Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31 - Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween. Always have. I like playing dress up and having fun, so what's not to like, right? I wore my Tenth Doctor suit to work today and am the only one in the office in the holiday spirit. Oh well. I think I managed to scare the guy at the sandwich shop, though, with the depths of my nerdery. So that's a good thing.

But anyway, moving on. You know when you can start to feel a crush coming on? You've met someone who sort of strikes your fancy, but maybe you're not looking for anything at the moment or the object of your growing crush is already spoken for or whatever so you're trying not to have a crush, but you kind of can't help it and you feel one coming on anyway? So you look the person up online to try to find something about them that you just can't deal with so you won't have to develop a full-on crush, but maybe the things you find make you like the person just a wee bit more. And you start thinking about the next time you are going to see said person, and you parse out your last conversation with said person for some sort of hidden meaning that might indicate that he or she is starting to develop a crush on you, too, and you start beating yourself up thinking, "Just talk to the person, gosh darn it! Use your words!" But somehow, the words all sound dumb. And you think maybe if you had an email address, you could craft what you wanted to say so that it didn't sound completely moronic, and you might even be able to infuse the message with some wit and charm so that if said person is starting to develop a crush on you, he or she might be pushed over the edge by your message? But you also want to keep things light so you can always fall back on the, "I'm not looking for anything; I just think we would make good friends" excuse to cover your ass if he or she is not interested. Or maybe all that is necessary is taking that one simple step to say "hi" when they're not expecting you to, but if you send an email that just says, "Hi," then you're officially an internet creeper which is the last thing you want them to think that you are even though you now know all sorts of intimate details of this person's life because you spent what should have been a full, productive work day reading his or her blog posts from the past ten years?

I'm thinking about sending an email.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30 - Music

Okay, fair warning: I'm tired and have lots of things to say, so they may not all come out coherently and I am betting that I will offend someone. Please keep in mind that these are my opinions and my opinions only. I'm allowed to have them, just as you are allowed to have yours and if you'd like to chat rationally about them, I'm all for that. Feel free to leave comments. Okay, here we go.


I fucking love it. I fucking love music and what music can do. But the current state of the music industry in many ways makes me ill. Are you ready for this?

To me, music is an expression of something - pain, love, hurt, despair, joy, fury, whatever - and the musicians I most admire are the ones who use the medium to say something. They are the ones who don't really have a choice in the matter, they are going to make music regardless of whether or not other people are listening because it is what they do. They'll play free shows, they'll play to an empty house, they'll play on a street corner on a Tuesday morning because there is so much music in them they will explode if it doesn't come out. Their voices may be twisted, they may fumble a word or screw up a chord, but that's not the point. The point is, they have a story to share and the best way they know how to share it is to write a song about it. And with the passing of Lou Reed this week, I have to remember, too, that the music I love most is not perfect. Lou Reed had a terrible voice, but he made some amazing music. Janis Joplin ripped her throat out every time she sang, and you still have to sing along every time you hear her. Tom Petty sings through his nose and is one of the greatest musicians of all time. With all of these musicians, you know you're listening to one of their songs because they all sound distinct, they all sound like individuals, and they all have some amazing things to say, some amazing stories to tell.

But this music is not played on mainstream radio. Every city in the United States has multiple top 40 stations that play artists like Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus, One Direction, but very few cities have a station like WXRT. And because of the proliferation of these top 40 stations, people have started to think that that's what music is supposed to be. Recycled beats with some version of "yeah, girl/boy, get up on the dance floor, I want you so bad" auto-tuned over it. One of my friends asked me why so many songs now include the name of the singer as part of the lyrics and I responded, half-joking at the time, "Because if they didn't tell you who is singing, you wouldn't know. They all sound the same." In retrospect, it's true. Now, that's not to say you can't easily identify a Maroon 5 song on the radio - listen for the nasal monotone - or a Katy Perry song - if the chorus is a simile involving an inanimate object, it's her. But the top 40 pop trap is one wherein artists are manufactured. They are styled and synthesized and packaged and sold and it's not about expressing some burning desire, it is not about universalizing some little poignant moment in their lives, it is about selling records and filling stadiums. And they do. And it makes me sad.

I don't mean to say that the top 40 pop artists are not hard-working, and I don't mean to say that they don't enjoy making music. It is quite possible that they do. But just as an example, listen to the original acoustic version of Call Me Maybe. Then listen to the radio cut. One is a sweet love song by a shy girl who likes a boy she just met. The other is a trashy romance novel. Listen to the original Somebody That I Used to Know. Now listen to the popular radio remix (if you can find it online - I'm having the worst time with that). The version played on the radio more often is the one where the song structure was completely ignored (i.e. an extra chorus added just for shits and grins), the instrumentation was emblandened (if I can invent a word to mean "all the personality removed"), and the tempo, rhythm, and syncopation were taken out so it would sound more like everything else that is on the radio. Now, I don't mean to poo-poo the art of the remix - there is skill involved there. But when the remix removes the personality and climax of the original work and does not substitute those things with anything, should it really be lauded as the "better" version? I say no. This is the same reason I don't like Glee. If you're going to do a "tribute" episode to someone, do something interesting with the songs, don't just do some bland karaoke version. Glee has had more number one hits than the Beatles. Think about that for a minute. Actors essentially doing karaoke on television have had more number one hits than the fathers of modern rock and roll. More number one hits than the people who wrote the songs in the first place.

Now, as a performer, I know that everybody steals from somebody. And I know that not everyone is a singer/songwriter. Some people can make an amazing living singing songs other people wrote. The thing is, Frank Sinatra made those songs his by infusing them with his own style, his own flair. He knew the background of the songs, the writer's intentions, he studied the lyrics so he could be up there telling the story written by the songwriter. He wasn't just showing off his own vocal stylings, he was singing the song the way it needed to be sung.

