Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30 - Awesome

I saw a gif today of a woman saying, "Because I am awesome," and it occurred to me that I don't think I have ever said the words, "I am awesome," and meant them. So I've been trying to figure out why not. I think everyone should believe in his or her own awesome, myself included, and let's be honest, I would have plenty to back my claim of awesomeness up with were I to make that claim. I'm super crazy smart. I am a genuinely nice person (most of the time). I am funny. I am generous and kind. I make those around me smile and laugh. I listen. I am talented, and oh so humble about it. 

I think that might be it - the desire to be or appear to be humble all of the time. Boastfulness is distasteful. Bragging is rude. Humility is prized, and those who display it are to be respected. Right? Is this last vestage of my quasi-religious upbringing? That I am, for some reason, not allowed to think highly of myself when I am, by simple listing of fact, one who should be thought of highly?

And it's funny - as I write this post, I find myself writng synonyms for awesome instead of allowing myself to outright admit I am awesome. I say I should be thought of highly. I say I am a good and decent contributing member of society. But to say, "I am awesome," still feels weird. 

I guess I have something to work on there. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29 - Friends

I know that amongst interweb friends, the term "in real life" friends, or IRL friends is a thing. It denotes the people you hang out with offline. I know that some people, though, take issue with the term "in real life," because technologies like Skype and Gchat and whatnot make it possible to hang out with interweb friends in a way that is just as real, if not moreso, than in the way we hang out with friends offline. I have started using the term "in real time" friends to denote those friends I interact with in real-time conversations, as opposed to those with whom I communicate through a series of emails or YouTube comments. 

And I would like to state for the record that I love my in real time and my non-in real time friends dearly. 

But I got to spend time with my in real time circle of local friends a couple of times this weekend and I have to say, I am blessed to know these people, and honored that they consider me one of their own. They show me all of the time what generosity is, what kindness is, and what healthy relationships look like. I talk about leaving Chicago from time to time, and I know that if I ever do, I will miss these people horribly. They are my chosen family and I love them with all of my heart. I hope they know that. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28 - Alice

If you have not watched all three seasons of the BBC's Luther (or at the very least, if you're not past the first episode), you may want to skip this post as I don't know if I will be able to avoid any and all spoilers. I will try, but I can't promise anything.

First off, Luther does not pass the Bechdel test. I know this. I am fine with this. I am more than fine with this, because the show is an exercise in television brilliance. None of the characters are perfect, and they all go through alternating periods of being adored and despised by the audience. Everyone is flawed. And all of the things you think will happen, all of the things which should be "givens" on television turn out to be up for grabs. Idris Elba can say more with an eyebrow raise than most working actors at the moment, and often, it is the things he doesn't say, the moments when he is simply living in the moment that make him the powerhouse that he is. But as much as I love him, at least half of the joy of this show, for me, is the character of Alice Morgan, deliciously played by Ruth Wilson.

Alice Morgan is the type of female character I would like to see more of on television and in film. "But she's a sociopath," you say, "and a murderer." Yes. Yes she is. But take a look at the male characters that are so lauded on television at the moment - Walter White (meth dealer), Don Draper (womanizer), Dexter (serial killer). These men are flawed, seriously flawed, but the writing and their circumstances allow us to like them anyway. We root for Walter White because he was a good guy who got caught up in this craziness and became a badass so he could protect his family (I'm only in season two, so there's probably more to him than that, but that's what I have so far). We root for Don Draper who is running from his past and struggling to make his way in a changing world full of demons, internal and external. We root for Dexter because he has learned to turn his obsession and destructive nature into something we can all get behind - getting rid of the bad guys. There is something about these men, the juxtaposition of their good and evil natures, that makes us love them. Alice Morgan is exactly the same.

We don't find that in female characters very often. We get the occasional female hero who is 90% good but slips up from time to time (Buffy, and even Faith. Hell, most of the women from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and has to repent heavily for her sins. We get the woman who falls on a really horrible situation and becomes a basket case (Nancy Botwin). And we have all of the women on television and in film who are just there to be pretty and illustrate that the whole world is not comprised only of men. There is an occasional badass (Zoe Washburne), but we seldom see a female hero who is inherently flawed the way Alice Morgan is, and even more rare is a female hero who is inherently flawed, knows that she is, and doesn't give a rat's ass that she is.

What is so fascinating to me about Alice is that she's not just a straight up loony tune. She cannot be written off as a caricature. She has tremendous love inside of her, even if it manifests in ways the rest of the world would not recognize as love. There is the obvious love of John Luther, but even when he does not return her love in the way she would like him to, she does not seek revenge. She does not wither away or shrivel up or sink into a pit of despair. Her love for John runs so deep that she will help him regardless. And I think her love of John stems from a love of intellectual stimulation - figuring out puzzles. To see all of those sorts of layers in a female character on's like Christmas.

Side note: another female character who comes close is Regina on Once Upon a Time. She is the evil queen, after all, but through her backstories, you get to find out how she came to be evil. Through her love for Henry, though, you get to see that she does not enjoy being evil, though. She just makes a lot of bad choices. Still, she is strong and varied and complex and brilliantly played by Lana Parilla.

So as I read through all sorts of plays, looking for strong, interesting female monologues with a good point of view and something to say, I find myself getting frustrated that so often, the only time women get to talk at length is to talk about how someone wronged them in their past. I then have to stop and remember that the character of Alice Morgan exists. Someone imagined her, someone wrote her, and someone gets to play her. With any luck, more Alice Morgan types will be written so we can delve into the psyche of the brilliantly flawed women out there. And maybe one day, I'll get to play one of them.

In the meantime, watch Luther. It's not for the feint of heart, but it will restore your faith in television as a medium.

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 27 - A Note

Hi. Stop.
Had an audition. Stop.
Nailed it. Stop.
First read-through Tuesday. Stop.
Yay. Stop.
Talk to you soon. Stop.

Post-script: I like being busy. Stop.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 26 - Grumble, Grumble

So the grocery store chain Jewel Osco has decided to eliminate their self-service checkout kiosks in some stores in an effort to make the shopping experience more personal and to cut down on theft. I'm guessing the second point there is more important to them than the first.

I heard this news while listening to the radio this morning and the morning deejays did not seem terribly broken up about it. They welcomed the chance to once again stand in line, put their food on a conveyor belt, and make silly chit-chat with a disinterested sixteen-year-old behind the register. You know what? That option has always been there, and has remained an option the entire time the self-service kiosks were in use. They also complained about not being able to find bar codes, or not knowing how to key in produce codes, or what have you. That's fine. I get it. The self-service kiosks were not for everyone, so there was always at least one manned cash register lane open at all times for those who didn't want to use the kiosks.

