I have often thought that if I were to add another element of makeup to my daily routine, it should be some sort of lip color. As it stands, on the average, ordinary day, I wear eyeliner and mascara and that's it. They bring out my eyes and help keep me from looking comatose, as my high school classmates used to point out to me before I discovered makeup. It's a simple morning routine as far as my face is concerned - wash it in the shower, moisturize it afterward, eyeliner, mascara, done. But seeing as I am pale as f#$%, I have thought from time to time that I should wear a bold lip color to make myself look kind of classic. The forties were about minimal eye makeup and bold lips, very little color on the cheeks, and we all know this is a good look for me. So in my daily routine, it would make sense to do minimal eyes and a bold lip, right?
The problem with a bold lip is that the lips are used. A lot. Throughout they day they are licked and wiped and bitten and smeared and if you're not careful about what lip color you use, your day becomes about reapplying and trying to wrangle the lip color back onto your lips and off of the lip of your coffee mug. Not to mention, looking at a bright red lip print on one's coffee mug is not at all attractive or appetizing. Then again, neither is coffee, but that's beside the point. There are companies out there that make "stay put" lip colors, but a lot of these are not vegan and are therefore not an option for me. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics makes lip tar which stays on fairly well, though it will kiss off and/or the bright red color will turn mildly pink over time as it is slowly licked/wiped off. And truth be told, if I wanted mildly pink lips, I would choose a mildly pink lip color, not a bright red in the hopes it will fade to something less bright later.
So a couple of weeks ago, I discovered a tube of e.l.f. bright red lip stain in the dollar bin at my local drug store and I thought I'd give it a go. Why not, right? For a dollar, what did I have to lose? Not to mention my giddiness at finding vegan cosmetics at my local drug store. I also bought a tube of their silver glitter mascara just because it was there. While the glitter mascara didn't seem to do much but make me think I was seeing something out of the corner of my eye for the rest of the day, the lip stain stayed on. Gloriously. All day. To the point where it was almost difficult to take it off once I was ready to take it off. But honestly, I didn't care. I could have my beautiful, bright red lips on stage, kiss the person I'm supposed to kiss, and he wouldn't have to end the show wearing my lip stick. Huzzah! I was so excited that I scoured the dollar bins at every local drug store I could find looking for another tube, though I could only find pink. To the internet! I got a three-pack of lip stains and have decided to start wearing the darkest one on occasion, just for fun. Like today.
So thank you, e.l.f. for making fun, vegan cosmetics that actually stay where they are supposed to. It's a vegan actor's dream.
And then there is day seven of the diet. When your body starts to notice that it isn't getting as much food as it used to get and starts bugging you about it. Your hunger reflex doesn't shut off, even though you ate your afternoon snack alongside your lunch. You start to dream of the soda you've not had in a week, the sugar you're avoiding, the evening spent watching television eating chips and salsa.
But you're proud of yourself because last night, instead of reaching for the chips, you had celery and hummus and even though your evening was kind of busy, you walked to your appointment so you got two miles of walking in on a day when you weren't sure if you were going to be able to work out. Hooray for healthy living!
But the scale this morning went up a pound and a half from where it was yesterday morning. Even though you got exercise and stayed within your calorie/fat/protein/carbohydrate ranges.
Dieting sucks. It really sucks. I'm not going to lie and say I feel better or lighter or have more energy or any of that crap people tell you to try to get you to diet, too. Dieting sucks. It really really does. But I'm curious to know what I would look like and how I would feel if I was about twenty pounds lighter than I am now (or nineteen, according to this morning's scale; seventeen and a half according to yesterday's). I've never been small; I've never been obese. And while there are no guarantees that I will be any happier or get any roles I wouldn't have otherwise gotten if I become thinner, I kind of want to try it out and see what happens. So I'm sticking with it. I'm going to make a healthy dinner and get some exercise while I do my laundry tonight, and I'm going to try to figure out how to get some exercise in tomorrow, too. Because seriously, Scale, fuck you for saying I gained a pound and a half overnight when I did what I was supposed to. Fuck you.
I think the worst part of a diet starts at about day four or five and continues until one decides to give up and not diet anymore.
See, for the first few days of a calorie-reduction/increased-exercise diet, it's really not that bad. It's kind of fun piecing meals together so that they fit within your daily allowances and still have nutritional value. You feel like you have control over things as you measure out a quarter cup of nuts for an afternoon snack. And when you step on the scale each morning, you see instant progress as you lose water weight and bloat. You start to think, "This is totally doable."
