Lessons I Teach Myself
HOPE: (to the audience) He may not be a murderous serial killer. And he doesn't seem to have even a mild dose of psychopathic tendencies... but he's a player all right. And he's definitely playing games with me.
MICKEY: Look. What we got here... this.... chemistry. I don't wanna mess this up. I wanna get to know you better. Like, this is gonna sound crazy, but I think God sent you over to me to show me he loves me.
Hope breaks into laughter.
HOPE: No, it's.... it's okay. I just, um. Is that a line you use often?
HOPE: The whole 'God sent you over to me....' Like, d'you say that to all the girls?
MICKEY: All the girls that take out the fire in my car but light up the fire in my heart?
HOPE: (bursts out laughing) Ha! You see, that! I mean, that's too much man. Like what happened, did you attend some workshop on how to be a MAN, you know, some dude who thinks he's all that teaching you how to pick up girls?
HOPE: How many girls have you tried that with, seriously!? Because it DOESN'T work.
MICKEY: You're the only one. I'm sorry if it wasn't... to your liking.
HOPE: Shit. Okay. Didn't mean to laugh, it's just...
MICKEY: ...Funny. I understand.
I'll just go fix your car and get you on the road.
Mickey goes towards the hood of the truck and starts working at it.
HOPE: Shit. I'm sorry, okay!? I... don't know why I laughed at you. I mean, I didn't laugh at you. Or with you. Just... I laugh sometimes when I'm nervous.
HOPE: Yeah, and when God is mentioned. I'm not really... I don't think I believe in God.
MICKEY: You don't think.
HOPE: I mean, I DIDN'T. Until I had that mystical experience with the fire and now I'm just, I'm fucking confused, okay?! And it's hot! And you're hot! And I'm hungry and guess I'm getting hangry and antsy and nervous about this whole thing, okay?
MICKEY: I'm hot?
HOPE: I should probably do some more yoga. That'll clear my head.
MICKEY: I'm hot.
HOPE: I'll just put my mat right here. Facing the sun. Do some sun salutations...
MICKEY: HOW hot?
HOPE: Ninety nine percent.
MICKEY: I like you too.
HOPE: No games?
To be continued...
We talk often about the NEW NORMAL, and how to normalize wearing a mask everywhere we go, getting our temperature checked when buying take out, waving to our best friends from afar instead of hugging them.
We talk often about the days before Covid. 'Remember when everything was good...sleepy...calm...NORMAL?'
So what exactly IS 'normal?'
*conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
Based on that definition.... I DON'T WANT THINGS TO BE NORMAL. OR "NEW" NORMAL, whatever that is...I want the UNusual. The UNexpected. The less typical. The unique. The different. The rebel. The wild.... And definitely, I want NOT to conform.
But thing is... I also want SAFETY - And 'normality' and 'safety' sometimes find themselves at odds.
NOW is one of those times.
So.... if I need some normal to feel safe again in this chaotic era...so be it.
I'll welcome dear ole' normal into my life...
But just for a little bit...
...A rebel cannot be tamed for too long.
If you meet me at a party, be it small, or fairly large, a theme birthday party at someone's house, or a flashy networking event, you would think I'm an extravert. I'm comfortable, confident, I start conversations easily most of the time, and know how to work my way around a room. I've been called a social butterfly more than once or twice, and I like that title. (Mainly - because it includes 'butterfly' in it.)
Thing is, I wasn't always comfortable in a social setting, nor am I an extravert.
In fact, the inner most precious part of me, is no doubt an introvert that wants nothing more than to be by myself and enjoy my own company, crafting, puzzling, writing... drifting in my imagination to other faraway worlds... But since I also always 'seek to belong' (Don't we all?) I learned how to assimilate, and yes, how to grow to be a social butterfly. It was nurture, NOT nature, in my case.
I vividly remember the time when I flat out decided to assert a 'new way of being'.
A confident demeanor! A NEW me to unleash onto the world!
It was the summer between fourth grade and fifth. I had a very hard time in school until then. VERY. Let's just say the word 'shy' doesn't even begin to cut it. I was almost mute from fear of the other children and incredibly scared to make my voice heard, or be seen, or BE somebody. Or God forbid, to belong... The fact that I was head over heels in love with the class king, was only making me more frozen in my fear at those years. And the class' bully - a Brunette girl with a raspy voice that still gives me nightmares - didn't make things easy on me with her vast amount of dominance. The irritable boy who teased me daily wasn't making things easier either. Thankfully I wasn't a total outcast - there was a girl even quieter and 'weirder' than me, and I guess I did have a few friends, sort of.... kids that were patient enough to accept me although I was practically a GHOST. But the worried faces of my parents struck a cord with me. They couldn't understand how I was a happy child and an imaginative performer at home, and then in school - I was petrified from the society of children in my class.