I, for one, am annoyed that they are doing away with them. I like the self-serve kiosks. They mean I can go to the store and buy my items without having to have any sort of human interaction at all. I don't have to smile at someone who would rather be elsewhere. I don't have to explain that I brought my own bags and then get annoyed when they seem afraid to use them. And perhaps more importantly, I don't have to deal with the other people in line crowding me while I am in the middle of my transaction. The self-serve kiosks generally took on the feeling of ATMs with the implied courtesy distance of at least five feet while in use. Once or twice, I had an impatient fellow consumer standing right over my shoulder, but a nasty look would send them away. That doesn't happen in one long queue. The person behind you feels crowded by the person behind them so they push forward into you because you'll be gone soon anyway. The self-serve kiosks were a way to make my own personal shopping experience as pleasant as it could be.

This is not to say I don't like all grocery store clerks, or I detest all grocery store interactions. Cute guy at Whole Foods with the mohawk can chat with me all he likes while ringing up and bagging my items. I'm fine with that. And the people who work at Trader Joe's are often engaging and amusing and intelligent. They have learned to engage the customer with something more interesting than, "How are you?" mumbled half-heartedly over the counter. They share recipes or anecdotes or comment on my Monkey Quest bag, which then starts the inevitable Comic Con conversation. They are at least half of the reason I like shopping at those stores (the other half being the products).

But I do, on occasion, have to go to one of the bigger, more-homogenized grocery store chains to get things they don't sell at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, like a specific brand of cat food (Owen is very picky). And the employees at these stores are...they're there. They're doing a job. They might try to be friendly, but there is always that feeling in the background that they really just want you to go home so they can, too. And I get it. I know the feeling. My first job was in a grocery store, so I understand the boredom of watching the clock tick down the minutes until you can leave. But chatting with them while they ring up my items is an exercise in introvert hell. Which is why I loved the kiosks. I was good at using them. I was quick. I only ever required help when buying booze or when the bar code on the blueberries would not scan. Most of the time, it was a really quick way for me to get in, get what I needed, and get out without disturbing anyone who worked there. Win-win, from my perspective.

I hope they don't take the self-service checkout lanes away in the locations I visit most often. I might have to find a new store to frequent then. Or, if they must take out those lanes, might I suggest investing some time and money in employee morale so the "better connection with customers" is actually better in the customer's minds too?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 25 - Love

Fear of a new room
Will I be liked? Will I fall?
Artists will catch me

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24 - Tuesday

Tuesdays used to be my favorite.

Oh so many moons ago when I used to go out lindy hopping six nights a week, Tuesday night was the night to go out. There was a bar approximately three blocks from my apartment that I can scarcely remember the name of now (it has since changed owners, names, and decor) where some really awesome dancing happened. They had a back room that we would take over. Push the chairs out of the way, and cut a rug on the floor. All of my favorite dancers used to go there. It would get hot and sweaty and crowded; the men would bring extra t-shirts for when they sweated through the first one. We twirled and stomped and lindied and shagged and Balboaed and Shim-Shammed. It was glorious. Absolutely glorious. And since it was just blocks from my apartment, I could stay as late as I wanted and not worry about how I was getting home. I loved that place.

Rumors! Was that the name of the place? Rumors? Do any of my swing dancing friends read this blog who can verify that?

So I used to spend my week waiting for Tuesday to come so I could go dancing and see all of my friends. But things change, life moves on, and Rumors (if that was what it was called) closed down. The good dancing is now elsewhere on Monday nights, though I hardly recognize any of the faces I see on the dance floor now. And while I know I could dedicate the time and money to becoming a "regular" dancer again, I know that there are also other things in life that bring me more joy than the pursuit of becoming a nationally recognized lindy hopper. I just want to social dance from time to time.

And Tuesdays. Poor Tuesdays. Now they are just days to get through. A little better than Monday, not as good as Thursday. But they still have that faint aftertaste of the glorious days they once were, which makes them sadder now than Wednesdays. The day I used to love and wait for every week is now just another day, stripped of all of it's glory.

Maybe that's why I was so proud to get my tattoo on a Tuesday.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23 - Tattoos

If I may, you might want to have this playing in the background while you read this post. Or maybe you should just listen to this because it's great. Anyway. Moving on.

I get asked about my tattoo fairly regularly. Since it is a graphic, everyone wants to know what it means. So here is the story of my tattoo.

I don't remember why I wanted one in the first place. I think I wanted to prove something, or show that I was the sort of person who could get a tattoo or something. But whatever the reason, I thought about it for a very long time because I do understand that a tattoo is permanent. When I'm a 90-year-old grandmother, I will still have this mark on me, so I wanted to make sure it was something I would be okay with as a 90-year-old. And I thought a lot about where it should go to try to prevent it getting stretched and blurry and distorted. I settled on the back of my neck, as that part of my body is not likely to change too much as I age.

When it came time to pick a design, I talked to a friend of mine who was an amazing artist, and who I had been in love with for years. He was not, to clarify, in love with me. I was with him. He was...a little self-involved. And confused. But a great artist. So I asked him if he would design a tattoo for me that was "me" and would fit on the back of my neck. After waiting for a few months, he came back to me with a series of cat silhouettes. While they were good cat silhouettes, I remember giving him the "really? Really?" look. I'd known him for five or six years at this point, we'd been roommates and dance partners and the best he could come up with was cat silhouettes? I asked him to try again, so he did. A few weeks later, we met up and he had a series of designs that were more interesting and more abstract. We took a couple of them, combined elements of them, and came up with the design that is now proudly displayed on the back of my neck.

The next question was when to get it done. I wanted the artist there with me, and I knew which tattoo artist I wanted to go to. This was also right about the time my head was shaved and I was playing a performance artist, and I thought it would have been awesome to have the tattoo for that show. Sadly, the timing didn't quite work on that one, so it bled into the next show I was working on, wherein I played a creepy man.

Also at about this same time, I was gearing up to do the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for the first time, and doing various fundraisers to meet my funding goal. One of these fundraisers was a concert featuring myself and a couple of my favorite local musicians. On a whim, I sent a copy of my demo CD to a local radio station that features local music on a weekly basis and asked if they might play something and mention my show since it was for the Avon Walk, for which the radio station was also a sponsor. I got an email from the host of the show saying he would play one of my songs as part of the Local Anesthetic Capsule on Tuesday and Thursday nights of that week and I was giddy with excitement. Except for the fact that I had rehearsal for my new show on both Tuesday and Thursday nights, so I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to listen.

So flash to that Tuesday. It was unseasonably warm for March - the first really gorgeous day of spring. The artist who designed my tattoo said he could meet me after rehearsal, and I checked with the tattoo parlor to make sure the artist I wanted to go to would be there. He was scheduled until midnight. I went to rehearsal in the basement of the theater where I was a company member. I was surrounded by mostly new faces - we'd only had one or two prior meetings - and when we got to take a short break, I turned the radio on and got to hear my song Hamburg coming over the radio waves. I heard the deejay say my name and mention my show. I remember I was sitting in a big plastic chair and I curled up in a ball of excitement and humility and glee. And I remember that nobody else there knew quite why it was so exciting for me to hear this song on the radio. When I told them it was me, it was my song, there were half-hearted, "Hey, that's cool"s from a couple of them. I don't blame them - none of us knew each other very well, so they had no idea what it meant to me to hear my song on the radio. But I was over the moon. I was over Mars. I was over Saturn, at least.