But then you hit day four or five and you start to think, "I've worked out hard for the last few days; I should probably give myself a rest day now," so you remind yourself how easy it is to just sit and watch television instead of running while doing so. And while you still remain within your calorie limits, you start to get annoyed with how frequently you have to wash your measuring cups and why the hell did you buy measuring cups you can't put in the dishwasher in the first place? And probably the biggest blow to your momentum - when you step on the scale in the morning, it says the same exact thing it said yesterday. Now that the water weight and bloat are gone, it's time to actually burn fat and lose real weight, so the progress you see goes much slower. And it sucks. You start to think about all of the hard work you've been putting in and you're seeing no results anymore so you question whether or not it is worth it. Doesn't chocolate cake make you feel just as good as stepping on the scale and seeing a smaller number? And chocolate cake is more immediate.
This is where I am right now.
On Thursday of last week, I started keeping track of my food intake again. I woke up and jogged in my living room for thirty minutes, followed by about twenty minutes of hula hooping. Nothing fancy, just keeping the hoop going for about twenty minutes. I did this on Friday and Saturday, too, and managed to stay within my calorie range even through Sunday (though I gave myself a day off from working out). And this morning, my scale said what it did yesterday. About two and a half pounds down from Thursday, but the same as it was yesterday. Meaning, I know the hard part it just starting.
I'm not sure where I'm drawing my motivation from. As I posted last week, there are no guarantees in life, so who's to say losing weight will affect any other aspect of my life? Then again, who's to say it won't? But I want to do this. I want to try, anyway. I haven't figured out my exact goal weight, or what sort of reward to give myself if I reach it, but I know I'd like to be in better shape than I am right now. So no matter how miserable it is, measuring out each and every grape I consume, forcing myself to hoop or run or dance for twenty minutes every day, I'm going to try to stick with this beyond day four or five.
I was talking to some friends last night after our show about the differences between different kinds of theatre - community vs. storefront vs. professional - and while I know these differences exist, I kind of hate talking about them with fellow actors because it always makes it sound like I prefer one type to another. Truth be told, I have had wonderful and terrible experiences in each of these settings. I was paid for a show once where there was so much in-fighting between the people involved that I believe the married couple divorced shortly thereafter. I've done storefront theatre for audiences of four where I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself and I made great friends. I've done student films that felt more organized and professional than some of the indie films I've done, and some student films where I felt the director should have taken better notes in class. So it isn't a matter of preferring one setting in which to act over another, each show is a differnt beast. But I think the thing I look for most from project to project is an opportunity to learn and grow as a performer.
I've been offered another opportunity, just a couple of meetings, with a theatre company I quite respect, and it will fit in perfectly before my next major project starts. I'm kind of over the moon excited, thinking that even though it will be a brief encounter, I will have a lot of opportunity to learn and collaborate and perhaps make some strong connections with fellow artists. Right now, I feel like that is what theatre is to me, and what I most need in my career. Because it's not about the size of the theatre or the size of the audience, but the strength of the connections and the opportunity to learn.
I often find myself dreaming of the little things that will change when my big dreams come true, like not having to remind people at big events that I requested a vegan meal, or going to an audition and getting to audition at my alotted time. Sigh. Someday...
It's opening night for my first foray into dinner theatre and I am surprisingly not very nervous. I usually get opening night jitters, but they haven't hit yet. I'm guessing they won't until I get to the theatre/restaurant.
In any case, I'm going to keep this short and say a big thank you to the director, producers, sound people, lighting people, music director, choreographers, cast, props people, hair people, and myriad others who all pitched in to make this project happen. This is one of the big annual fundraisers for this theatre company, and we have already sold more tickets than last year's show, and I'm honored to be part of a project that helps ensure live theatre will still be accessible for those who wish to see it.
I took a couple of days off of work this week, in part because if I didn't use them soon, I would lose them, and in part so I have enough time to get myself ready for my shows tonight and tomorrow. Weekdays off are just about the greatest thing in the world.
