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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

My eyes hurt. Matt has gone to bed. It's a new day.

Monday, August 30, 2004

My mother left two voicemail messages for me this weekend, asking me to call her. Tonight I returned her call. From her first word, she established an offensive, and I went on the defensive. We screamed at each other for about an hour. We hadn't vented our emotions regarding each other in about a year, so there was a lot of screaming to be done. She expressed the reasons for her low opinion of me. For instance, she believes that I don't work hard and I'm lazy (I guess the fact that right now I'm working full-time, going to college full-time and learning a shitload of lines for a theater production doesn't mean much to her). She believes that I will squander her money "having fun." She disapproves of Matt working "part-time," even though he's not. She's angry that we'll be paying off my car loan with (read: "spending") some of the money she's giving us. She's mad that I had to get a loan to pay for my car in the first place. She doesn't understand why Matt had to buy a new car for himself in 2001. She believes it's irresponsible to borrow for a car, and that both he and I should have paid for our cars outright when we bought them - i.e. She thinks I should have bought another $500 car to replace my last one, and that Matt should have bought a shitbox car back in 2001. She thinks I should include love and well-wishes to Trevor in all of my e-mails home, and is displeased that I have never done so. She's angry that I didn't offer to give her some money to spend on food at the stopover airport on the plane trip back home last year. Of course, she never mentioned to me that she didn't have any money to spend. She's mad that I didn't call her to see if she had arrived home safely. She hates Jason for supporting my decision to quit medicine. She believes he was the only person in the world who supported my decision. She hates me for quitting medicine. She believes she committed a crime by giving birth to me. She accuses me of doting on my father, John, and my brother, Mihali - both of whom I haven't contacted in six months - at the expense of her and Joe. She accuses me of convincing everyone in Matt's family that she is a bad mother. She believes that if I were to get pregnant and have an abortion, I would never be able to conceive again, because she saw something about it on TV. But she doesn't ever want me to have children. She claims a doctor told her that she does not have bipolar disorder at all, but TLE. She claims that this means her bipolar is not hereditary. She also claims that her TLE is the result of brain damage she suffered by thinking too much, because of me. She complained that she is so unselfish that her whole life had been constantly unhappy, and nobody appreciates this. She mentioned that the only reason she had joined a church in 1987, precipitating her first bipolar episode, was that she was trying to do the best thing for me. I've heard that before. She wants Joe to live for six months in the USA with me each year, and for me to take care of him. That one was news to me. She says she has divorced Joe, but part of their divorce agreement is for her to cook for, clean up after, and generally look after him into his old age. She claims Trevor was heavily medicated when I formed my negative opinion of him, and so my opinion is unfair. She claims Trevor makes her happy, and is always saying great things about me. She refuses to accept that I could be happy for her happiness, even if I don't like Trevor. She called me a fucking bitch, and expressed a wish to fuck me dead. Oh yeah, and she's on double her usual dose of medication.

There's a guy on the streets of New York. He sits perfectly still on the sidewalk, leaning against a building, like a pot-bellied Buddha carved of dark wood and polished with oil. On a table in front of him is balanced a sign: "TELL ME OFF $2.00."

I can feel my bricklayers, who have been on sabbatical for a long time, returning to work to build hurried towers around my emotions again. Worst possible thing to happen when I'm about to do a play and need to be in touch with those emotions. I couldn't help building the walls. Too much crying. I feel completely dispassionate now. An hour ago, I was a mess. I haven't been that upset since ... since the last time she took it upon herself to upset me. I guess that would have been about a year ago, when she was here in the US.

I think my mother confuses love with destroying herself. The more I think about it, the more I believe it's true. She hasn't loved many people in her life, but everytime she loves, she sacrifices herself, then blaming the object of her love for her own destruction. It happened with her parents, and with John, and of course, with me.

How do you explain to someone like her that love doesn't have to be that way? That love shouldn't be that way? That when you destroy yourself for love, and are consumed by bitterness, there is nothing to love back?

Mother.

Mother.

Mother.

Of course I'm not having any children. The best case scenario is that they'll hate me. The worst case scenario is that I'll turn into her. I'd be downright pleased if my womb was damaged in an abortion.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Friday, August 27, 2004

Second Sky band shot


Don't I look I have something wrong with my face? Other than that, I rather like it.
EDITED - SEE BLOG ENTRY 9/1/04

..today I found my English class in its normal room, and I think I'm going to like my lecturer.