When rehearsal ended, I stepped out of the theater into the warm Chicago evening and was greeted by my friend, the artist who designed my tattoo, and we jumped up and down and shrieked like idiots for a full three minutes because he heard me on the radio, too. He got it. He knew why it was a big deal. And then we hurried over to the tattoo parlor so I could get inked. It suddenly felt very important to get my tattoo that day, the day one of my songs was played on the radio for the first time. It seemed the perfect way to mark the occasion.

The tattoo artist I wanted to work on me wasn't there. It had been a slow night (I guess not many people get tattoos on Tuesday nights?) and he left early so he could ride his motorcycle on the first gorgeous day of spring. I was heartbroken and confused and frustrated. But there were other artists there, and one of them showed me his book which was pretty good, so I went ahead with getting my tattoo.

Now, I don't know if you've ever gotten a tattoo, and I'm hardly an expert because I only have the one, but it hurts like a motherfucker. I was in a chair that had me leaning slightly forward and I expected rivers of blood to start flowing down either side of my neck because it felt like he was slicing the back of my neck open. My friend held my hand through the whole thing and told me I could squeeze as hard as I needed to. I thought I was going to crush his hand; afterward he told me he thought I took it really well. The tattoo artist bandaged me up, which severely limited my movement, and sent us on our way. My friend and I went to get a drink and I felt like a total dink with this monstrous white bandage on the back of my neck. But that was it. The pain faded pretty quickly, and I was left with a unique identifier.

So that's the story of my tattoo. It doesn't mean anything, really, except that I have a friend who liked me enough to design a tattoo for me. And I got it done on the night one of my songs was played on the radio for the first time. And all of these years later, even it with looking kind of faded, I'm still so glad I have it. As Frank says, if I had the luck to live my life a second time through, I'd be sure to get the same tattoo.

Now if I could just pick a font for the next one...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22 - Humanity

I went to the drug store today to get trash bags and toilet paper. As I was standing in line to pay, there was an older gentleman in front of me finishing his transaction. He moved his items out of the way to make space for me to set mine down on the counter. I thanked him. He continued talking to the cashier, a young woman who obviously knew him as a store regular. She played along in the friendly-but-maybe-glad-when-he-leaves kind of a way. The older gentleman brought me in on the conversation, something about telemarketers. I sort of mumbled a response, and the man stayed almost long enough for me to finish my transaction as well, not really talking about anything special, just sort of chatting. As he left, he thanked me for talking to him instead of running away. "People do that, you know. They run away. So thank you for talking to me," he said. 

Now, I don't know this man's story, but he broke my heart in the store today. Maybe he was married for fifty years and lost his wife recently, so his trip to the drug store on Sunday mornings to flirt with the cashier is the only real human contact he gets anymore. Maybe he has a fantastic group of friends who meet twice a week for dinner and cigars. Maybe he has seventeen children buried under the floor in his basement. Whatever his story, a mumbled conversation about telemarketers while standing in line at the drug store meant something to him today. Meant enough that he thanked me for extending the most basic human courtesy of not running away when he spoke to me. Whatever the story that led him to feel the need to say thank you for broke my heart.

As you go about your day, I would ask that you keep this in mind. What acts of basic human courtesy, kindness, or grace are you passing up because you can't be bothered? What kind of beauty and human connection could happen if you just took a moment and resisted running away? And which option makes you feel most human?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21 - Dreams

I have a lot of dreams. The nocturnal kind are what I'm talking about at the moment, though I do have a lot of life-goal dreams, too. Anyway. I have a lot of dreams and I often remember them vividly and they often feature recognizable people - friends, family, celebrities. For instance, I had my first Frank Turner dream last night. He was playing at some conference that my mom, some of my friends, and other assorted family members of mine were attending, including a cousin who was (in my dream) confined to a wheelchair. As the dream went on, we kept walking around the convention center looking for the next workshop or panel we wanted to see, and for some reason, Frank Turner decided to hang out with us. My mom flirted with him in the way that moms can do where it is totally charming and not at all creepy or gross. And my cousin in the wheelchair became really good friends with Frank throughout the day to the point where he let Frank have the wheelchair while he walked around. The two of them looked fairly similar in my dream, too, and just about the last thing that happened before I woke up is that I pointed this fact out in such a way as to imply my cousin should play the show instead of Frank. There were other bits to the dream, too, like the attic of the convention center and someone walking out of a panel with a bag of glitter confetti and me feeling completely inadequate, but whatever. I had my first Frank Turner dream. 

And I always wonder how other people feel about being in my dreams. I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with that person specifically - my dreams are usually more about the feeling I'm left with than the costars - and they are never dirty or inappropriate dreams. I often times think they are weird or funny, so I have no problem telling people about them. But it occurred to me this morning that maybe some people don't like starring in other people's dreams. Or perhaps more specifically, they don't like starring in mine. 

So what do you think? Is it creepy when someone says they had a dream about you? Is it cool? And if any of you, my dear readers, were bothered when I told you I had a dream about you, I apologize. It was totally innocent, I swear. And aside from that one weird one about being in a fake relationship with John Barrowman, you were lovely. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 20 - Realization

As I sit here on a Friday night debating whether 7:30 pm is too early for pajamas, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, eating Twizzlers, and drinking iced tea, it occurs to me that I will be a terrible celebrity. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 19 - Acting Career

There are those who would argue that I don't have enough experience as a working actor to speak with any sort of authority on this subject, and there are those who might argue that I do (me). Meaning you can take the rest of this post with a grain of salt if you so choose. Though I might recommend hot chocolate instead - my blogs go much better with hot chocolate than they do with salt.

So Hamlet is over. Just about. I have a few insets and some voiceover stuff to shoot on Sunday and then I'm done with it until it is all edited and released and whatnot. Don't worry, I'll spam all of you when it is available so you can watch it. But I find myself confronted with the question that lurks in the back of every artist's mind as they finish a project, "What now?"

The artistic life is far from a stable one. This is why most of us have day jobs of one sort or another; we don't make enough money from our art to be able to pay rent and buy food and art supplies. So when one project ends, you want to try to have the next one lined up. If you don't, the panic can start to set in. Now, I know I've hinted at projects in the works and those projects are still in the works. But a funny thing about being an actor is that if you're not out acting, people forget you exist. Seriously. If you're not out going to auditions and seeing shows and constantly reminding the rest of the theater world that you are still alive and working (or trying to get work), they will forget about you. It's not a rudeness thing; it's just that these people are bombarded by actors and writers and wannabes all the time and they only have a limited number of roles to fill. If you can prove you're wanted (by being in stuff all the time), they will want you more because you are more likely to be talented, good to work with, and/or an easy way to put butts in seats. It's just how the industry works.

