It’s 5:18am. I’ve been awake for over four hours doing the thing that drives most people insane. Trying to sleep will almost assuredly sustain your realm of consciousness.
What initially woke me were the hives of more than a hundred chigger “bites” covering my body. (I’m going to call them bites for simplicity sake, but if you know what these monsters actually do, you most certainly know they are not bites.)
Then, I heard the dog barking in the distance at something that only he could see through the blackness of the night, the creaks and whirrs of this old country house, the massive... MASSIVE bugs thumping and thwacking at the screen on my window, and of course, my thoughts. Lots and lots of thoughts. Like a faucet, thoughts. Cranked on high and chaotically washing around on the interior of my skull.
So I finally got up and poured myself a small bowl of cereal while the coffee brewed. I decorated it with some frozen blueberries I found in an old freezer, and a sliced banana, which fondly reminded me of the infinite number of mornings I opened the little drive through coffee shop on 82nd SE Foster. I rarely eat cereal anymore, but back then it was a ritual, sliced banana included. Accompanied by my early-morning writings and Craigslist scrubbing, looking for opportunities that would propel my promising acting career. I was 20 years old then. I guess that was 10 years ago now. I don’t look at Craigslist for acting jobs anymore... maybe that’s where I went wrong.
I wonder how many times you’re allowed to reinvent yourself in a lifetime. Whatever the number that comes mind is most certainly a reflection of the number of people you likely have close to heart. Becoming a new person tends to take a toll on those who are investing in one of the ones you are or were...
So I’ve made myself into a bit of an insomniac. It seems appropriate, almost, for this round of reinventing, considering it’s happening in Misery. This wild, rough, country-jungle in the middle of the US continental plot; the Ozarks. Everything and nothing is the same here.
I exaggeratingly refer to my mission here as an “assignment”, for greater artistic expression. To “study characters” and “gain experience”. To “expand my bandwidth of emotional depth”. Even I laugh at my ability to live within a façade. If you are an actor, you are without a doubt, at least a low-level of psychotic.
The real reason I’m here is for a friend who needed someone they could trust. I took it as a compliment and a great honor to care for his grandmother through what could be the last stages of her life. I’m no saint, it wasn’t purely altruistic. I’m also a broke artist that has strategically disassembled almost every part of my life in the last six months. Quit my job, ended my relationship, spent all my savings, and basically elected to slump into a depression that likely cost me any performance-based opportunity I might have had during the busy season in Portland.
Why not go to Misery?! Put a cherry on that shit!
C’est la vie, right? I have to acknowledge that these were all choices I made. Coming here was a choice I made, which has made me take a long hard look at the choices I choose to make.
But honestly, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. And truly, it’s hell. The hardest job I’ve ever had to do.
I am completely isolated and surrounded by an immense amount of suffering and despair. I had scoffed at what I thought to be a play on words, referring to this place as "Misery". I’ve learned that it earned the name, and those who come to this place will be consumed by it.
I make friends with the animals, who, too, are consumed by the miserable state and nature of this place. The neglected old farm that belonged to my friend’s late grandfather buzzes and hungers all around me incessantly. I’ve always known myself to be a fighter, but I am also a compassion-ladled lover. The curious paradox of aggression and empathy seems to be the very cocktail that will drink me through the next six weeks of my life on the farm. Still in search of that essential leveling that balances the differences of everything.
I have to say that I'm miserable, but I'm not afraid.
More to come soon... in the meantime, here are some more photos I’ve taken: