Audition for the GeniusTM

Hi, welcome. To myself.

I am Baby Genius.

Bruce’s “apprentice” as he and I are affectionately calling me. Bruce has not yet approved my naming myself after him, but isn’t it he who says that everyone steals art from everyone else and I think no one deserves to be stolen from more than our favorite aged erudite mister sir.

Bruce has allowed me an audition blog. A tryout to see if I am worthy enough to be a guest blogger, on this, the most beloved and visited blog in our nation. The hope here being that one day I can start my own blog, get billions of followers, attract advertisers of reusable tampons and CBD oil, and never work a day of my young life, just as the Genius claims to have done.

When I tell people around the Ale House that I’m Bruce’s new apprentice, everyone’s first question is am I going to pose nude for the Genius. This is a little jolt to my sensitive system. No one seems to trust his character from potentially spoiling my pristine reputation, nor give credit to my steel morality. Bruce insists that this posing is a possibility that lay in my subconscious as a consideration to which I haven’t yet arrived. I think this will never happen, due to my respect for our professional relationship and my little round belly, but life is awash in possibilities, isn’t it???

I was supposed to have made this first blog attempt earlier this week but my period is here, slowing my obligations that already exist at a snail’s pace to slower still. I love being sick. Having cramps. The excuse of moving languidly and taking baths semi-hourly and complaining to anyone who would hear me fuels my spirit. I am a hedonist surely, but a masochist first and foremost, thank you! I suppose, this in some ways, explains my late blooming, career wise and my almost always choosing of the wrong partner. But who’s keeping score.
It is becoming harder for me not to keep score as I watch my former peers climb the ranks of the comedy and late night worlds. They keep climbing the stair and I keep wondering where to put my little shoed foot. And if I am doing any thing at all right, anywhere, at any time.

I recently returned from a bridlette’s trip to New Orleans with a pack of female writers who are all so hilarious and successful and generous that they paid for most of my dinners and drinks and good times. We had an absolute blast. In general large groups of people scare me, as I am deaf in one ear and simultaneously bitterly afraid of missing out on anything. But this group was the exception, since most of us are cut from the same form, fast talking and loud and neurotic.

Turns out New Orleans appeals to my dark black soul. So many curiosities! So many nightmarish nooks and cranies! Its so refreshing to see suntanned druggies strung out on the sun dappled, jazz filled streets there! As opposed to here, I guess, where our crack heads huddle under constricting layers of putrid blankets.

New Orleans is truly alive. You can feel it! All this vivacity unlocked my steel cage heart. So many times on the trip I was sure I was going to fall in love with our ghost tour guide or the street jazz drummer with filthy hands or the handsome barkeep whom I’m sure was overpouring hurricanes for only me. With practically any of these guys I could promptly become pregnant and never come home again. I am in a relationship, at current, but that doesn’t stop my interludes of dreaming up different sexual situations with any interesting stranger we come in contact with.

At one point we found ourselves on a swamp tour, led by a pregnant looking pontoon boat captain. The tour at first felt monotonous. Our giddy interest in life by the swamp was fading by the fiftieth mention of swamp critters that we MIGHT see, since all we had seen, an hour in, was ten or twenty snakes wrapped around tree branches a little too close to our heads. But what a miracle we were in for when, all at once, we turned around a bend, down a little swamp alley, just as the sun was beginning to descend. OOOO boy! Magic was afoot!
Suddenly a petite alligator appeared, friendly as can be, swimming right up to the boat.

What a treat! Real gator action! This is what we hoped for!
Our previously know-it-all captain instantly morphed into an indispensable hero as he tossed marshmallows off the boat and attracted two then three, then four alligators! Each one bigger than the next!

Now, I grew up in the redneck woods of South Carolina, and so have developed the true eye of a hawk, able to find any coin of value on any fairgrounds lot or easily detect subtle hints of movement in the deep and wild woods. So it didn’t really surprise me when I was the first to notice a rustle up ahead.
Something scraped against a tree off the port bow! Something clumsy and gliding!

A bear? No!
A pig?
A. PIG. ! Covered in hair!

“Swamp hog!” I cried, pointing with a trembling arm. The boat screamed with 12 successful comedy writer cries!
“Feral pigs,” our calm and patient hero corrected, steering the boat closer to the movement.

