to be playful – and I hate to leave an acting offer on the table. She wants to play fight? I’m here for her. But once the deliberations started, this woman had a lot to say and not a lot of it made sense and I was not there to indulge anyone’s whims. I did my best to get us on track and stay on the question at hand and the facts. And this woman who’d seemed so excited about the fighting she was looking forward to doing (“the fun part” she’d said) declared to me, “You’re so aggressive. I feel like I need to get out my boxing gloves.”

And this may be the most bizarre thing anyone has ever said to me. I found it positively baffling, especially in this context. But – just in case – I apologized and said I would try and turn it down – though what I was trying to turn down was completely unclear to me. There was something about what she said that made it sound like she was responding to my being passionate or some word to that effect so in addition to the apology, I let them know I was an actor and that seemed to satisfy everyone – like, “Oh, that explains it.” But what was it exactly?

I suspected that it had to do with a level of animation I have, an expressiveness that is perfectly normal for me but among these mostly quiet reserved people somehow felt out place? We’re all wearing or masks so everyone is harder to read than they might usually be. I probably turn myself up a little bit to get past the obstacle on my face. But I have noticed that a lot of people don’t do that. They just aren’t heard as well or aren’t understood. I guess that’s okay with them? It’s not ok with me so I become more expressive in a mask, not less. I will not disappear behind a piece of cloth.

But I suppose it’s possible that this makes me seem more aggressive to people who don’t do this? I don’t know. The whole interaction confused me so much. I wondered if this woman, with her mimed boxing gloves, was so interested in sparring that she just turned me into a sparring partner or if she truly did see me as aggressive.

I mean, I’ve changed a lot in these last few years, maybe I’ve turned over into aggression without even knowing it, though I very much doubt it. Do I write aggressively sometimes? Sure. Am I more assertive than I used to be? Yes. Thank goodness. But I’d be surprised if I’ve actually had an entire personality change.

I think the masks are a factor. They make it a lot easier for us to project things on to each other that have very little to do with us. I think that’s probably the main thing that was happening here. But maybe I’m just too aggressive.

This pic is like me, kissing my new dukes.

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The One Who Says Thank You
March 28, 2019, 12:07 am
Filed under: class | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

At my local bagel shop the other day, the cashier said to me, “Oh, I thought I recognized you. You’re the nice one.”

This may be the saddest thing I have ever heard. Like, sure, I’m nice. But I definitely don’t want to be THE nice one. I want to be among the nice ones. ONES. Plural. Then, she went on, “Yeah, you say thank you and all that.”

WHAT?! What is happening, people?! Are you NOT SAYING THANK YOU to the people who serve you? What the hell is wrong with people?! I mean. Listen – I’m happy to be memorable because of my bright smile and my charming sense of humor. If you remember me for my magnetic personality – that is A-OKAY. I am delightful and I’m glad when people notice. But to remember me because I’m the only person who says, “Thank you?!” That is not okay. You know – all of y’all have to do better.

Does saying thank you come naturally to me? Sure. I could not grow up in the South without knowing how to say Please and Thank You. They’d take away my birth certificate if I didn’t. BUT. Even in this mad New York world, people gotta say thank you, too. Most people do, actually. You HAVE to, guys.

I have concerns about my neighbors now. Who is coming here and not being polite?

A few days later, I was back at the spot and witnessed a woman quietly saying, “Thank you so much.” Twice. So I know I’m not literally the ONLY one saying, “Thank you.” But I have concerns. And they are not disconnected to the car count I did the other day. Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of out of state plates and fancy cars parked on my street. There was a Jaguar parked in front of my laundromat the other day. And there seems to be an endless supply of BMWs. So I counted them. In the block leading to my building, I counted eight BMWs and four Mercedes. Now – to qualify – some of my best friends drive BMWs. Literally. One or two BMWs on my block would not have even caught my attention.

It’s like, one giraffe in the neighborhood would be pretty cool. We’d all be like, “Wow, have you seen the giraffe?” and feed it from our second story apartments. A pair of giraffes might be kind of sweet. But twelve giraffes? That starts to be a herd and we start to have some trouble. A street full of fancy cars is a like a herd of giraffes showing up in the neighborhood. I have concerns.

Look, there have been some studies related to fancy cars and the tendency to be a jerk. You can read about it in Scientific American, of all places. And of course, I’m not talking about you, my BMW driving friends – you’re like that first giraffe and maybe even the second. The study points out that while fancy car drivers tended to be the jerkiest, only half of those in the study were really jerky. But I suppose given the established correlation between fancy cars and bad behavior, it might be possible that there are a lot more rude folks buying bagels in the neighborhood. The gentrification of my neighborhood is escalating. And it is having some weird effects. There are a lot of metaphorical giraffes and I am now the nice one who says thank you.

Please say thank you when you buy stuff. It’s not hard. You can drive a fancy car and still be nice. I do not want to be the ONLY nice one. Thank you in advance.

“Y’all want to go get a bagel?”


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They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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