action · career · progress · reality · theater

In the meantime, the in-between time…

I have an interview with a temp agency tomorrow. A resume out to a job working with Jewish kids I’d really love. I had a call with a mediator to ask his experience and will be following up some leads before I follow down that path. A call on Thursday with a grad school back east that I probably won’t take up, but, again, good for me to find out more. 
An appointment with a talent agent next week. A “we’re still making decisions” email from the musical I auditioned for last week. And plans to start rehearsing for another musical audition. 
I have an email from my landlord saying the work on the laundry room-cum-art studio should be done by March 1. A weekend wedding retreat for a dear friend coming up. 
Oh, and did I mention I’m ushering at the Billy Idol show later this month?
For someone who spends so much time languishing on her couch and in her head, I sure do a lot! (except, of course, for my dishes.)
Divine restlessness. Creative unrest. Cosmic dissatisfaction. !
But really, I just wanted to touch base to say, Yes, I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, but I have to remember that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing anything in the present. I tend to flagellate myself for my lack of action — then I actually write down what I’m doing!
It’s hard to acknowledge these points of progress or action in the midst of existential questioning, but I really must if I want to keep any perspective. 
So that’s what I’m giving myself today. I got up at 5am to do a work-trade shift at my gym to keep those free classes that I’m only using once a week at the moment. But, today, I worked out. 
I paid my COBRA bill, so I can go to Kaiser tomorrow on my day off and check out how my blood is doing and get that vague gnawing off my mind. 
Today, I’m taking public transit into work instead of driving, because I have the luxury of time when I wake up at 5am. 

Sometimes I really gotta step back from my navel-gazing and notice that I still am engaging in the life I fought so hard to keep. 
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auditioning · career · family · procrastination · progress · theater · trying · work · worry

Meet the New Year, (not quite the) Same as the Old Year.

there’s so much and little to tell you: 

i have to decide whether to ditch work and attend my annual women’s meditation retreat next weekend. how to tell my boss when I asked for that sunday off — originally for the retreat, but now for an audition — that I really do need that time. and I’m taking monday and tuesday off for my friend who’s visiting from canada. 
that the couple who were the subject of the “day before christmas” poem/blog came to visit me on tuesday, and took me out for sushi, and it feels like i have this sort of surrogate parental couple right now. even though they live in vancouver. we exchanged all our information, i got a happy new year email, and i’m going to talk to him about mediation. like, becoming a mediator, and what that would look like. another career goose chase maybe, but worth looking in to. 
that my mom is having trouble sleeping, and doesn’t want to change her work schedule even though she could. that she’s having health issues that she could address, but procrastinates on. 
that two years ago, right very now, I was waking up in lahaina, maui, hawaii. in the bed of a school boy whose parents graciously invited me to stay and kicked their son to the couch, so a bald and chemo-riddled me could have a vacation from a cancer. 
i have to call the student loan people so they don’t raise my payment from $67/month to over a thousand, but being my mother’s daughter, i haven’t yet. 
I am excitedly waiting for the indiegogo campaign to end and for the funds to be sent to me, so I can write this final check to my landlord for my back rent accrued while i was sick. and to watch that number in my budget line fall to zero. 
i am looking forward to my first real paycheck from the retail store, but as i’ve figured the numbers, amazingly, i’ll have earned the exact amount i would have if i were working at the desk job i quit in october. 
though i wouldn’t have that back-rent money, because that only came about as i was sitting in a cafe with a friend in november, looking for work, him too, and i mentioned the wanting to art again and the potential art studio upstairs, and the back rent. and he said, you should do a kickstarter. 
so, i wouldn’t have that, or at least not now, if not for being unemployed and sharing with a friend who was also spending a mid-day cafe work-search. 
i have a script to read and a song to rehearse for two auditions this month. 
the first is because a friend from mockingbird suggested i try out for this one company in town, and i said i wasn’t good enough, and he said i was and i should and made me promise. and so i did. you know, just a few weeks later!
it’s a classical play. i’m nervous, as i’ve never done one before. 
the second is another musical. and, i’m nervous! but. i’m excited for the role i’m auditioning for. it could be a lot of fun. 
they would run consecutive to each other, one closing, and a few weeks later, rehearsals for the other beginning. so it could work. but not with this sales job. i think. assume. project. worry about. 
but then, too, i have to remember the whole “from thanksgiving to thanksgiving” thing/blog: to not worry, to trust, to at least notice I’m worrying and begin to try to trust. 
i have all these collage cards i still want and need to make, holiday cards and thank you cards. but with the constraints of buses and bart and standing and … (*breathe*) from thanksgiving to thanksgiving. 
i flaked out on my NYE plans. i think i may have disappointed my friend by doing that. but it was a day off for me. i got loads of stuff done early, and by the late afternoon i was home and cozy, i didn’t want to leave. even though it’s a 9:00pm ball-drop! i had to work yesterday, and yadda yadda excuse excuse. i just didn’t feel like getting all dolled up. though i’m sure it would have been fun and my FOMO-meter ran high. 
instead i stayed home, and it was lovely. i know it won’t always be so quiet. but it was nice. 
i have a lot and same old happening right now. i don’t know if any of it is interesting to you, but today is more a state of the union address:
all is well, amorphous, covered and uncertain. 
i have friends and opportunities and procrastination habits and work issues. 
i have a warm home to leave and come back to. 

and two auditions to get ready for. 