Tomorrow I am auditioning for the Tempest. It's a win-win situation; if I don't get the role I want (Ariel), I'll just opt out and play a Second Sky gig on October 30 instead. October 30 is the opening night of the play, so I can do one or the other.


Rocking out at the Blue Star a couple of gigs ago. (photo courtesy of Bill Speakman just now)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

From NYC ... possibly my favorite image sequence ever.


On Monday, while glowering at my desk, I wrote an angry e-mail to a producer who is thick. I mean, really thick. and was told off by my boss for being "over the top" and "reprimanding someone in another department." That put me in a bad mood for two days. I took yesterday off and cleaned the house.

I tried going to my first English Comp 101 class in the evening, but when I arrived at ARTS 216, ten minutes late, it was empty and I could find no note indicating whither the class had disappeared. The student center knew nothing. I called the phone number of the professor.

"To leave a message for Bev Sweger, press 2."

[beep]

"Welcome to the automatic voicemail system. You have reached the voice mailbox of ... Roger Ford ... to leave a message, start speaking after the tone ..."

I tried this a number of times. Finally, I left a message in Roger Ford's voicemail. It was a vaguely surreal experience.

I'm back at work today, for the second time this week. Lord knows, I don't want to be. Post-vacation depression.

Tripoli was spayed yesterday*. The bizarro news is that she is not pregnant after all. She is recovering well. The painkillers seem to have made her more playful than normal. I think she's tripping on them.

*I am learning not to say "desexed" in this country. Felicia cracked up when she first heard me say "desexed," and now I can't help but say "desexified" instead.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps.

I woke up at 4:15am and now can't get back to sleep. My brain has been in overdrive, as evidenced partly by the way it seems to find cheesy associations between the city and songs that happily lodge themselves in it for hours at a time. On Broadway; The 59th Street Bridge Song; New York, New York (of course); Uptown Girl. It seems I can't come to NYC without becoming slightly manic: refusing to sleep properly at night, forcing myself to pound the pavement even when my feet and legs are screaming for mercy during the day.

I love this city.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

I'm in New York City! Yesterday was abysmal. Well, no it wasn't. It was only awful towards the end. Wait, let me explain. I'm too wired and loopy to document it chronologically.

After dropping Tripoli at Sue and Bill's house, we first made our way to our second Horrorfind in Maryland. Once again, it was awesome, though this time, since we couldn't attend Lou Gentile's presentation (and George Lutz wasn't making a second appearance), I made sure to catch more readings. Joe R. Lansdale did a great reading of some of his lighter works, including Godzilla's 12 Step Program. Which led me to buy two of his books, even though I wasn't planning on spending anywhere near that much money.

From there, things started to get ... well, let me put it this way. At many times in my life, it has seemed like everything is going exactly right. The week I spent in New Orleans with Matt, for instance, was somehow charmed. I couldn't screw anything up. The stars were in perfect alignment, and coincidence and fate were totally in my favor. Yesterday was the yin to those days' yang, keeping the universe in balance. Aside from the heavy rain, brought to us courtesy of Hurricane Charley, we missed turns, took wrong turns, racked up unnecessary tolls, and finally arrived at Newark (intending to park at a free public parking space and take the PATH train to NYC) only to find that the available parking was at least $30 a night. We finally ended up parking at Newark Airport for $10 a night, and catching a bus to the PATH station. When we finally arrived at the hostel about 6 or 7 hours after we set out from Hunt Valley, after catching the wrong subway train and ending up somewhere in Queens, our room had been overbooked. Hurricane Charley had delayed outbound flights, and some of the hostel guests were unable to leave.

At about that point, I lost my cool. I asked for a couch to crash on for the evening at the least, and something about my obvious, near-hysterical desperation probably made the receptionist take pity on us. She pointed us towards the basement, where the maintenance man, a 43yo Colombian named Luis, lives. He welcomed us with open arms, and after hearing me cuss fluently and babble about our terrible luck, gave us a couple of beers, a long conversation and a bed in an unfinished room.

The beers were probably not the best idea in the world, since neither Matt or I had eaten in over 10 hours. We had three each, and, softcocks that we are, we were pretty much hammered. After retiring at around 1:00am, we woke up at 6:15am and we decided to have a bathroom run together. I stood up for about 10 seconds before my head started to swim alarmingly and my stomach flipped. Oh boy. I barely made it into the bathroom; I was so nauseous I couldn't see. Without puking, though, the feeling passed. We used the facilities and made our way back to the room to find that the door had closed behind us and we were locked out.