When I was in Dublin, my friend and I visited the Guinness Storehouse and I learned that the Guinness company was the first company, or one of the first companies, to offer paid vacation leave because they figured out that employees were happier and more productive when they had time to spend with their families. Thank you, Mr. Guinness, for that, and for your very tasty beer which may be the undoing of my vegan-ness. Can I be a vegan whose weakness is a non-vegan beer made by an awesome, ethical, Irish company? Will I have to return my vegan membership card if I drink more than one Guinness a year?
Anyway, I've had a day off and even though it is only half over, it has been glorious thus far. I cleaned my bathroom. Thoroughly. I was trying to remember the last time I put that much time into cleaning my bathroom (as opposed to the cursory once-over I do in a pinch), and it had to be just before I went to the UK. But everything is glistening and white and it smells antiseptic in there, which feels so good. I also made more of the best scones on the planet, set my hair in pin curls for tonight, painted my nails, ran for thirty minutes, hula hooped for ninteen minutes, took out the garbage, and watched the second episode of Hamlet: The Series. I'm on my second cup of tea, tracking my food intake for the day, and making sure to get in some quality snuggling time with my cat. This is what life feels like. I miss this when I'm not home for fifteen or sixteen hours at a stretch.
Not that I don't love what I do. I remind myself every day how lucky I am to have all of these theatrical projects into which I can invest my time and energy. But it feels really good to be domestic for a day. Catch up on the things that fall by the wayside when I get busy. Tomorrow, I think I'll tackle my kitchen and the floors. Laundry on Saturday and organizing the front rooms. By next week, I'll feel like a real, live person again.
For reasons not essential to this blog post, I pulled some music I wrote a long time ago off of a computer I've not touched in years and listened to it yesterday. It was...
If you've been following my blog all these many years (is it twelve now? Is this blog twelve years old? It is! My first post was on February 6, 2002. Sweet jebus.), you probably know there was a time in my life when I wanted to be a rock star. To that end, I had a band. We played my songs in all sorts of venues around Chicago and I loved my band mates with all of my heart and soul. You may also remember that the first iteration of my band broke up and my heart broke in the process. I tried finding a couple of new members, but that version of my band broke up in glorious, rock star fashion over a spat at a gig. To lose my band twice within a year was rather devastating and I've not played much since. A bit here and there, mostly just in my living room now for my cat. I've played a bit more recently since I received a lovely email and started listening to Frank Turner, but music is still a little painful for me. Or a lot painful for me, depending on the day.
When I think back to the time when I was writing and playing a lot, I remember being frustrated at how difficult it was to get people to listen. Yes, I had a small circle of friends who listened to my stuff and always seemed to want more, and I treasure them for that. But I wanted to know how to get real producers to listen, or people who didn't feel obligated to listen because we were friends or they were my family members. I notice this even now, when I find a musician I like and want to spread the word about them - it's really hard to get people to invest three minutes of their life in listening to something they've not heard before. I wonder if it is because we're so inundated with visual and auditory stimuli that we spend a good deal of time just looking for the familiar. But whatever the reason, I remember being really frustrated that I couldn't reach a wider audience because at the time, I thought at least some of what I was writing was really good.
Listening to the songs again now, some of them ten years old or better, I am conflicted. Part of me can recognize the wordsmithing and the attempts at interesting chord progressions. Part of me thinks some of the stuff I wrote way back when was actually pretty good. Part of me is wracking my brain, trying to remember if I ever wrote down my chord progressions and lyrics because half of these songs, I don't remember how to play anymore. And part of me cringes at the sub-par guitar playing, the rampant angst, the over-exaggeration of what the situations actually were that inspired certain songs. And the metaphors! Sweet jebus, I liked the metaphors. Granted, a lot of the songs I pulled off my old computer were probably never played live for anyone, and one has to write a lot of crap to get one diamond, but still. Wow.
But it did get me thinking. I have a few friends who know (or knew) me first and foremost as a musician, and that is how they still see me, and I wonder what they would think if new, previously unreleased "demo tape" type recordings were released somewhere. Like discovering Liz Phair's Girlysounds? Or if I did post the songs somewhere, even for a short period of time, would they sit there un-listened-to until I took them down in sadness? Would some of the craftier ones be hailed for the songwriting and lyrical beauty, or would I be lambasted as a hack for the kind of bad ones? Could some of the words in some of these songs help someone who is hurting?