Happy and Healthy New Year, Friends. You rule. 
acting · community · connection · intimacy · love · theater

"It’s not about the applause."

I’m doing it again. This “auditioning” thing. 
It makes me nervous, giddy, excited, daunted, and happy, underneath all the neurosis. Seems I’m the perfect image of an actor, then, eh?!
But really. I was thinking about it when I was in To Kill A Mockingbird recently, about tweaking the title of Lance Armstrong’s memoir, “It’s not about the bike”: It’s not about the applause. 
At the end of the show, the performance, onstage, when I come out for my bow, I don’t really hear it. Adrenaline in my ears, it’s part of a wall of sound crossed with Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice: Wah Wah Wah. It’s the briefest moment. Shorter than an orgasm. It can’t be why you do it. 
It’s not about the applause. 
Because in the moment that the audience is able to reflect on what they’ve seen and pass judgement positive or negative, they’re already out of the moment — and that’s not what this acting thing is about for me. 
Not that I have much experience! But from that which I do, I realize that it’s more about what’s happening in the moment of performance with the audience, the experience created with them in real time. Whether that’s engagement, boredom, emotional stirring. 
For me, those moments of connection are what it’s about. To create a space and an environment for others to have an emotional experience they otherwise might not have had that evening. 
For me, it’s always been about that. From poems written years ago that highlight my desire to incite a revolution or evolution in people through performance. 
You can hear it from the stage. Whether the audience is holding their breath, gasping at a sudden revelation. Or crying, you can hear the sniffling. Or laughing, or that one person in the audience who laughs harder than others, or is trying not to laugh because no one else is. 
It’s this petrie dish of human experience. How will they respond, react, be moved, if at all?
I love it. I love being a part of it. I love having a small hand in moving people, of allowing them the moments of anonymity in the dark theater to be moved. That intimacy, even though I will never see their faces. That authenticity they get to experience, even though they paid for it. 
Isn’t that what Aristotle spoke of when he said theater was a catalyst of mass catharsis?
So in those few moments when I’m timing when to step out and down to the apron of the stage, and for a moment be Molly instead of character, it’s like stepping out as the man behind the curtain in Oz. Like seeing how a magic trick works. 
It’s lovely and I won’t fein that it isn’t bolstering to get applause, but I rush that part in my head, braced against it somehow, not really hearing it, just trying to bow and let the next person have theirs. 
Sure, it’s gratifying as we, the whole cast, stand there hands clasped over our heads, knowing that this sound is a show of appreciation and gratitude and approval. 
And I won’t say I don’t like it or hope for it. But. 

It’s not about the applause. 
authenticity · community · growth · love · recovery · theater