So okay, there is this gap between what I think is good music and what the music industry wants me to think is good music. I don't have to listen to the stuff they want me to listen to, so what's the big deal, right? There are plenty of ways for me to find music that speaks to me and I can spend my time listening to only those artists that I like, right?

The problem is much bigger than me. The problem is there are all these little kids growing up thinking that if you want to be a musician you either have to wear skimpy clothes and sing about sex (if you're female) or you have to wear sunglasses and sing about hoes or being uber-sensitive in a way you never are in your daily life (if you're male). You get this generation of kids thinking that music is about slapping some words over a beat and calling it a day. You get this generation of kids who have no desire to play an instrument or write some desperate poetry and set it to music; they just want to parade around in the latest fashions lip syncing to their own songs in front of a stadium full of adoring fans. And there is so much more to music than that. If I may quote Frank Turner, "I still believe in the need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry." And perhaps more importantly, "If you want to be a musician, you don't need the password or some secret decoder ring. You just have to open your mouth and fucking sing."

And beyond that are the musicians themselves. These people who make brilliant, beautiful, vital, vibrant art and are lucky to have seven people turn up to a coffee shop to hear them play, as opposed to the manufactured pop stars who seem all put-out that they have to play another show and oh my god, there are so many costume changes and the background dancers won't stop staring at my ass. It is frustrating to me that not as many people are listening to music with real lyrics, real voices, real instruments, real stories, and it has to be frustrating for them, too. Knowing that if they wrote an "ooo, baby, ooo, baby" song they could fill a stadium, but if they rip their hearts out on stage every night for ten years, they might get signed by a label who doesn't try to completely screw them over. Knowing that they have something to say and nobody is has to hurt. Especially knowing that people are listening so intently to those with nothing to say.

To these musicians who I love: I am sorry. I am sorry that there aren't as many people listening to you as we both would like. But for what it is worth, I am. I am listening. And I will encourage everyone I know to pay attention to your art, too, because I can see that you are working hard and I can see how much it means to you. And if it ever comes across as creepy that I come to all of your shows or buy all of your albums in one go, I apologize. I'm not trying to be creepy. I'm trying to celebrate your art, your life's work, because it has touched my life in a way I can never thank you for adequately. Please continue doing what you are doing. Please keep sharing your stories. I have to have faith that maybe some day, people will start listening again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29 - Bravery

It's not so much a matter of being brave as it is a matter of being impatient. If there is something I want to do and I can't find anyone to do it with me, I'll go it alone. No biggie. I still get the experience, which is brilliant. 

She says, standing in a rock club she should have been to a million times before as a Chicago musician but sadly never has...

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28 - Question Monday

I didn't know what to write about today, as I feel like I've been writing about acting too much lately or falling back on Haikus when I'm feeling lazy, so I went to the Twitterverse to get some questions to answer. And here we go:

Thursdayschild asked, "If you could erase your life and start over as a child in any location and (past) time period, Where, When, and Why?"

I think perhaps the more important question here is why would I erase my entire life? I've done some pretty cool things in my time on this planet and it has taken me a long time to build up all of my experiences, wisdom and expertise. And if I had to erase my whole life as it currently exists and start over as a child, I'd have to be a teenager again which was a thoroughly miserable experience. So while I have often thought that it might be fun to know what it was like to grow up elsewhere under other circumstances (i.e. one of the female children they kept in China, young boy in Germany in the 1940's who is torn between his love of swing dancing and society's insistence that he join the Hitler Youth, native Australian before the UK criminals were sent there, etc.), I think I'm going to have to pass in favor of holding onto what I have, rather than flying to that which I know not of. (There's some bonus mutated Shakespeare, just for you. Because I know you love it.)

Tomfromhr asked (and doomzTO seconded/built upon), "Chicago is consumed in a zombie apocalypse. Where do you move to start fresh? Bridge that with your escape plan so you CAN start fresh!"

Zombies. Yay. Everybody's favorite monster. I read something recently that said zombies are the American monster of choice because really, all you can do with them is shoot them in the face. They are a monster that begs to be shot in the face and as Americans, how can we say no to that? Personally, I'm more of a vampire person myself because, hello, Spike, and I like a little of the intrigue and intellectual stimulation a vampire might employ as he's trying to kill you. Besides, I'm pale as fuck so it works for me. Zombies can't even form sentences. It's like OK Cupid members on downers.

But okay, let's pretend there is a zombie apocalypse. My guess is that I don't survive because I don't really have an escape plan. The best I can come up with is a Shaun of the Dead style "hole up and wait it out" plan. But after that, I'd probably want to go somewhere with more outdoor space (and fewer stinky rotting corpses) than a major city. I've heard some people say that being on a boat or going to an island is a good choice. Maybe I'll use the zombie apocalypse as an excuse to go to the Galapagos Islands and set up camp. If we're all returning to nature, might as well, right?

Texancountess asked, "What is your comfort food?"

Just one?

I am one of those people who eats for comfort way more often than she should. Sometimes, it doesn't even matter what I'm eating, it is just the action of chewing that brings comfort (though, oddly, gum doesn't quite do it when I'm feeling down). I have seasonal comfort foods, too, because while my jambalaya is amazing in the winter, it's not so comforting in July. Summer is about berries and salads for me. Winter is about tomato-based things. Though a nice roasted garlic hummus and something to dip in it is tasty pretty much any time. And that's not even touching on sugary things...

I like to eat. Does that answer the question?

