Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I had a dream last night that I gave birth. I remember giving birth in the dream, too, and thinking, "Wow, that didn't hurt as bad as I thought it was going to." But I also remember that for some reason, as I was pushing out my child, they had to give me an injection in my nether-regions, which was significantly less fun than actually pushing out my child. And it was a little boy. I have no idea where the father was, or where my family was, for that matter, in my dream. If this was real life, I know I would not have been in the delivery room alone with the doctors. And if this was real life, I would not have been left to my own devices after the birth of my child to go get a snack. But seeing as this was a dream and my mind is, well (let's be honest), kind of goofy, once the kid was born, I had to wander about and try to find something to eat. And all I could find was one of those newspaper stand type places like you find in airports or bus terminals and it must have been late at night because most of the wares were packed up. There weren't even any good magazines left to choose from. But I got a box of crackers or something and went to buy it, and it took me a long time to dig out the correct change. I groggily apologized to the clerk, saying, "Sorry, I just gave birth," as my excuse for why it was taking me so long to dig out a few pennies. She was then kind of excited and asked what the kid's name was, and I realized I didn't know yet. And that kind of bummed me out. But it was soon followed by the realization that I could name this child anything I wanted to (which is what leads me to believe that in my dream, I was a single mother. I didn't have to check in with the father to see if the name was okay with him). And I thought of a bunch of sort of bland names and finally ended up with Linus James - Linus because I love the name Linus and James because it was my grandfather's name. In my dream, I thought it was the name of both of my grandfathers, which made it kind of a no-brainer for the middle name, but in reality, it was just the name of one of my grandfathers. When I woke up, I found myself hoping the non-James side of the family wouldn't feel slighted that I hadn't used a name from that side of the family.

The really weird things about this dream are that:

a) I had a kid. I physically remember the labor I was in and getting that injection. I have no idea what was going on in reality while I was dreaming, but I remember giving birth;
b) I was a single mother. And beyond that, my family was absent. As I watch my family with my niece, I know there is no way in hell that my family wouldn't be there if I had a kid, and they would not leave me to my own devices to raise it alone, but in my dream, I knew I was on my own now with this kid; and
c) that the hospital let me/made me go out in search of food right after giving birth so I had to buy crackers at a newspaper stand.

And what is really strange about it is that I think all of these things were sparked by the fact that I spent two hours at the library looking up words and character descriptions and plot summaries and histories for "The Winter's Tale" by William Shakespeare.

I'm taking this beginning Shakespeare monologue class and they gave me a piece by Hermione (the queen) from "The Winter's Tale" to work on. In the monologue, she's on trial for adultery and treason (both of which she is innocent of) and she is threatened by death and comes back with, "I'm not afraid of dying, you dink, because you have already taken away from me everything that I love in this world, so put that in your pipe and smoke it and won't you feel stupid when you find out I'm innocent after you've killed me?" But in fancier language. So I went to bed with the image in mind of this queen giving birth to her daughter in prison ("the Child-bed privilege deny'd") and then having the baby taken away from her before she really even gets a chance to breast feed it. And it turned into a dream about me giving birth to a baby boy named Linus James all on my own and I had to leave him to go get a snack.

The brain is a funny thing, isn't it?

Monday, November 08, 2010

So if you read my acting blog at all, you know I'm in a pretty good place right now as a performer. Not that I'm in anything at the moment, but that I trust myself and I understand raising the stakes and I've been auditioning well as of late. I have the confidence to be able to say I think I could hold my own if cast opposite just about anyone I am likely to be cast opposite at the moment, and that's a really good feeling.

The other thing I need to remember that goes along with that is that my performance abilities will be the same if I have a 24" waist, a 34" waist, or a 44" waist. My ability to create a character and bring her to life and infuse the given text with purpose and meaning has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT SIZE CLOTHING I WEAR. Nothing.

I saw an article about some actresses who found they were offered more roles when they changed their hair color, and you hear the stories about how when Jennifer Aniston first went to Hollywood weighing 140, they told her she had to drop 20-30 pounds before an agent would even meet with her. These things make me almost unspeakably sad. My talent has nothing to do with my hair color. My imagination has nothing to do with how much I ate today. I hope that someday, I am cast in something great because I am good at what I do, not because I managed to starve myself for six months to get down to a size two.

