acting · change · confidence · dreams

Hunger Games

I attended the Theater Bay Area General Auditions on Sunday
as a volunteer, which meant I got to see a lot of headshots, a lot of nervous
milling actors, and some of the auditions.
What I got to observe was that I probably fit somewhere in the
middle of that pack – I’m not worse than the worst person, and certainly not as
good as the best, so that means… I have a shot, right?
The General Auditions bring together all of the casting companies from around the Bay in one
room, like a cattle-call. There are about 5 auditions every 15 minutes, and it
goes on for 3 days. I can only imagine what that must be like for the auditors!
But, you never know – they can’t blink, because they might miss something, and
if you falter, you’ve just faltered in front of everyone you’ll ever audition for.
(all hail hyperbole!)
The other thing I got to see was how hungry all the actors were. It didn’t matter the age, or
experience, there was a rabid manic energy about the whole place. The guy
sitting in the lobby mouthing the words to his monologue, the slight look of
lamb at slaughter of a few, and the general awkwardness of the others standing
around their competition, sizing one another up, if even glancingly.
Because there isn’t enough. That’s the grand and great mantra
of things like this. It reminded me of the day laborers who stand outside of
Home Depot, waiting for someone to pick them. All they want to do is work. That’s
it – just give these people an opportunity to do what they know how to do best.
Just let them work. It’s a very different idea about the hungry artist, to me
at least. The idea that the hunger isn’t necessarily about pride, prestige,
fame, but just about getting the chance to do that which you’ve been trained to
do –
Let Me Work. That’s what these
actors are saying, in their fidgeting, their primping, their priming.
And this Saturday, I will do the same. I will say the same
thing: Dear CCSF Director, Please let me work.
It’s a strange interview process; so much more intense than
“regular” office interviews, where it’s a dialogue (hopefully). This is just
you, presenting what you have to offer, sans feedback. There’s no riffing, no
improv, no charming self-depreciation or affable witticism. There’s just what
you can give in 1 minute – what you can bottle and nutshell in one minute of
the macrocosm of who you are and what you can do.
It is a lot of
pressure!
But. I’m up for it. I have to be. I don’t really have the
option to shirk my dreams anymore, or shrink from that which enlivens me. I mean…
I do, but, “all things considered,” I don’t. Life is short, dearies.
I also am getting to observe my lovely monkey mind as it
compared my list of acting credits to those on the resumes I was handing to the
auditors. I don’t have an MFA in Acting.
I don’t have a BA in Theater
Arts. Hell, I don’t even have one legitimate credit at all. And, yet, (I’m
talking to you, monkey mind) So, the, fuck, what. ? So what?!
Do you not make a new recipe because it might fail, and
therefore never eat again? Do you not refuel your gastank because it’s empty
and futile to continue refilling it? Do you stop talking to people you’ve never
met before because your name hasn’t been in lights, on a program, on Buzzfeed?
Well, I hope not.
Essentially, Life would be pretty awful if it meant only
doing the things you knew how to do. Where is the joi de vivre in that?
So, I’ll own the joi. I’ll de vivre. I’ll feed my monkey
mind banana chips and positive affirmations. I’ll practice the shit out of my
monologue, and I’ll mouth words silently, and I’ll appraise my competition, and
I’ll remind myself there is enough and I am worthy, and I’ll believe it and I
won’t believe it, and I’ll try again next time.
Because, I woke up with Lose Yourself in my head this morning — Eminem wants me to work, too. 

acting · action · change · commitment · confidence · kindness · laughter · life · performance · persistence · progress · recovery · relationships · self-support · sobriety · time

For those of you playing along at home. . .

