Bad Career Week

In this biz, nothing’s ever certain. Sometimes a tiny little trigger (say, a part you didn’t get or a comment that irks) can send you into a hopeless place. Sound familiar, ED survivors?

So, for NEDAwareness week, I’m going to write down these beautiful things that some beautiful people I know wrote on my Facebook a few months ago. Remind me to come back and look, ‘kay?

My post:

EXPERIMENT.
I’m going through a major life change at the moment (moving, job hunting, closing a great show outside the city) and need a little encouragement, I think.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever been told? About the “biz,” about life, about “work,” about who to send postcards to… literally anything. It’ll be embarrassing if no one contributes so… like… don’t embarrass me.

Also will be planning a MAJOR clothing swap in October. Gird your loins.

CIARA: “A professional writer is an amateur writer who didn’t give up.”

MARK: “Well all I can think of is a Maguire acting class. So f…. Or fight. You know But in other words. I’m so happy about your show, wish I could see it, when you’re back I’d love to have a check in. I am SURE you’ll find an amazing apartment and more amazing work.

JESSIE: “Be gentle with yourself. Probably the best advice I’ve ever been given… for any situation.

MORGAN: As in acting..focus on and ride the manifestation and energy of the verb, not the construct of the nouns.”

MISSY: “Sh*t or get off the pot.”

TIFFANY: “Our clothing swap will be in October too! Come to ours. That’s my advice. Also wine.”

TIFFANY (another one): “No one can make you feel insignificant without your permission.

RACHEL: “everything happens for a reason.”

BEATRIZ: “Every time you see your reflection smile back at it.

KELVEEN: “It’s just life.”

CHRISTINE: “In life you will regret the things you didn’t do, not the the things you did.

LINA: “Want what you have and give what you need.

MARK (another one): “Make up where you want to be: A place, a life, a challenge, a goal… Use your imagination to flesh it all out in your mind’s eye (helps to write it out) Then … take an immense leap of faith.. And put yourself in a brand new locale — With no net. Live out loud. Be yourself. Trust in Life.

JORDANA: “Just read this and man I dig it: Everything is an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. Truly. Life is about our relationship to it if nothing else. Everything comes and everything goes. There will be fear, doubt, pain, fame, fortune, love, loss, learning, languishing, loathing, wondering, wandering, finding, founding, forming, feuding and overcoming. But how we experience each of these facets of being human depends on how we are relating to them.

CARLA: “I think Jordana nailed it for the rest of us. Hugs!”

HANNAH: “When I first moved to New York and was struggling so desperately to make sense of my life, my father always told me “fall in love with the woman you’re becoming and be proud” It didn’t seem like much then, and honestly I was kinda irritated he didn’t offer something I thought would be more useful. But to this day, every time I try something new, its with the intention to fall in love with the woman I’m becoming and to make myself proud. Maybe this will only mean something to me as it came from my daddy with Spock-like emotions but there it is.”

ANDREW: “Agents don’t matter.”

SUMMER: “Sometimes the biggest hurdles, or the things that are forced upon you via an unexpected change, are actually the catalysts for the most growth that would not have happened if you had stayed in your comfort zone. Literally, the year that my part-time side job — the one that gave me the knowledge that I would always have just enough money to pay my bills — went away, was the same year my acting income tripled and things really began to take off for me and my company. Now, was it scary? Yes. Absolutely. And there were sleepless nights, (sometimes there STILL are — and there always will be I think, because we are constantly challenging ourselves — never to get too comfortable) but I have learned to embrace the shifting tides, and have much more fun riding the unknown waves. You are a massive talent my darling. Truly. It is all going to come together for you, but you have to grab the slippery handles that are this business and hold on for the unknown …. ps: I love you.

MICHAEL: “Longevity in a career means that you endure the shitty times as they come, and remember and use them when opportunity arises.

MORGAN (another one): Whatever happens, when you’re an artist you have better funner friends than everybody else.