I am a good actor. Right now. I can walk into an audition, take over the space, take direction from the auditors, and deliver an engaging performance - enough that they want to see me do more. I have to trust that. And I hope that directors and public opinion will come around to see that, too.

Or I'll end up moving to England where they seem to cast more on talent than looks. (Seem to - I don't know for sure because all I've been able to see of British television is what they send over the pond.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear over the weekend in Washington, DC, and I have to say, it was wonderful. It was encouraging to be surrounded by 200,000 people who were all just being cool and letting each other exist and have opinions and do their thing. So many of the signs were hysterical, and there was good conversation to be had. It was just...a really lovely day. I want to thank Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for coming up with the whole thing, and their entire teams of people who put the event together in about a month. Well done, guys. Well done. I am so glad I was able to attend.

Part of the reason I was able to attend was because they organized these rally buses. Buses from all over the country that were scheduled to get to Washington at about 9am on the day of the rally, and leave at about 8pm that night. It was cheap, it meant I didn't have to spend anything extra on a place to stay, and it meant I didn't have to take any time away from work. Brilliant idea. And it also kind of made the whole thing feel more hippie-ish to me (which was a large part of the appeal). You see these movies wherein rallies happen back in the sixties and when it's over, people get back on the bus and go home. It's romantic somehow.

What they don't show you in those movies is what the actual bus ride is like.

I would like you to please keep in mind that the following story is true to the best of my recollection. And I do not intend this as any sort of commentary on the Rally or the rally buses or their organizers. This is a story about a jackass. The biggest jackass I have ever met and it needs to be told.

On Friday night, I showed up to the meeting spot to get on the bus. I saw one of my friends who was traveling with his sister and chatted with them for a bit. I asked if they would mind if I got on the same bus as them because my friend brought the good movies and, obviously, he is my friend. They said that was fine. It was around about this time that a very tall man standing behind me remarked, "It's not very sane to be a Cubs fan right now," when he saw I was holding a Cubs bag. We started talking about the Cubs and optimism and random small talk chit-chat and he seemed like a decent guy. As we started filing onto the bus, he asked if I was traveling alone. I replied that I knew my friend, but essentially, I was traveling alone. He asked if I wanted to sit together. I was hesitant - he was a very Large Man. Not obese, mind you, just large. Probably 6'5" or better, maybe 275 pounds? He was tall with broad shoulders and full around the middle. I knew that by sitting next to him, I was putting myself in the position of not having enough space to myself, but I figured I was most likely going to have to sit next to someone, so I agreed to sit next to him. I said I preferred the window; he said he preferred the aisle. I thought, "This could be okay."

I would like to take a brief moment to point out three things that you, the reader, should keep in the back of your mind as you read the rest of this story. First, the Large Man is a 49-year-old salesman from Sheboygan. I know this because he said he was going to poll the bus to see if he was the oldest person on it, and because he told me what he does for a living. He is a 49-year-old salesman from Sheboygan. Second, this was a brand new bus. The driver bought the bus and picked it up from the dealer the day before. We were the first group to ever ride this bus. And third, there were really only two rules on the rally bus - clean up after yourself and no alcohol. Not too hard to follow, right? Clean up after yourself is simple. And we're on an overnight bus for fourteen or so hours - most people want to sleep most of the way, so it shouldn't be too hard to not drink, right?


So, we were on the bus and I noticed that before we were even on the expressway, the Large Man was asking me the same exact questions that he had asked when we were standing on the sidewalk waiting for the bus. I also noticed that any time I pulled out my phone to see why it had buzzed at me, he would pull out his and call someone. I started to get nervous that maybe this trip wouldn't be okay. But then my friend made it known that he had DVDs and after reading off the titles, the bus decided to watch "Young Frankenstein." The Large Man did a little bit of flirting with me during the film, by saying the lines from the movie right before they were going to be said, or by saying the lines from the movie immediately after they were said, or by asking, "Has anyone ever told you you have a very cute, unique laugh?" "Yes, they have," I replied. Because they have. And I didn't feel like flirting. And at some point in all of this, he informed me that he had a bottle of vodka in his bag and offered me a drink. "No," I replied because really, who wants to be drunk on a bus for fifteen hours? Sounds miserable to me. He then got up and took his backpack with him to visit the restroom at the back of the bus.