Or, it's how I think the industry works. Remember: I may not be an expert on this.

I have been blessed in that for about the past two and a half years (two and three-quarters years?), I haven't had to worry too much about my next project. They just kept lining up and I just kept knocking them down. Felt good. Felt great, actually, to be consistently working. And I was thinking that with Hamlet ending, I might want to take a little bit of a performance break and focus on other stuff - writing, perhaps building a YouTube show, being a normal person with friends, whatever. In the two weeks since Hamlet essentially ended, I have learned that I cannot do that. I still want to do the writing and the being a person and all of that, but I have to keep trying for acting jobs. I'm not getting any younger, you know, so I need to keep auditioning for these roles while I might have a fighting chance of getting one of them.

To that end, I have scheduled three auditions for myself within the last three days. Most of them involve having a monologue. I think you all know how I feel about monologue auditions, but if I chose to skip all monologue auditions, I'd have nothing to audition for. But it has started me on the path to finding a new monologue or two. I've been using the same couple over and over again for a while now and I'm kind of tired of them. I read a play and a half last night, and am hoping to read another play and a half tonight to try to find some new material to work with. My only hesitation is that the audition I have this Saturday is one at which I would really like to do well - I'd really like to work with this theater - but trying out new material on them may not be the best idea. Then again, using tired old material may not be the best idea, either. So we'll see. Maybe by the time my third audition rolls around in a couple of weeks, the new stuff will be the good stuff and I'll nail the audition.

So that's where that stands. I'm reading plays like a fiend looking for new material so I can get an acting job so I can do the writing and the YouTubing I want to do on the side. Such is the life of an actor, I guess.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18 - Books

I haven't been able to read fiction books for leisure as much as I would like to lately. I've been reading a lot of plays and play analysis and whatnot, which is fine and fun and useful for my acting career. But every now and again, I miss reading fiction.

My friend, the ever wonderful uncletypewriter asked me to write about my favorite book today, and it is amazing that no matter how long it has been since I last read it, my mind always jumps instantly to A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I say "since I last read it," because I have read it six or seven times since high school. It may also be the only book I was assigned to read in high school that I read all the way through and enjoyed.

I know a lot of people have read and enjoyed John Irving's work - Cider House Rules, The 158-Pound Marriage, The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According to Garp. I've read a bunch of those, too, but Owen Meany will always hold a place in my heart, in large part because of the title character, Owen. (Right about now, I'm guessing some of you are remembering what my cat's name is. Yes, that's why.) Owen is completely unique in his physical description, characterization, and voice. He is deliciously funny and painfully brilliant and gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking, often all at the same time. And his story is so lovingly told by his best friend, Johnny Wheelwright, in such vivid detail that when the book ends, you want to find 80 Front Street to know it was all real so you don't have to really say goodbye.

When I first read it, I connected most to Johnny Wheelright - friend to the extraordinary, constant observer, keeper of the legacy. I spent many years thinking my life would turn out much as his did, and I returned to read the book many times as I found myself missing my extraordinary real-life friends. Reading about Owen and Hester and Noah and Simon helped me remember the wonderful moments from my own childhood when I was feeling lonely, sad, and left out. I have since come to realize that I am very different from Johnny Wheelright, but I still treasure the time in my life when he was my guide.

There are other things in my life, too, that changed once I read the book. I cannot leave a dressmaker's dummy undressed. I wonder if my black and white fashion choices were inspired by Tabitha. I want desperately to see a version of A Christmas Carol with a Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come like the one in Owen Meany. I giggle at the thought of pickle-flavored champagne. I have an inexplicable love and respect for granite. And I believe it is for these things, for this imprint that the book left on me, that I love it most. It was not a story, it was not a book, this was a recounting of things that happened, the way they should have happened, and the way they should happen moving forward. It showed the humor in the pain, the heroic in the tragic, and the regular, every-day life of people just trying to get by. This was life, set down on the page, and I subscribed to it one hundred percent.

It is different when I read it now. Now, it is a story and a connection to my past. I loaned my beat-up high school copy to a boyfriend once and we broke up before I could get it back, so I had to buy another. It has a different cover and a different smell, so it's not quite the same. But I can still pick it up when I'm feeling a little bit sad, read the last ten pages, cry my eyes out, and feel better for having done so. In my mind, a book that can paint such a real world and elicit such a reaction from it's readers is a book worth reading. At least once.

So what book does that for you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17 - Oddity

Twitter is weird. I'm not even going to pretend to fully understand it. It's just weird. Every now again, someone I don't know will find and favorite one of my random, untagged tweets from a week or so ago. How do these people find these tweets? They're not following me, they're usually not following my friends, so how do they find these old tweets of mine that don't have hashtags in them? Are they just reading everything? Are there people out there who read all of Twitter? 

And every now and again, I'll get a new follower for a day or two as a result of one of these tweets. Usually it's a company that, I presume, thinks I will instantly follow back, check out their website, and sign up for services. I hate to break it to those companies, but I'm not the sort to do that. I don't believe in the instant follow-back. I'm not trying to be mean, but if your content is irrelevant or dull, I'm not going to read it. If I'm not invested in you as a person, why invest my Twitter-reading time in keeping track of who you had drinks with over the weekend? If I don't use your product, why do I care about the sale you're having this weekend? So these companies that follow me as the result of some random tweet usually stop following me in a day or so when they find out I am not a viable client candidate. That's fine. 

Yesterday, a condom company started following me on Twitter. Now, it is entirely possible that someone who works for this condom company is someone I met at a conference in May, or that there is some sort of not-entirely-random social connection there. But I had to laugh at the fact that a condom company decided to follow me yesterday. Because I tweet about condoms so often? Or safe sex? Or personal relationships? I am the girl who is perpetually single. I did the math once, remember, to figure out exactly how single I have been throughout my life. Granted, during the brief stints in my life when I have had a boyfriend and sex was readily available to me, I have been an advocate of safe sex and condom use. I think it is up to both partners to take responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of disease. But even just before this conference I went to back in May, I received a large bundle of various and assorted condoms from one of the other attendees that have remained sitting untouched in a drawer. Because when I am not dating (which is approximately 95% of my life), I am not having sex so I have no need for condoms. And I'm talking about no sexual contact. I'm not doing anything with male organs at all, much less anything that sex experts would tell me should involve condom use. That's just the way my life goes. 

So thank you to this condom company for following me briefly on Twitter and giving me a chuckle. While I appreciate the work you do and believe in the value of your products, you are seriously barking up the wrong tree in targeting me for a marketing campaign. 