DAVID: “It’s not called show-art, it’s called show-business”. An actor’s job is to get the next job. Network, audition, take classes–always do one thing every day that keeps you in touch with being an artist.

JEFF: “As I was sweeping our garage floor, and doing a pretty poor job of it too boot, my dad told me something I’ve never forgotten. “Do every job as though you were the President, because someone is always watching you.” As I type this, it now sounds a bit eerie, but the advice has always stuck…even though I’ve given up dreams of the Oval Office!

ANNIE: “Breathe. Always ask for help. Always keep laughing–particularly when you are having a trying time– when you are hungry, for food AND for creative action, say yes to everything, and IN everything you do. But also remember that you can say NO too, if you instead need to go home and see your mom and dad or go to a movie with your sweetheart, or don’t want to play a playboy bunny who gets assaulted by frat boys. Cultivate joy and peace in all ways, and the highs and the lows of the career seem less Himalayan– but always always ask for help and community, just like you have here! XOXOXO

DAVID (another one): “hang in til you can’t hang in anymore – then stay a little longer.

MORGAN (from before): “Also, go see Annie in Illusions, because it is amazing and rejuvenating to see good theater, always. And hard to find.”

LINDSAY: “No matter what are doing, strive to be the best you can at it. When you get your morning coffee, be the best customer you can be. When you audition, be the best actor you can be. And when you go to your serving job, be the best server there is. If you let your inner light shine, you are unstoppable. Nothing happens by chance, so embrace the challenges. They are a stepping stone to your next success.

FARISO: “You have to do it yourself.”

IRIS: “ set a goal and then release how you will achieve it and then also tell me when you’re clothes swapping, cause honey- ME TOO!

KEVIN: “close your eyes, breathe and give yourself a big bear hug.”

DANIEL: “Two pieces of useful info. 1. No one is coming – i.e. what Fariso notes above is true. You have to be the one to get yourself through any challenge and when you do you will be glad of it. 2. There is a great mystery behind all that is material. Take time to cultivate your attention to larger patterns and questions that emerge as you walk through your life. They will give you clues/signals about the ways forward when things seem to be their most challenging.

TONI: “Be yourself. Always.”

DAVID (another one): “live each day one at a time.”

KATHERINE: “I recently chatted with someone who’s successful in TV and he said that the business can seem so huge and overwhelming, but the key is to make it small: to cultivate people and projects that speak to you and go for those; to create a village of people that you know and trust.

LEAF: “That the universe holds us no matter what and if in the midst of our busyness if we stand still long enough what calls to us will reach our ears.

SAJEEV: “Stay in the present. 🙂 Hope that’s useful.”

JAY: “Your future is determined by every decision you make. Decide wisely.

DAVID (again): “…every decision you make” or decide not to make. Kinda like voting.

HALEIGH: “Keep it simple. – we get tide up in emotions and what we think we should do etc. Just keep it simple.

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sitting on the yoga mat, thinking

I thought about cutting yesterday.

I was sitting on my yoga mat, eyes gazing, out of focus, at the plant in the corner. That tightening in my chest as I breathed in, breathed out, breathed in, breathed out.

I didn’t move. I just sat there, breathing, feeling this strange sensation as it hovered around me, like a thin, gauzy curtain.

Eventually I stood and went to the kitchen, where I started cooking and cleaning. In very little time, the feeling was gone.

It didn’t scare me. It was almost like seeing an ex on the subway, halfway down the car. You recognize him, you’d prefer not to see him perhaps, but you can sit there, coexisting quietly, until one or the other gets off the train.

***

I’m thinking of calling my therapist when I get back from this trip. Since June, I have been weighed down by the loss of my friend L, the vicious purging of her life from mine, done while I simply kept moving as though I was still whole.