When the movie was over and the bus made a stop so we could stretch our legs and whatnot, he started talking to me about music. His current favorite artist seems to be the woman who did a bunch of songs on the "Juno" soundtrack. I've not seen "Juno." I don't really want to see "Juno." When something is hyped up that much, it usually just turns me off. But he insisted that this is great music and pulled out his smartphone to play me a song. I have to admit, I was grumpy already when I listened to it and I didn't want to stick his earbuds all the way into my ears because lord knows where they have been, so it is possible that under other circumstances, I would have liked the song more. Or it is possible that since I had Mumford and Sons songs stuck in my head for the previous 24 hours that I wasn't really in the mood for singer/songwriter stuff plunked out on a child's toy piano at the time. Either way, I told him I found the song to be "meh," which was apparently exactly the wrong answer and he flew to the songwriter's defense. We eventually had to agree to disagree about the song. He asked if he could play me another to try to persuade me she was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I replied that "Shaun of the Dead" was starting and I would really like to watch it. Yes, I've seen "Shaun of the Dead" a million times, but I love me some Simon Pegg.

Throughout the movie, the Large Man made several more trips to the restroom with his backpack and each time he returned to his seat, he smelled worse and slurred his speech more. To the point where my friend and his sister sitting in the row in front of us could smell him.

I think it was at the second rest stop, we both got off the bus, but I got back on before the Large Man. When I got back to our seat, I noticed that it was a disaster. The Large Man had brought snacks like Chex Mix and that bar mix that has the wasabi peas in it and had managed to drop quite a bit of it on the floor, which was then stepped on and in some cases, ground into the carpet. On a brand new bus. Where I was also sitting. I pointed this out to my friend and his sister and my friend thought we should let the bus captain know what was going on, so he did. The bus captain came back to talk to me. I told him I hadn't previously known the Large Man and I felt bad about the mess, but that yes, he was messy and was sneaking back to the bathroom to drink. When the Large Man got back on the bus, the bus captain asked him to pick up the mess around his seat a bit. The Large Man sat down with obviously no intention of cleaning up. The bus captain brought him a plastic bag he could put the trash in. The Large Man picked up a few crumbs, put them in the garbage bag, crumpled the garbage bag and threw it on the floor.

I felt horrible. Not only was this brand new bus a mess already, but I felt like the Large Man was now looking at me like I was a narc. I put on my iPod so I could try to avoid having to talk to him. He was not deterred. When I pretended to not hear him, he tapped me. I took out one earbud and said, "I can't hear you; I'm listening to music right now." He offered me another song by the "Juno" woman. I politely declined.

More trips were made to the bathroom.

Finally, it looked like people were going to try to get some sleep. I put my pillow against the window and leaned my head on it. Now, I know that the Large Man is a large man and as such, he was probably very uncomfortable trying to sit in the small-ish seats on the bus. I, however, like my personal space and don't necessarily like it when drunk people I've only known for three hours fall asleep on me. As it was, I was squished up against the window, just about as far over toward the window as I could get, and his entire leg was touching mine, and his back was resting on my shoulder. So I did the squirmy thing to get him off of me. Which he did...for about a minute and then he'd be back sleeping on me again. So I'd shove him off again and he'd come right back. I took a look at one point at where I was positioned and realized that he was reaching over half of my seat in order to lean on me. I had paid just as much as anyone else for a seat on the bus and as such, I felt entitled to a seat on the bus. A whole seat on the bus. I'm good at staying within my allotted seat space. And he was eating up his whole seat and half of mine. This started to piss me off. At least once, I shoved him off of me hard enough that he woke up. I asked him to please move over. He would for a minute, and then he'd be right back where he started. He would also occasionally sit up very quickly, smashing his leg into mine, rest his head on the seat in front of him (no doubt irritating my friend who was sitting there) and breathe very heavily. Then he would flop back again, his shoulder smashing into mine.

