Ann Arbor, Michigan

So, I have now landed in Ann Arbor, staying with people who I have known and loved since I was 4 years old and am on the other side of a 12 hour sleep and life is looking a lot happier (Life tip: life is always a lot happier on the other side of a 12 hour sleep in the house of people you have known and loved you since you were 4 years old).

Will life continue on this happy path? Well, that is yet to be seen. I have been having very ‘serious’, very ‘adult’ discussions about ‘life’ and ‘choices’ and ‘decisions’ over the past few days, and the people I am staying with are the only people who have kind of sort of told me that if I really truly want to get some clarity in my life I’m going to have to woman-up and make some decisions and be dedicated to those decisions for a little while. But in a nice way. In a way that makes me realise I can’t just keep on whinging and wandering through life expecting my it all to sort itself out on its own. But, on that note, what exactly should I choose to do and where should I choose to do it and exactly where should my dedication be placed?? Even they were not certain. Food preparation? Roofing?

On another topic altogether, I’ve lived three more days as a 29 year old and I have three more things to report.

1) Saw Anchorage properly 

Remember how I said that Anchorage was a kind of ugly, not great town when there was a lot of cloud and you took buses everywhere to a lot of malls? Turns out Anchorage can be quite pretty when the cloud is gone and someone is driving you to her house and to artists markets where you buy bracelets made out of vintage spoons. First impression of Anchorage was not so great. Second impressions of Anchorage was pretty great! Even when I was getting majorly car-sick, I managed to be mildly appreciative of the scenery surrounding me (second life tip: don’t have an afternoon nap and then jump straight in the car afterwards without eating some proper food or having something to drink, because you will feel awful. Really, truly horrible. You will most likely spend most of your energy not trying to barf all over your friend’s car, and all that extra energy spent trying not to barf will make you break out into a sweat, which is very unattractive and also unpleasant. That’s right, I used the word barf. Because it is ridiculous).  We stopped for some fresh air (and also so my friend could find a leaf to crush right up next to my nose – my sinuses were so blocked I couldn’t smell the distinctive Alaskan spring smell she was determined I should smell) and I happened to get a great view back towards the city, nestled amongst the mountains. As horrible college boys often said of college girls when they thought they were alone and so therefore it was perfectly acceptable to act like misogynistic pricks – ‘She’s like a Monet, good from afar’. Ok, sorry, Anchorage, that’s not fair (as horrible college boys said to college girls when they suddenly realised they weren’t ACTUALLY alone). I very much enjoyed my second trip to the city and I’m counting it twice because I feel the first time I went to Anchorage was not a fair indication of what the city had to offer a person, shut up its my blog, I can do what I like.

2) Slept 12 hours. All the way through.

I don’t really sleep all that much. I’m not good at sleep-ins. Even as a child/teenager, I would feel guilty if I slept in past 9am (That’s right, a teenager! Feeling guilty about sleeping past 9am! A teenager, feeling guilty about anything! My middle-class guilt and anxiety was learnt at an early age). And, even if I did want to sleep in on a particular day, I was always wide-awake by around 8am, knowing that if I tried to go back to sleep, I would wake up feeling headache-y and nauseous (see second life tip, above) when I eventually awoke from what was essentially a nap an hour or so later.

I’m better at getting sleep these days – I really try to be in bed for around 8 hours, but I’m still not great at it. Last night, I got into bed and switched out the lights at 10:45pm, expecting to be up around 8am – which was still a sleep-in as far as I was concerned. The night didn’t start well. There was a lot of tossing and turning and anxious body shaking (does anyone else uncontrollably shake when they are stressed? At first you think you’re freezing and then you realise you’ve actually just been tensing every muscle in your body since you woke up and now you’re trying to relax them again and its like your limbs don’t quite know what to do with all that extra tension they’ve been holding on to, so they just shake uncontrollably. Anyway…). Also, a new habit that I’ve noticed I’ve started doing when lying in bed feeling anxious and slightly confused/upset – I imagine writing all over the walls in a black permanent marker. I don’t know where this image has come from or why, but I find it oddly comforting to imagine myself covering the walls in scrawled, dark, ineradicable writing. I haven’t done it yet and am uncertain whether or not it would actually make a difference to my feelings of anxiety. Perhaps its an idea a bit like this blog – getting all the words that are making me upset out of me and on to the wall, instead of keeping them inside of me and causing mischief with my inner organs.

Anyway, point is, I finally fell asleep, woke up briefly at 8am and then fell back into a deep sleep that was not even remotely interrupted until 11am. I slept for 12 hours. 12 hours! I couldn’t quite believe it. But, the dazed feeling in my head seemed to confirm it. I was slightly embarrassed when I went out to greet my host, but she didn’t mind at all, pointing out I was severely sleep-deprived, sick and also still on Alaska time (where it was currently only 7am). I do love these people.

3) Really, truly enjoyed a performance art piece

Performance art is one of those things that I think I should enjoy. One of those things that I feel, as an actor/writer with liberal tendencies, I should ‘understand’ and ‘support’. I am usually one of the quickest to jump to the defence of art’s slightly stranger experiments – and the less I understand it, the quicker and more determined I am to jump to it’s defence, my justification being that its clearly exploring something I have very little knowledge of in a brand new way and therefore it must be worthwhile (actually, written out like that it doesn’t seem like such a bad trait to have. Well done, me!) But, that said, at most performance art pieces, I am usually somewhere on the scale of confused to uncomfortable to scared/nauseous. I also feel completely unable to comment on the work afterwards (which is usually my greatest joy with theatre – discussing the issues raised in a good play, or ‘critiquing’ the actors/scenery/direction/writing/costumes in a… less good one). I tend to resort to inane comments like, ‘I’m just so amazed she fit all those grains of rice into her ear!’ (suspiciously similar to the way some of my friends comment on my theatre shows – ‘I just don’t know how you learn all those lines!’)

But, today I saw a work by Laurie Anderson (who apparently is very famous and used to date Lou Reed) called ‘From the Air’ at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) and I was blown away. The girl at the front desk said it was a ‘video’, but when we walked into the darkened room, we found, instead of a projection screen, two tiny couches made out clay. As we walked closer, an image of Laurie Anderson was projected onto one couch and an image of her dog on the other. Laurie Anderson then proceeded to tell an 8:30 minute story that had me completely transfixed. I’m not going to ruin it for you by telling you the ending (yes, ok, maybe you’ll never get to Ann Arbor to see it, but I don’t like spoilers on a moral basis. Or maybe I’m just too lazy to explain it all. Either way), but I was totally blown away by her story-telling skills and her ability to make an incredibly poignant, important message in the space of 8 and a half minutes (when I usually need an hour to get across something less clear, clever or worthy).

So, there you have it. 3 more things. I promise when I get back to London I will be more diligent about these and write better posts. Until then….

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