Thank you for your questions, guys! This was fun. So fun, I may even do it again someday.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 27 - Tired

I'm not going to lie - I'm tired. As much as I tend to freak out when I'm between shows, looking for a project, I think I should have taken a longer break to recharge in between projects because I'm just tired. I'm looking at my calendar, desperate for a day when I don't have to leave my apartment for a full 24 hours and I'm not seeing one for quite some time. 

And I know I shouldn't complain. I love the projects I'm working on, and I love staying busy. I know I am extraordinarily lucky to be working as much as I have been - that doesn't happen all of the time. There is a part of me that is afraid to take a break for fear I won't be able to get back into the swing of things. I'm just...tired. 

So I apologize in advance to my friends and family if I'm a little absent in the coming weeks. I feel the need for extra recharge time coming on. It's nothing personal; I'm just being an introvert. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26 - Coming Down

No matter how many times I get to do a monologue in an audition, I always say it about six thousand more times to myself once I leave. I need to figure out a way to stop that. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 25 - Exercise

Much like Randall who hates people but loves gatherings, I love physical activity but I hate exercise. Lemme explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.

Wow, conflicting movie references in the opening paragraph. Sorry about that. It's Friday and I'm eating Sour Beans, so that should tell you how the day is going.

So physical activity. Our three hour rehearsal last night was time spent with a fight choreographer, working out a rather complex "melee" with seven actors, trying to make it all look good and funny while keeping everyone safe and visible and out of harm's way. There was a lot of running around and jumping and squatting and using levels and letting out shrieks and shouting and, well, fun. It was fun. It was a blast. I love that kind of thing. And when I was in the play about the roller derby, I enjoyed the skating bits. My favorite part was getting to the theater and in gear early enough that I had the track to myself for a little while. Not to mention the years I spent as a social (and then semi-professional) lindy hopper. I love moving my body. I love figuring out what it can do. I love the physical exhaustion that comes after a night of dancing or three hours of running around a table trying to get away from my "husband," or an afternoon of fencing drills. I love it. I honestly do.

I hate, however, going to the gym. I hate running on a treadmill for a predetermined length of time or "distance." I hate putting on work-out gear and setting some goal like "I want to bench press 60lbs twenty times today." I know that is how you supposedly "get in shape" or "tone muscles" or whatever, but to me, it is boring as toast. Undercooked white toast that has neither crunch nor color. When I find I need to have something else going on to make my exercise palpable, it's no longer fun.

So the question is this: how do I continue to get exercise without exercising? How do I keep at doing different things that keep me challenged and entertained and motivated without running up and down the street at 5am? How do I keep it new and fresh and fun so I can fool myself into enjoying the workout?

I'm honestly asking. Because the only thing I can come up with is to keep taking roles in shows that have some physical challenge, some physical component, some physical task that I have to learn during the rehearsal process.

Actually, that's not a bad idea.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24 - Love

Run and jump and fall
Scream and shout and cry and laugh
That's why they're called "plays"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23

This one is going to be tough to write, so please bear with me.

The scene I did for class last night is one I've done before. I did the same scene the first time I took this class, but I played the opposite role, and it wrecked me. The basic premise is two women, roommates, best friends living in New York. One lost her parents as a child and was raised by her uncle. She is doing well, in a show, has a boyfriend. The other is currently between shows and single. The first woman had a pick-up rehearsal last night and ended up staying at her boyfriend's. The uncle used that time to rape the second woman.

Now, the first time I did this scene, I was the woman with the uncle and I had built him up in my mind to be this paragon of loving perfection, so to come into the scene and find out that he had raped my roommate...I found myself blaming her. When the scene was over, I was mortified that my brain went there without the slightest hesitation. It made me question the kind of loyalty I feel toward my family and the kind of loyalty I feel toward my girl friends. What would I do if one of my girl friends told me she had been raped? I would like to think I would be the supportive type, I would like to think I would be there to help her however I could, but after doing this scene for the first time, I had to wonder if I really would. Would I?

In the scene last night, I played the rape victim, which was a terrifying place for me to go. To imagine experiencing that. To be honest, I have had experiences that were less than mutually consensual, but they were not violent. I've even had experiences where the guy was having problems performing and I ended up feeling like an aggressor in my attempts to help him along. None of these were pleasant experiences and they all left me feeling worthless and ashamed. And for last night's class, I had to draw from all of them and add an element of violence and terror and betrayal, which was absolutely miserable. What struck me most, though, is that my scene partner last night had the same reactions I had when I played her role - she didn't believe me, she said I was making it up, she said I must have done something.

When the scene was over, the teacher called me out on my "go-to" place of wild, furious anger. She keeps seeing me go to this big, loud, angry place in my work, dismissing it as me "being dramatic." Part of me thinks it is the nature of the scenes - they are specifically designed to be so full of direct conflict that they push you as a performer to go to the deep, dark, scary places you don't really want to go. But part of me wonders if this means I am an inherently angry person. Thinking about it, I know I have a lot of anger about things in my life - bad relationships, work frustrations, stupid bicyclists not paying attention to the rules of the road. And I know that these are all things to which I could have a different reaction, but I sort of feel like I need to work through the anger first to get to a satisfactory resolution. And I haven't done that yet. So it is coming out on stage, which is the safe place for me to yell and scream in somebody's face.

I hope that I am not known as an angry person. I hope that I am not known as a mean person. I hope I am not known as the kind of girl friend who would blame her friend for getting raped instead of blaming the rapist. I know that all of my life experiences have made me the person that I am today, and I hope I am not deluding myself when I tell myself I am not a bad person.