We saw another and another and another until there were five swamps pigs surrounding the boat, begging for marshmallows, little tongues pushing from jutting incisors, astride alligators and then fucking raccoons came out of nowhere, greedy for sweet treats.

A lowlands menagerie! Hog snapping at coon! Gator smoothly circling around feral pig body! Never ever would I have ever imagined this kind of interspecies interaction on such a trip. We were in disbelief, in a state of total joy.
At some point among the grunts and splashes and hisses and giggles, my attention turned to our now handsome captain, the dazzling setting swamp sun sending slivers of light across his round tum tum.

My imagination is vivid and my lust for love and affection neverending and soon I was imagining a life with my swamp boat husband in our little hovel, me cutting vegetables in a slip dress, as he told us that he caught and killed nutrirats in the dead of the night for $10 a pop. Have you ever seen one of those enormous fuckers? They certainly deserve to die. Nevertheless, as you might expect, our romance was never to be. We said goodbye thirty minutes later back on land, and he never even caught my eye, despite my constant angling to get his attention.

Probably the most important part of this trip is what was formed by me, baby genius, on the hour long trip back from the swamp during which, it became clear, that there was certainly to be a punishing ceremony for our bride to be and it was even more abundantly clear that no one was going to take charge of this with the courageous will and creative complexity of moi. So I stepped in.

Jenny’s humor is dark, and the witchy mood of New Orleans was influencing me so the plan took a twisted vibe.

Jenny was told to meet us on the veranda at 9:30 for drinks. I quickly informed the rest of the pack to convene at 9:05 in order to catch her off guard. While Jenny bathed upstairs in her mansion boudoir, I prepared a mock menstral blood concoction of coconut oil and paprika, warmed it over the stove top, like the true artist I am, and poured it quickly into a CHALICE that I happened to find in the Air B and B’s “wet bar area.”

At 9:20, I gathered the girls outside Jenny’s doorway and told them to split up and begin a great yowl and a chant “like natives howling from the four corners of the earth,” to which these enchantresses abided with stunning recall. I told them to “be as the earth gods, groaning to scare.” I started at the bottom of the steps by concentrating for a minute, to get into character, then threw my head back and let go a demon’s call. The girls down the hall were stomping in unison, growling and yipping. Jenny, terrified and glee filled, stuck only her head out of her bedroom door to see what was going on. At once we attacked her, lifting her and spanking her, as she struggled, down the stairs to the candelit foyer. I shouted out orders in my best impression of that guy who puts his penis between his legs in Silence of the Lambs. I was really excellent, I confess. I didn’t know I had it me!

While Jenny sat obediently blindfolded on a stool, I passed the chalice around. Each of us chanting, “This is the blood of the lamb,” as we streaked our cheeks with the menstral blood and then streaked Jenny too, head to toe. I was struggling to remain in character because I was absolutely so impressed with these women in the candlelight. They were doing everything I ordered them to! They looked, in the light, like hot witches from another time. What joy!
At my command, everyone lined up as I led Jenny to her first witch.

The first in line, a handsome girl who writes for a prominent late night host, lifted her shirt as she had been instructed. “Identify me!” We yelled this in unison, so Jen couldn’t get vocal hints to who she was identifying. I placed Jenny’s hands on her friend’s bare boobs. Jenny sheepishly guessed.

“Jocelyn?” she asked.
“Wrong answer, bitch!” I said, as penis in between legs guy.

Jenny, almost collapsing from laughter guessed again. This time she was right and we moved down to the next in line.

“Identify me!” we screamed as the second witch raised her shirt high. This time Jenny guessed right. And she did so for every girl in line. I was impressed by her ability to know her friend from the feel of their tits only. I wondered how many of us possess this, this gift that we will never know. And what fun to see each of your friends bare boobed in front of you, totally committing to this sick game. Wonder! and Surprise!

When this was finished, we pushed her to the ground, belly first, and flung her robe over her shoulder.
“Bare down!” I barked, shoving a kitchen rag into her mouth.
Weeks earlier, another genius in the group had a temporary tattoo made in the likeness of Jen’s fiance’s face. Now, she pressed it in Jen’s lower back as I whispered in her ear,
“You are eternally marred.”