Now, should my relationship status change sometime in the future...

Meh. That would require effort. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16 - Squeamish

I don't get squeamish very much anymore. Cockroaches still creep me out, and the waterbugs that like to charge at me from the drains in the laundry room in my building. Spiders don't bother me, nor does blood, really. As a pet owner, bodily functions are just kind of meh. I'm sure parents go through the same thing, where after a while, changing diapers isn't so much gross as it is just a fact of life. So yeah, I don't get squeamish very much anymore.

Despite this, I found myself having a very squeamish moment over the weekend when I was afforded the opportunity to watch a snippet of one of my Hamlet video messages. Which is also weird, because for the most part, I have gotten used to seeing myself on film. I've done several films, short and full-length, and I've edited myself in over 100 YouTube videos, so I know all of the little weird things my face does more intimately than I should. Claudius pulled out his phone, though, and offered to let my friends and I see one of my video messages that he had watched on his phone during the filming of the project and I fled. I crumpled into a whimpering ball of girl and hid my face while my friends watched it. They said it was great; I just couldn't. I just couldn't. Why is that?

I think this might be one of those occasions wherein the phrase "too soon" would be appropriately employed. I've not finished mourning Hamlet, so I don't think I have enough distance from the project to be able to watch it objectively. I know I am going to watch it and pick apart every little thing I wish I had done differently. It will take a few viewings before I am able to look at it as a complete piece of work and not a series of my own (failed? successful?) attempts at being Hamlet.

Which I think means I am absolutely terrified to see the final project at the moment. Absolutely terrified. And I find myself wondering how I will take people's reactions to it - will I take any compliments as people just being nice and any criticisms as gospel truth? Who will be able to tell me I did a good job in such a way that I will believe it? Whose validation am I seeking in regard to this project? And why do I need external validation - hasn't the journey been enough?

I want it to be done so I can rip off the Band-Aid of anticipation and just watch the darn thing already. Though I may have to watch it through my own fingers the first couple of times, as I hide in a fetal position. I'll get over it eventually. Just not quite yet.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 14 - Social Gatherings

I don't know if other people get this or not, but I always have that moment right before a social engagement that I organized where I think nobody is going to show up. But then exactly the right people show up and it turns into a brilliant evening. I love that. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

September 13 - Luck

Friday the thirteenth is notorious for bringing bad luck. My day started with the wrong kind of oatmeal seasoned with the wrong kind of sweetener. There were minor annoyances throughout the day, but if we take a moment to thing about the positives, the minor annoyances don't really seem like bad luck. 

I have a job that pays my rent and allows me to have a fulfilling social life. 
I live with a cat who brings me so much joy it hurts from time to time. 
We're heading into good hair season. 
I am basically healthy, despite some weird twinges in my ankle the other day. 
I can afford to treat myself to lunch out or Twizzlers as the mood takes me. 
And perhaps most importantly, I am surrounded by friends and family who love me. 

So my apologies to those of you who are specifically afraid of Friday the thirteenths, but I say bad luck be damned. We're still here, aren't we? So it can't all be bad and it can't all be about luck. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12 - Coming of Age

I've been thinking a lot lately about the slew of young female pop stars or actors who "come of age" by turning into hot messes. I've been thinking about them much more than I would like to, but I do have a question and I'm not sure what the answer is, so I'm going to chat about it for a bit today to try to see if anything gels.

I think it is important to note, too, that young male stars sometimes come of age by turning into hot messes, but not nearly with the frequency that young female stars do (at least not anymore). There are the classic examples of Danny Bonaduce and Todd Bridges who grew out of their "cute boy" phases and got into drugs and got into trouble with the law and whatnot. I would argue that their shenanigans didn't hold a candle to Lindsay Lohan's or Miley Cyrus' or Amanda Bynes'. And when we look at young male actors now who find a way to come of age in Hollywood, showing their maturity often times involves wearing nice suits to premieres, or taking more dramatic roles in films. I will just throw out the names Joseph Gordon Leavitt, Zac Efron, Justin Timberlake, and Daniel Radcliffe. All of these men have grown up in the Hollywood system fairly recently and while yes, Daniel Radcliffe has now done nudity on stage and on film, all of these men have somehow managed to keep it together. Justin Timberlake is probably the one focusing the most on sex in his career (he is the one who brought it back, you know), but watching his videos and listening to his music (which, admittedly, I don't do very much as it is not to my taste), it appears that his image of what is sexy for a man is a more classic styling. Three piece suits. Suave appearance. He's not running around in a Speedo trying to be sexy.

However, when young women in Hollywood feel the need to grow up, come of age, find themselves, or make a break with the young, sweet image of their youth, they do so by eschewing clothing, taste, manners and sensibility. There is the occasional notable exception like Emma Watson who parted with her Hermione image by cutting her hair, but the vast majority of young starlets think that the way to "grow up" is to wear less clothing and behave like idiots. Lindsay Lohan. Amanda Bynes. Miley Cyrus. Brittney Spears. They embrace the idea that sex appeal equals maturity and naked equals sexy. Why is that?

I think a perfect example of this is the video for "Blurred Lines." Whether you are watching the version wherein the women are nude or the version wherein the women are wearing skimpy undergarments, the basic image is the same. Here are a bunch of men expressing their individual styles, all looking sexy in suits and sunglasses and whatnot, and here are a bunch of women who are completely interchangeable, all looking sexy because they are naked. I don't know the lyrics for the song, nor do I want to. I was so beyond offended when I saw the semi-clothed version of the video that now I quickly change the radio station whenever the song threatens to come on. I want nothing to do with the song, the message, or the image associated therewith.

Scratch that - I'm not going to talk smack about something I've never read. I just went to find the lyrics online and I can now say that having read them (or having tried to), I continue to be sickened by the existence of that song. Now I can make the fully informed decision to avoid the song at all costs.

Now, I understand that finding one's own sexuality is an important part of growing up. Children are not supposed to be sexy; adults are supposed to procreate. Somewhere in between there, you have to figure out how. Not to mention the role that sexual intimacy plays in our relationships, whether or not there is procreation involved. So I can see how equating "growing up" with "having sex" happens. What I take issue with is how this seems to have morphed into "growing up" meaning "ready to have sex in public with anyone who might be walking by because I am turned on all of the time." One can embrace and even advertise one's sexuality without it becoming the focal point of one's entire existence. Yet with so many young Hollywood starlets, that is the way it goes.