I told one of my girl friends that the way I try to come down after a scene like this is to remember that acting is "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances," and since the circumstances are imaginary, the reactions, though they felt right in the moment, are imaginary, too, in the context of my real life. I don't know that the circumstances for this scene are imaginary enough for me. I hope I never have to experience the imaginary circumstances of the scene I did last night outside of the context of a theater.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22 - Follow Up

I don't have much to say at the moment because I am prepping for class tonight which is using most of my brain space, but I didn't want to miss a day, so just a quick note. I'm pretty sure I'm going to need ice cream when I get home. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21 - Ice Cream Play

I'm taking an acting class again that I have taken before. You will likely hear the actors you most respect telling you that one can never master acting and that one must always be pushing oneself to learn. I agree with this wholeheartedly, which is why I still take classes, why I will take a class more than once, and why I put as much effort into classwork as I do any other performance endeavor. That said...

I think what I'm getting from this class this time around is a sense that I still have a long way to go, and a feeling that the best theatre is the theatre that scares the crap out of you as an actor, but you do it anyway. The scenes I've done so far for this class have involved me holding a grudge for three years, cheating on my husband and getting pregnant by another man, and dealing with the loss of my husband whose funeral I missed for rather selfish reasons. These involved a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of thought beforehand, and a lot of personal emotional investment during. And each one terrified me in its own way. The scene I have to do tomorrow is also scaring the crap out of me, but I don't want to say why on the off chance one of my classmates is reading this and might get a heads-up as to what's going on. Suffice it to say, I'm having to go to some pretty dark places on a weekly basis.

I had an audition over the weekend that was frightening in another way, as there was a lot of physical movement involved, so there was a physical freedom and emotional vulnerability into which we had to tap as performers. I ended up skinning my knee as I threw myself into the challenge of it. And while I'm not sure I'm the best fit for the role, it was so much fun to throw myself into that task and it would be an amazing opportunity to get to explore that further.

I also read a play for which I will be auditioning this coming weekend that is teeming with vulnerable moments, great cover-ups, and emotional explosions. It left me feeling drained after reading it, knowing the kind of work that will have to go into the character I am auditioning for if I am lucky enough to play her. Being able to take her on the journey she goes on, to go to the places she needs to go to make the choices she makes...

And the thing is, through all of this, the thought of putting in all of that work, of exploring the human condition at its best and at its worst is what gets me most excited about working on a project. I did a short play a couple of years ago that was just gut-wrenching for both of us in the scene, and hard for the audience to watch, too, as they see these people crumble in front of them. We would finish rehearsals wanting just simply to collapse. My scene partner referred to the show as an "ice cream play," in that when it's over, you really need to go home and have a bowl of ice cream. I want every show I do to be an "ice cream play" in its own way.

This is not to say that every show has to be drama-filled or that I always want to play a murderer with a heart of gold or anything like that. The show I'm in right now is a comedy and is rather physically involved. And I'm finding that if I put the same energy into the humor and the comedic timing and the fight sequences and into trying to make my scene partners look good, I still walk away from rehearsal exhausted and in need of ice cream. And I love it. There is something so fulfilling to me about working myself to the point of complete mental and physical exhaustion and then getting up and doing it all again the next day. I guess it is how I know I am alive.

Please let me always be working. Please let me always be making art that challenges the audience and myself. Please let me always be able to find my vulnerability so I can remind the audience of theirs. Please let me always be able to give my scene partners the gift of my full attention and full effort.

Please let me always be doing ice cream plays.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20 - Tired

It has been a long weekend, full of lots of stuff, and lots of new faces, several of which I hope to see again. And were it not quarter to ten on the Sunday night of this long weekend, I would say more than that, but it is and I'm tired, so we're sticking with short and vague. I'll try to post something with more substance tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19 - I'm Just a Girl

This may sound strange, but I don't spend a lot of time being aware of my gender. Yes, I know I'm female and I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have the opposite genetalia, but I don't spend a lot of time playing up the fact that I am female, you know? I think of myself as a person, not a certain set of organs. 

Until I know I am going to be hanging out with lots of other women. Then, all of a sudden, I freak out about things like do I have the perfect little top, and is it okay if I don't put on lipstick? I probably should put on lipstick. And if I'm going to wear jeans instead of a skirt to hide the fact that I skinned my knee and have a Shakespearean insult Band-Aid covering the wound, I should compensate with heels and an extra coat of mascara. When I know I am going to be surrounded by lots of other women, I suddenly feel like I have to make an effort to fit in with the rest of them. To show that I know what being girlie is all about. 

I'm on my way to a bachelorette party and I changed my clothes four times. I went with the cuter but significantly less warm coat. I had an extensive shoe conversation with myself, rivaled only by the "eyeshadow or no eyeshadow" debate. And then I sent my best guy trend a text message asking him when I turned into a girl. 

I think what I have to remember, that you would think I would know for sure by now, is that it's okay if I don't blend in. And I am much more comfortable being me than trying to be someone else. One of these days, I'll figure that out for girlie occasions, too. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18 - Thought

You know how they say the sound of waves is soothing to us because it reminds us of being in the womb? I wonder if it is for similar reasons that my cat likes to sleep on my stomach, rising and falling with each breath.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17 - Art Odditities

We've all read stories about people who have done really extreme things for their art. Everything from gaining or losing weight for a film to the performances done by the man who is the subject of the film Sick to Daniel Day Lewis going out to live in a log cabin for four months so he could get the Abraham Lincoln thing. We've heard of people living out of their cars while they tour as musicians, selling CDs from their trunk. And I think to some extent, we've all taught ourselves that in order to be a successful artist, you have to be just a little bit crazy, or at the very least, willing to do the things that other people won't.