I think that would be the most compelling reason to post some of them. I wrote about a lot of pain, and some of it I think is really effective. Would it be helpful to other people who may be in similar situations to hear those songs? If it would, I would gladly do so. If not, I'm not sure. I'm not sure I'm ready to throw my musician hat back out into the world to be judged again. Maybe in another ten years...
I have many thoughts on many things but not much time, so I really just want to say please watch this. It has been a long time in the making and I'm so excited that the first piece is up. Please watch, share, and discuss!
I feel like a broken record talking about the weather in Chicago all of the time, but it is kind of one of the major things going on in my life right now, in that I often find myself needing to be out and about in really horrid conditions. I keep hearing reports on the radio, too, about how far over budget Chicago has gone with snow removal so far this year, and about various suburbs that have exhausted their budgets. I find myself wondering if it is for that reason that so few roads are plowed during storms. They seem to be waiting to send out the plows and salt trucks until after the bulk of the storm has subsided, which saves money, yes, but makes for bad driving conditions when I have to get 20 miles outside of the city at least four times per week. One starts to get exhausted by the whole process.
On the up side, tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer, so maybe the eight or so inches we are supposed to get today will start to melt a bit. I really can't afford to not go to the theatre - we open on Friday - but I'd really like to be able to get there without clutching the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white every now and again. Please?
I've seen a bunch of live theatre lately, in large part thanks to Chicago Theatre Week and I have to say, I love it. I love going to the theatre. I love the buzz, I love the energy, I love watching the stories unfold. And I love watching my fellow actors do what they love to do.
I've gone to most of these recent shows solo, too, which is nice. I don't have to worry about someone else's schedule, or seeing something they don't want to. The only down side is not being able to discuss the show afterward, but it does allow me to tell other people about the show in depth, which is nice.
In any case, I feel very cultured going to the theatre more regularly. I should make a point if doing more of this. As should you.
I want a guarantee that at least one of my great big lofty dreams will come true. I want a guarantee that all of the work I have put in will result in one moment of glorious joy. I want a guarantee that if I lose twenty pounds, I will be cast in something opposite one of my idols. I want a guarantee that if I make a leap of faith, things will get better instead of worse.
I want a guarantee.
But there are no guarantees in life. It is entirely possible that I will spend my life in unpaid storefront theatres performing for audiences of three, working with other amazing artists who also somehow never get seen. It is entirely possible that I will never find a life partner. It is entirely possible that I will bounce from day job to day job, thankful for the employment but quietly dying inside. It is entirely possible that I could work out like crazy and starve myself to get the Hollywood body and still be miserable. There are no guarantees in life.
So all I can do is dream and hope and work really hard. The trying is the only part over which I have control, so all I can do is try my hardest.
It'd still be nice to have just one guarantee, though.
Valentine's Day. No, I'm not diseased, I'm just bitter.
Actually, not all that bitter. My dear friend had a baby boy this morning, and I'm kind of over the moon for her and her family. They've been waiting for this blessing for a really long time and I'm so excited that they finally get to say hello to him. I can't wait to meet him! Which means a trip to Texas, which is warmer than Chicago, yes?
So last year I had a Valentine and this year I do not. Things happen. But I would like to fill my blog with love today for not quite a something, not quite a someone, but for a place full of things and people that always brightens my day. There is a Vietnamese restaurant right near where I work that may be my favorite restaurant in Chicago - Saigon Sisters. It is the kind of place I have started visiting too frequently but I don't really care because:
1) The food is delicious. Seriously. I do not have words to describe the deliciousness so you'll just have to trust me, but every time I go in there, my meal is absolute perfection whether I'm dining in or doing carry-out. 2) There is more than one thing on the menu that I can eat. This might not sound like a big deal, but for a vegan surrounded by chain restaurants that typically only have one thing I can eat (usually sans any real form of protein), this is a huge deal for me. I like having options, and there are at least three, maybe four things I can eat at Saigon Sisters. It makes me feel "normal." 3) The people who work there. The gentleman behind the counter and I have the lovely sort of relationship where we chat when he's not busy. He told me a couple of weeks ago that he thought of me while he and his husband were having a Torchwood marathon, and when he asked about my weekend last week and I told him I had a big audition coming up, he remembered it and asked how everything went when I was in there this week. Again, this may not seem like a big deal, but as I often deal with people who yell at me on the phone for things that aren't my fault or can't seem to remember that I'm vegan (even though they make fun of me for it on a weekly basis) when it comes to ordering group lunches, to have this man who has no real motivation for being kind to me be kind to me...it makes my day. Granted, he's probably kind because I'm in there a lot and he would like to make sure I continue to dine there, but he goes above and beyond the normal kindness shown by restaurant staff. And he is not the only one. I am always greeted by name when I go in there by at least two people, if not more. If the owner is in, he'll come over, shake my hand, and ask how my mom is doing. When she and I dine there together, we get star treatment even though we've only been in a few times. It is just a really quality group of people who work at Saigon Sisters and they are at least half of the reason I eat there as often as I do. (The other half is the food. Seriously, I don't have the words to contain all of that delicious.)