Needless to say, I did not sleep much on the bus on the way out there. When we stopped in Toledo, he asked me three times if we were in Ohio yet. Each time, I pointed to the large sign that was immediately outside our window that said "Toledo." He then asked me where Toledo was situated within Ohio. I told him I didn't know. Which would prompt him to ask again if we were in Ohio.

We finally got to Washington at about 11am on Saturday, and the rally was fun. A lot of fun like I said before, in large part because the Large Man was nowhere to be found.

The bus was supposed to leave Washington at 8:00pm, so I made sure to be back on the bus by about 7:30. A few people had done some seat shuffling, which sent other people into a panic when they got on the bus to find their seats taken. I tried to offer them the seat next to me so that the Large Man would be displaced. I also tried sending messages out to the universe that would prohibit the Large Man from getting back to the bus on time so that we would be forced to leave without him. I think the universe got confused because there was a passenger who did not make it back to the bus by 8, but it was not the Large Man. He reappeared on the scene in different clothes at 7:55pm and plunked down next to me. I could tell by his aroma that he had spent the time since the rally ended at 3 in a bar drinking. And he started asking me very loudly how I had passed the time since the rally and what I thought of the rally and whatnot. Which would have been okay, but the bus captain was trying to take a roll call to determine which passenger was missing so he could try to call them. "The bus captain is talking now and needs to be heard," I said. He was quiet for a minute and then asked me very loudly again what I had been doing. "The bus captain is talking now and people need to hear him." I felt like I was babysitting a three year old. The missing passenger was identified, called, and texted, and after an additional twenty minutes of waiting for a response from her, we had to leave anyway.

"Large Man," I said (though I used his real name because it would have been rude to call him "Large Man" to his face), "can I ask you a favor?"

"Yeah, what's up?"

"The whole way out here, I felt very cramped, like I was being smushed up against the window because you were sleeping on me. I paid for a seat on the bus and I would like to be able to use my whole seat without you sitting in it, too."

"I'm sorry, I didn't even know I was doing that. You know what? If I do that, you should just hit me or something."

"I did. I tried several times to ask you to move over and you kept sleeping on me. It made me very uncomfortable."

"I have no recollection of that."

"Well, if you could just be aware. I don't mean to be nit-picky, but..."

"No, thank you for telling me. And if I do that, you should just hit me or something."

I was actually a little bit proud of myself for that conversation. I stood up for myself. I asked for what I needed in a calm, mostly polite fashion. I thought, "Maybe the trip home will be better than the trip out here." My friend put in "Airplane" at the request of our fellow passengers and we were off.

Within just a couple of minutes, the Large Man was taking over my space again, so I pointed it out to him. "Large Man, when you are leaning on me like this, it makes me uncomfortable."

"I'm leaning on you?"

"Your entire leg is touching mine."

"I can't even feel that."

"Maybe it is the stuff in your pocket?" He moved the stuff from his pocket. "Thank you. If you could just try to be aware of when you're touching me..."

He started saying the lines from the movie right before they were about to happen. He also pulled out his snacks again and started eating very loudly, dropping as much on the floor as went in his mouth.

When the movie ended, the bus captain encouraged us all to try to get some sleep, or at least to be quiet so that our fellow passengers could sleep. The Large Man was already passed out, his head tilted back on the head rest, mouth open, snoring, and halfway on my chair. So I hit him. "Large Man, would you please move over?"

"Which way?"

"That way. Away from me."

"Is it really that big of a deal?" And he promptly fell asleep on me again. I wanted to scream at him that I found him to be absolutely repulsive and therefore, yes, it was a big deal. I did not want him touching me. I fantasized about screaming on the bus, "Stop touching me!" in the hopes it would sound like something much more inappropriate than it was and some good Samaritan on the bus with an empty seat next to him/her would fly to my aid and let me switch. Or kick him off of the bus. But instead, I flailed violently every time he touched me to try to get him to stop, and I smashed into him a few times trying to reclaim my seat back space. Eventually, he stopped moving away. I squished myself up against the window as far as I could go so I wouldn't have to touch this odious man - I could feel his stink penetrating my jeans where his leg touched mine. And then, I felt him make a conscious effort to move over closer to me so he would continue to be touching my arm. He was trying to piss me off now.

