la Ketch

my life story

Sunday, October 29, 2006

on doing.


I’ve been trying to formulate this post about doing but I’m having trouble getting it into the right words. I actually posted something last week but I took it down because it seemed too hostile. It was a rant of sorts but I was afraid that people might somehow take it personally. Then Bog Face wrote to me and asked me if I had taken it down because she thought it was interesting. So I guess, Bog Face, this is for you.

I’ve been having trouble in social situations lately with this question:

What are you up to these days?

Or What are you doing these days?

Or the worst, Are you doing anything?

(Which means, Are you acting in anything?)

My answer to this questions these days is something like, “No, nothing really. Just working and hanging out, working on the Dog Run.” People have varying reactions to this and sometimes they will actually ask about the Dog Run because it’s so ridiculous and unusual and I’ll talk about it for a while because I could talk about it for hours. I try to make it funny and entertaining but it’s not anything most people are truly interested in learning about. I’m digressing though...

What I’m trying to examine is how I’ve become hyper aware lately of how much people rely on this topic of conversation. What are you DOING? Our existence is justified by what we do in life. I think this is probably an especially American thing. At least that’s what I’ve heard. We are a bit obsessed with what we do. I think there are times in all of our lives when we love this question, “What are you doing?” Because we have some exciting or wonderful news to share and there are other times we dread it because things are going badly or our lives just seem boring.

I think the struggle I’m having is that I’m really very much ok with not doing anything right now. It’s been sort of a goal of mine to drop unsatisfying projects and I’ve done that and I’m actually really enjoying my routine. Yes, I’m watching too much television and not reading enough. Yes, I’m drinking too much wine and not doing yoga enough. Still, I’m more relaxed I think and appreciating what I have more than ever before because I’ve made a conscious decision to slow down.

I ask people what they are up to all of the time. We all do. It’s routine. It’s a conversation starter. There’s nothing wrong with it. I usually genuinely want to know what my friends are up to, especially if I haven’t seen them in a while and I’d like to think that when they ask me what I’ve been doing that they really want to know. It’s not malicious. It’s just annoying me lately. I just feel like this talking about what we’re doing all of the time pulls us away from what’s going on in the moment.

I think I’ve been noticing this ironic thing lately that as artists, actors especially, we are always talking about being in the moment, wanting to be there, trying to be there but we so rarely are unless we are onstage. It’s a life of living in an state of anticipation and anxiety. It’s very difficult.

I feel that I’m getting better at answering the question with more confidence. What am I doing? I’m doing nothing. Nada. Not a fucking thing. You want to talk about my job? Didn’t think so, You want to talk about my dog? You’re just being polite. It’s fine. I think the anxiousness I feel comes from the desire to entertain people. I want to be exciting or inspiring to my friends. I just can’t spend my time anymore, doing things that make me unhappy just so that I can answer the question differently.

6 Comments:

At 12:28 PM, Blogger tina said...

Man, I wrote the longest comment here last night but Blogger ate it. DAMN IT. Anyway, in a nutshell, I said:

I love this post. I relate to it entirely. And that feeling around being asked that question varies for me according to my trust in whoever's doing the asking - my trust in their regard for me, specifically, and if I have the idea that it's contingent on something. Or I even get uncomfortable with that question if it's coming from someone that I know loves me but I'm not entirely sure that I have a particular brand of their respect.

I can't belieeeeve my comment got eaten. I had so much to say. I'm screwing it up here.

Anyway, I think that you are a great enjoyer of life, Hilarina, and that you have your eye on the sparrow, and that you live well!! And anybody whose eyes glaze over if you're not wowing them with your tales of eating the city alive is a serious clown.

Arrgh, that was some of it, arrgh.

Yeah, there was some stuff about quality of life and some other stuff, fuck. Damn.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger hpmelon said...

This is a great and too true post. I have a very long rant about this and will share it next time I see you.

ps. My hubby would like to steal your dog.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger Eve said...

Ugh- I can relate to this too now that I am no longer in the adult, outside-of-my-house work force. I dread that question, "So, what have you been up to?", especially from my friends who don't have children, because I KNOW they must think my life is dull or unfulfilling or something.
I spend the bulk of my days monitoring the input and output of food of 3 small humans, and making ridiculous faces and sounds for their amusement. Even though this is the best, and most fulfilling job I've ever had, it's hard to sell it to someone without kids. I shouldn't care, but sometimes I do...

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger Sean Nelson said...

what are you feeling?

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger Lia said...

Ditto to all, but ALSO, I've noticed in myself that when I most feel like an asshole, or feel like someone else is being an asshole, is when that question is asked with a genuine desire to know what is going on in someone's life, and the answer is the latest entry on their resume...I can't stand running into actors I haven't seen in awhile and asking them, "what's going on?!" and having them be like, "weeeell, I just finished this workshop and have this auditiion and blah blah" GAAAAR!! I do it! I've done it, a million times! Even if I don't know sometimes if the person is asking about my insides or my outsides, I feel like I have to throw in the career update. And it's lame. So more power to you, La Ketch, it takes a lot of bravery to be a self-possessed person. (And I think the dog run story is sort of fascinating...).

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Brikin Blog said...

Thank you for putting this back up here. I feel miserably possessed by this need to always be too busy - what if I stay so busy only so I can answer this question, "What are you doing these days?" The thought is horrifying. I want more time in my life to do nothing. I'm going insane. No I'm not. Yes, I am. I'm okay. I keep thinking, "Oh if I only had more money everything would be better, I could buy time." But I wouldn't would I? No. I would buy boots.

 

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