So I would like to ask this restaurant if it would be my Valentine today, for always feeding me well, and for always putting a smile on my face. Thank you, Saigon Sisters. Keep on doing what you do, and all of your patrons will continue to adore you as I do.
I went to this big audition last weekend whereat dozens of casting directors all watched hundreds of actors do monologues. In preparation for this event, I went to a workshop/clinic thing so I could get an idea of what to expect on the big day. One of the things we talked about was THE CHAIR. In the audition room, there was a chair on stage that people were welcome to use or not use as their monologues required, and it was suggested that if one did not plan on using the chair, one should move it out of the way before starting. Makes sense, right? Because otherwise, the audience would spend the whole audition wondering why there was a chair there if it wasn't used and/or when it would be used and they might miss the lovely performance happening in front of them.
I saw a show at one of the top theatres in Chicago last night, and when I walked into the theatre, the glory of the set made me say, "Oh wow," out loud to myself. It was supposed to be the interior of a house, with a kitchen and living room, a front door and a hallway, and a bedroom upstairs, all painstakingly decorated with specific elements to allow us a peek at the inner lives of the characters we were about to watch. But through the whole performance, the whole two hours and fifteen minutes of the play, nobody used the upstairs bedroom. It was referenced, and the lighting scheme in the bedroom would change as the scenes changed, but absolutely no action took place there. And I was tempted to stay for the post-show discussion just so I could ask why they had gone to all of the trouble to build this stunning part of the set to not use it. But I didn't.
The show had other problems, too, but I bring these things up to illustrate a point: Superfluous design elements can distract an audience from the point of your art. Maybe this is a cry for minimalism, though I don't classify myself as a minimalist per se. I can appreciate design for the sake of design. But especially when it come to film or theatre, people will be watching intently, trying to pick up on every minute detail that might offer insight into the themes or artist's purpose. So if you don't need it and don't use it, you might want to think about whether you need it at all. Make sure the audience looks where you want them to look.
I am, in many ways, a creature of habit. I tend to cook the same things and wear the same things and drive the same route to work and whatnot. Some sense of routine or continuity can be nice. But by the same token, I'm sick of it. I'm tired of eating the same things. I'm tired of bundling up in what feels like the same six layers of clothing every day. I'm tired of having the same conversations over and over again.
But if the Weather Channel app on my phone is to be believed, we may see above-freezing temperatures within the next ten days, and may even get some rain, which would be a welcome change from the constant snow. It is going to feel like a whole new world when I can bring skirts and sneakers back into my wardrobe, instead of layers of knee socks and boots. It seems like a minor thing, but being warm, even warm-ish most of the time instead of painfully cold some of the time, is just about the most welcome change to my routine I can imagine right now.
Well, that or a phone call from a casting agent. Whichever is easier.
I don't think I've seen this many germophobes in public restrooms in quite some time. Just in the past couple of days, I've seen an inordinate number of women use paper towels to turn off faucets, hold the garbage can open to throw things away, and open the door to leave the ladies room. Is it because it is winter time and everybody is trying to avoid catching everyone else's colds, or is this normal behavior and I just don't go out enough to notice?
Granted, I don't like being sick any more than anyone else does, but I'm not terrified of germs. There are more bacteria living in my intestines than in all of the toilets in Wrigley Field put together. Probably - I've not actually done a study. But the point I'm trying to make is that bacteria and germs and viruses are everywhere and I have better things to do with my time than dedicate brain space to avoiding them. So I get a cold every now and again; if I had never been ill as a child, I would likely get a lot sicker now than I do. And if I allow myself to get really pissy and self-righteous about it, I'll say it is because I have come to terms with the fact that we have to exist in harmony with germs that they don't bother me so much, either mentally or physically. But that's just if I'm getting pissy about it.