For those of you playing along at home, below are a few
updates on things I have here written about:
  • The
    caffeine-reduction experiment has been a near-fail since beginning the
    temp job, but continues to remind me to feel guilty.
  • I realized this morning that the free bus I sometimes catch to BART can take me all the
    way to the city, instead of transferring to BART (thank you to my school’s
    student bus pass, making bus transit in the East Bay free).
  • I put
    back up the series of my paintings that I’d taken down during Calling in
    the One
    , at which time I’d realized that women
    not looking at their lovers was something I wanted to move away from. I
    put them back up when the okJew was potentially going to come over, and I
    didn’t want a blank expanse of wall over my bed. I’m not sure if I’ll take it back down. 
  • I have
    not yet finished, but I have begun, the art project for my friend’s
    wedding. It sits on my desk, accusing me.
  • I
    bought cat food.
  • I graduated with a Master’s degree a month ago. And I was offered a weekend job at said pet food store. Generously offered (not the compensation), but no thank you. Not yet, at least.
  • I have
    art that I need to make for the September art show my friend invited me to
    join. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but it’s been backstroking through my
    psyche for a month or so.
  • I must
    follow-up with the boss at where I’m temping to ask her precisely what she
    meant when she said she would be happy to give me “a recommendation” for
    auction houses here and in the city (um, I meant NY city – I guess that habit still dies hard).
  • My dad
    will be closing on the sale of my childhood NJ home in the next month or
    so, and is planning to move with his fiancé to their new Florida home
    toward the fall.
  • I am
    eagerly awaiting June 20th, when the results of the daily
    sweepstakes I’ve been entering for a trip for two to Italy will be
    announced. You may be the lucky winner.
  • My
    writing style is influenced by who I’m reading currently.
  • At the
    moment, I just finished Nora Ephron’s new book, and began a collection of
    essays by David Foster Wallace, whom I’ve never read, but seen the
    author’s name so many times on my BART rides that I thought to give him a
    whirl. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I will
    be art modeling this Sunday for the artist who I first worked for, and two
    of her friends. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I have
    9 new voicemails I haven’t checked.
  • I went
    on the walk I’d planned to take on Tuesday evening yesterday evening, and
    it was glorious. I ate what must have been a small, cherry-sized peach,
    unless it was of course, a cherry, from a nearby tree which I jumped to
    pluck from the low hanging branch. I’m not dead, so it was not poisonous.
  • As
    soon as I get paid this cycle, I’m going to register for the summer acting
    classes at A.C.T., and I can’t f’ing wait. I looked up all manner of
    electronics yesterday that I could hypothetically use my more regular
    income of the next 6 weeks to purchase, and yet, I realized that what I
    really want are those lessons. And new shoes.
  • I’m
    now working one-on-one with a woman who’s found recovery around negative
    patterns of behavior with sex and men, and I’m infinitely looking forward
    to freedom around some of this.
  • I’m
    continuing to work with a woman one-on-one around financial recovery
    stuff, and am looking forward to being “placed in a position of
    neutrality” around money.
  • I love
    Patsy.
  • I haven’t
    yet played my bass with my friend with the drums up in Berkeley, and it
    too stares at me, not gently weeping, but with silent mewling.
  • I
    realized that most of the writers I’m reading right now have written as freelance
    writers, and it occurs to me, that I might be able to do that, if I look
    into it.
  • I
    haven’t applied to any jobs since last week.
  • I used
    my 3 lb weights yesterday after my walk for about 3 minutes. And began to dread the 3 hour posing/drawing session on Sunday.
  • Dr.
    Palm Reader’s office wrote to ask after me, and so I looked up my
    soon-to-end chiropractic benefits “in network,” so that I can get back to
    that kind of thing, without breaking my bank, or participating in a
    somewhat murky flirtatiousness.
  • This
    is the end of my list. 
authenticity · camping · community · confidence · hobby · honesty · laughter · music · responsibility · self-support

Chop Wood, Carry Water.