(I would like to mention as an aside that my friend offered to switch seats with me several times, which was very sweet of him. I didn't want to subject my friend to this guy, either, which is why I didn't take him up on it. Somehow, I would have preferred he go sit next to someone I didn't know so I wouldn't have to think about it anymore. Had my friend sat next to him, I would have felt guilty that my friend had a horrible trip. So thank you to my friend for offering, and thanks to both you and your sister for listening to me bitch about this guy the whole way there and the whole way back. You were the bright spot of the ride for me.)

We finally made it to the first rest stop. Yes, the first rest stop. This decline into drunken juvenile behavior all happened in the first hour and a half of the trip home. I waited for Gigantor to get off of the bus first, and then turned around to ask anyone who might be awake behind me if they knew of any empty seats. The guy who had been sitting next to the woman we left behind said he didn't know if there were any. Thank you, Sir Galahad. I got off the bus and went inside. When I came back out, I found the bus captain and told him that Gigantor was still drinking, still making a mess, and was now being intentionally disrespectful of my personal space. I asked if he knew of any empty seats I could take and he said he was sure there were a couple. The woman sitting across the aisle had two seats to herself, for example. I remarked that I would prefer to sit farther away from Gigantor than just across the aisle, but if that was my choice, that was my choice. I asked the woman in question if I could occupy the empty seat and she agreed. No biggie.

I then went to talk to my friend and his sister. Gigantor came over and asked my friend if he had "Sex Lies and Videotape" or "Pulp Fiction" with him. My friend replied that he didn't bring those movies in case there were children on the bus.

"There aren't any kids on the bus," Gigantor replied.

"Yes, there are. There is a kid in the front row," said my friend.

"So are you going to play another movie? You should put on 'Sex Lies and Videotape,' or 'Pulp Fiction.'"

"I'm not playing anymore movies. People want to sleep."

"Why aren't you going to play another movie?"

My friend, his sister, and I figured that the best way to end this conversation was to just go inside.

A few minutes later, we went back out to get back on the bus. Gigantor was already in his seat and when he saw me coming, he got up to let me in to my spot by the window. I reached across, took my water bottle and pillow, and sat next to the woman across the aisle. I gave him back his backpack and book, which he was storing in her empty space that was now my seat. She and I started talking about the rally and her kids and other random things. He pulled out his cell phone to call someone at 11:30 at night to tell them we were about half-way home (we were in Maryland) and he was on the bus and couldn't they see him on the bus? and he waved. I don't know who he was waving to, but we're all guessing that there wasn't anyone on the other end of that very loud phone call.

All in all, I don't think Gigantor was too broken up about having two seats to himself now. He kicked off his shoes which stunk up the bus. He managed to cover both seats and the floor under both seats with a nice layer of trash, which must have made him feel right at home. There was stuff under his seat that I don't even know where it came from - napkins, bottle caps, one of those straws that you use to stir coffee even though I never saw him drink coffee. And he would lie down on his back across both seats, with his legs in the aisle and his feet UNDER MY FEET. It wasn't enough that I had asked politely and not-so-politely for him to stop touching me. It wasn't enough that I had moved seats to get away from him. His feet were still occupying my space. And he kicked me no less than six times on the remainder of the journey. SIX TIMES. I kicked him back a time or two. He would then sit up, splay his legs, rest his head on the seat in front of him (no doubt waking my friend who was sitting there), and either breathe loudly or eat loudly. He made another trip or two to the restroom with his backpack, and when he came back, he made sure to sit down in such a way as to allow his butt to smack me in the shoulder. Needless to say, I didn't sleep on the way home, either.

When we got to the last rest stop before getting back into Chicago, the woman sitting behind what used to be my seat reached over the seat, tapped Gigantor, and asked, "Did you spill your water bottle or something? Because my feet are soaked." Upon further examination, we're pretty sure it wasn't water. But he spilled something THROUGH THE SEAT so that it soaked her feet below it. She had to throw her socks away. He denied spilling anything, and went bumbling into the rest stop, sans shoes, to get more Chex Mix or something. I took pictures of the carnage that was his seat.

We finally made it back to Chicago and I got off of the bus as quickly as I could. If I never see that man again, it will be too soon.