So in the meantime, to all the people out there using paper towels to open the bathroom door or turn off the faucet (that was last touched by a pair of hands that had just been washed and your very own germ-bombs), just know that I am secretly laughing at you as you do so. We all have our compulsions - maybe that is mine.
You know, for someone who spends as much time as I do trying to be authentic and in the moment and honest and emotionally available, I also spend an awful lot of time pretending to be okay. Not that I'm not okay in general, but there are those interactions throughout the day that wear on a person and can make someone grumpy. I try very hard to not let those little annoyances become misdirected throughout the day, which means I spend a fair amount of time pretending to be okay when really, I'm seething on the inside, or ready to cry.
I noticed this especially today because I spent the day being a customer service person. There was one call in particular where I think the man on the other end needed somebody to talk to, because he just talked a blue streak at me for thirteen minutes. I told him there wasn't really anything I could do for him and he told me about his home and his pre-retirement career and his son's love life and his plans for the future. He wasn't complaining, just chatting. And while he was a very nice man, I found myself wanting desperately to remind him that this was a customer service line and as the only person answering phones today, I should probably not have a nice long chat with a stranger. I didn't. I let him talk until he was done, but I felt like I should have said something. And when I hung up with him and the phone rang again almost instantly, I swore quietly under my breath before putting a smile on my face and answering with a cheery, "Thank you for calling, how can I help you?" Pretending to not be exhausted.
I do this in my regular life, too. I try not to bring my work day annoyances to rehearsal with me because to vent them in the direction of my cast mates would be inappropriate. And at the dating event I went to last night, I found myself being nice and socially acceptable for a longer time period than I might have liked, especially considering I had to be nice and socially appropriate earlier in the day as well.
I'm currently psyching myself up to be cheerful and friendly at rehearsal even though I'd really just kind of like to be surly for a bit. But what does that say about my insistence that I be true to myself and react honestly in the moment if I squash my surliness in favor of having people not think I'm a jerk? Am I being false, or am I making an informed decision about how to behave in public?
Hopefully, I can be surly for a bit sometime soon so I can get it out of my system.
From auditioning in front of casting reps to auditioning in front of potential boyfriends, it has been a long day of trying to be my best self in front of strangers so they'll want to talk to me again. I'm tired. And I hope I get as many inquiries from the casting reps as I got from potential boyfriends, if not more.
I can barely remember the last time I had a Saturday to just be a Saturday. It probably wasn't actually that long ago, but it feels like it. I had one today. I slept in past noon. I lounged with my cat for a good portion of the afternoon and didn't shower until 4:30. And it was glorious.
Tomorrow, I'm auditioning for about 48 casting reps from around the state. No pressure. But it is in part for that reason that I think a down day today was such a good thing. Though I also sometimes think I should have Saturdays more often.
I want to be able to tell you that it's better this way in a way you'll understand. I want to remind you that someone who doesn't want to be with you is not worth your time. I want to tell you that it's okay to be sad for a while and it's okay to not jump right back in. I want to tell you that spending time with yourself just might help you find a more rewarding relationship down the road. I want to remind you that remembering what you love about yourself can help illustrate just how different what you are from what he wants, and I want the logic of that situation to help you stop pining for someone who has moved on.
But I know that these words won't help. And I know they sound really hollow coming from someone who has been single for 95% of her life. Kind of like when those of you who have spent your lives in relationships tell me to "hang in there, you'll find someone someday." Because we're coming at this from completely different angles and since neither of us has had the other's experience so true empathy is difficult to achieve. I'm sorry about that.
But mostly I hope you realize sometime soon that looking to the past to find happiness with someone who is no longer present will never bring you the peace you seek. So be sad for as long as you need to be sad, but be sad now so you can be happy later. Because until you've been sad long enough to get sick of it, you'll never be able to find any sort of closure, even a temporary one.
Two things came together today to make me want to write a long blathering post about a thing I don't have.
Thing one: I watched an old interview with Tom Hiddleston that made me fall a little bit in love.
Thing two: I got my umpteenth reminder that Valentine's Day is coming up in the form of a reminder email about an upcoming Nerd Dating event.
Thing I don't have: a significant other. In the romantic sense, anyway. There are lots of significant others in my life - I wouldn't hang out with them if they were insignificant - but none with which I am currently contemplating sharing a life and starting a family and living together and all of that nonsense that goes along with being in a romantic relationship.
