Every Day, a Little Gratitude

I am working. Not only that, but I am working at one of the top theatres in the country, making LORT B (second only to LORT A when it comes to regional theatre) pay, and playing two leading roles. It’s a three month contract which means I will get another six months of health insurance. I am housed. I have a car I share with two other actors. This is the DREAM.

Which means I want to remember this feeling when I go back to NYC. I’m already dreading it… that discomfort of not working, that pain of not auditioning, that hurt of wanting so hard you think you might break.

But right now?

This.

Every day is grapefruit day.

Today I close another show. This is how this career is… you’re deep in it, totally invested, your whole day leads up to those few hours at the theatre…

And then suddenly it’s over, and you’re unemployed, and you may never seen your castmates, who have become your family, again, or at least for a long while.

It’s a somber moment, and I’m feeling a bit somber today.

Last night, I went up on an entire speech– I froze onstage and literally couldn’t form words; didn’t know where I was– and it really shook me. It was fine, but awful. I forgive myself, because it wasn’t my fault– I know the speech front and back, I was focused and paying attention– I just short-circuited.

That, compounded with the closing of the show, is making today tough. The rain doesn’t help (thanks NYC).

This was so wonderful.

  • We were a New York Times Critics Pick.
  • We got amazing reviews (my work was mentioned)
  • My parents got to see it
  • I got to do Shakespeare!
  • I made some amazing friends and met some remarkable people
  • I got to work off-Broadway, which is a gift in and of itself.

But more is to come, I know. Including a weeklong vacation in July.

And really, you can’t top what we did at the end of our performance on Friday, June 26. The day was already so joyous. Then we did this, and it was the best curtain call ever:

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Folks? This is the dream.

Winter vacation. One day in Salem, MA, one day in Portsmouth, NH. One day in somewhere, Maine. One day in Old Sturbridge, MA. Tucked into our bed and breakfast in York Harbor.

He’s reading a used book. Today we met a cat named Peter in in the oldest American homestead of all time. I petted him. Tonight we drove out to the Nubble Lighthouse and stood on the rocks looking at the stars in 15 degree weather. Tomorrow we’ll go past the land where I spent the first six years of my life– where my first dog and first cat are still buried or sprinkled, where we had bonfires, where my parents used to wake me up to look at fireflies. We might ice skate. We have dinner reservations.

The only thing I wish we had was the cat.

Otherwise… This is it.

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A Beautiful Ending

So, yesterday afternoon, another show came to a close.

I don’t feel let down, and I don’t feel sad. That said, I am really pleased with the whole thing.

It’s rare to walk into an audition totally cold, do sides in front of a stranger, have them ask you back a few days later, do more sides, and then get cast in a role. Especially coming off of four years of school (albeit four years… two years ago). Usually you know the director, so you get an audition. You have an “in.” But this? I walked in in February with a bad Belgian accent and walked out in March with a great one.

I did get my good notices, by the way– including something from the New York Times that I can pull. Audiences genuinely liked it, and I felt good about my work. Not 100% all the time good, like it was easy (which sometimes it is), but a solid-member-of-an-ensemble kind of good, where I feel like I’m doing my job up to snuff.

Yesterday afternoon, after the show, as on all previous Sunday afternoons, we had a talkback. Usually folks who stick around say things like, “Well, who really WAS the hero?” — it’s a play called THE HERO– and “I think the ending was too pat and easy,” and “I think it was a feminist play and reminded me of Ibsen.” So we had our share of those, and when the director called for the last comment, a man in the back row raised his hand and began to speak.

I just got off a plane from Europe yesterday, and I had a choice. I could go see my friends (Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart) close their show WAITING FOR GODOT this afternoon, or I could have come to see you. I am so very glad I chose to come here. The performances were beautifully rendered and the play was astounding. You have a wonderful little theatre here, and I am so grateful to you for producing such fine work.”

We all laughed and gasped– Sir Ian and Sir Patrick’s friend!– but then, with some hugs, all went our own ways into the rain. I chalked it up to a wonderful final moment of a wonderful run.

It turns out, the man was Vernon Dobtcheff, so literally SIR IAN’S FRIEND and a talented actor in his own right across the pond. Not only did he come see our little show, but he stayed for the talkback, and he shared his experience. What a remarkable, magical moment. I couldn’t be more grateful.

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From Rupert Everett’s memoir:

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One hand in my pocket, and the other one is giving a peace sign.

When my best friend, L, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma and leukemia a couple of years ago, we left her second appointment at Beth Israel (before we decided to go to Sloan Kettering) and she mentioned that she couldn’t keep Alanis Morrissette’s song “Hand in my Pocket” out of her head.

