The First Time

You just discovered music a few years ago and you’re trying to figure out your type before you make any regrettable decisions. Which band is special enough? Will it be memorable? I hope I don’t walk out with PBR on my brand new white Adidas. There is something pure about your first concert and the associated questions you ask yourself before making a decision.

The summer between 7th and 8th grade, I went with my best friend and her family to drop off her older sister off at art camp. Her older sister was super cool (spoiler alert: she now dates a bald politician). She had a purple room when I had to beg my parents for years to paint mine light yellow. She had magazines I had never heard of haphazardly tossed onto shelves that were not necessary straight or symmetrical. My room had American Girl books on a fancy wood shelf/desk combo that matched my sleigh bed and my nightstands. She drove a used car named Manuel because everything in it was manual. I would carefully plot what three songs I would listen to on my Zune during the morning carpool.

But above all, she played the cello. Twelve year-old me thought that was rad, college graduate me is decidedly less sure about that opinion. When your sibling isn’t necessarily the coolest, sometimes you gotta live vicariously through your best friend’s sibling.

On the ride there, my best friend and I were talking about how excited we were to see Weezer the following month and how cool and experienced we would sound when we got to high school. Concerts? Yeah, we got to them all the time. Maybe we would even be able to give advice about them.

We arrived at the camp and looked around in awe and jealousy. There was a family dinner after everyone settled in to thank the parents for their help and to serve as a goodbye. The dinner consisted mostly of the art campers trying their hardest  to avoid eating dinner with their families, like most solid goodbyes.

The evening culminated with a surprise concert of a mediocre four piece jazz band. I spent the whole time thinking, noooooooo — does this count? I never expected my first time to be at art camp. Is having Kool-Aid on my shoes somehow worse than cheap beer? Will I be rewarded for sitting through this with dessert?

I am still not sure if that first time counted, but at minimum it was memorable

Dreams, Dreams, Downey Jr.

The past few weeks I’ve been making jumps towards making my dreams come true, I also got new glasses, which is a big deal, because they are like — part of your face. They are like my old ones, but a different color. My favorite ice cream flavor is french vanilla. I swear I am interesting!

I was playing one of my favorite games yesterday with a new friend and we ended up walking all the way to Santa Monica. The game is called “Robert Downey Jr’s House” and we walk through the residential streets of Venice and guess which house is his #coolhobbies.  In my head, his house is one of the modern art-looking ones that stick out from the beach houses. Sort of like how RDJ’s face sticks out from most other faces. He also just doesn’t seem like a beach house brohini to me. If the house has a ringer/buzzer/intercom thing we ring and say “Mr. Downey Jr.?” and it never is. We could probably just Google his address, but that’s zero fun. Also, feel free to comment your opinion. Would he be Mr. Downey or Mr. Downey Jr.? I feel like Mr. Downey just doesn’t sound right, like RDJ would say “no, that’s my father” and be totally charming about it.

If there is one thing that halfheartedly (and perhaps half creepily) looking for RDJ ‘s house does, it’s make you hungry. My friend is newish to town, so we decided to go to the OG Hot Dog on a Stick. Unfortunately our wallets and accounts were pretty much on E, and there is just something really sad about being in your mid-20s and sharing a corn dog. Made extra sad by this  tie-dye-clad street performer/singer/songwriter who was just awful and not self-aware about it playing right next to us. So basically, shoutout to McDonald’s for being cheap and for me being able to justify my meal me there to myself by playing the artist card. Also, the delicious coffee card. The only downside of McDs being that Mr. Downey Jr. (Mr. Downey?) would never be there. His face would also stick out a lot at McDonald’s. He fancy.

Also, I have a show tonight in the Del Close Theatre at 7pm at iO West and I joined instagram! My username is: ashleyjillian. Looking for cool people to follow on there!! Hope your weekends were awesome :)

Black Tar Hole

Little is more of a mark of normalcy than being one of Robert Downey Jr’s cigarettes. Sure,  some burn out faster than others, others fade on exact pace, but a majority of them are largely forgettable. The black tar becomes the black hole.

A Marlboro left a small burn on your  formally favorite sweater, an American Spirit went undetected because its smell was masked by winter winds. An artist of a cigarette is committed to memory as perhaps as a failure or perhaps as a triumph. Memories that avoid the black hole of nothingness.

I don’t smoke cigarettes, that’s just what I imagine them to be like. I don’t live wholly in the realm of the normal, but my humor reflects what I imagine it to be like. I’ve heard it said that you become an artist to show people that you’re weird, but I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it. Who are the weird to be the ones expected to provide snapshots of the normal? Maybe the greatest masterpiece will be made by someone in the droves of it.

Good People

I’ve always tried to not ascribe to cliches,  and I usually roll my eyes when people say them and spend the rest of the conversation retweeting Nietzsche.  Well, that’s what I would do if I had a smart phone and if improv hadn’t made me a better person. Guys and gals, improv making people better at empathizing with the human condition is a cliche I can super get behind. I almost never write about what I spend a majority of my free time doing, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Improv made me realize we, as humans, are all pretty weak in the listening department. I’m not just talking hearing words, but also feeling them via body language, eye contact and subtle inflection. Listening is asking a friend if they are stretched too thin because you noticed they’ve been drinking a lot of Red Bull. That might sound creepier than it is, but truly listening and empathizing with people is a beautiful thing because it shows that you genuinely care and are actively trying to understand and support the people in the world around you. It’s also an act of just being present.

One of my go-tos in improv scenes is a hug because I feel like it shows the vulnerability of the characters we are playing. Plus, there is so much comedy in hugs. I did a scene with two hunchbacks who were tired of being rejected. Sad, but little is more funny than the tension the audience experiences when they are watching two severely hunched over players trying to hug and maintain their physicality. Can they do it? Yes, but it might be the most awkward hug you’ll ever see. That point being that Improv taught me to be so attuned with other people that I know when a completely made up character needs a hug, which really helps you figure out when your real friends might need one with utmost accuracy.

I have so much more to say on this topic, but I’ll save it for another time.

In other news, I was watching Bill Cunningham: New York last night and I found it very touching to see someone dedicate his life to his passion without thinking twice about the things he might be missing out on. His confidence in feeling like he is doing the right thing for him despite his unconventional lifestyle is the most beautiful thing i’ve seen in awhile. I also respect anyone with that strong a sense of ethics and humility. It reminded me that art is at its most powerful when it’s actually about the art and not the artist.

Awkward Hugs///

Ashley

Life As MS Paint

It’d be romantic if my life resembled art, but it aligns much more succinctly with Pepper Ann than it does with a Warhol. At least my life isn’t Ed, Edd and Eddy or a Thomas Kinkade, though it’d rule if I were Patty Mayonnaise cool. Doug Funnily enough (permagroan @myself), I lived a TV trope last Saturday morning I decided to take my dog out on a walk before I went surfing. Full disclosure: my dog really likes to use the little boy’s room on my block, and while I totally empathize with not wanting to use a public restroom when you live nearby, it’s a bit awkward to do a pre-walk around the block before going anywhere. It should also be noted that my dog is cartoon stupid and stupid-looking. He has a severe underbite, he enjoys rocking out with his tongue out, and he loves everybody he has ever made eye contact with. After I leashed my dog up, I opened my gate and make eye contact with a postman who looks down at my dog, yells “Oh, shit!” and runs haphazardly down the block. My life.