So here's the thing: what is attractive to me about Tom Hiddleston in that interview is that he gives a crap. He loves what he does, he does it his way, he delves into it and researches it and puts loads of time, energy, and thought into it. He is passionate and confident. It also helps that he's really good at what he does, but that's a bit beside the point. He is passionate and confident about what he does.
Somewhere along the line, we seem to have gotten this idea that the best way to interact with one another is to "be cool." I don't know if this comes from centuries of British repression, but we all seem to think that sharing emotions with one another is a VERY BAD THING, and that all emotions are SCARY, and that if we talk to one another, we'll lose all of our friends. So we have to "be cool," all of the time, which usually translates into being somewhat disconnected, or at least acting disconnected. We see this on TV and in movies all the time: guy asks girl to dance, girl says no, guy pretends he's okay with it so they can still be friends while secretly he is dying on the inside; or girl sits and waits for guy to ask her out, pining over him and calling her girlfriends to have little pity parties about "why doesn't he like me?" and when he finally does ask her out, she pretends (in his company, anyway) like it is no big deal. Side note: I know I'm referencing television, but I see this sort of thing in real life all of the time, too, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my hetero-centric example there. I'm sure these scenarios play out in the gay community as well. What it boils down to is that nobody wants to let anyone know they are ever effected by anything. Like we all have to walk around, completely even-tempered, to be considered at all socially acceptable.
What I love about acting is that it allows me to connect with other people, to affect them and to be affected by them, and we get to feel things! Feel all the things! I like feeling things. It's how I know I'm alive. So what bothers me most about my everyday life are the interactions wherein both parties feel the need to pretend that they feel nothing. Now, I'm not saying that my interaction with the guy at the sandwich shop has to be some deep, meaningful psychological exchange of ideas, but if he's pleased to see me or I him, I think it's nice to be able to have a pleasant, friendly exchange. If someone at work pisses me off, I should be able to say something about it without being labeled crazy or considered the sort who "flies off the handle at nothing." And when it comes to the ever-sought-after-ever-desired-mother-of-all-relationship-goals the true, committed romantic relationship, the last thing I want, the very last thing, is a guy who just plays it cool all of the time. Someone who never geeks out about anything. Someone who never gets excited about his work or his softball league or getting to play with a friend's dog in the park. I want to be with a man who is passionate about something, and who isn't afraid to let the entire world see that passion.
So two of my sets of married friends met at Nerd Dating, so I know that some decent men go there. And I know that if I was in a place to want a boyfriend, the kind of man who goes to Nerd Dating is probably closer to the kind of man I would like to meet than the sort of man who goes trolling for chicks in bars, so to speak. But I find myself wondering, with Nerd Culture being what it is, and this generally accepted idea that in order to be socially acceptable we have to disconnect from our emotions and our passions, I find myself wondering if I went, would I find anyone who makes me fall in love just a little bit, or will I find myself spending an evening straining for a connection with anyone? And the funny thing is, the answer that keeps coming back into my head is that for the moment, I think I would really rather stay single than spend my time and energy being disappointed by rampant apathy.
That's probably rather presumptuous or dismissive of me, isn't it?
It's funny the things we sometimes forget to mention to people who we haven't known very long as we're getting to know them. I was thinking about it the other day and I have approximately thirty-two years of dance experience in varying styles. No, I didn't study ballet at Julliard or anything, but I was a semi-professional lindy hopper for a while, and a collegiate shag instructor, and I studied tap, and I took ballroom lessons with my dad, and I took ballet as a kid. And when you put it all together, I've been dancing in one form or another for thirty-two years, give or take. But it's not the sort of thing you necessarily mention when you first meet someone. "Hi, my name is Kitty and I've been dancing for over three decades. Can I substitute the sweet potato fries for regular fries?" It doesn't roll off the tongue nicely.
And what's really annoying is that things like this generally only come up in situations where sharing information like that makes you sound like a tool. Which is unfortunate because some of these things are things of which we should be proud. Keeping up with something for the decades is a big deal. But if I mention it in "polite" society, I sound like I'm bragging or pretentious. Oh well.
For those of you keeping score, I've done loads of things in my life of which I am justifiably proud. And someday, maybe when I'm an old lady sitting on my front porch drinking lemonade, I'll be able to tell you about all of them without feeling like a jerk.