There are a lot of "coming of age" movies out there, too, about young men - high school seniors or college freshmen - who have set the goal of losing their virginity by a certain end date. When they reach that goal, they are lauded and applauded by their friends. For a long time, the women in those films (or those situations) were considered sluts. I understand (and agree with) the backlash against the idea that it is okay for men to be sexually experienced but not for women to be so. I understand embracing that idea and adopting the "I'm okay with my own sexuality and with my level of sexual experience and with my sexual appetite" attitude. What I see, though, is that our culture is still a long way away from fully accepting female sexuality. We still call those girls sluts. We still look down on them. Slut-shaming happens all of the time. All of the time. Women who are not particularly sexually promiscuous are still called sluts if they wear short skirts. It has nothing to do with her sexuality, really. It has to do with how those around her see her, and they see the short skirt or the low cut top as an invitation to touch, grope, and grab. Hell, I was riding a crowded train once wearing a knee-length skirt and the guy standing behind me started feeling up my leg and lifting my skirt's hem. I smacked his hand away and got off the train at the next stop. That had nothing to do with my sexuality, whether I am a slut or not, or what my relationship status with men was. That had everything to do with his fucked up attitude that women exist to pleasure men. If our starlets continue along the path they are currently on where twerking is the highest form of social expression, that attitude will never change.

So I understand the desire to grow up and find oneself. And I understand that it has to be difficult to do so when everything you do is so scrutinized by an unforgiving public. And I can see how public speculation regarding when a certain starlet may have lost her virginity or online countdown clocks to when a girl becomes "legal" can really mess with a girl's sense of self-worth. Or how they might push her to just say, "Fuck it; they think I'm a slut? I'll show them how slutty I can be." It still makes me sad how many young women go this route.

See, for me (and I know I'm the odd one here), I know now and have known for a long time that my brain is my most attractive feature. The few men I have dated have been attracted to me for the conversations we have and the various artistic talents I possess as much as, if not more than, they have been attracted to me physically. Because another way to separate oneself as an adult from oneself as a child is by gaining knowledge, wisdom, poise, and experience. Take Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, or Cate Blanchett, for example. They each have more sex appeal in a wisp of hair than Lohan, Bynes, and Cyrus combined. They are intelligent, wise, humorous, poised, and talented. These qualities are what make them sexy and attractive, whether they dye their hair pink, choose to wear acrylic stripper heels, or not.

Can we find a way to teach our daughters that? Can we teach our daughters that intelligence and compassion and humor are sexy? Yes, the onus goes on our sons, too, to know that women do not exist solely for their pleasure and that when a girl says no, she means no, and that women are to be respected and treated as equals, regardless of whether or not looking in the general direction of her genitalia makes you feel all tingly. But I think as long as we have generations of starlets being told by their managers and agents and associated yes-men that they won't be taken seriously unless they're willing to bare it all (literally), young girls looking up to those starlets are going to grow up believing that in order to grow up, they have to get naked.

I don't want my nieces to grow up that way. I don't want my nieces to feel that kind of pressure to look a certain way or behave a certain way in order to prove that they are grown up. I want them to know that they are amazing young women (or will be - the oldest is currently four, so even in my pseudo-feminist world, she's a little young to be called a woman) who are valued for their hearts, minds, and souls as well as their bodies. I want my nieces to be able to come of age without becoming hot messes. Is that really so much to ask?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11 - Remembering Vs. Dwelling

I feel like every year on this day, I'm going to have to blog about this day twelve years ago, because if I don't acknowledge what happened on this day twelve years ago, I'm being insensitive to those who lost loved ones. It was a horrible day; there is no disputing that. Not in this country, anyway. I don't think I have ever been more scared for other people than I was on that day, and I hope I am never that frightened again.

But I also think at some point, we need to move on with our lives and for a lot of us, we have. We still go to work, we still spend time with our loved ones. We may have changed jobs or gotten married or had kids since then. Life goes on. Things change. And I think it is okay to let the really awful memories fade to the background just a little bit so we can enjoy the beauty that is right in front of us right now.

So today, I'm enjoying the soup I had for lunch from my favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I'm enjoying the two brand new third series Arden Shakespeare books that arrived for me. I am enjoying the warm weather. I am enjoying the fact that I can talk to and see my friends online. And I am enjoying the fact that today is Moby's birthday because I think the world is a better place for having him in it. Today, I am choosing to celebrate today instead of dwelling in the fear from twelve years ago. No offense intended.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10 - The Thing

Here's the thing: money cannot buy happiness. But it can pay the rent and buy food. It is an unfortunate world in which we live where these essentials are dependent upon little green pieces of paper. Or in many cases, not even little green pieces of paper, but numbers in a spreadsheet somewhere online that go up and down with direct deposit paychecks and plastic debit card payments.

So here's the question: how much is your happiness worth? In dollars. In pounds. In Euros. If you are unhappy in your current position, how many dollars would you give up in order to be happy?

There is a Bill Watterson cartoon floating around talking about leaving corporate life for a lower-paying (or non-paying) position elsewhere, for the sake of making other choices in life that lead to greater life-fulfillment, like being a stay at home dad. Which is lovely and inspiring. But the cartoon shows him as part of a family, and I am sure that while he was being a stay at home dad, his wife was out earning money so they could feed their child. Nothing wrong with that. But what if you are unhappy in your life and don't have a life partner to support you while you float looking for something else? What if you are not a super talented skilled artist like Bill Watterson who was lucky enough to be picked up by a publisher after I don't know how much time spent not working and just submitting materials to anyone who might look at them?

I don't mean to poo-poo the decision to follow one's happiness. I am all for following one's happiness. But there is an element of practicality that needs to be factored in, too. If pursuing your happiness means dropping everything else and is going to cost you everything that you have - your health, your home, your friends - is that really the wisest decision to make at this time? Is there a way to pursue your happiness without sacrificing everything else you have? Because if you give up everything, yes your happiness will taste super sweet when you finally find it, but how long can you go without happiness, without food, without shelter, without friends while you search for it?

So how much is your happiness worth? I don't think I can put a dollar value on mine, but I wish I could as I have many big decisions ahead.

Monday, September 09, 2013

September 9 - A Theory and a Love Letter

I have this theory about the United States, but there are two bits of background information you need first before you can try to hop on board with this theory.

  1. As an actor, I split up the United States into New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Yes, there are other cities and towns and lovely places, but as an actor, those are my big three target markets. I have spent a significant amount of time in all three, though I have spent more time in Chicago than in the other two.
  2. I am very much on board with trying to reclaim the word "crone" as it applies to wise older women. Crone used to just mean an old woman, but with the cultural shift to prize youth and beauty (and imbecility as Craig Ferguson would put it) above all else, "crone" fell into disuse and became associated with crazy, senile, disagreeable, scary, old witch ladies. There are those who are now trying to reclaim the word as one meaning a woman who is past her reproductive cycle and in a phase of her life characterized by wisdom, personal power and freedom. American culture, specifically, does not celebrate older women, and I think we should. In part because I know a lot of amazing older women and in part because I plan on being one someday and I really hope they don't stick me in a home to rot away in my old age. I'm going to have too many fun stories to tell for that.