But there are little things we do as artists, too, that aren't as glaringly life-altering as some of the things mentioned above, but they give an authenticity to our work. For example, I find myself getting cast fairly regularly as a married woman. I am not a married woman, nor have I ever been a married woman (not really). And I'm not talking about going out and getting married so I know what it is like to be married - every relationship is different, and even within the context of each play, each marriage is different. But married women wear wedding rings. In my regular, everyday life, I do wear rings, but not on that finger. Putting a ring on that finger feels strange and foreign to me. A little over a year ago, though, I went to one of those cheap jewelry stores in a mall and found a selection of rings that could look like engagement or wedding rings so if I need one, I have one. I got a couple of different styles, too, so they could be appropriate for the different kinds of marriages I would have in these various plays.

The show I am working on now involves me wearing a wedding ring. I'm wearing one today so I can get used to the feeling of a ring on that finger. My character isn't even supposed to really notice the fact that she is wearing the ring until the fifth scene of the play, so I feel like for me, I need to not be aware of the fact that I'm wearing a ring on that finger. So I'm practicing by wearing something that looks like an engagement ring in my everyday life.

People do strange things for their art. They don't always make headlines, but in my mind, sometimes it is the tiniest differences that make the piece that much more authentic, real, and relateable.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16 - Love

So, Owen was walking down the hall toward the bedroom as I was walking toward the couch in my living room. I called after him, "Would you like to be snugglie?" He stopped, turned to look at me, and came running into the living room. He waited patiently while I placed a blanket over me, and then curled up on my arm in his favorite spot. 

Say what you will about companion animals in general or cats specifically, my cat is smart and he loves me. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15 - Note to Self

So during the scene I did for class today, my scene partner didn't believe a word I said because his character thought that my character was a starved for attention actress who would do whatever was necessary to keep the spotlight on herself. After the exercise, the teacher said I did a good job of committing to this character that they all despised, or at least she did. And she said that once again, I missed my opportunity to give my partner the great gift of my release because my defensiveness kicked in.

And I know in my heart of hearts that these are all comments about the scene, not about me as a person. But in a way, they are about me as a person because they are how I reacted to those stimuli. And I know that what happens on stage should stay on stage and I get to go back to my normal life where I'm not grieving a dead husband. But tonight, just for a few minutes as I try to improve my craft, I find myself asking the questions:

Am I the sort who does things just to get attention?
Do people in general not believe me when I feel like I'm being genuine?
Am I overly defensive?

Just a couple of things to think about.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14 - Cure

Sometimes, the only thing that can set everything right again is a day spent napping with a cat. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13 - A Wish

I hope that when I die, I am remembered as a genuinely nice person. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12 - Single

I had a panic attack this morning. A pretty bad one. The kind where my breathing gets heavy and I feel shaky and my mind is racing and the thought of interacting with other human beings paralyzes me. But I have a lot to do this weekend, and coming up with excuses for not doing those things was also terrifying and exhausting. I feel a little bit bad for being glad that the weather called my outdoor plans into question, and then a little worse that the storm did not arrive as expected. But my audition and the party I have to go to tonight? Those we're going to be harder to get out of. I tried to convince myself that I'm not right for the show I was auditioning for, that I would be doing them a favor by respectfully canceling. But I didn't. I went. 

Theater cures all.

I have no idea if I will be cast in this show. At this point, that's not the important part. I went. I acted for a minute. I made people smile. I chatted about the representation of women in media. And I'm going over the conversation again and again in my head, wishing I had said something different. But it calmed me down. It made the world less scary. It made people less scary. It helped me breathe again and feel like a normal person. 

When people ask me why I act, I have to remember moments like these. Walking into a theater and feeling like I'm home, I'm safe, and I am valued. I am awesome in theaters. Which is exactly why I want to dedicate my life to working in them. 

Theater cures all. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 11 - Quick

Hi. Stop.

Long week. Stop. Very tired. Stop. Didn't want to miss a blog, though. Stop. Will write more later. Stop. 

Hope you are well. Stop. 



Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10 - Freak Out

Last night, I thought I lost my phone.

I've not lost my phone before. Not really. I have the occasional mini-freak out when I thought I put my phone in the cute little cell phone pocket inside my purse, but it actually fell into the larger pocket. But I've not ever actually left my phone anywhere where it shouldn't be before.

Until last night.

I'm not even sure exactly how it happened. I was at rehearsal, and had carpooled there with a couple of my cast mates. I was the last to be dropped off. When I got home, I took out my contacts, put on my pajamas, and started getting ready for bed. I went to my purse to get my phone to make sure I charged it overnight and to set my alarm for the morning, but it wasn't in my purse. I checked the pockets of my jeans, and the pockets of my sweater. No phone. I looked in the cabinets, on the counters, in the fridge, thinking maybe I had set it down in one of those places and forgotten about it in the three minutes since. No phone. I looked again in my purse, emptying all of the pockets. No phone. I looked again in the pockets of my jeans, the pockets of my sweater (which had not magically gotten heavier by the weight of a cell phone since the last time I checked), I dug through my laundry basket thinking maybe it had fallen out in there. No phone. I looked in the stairwell of my apartment building. No phone. The feeling started to settle in to the pit of my stomach - I am without communication. I can't text anyone to see if they know where it is. I can't call anyone to ask them to call it so the ringing will locate the phone for me. Even if I could call the phone, it was probably still on silent from rehearsal, so would that help? I logged on to my Gmail account and used the Google Hangout function or whatever it is (Gchat, maybe?) to call my phone from my computer as I walked around my apartment listening for the vibrations. Nothing.

So I started retracing my steps. I knew I had my phone at rehearsal, and I could have sworn I put it back in my purse. I thought I had it when I left the theater... Please, dear god, don't let me have forgotten my phone in the theater. My next rehearsal is Friday night and there was no way I could make it to Friday night without my phone. I just couldn't. My brain did not want to entertain that notion, though my gut was telling me, the phone was in the theater. But then I thought of one other place I could look first - the car of the cast mate who drove me home last night.

