The Rest I Make Up

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One week and one day since I flew home to NYC from home in Idaho, and today was the first day I called my parents. It’s like my energy flags when I think about calling– I just can’t. Finally, my boyfriend told me over sandwiches at Lenny’s that I really should, and that as we walked to his work, I should call. I’m telling you, the kid is a wonder. So I did, and it was good– mostly because my mom could only talk for a moment, and my dad is easier to talk to. Plus, there was only small mention of my sister’s illness. I have a very hard time finding compassion and understanding… I’ve written about this before. It’s something that gives me great guilt, but I struggle to even discuss it in a way that doesn’t make me feel “less” important, “less” vital… I don’t know.

I also came to realize over the last week that a major issue I had with this trip to Idaho was that in introducing my wonderful boyfriend to my family, rather than receiving wonderful words about how great/handsome/kind/smart/lovely he is, instead my mother made our relationship all about ME.

“Oh, you’re so affectionate! I’ve never seen you like this before!”
“Well, you were very distant on this trip, because you have someone else supporting you emotionally. But it’s better than outright anger!”

“Oh, no, I didn’t think that you’d die alone. I figured you’d die with a bunch of cats! Haha!”

It’s like all they could think about was that, like medication or therapy or whatever, having a serious boyfriend was somehow a proof of my “health,” of my “okay-ness.” Which makes me feel, once again, as though I’m inherently defective, and everything I do must be aimed towards proving I’m “okay” and “better” than I was. According to this theory, I’m not inherently “okay” and loveable and grounded and successful. Every “normal” thing in my life is some triumph over my illness, my inherent not-“okay-ness.” See how that’s a really irritating thing?!

So I guess there’s a huge part of me that’s glad to be home, here, because I’m not constantly proving I’m good enough. I mean, at least at home. I did receive a fairly passive-aggressive email from my agent last week: subject line “Happy New Year!” and body “You need to upload video onto ActorsAccess. It’s becoming imperative.” Which freaked me out (totally irrationally), so I emailed her back immediately listing all my awesomeness and how hard I’m working (which I AM, goddamnit!)

  • I reached my goal weight! (how? we’ll never know. perhaps even eating worse food but not binging really is the ticket… I’m not complainin’!)
  • I got great feedback from one callback– didn’t book it but was second choice!
  • Have another callback this week! Plus an audition next week! (now I have another audition the day of the callback, plus an EPA, plus therapy… plus meeting with my agent.)

Have tried to get video footage! Failing but trying!!

Anyway, I’ll meet with her on Thursday. I’m really anxious, but fuck it. What she thinks of me/tells me is not in my control. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. (right? I mean… right? Jesus Christ, sometimes I think I’m insane to do this job.)

And speaking of agents, A just signed with one. A literary agency. In London. For his book trilogy (he’s written one). The agency represented George Orwell.

Yep, let’s just get this out there:

  • A posted his book in an online forum sponsored by HarperCollins. We both did a bunch of work on it– social networking, making edits, commenting on others’ books, making friends. The ultimate hope would be to reach the top 5 on the site, earning a review by the HC editorial board. Thanks to our hard work, A’s book was likely to get there in the next couple of months. Since mid-Oct, his book rose from ranks in the 5,000 to around 150.
  • A got a message from an agent on his “profile” on the site. He said he loved the beginning of the book and would love to read the rest of the manuscript.
  • January 2, A got an email from the agent that he was halfway done with the book but he loved it so much he wanted to offer to sign A.
  • Today, he and A had a phone convo. The deal is set — A is signing– and the agent seems sure that he can get a great book deal for A and his trilogy.
  • My boyfriend is going to be a professional writer.

Which is what I wanted. Truly– this was what I dreamed for him, and I couldn’t have imagined anything more serendipitous.

Yet. There’s a part of me that, now, is anxious and a bit jealous. Why isn’t MY agent getting me great deals? Why does any email from her cause me anxiety slash why am I so certain she hates me (she doesn’t… I feel like she can’t… but fuck it, who knows)? I need to book a gig. And fast. Just to get my brain and heart out of this place where I feel like I’m failing and falling behind. Logically I know I’m in FINE shape– I have an agent, I’m in the union, I had a callback I almost booked, I have another callback this week, two audition appointments, an offer for a role in April, and it’s still technically the “break.” But.