You see what I mean about fate conspiring against us.

Matt at this point started feeling off as well, but after the color returned to his face, we set to work trying to get back into the room. I guess it took around 30 to 45 minutes before Matt finally worked out how to beat the lock. I was so happy when that happened. It seemed like the first thing we had managed to do right in 24 hours.

But all in all, despite all the crappy drama, and despite me losing my cool, things turned out all right. We have a new friend in Luis, who bonded with us over beer by telling us stories of his incredible, fucked-up life, and his three kids and unfaithful ex-wife back home in Colombia. We had some free beer, and despite the effects, who am I to talk about having a bad day when I had free beer? And we didn't have to pay for accommodation for the night, which is no small thing in Manhattan. It could have been a lot worse. If I hadn't lost my cool, who knows where we would have stayed or what we would have done. Sometimes there's something to be said for freaking out and saying "fuck" profusely and consecutively.

Today was much more according to plan. The finest news of the day is that some idiot has a wireless router around here somewhere, and as a result, we have a lovely, 11 Mbps, completely free-of-charge internet connection in our hostel room. Buying a laptop with a wireless NIC was totally worth it just for the kick I am getting out of this. AHH!! Joy.

We went to Macy's and finally figured out what to do with the $100 credit we have there (Last year, someone bought us an expensive Macy's flatware set as a wedding gift ... despite the fact we explained numerous times to numerous people that we do not need any flatware. And that wasn't the only flatware set we received. What is wrong with people? I mean, I understand that it's the thought that counts, but gah.). We forgot to do any laundry before we left Pennsylvania, so we are short on underwear. No longer!

(Now that we do have plenty of knickers we'll be going three weeks between laundry days, mark my words. It will be disastrous. Our shortage of underwear was the only thing keeping us from creating huge, unmanageable piles of unwashed clothing.)

I think we're going to do nothing for the rest of the evening. Both of us have already seen Manhattan previous to this trip, and the purpose of this vacation was relaxation. There's something oddly calming about coming to a city that is so dizzyingly busy, and deciding to do nothing.

But I'm never driving to NYC again. Never never never. God bless Greyhound buses.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I was thinking on the way home today that it doesn't really take all that long to get used to a new name. I can barely remember being Melissa Shong. It seems like someone else's name already. Melissa Shong was around for 23 years, but it only takes one year of Melissa Dunphy to erase her.

I have a grand idea to compose a theme and variations for violin and piano in the style of La Folie based on The Frail.

If only motivation was available on eBay. Though, come to think of it, with all the 14-hour workdays I'm pulling this week, I need to bid for time more than energy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Excuse me if this blog entry sounds bloated, but I've just eaten more pizza than I can handle, and half my mind is concentrating on trying to will the swill of pepperoni and cheese safely into my lower digestive tract.

Last weekend was as eventful as usual. On Saturday I drove to Baltimore (or more accurately, Matt drove as I memorized lines) to audition for Two Front Teeth, a low-budget, independent horror flick to be released Christmas 2005. My reading was barely passable and far from brilliant by my standards, but I managed to land the role of one of the evil elves. Yes, this is a Christmas-themed horror movie about Santa and his ne'er-do-well sprites from Hell's North Pole.

A hype article about Two Front Teeth on Red Hot Planet.

I have a speaking role which will involve a great deal of latex, blood and gore, and some minor stunts, finally culminating in a decapitation (I assume) and some disembodied head action. Rehearsals will begin sometime in the late fall and early winter, and I have a make-up rehearsal session later this month.

As you can imagine, I'm pleased! If nothing else, I'll get some hilarious portfolio shots and some fun stunts training. And, fingers crossed, an IMDB entry, so I won't be so jealous of Anthony.

Huh, I just noticed that his IMDB entry URL ends in 242. Funny coincidence.

Tune in for my next entry, during which I pluck up the motivation to write effusively about my gig on Saturday night, which I played at the Chameleon Club with Second Sky. 'Twas marvellous. But now I have to lie down, as I believe gravity is having a detrimental effect on the pizza.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Met with Craig this morning. It's all good; naturally, I was stressing for nothing. Interestingly, Alex the HR person had spoken to him yesterday about it - despite the fact that I had told her "off the record." Hrmmm.