I emailed him, because that's all I had, and he replied an excruciatingly long two minutes later saying that yes, my phone had been left in his car. He was in possession of it and did I need him to bring it back over? I threw my normal clothes back on and said I could come get it from him if he gave me an address. He did. I repeated his address out loud to myself the entire way to his apartment to make sure I wouldn't forget it, as I would have no way to access my email to verify the address once on the road. I was a bit thrown by the one-way streets in his neighborhood, but finally managed to find his apartment and retrieve my phone. I have been touching my phone approximately every ten minutes since then, thrilled to have it back in my possession, terrified to lose it again and go through the terror of not knowing where it is.

On my way home, I also found myself beating myself up for watching too many sitcoms and such. Because it occurred to me that a common sitcom plot device for two people about to hook up for the first time, is that one of them will come up with a bogus excuse to go to the other one's place (or invite the other one over) late at night and then a move can be made. Or, that psycho girls who want to lay their claim to a specific man will leave a personal item at his place (or in his car) so they'll have to interact again. Neither of these things was my intent. I was not looking for a booty call, I am not laying claim to this fellow cast member, and I wasn't looking for some excuse to see him again. I just wanted my phone back. Even if that was my intent, I'll see him pretty regularly for the next month as we're in this show together so the "leaving the phone in the car" thing is kind of silly. And then, do I have to apologize to him on the off chance he was expecting me to come over for something other than cell phone retrieval? Because if he was on the same page that I was, that conversation will become very awkward very fast and I'll feel like an even bigger dink than I already do for forgetting my phone in someone else's car.

Needless to say, I'm not feeling very mentally great today. Huge freak out + huge relief + huge psychosomatic embarrassment = Kitty is having an off day. Here's hoping tomorrow is better.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

October 9 - Snuggly

Some days, you just want to be snuggly. Cover yourself in comfortable, soft clothing with a good, autumn weight to it. Curl up in a soft blanket. Eat and drink things that warm you from the inside. If you have a super soft, super snuggly companion animal to snuggle with, even better. Today was one of those days. 

Sadly, I did not get to have a snuggly day today. Too much life stuff going on - work, rehearsal. Not that those are bad things - I'm enjoying our rehearsals quite a bit and any day I get to act is a good day. But when the weather starts to turn like this, when it becomes sweater weather, sometimes I just need to have a snuggly day. 

Here's hoping I can make time for one soon. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

October 8 - Other Side

I have spent many years bemoaning my sluggish metabolism, blaming it for giving me a rear end with its own gravitational pull. And yes, it is true that my trousers are a little more snug these days than I might like, but I'm wondering if maybe I'm looking at things wrong. Because seriously, for the amount of food I eat sometimes, I should be as big as a house. But I'm not. So maybe I should be thanking my metabolism for putting up with all of the ups and downs and droughts and binges and keeping me in largely the same shape I've been in since high school.

Thank you, metabolism.

That said, I'm going to go measure out one serving of cashews to have for an afternoon snack...

Monday, October 07, 2013

October 7 - Hamlet Update

I saw a rough cut of the first episode over the weekend.

I don't know that I'm really qualified to comment on it yet, as I spent most of the viewing noticing things like how awesome my hair looked or how visible the scars on my face are, or remembering on which day we shot which scenes and thinking about all of the stuff that happened off-camera on those days during those shoots. I saw things I wish I had done differently. I saw things that I did the way I hoped I had. And I don't know if I got teary-eyed because my performance was compelling or because I remembered the emotional state I was in saying those particular words on that particular day. I giggled a couple of times when I didn't think I was going to, or wasn't sure I was supposed to. I didn't cringe as much as I thought I might, and the cringing comes entirely from hoping my own performance is not crap, and is not intended to be a reflection on anyone else involved in the project. It was...

I want to see more. I want to watch this episode a dozen or so more times so I can watch it as a whole piece, and not a collection of parts. I want to see the other episodes so I can view the project as a whole.

I'm excited to see Hamlet: The Series finished.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

October 6 - Tricks

I was talking to my fellow cast mates today about acting, and specifically memorizing lines. A lot of actors feel like the sooner they can get off book, the sooner they can start exploring their character. To some extent, I agree. I think getting off-book quickly is very important and helps free actors up to explore their characters and relationships with much more depth. I think, though, that starting to explore the character can be a very helpful tool in memorizing the lines. Because, and it may sound silly to say this, but you'd be amazed how often it is forgotten, plays are made up of conversations. 

I'll say that again: Plays are made up of conversations. 

If you think of your lines as your side of a conversation, and you know your character really well, it should be pretty easy to figure out what your character is going to say in response to what your scene partner just said. Which brings me to the second crazy-important "duh" thing that actors often forget: acting is about listening. 

Again: acting is about listening. 

So you're up on a stage, living this imaginary life under these imaginary circumstances, but you're still just talking to other people. It is your job as an actor to put a real, honest, true conversation on the stage, and real, honest, true conversations involve listening and reacting as much as they do talking. So if you know your character well enough to know how they would react, then it just becomes a matter of reacting to what your partner gives you. And they react to your reaction and before you know it, conversation happens. 

So that's my trick for learning lines. I figure out the character, figure out the thought process, and then listen to the other people on stage with me. I wish I could explain it better, but that's it. I just have to know who my character is and then the conversation (line memorization) just happens. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

October 5 - Mush

I have words.
To say.
About lots of things.
But not right now.
Words are failing me.
I would like to use my words.
But they are not mine now.
"I have nothing with these words. They are not mine."
"Nor mine now."
Tomorrow, I hope to be coherent.