I was afraid, at points, that Jenny would pee herself. But strangely, I was never afraid that we were taking it too far.
We stood Jenny up and led her to the porch and then gently took her blindfold off and told her how much we loved her and gave her a bunch of presents and little teas and snacks.

I know how it must sound to the average 9-5er. And really, writing it down does cheapen the whole experience. It feels more like some fundraising event put on by fraternity douchebags- that’s what fraternities do, right? But this was real! Magic! and Delight!
Anyway, I don’t have to explain my sick sense of humor to you! Or to anyone! Not ever!

I hope this is enough for now. I have a meeting with my landlady in hopes that she will lower my rent. Say a little prayer for me, will you? I’m saying mine for you.
Can you feel them?
Amen.

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Long Time Gone, Pig

Jesus, I don’t know where to start.

Don’t start like that, it’s not nice.

Okay, Jilly.

Start this way…

Well, it’s been awhile. I have moved back to Chicago and am pursuing my dreams again. I think I stayed away from the blog so long because it was excruciating to write about my life as a loser while living it. Shit was difficult, yo. Very difficult. The break up that moved me South devastated me and I had to learn to be myself again. I don’t know if this goes for everyone but re-self-discovery leads me down a lot of roads that aren’t me, never would be me so that I can realize, through paws-on experience, that I am not, in fact, that person. A kind of process of elimination, if you will.

Down South I reconnected with old friends who had 9-5’s and big empty apartments. I drank margaritas out of cans in the back of broken down cars. I fancied myself an athlete (shut up!) and ran daily on a tread mill beside my elementary school lesbian gym coach who called me “Hollywood.”  I brought the party with my dance moves at a local saloon and befriended the bartender til he gave me shots!shots!shots!shots!shots!shots! and I woke up hours later locked in the empty saloon. I tried to draw murals in parks, but Lillie bit a black Republican and we had to nix the project. I wanted to teach kids theatre, but the director was a half wit and he scorned me.

I was lonely too so I scoured the gravel parking lots for boy friends. I hung with the toothless, the recently incarcerated, the lonesome alcoholics who drove huge trucks with balls hanging from the bumpers. I danced in pool halls with old men with dip in their lips, much more fun than the young marines who were a taaaaad over zealous. I tried on the skins of many friends, dating several just for shits and giggles. After a little while of seeing various Timmy No Goods and John Baby Mans, and deep talks with a very soft- talking therapist, I’ve realized that I am woman who loves too much. (A little vomit inducer for my male friends.)

But it’s true. And though I knew in every micro-wrinkle of the animal- spirit-love- heart part of my brain that I was not meant to mate with an obsessive-compulsive, deer-hunting, Libertarian divorcee, I had to give it a whirl anyway.

What happens to a frazzled thirty year-old Liberalace (pronounced like the Michael Douglas icon) on a soul excursion down south? She tries to become one with her environ. So she does. So she makes house with Libertarian at the end of a dirt road (literally called Dirt Rd) and helps set up pig traps and clean turkey bodies. I did mention I’m vegetarian?

It wasn’t a good move peeps. This was not a match made in heaven, just a match made in Spartanburg. The camo combination of leaves on leaves jacket paired with sticks on leaves pants that I once found sexy, soon made me queasy. Our lifestyles did not match. At some point Daryl, let’s call him, was shop vacc-ing a mouse body that he had caught in the car port, the whole living room filling with the exhaust from the shop vacc, while I waited for him to take me to a bar that he promised had a stripper pole on the dance floor. How hilarious my life had become, I thought But it was that sad kind of funny that you can only laugh at afterward. Not now. Not when I had these wedges on, slowly breathing in gas, waiting for Daryl to take us to “Libby’s.”

I made it through the pig trap. This little sow did not get stuck there. This piglet went through hours of intense therapy, miles of hikes on trails, and notebooks full of wailings and frustrations til her heart near imploded and she packed her sty up and came home. To Chicago.

This is not to say that I was discovering myself through who I dated. That would be girl-weak and petty. But I did think that for awhile. And I thought I could make myself something unnatural to me. I hung around different friends. I tried different jobs. I willed myself to transform into the body of a soaring red tail. But I when I tried to fly, I saw my little hooves splay out in front of me. When I tried to regurgitate nutrients to my young, I just threw up.