Okay, so now that we have those bits out of the way, I can tell you my theory about the United States. New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles correspond to the phases of a woman's life - crone, mother, and maiden, respectively.

New York is the crone. She is the wise old grandmother who has been everywhere and done everything. She may not be as showy and forthcoming with her love as you'd like, but when she tells you that she baked too many cookies and shouldn't eat them herself so you're welcome to them, you secretly know that she baked them in anticipation of you coming over. She loves you with that deep understanding that just lets you be because it would cause too much of a fuss to try to change you. She has raised her children and just wants to enjoy her grandkids now. Because you can give grandkids back to their parents when they start to cry.

Chicago is the mother. Nurturing, caring, welcoming. Chicago is a little more forthcoming with her love because she remembers what it was like to be that young once. She makes mistakes from time to time and tries to learn from them, and she is far from perfect. But she tries. And she would not go back to being young herself because she is happy the way she is. She loves her life and loves sharing it with those around her.

Los Angeles is the maiden. Young, a bit self-involved, a bit detached. She is concerned with appearances and being liked. If you have what she wants, she is your best friend. If you don't, she'll barely give you the time of day. She is young and fickle and outwardly beautiful.

There are things to love about each of these places, and certain elements of each of these places that appeal to different people and different personality types. I don't mean to cast dispersions on any of these cities or their inhabitants - we all exist at different stages of our lives at different times and want different things. Between the three, I would argue that just about anyone could find a happy home.

So my friend tomfromhr asked why I settled in Chicago. The simple answer is that I grew up here, so it is more a matter of "I haven't left yet" than a matter of settling. The more complicated answer is that I am fulfilled by this mother city. She moves at the right pace for me. She has everything I need. She believes in many of the same things that I do - knowledge, caring, letting those who you love know that you love them. Chicago just feels good to me. She has since I moved into the city from the suburbs when I was about eighteen.

The funny thing is that New York also feels like home to me. I get it. I get the vibe of the city. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been just fleeting Tuesday morning moments in New York. But I get it. The city spoke to me and let me know I am always welcome there.

I wonder sometimes what this says about me that I am equally happy in the mother city and the crone city, but I feel completely out of place in the maiden city. I think it goes hand in hand with the fact that I was never the ingenue type, even when I was that age. I think I have always been a little older, a little wiser, a little stronger than my age would suggest, which would put me in the mother and crone phases of my life perhaps a little earlier than some. I'm okay with that. I think I would rather enjoy a long, fulfilling croneship than a drawn-out maidenhood.

So why Chicago? Because home is where my mother is, and my mother is Chicago.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

September 8 - Experts

How does one go about becoming an expert on a topic about which hundreds of experts already exist? Do you start with the source material or the analysis thereof? Just wondering. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

September 7 - Pampering

Principal photography wrapped on Hamlet: The Series today. I think part of why I am so sad about it is that I want to do it again. I want to do it better. Not that it won't be a good production; but I want a chance to do my parts better. To feel more. To affect more. To raise the stakes, so to speak. I want to do it again. But I can't. The performance I gave is the performance we'll have on tape and it is the performance people will see. I hope it is okay. 

So now I get to mourn the passing of this project and my Hamlet. Which makes me feel like I should pamper myself for the rest of the afternoon. Eat decadent foods. Watch brilliant television. Read a book. Just be nice to me so I can deal with this loss. 

And now I get to focus on wanting desperately to see the finished product. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

September 6 - Sad

I'm sad today.

Before I go into why I am sad, let me just say that it is perfectly normal to be sad from time to time, and I have found it best to embrace the sadness as opposed to trying to avoid it. If I figure out why I am sad, I can deal with that thing and the sadness will go away as a result, as opposed to trying to just not be sad. That doesn't deal with the issue.

So anyway, today is a day to be sad for me. It has nothing to do with all of the sadness and suffering in the world, or the really difficult decisions that are being made right now concerning Syria, or anything that really impacts anyone but me. It is my own little personal bubble of sadness. The kind of bubble that goes nicely on a couch with hot chocolate, a super soft sweater, and a sad movie.

I am sad today because tomorrow is the last day of principal photography for Hamlet: The Series. In many ways, this is just the beginning of the project - it can then be edited and shared and discussed and it will be around forever. For the rest of my life, I can say I played Hamlet and I can show it to people all around the world. But for the actors in it, principal photography is the fun part. That is when we get to do what we do. All of the preparation, all of the rehearsal, all of the time spent analyzing dialogue and building characters all comes down to the actual performance, which in film, happens during principal photography. Once that part is done, we just sit back and wait for the thing to be done. We can move on to other characters and other projects, and for the last two and a half years, that is exactly what I have done to help with the mourning process as I say goodbye to all of the characters I have played, all of the amazing people I have worked with. If I keep myself busy and preoccupied with the next project, the next show, I don't have time to get too sad about this show ending.

I don't really have the next project in line yet. I have projects in the pipeline; don't get me wrong. But I don't have another character to inhabit yet. Another person to bring to life through my actions and someone else's words. And this makes me very aware of how empty I will feel when I'm no longer sharing body space with Hamlet. She first came to live with me a little over two years ago. It has been an extraordinarily long process, with ups and downs and stops and starts and frustrations and joys. We have laughed so hard on set. I have cried so many tears. I have spent so many hours with the script and my Shakespeare Lexicon books, trying to figure out who this person is and why she does the things she does and now that I finally sort of feel like maybe I have it, she's moving out. Unlikely to come live with me again. I've gotten used to her. I've grown to love her and empathize with her. And in the absence of another character coming to live with me, I just get to feel her slip away as I mourn her leaving.

I am looking forward to shooting these last bits tomorrow, because it means the project is that much closer to being done and I will be able to see the fruits of all of our efforts. But for all of the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that her flesh is heir to, I have loved this project and I am sad to see it coming to an end.

So I am sad today. I will be less sad later.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

September 4 - One of Two

Okay, one of two things needs to happen here. Either

  1. I need to train myself to only develop crushes on men who it is appropriate for me to have crushes on, or 
  2. I need to train myself to always know that my crushes are just crushes and nothing will ever come of them.
You thought this was going to be the first of a two-part blog, didn't you? Sorry about that. Make that the third thing to put on my list - I need to train myself to title my blogs more appropriately. But back to the subject at hand.

I did not add "stop having crushes all together" to the list because honestly, I like having crushes. I feel a little weird if I don't have a crush on anyone. Like when I found out my favorite actor was getting married so I had to sort of tone it down in my own mind and realize that even if we do meet someday, the most I can ever hope for is working with him, I didn't really have anyone else on whom to focus my affections and I felt a little empty. Granted, he did not know he was the focal point of my affections, and (I would like to think) many of my crushes never do. My affections usually amount to me thinking about someone and hoping they are having a lovely day. I'm serious. I don't turn into crazy obsessed stalker, I just hope the person I have a crush on is having a lovely day. Eventually, I realize that he's having a lovely day with out me just about every day and my expending this energy hoping he's happy is really getting me nowhere, so I give up and find a new crush. It is a very self-contained process that just gives me someone to think about on occasion.