Friday, October 04, 2013

October 4 - A Story

My dear friend over at Please Note the Whale and I wrote a story today via Gchat. Enjoy!

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had blue hair and a box of lollipops that could grant wishes to those who licked them. She would often give them to kittens who looked like they needed a hug, but kittens are not known for liking sweets, so in order to get the kittens to lick the lollies, she would drop them in fish guts. But fish guts aren't easy to come by unless you work on the docks. So she would sometimes have to venture down to the docks to get her guts.

The docks were no place for a girl with blue hair, and they always gave her the heebie jeebies. This particular day a man with a starfish tattoo on his face stopped her and told her that a safer way to get fish guts was too learn how to fish herself. The starfish was actually a logo for his local fish and bait shop. "Come on down," he said, "I'll show you my secret method for catching fish. All you have to give me is your soul!"

The girl was, needless to say, hesitant, but after a brief moment's thought she replied, "Okay, I'll give you my soul if you teach me how to fish so I can grant wishes to kittens. I will come to your shop tonight after I tell my mother that I love her." The girl set off home, the weight of her soon-to-be-missing soul pressing on her mind. "Will I still want blue hair when I have no soul?" she wondered. "What if I lick a lollipop and wish to know how to fish? Then I won't have to give that man my soul for some sole." She picked out the biggest lollipop and whetted her whistle and took the biggest lick of her lollipop that she could. "I wish I knew how to fish," she thought as she licked. She opened her eyes and saw her mother coming back from the grocery shaking her head.

"Silly girl, you can't get a wish that way. Licking your own lollipops makes all the wishes go away." She took her daughter by the hand and led her back home. "Why don't you tell me what's going on?" asked her mother.

"I just feel so bad for the kittens," the girl replied. "So I thought if I could learn how to fish I could make the lollipops tasty for them. But the starfish man wanted my soul in order to learn his secret."

Her mother laughed and said, "That's very sweet of you. Hand me a lollipop." The girl gave a huge red lollipop to her mother, who closed her eyes, concentrated very hard and said, "I wish that you would go to bed and we find a solution in the morning." The little girl was still sad about the kittens but said goodnight to her mother who tucked her in sweetly. She then took her daughter's box of lollipops into the back garden. "These things are more trouble than they're worth," she growled. "I'm going to have to feed them to the pigs." She dumped the the pig trough.

Back inside she picked up the phone to call the starfish man. "What are you doing, trying to help my daughter help the kittens? I thought we had a deal!" she shouted at him. "You promised me that you would avoid her until I was ready to introduce you to her!"

The starfish man replied, "She was down by the docks and I was worried about her. I didn't realize she was the chosen one, destined to be the Kitten Savior. What can I do to set this right?"

"Well, for a start," replied the mother, "you can get all of the fish guts and fishing supplies down at the dock and meet me at the river. We only have a few hours until she wakes up to get rid of them. We must rid the world of all fish and fish-related paraphernalia. Those darn kittens will never get their hugs if it means I have to take allergy medicine to do it myself!"

She sneezed as she hung up the phone and turned around to discover the pigs had all turned into kittens and were slowly creeping up on her. She reached for a broom to sweep them away, but her constant allergic sneezing kept her from being able to shoo them out the door.

Meanwhile, the little girl had heard everything and snuck out the bedroom door into the kitchen where her mother was. She saw the box of lollipops on the floor, stuffed one in her pocket and ran out of the house. "There were too many kittens in there for me to hug all of them right now," she thought. "I better get help from the witch doctor!" and she slipped into the shadows of the forest. She ran and ran until she could run no more. She stopped by an old, gnarled tree to catch her breath and was suddenly struck by the feeling she was being watched. "Hello?" she cried out. "Is anyone there?" The reply came back on the crumpled leaves of the forest floor and the tree began to move. It was the witch doctor in disguise.

"I'm sorry to scare you my dear, I was just studying the mating calls of the various types of swallows in this region. It's best if they don't know I'm listening. Can I help you with something?"

The girl sobbed as she recounted the scene in her kitchen. "Why would my mother hate kittens?" she asked.

The witch doctor took her face in his branch-hands and said, "Your mother lost her kitten when she was your age and then developed allergies. Take this pill and only use it as a last resort. Your lollipops are useless and you must go to the shack and hug all the kittens yourself. Let nothing stop you!"

With that she started running again towards the shack. "I'd better get ready for some serious hugging," she thought, so every time she had to stop and catch her breath, she would stretch and practice her kitten-speak. Soon a glow appeared in the distance - a light was on in the kitten shack. The little girl ran harder, her blue hair whipping in the wind. She opened the door and saw hundreds of kittens - tabbys, calicos, siamese - all crawling over one another, mewing for attention. "Poor darlings," she whispered as she gently picked up a gray tabby. The kitten nuzzled her and all the other kittens crowded round mewing for their hugs. Kittens sat perched on her head and shoulders, rubbed against her legs. The little girl was buried in a pile of adorable. 

The sun rose and bathed the room in its warm, orange light. One by one, the girl hugged the kittens until she remembered her mother and the starfish man. No one had run after her. Had they dumped the fish guts? Why didn't either of them stop her from hugging kittens? She noticed one kitten, small and brown in color, shying away from her every move. She went to pick it up and it sneezed. Taken aback, she stood up and looked at all the happy content kittens curled up on shelves and under couches, playing and napping. In the window behind the little brown kitten was her mother, crying. 

"That kitten," her mother said, "It's just so cute. It looks just like the one I had when I was a girl. Can I hold it? Can I hug it?" 

"Of course, mother," replied the girl. "Just be gentle." 