I am not John Man Boy or Daryl Republican. Try as I might’ve, I’m not June Carter either. I am Jill B Swine. And I have come home to myself.

loyalty like royalty

hi friends.

a few summers ago, i found myself coaxed into a girl wrestle in the midst of a sweaty crowd, on the floor of a theatre in nyc. 

i didn’t meant to find myself there. it just kind of happened, like joining a sorority or getting kicked by a mule. you put yourself in the proper circumstances and you don’t even have to try.

it was an improv festival and there was a lot of day drinking going on. 

my roommate at the time and renowned thrower-under-the-bus- er was dannielle owens-reid. you may recognize her in such blogs as “lesbians that look like justin beiber,” and from such films as “not another celebrity teen movie,” where she played justin beiber. anyway, dannielle volunteered me before i knew what was even happening. i moved to the front of the crowd, blindly accepting whatever was about to happen.

the girl i was face- offing with had demons in her eyes. seriously. 

ask anyone who was there. 

this girl, crouching on the matt in front of me, crouching like a peeing drunk in the wild, this girl had swallowed some anger in her life and she was looking for a release. i was in a bad way. i wanted to take it back, to laugh this off and sink back into the people behind me. at least kick her in the teeth and run. but i felt the pulse of the crowd. people drinking. people having fun. people here, palms open, gifting me with the opportunity to perform for them. be a star! be a star! so i took off my shoes and crouched into fighting stance? ( i think? do fighters crouch?)

emily rose was killing me. k.i.l.l.i.n.g. me. i did expect this to be aggressive. i did not expect her to lunge at me like a cat out of cage fire. she was skinny but strong. her bones cut into me like steel beams into soft calf skin. 

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i think we fought for two hours. had to be. she kept pinning me and flinging her hair in my face and mouth. at some point, breathless and limb-weak, we broke apart and someone who was delegating this wrestle, leaned in to check our pulses or whatever.
 

it was at this moment that time stops. in a panting, look- sweep of the crowd i find the eyes of a friend. kneeling on the ground next to me, keeping his hands out, as any good spotter would, my friend matt. sweet, kind, baby- headed matt. matt with a war past. matt who had seen a thing or two, but you would never know it because he was as gentle as any pop pop i know.

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i was exhausted and kind of scared. i had to win, had to win, or at least not lose and i could see that he knew that. in his eyes i could see he understood my need to be liked, loved, adored. he could see i was a duck in a swirling pond about to go under. he looked at me, his eyes strong and steady, and with a nod, just lipped “now!”

old demon eyes was distracted. i leapt! sneak attack! she went down, hair like streamers backward. in less than a second she was on her back, a crab flipped over. the crowd actually screamed in happiness. it might have been my proudest moment.

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i mean, it didn’t last.

i don’t even think i won.

i think we fought some more and eventually someone called a draw. but for an hour afterwards, i was a hero. local improv legend matt besser who had been an on-looker (and pressure to the cooker, honestly) told me later that he admired my fighting style. i will never forget those words.

but here’s the thing: it wasn’t my fighting style. i’d like to claim it but it was quick advice whispered in an olympic second. it was a word from a friend that gave me the courage to spring forth.

matt ulrich was a friend, indeed, a friend i had known for many months. and trusted in a way that you begin to trust people that you go on stage with, without any preparation. (i speak of improv)

but he was not a close friend. we had not spent summers growing up together building sweat lodges, or roommates in college pulling the best pranks everrr! we were just casual friends. and this is the idea that i just can’t forget. one of those things that just burn burn burns in my mind, something i will never shake and always remember. why did he do that? why did he help? had i ever done anything for him?

i have had great friends in my life so far. best friends in boarding school, lifetime friends from college, friends like families that you develop away from families in the cold of the greatest city on earth. but i am always always happily blown away by the friends that you make that you aren’t even really aware that you’re making. 

in our youth thru thirty while searching for life partner, a lot of time is spent contemplating loyalty.

is he faithful? can you be faithful? will he stand up for you when someone is talking down to you? will you stand beside him when his world crumbles around him?

all this time and energy looking for loyalty, expecting it, from a partner. but how loyal are we to our friends? how good are we to them? even the ones that just brush against the outside of our lives?

