The year so far has given me a lot of time to think. Writing my cyberpunk dystopian novel has been a fitting pastime, especially when I had no idea how the world would change when I outlined it last year. I have also kept busy with online classes, workouts, and explorations of streaming films and series, but something has been nagging at my subconscious. I have noticed an effect of being locked down. Subtle at times, it comes in waves of discomfort. It manifests as a nagging hum under my skin and a fray of the nerves not unlike drinking too much caffeine. The pandemic came first with its “don’t trust anyone because they can be infected” vibe. Then came the next level with peaceful protests during the day that devolved into riots of looting and vandalism at night until the military came. Nothing is more surreal than seeing a Black Hawk helicopter slowly hover over my apartment courtyard on its approach to the Whitehouse. The first day of June, after a curfew of 7 at night, led to the sight of police on every corner, national guard blockades, and the sounds of helicopters of various sorts overhead. The sounds continued the following morning in a constant reminder of the unrest across the nation. After many hours, the whirring blades reminded me of Apocalypse Now. Maybe I should have played The Doors “The End” to match the scene in my head, one of a broken country and dystopian times to come.
All of that stress creates a sense of unease, one that lingers. Anxiety can creep inside and is hard to define at first. More tension in muscles, a lack of motivation, and irrational thoughts attack the mind and body in a slow build. Unfelt at first, the feeling grows with bad dreams and forced isolation. I felt something similar dealing with the my mom’s slow decline and death from cancer. Anxiety is a feeling of being powerless, stuck in a situation where there is little I can do to change the larger outcome.
In 2010, I was getting some background acting parts in film and commercials in no small part due to Southwest Casting. One of those was, Safety Point (later renamed as Puncture), a true story about Mike Weiss, a brilliant lawyer and a junkie, fighting a just fight about retractable needles, corporate greed, and a nurse who contracted HIV after accidentally getting stuck. I was in a crowd scene playing a nurse protesting the hospital’s safety policy and one of the producers picked me to be a stand-in for Chris Evans due to myself being a similar height and build to him at the time. This was before he went on to bulk up for Captain America. I did not get proper credit, but it was a great experience to go through the motions of a lot of the scenes so lights and camera moves could be prepared before he came to set from his trailer. My favorite was a mirror shot, in a bathroom at a courthouse, in a scene where his character was anxiously trying to sober up. During the courtroom scenes, I noticed how Chris paced and talked to himself. I thought it must be an actor’s thing of memorization and focused on my own behind the scenes duties. Recently, Chris Evans mentioned in an interview that back then he was having unbelievable anxiety that was so strong he thought of quitting acting and had questioned everything. Here was a man who has since had undeniable success who almost gave up under the weight of anxiety. I mention this because during that time I went through the gauntlet of my own anxiety. An unease was building since my mom had died the year before, one that would reach a crescendo after filming ended. I had lost everything caring for my mom, from the nightmare of hospice to the grave, and was relying on friends to survive and trying not to drown from bad choices at the same time. I choose the right way at a crossroads and came to a place of resolution and went forward and slowly rebuilt a new life. It is a life I could not have imagined before including marrying Bo and continuing my writing journey in new directions.
Out the window, another helicopter passes by overhead. As I write about the dystopian future and hopeful adventure of Future-Thrill, I wonder how much will be influenced by the horrors of the real world. Fear is the mind killer and this season in hell shall pass.
On a positive note, it is nice to see police and protesters joining in moments of solidarity. Anxiety is similar in that out of chaos comes hope and a new path forward. And in time, through hard work and focus, good things will happen.