Head Shots


I recently ordered a good batch of prints of my headshots -- a little over fifty, of mixed variety. I easily could have ordered 100, and put them all to good use, but as it's coming up on tax time, I hesitated to make the investment just yet. The turn-around on the order was surprisingly quick. Placed late in the day last Wednesday, they were ready for pick-up Thursday midday. Now there are two fat envelopes of photos featuring my face sitting next to my desk, just waiting for newly printed resumes to be cropped to 8x10 and adhered. What with all my open calls lately, and the need to get myself out there more, I see many unsolicited mailings in my future.

That was a good thing to get done last week, and this weekend I had an incredible series of merely entertaining activities. Not that entertainment is a waste for me -- far from it. It's just that the occasions when it has nothing to do with theatre or my fellow theatre artists are rare, and I just had a whole weekend's worth. It started with an easy evening at home Friday night, and progressed into Saturday, which started with a spa day with Wife Megan. An abnormal luxury for us, to be sure, and we owe big thanks to the groomsmen for it. From there it was a vegan lunch out, a movie, drinks at Friend Geoff's bar and another evening at home (our budget having been busted for the day by all that follow-up to the spa). Then, Sunday, I indulged in one of my most indulgent of entertainments with Friend Adam for four hours or so, and met up with Friend Ken for drinks. All in all, an incredibly rewarding weekend.

I feel depressed today.

The most indulgent entertainment I know of, ladies and gentlemen, is video games. Yes. Video games. Especially now, because they have come a long way since I was thirteen, plugged into my PC in the basement of my parents' house, listening to Nirvana on the ol' single-speaker, tabletop tape recorder. This is why I do not own an Xbox, or PlayStation, or what you will. Time will literally flow by like an endless river. Video games threaten dehydration for yours truly, I kid you not. So I engage in them rarely, as I did yesterday with Friend Adam. We played the demo of Resident Evil 5, and continued a game of Left 4 Dead we played a week before, and playing video games twice in two weeks is the most I have in years. Both games, for the uninitiated, are zombie scenarios, with much shooting and running about.

Friend Patrick has often theorized that I'm a little obsessive (see also the comments on the above link), maybe even a little masochistic about certain things. Certainly my ability in the realm of video games emphasizes my obsessive qualities, as I am largely terrible at them, and nonetheless enraptured by them. What strikes me today, though, is not how obsessed I am with that little entertainment, but how slavishly my emotions are subordinate to the work (or lack thereof) I'm trying to do. In other words, I don't think I'm feeling depressed today because I played video games or had a scalp treatment or because of anything I did this weekend past. I don't even believe it's because now those activities are over, and the work week returns. Rather, it's because of what I didn't do last weekend.

As anyone who presents themselves to be even remotely geeky knows, zombies are guiltless kills. Part of the fantasy is that a zombie hoard gives otherwise moral people ample excuse for depraved violence against their fellow humans. It's an outlet for all the sublimated aggression that's kept us, as a race, alive and killing one another for centuries (and that lives on in more outspoken acts in certain of our pets). Different zombie stories carry different emphases, drawing parallels between the shambolic creatures and drug-users, religious and other fanatics, and even shopping-mall-goers, but what remains consistent is that the zombies can only be stopped by utter destruction. Perhaps significantly, this is traditionally achieved by destroying the head. It makes sense (insofar as zombies make sense) as an act which destroys the brain, home for any animating urges, be they natural or no. But on a psychological level, a metaphoric one, it often signifies erasing someone's face, or identity. The classic zombie crisis is that one's best friend, or spouse, or parent, has been transformed into one of these demons, and it's up to the hero of the story to overcome his or her previous connections and emotions, and do what needs to be done, face-to-face.

Now I wish I had spent at least some small part of the weekend doing something that wasn't irrelevant to my career. This impulse can be confusing to those who relish leaving their jobs far behind at Friday's end, but for those of us who are pursuing an alternate career, our "free time" has a different tang to it. Trimming paper edges and printing mailing labels is not a heck of a good time, but afterward one feels as though he's put something in its proper place, vindicated the time spent doing work he doesn't appreciate by balancing it out, just a little. Ever since I was really young, I've better appreciated my recreation when it caps off a period of good work. That seems like a noble perspective when you put it that way but, turning it slightly, the dark side of it is covered with feelings of guilt and anxiety about personal time that's come and gone. It's spilt milk (to distend the imagery) and it's stupid to regret. It's also tough to let go of. Not the milk, but the time, and . . . oh, cock it. The weekend was fun while it lasted, and I needed some of that "irrelevant" satisfaction.

My mom, she once asked me what in the world I got out of video games. I told her it gave me a sense of accomplishment and control, two things I didn't feel I had a lot of at the time. I'm glad she asked me, because realizing that made me realize how people can get their priorities mixed up and spend half their lives just trying to entertain themselves. Having a sense of purpose is important. You can supplant it for a bit with entertainments; heck, you can do that your whole life these days, if you rearrange here and there. Maybe getting a high score or finishing a level on a game isn't all that different from a pay raise, or finishing a successful project, really. So long as we can look back at it all and feel good about it, good about where we've been and how we got there. Sometimes I get awfully frustrated with where I am and what I'm doing, and nothing seems more gratifying than busting out and mowing down anything and one that gets in my way. So I'm glad there's a virtual environment for this, because it's a terrible emotion to use in everyday life. Everyday life responds better to focused, incisive work, to balanced point-by-point goals and well-aimed means.

Everyday life responds better to headshots.
 
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