being back in spartanburg, the town of my adolescence and early teen development, i am running into old friends. friends that i lost touch with, or thought hated me, or that i thought were too dumb to get out. (what a deep deep asshole i am.) i find friends in bathroom stalls, friends behind counters of bars, friends thru facebook and then phone calls and then staying up all night listening to records.

i am finding people who are not against me. not judging me. not ready to crouch and spring for my throat. there are a lot of friends that i let go when i left here. i guess i had to at the time. life happens and you keep your eyes forward so you know what you’re next move is. but that doesn’t mean you can’t pause sometimes and just be really kind to someone. help them out just a teeny bit. get in their corner for a little while.

i feel very wonder years here but. i’m going to try to start being a friend to everyone. it’ll be hard because so much of my time is taken up with eyore-ing around, but i’m going to try.

thank you to all friends, close and not so close.

thank you for kind words.

thank you for sending me that thing in the mail.

thank you for late nights on back porches and front porches and talking under the stars.

thank you for just smiling at me.

and eye contact while toasting.

thank you for picking me up from the airport and going with me for coffee.

thank you for getting me back up when i trip and fall hard and break my teeth on the pavement.

thank you, matt ulrich, for helping me not get my ass kicked.

i got your back, ninjas!

clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose! 

 

trust me, i’m trying.

well, i am.

i am also whiny and slow-moving. i have started my first blog three times. i don’t know if i think i am attempting some great feat here. am i tricking myself into believing my very first post will be read and reviewed by millions after dinner tonight? the whole family gathered around the computer like it’s a radio? i am orson wells and it’s entertainment hour? i am full of delusions.

ever heard of spartanburg, south carolina? no?

ok.

well, i live here now. here. in spartanburg. south carolina.

i moved here recently from chicago where i was pursuing acting. and now i am at home. with my parents. and i’m 30. but i’ve got the sensitivity of a child allergic to the sun. i am the center of my world. i cry at the drop of an iphone (frequent) and i have already screamed at my dad that i need my privacy. i am a bucketful of sloppy emotions. all of them. but i am trying to paint this fence called life.

nothing much happens in spartanburg. here are my top three:

1. arm stung and the swelling of the arm-

i got stung by a yellow jacket when i went out to look at the roses. i found this very symbolic. i am still reliving the image of the poor bee wriggling off of his stinger, my wrist already red and starting to puff, but the bee. the poor bee. why did he do that to himself? i vacuumed his carcass up today. he has given his life for what? was i a threat? was i? stupid bee.

2. discovery of temperature-

it’s very cold. outside the temperature is hot and sometimes the pavement is actually mushy. but inside, where i do my very important 30 year old work, it’s freezing. i dress in sweats like a nana. my bones actually ache. i’m not used to air conditioning, parents! i have been living the life of an artist, struggling to feed myself and stay on track, and there was never any time for central air. only time to complain about it. now it’s too cold. too cold!

3. insulted by the ignorant-

a lady in a shop asks me if i got my hair cut because of miley cyrus. i don’t know what she was talking about but i can only assume miley cyrus cut her hair and it looks like mine. three breaths later she offers that i move to atlanta, to midtown, where there are “no blacks.” she mouthed that part, but i heard her plain and clear. she couldn’t see what color my heart is.

those are my top three. so full of life, my life now.

i am trying to change my life around, ok? i am trying. i know the things i don’t like about myself and i am doing what i can to stop those behaviors, relearn positive,  and go west to my destiny. i am taking some time away from boyfriends, and social events, from seeing plays, and auditioning and from getting swept away in my former coffeehouse social club. i am trying to strip all distractions away so i can stare myself in the face, my wrinkly cherub face and say, ” this is what you are doing now. you are alone. you are ok. just please make something of yourself so we can say it was all worth it.” and i know it will be.

it will all be worth it. it will all be worth it.

say it in the car, driving just to drive, just to have something to do. say it. it will all be worth it.

say it on your bed, in between tears, the phone ringing on the other end. no one answers. you’re alone. say it. it will all be worth it.

say it in a bar, to the old guy who is listening to you, your for-now only friend. he fought an actual war, but he still sees your personal one as significant. say it. it will all be worth it.

sometimes life is a pile of shit. sometimes we don’t even know ourselves. but we have to hold on, keep going. it will all be worth it. it will all be worth it. it will all be worth it.