I’m back, bitchez! Did you miss me? What’s that, you say? I wasn’t gone? Yes, I was. Didn’t you notice the sappy Minna hanging around for the past couple of days being all, you know, emotional and shit? Well, I sent her to her room without supper, locked the door, and ate the fucking key.
I’m back. The sarcastic, darkly humorous, sensual, lusty, grumpy, bawdy, bodacious, fucked-up, passionate, hedonistic, funny as all get out, snarky, Alan Rickman-loving (by the way, am I the only one amused by the fact that Alan Rickman is the biggest tag in my tag cloud? Anyone? Anyone?), snide, snippy, fiery, fierce, tattooed Minna is back with a mighty fucking vengeance.
You see, I realized something last night. Yes, last night was when I was half-drunk, but I swear this isn’t the drink talking. I mean, I have chewed over it ever since I thought of it, and I still find it a good realization, so it’s not just the bourbon.
You want to know what I realized? Well, too bad. I’m going to tell you, anyway. Why? Because it’s my blog, and I can cry if I want to. Plus, since y’all are a big reason I made the realization, I figured I could at least do you the courtesy of telling you how you’ve helped me. Ok. Ready? Here it is:
I have figured out the meaning of (my) life. Yeah! It only took me thirty-eight fucking years! Boy, am I a slow learner.
Actually, that’s not true. I knew by the time I was two what I was meant to do in life. I have blogged about it before. I was meant to be an actor! A stage actor, mind you. None of that newfangled teevee or movie acting for me, no sirree. Mind you, this was in the early seventies, so it’s not as if TV and movies were new inventions. Still, from the first time I jumped off the coffee table, waving my arms in the air and shouting, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!” as I landed on the floor, I was hooked on performing.
Still, by the time I was five, I knew it wasn’t possible for me to be an actor for reasons too numerous to recount. I put away that childish dream and turned to my second love–writing. I was a natural at it. One of my mom’s favorite memories of me is that I would read the paper when I was two–upside down. You see, I would watch my parents read, and I wanted to do it, too. I taught myself to read at age four, and I tackled War and Peace on my own when I was in fifth grade. I gave it up because that sucker is fucking long, and every character has half a dozen nicknames. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was thoroughly lost.
Anyway, reading was my salvation. Books took me to all these magical, mysterious places that I could only see in my imagination. I gobbled up everything I could get my hands on, from the Little House on the Prairie series, to books by Judy Blume to every single Nancy Drew book and Hardy Boys book that existed at the time. It didn’t matter what the book was about–I would read it. I didn’t have many friends, so books were my solace.
When I first started writing, I mostly wrote poetry. Most of my poetry was sans capitalization and sparse on punctuation, and I definitely gave up on rhyming pretty early in the game. I got frustrated, though, because my poems didn’t sound like any poems I read. In addition, I didn’t like reading poetry–which didn’t help me in writing them.
Eventually, I moved onto fiction and nonfiction. I did some acting in high school, but it was difficult for me to get any parts with one of the directors. She simply did not like me, partly because I was Asian. She preferred another Asian girl to me, and I guess it would have been too radical to cast two Asian girls in one play.
I continued to write, but I felt lost because my writing never fit into any one genre or style. Surprise surprise. When I was in my MA class, nobody could come up with a genre for my thesis project. It was based on my life, but it wasn’t a memoir because I created whole scenes out of the blue. Creative nonfiction? No. I also had fantasy people in my story (not that kind of fantasy, folks), so you couldn’t always tell what was real and what was in the main character’s head.
Backing up, after college, I did some performing with Theater Mu. At the time, they were the only (I think) regional Asian American theater. It was frustrating because they focused on the immigration experience, which was not my main interest. I got cast in the “mature” role time and time again, despite being in my early twenties. It seems that even during my thin years, I wasn’t considered ingenue material.
It got frustrating, so I quit after a year or two. Instead, I decided to combine my writing and performing by doing one-woman pieces. I should amend that and say that I fell into it because what would happen was, someone would tell me about a show and ask me if I wanted to perform. “Hey, Minna,” that person would say. “We’re having a queer Asian cabaret in three months. The theme is pickles. Are you game?” I would accept and then write a performance piece about pickles. Ok, it’s true I never did a performance piece about a pickle, but you get the gist.
I loved it. I would spend a week just thinking about the theme and let the ideas germinate in my mind. I didn’t try to force anything because I knew that I worked better if I didn’t rush to put down every stray thought that entered my mind. Then, I would sit down and write the script, editing as I went. Then, I would start practicing. I would practice for hours a day until I got it just right. All that preparation for a five to ten minute piece! It was crazy–except, it was the best damn feeling in the world to be on that stage.
I would get nauseous and dizzy beforehand. I’ve never puked before performing, but I’ve come close. Stepping out onto the stage feels like stepping off the edge of a cliff. Once the spotlight is on, though, all those feelings melt away (if I’m thoroughly prepared). All I can think about is what I’m doing and my connection with the audience. I usually can’t see any faces when I’m performing because of the bright lights, but I can feel their presence, and it energizes me.
There is no feeling like it, none. It is even better, dare I say, than sex. Yes, I dare say it. It’s the purest, most intense high I’ve ever had–and yet, it’s also the most grounding experience I’ve ever had at the same time. Don’t ask me how it’s possible because I don’t know.
Then, I moved to the Bay Area to get my MA. I did one performance. Afterwards, one of my cohorts (and friends) said in a voice filled with awe, “Minna, you’re a good writer, but you are meant to be a performer.” I said, “Yeah, I know.”
That was eight years ago. Eight years ago, I knew what I knew by the age of two. What I knew at twenty-five. What I know now, but have been fighting all my life.
I was meant to be a performer and a writer. Last night, for the first time in over thirty years, I actually dared to say the words to myself. A feeling of relief washed over me. I no longer had to deny what I’ve known all my life. I no longer had to strive to be someone I’m not. I felt twenty pounds lighter (alas, if only I could look it, too), and I woke up with a smile on my face this morning. Granted, it might be because I only got four hours of sleep, which, by the way, is better than five, which, in turn, is better than six, but I was…what’s the word I’m looking for…oh, yes, happy.
What a strange and wonderful feeling.
P.S. This has run longer than I expected (gee, really? You don’t say), so I will finish up tomorrow.