My goodness, I sound like a lunatic, don't I?

But to me, that's what crushes are. These little periods of time when I think a certain person is particularly groovy so I hope good things come to that person. That's it.

Where it becomes problematic is when the person on whom I have a crush is not the sort of person on whom I should have a crush. For example, he's married, or he's fifteen years outside of my age range, or he lives on the opposite side of the planet. Granted all of these things are things that may not seem like a big deal to other people (except hopefully the married one), but to me, they mean that nothing will ever come of my crush beyond the crushing realization that my affections will never be reciprocated.

So how do I balance the desire to have a crush with the desire to avoid wasting all of my energy on people who are really groovy but will never be my life partner? It boils down to two choices - either I train myself to not develop crushes on inappropriate people, or I train myself to know that these little crushes are just little crushes from which nothing further will develop.

Knowing me, I should aim for the second. Because no matter how many times I tell myself I shouldn't like the 48 year old on the other side of the planet, sometimes he's just so cute, I can't help it.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

September 3 - Costumes

As a costume designer, I completely understand why you would want to use an actor's own clothing if possible for a show.

  1. You know it fits
  2. You know the actor is comfortable in it.
  3. It is one less thing you have to go digging for at the thrift stores.
  4. It saves money.
I get it. I've done it. Because why buy fifteen pairs of black trousers, hoping one will fit, when your actor most likely has at least one pair of black trousers of her own at home that would work just as well and suit the purpose without spending all kinds of time and money. It makes sense.

As an actor, it gets weird after a while to use your own clothes in shows.

I was putting away my laundry last night and as I folded this one particular tank top, I thought to myself, "This is Hamlet's mourning tank top." It then occurred to me that it is the same tank top in which my Hamlet dies. (SPOILERS! Hamlet dies at the end of the play. As does everyone else. Almost.) Anyway. I have another dress in my closet that started out as an audition dress, but is now Gertrude's dress. One of my work blouses was, for a while, the blouse I wore when I played a murderer, so it was a little strange to wear it to work once that show closed.

They say that the clothes make the person, and I am of the acting camp that believes the costume makes the character. So to do all of these things that I would never do in my normal life while wearing my own leaves a mark on the clothes. The clothes become the character. And for a period of time afterward, putting on those clothes brings the character back to life. I had a pair of iridescent Converse sneakers that I wore in Leftover Voices that I could not wear again after that film was over because of the connection those shoes had to that project. It didn't feel right to wear Celia's shoes out in the normal, everyday world. With most pieces, it just takes time for the residual character energy to fade enough so I can start wearing the clothes as clothes again. During the in-between time, though, I get to have a closet full of old friends.

Monday, September 02, 2013

September 2 - Recharge

There is a lot of information out there now about introverts and how they need to recharge after being around people for too long. What's funny is that they never really explain what happens during that recharge time. I don't know if I can explain it properly in words that everyone will understand, but I know I spent this weekend recharging after not having a good opportunity to do so for months. And it feels so good, I could weep. 

For me, as an introvert, when I'm stretched too thin, I start to shut down mentally and physically. I have no energy for new ideas or to dedicate to the simple every day tasks like doing laundry or cooking good food for myself. It is as if everything is too exhausting, and it is almost the way I remember depression feeling. It takes too much energy to psyche yourself up to do the things you need to do, so you just do nothing and then berate yourself for doing nothing and you feel like crap. 

Having a nice, long three-day weekend like this one, with nothing major planned is a good chance to recover from that. The first day can be spent indulging in the "nothing." I put nothing in quotes there because it really isn't time spent doing nothing. It is time spent analyzing recent interactions, figuring out how they could have gone better or what was enjoyable about them. It is time spent reconnecting my body and mind with one another and taking stock to see how I am, what needs nourishment, and what cannot be fixed so should be let go. 

The second day is spent preparing for the third. It is like sticking your toe in the shallow end of the pool to see how warm the water is. It might involve one social interaction, or one of those tasks that just the day before had seemed impossibly exhausting. But now that the day of self-examination has taken place, actually doing something like going to the grocery store isn't as difficult or exhausting as it had been built up in my mind. Maybe I even saw the cute guy with the mohawk, and noticed him noticing me. Maybe I thought about saying hello, but I didn't because I'm not quite done recharging yet. I still need day three. 

Day three is about catching up. Day three is when things happen. Laundry gets done, dishes get done, important emails sent, food cooked for healthy lunches all week. And while all of this is happening, I can tell that my cat is catching up on his "me time," too - he has enjoyed having me around for a couple of days but is maybe okay with napping in the other room without me for a few minutes instead of needing to be by me all of the time. I start to once again feel like a productive member of society who is good at taking care of herself and others, who has good ideas and the ability to execute them, who has the confidence to once again go out in the world and interact with others, most likely even having something interesting to say when I get there. 

So it's like a mini-cycle of depression, almost. When I, as an introvert, get exhausted, I get down on myself and on life, and I need some time to take a look at things, test the waters, and re-realize that there is a lot out there for me and I have a lot to offer. 

Kind of makes me wonder what bipolar disorder rates are amongst introverts as opposed to extroverts. How many people suffering from depression are just introverts who never take the time to recharge? Is that what my depressions have been?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

September 1 - New Challenge

Rabbit, rabbit! September first!

Well, I did it. I woke up and worked out. I've been trying to keep moving throughout the day as best I can, because the workout program I tried today had no cool-down or stretch built into the end of it. I did some stretching on my own, but still. Who creates a workout program without a cool-down and stretch at the end?

The jury is still out for me on the food front. Part of me says if I'm exercising every day, I should watch what I'm eating, too, for maximum get-in-shape-ed-ness, but I also don't want to end up feeling hungry like I do just about every other time I do the diet and exercise thing together. So I finished off my pad Thai from last night, and baked brownies to go with the giant salad I had for dinner. The brownies are made with fresh blackberries and judging by the batter, might be the tastiest brownies I've ever had. Because the thing about eating well is that it should nourish your mind, soul, and body all at the same time, and every now and again, my soul needs chocolate. If I deny myself that chocolate, well, I become a bitter person. 

I also did a nice big grocery shop, and was so impressed with the gorgeous colors of the foods I bought - tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, butternut squash, blackberries, raspberries, carrots. Is it because I'm vegan that my shopping basket is so beautiful, or does everyone's look like that? 

So Exercise Every Day in September is off to a rousing start. I almost feel like jogging a bit while I watch television this evening, but that might be overkill. Tomorrow, I will get some exercise and make a beautiful minestrone soup with all of the colors of the rainbow. Maybe this being healthy "as if it were my job" thing isn't going to be so bad.