The girl picked up the small brown cat and walked to her mother but the kitten hissed. The fur on its arched back rose. The mother sneezed and sneezed and sneezed until she dissolved. From the pile of clothing that remained emerged a perfect, snow white kitten with blue eyes. It looked up at the girl and began purring. "Mother?" asked the girl as she picked up the white kitten. It licked her nose and fell asleep in her arms. "I guess the other kittens don't have to worry about you anymore." 

The girl , happy with her kittens curled up among them on the couch, unaware that the starfish man was still peering through the window from the shadows...

Join us next time for Episode 2!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October 2 - Stage Kisses

I can't remember if I have written about this before - I probably have - but I'm going to talk about stage kisses today. Woo hoo!

Incidentally, I bring up stage kisses because I have an impending one on the horizon. I was cast in a production over the weekend and without giving too much away, there is one kiss in the show.

The thing about a stage kiss is this: it is in the story for a reason, so it has to mean something, but it is between two people who often times (but not always) don't regularly kiss each other off stage. I'll let you think about that for a minute.

Now, I've done stages kisses before plenty of times. My first one was awkward and weird and I ended up splitting his lip open when our faces smashed into each other. I created one that wasn't in the script in a show that was a series of monologues that just felt right, but I'm not sure everyone in the audience got what I was going for. I kissed a teacher in class once while doing my monologue - it was a power play on my character's part and as soon as the monologue was over, I sat down shaking, my face beet red with embarrassment. So I'm no stranger to the stage kiss. I've had all sorts. And the fun comes in trying to figure out what sort they are supposed to be and how to go about telling that story to this audience with this scene partner who I didn't know existed until a week ago.

During our first read-through last night, I was sitting next to the person I am supposed to share this stage kiss with, and when we got to that point in the script, I could sort of feel both of us tense up a bit. That feeling of, "I've seen you exactly twice in my life and in just a couple of days, our lips are going to meet whether or not we would have otherwise wanted them to." Which is not to say he is not a nice person - he is. He's cute and talented. But I have no idea what his romantic situation is - is he dating someone who will get upset if our kiss looks too passionate? Has he recently ended a relationship that makes him feel like kissing nobody is the best option for him right now? And given our character circumstances, a lot of the burden for the impetus for the kiss within the show falls on him. What if he's just plain not attracted to me, either in real life or on stage? What if through the rehearsal process, I find myself less and less attracted to him? Or more and more? The stage kiss could then fall completely flat and that important element of the story will be completely missed.

It is, admittedly, a little bit scary to know that this oh-so-important kiss is coming and to not have done it yet. I'm sure once we get the first one out of the way, it will be smooth sailing from there on out. But there is the anticipation of knowing it is coming, and knowing it will happen repeatedly regardless of whether it is good or bad.

Needless to say, I'm going to make sure to eat a breath mint before every rehearsal and before every show.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 1 - Shame

I am embarrassed by my government today.

I was talking to a fellow classmate last night as we were working on building our relationship's back story for a class exercise and he asked if we needed to discuss politics. I told him I like politics best when I don't have to think about them. Today, I have to think about politics because the Temper Tantrum Party has decided the way they can best serve the interests of their constituents is to shut down part of the government. They will still receive their paychecks, of course, because it is important work they are (not) doing up there on Capitol Hill, and god forbid, they should actually stand with the people they claim to represent, the people told to take furlough days while Republicans stand with fingers in their ears shouting, "La la la, I can't hear you," at the Democrats.

Now, there are those who would argue that the Democrats should back down and allow funding for Obamacare to be delayed. I wonder how the millions of people who plan on going online today and signing up for health coverage they were previously unable to obtain feel about that. My guess is that Democrats who stand in favor of funding Obamacare as it was passed are taking that into consideration. I wonder how Republicans will react when they see exactly how many people in this country are in need of affordable health care and how many want to take advantage of the program. Will they still insist on delaying funding for the program, effectively saying, "Fuck you" to everyone who signed up for it?

I think what makes this even sadder is that there is another impending debt ceiling vote coming up, which is one of those silly things Congress imposed upon itself so it can have leverage in situations like this. Which means someone has to do something in the next two weeks to get the government running again or our credit rating could take another hit like it did earlier this year.

So, coming from someone who doesn't pay all that much attention to politics, who gets most of her news from the BBC, and who doesn't like having to think about this stuff, this is what I see:

  • Obamacare has the potential to help a lot of people.
  • Republicans are still pissed that an African American Democrat got elected fair and square to a first and then a second term.
  • To this end, Republicans are dead-set on sabotaging his presidency.
  • Republicans have decided that Obamacare needs to go away and are using lots of various unfounded fear tactics to get the American public to turn against it.
  • In the ultimate game of Chicken, Republicans are now holding the American government hostage, costing millions of taxpayers millions of dollars in lost income, and threatening to lower the United States credit rating yet again rather than allow funding for a health care program that will not really affect people who already have insurance, but will open the door of opportunity to people who have not been able to get proper insurance in the past.

I'm sure I'm missing something in the details there, but at this point, I kind of don't care. I'm ashamed that the Republican party would hold healthcare for millions hostage because they're not getting their way. Because the idiotic candidates they've put up in the past couple of elections didn't pass muster. You know when the last time the government went into a partial shut-down was? Seventeen years ago when Republicans didn't like Clinton's budget.

Republicans: stop shutting down the government. This is not an appropriate negotiation technique among grown adults. Get your fingers out of your ears, put on your big boy pants, go in to work, and discuss things like civilized human beings who are elected public servants. Shutting down the government does nobody any good. Shutting down the government in the name of stopping health care reform does nobody any good. You are only succeeding at making yourselves look incompetent and idiotic to the rest of the world. Grow up and do your job.

Happy October, everybody.