Spiritual Echolocation

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I am not the best
judge of my progress or my abilities. But, even though I can’t rightly see myself, I’m beginning to notice that I am hearing
it from others.
And this in itself feels like progress: At least I’m hearing
it.
There was a time when I described compliments as one of those
bug zapper lamps people hang on their porch. The bugs merely get within range
of the lamp and they get zapped dead. Same with compliments for me: Anything positive that was said would get deflected before it even got close to
touching me. None of that here, pew! pew!
I’d said that you can’t receive a compliment if there’s no
complementary place within you to receive it. If there’s nowhere it fits
within your own understanding of yourself, then there’s no way that it can be
accepted. There’s no ring of truth, because you don’t believe it yourself.
Time passed, and I’ve become more able to receive positive
feedback about certain things, because I have begun to hone and cultivate the
place within me that is receptive, the place within me that believes you
because I believe it myself.
That said, there’s room for growth.
This week, I’ve had several experiences where I’ve been told
about my progress and abilities, and even though I can’t quite feel this, I’m beginning
to recognize that I believe them, I
believe others are seeing this, even if I’m not myself.
Hence, spiritual echolocation. I can’t see it myself, but I
believe in the feedback I’m receiving – so there must be something to it.
I know that feeding off external validation is not the
way to walk about the world, but what it’s doing for me is giving me hope that
one day I can see it. There is an
existence of a cave wall. Others are telling me so. If that is truth, there is
hope that I will see it, too.
On Friday night, after the first act of our opening night of
To Kill a Mockingbird, the director came
backstage. He was beaming. He was so glad and proud of the work I was doing
on-stage.
I was dubious. But I thought Wednesday’s preview night
went much better; it felt better
.
He told me he was the only rightly judge of my performance,
and Friday night, I was better.
Whether I felt it or not.
On Saturday morning, I went for my semi-regular voice
lesson. And at the end of a phrase I’d sung, my teacher applauded and cheered –
he even gave me a high five.
“Did you hear that?” he asked, delighted.
No, I didn’t. I can’t hear myself.
The noise and buffer between what is and what I perceive is
loud and thick.
“We’re going to have to record you more then,” he said. “You
have to get used to hearing yourself.”
This morning, I was on the phone with my mentor, and I
reported these incidents to her, as I begin to parse out these places where I’m
being told one thing, but I’m hearing and sensing another.
She, too, had told me that I’m farther along than I can
feel. And she gave me a metaphor (because we all know I love those!):
She told me I am a tree creating deep, deep roots. A solid
foundation. And you can’t always see that growth above ground, but it’s
happening.
We were talking (again) about my questioning of where and
who I am this lifetime and where I’m going. And she said, some people have
really gorgeous foliage, and weak roots.
We’re doing the work now — early, some might say — that others
come to in mid and later life. Creating a root system, carving out the rot,
cleaning the wounds.
Like a field of asparagus, you don’t see its heroic work
until one morning you turn, and the whole field has sprouted green, fully
formed, like Athena.
I am not used to
hearing or seeing myself clearly. I’m not adequately armed with the ability to
track my own progress. And thank god for other people, then!
But I do feel the promise and the hope of their reflection.
I am beginning to hear what they’re saying instead of zapping it, because I’m beginning to uncover the place within me that believes it myself.
I’m starting to open to a truth that’s been, and is, hard
for me to swallow:
I am worthy. 

community · expansion · growth · love · theater · trying

B’reishit: In the Beginning…

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This week in the Jewish calendar, having unscrolled and read
the whole Torah throughout the year, we come again to rewrap it all the way back to
the beginning to read the very first word: B’reishit, “In the
beginning.”
We’ve come to the end of something, and we wind it back to the beginning to start again.
I can’t think of a more appropriate coincidence and parallel
for my own life.
Yesterday afternoon, Addams Family The Musical closed to a
full house, once again. We said our final jokes, we emphasized things a little
more. We cried at that one “Happy/Sad” song that reminds us that most things in
life are a little of both. And when the final bows were over and the final
patrons thanked, we came back to the dressing room for the last time, finally
and pleasingly and thank god-ingly taking off our sweat-soaked costumes. The
last time getting someone to help me un-pin the dress, the last time taking off
the long and elaborate and hot wig, the
last time returning my mic pack to the sound designer.
And when this was all done, and most of the makeup had been
removed from our faces…
We began tearing down the set. The set that only a handful
of weeks ago we’d built, and painted, and staged, and seen evolve right before
our eyes. The same stage that only a few weeks before that, we’d all stood on
for auditions in the remnants of the set from the previous show.
And now, here we were, making this, our set “the remnants of a previous show.”
Because To Kill a Mockingbird opens in 4 weeks.
I asked some of the old-timers if they got a little wistful
breaking down something that was like another character in the show, if it was
sad to have put it all up, just to take it all down? And each of them said, No.
It’s part of the gig. They’re used to it. To the turn-over, to the letting go.
I’m not, yet! It was happy/sad for sure. It will be strange
tonight to come to the theater for Mockingbird rehearsal and see the bones of our Addams set on the stage, picked clean of the character we’d
built. And yet, if this isn’t a great lesson in the constant ebb and flow,
creation and destruction, then I don’t know what is.
In the beginning, we were tentative and perhaps shy,
getting used to one another’s personalities, contributions, moods.
In the beginning, we created something out of nothing, out
of a few words and notes on a page, sitting in a small room with a piano,
laughing a little, tense a little.
In the beginning, we didn’t know about the tech problems or
the extra rehearsals. We didn’t know the petty arguments we’d have, or the
number of times we’d have to control rolling our eyes.
In the beginning, we didn’t know the kind of joy and
laughter we’d create on-stage or back-stage. We didn’t know the relationships
we’d form, and the singular role each member of the cast and crew would take.
We didn’t know that we’d come to love each other.
And now that we’ve unscrolled to the end, and we’re about to
bring it all back to the beginning again, I am sure that we have learned
something, something critical to the nature of life and love and joy and
experience, that we didn’t know we would and that will carry us forward as we
start once more with new words and notes and castmates.
In the beginning, we were strangers. We’ll never be that way
again. 

community · courage · fun · joy · theater

Are you coming?