I knew I had to make a change.
And so... I did:
The summer between grades is always an opportunity to 'invent one's self anew'.
Two months of summer are a lifetime in the life of a child, and those two months offer plenty of opportunities to figure out what that 'new you' may be. I don't recall where I got the idea, and I doubt I heard the term 'Fake it 'till you make it' at that young age, but at the summer between fourth and fifth grade I made a decision.
A commitment, between me and myself.
"This year I will come to school DIFFERENT. I will be CONFIDENT."
I would repeat the mantra in my head every day on my way to school until I no longer needed to.
I changed my fashion style to match the 'confident girl' I was going to be. And my real opportunity to shine with my 'new self', was a couple of months later - in a class about the COURT SYSTEM.
First, you should know that I didn't attend an ordinary school.
My elementary school in Jerusalem, was named 'The Experiment.' And indeed, it was....
It was a school that put emphasis on collaboration rather than hierarchy, and didn't support homework, tests or grades, but rather a real discussion and collaboration between the student and teacher. Age groups were often mixed and the students got to actually choose their own teachers. Sounds dreamy right??
Well, this type of school won't fit every child - especially one that needs more boundaries - but it was a perfect fit for me as it provided me both the tools and the freedom that I needed to be the best student I know how to be: a SELF-TAUGHT one. (*Probably the most useful skills I have are to be self-taught and be creative and adaptable.)
So... back to the class about the court system.
This unique class was an immersive role play of a 'trial.'
The teacher assigned roles (in advance, thankfully) for students to play roles of the attorney, the judge, the defendant, the prosecutor, and so on... and I was randomly picked to play the defendant. We had a loose structure and 'story' to start off from and the freedom to collaborate and explore our 'roles.' It was an improv game, really. And since it was my first opportunity to perform in front of my classmates... I went 'all out': I picked a costume, put on my mother's lipstick, and crafted a detailed story about why 'I couldn't have been guilty in the crime I was accused of.'
It was a MAJOR success. Not in the trial of course - I was clearly lying through my teeth and the judge gave me a guilty verdict - as deserved. But my delivery of the character I created, and the fun I had and humor and drama I brought in to the class - was the talk of the year in my class.
It's as if the other kids saw me finally for who I really was, and they LIKED it. At last, I belonged somewhere.
Who knew that I'd belong in a character of a middle aged kleptomaniac woman with a high pitch voice and way-too-much red lipstick on. Who knew!?
It's well known that some people need to wear some sort of a mask in order to be seen.
Lots of performers would, for sure. And I - among them.
I will continue wearing my mask of social butterfly with joy. After all, I've worn it so long it is now a genuine part of me. It seems that the fifth grader in me understood this well - "If you want to belong, you have to just DECIDE TO. Nobody belongs anywhere anyways."
To be continued...
In despair, Mickey turns to the audience:
MICKEY: (to the audience) And there it is. The moment my heart breaks into a million lil' lousy pieces. I shoulda known that'd happen. I should have.
I can't choose between my love and my dog. He's my best friend, my partner in crime, my... everything.
Thanks a lot "GOD" or whatever the fuck you are up there in the clouds playing with my heart like that! I should have known you'd tease me with love just so you could take it away. Some "GOD" you are. I shoulda known this would happen. Just like with Shelly in fifth grade, or with Joanna who dumped me 'cause I wasn't 'the one.' She has three kids now. Should have known. Luck of the draw... some people get whatever they want, like Joanna. Some get a gold platter of white fence, kids, "the one" or whatever, others like me, get shit. Get PLAYED. I shoulda known. Shoulda. It's my bad. All of it. Wish that car woulda burn to the ground and take me down with it.
Hope moves closer to Mickey:
HOPE: I mean, I haven't been diagnosed or anything.
HOPE: Yeah, It's just, like, I've always "been allergic." You know? Like, I'm allergic to mushrooms, and sandpaper, and the sound of chalk on the wall - ew, or the touch of velvet - yuck! Like, things I don't like - I am mentally, emotionally and spiritually "allergic" to.
MICKEY: So you don't LIKE dogs.
HOPE: Um, no, not really.
MICKEY: Not even a little?
HOPE: Um... I'd say, not. Like, I, how do you say it, I... I hate them.
MICKEY: Strong word.
HOPE: I know.
MICKEY: I don't know what's worse...
MICKEY: Being allergic is 'treatable', I heard..
MICKEY: But HATE? I don't know, that's...