This is shameful, but:

I sat with her from the first day of treatment in 2011 to her final chemotherapy at the end of 2013. I was there when her girlfriend broke up with her on Valentine’s Day. I knew her doctor’s names. I scheduled her visitors. I learned what I needed to learn to be her advocate, and to be her friend. And now, she has excised me from her life entirely. It doesn’t seem fair, which isn’t really a fair thing to say. Cancer is cancer is cancer, and sadness just is.

My feelings are many, and they are muddy and muddled in my body: puffy and thick in my throat, deep and hollow and aching in my stomach, a thin film over my eyes, a tightness in my lungs that stops my breath halfway in bursts. It is a sadness I have perhaps never known before– a unique sadness that is not depression. I have been sad before, and I have been depressed, but this is a new one– this is grief, trapped in a cage of shame, with loss holding the key, smirking at me as a I look back, lips tight, brow furrowed.

***

My home state just shut down a bill that would add the words “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the Human Rights Bill. After nine years of work to merely get the bill to be considered, it was shut down before getting to the stage where it could be voted on. It is heartbreaking, and I grieve for the many women, men, and children who remain unprotected in the name of “religious freedom.” We are not equal until we are all granted equal rights. BY LAW. I kept thinking of the movie Selma, which is remarkable and an absolute must-see. There is a right side and a wrong side of history.

Also, this is probably the worst clip from the testimony (most were supportive of the addition of the words), which I share so we can all see what bigotry looks like, and also because my mom (who was a major volunteer working to pass this bill for years) is in it, in the red sweater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N6tn8-oA5M

My Year in Numbers

1     friend I lost

1     job I lost

2     jobs I got

3    plays I did

6    friends of mine who got engaged

10     places I visited

Idaho, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Waynesboro, PA, London, Scotland, Amsterdam, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine

25    days it took to find an apartment in NYC

26    plays I saw (in NYC and London only)

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Mothers and Sons, Richard III, Big Fish, Murder for Two, The Oldest Boy, Our Lady of Kibeho, A Delicate Balance, Lips Together Teeth Apart, Sex with Strangers, The Village Bike, Hand to God, Your Mother’s Copy of the Kama Sutra, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Under My Skin, Sweeney Todd (NY Philharmonic), Fast Company, The Substance of Fire, The Killer, Cinderella, Mala Hierba, American Hero, Hotel, Bring up the Bodies, Showboat (NY Philharmonic), You Got Older

34    blogs I posted

Better than I thought, actually.

73    books I read

My favorites: The Invisible Front, The Circle, NOS4A2, A Tale for the Time Being, Into the Darkest Corner, Dept of Speculation, Tenth of December

365   days I got up in the morning and went to bed and night and existed on this earth.

Don’t let me read this. It’ll make me sad.

I’m back from a 2.5 week vacation with my folks in London, Drumnadrochit (a wee town on Loch Ness), and Edinburgh!

But that’s not what’s flitting through my mind.

I lost a friend somehow. A best friend.

I said something possibly insensitive in a text. I didn’t think twice about it. Looking back, it was probably misguided, even though my intentions were to be amusing and share a silly moment in my life that made me feel connected to this person.

This was three months ago.

I hadn’t heard a word from her. I continued to text, to “like” on Facebook, to comment, to talk about, to generally act like a friend through this whole time. While in the UK, I sent a text like usual, remarking on a funny thing that was happening that I wanted to share. Her response was that she has been distant because I really hurt her with my text, she wished I hadn’t said it, and maybe we can talk about it when I’m back.

Heart. Pinioned.

We were headed out the door to breakfast when I got this, so I dashed off a reply along the lines of “oh my god. I had no idea and I am so sorry I hurt you. I hope you know that I would never hurt you on purpose and I regret hurting you then. I love you, but I understand you need your space and please do what feels right.”

And subsequently deleted every single communication so that I couldn’t look at that text ever again, and left my phone at home all day, even though I wouldn’t have Wifi or cell service anyway. I sobbed through breakfast, and burst into tears throughout the day. I still am hurting, deeply. The shame is overwhelming, and I’m hurt too.

