Le grand cauchemar est de retour

Dear readers, I know you all want to hear about my days in Italy, but I will be taking a brief hiatus. I have been a bit slacker-ly in my pursuit of grad school, and I need to take time now before the semester starts to sign up for the GRE, do test prep, and figure out how to teach my kids "Oy that's a lot of Romans" in a way that doesn't induce a coma.

But before I go, and I will only be gone for a week or two, I want to leave you with a very typical Bunni story.

I have often thought that I live my life in order to have interesting stories. Of course, what makes a good story is not often what makes a good experience. So I hope you enjoy this latest episode.
"Do you know what the most terrifying thing is? It's Fear." Peeping Tom

I woke up face down on my couch. I was fully dressed although I had taken off my heels and my rings. I had put my cellphone,which died earlier in the night, on the charger. I apparently had emptied the contents of my pocketbook on the couch before I passed out, no doubt I was looking for my brain, which I had left behind several hours ago. Then I fell asleep clutching my killer bunny, Marv, who now accompanies my everywhere.

I only vaguely remembered the night before. Even before I got drunk, things were hazy. I had decided to perform at the open mic at Collective Unconscious, but that afternoon I was terrified. I am person who likes to revise and rehearse and perfect before I go onstage. I like to be sure of every line, pause, expression. So to go on as I was preparing to go on, with very little preparation, without even f a cohesive narrative was absolutely terrifying. In addition, this was the first time I would performing my own material in front of a real audience. All of my other performances had been padded with friends and family. The only friend I told, the Anonymous Poetess, couldn't attend because of her job.

I spent my afternoon soaking in a tub full of Lush products and drinking a bottle of wine. I remembered all the arguments my teachers had taught me to minimize performance anxiety. "There will only be a few people in the audience. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be ok. The important thing is that you do it." Right the important thing is not to let the fear win.

So I take a cab to the theater because I'm not sure how to get there and I don't want to be wandering the streets in the heat, it will only add to the anxiety. The anonymous poetess advised me to "go on like Bukowski" ie have a few drinks so that I would be calm for the performance. Really anything short of heroin injected directly into my carotid artery was not going to calm me. I signed in early. I was hoping to be picked last, that way most people would already be gone.

I was picked second and signed up to go last before the break. Far from the sparse audiences of previous evenings, a class from Columbia Prep was there. This is, of course, my worst nightmare performing a story about my life and my father, something incredibly personal, in front of the students who would someday fall asleep in my class. They already torture me at my job. Now they were here to judge my real work. To judge my real life. A whole freakin' herd of them.

Oh and the videocameras. More than one. And I could hear that voice in the back of head "You don't have to be perfect. Just get up and do it." Getting softer and softer. A few of people went up, stand ups, but the crowd was mainly silent. The performers were crashing. In the theater, you learn how much power an audience has, and you learn that a group of people who have never meet before can have a very strong dynamic. Having performed in plays you have nights where the audience laughs at everything, you have nights where they laugh in strange places, and you have nights where you joke about selling death certificates at the concession stand during intermission.

This was a death certificate night.

And so my name was called and with my decadent bath products and wine buzz I went up and told a story about my father, nazis, Spamalot, and the afterlife. (If you like, I may be cajoled into typing out the story for you, or perhaps even recording it.) They laughed, not a huge amount. But I was prepared for nothing. Of course the things that got the biggest laugh were my father's lines. Or lines that I often attribute to my father. It's been so long who knows what he really said.

And the truth is I don't even remember fully what I said. (This is very common for me with performance anxiety. I often blank out my performance. I used to come off stage in high school and have no idea what I had just done. Which is why I insist on knowing material so well. The only time I did actually blank on my lines was when my father sat in the first row one night. After that he always sat in the back of the theater.)

The thrill of the performance, the heat, the wine hit me and I simply sat enjoying the rest of the evening. I remember stumbling out to catch a cab. All I wanted was to go home and go to sleep. I don't remember the cab ride home. And as I said, I wake up in the heat, wondering what I have done, what have I done?

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