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Yesterday was finally the day. I’ve been with this cast for
a month in performance now, and once, even twice, a weekend, they’ve shed their
wigs and sweat-soaked costumes and gone out to the bar.
I haven’t been. Partly because I don’t drink, partly
because it gets so late, and partly because I’ve just been kinda shy about
it. And last night, when the venue was gonna be a gay bar to dance, I decided
it was time.
Sure, it’s a Friday night, I’d worked all day, rehearsed and
performed all evening, and I had to be up this morning to sit for a portrait
artist at 10am. … but you know what? Yesterday was a good day, and I felt
invigorated.
I found out that I got cast in another production at the
theater where I’m currently running. I got the large important work project
done, with a few hiccups at the end of the day. And I finally felt like I beat
the solo song that’s been beating me all run.
It was a good day. And dancing sounded perfect. I dance like
a white girl, but I have fun doing it. Though, granted, there were other white
girls there who definitely don’t fit into that “white girls can’t dance” model!
But just the vitality and joy and jumping and ear-wide smile and circle
of friends who are together only for a brief period. It was awesome.
I used to go dancing once or twice a month. Then maybe every
other month. And now, I’m lucky to go once or twice a year. I would never
listen to the music in real life. I know maybe one of the dozen songs that gets played. But it doesn’t matter.
I toss my growing-in hair around, I bounce on the balls of
my feet, and I pump my fist in the air when it feels like time.
And it does. 

community · fear · joy · love · performance · self-doubt · self-esteem · theater · trying

So, How’s the play?

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Oh, you mean that surprise piece of happenstance that’s underscored how unhappy I was at work by how happy I am in rehearsal and
performance?
That sudden flurry of activity that challenges me to quiet my inner
critic and do what I’ve written here I’ve always wanted to do: perform and
sing?
This universe of actor grumbling and sweaty mic packs and not
enough room at the backstage table and no air conditioning and that railing
that was never put in right and voice cracking and line flubbing and lighting failures?
Well, it’s fantastic!!
The buoyant aura of hard work and camaraderie, laughter and
support. Even when we’re elbowing for room at the table, or need to ask someone
for the hundredth time to hold your wig while you comb the bejeezus out of it –
you know you’re doing it in the service of something larger than you.
To be in performance
is so much more fueling than in rehearsal – like when they described
Sex
and the City
, they said “the City” was the 5th main
character. In a live performance, the audience is also a character, a member of
the staged community. “It’s a great audience tonight.” “They’re not really
laughing.” “They’re so into it.” You measure your performance not necessarily
by how much they laugh or applaud, but by what they give you and what you give
them back. And sometimes what you get is bolstering, and sometimes it’s not, but it’s always present. 
Creating something that never was and will never be again.
Flubbed it tonight? Live theater! Try it again tomorrow. Got your ridiculously long
wig stuck on a screw during an entrance? Have your co-actor unhook you and get
on with it. Didn’t get a laugh on that line tonight? Do it again tomorrow
anyway, because
you think it’s
funny. Try it differently. “Let’s get crazy,” to quote a line from the show.
In addition to all this, I’ve loved the backstage buzz.
People are talking about auditions and other musicals, and arguing about their
favorite. People are going over their next audition monologues and kibitzing
about where they’ll audition next and who the casting director is and if you
saw that one last play, and Boy Howdy what a success/disaster.
It’s thrilling to me!
Someone so new to this world, it’s like drinking from an oasis. People are
actually
talking about theater,
about acting, about what they’ll do next. And it’s inspiring me to continue
trying.
I know it would be very easy for me to not do anything for a
while, because of my upcoming job transition.
But, this play is part of the reason why
I’m changing career avenues. And much of the point of the changing avenue is to
change my schedule to accommodate
being in productions.
Hearing all the dressing room chatter about upcoming
auditions, I find I want to do more. And, like I wrote yesterday, it could be
easy for me to let this thread drop when it’s over – I know how to have a
flurry of activity followed by inaction. But being in the belly of the action,
hearing words fly back and forth and the encouragement and the excitement
shared by the other actors… I’m demanding from myself that I make these
outreach emails and audition calls now, before the play is through.
So, how’s the play? It’s changed and is changing my life.
It’s hard, and I feel inadequate, and I judge myself against
more experienced singers. I dread these two lyrics in the whole show and
challenge myself to not dread them, to be present and let it be what it’ll be
because it’s not the all of who I am or what I’m giving.
The show is fun and takes effort and requires me to be
present and accommodating and kind.
In short, the show requires me to live. And live bravely.
Amen.