This is how it's going to pan out:
  • They are going to hire someone early next week, and I will have to train them while I am still full-time (I hope I can accomplish that before I go on vacation)

  • The customer service calls and e-mails will be transferred to the membership department

  • I will be working with Craig on administrative stuff like ratings

  • Hourly pay etc has not yet been decided


Well, there, that's no so bad! Load off my chest. But it doesn't make me like the TV traffic co-ordinator side of my job any more than I do now. I'm still killing to go on vacation.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

This was a RIDICULOUSLY difficult e-mail to write. I feel like I'm breaking up a relationship. I am now in a state of extreme anxiety as to his reaction.

...

I can't juggle full-time college as well as full-time work. But I love working at WITF, and I am loath to resign - especially also considering the difficulty of finding a replacement programming assistant when there are so many other positions to fill at WITF. I have no desire to leave you in the lurch. What I would really like to do is work out some sort of part-time situation as programming assistant, once the TV traffic co-ordinator job has been filled by a new full-time employee - which hopefully would be before classes start at the end of August.

I guess I also need to approach Alex and Barry to discuss the matter, but of course I am running it past you first. I feel really bad about asking for this at a time when things are already stretched to the limit in the HR department, but this situation has been a rather unexpected development which I couldn't even have imagined at the time I committed to taking on programming assistant. If you decide that you would rather have a full-time employee in the position, I will understand, but I'm extremely eager to stay on, and I believe we could find a way to make it work out.

Again, I feel so awful, and I can't apologize enough, but I hope you'll understand the circumstances.

I guess we should sit down and talk sometime tomorrow ...

Melissa

Monday, August 02, 2004

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Marlboro promotions
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 08:14:37 -0400
From: Melissa Dunphy
To: Carrie, Tara Smay, Kelli Harman


Hi guys,

I just wanted to let you know that I don't think I will do Marlboro promotions for at least a month or so. My back has been very sore the past 24 hours, and I woke up this morning and couldn't even move my neck. It's directly related to the work I did on Friday and Saturday night.

Back when I was working with Grant a few months ago, he would only put 40 zippo lighters in our back packs to carry around for the night. That was heavy enough, especially with the laptop that we have to carry as well. When our packs were low, he would dump another 20 lighters in our packs at a time.

However, Amy likes to put an entire night's worth of lighters in our packs right at the beginning of the night. Last night she claimed she only put 50 lighters in our packs, but I didn't need to refill my backpack until I had given out ****NINETY**** lighters. I had complained to her earlier that my pack was too heavy, and she wouldn't do anything about it.

I know I was not the only girl who had this trouble. Lynn, who is even smaller than me, also had a very heavy pack, and complained to Amy, but Amy would do nothing. The van is parked right outside the club, and it would be easy for her to put less in our packs and refill them throughout the night as Grant used to, but she won't do it.

So now I am in a great deal of pain around my shoulders, and I don't want to do another Marlboro promotion again in case I damage my neck and shoulders even further. I'm not looking to take legal action against them or anything, but I think you need to speak to Amy about the fact that carrying around a heavy backpack full of metal zippos for seven hours is not acceptable, and she is at risk of a lawsuit if she keeps it up.

Other than that, I had a pretty good time. But I'm not going to do another Marlboro promotion until I know my back and neck are fully recovered. I really like the promotion, and I know I'm good at it (last night I got a total of 100 surveys, which is my alltime record, and at least 30 more than any of the other girls) but nothing is worth the pain and the audible crunching sound in my neck that I can hear every time I turn my head right now.

Matt will be coming into your office today, and will drop off a copy of my time sheet from this past weekend.

Cheers,

Melissa Dunphy
VetCentric - Getting High on Catnip:
'It doesn't cause harm. It's not addictive. We're not sure how it works or why.'

What is known is this: catnip is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. When the branches are broken and bruised, the herb releases nepetalactone, a kind of chemical.

Cats have a special receptor for the nepetalactone molecule that activates when it inhales the scent - even though your cat eats the herb, that won't cause the reaction. It has to be breathed in.

Once that happens, the cat goes a little nuts, behaving like it's in heat - though both males and females react the same way. The high lasts five to 15 minutes, and then it's over. The cat won't react again to catnip for about an hour. So don't worry about your cat turning into a junkie, Dr. Davis said. 'There's a line of tolerance.'

Catnip can make a cat vomit or give it diarrhea if it eats too much of it, though, so dole it out carefully.

Not all cats react to catnip. A dominant gene - inherited from one or both parents - causes the response. About 25 percent of cats don't respond at all. Kittens won't be affected until they're about three months old.
Matt took Tripoli to the vet's this morning. They were amazed at how even-tempered and sweet she is. Apparently she is a year old, not 4-5 months as thought. She has all her adult teeth, and her front claws. I guess she's small for her size.