MICKEY: Permanent, huh?
MICKEY: How, how permanent?
HOPE: Pretty permanent.
HOPE: I mean, I'd say about ninety three percent permanent. Gotta leave some room for improvement, you know? Growth mindset right here.
MICKEY: So seven percent chance for Steel to win you over then.
HOPE: Steel? The dog? Yeah, no. He's got none. But I'd say there's seven percent chance that I could TOLERATE him. Say, if I had to.
MICKEY: I see. Why, why would you have to?
HOPE: Well, if I saw him, like, here and there. You know, around. I'd be bothered, of course. But only ninety three percent of the time.
HOPE: Yeah... I'd say, I'd be hot and bothered.
MICKEY: Oh. Hot and bothered? How... how hot and bothered would you get...?
HOPE: We're still talking about the dog, right?
MICKEY: Yeah. The dog.
HOPE: Well, I'd get too bothered to walk a dog. Like, I'd NEVER do it.
MICKEY: Okay, okay.
HOPE: Like, not even in an emergency. No, NOT a dog walker, not me.
MICKEY: So... hypothetically, if there was a fire in the house.... Would you take Steel out then?
HOPE: If my tears don't blow it out you mean?
MICKEY: It's a serious question.
HOPE: Okay? Um, sure, I'd save a dog from a FIRE.
MICKEY: Okay, and... say there was a flood or something, would you save him then? 'Cause dogs don't swim.
HOPE: I guess so.
MICKEY: Okay. And if there was an earthquake, and Steel would be under rocks and debris in the kitchen or something...would you pick him up from under the rocks and rescue him?
HOPE: Yeah, of course. Look I may not like dogs and all, but I'm not an asshole.
MICKEY: Okay, cool.
MICKEY: Yeah, it's all clear, the rules here.
The rules of this game you're playing.
HOPE: I'm not playing a game.
MICKEY: Good. I'm not either.
To be continued...
If I ever was a LEAF,
I would fly to the land of fairies.
And I'd rest on a top of a mountain...
And in a volcano I will indulge in adventure...
And in the fall I would hide on the sidewalks...
And in the winter I will rest in the shade...
And I will blow in the wind... and I will swim in the rain... and sweat in the heat...
But all I would really want is to be picked up.
*Image by Sigrid de Vries – Frensen
'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.'
From the innocent view of a young woman experiencing first love (And tragically in Juliet's case - her last love as well), Shakespeare tackles the importance of a name. And he's right - A rose surely would smell as sweet if it was named....say... 'A Tose'. Not much of an argument there. BUT having said that... we all know how incredibly validating it feels when a random acquaintance remembers our name at a party, or how frustrating it is when someone misspells/mispronounces our name, or even worse - forgets it all together...
My name is a unique one here in the United States.
'Tamar' isn't a name one hears often in the streets of Los Angeles, or New York City, Or pretty much anywhere in this country. But when my parents named me - they didn't think they were giving me an unusual name. Not one bit. See, in Israel the name 'Tamar' is a 'fairly common yet classic' name you will find in your third grade teacher, teenage girl selling you adidas shoes in the mall, or the real estate agent that shows you your apartment. 'Tamar' stands though the test of time as generations of yesteryear had this biblical name, as well as the tech savvy generations of tomorrow. It's not trendy by any means, but it's a classic. Like a good ole' Chanel. It's always there.
So imagine my surprise when I moved to the states and began the journey of explaining and constantly correcting my name... I didn't see it coming. And I STILL don't. Years later I am still surprised when I get the emails or texts or the in-person (Pre-covid, when face to face meet ups actually existed!) mispronunciation of my name. Many times in the past I have NOT corrected people, and felt the 'post shame' of that, and other times I've corrected people and felt the awkward discomfort in that. So no matter how you look at it - it's hardly a 'win-win' situation...
For years I said to myself 'What's in a name!?' and told myself not to be bothered when someone would call me TAMARA even after I would correct them. It would often be TARA as well. (Really? TARA!? Ok.) And don't even get me started on TAMMY.
Anyways, clearly - this is a pet peeve that I an not ready to 'let go' of yet.
Time and self-reflection will help shift that, hopefully. Or it might not.
But if you ask ME 'what's in a name'? I'd definitely say "LOTS."
Woven golden threads
In the palms of my hands.
Up to Mars.
They travel far
Move through cars.
In an unstoppable flow
Believe me, they glow.
What would I do without their kind?
Perhaps I'd lose my mind.
For one thing I know for sure:
Life's pain would be too much to endure.
A little over five months since the Pandemic changed our world.
Wait.... ONLY five months!?