I’m an actor. I’d like to act, please and thanks.

In other news, I got word yesterday morning that Maria Irene Fornes, one of my great heroes, is nearing the end of her life in hospice in upstate NY. As you may recall, I played the lead in one of her plays when I was a junior, and it was the hardest/most rewarding role of my life. Subsequently, I got to meet her on her 80th birthday. I wrote about it here: http://goo.gl/ipRr4

Basically, she has Alzheimers’, and unfortunately, in the waning years of her life, was placed in a hospice by her nephew– her legal guardian, but one who by no means has her best interests at heart. Being so far away from her community in NYC is very hard for her, and she really has no one except the few friends who occasionally visit. In the last week, she had refused both food and water (a symptom of loneliness and depression, not the Alzheimer’s), so it was looking like the end was near.

My former professor, Irene’s agent and dear friend, and the woman who introduced me to Irene, has been keeping people in the loop via a Google group and on Facebook. I sent Irene a letter, and I’ve been keeping updated on her progress. She has a Facebook page, and every day she has visitors, they will read the messages on Facebook, faxes received from loved one, play music Irene loves, and share photos and memories. The outpouring of love I’ve seen towards Irene from folks in the theatre community (whether they met her once, like me, a thousand times, or never at all) is remarkable.

The idea of Irene passing makes me incredibly sad. It sounds trite, but this woman is one of my greatest inspirations and heroes. Especially now, when I’m feeling kind of all-over-the-place and anxious about my life as an artist, Irene’s work and attitude never ceases to remind me that that’s all bullshit– the most important thing is the joy and the love of the art that you find within yourself. This woman is always smiling, always laughing, always singing. Her work is vast and inventive and unique. She thinks of her characters as having been born from her body. She sees honest artistic passion as the only reason to be an artist. As a playwriting teacher, she led physical exercises and songs and encouraged her students to paint and explore and play. Even in the darkest moments in her plays, there is humor and compassion.

I would love to be a great actor like so many I could name.
But I want to be an artist like Maria Irene Fornes.

If you pray or think (or think and pray– Shakespeare joke!), send some thoughts Irene’s way. She will pass, and it’s likely soon, but I truly believe that every single intention of love somehow reaches her and gives her comfort.

xoxo, my dear blog friends. 🙂
B.

My most prized possession. The amazing story won't move you unless you know who Maria Irene Fornes is, but long story short, she has dementia, no one thought she'd ever write again, someone encouraged me to ask for an autograph despite this, after a bit of pressure on all sides I said, "no, it's fine, I don't mind," and then all of a sudden Irene wrote in my book. Her documentarian, friends, agent, etc. all passed this around. Who knows-- I may have one of the last specimens of Irene's writing.

My most prized possession. The amazing story won’t move you unless you know who Maria Irene Fornes is, but long story short, she has dementia, no one thought she’d ever write again, someone encouraged me to ask for an autograph despite this, after a bit of pressure on all sides I said, “no, it’s fine, I don’t mind,” and then all of a sudden Irene wrote in my book. Her documentarian, friends, agent, etc. all passed this around. Who knows– I may have one of the last specimens of Irene’s writing.

"Of all the people I know you are the finest. You are the person I respect and feel most proud to know. I have no one to talk to. And sometimes I feel hollow and base. And I feel I don't have a mind. But when I talk to you I do. I feel I have a mind. Why is that? Why is it that some people make you feel stupid and some people make you feel smart. Not smart, because I am not smart. But some people make you feel that you have something inside you. Inside your head. Why is it that you can talk, Henry, and Lloyd cannot talk? Why is that? What I'm saying, Henry, is that I want you. That I want you here with me. That I love you." --MUD, by Irene Fornes

“Of all the people I know you are the finest. You are the person I respect and feel most proud to know. I have no one to talk to. And sometimes I feel hollow and base. And I feel I don’t have a mind. But when I talk to you I do. I feel I have a mind. Why is that? Why is it that some people make you feel stupid and some people make you feel smart. Not smart, because I am not smart. But some people make you feel that you have something inside you. Inside your head. Why is it that you can talk, Henry, and Lloyd cannot talk? Why is that? What I’m saying, Henry, is that I want you. That I want you here with me. That I love you.”
–MUD, by Irene Fornes

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"What’s the meaning of life Irene?"The meaning of life?
It’s doing what you like to do -
As simple as that
Doing what you like to do -
And enjoying it
Doing what you like to do -
And doing it
"Is that what you did?"
Yes
"Is that what you continue to do?"
Yes
And . . . doing it well
Doing what you like to do -
and doing it well
"And what about other people?"
People are a part of it
Doing it with people you like -
And people who do it well
See how simple it is?