Two weeks ago, I wrote this in the Grownupness blog:
“I grasp at things I think I want, but I’m not willing to
firm the foundation to get there – to mix the mortar, lay the bricks. Chop
wood, carry sticks. That’s where I need to be at. Very simply, I need to lay
hold of qualities and actions that I have tried to avoid.”
And so, this weekend, I carried sticks.
The simplicity of camping, even in the complexity of “car
camping” the bastardized cousin of “real” camping, was so easy. It’s so easy
for me. What needs to be done next? Well, we’re heading out down the river for
the afternoon while others go river rafting (a luxury expense I couldn’t
afford), so what did I need to bring? Sunscreen, towel, book I didn’t crack,
hat, water. That’s it.
It’s turning darker, what do we need to do? Get more
firewood, build a fire, refill the water, not at the mercury-laden river’s
edge.
There are things that I know how to do, and this weekend, I
got to see that very clearly. I know how to build a fire, I know you need something
like paper or brush to catch under the kindling to catch under the wood blocks
that were neatly chopped for us in a bundle wrapped with plastic. I know that I
need to slather sunscreen on myself and wear a hat because I’m paranoid of skin
cancer since my encounter with the Australian sun – the sun won.
I know how to make coffee, and put up a tent and roll my
sleeping bag and to remember to bring earplugs and tarot cards 😉
I know how to camp. At least, I know how to car camp.
When I unfurled my sleeping bag, in it was a long-sleeved
shirt I hadn’t seen in two years, since I was in that tent, with someone else.
I played Ghosts of Camping Trips Past this weekend.
Remembering acutely who I’d been with and when. Each and every one of the even
mildly significant and more significant relationships I’ve been in over the last six
years, I’ve been camping with that person. I haven’t slept in that tent alone
in a long time.
This particular camp grounds, I’d been to maybe 3 or 4 years
ago, when I’d been newly dating someone. It’s a beautiful spot on the American
River, up past Sacramento, and almost to Tahoe. It’s amenitied out the
yin-yang, but that’s alright. I remember the photo of me and that person in
that very landscape, I remember the release I feel when I’m out there. Not with
the person, but out there, knowing and feeling confident that I know even that
little bit.
I haven’t roughed it. I haven’t hiked out into the woods and
set up camp since I was 19 and leading a camp group overnight with our packs
into the Appalachian Mountains. And even then, it wasn’t roughing it – That’s
alright. I know it’s something I still want to do.
I wondered why it was, as I went through my previous
camping trips over the last few years, that each had included a man I’ve been
involved with. Was this my test for them? For “us”? Was I only able to be there
with someone else?
No. The reason, I realized, is because I love camping. And I
happen to go and be invited, and then I happen to invite the guy I’m with.
That’s all. Turns out, camping is a hobby, I suppose. It’s likely the only same thing that has occurred with each relationship I’ve had over the last few
years. The only “adventure” or “event” or excursion that has happened in each involvement. It just points out to me
that this is an important thing for me. Something I love.
A way that I don’t feel I need to be any different than I
actually am.
I feel confident out there (yes, even with the general store
and port-o-potties nearby). But I feel like myself. I usually look like a
wreck, and I don’t care. My hair matted and loved by the sweat and dust and
river mist. Caked in various layers of SPF lotions and supportive sneakers. I don’t
look like Xena, I look like me. Like the me I am in private, with no one to
impress or stun or mesmerize. Like the me I am when it’s just me. Whole, and
unabashed, and unprotected. And capable. I usually feel like a leader, or at least like a competent
person when I’m out there. Something those of you who read this blog with
any consistency can attest is not my normal M.O. out in the “real world.”
I needed that. I needed to feel worthy and valuable simply
for who I was/am. Not for how I looked. Or for how much money I had. Or for what kind of job I worked. Or what cell phone I carried. Or degree I had. I could be valuable for my
contributions to the group, be it building a fire, or fetching the water, or
going off to sit and do my Morning Pages out on a rock in the middle of the
rushing river so that I could be more present and emptied of my junk when I
returned to the group. I could be valuable by bringing Madlibs to do by the
fire at night – which led to so much hilarity, and stupid good fun. I could
be valuable by making coffee the first morning when everyone was still asleep
or grumpy. I could be valuable by breaking out the guitar one of us brought for
a little while, and later, sing along harmonies with her, and remember that I
have a voice.
I felt purposeful. I didn’t question who I was or where I
was going or what I was doing with my life. I didn’t have any profound
judgments or insights. I simply “chopped wood, carried water” (no chopping this
trip, but you know what I mean). If I can take that simplicity, and that
confidence, and that sense of pleasure from being precisely who I was/am into
the world, I think I’ll be alright.
If I can dress nicely and put on makeup, and remember
that it’s just a lens through which to see the whole that I am.
If I can breathe in the fire smoke scent of my balled-up clothing and
recall what it feels like when I’m just me, then I think I’ll be alright.