Here's the scenario: You have something in your hands that needs to be delivered to a specific location. The thing, be it an envelope or a package or a unicorn, whatever, has the address where it needs to be delivered printed on the side so hopefully you won't get lost or forget where you're going (poor branded unicorn). You arrive at the address printed on the item and see a sign on the door with the family or company name that matches what is printed on the item, and the phrase, "Please knock for entry." What do you do?
A) Pull on the doors. They're likely open anyway.
B) Knock. That's what the sign says. Duh.
C) Drop the delivery item somewhere near the door and walk away. It's close enough, right?
If you picked "A," there is a sub-question. You've pulled on the doors and found them locked. Do you:
A) Stand and look confused. Doors. They're tricky man.
B) Knock. That's what the sign says. Duh.
C) Drop the delivery item somewhere near the door and walk away. It's close enough, right?
Okay, really, answers below:
If you picked "A," again, go away. Seriously. Go back to elementary school and learn how to read signs and follow directions. I know it's not cool to follow the rules and obey signs and whatnot, but this is one of those "helpful" signs, like the great big red octagons you see on street corners telling you to "Stop" so as to help avoid you being killed by oncoming traffic. "Knock" does not mean "pull." There is a difference. If you don't know it, I know why you're delivering stuff for a living and why you will probably still be delivering stuff for a living (albeit for a different company) when you're in your seventies.
If you picked "B," what the fuck are you doing delivering packages for a living? You're too smart for this and your talents are being wasted. But seriously, thank you for doing your job. Honestly, it may not seem like a big deal, but knowing our stuff is getting to us in a timely fashion makes the rest of us breathe a little easier. So thank you.
If you picked "C," congratulations! You are well on your way to a career as a delivery person with any of the major package delivery services currently in business in the United States. It doesn't really matter if the intended recipient gets the package as long as you put in a minimal amount of effort. If someone else makes off with the package before the intended recipient discovers it abandoned outside their door, it's not your fault. You can always fill in the "left at front desk" option on your tracking form because really, front desk, outside the front door, what's the difference? The important thing is finishing your route early so you can get home and watch Maury.
Many people have heard the bit from Hamlet that goes, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Some say "our philosophy," some say "your," but the basic thought behind it is the same - there are things out there that we cannot understand or explain. People like to pull out this passage when talking about the occult or the paranormal, and often times (at least these days) it has a tinge of facetiousness about it. It's the end of an argument that someone doesn't want to be in anymore, a sort of Q.E.D. "Well, there's stuff out there we can't explain, so let's just move on to the next topic, shall we?"
But not nearly as many people know the bit that immediately proceeds this line, the line "And therefore as a stranger give it welcome." In the context of the play, Hamlet has just been told by his father's ghost that his father was murdered by his uncle. Hamlet is obviously devastated by this news and suddenly wondering who he can trust when Horatio and Marcellus show up, wanting to know what happened and what is wrong. Hamlet does his best to not say too much, and in his first show of "antic disposition," swears Horatio and Marcellus to secrecy, as they also saw the ghost that night. Horatio, thrown by the strange happenings of the evening and Hamlet's odd behavior remarks, "O day and night, but this is wonderous strange," the Elizabethan equivalent of, "What the hell is going on, Hamlet? You're being weird." Hamlet replies, "And therefore as a stranger give it welcome." He's pleading for Horatio to make a leap of faith, to show Hamlet that he can trust Horatio, to be on Hamlet's side. He's asking, "Yes, it's weird, but can you just accept it anyway?"
I like that sentiment. I like encouraging others to accept things that may be strange to them. Because think of all of the things that were once strange to you that you have now come to love, trust, and rely on - things as impersonal as your smartphone to things as beloved as your spouse or children. These things were once strange to you, but by giving them welcome, your life is now so much richer. So the next time something strange presents itself, perhaps adopting a welcoming attitude as opposed to one of fear and mistrust will bring something into your life you never knew you needed.
"And therefore as a stranger give it welcome." A good thing to be reminded of from time to time, and words I am proud to have owned once.
...and then the little seed of doubt plants itself in my brain. Making me question if I am really being helpful when I think I am. Making me self-conscious of the lip stain and glitter mascara I messed around with just for fun. Making me wonder if a dozen cupcakes will be enough to show my friends I tried.