Oneonta, May, 2009

"...I've been saying words in my head to see if word spirits would come... to join other words that were there... We just have to learn to listen and to let them come in easily because they... want to join other words to express something... of beauty or longing or despair." (Letters From Cuba, 2000)

“What’s the meaning of life Irene?”
The meaning of life?
It’s doing what you like to do –
As simple as that
Doing what you like to do –
And enjoying it
Doing what you like to do –
And doing it
“Is that what you did?”
Yes
“Is that what you continue to do?”
Yes
And . . . doing it well
Doing what you like to do –
and doing it well
“And what about other people?”
People are a part of it
Doing it with people you like –
And people who do it well
See how simple it is?
Oneonta, May, 2009
“…I’ve been saying words in my head to see if word spirits would come… to join other words that were there… We just have to learn to listen and to let them come in easily because they… want to join other words to express something… of beauty or longing or despair.” (Letters From Cuba, 2000)

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"The colors for me are very, very important. And the colors of the clothes the people wear. When it finally happens, the play exists. It has taken its own life. And then I just listen to it. I move along with it. I let it write itself. I have reached that point in plays at times. I have put scripts away then and picked them up three years later, and, reading them, suddenly I see the same picture with the same colors. The color never goes away. It could be ten years later. The play exists even if I have not finished writing it."

“The colors for me are very, very important. And the colors of the clothes the people wear. When it finally happens, the play exists. It has taken its own life. And then I just listen to it. I move along with it. I let it write itself. I have reached that point in plays at times. I have put scripts away then and picked them up three years later, and, reading them, suddenly I see the same picture with the same colors. The color never goes away. It could be ten years later. The play exists even if I have not finished writing it.”

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“You know there’s something that comes to me right now which is an expression – ‘seize the moment.’ Seize the moment. Grab the moment. Don’t miss it. Don’t let it pass without paying attention. In a way it can be confusing because it can be that ‘seize the moment’ means to hang on to it and stay there. But that’s not it. What was meant was not to stay there necessarily, but rather to just touch it. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the touch of cold glass against your hand. For no reason other than because it’s pleasant. The slightest thing, to acknowledge and respond to it, to let the moment be. You grab the moment. Don’t disown it. Don’t ignore it. It doesn’t mean that you become a crazy person saying, “Oh let me write this down because I may forget that I did this, or that this was fun, or that this was beautiful.” You could misinterpret it and become some kind of collector of little moments that really don’t need to be collected. But it’s very important to be in touch, to open yourself up, even to your own negative thoughts, negative feelings, to embrace those too, as well as the beautiful moments from your inner sensibility. So . . . I don’t know how I got into this, but here . . . we . . . are . . . “ Irene Fornés, Miami, February 2005

“You know there’s something that comes to me right now which is an expression – ‘seize the moment.’ Seize the moment. Grab the moment. Don’t miss it. Don’t let it pass without paying attention. In a way it can be confusing because it can be that ‘seize the moment’ means to hang on to it and stay there. But that’s not it. What was meant was not to stay there necessarily, but rather to just touch it. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the touch of cold glass against your hand. For no reason other than because it’s pleasant. The slightest thing, to acknowledge and respond to it, to let the moment be. You grab the moment. Don’t disown it. Don’t ignore it. It doesn’t mean that you become a crazy person saying, “Oh let me write this down because I may forget that I did this, or that this was fun, or that this was beautiful.” You could misinterpret it and become some kind of collector of little moments that really don’t need to be collected. But it’s very important to be in touch, to open yourself up, even to your own negative thoughts, negative feelings, to embrace those too, as well as the beautiful moments from your inner sensibility. So . . . I don’t know how I got into this, but here . . . we . . . are . . . “ Irene Fornés, Miami, February 2005

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