***

I’m also finishing up a two book audiobook contract with an author who HATES me. She hired me, for goodness’ sake, but she is horrifically disappointed in my work and condescends to me at every juncture. And of course all the stupid little things are going wrong in production, so she treats me like I’m unprofessional and terrible at my job. The worst was the three page LETTER she wrote me after I finished the first book, about how much she hated my narration. So that whole situation sucks.

Obviously one hurts more than the other, but they both make me feel physically SICK.

I’ve gotten to a point where I get that sick feeling when reading an email from the author about the audiobook, but I’m able to let it go within a relatively short amount of time as long as I make the change she wants or respond IMMEDIATELY.

***

But this friend.

It hurts so badly.

And I have many feelings that contradict the sick, shame feeling:
Our friendship of years couldn’t withstand a mistake?
Everything we’ve been through together can fall apart because of this?
Why didn’t you tell me till now?
Why couldn’t you let go?
Why couldn’t you forgive me?

How could you not wish me happy birthday?

How could you watch me reach out, continue as if nothing was broken, while you pushed me unknowingly away?

***

So there’s definitely anger.

But mostly, I am sad.

I am so, so, so sad that it makes me want to throw up.
It takes my heart and pokes tiny little holes in it so it wheezes with each beat.
The shame wears me like a thick, wool coat, the heavy hood pressing my chin to my chest.

What do you do when your best friend isn’t your best friend?

Does the sadness go away? Does the SHAME?

Do people forgive as easily as I do? Because I do.

I have to let her go. It’s in her hands. And if we talk, I’ll collapse in a heap and the tears will never stop. So I hope she just forgives me.

I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I didn’t feel shame so deeply.

Scrappy

I know a girl, my age, who is on Broadway right now in a featured role in Cabaret with Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming. She went to Juilliard.

I’ve bitched about this before, because it’s neverending. It’s hard to say that I am GLAD I didn’t get into Juilliard, but I try to remind myself of what I have that’s unique (a fantastic education, scrappiness, a sense of agency, etc). It’s not easy when I watch these girls, no more or less talented than me or any of my friends, seem to have smooth paths to success. They have teams with huge power, they have opportunities I don’t. Because of what’s on their resume.

my graduating class. imperfectly perfect.

my graduating class. imperfectly perfect.

So I often feel bad about this. I feel jealous and frustrated and small.

But I also know that I’m on a different road than they are. Just entirely different. And with the tools I have, my team, my skills, my scrappiness, I’m doing okay.

one time I didn't get picked to do something so I did it anyway because #idowhatiwant

one time I didn’t get picked to do something so I did it anyway because #idowhatiwant

Today I recorded a commercial voiceover demo. I’m really proud of it. I paid for it, a lot of money, but got a good deal and you know what? Did a fucking amazing job.

I fight harder. My cache is different. I am glad that my friends aren’t super skinny girls on network TV shows; my friends are those downtown theatre artists saying “hey, I’m making what I want to make,” and even starring on AMC shows but staying grounded and realistic and genuine and reading every. damn. day. I am proud of what I have accomplished with the tools I have. William Morris didn’t sign me, but someone did. Because I am who I am. Period.

scrappy but award-winning theatre

scrappy but award-winning theatre

(B, remember this next time you feel like shit, k?)

My demo is live. Check it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oxor7SBEnY&list=UUyw8oawxDvhYkEAYNWMK31Q

#myfriends

#myfriends

Stop getting married, good GOD.

Remember when I mentioned that A’s ex just got engaged? Haha, yeah, it was a LOT for me and I don’t know why. A didn’t seem to care.

Well, I did what I always encourage my mentees to do when they’re feeling strange. REACH OUT! And I got some amazing texts back from my amazing friends. Seriously, people, how great is support?

I still feel insane, but also, somehow, relieved? Freed? I dunno. 🙂

Here’s what they said:

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