But it makes me wonder, how does a person get to be 49-years-old and have absolutely no sense of self-awareness? How could he not feel it when he was resting on me? How could he not have figured out yet that this is inappropriate behavior for a bus with fifty-some-odd people on it? How can he not know that when a woman asks you repeatedly to stop touching her, she means it? How is it that he hasn't figured out yet that when you are in a semi-confined space with fifty other people, you sometimes have to sacrifice a bit of your own personal comfort for the sake of the people around you? And how did this guy think that a Rally to Restore Sanity was the right place for him, seeing as he is clearly insane? Or at the very least, a raging alcoholic.

So my romantic notion of the bus to the hippie rally was rather squashed. My desire to only take road trips in the privacy of my own car was rekindled. And while my sanity was restored by the rally, I found out that I am incredibly intolerant of inconsiderate slobs with the maturity level of a three-year-old (no offense to the three-year-olds out there).

And I do have to wonder how it is that I attract these sorts of people so I can stop doing that.
I know that I don't know a lot about politics. I know that I don't stay as current as I could or probably should about a lot of it. Thing is, I like not having to pay attention. I like feeling like my country is doing okay and I don't have to get all up in arms about the day-to-day. I am blissful in my ignorance a lot of the time. Which may make the next bit I am about to say sound stupid and ignorant and un-thought-out, but it is my opinion and last I checked, I am allowed to not only have an opinion, but to express it as well.

The current state of our nation is not the fault of the Obama administration alone.

The problems we are currently facing go back many years, through the Bush administration, through the Clinton administration, and in some cases, through the other Bush administration as well. They are the result of lots of bad decisions that came from both sides of the aisle. There is no single person at fault for all of it - these crises took a lot of people working together (or in many cases, not working together) to happen.

And then Obama gets elected under the pretense that he will change things and try to clean up the mistakes from the past 8-20 years. And Democrats gain control in the House and the Senate because people are, frankly, sick of this shit and want something else. And over half of the country is overjoyed to have Obama in office, and I think, rightfully so. The Republicans, though, want nothing to do with him and sit in the corner having a snit, covering their ears and singing "la la la I can't hear you la la la" because they're sore losers.

I'm not saying the Republicans don't have the right to be upset that they lost control. But it seems to me that in many cases, they did everything in their power to stop Obama from accomplishing anything by just flat out rejecting anything he said without even really listening to it. They figure if they keep the "But where was he REALLY born?" thing alive, or throw around words like "socialist" and "fascist" and "communist" willy-nilly, then the majority of America will pay more attention to questioning Obama's credentials than they will to the fact that Republicans are blatantly standing in the way of compromise and progress. They're standing in the corner plugging their ears and holding their breath, waiting for mom to cave in and say they can leave the table without finishing their peas because mom has realized she just can't get through to them.

Look at how many filibusters have happened in the last two years (on both sides of the aisle, but Republicans used it more). Look at how much fear-talk has made it onto the news (supposed death panels and whatnot). Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous?

Republicans were in control for eight years and drove this country into the ground. They lost control and spent two years stirring up as much fear and resentment as they could so they could get control back instead of actually trying to fix the country. And you know what? It worked. Republicans have control in the House again. And I could be completely wrong and I could be talking out of my ass because I don't know the real story, but it pisses me off. Republicans had eight years to screw up this country, and because Democrats haven't been able to fix it all completely in two years, Democrats are the ineffective ones.

The Obama administration has done a lot in two years. A lot. No, the country was not magically restored in two years' time, but he never said that change would happen overnight. And a lot of the things he said he would do, he has done in such a way that most people haven't even noticed. If you want the not-safe-for-work list of what he's done, go
I'm stopping now because I'm sure I sound whiny and ignorant. I'm just disappointed. I'm disappointed that Democrats aren't given more of an opportunity to try to fix things. I'm disappointed that the Republicans in office refuse to cooperate when they can't have their way. I'm not saying Democrats are perfect, and I know they are to blame for some of the mistakes made in the past twenty years, but I'm still kind of reeling from the Bush administration and am afraid to see the country head back that way. I could be wrong. Maybe everything will be great. Today, though, I don't feel good about it.