Many of the lyrics were poignantly related to what she was going through— ‘I’m sick but I’m pretty, I’m brave but I’m chickenshit.” I fell in love with the song, partly because it has great meaning for me (L finished her over two year treatment in December 2013) but partly because it speaks to what it is to feel like “you haven’t really got it figured out just yet.”

Also, I’m learning to play the guitar. I’m not good, but instead of being chickenshit I’m going to be brave and post.

Love to all.

It’s Happening.

I’m really happy. For now, and the work continues, but I’m going to honor happiness for just this moment and brag.

Tuesday, Feb 25, watch me get murdered at Lululemon on the show Redrum on Investigation Discovery on your local TV. 9pm. Apparently I’m good. I haven’t seen it. All I know for sure is I’m super bloody.

This September, I’m going to get paid the most I’ve ever been paid to do a month-long run of Steel Magnolias at a professional Shakespeare Festival in the West. I auditioned just “cuz” for the Artistic Director over the Christmas holiday, knowing the season was mostly cast. It’s merely my luck that they were actually looking to cast a part– he had me send a video, and I just found out I booked it.

It’s the little things.

Happy Right Here

I told my therapist, when talking about my agent, that I was willing to lose weight, but that I refused to give it my whole brain. I choked up spontaneously as I said, “I’m just so relieved to not be putting my whole brain onto making myself a certain way or fulfilling some expectation.” I was really proud of this statement.

The truth is, I would LOVE to lose weight. I don’t know how much I weight right now (scale is packed, and I’m fitting into my clothes but I’d say definitely more bloated than usual from the BC), and frankly that both excites and scares me. I’ve never been an excessive “weigh-er,” but knowing my weight really can shift my mood and my brain all day.

This morning my boyfriend told me he felt “apathetic and useless” this week. He’s been really busy (both of us have) but when he’s not busy, we’re lying in bed and watching Slings & Arrows, or eating baked goods I made, or watching movies and drinking wine. He says that on the way home from house managing (at like 11pm), he knows he “should” and wants to be writing, but he ends up just sitting.

How familiar does THIS sound, ladies?!

My therapist calls these kinds of things “shoulds.” I’ll talk to her about a day I had and accidentally throw in a “I should have gone to the gym” or “I shouldn’t have reacted that way” and she’ll catch it. “Who says?” “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you don’t?” Sometimes, now, I feel like I give myself too much slack (stayed in today instead of going to an open call audition in Brooklyn, planned on going to ballet class but didn’t), but again, who says I “should” do anything? Why should the “shoulds” control my life?

I told my boyfriend some of my rationalizations: “You’re tired. You’re exhausted– your body and brain needs a break.” He says, “I’m happiest when my brain is going. I don’t like not using it.” And I replied, “Sometimes even brains need a break.” I realized that this conversation was exactly like a conversation I have had in my own head countless times.

Something I’ve learned in the last few years is how to respect what I want, not what “they” think I “should” do. No one is watching me. Brain can’t handle reading right now? Okay, it’s tired. I’ll listen to music on the train. Body refusing to want to exercise? Maybe try again later, but maybe just assume that it’ll be ready to go again soon and it’ll let me know. Dreading an early morning audition I’m not prepared for? Don’t go. Sleep in and don’t freak yourself out.

It’s constant negotiating; constantly reminding myself that I can be the decision-maker.

Now, I live with a boy. A boy whose diet is very different than mine (I don’t eat meat, he’s a carnivore, among other things). I’ve had more ice cream since moving in with him than I’ve had in the last year combined. I don’t think I’m gaining weight, though. I think the abundance of food is a comfort… I don’t feel like I have to gorge. I get to eat breakfast and sometimes other meals with him. I don’t feel like a pig when he’s around. I’ve barely binged two or three times. Sometimes overeating, but nothing that derails my day or even necessarily puts me over a major calorie edge. I can’t weigh myself. And y’know, I think I’m just all around happier.

So yes. I’d gladly lose weight. I know that I “should.”

But I’m so enjoying living in this moment, so enjoying not letting obsessive thoughts and other people’s “shoulds” get in the way of my happiness, that I wouldn’t sacrifice any of it.

I’m not fat.

I’ll dye my hair for her. I’ll get new pictures for her. I’ll learn how to put on makeup for her.

But my happiness is more important than a number on the scale. I may lose parts because of it, but I won’t lose the ones I’m mean to have.

I’m happy right here, thanks.

I believe that we, that this planet, hasn’t seen its Golden Age. Everybody says its finished … art’s finished, rock and roll is dead, God is dead. Fuck that! This is my chance in the world. I didn’t live back there in Mesopotamia, I wasn’t there in the Garden of Eden, I wasn’t there with Emperor Han, I’m right here right now and I want now to be the Golden Age …if only each generation would realise that the time for greatness is right now when they’re alive … the time to flower is now.”
Patti Smith