Sunday, May 29, 2016

Getting out there — starting — again ...

Crossposted over on my Blogetary blog as well.

Today, for the first time in like -- FOREVER -- I went to a club. Heard some good stuff, only had one beer, but that's what $5 will get ya. The cover was $5, too, so the $10 tapped me out.
Okay, so at first, I wasn't going to stay. I was going to go with a friend, but she was feeling under the weather, so she couldn't make it. But man, I haven't been out in ages. I haven't written anything in AGES (and it does feel like eons, but it's only been like a year -- albeit of year of death and change). But nothing gets the ol' creative juices flowing like a live performance. I really needed to go out!
But-but-but — I'm not good in new places on my own unless I have a book, or a pen and a notepad.
But nothing. I needed to go.

Just around the corner. Walking distance. I live in a city for godz' sake. Time to take advantage of it. Forget the purse. Forget changing or trying to look good. I'm not some 20-something anymore trying to get laid. I'm a grown woman and this is about going and doing like a grown woman does. Lipstick — check. Mascara and eyeshadow — check. How bad do I smell? Do I smell like the curry I had for lunch? Run a comb through my hair. Where did those cool urban boots go that I used to have? When did I give up the leather jacket? Where's my China Rain? Why am I grabbing the old green cardigan to wear? Why am I so dowdy?

WHATEVER! Just stuff what I need in my pockets and go. Get OUT! Make sure I've got $5 for beer and $5 to get in. That's all I need.

Say goodbye to Teddy, once, twice, okay, now GO!
I almost turned around and went home a couple of times. But I made it through the door; it was too bright, too loud, too many people — none of them familiar. Rhythmic music pounded out over the speakers; it all felt glaring and cacophonous.

But I'd paid the $5 cover already. Too late to leave. There's a door prize, too. Go figure. I never win anything, but I'll throw my hat in the ring. Why not? It's free.

So, I made a joke with the girl by the raffle table. She was young and pretty and nice. Pretty red dress with gold 1950s-style strappy pumps. And she talked to me like a person. I mean it's her job, but she did a good job of it.

These people know each other, brought friends, or know how to walk up to strangers. Me? Someone introduced herself to me (someone running the show) and to a guy she was talking to; he and I shook hands and promptly walk in opposite directions.


But there's beer. Or wine. But this feels like a beer night. I'd have taken Jack if they had it, but sadly, they did not. So. Beer it was.

Now I was stuck here. The performance hadn't begun, but I could see that like all clubs, musical chairs was in force and I needed to snag one or I'd be stuck.

I chose a comfy chair in a corner, pulled out my phone and texted a friend of mine. "Okay, so I made it out. Now what?"

"Get up! Go talk to another wallflower!"

I looked around. Everyone, it seemed, was talking to someone. Lots of tall, leggy actressy/LA-looking girls (okay, women, but in my head, they're girls) with tight dresses and five-inch pumps. Guys in tight t-shirts looking around, eyeing the chicks with legs that go on forever. Except the guy I was introduced to, who was looking at his phone like I was.

"What other wallflower?" I texted back.

"Just get up and move around."

"Okay. In a minute. After I finish my beer," I lied. I tucked my phone away. I looked at my beer. I was about 3/4 of the way through. When the beer is gone, I vowed, I'm getting up and leaving. Can't stand this music and I'm pretty sure I'm going to hate everyone here. I'm not going to win anything and they've yet to start the show. I've got a Grimm episode at home with my name on it....

The Emcee bounced up to the front, played with the sound system, read a name for a door prize. Not me. I looked at my beer. There was an inch left.

He read another name. Not me, again. I took another sip.

And again. Another name. Not me. I swallowed the last bit of beer.

I needed to leave now. Except he was reading another name. And this time, it WAS me!

I was getting up now for real, to get my prize. I didn't pay attention to what I was getting. I was just so happy I got something. Then I turned around to find my seat now taken by a wallflower I hadn't seen who'd walked in late. Yup. Musical chairs was in force.

And then the Emcee was announcing the act and congratulating us all on coming out of our hovels to make it to a civilized place to hear other writers reading poetry and fiction.

Yeah. That's right. I was at a writing club — Hatchery Press. The door prize a cache of indie-author poetry books and writer doodads.

I felt like the only cavewoman in the place, except for the fact that the Emcee seemed to assume that we were all having a hard time interacting and made us introduce ourselves to each other.

But don't think this was a room full of geeks and dweebs. I mean, those were present, but so were the cool guys, the rockstars, the poetry groupies and the writer roadies. All the high school cliques were present, just in a writerly way.

Short story followed by poem, slipping into a memoir, back to poetry, then a memoir, then poetry, poetry, poetry.....

Folk, contemporary, punk, indie rock, hard driving steel guitars, soft a cappella, screaming vocals — if we'd been listening to music in a dark smoky club, that's what I'd compare the readings to. There was an appearance by James Fearnley of the Pogues reading from his book; readings by emcee Derrick Brown, one of which would have had him arrested in some parts of the world, and Brendan Constantine, who works with the Alzheimer's Poetry Project. There were also several others I just can't remember the names of now, but who all did a great job of standing there before their peers and opening up many-times folded pieces of paper to bleed out their hearts and souls in front of us.
There were times when the "poetry reading lilt" got to me. You know the lilt. Poets who read or perform their poems fall into this habit of ending each line in a lilt, an uplift of the voice. It's why I avoid coffee shop open mics. But then the young poets get better, and get rid of that, and instead every line has no intonation at all whatsoever. It's just got this weird thrust at the end. Not said like a real person talking. Better, but still annoying.

Why can't people just read the damn poem.

But most of the time, the material was good enough, and the poets were good enough (one guy in particular was really good at performing his stuff and I mean, this is Hollywood. I overheard him saying something about doing some acting.... hmm... side thought.... improv classes for poets...) — um — what was I saying? Oh, yeah; the lilt only raised its ugly head a couple of times.

So, yeah. I ended up staying. Go figure.

It was funny, walking around after the performance with my writer swag, checking things out. I got asked a couple of times, "So are you a writer?!" And my inner voice, the one who talks like Janeane Garofalo, wanted to say, "Would I be here if I weren't? I mean, come on!" But then the outer me was all polite and shit. "Yes, I write a little poetry, some sci-fi/fantasy." Usually, people's eyes glaze over at that point, though one assumed I was a screenwriter. (Cue the Janeane Garofalo scoff.)

Anyway, so, the "writers country club" (my nickname for the Hatchery) isn't so bad after all (they charge $150 to $350 a month to be a member, I mean, do you know any writers who can afford that, cuz I sure don't — although at one point they were asking if we made "less than $ XX and I kept having to lift my hand and it was kind of embarrassing. Maybe I am the only broke writer in Hancock Park). Found out I can pay $5 for the occasional workshop or class and not have to sacrifice rent, groceries and kitty litter for the occasional writing class. Besides, I live alone and have a perfectly good home office and / or kitchen table for writing. I don't need that aspect of it. I just want some inspiration to get me going again.

Just something easy to get to, you know, that will prod me into slicing open my veins and bleeding onto the page.