I'm up early this morning, more out of anxiety than anything else. In about five hours I'll board an express bus to midtown Manhattan, where I'll catch a cab to Brooklyn, where I'll dump my stuff before a 6:00 meeting with my director so that I can put together a list of things I need to do before tomorrow's 1:00 p.m. rehearsal.
It feels a little like leaving for college. I expect to learn more in the month ahead than I have in years -- not just about the process of putting on a show, but about all kinds of things. I'm throwing myself outside my comfort zone, and it's good for me. The one advantage of being single at 42 is that I can do this sort of thing without anyone calling it a midlife crisis, or disrupting anyone else's lifestyle and expectations.
But the month ahead is going to be a major exercise in learning what I don't know, which inspired the topic for the coming year.
The "Answer Girl" persona started as a fictional character in a novel I was writing (which I may one day get back to, but who knows). I use it ironically, but it's taken on a life of its own. It is not unusual for me to get phone calls from dinner parties or e-mails first thing in the morning from friends who have questions they think I can answer. It's become a party trick; sometimes makes me feel like a circus freak, and sometimes it makes me feel like a fraud, because I don't always know.
I collect information. It's what I do for fun and anxiety relief, as if knowing Gerald Ford's birth name (Leslie Lynch King, Jr.) or the capital of South Dakota (Pierre) could protect the people and things I love from harm. It is massive, nearly compulsive overcompensation for my acute awareness of all the things I don't know -- like how much it's going to cost me to live in New York for a month or how I'm going to get all my work done or how little sleep I can survive on for the next six weeks. Or why my hair is suddenly so gray...
But I also don't know bigger things, like why John McCain chose Sarah Palin as a running mate or how Barack Obama plans to pay for universal health care. I don't know why the levees in New Orleans aren't ready for another hurricane, and I don't know where those two million people have gone.
So this year's blog is going to be all about things I don't know, and how I deal with that ignorance. Sometimes I'll look it up; sometimes I'll make it up; sometimes I'll just deal with the anxiety. And every day, by posting the topic on the blog, I'll ask you.
I can use the help.