Ready for a bombshell? The vet is 80% sure she's pregnant.

It's been weirdly difficult to make the decision to arrange an abortion for her, but I've made it. She's just too small and too malnourished for babies, and the last thing the world needs is more kittens to find loving homes for.

Desex. Apparently Americans don't use this word much, so every time I say it, Felicia giggles.

I'm still in shock at the news. She seems so young! Crazy.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

I have recovered somewhat from Romeo and Juliet last week, and can finally face putting my mind to things like blogging again.

The play went extremely well. I received standing ovations both nights, and was generally happy with my performances. There are a few funny stories: for instance, on the second night, a mosquito flew into my eye in the middle of the "Gallop apace ..." scene. I tried briefly to get it out mid-performance, but couldn't do it surreptitiously enough, so I had to finish the scene with a fat mosquito wriggling around on the surface of my eyeball. As soon as the lights went down, I stuck my finger in my eye and squished it. It was not pleasant! But a nifty anecdote. It's interesting to know that if you are focused enough, a mosquito on your eyeball will not bother you half as much as you think it will.

I miss the actors and the camaraderie. Every other play I have done this year has been right on the heels of a new production, or with the thought in mind that the production will be restaged later, but Sunday night's performance felt so final. I'm hoping some Face to Face gigs are booked soon, so I can see Gary and Mary and Tim again, at least. John Rohrkemper has also sent me a letter about another theater project he's hoping I'll become involved with. I'm waiting a few more days to read it properly. Too much theater! Must ... take ... break ...

The real news of the week is that I suddenly have a cat.

Mitzi Trostle, director of FM at WITF, habitually rescues strays. But she has five cats already, so on Wednesday when she found another (calico, estimated 4-5 months old), she decided she couldn't keep her. She sent out an impassioned e-mail plea for someone at the station to take her. Courtney asked me if I were interested, and even though I told her I wasn't in a position to keep a cat for another month, I took a look at her anyway. She was there at the station in a pet carrier, freaking out and meowing incessantly. Nobody could quiet her down. That is, until I put my hands in and started stroking her neck. Gah! I was totally suckered in. How can I fight fate?

So I did the unthinkably spontaneous and brought her home. I'm hoping like crazy I can keep her in our apartment for a month until we move house.

She has fleas, and she's being properly checked out by a vet on Monday morning, but I think both Matt and I are completely in love. We've named her Tripoli through a very democratic method (I drew up a long list of names, Matt picked one). Funny how my last two cats have had geographic names.









Dick Strawser, who lives about a block from Mitzi in downtown Harrisburg, saw her a couple of weeks ago hanging around the streets there, so we had a lovely feline conversation in the hallway on Friday afternoon. Turns out he's quite the cat rescuer as well.

On Friday and Saturday nights, I resumed my part time promotional modeling work for Marlboro cigarettes. I remember now how much I hate it. But I'm going to need the money when I finish up fulltime work at WITF, so I thought it was best I take the job when it was offered by Harman.

Awesomely, the bars we worked at were the Pink Lizard and Stallions, otherwise known as the lesbian and gay bars around Harrisburg. It was like a breathe of flamboyant Sydney air in the middle of stuffy Central Pennsylvania, and I plan on hanging out at both of them on my own time in future to stave off any pangs of homesickness. Hilariously (or not, when I think about it), the other models were annoyingly naive about the gay and lesbian scene. One girl in particular, Cecilia, was painful to watch and listen to. She made a point of talking to some of the drag queens, and then made a point of telling everyone about how she had talked to them. At some point, I think the words, "Gay people love me!!" came out of her mouth. I believe this was the first time she had ever set foot in a gay bar. I took an instant dislike to her.

I think she and the new marketing boss, Amy (extremely large-breasted blonde woman in 6-inch perspex stilettos) took some sort of weird dislike to me. I hadn't worked with them before because I hadn't done Marlboro promotions in a few months, and in the meantime the old boss had quit and the guard had changed. But I still kick arse at getting those surveys filled. I broke my record and collected a hundred by the end of the night. And my spidey sense tells me that Cecilia was not happy, she being the reigning champion before I, the unknown new girl, came along.

(Heh, I've never been hit on as many times as I was at the Pink Lizard last night.)

But aside from the good hangouts, I hate the work, and it's exhausting. I'm not going to put myself through it again for another couple of months at least ... unless the bills come too quickly.