How could it be? So much has happened and so much has....NOT happened.
Side note: Is that what I'll tell myself in my last days also?
When we are children, time is expansive and limitless.
A year is a lifetime in the life of a six year old.
Have I grown to finally be a child again!? Because the last five months feel like a DECADE.
Jim Croce sings about what he would do if he could put 'time in a bottle' and here I am on a Monday evening, wondering 'what if'? What is the pandemic didn't happen - what would the course of my life have been like in the last five months? In what ways richer? In what ways poorer? In what ways would I have grown? Or would I have grown at all?
Would I have started a daily blog? I doubt it. Would I have finally found a consistent rhythm for my meditation practice? Probably not. Would I have upgraded my Voice Over career and built a home studio? Definitely not as fast as I did this year. Would I have put self-care at the forefront of my life without shame or guilt over it? Highly doubt it. Would I have learned to ride the bike? Would I have baked Banana bread and made homemade pasta? Would I have attempted to sew a face mask? Would I have become the puzzle master I always knew I was born to be?
These last five months sometimes feel like they have TAKEN so much. Taken life as we knew it. Taken Livelihood. Taken opportunities. And sadly... also taken lives.
But to the optimistic ones among us, there was also so much that was GAINED.
What have you done with your time in a bottle?
In another unison, Hope and Mickey break the kiss and face the audience:
The next dialogue is all TO THE AUDIENCE:
HOPE: The chemistry was electric, it was --
MIKEY: -- HOT! Burning flames hot. Fireworks hot. Her lips were soft but --
HOPE: -- His tongue was wild. Looping around mine like it was a snake or --
MICKEY: -- Something fierce! Never felt such passion in a kiss.
HOPE: Never kissed a man without knowing his name.
MICKEY: In love making... sure! But in a kiss!?
HOPE: Does that make me a slut? Wait, no.
MICKEY: Must be what it's like between souls mates.
HOPE: I shouldn't use that word. It's sexist.
MICKEY: I bet she's wondering the same thing.
HOPE: Shouldn't use 'Should' either. My therapist says.
MICKEY: We're so in sync. Like sparks from the same star dust!
HOPE: Oh to hell with words! Who cares!? It's all semantics!
MICKEY: Be still my heart for I have found my Julietta!
HOPE: I'll be a fucking SLUT if I want to be!
They turn to face each other:
MICKEY: That was...
MICKEY: ...Very good.
Hope notices the dog nearby staring menacingly.
HOPE: Was he... watching?
MICKEY: He likes to watch. It's a dog thing.
MICKEY: Does it bother you? I can put him down if it bothers you.
MICKEY: No, not like THAT! Jesus I mean... Steel! SIT. SIT down. SIT!
The dog obliges.
MICKEY: He looks a little scary but he's actually a teddy bear. Very gentle heart. Nothing to be scared of. He won't bite you, honest.
HOPE: I'm not scared.
HOPE: I'm allergic.
Hearing that - Mickey gives an 'Oh, SHIT' look to the audience.
To Be Continued...
What is 2020 teaching us? A TON.
Political failures? Check. Systemic racism? Yes, indeed. Freedom Vs. Privacy? Yup. Freedom Vs. Health? For sure. Conspiracy theories spreading as wildly as Covid-19? Oh yeah. And so much more... I have personally learned to put self-care in the forefront of my life, to take care of my body, mind and soul in the ways that work best for me, the importance of daily routines, personal accountability, finding joy in creativity, shifting my relationship to time and my beliefs around money.
But I'd say above all - the number one lesson this year has shown me, and is also the mantra I'd like to highlight today... is:
I. DON'T. KNOW.
I, you, she, they....we ALL don't know anything about anything.
By 'Knowing', I am not referring to deep grounding knowingness that comes from the guts or the naval or the heart.... but rather the knowing that derives out of our need to CONTROL.
Life as we had KNOWN it, shifted drastically over the past year. Collectively for sure, personally - to some of us. All we know for sure, is we know nothing at all....
*Fun fact: The mantra, or concept of 'I don't know' plays a huge part of my creative process. Be it in the black page (or blank screen as let's face it I write primarily on my laptop) or in the moment before going on stage when I tell myself "I don't know what's going to happen."
It's freighting to admit with vulnerability that we have no control, but also freeing and gives room for discovering the UNKNOWN in the creative process. And to me, that's where the magic is....
Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog that may, or may not be, of any significance to anyone other than herself. If you found her lil' life lessons, stories, poems and blurbs meaningful to you, well that's f**ing amazing! Comment and share so she can pat herself in the back - she doesn't do that nearly enough. Cheers.