Sadie Sadie Workin’ Lady

Today has been quite something at work. Usually it’s pretty relaxed– at most, one crisis per day. Today? Not so much. My brain hurts.

It also got me thinking about how hard I work. An actor I did the most recent show with posted today on Facebook about how he is stuck in Puerto Rico, where he’s been on vacation. Lots of whining. And I’m thinking: a) I couldn’t possibly afford to go to Puerto Rico! and b) I don’t have the TIME to go to Puerto Rico! and C) if I WERE in Puerto Rico, I would not be complaining about having to be there for a bit longer. And CERTAINLY not on Facebook.

Which got me thinking about the number of hours I dedicate to work. So. Calculations:

20hrs/week at my office job.
I do about 3 hours of VO session stuff maybe 6 days a week. So, 18hr/week.
I take an on-camera class for 3 hours each week.
I audition usually once or twice a week. On average, with getting ready, transit, waiting, prep, that’s about 8hrs/week.
My daily commute is at least 45min each way, and that’s if I’m going to work and then going home, which I do about twice a week. Other times, I commute much more. But as far as basic commute, 40 min each way 5 days a week, that’s about 7hrs/week.
I see a lot of shows, which can count as work. Show, plus commute, about three times a week is about 12hrs/week.
There are 168 hours in one week, minus about 48 hours of sleeping (I get about 7hrs/night). How do I spend my days?

So. Here’s the breakdown:

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With 120 possible hours per week to do as I please, 68 of those are NON-NEGOTIABLE job requirements. That gives me 52 hours/week of free time. Which I guess isn’t bad, except I’m counting all 7 days of the week. Eek.

I always tell my mentees that in order to truly recover, you have to give yourself lots of free time. I did that when I was deep in my recovery, but it’s an important reminder to really look at when I can cut myself slack and take a BREAK. I deserve that. Since, y’know, I don’t get holidays…

xoxo to all, and be KIND to yourselves!!

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It’s nice to feel proud.

Tonight I went and saw a show at my alma mater/workplace. I’ve admired the play for a while, since it was done downtown by one of my favorite off-Broadway incubators, Soho Rep, so i was thrilled when it was selected for the season. It’s appropriately edgy for this school (god forbid we do the expected) but it’s fresh, unique, and utterly do-able. I was proud to come from a program that would take risks like this, and with intelligence and deliberateness. This was thoughtful theatre. That meant something.

(It’s also pretty darn cool that we hired the playwright to teach Playwriting last Fall, and she’ll teach again this fall. Yeah, it’s pretty freaking cool.)

Last night we did our third runthrough of the show I’m currently rehearsing, which runs March 1 – 30. The run was really good, I felt great, and the director even specifically commented on how he thought I was really on track. It’s nice to do a show that you audition for, totally fresh and without knowing anything, get called back, and get cast. No politics, just good old-fashioned picking the right person for the part. And to do a good job– that’s the icing on the cake.

NOW it’s time for this little Belgian to go to bed.

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What have you been proud of lately?

HOW?

How? HOW?! (so many hows)

HOW #1: How do I balance busy and not busy?

I’m not happy when I’m not busy, but when I’m busy, I feel run down. Balance? What’s that?

A and I fought last night because I was irritable and needed space and probably other things I couldn’t articulate. All day today I felt overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t completed (learning lines, cleaning the apartment, literally my entire job at school) but when I sit down at my desk, I can’t focus on doing them. It’s terrible. Why can’t I complete tasks like a normal person?HOW #2: How to I figure out what I need?

Do I need more space? Probably. A’s not working right now, except from home, which somehow really irks me. I run to work at 11am, then to rehearsal at 5pm, then home at 8pm, and then he’s there and wants to talk… so YES, I need space.

But even when I have it, I’m not happy. I need MORE. Or I need something else. I need him to make choices? I need to relax more? I need to work harder? I seriously don’t know what I need. It would be so much easier if I could answer the question A asked me today: “Is there anything I can do, or say, or is there a food, or an object, or an activity that would make you feel better?” How the fuck do I know? I WISH there was.

HOW #3: How can I stay focused?

The second I get busy I lose my drive. I simply can’t fathom picking up my script and memorizing lines, so I wander around and submit audiobook auditions. What IS that? I know I need to clean the apartment, but instead I take a bath. WHY? I know A’s coming home so I should enjoy my me-time but instead I lock myself in the closet to do voiceovers, which I could do to get space when he IS around. WHY?

HOW #4: I don’t even know how to cohesively write a post right now, so how on earth am I going to accomplish anything else today? HOW????

 

High school is where the heart is.

Where I went to school, everyone knew who they were. We were the best, and that was proven because we were there.

We had yet to feel the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I see the faces now that were my family in those days, and I feel this thin, clear string, like a fishing line, that links me to them.

We are different now– a little longer, a little stiller, little duller in tone– but with something inside that can only come from being trusted with a future from the age of 16.

I touch these waists, these shoulders, and I feel how we’ve grown thicker, tougher. Real life has no mercy for the special. We have experienced love now, loss, disappointment and frustration. We are thicker because we’ve blistered, then calloused.

And yet we are here. We touch, we whisper, we giggle. My hand around her waist, her squeeze, her voice, is the same as it ever was. The gasps over kisses shared, the bluntness of our expressions of love, the easy comfort of each other’s company.

When you are sixteen and the best, you are untouchable.
And yet, everything touches you.

Every face is burned into your memory, every nice thing ever said, every hurtful moment. The wind on the lake. The smell of her room. The slippery concrete, iced over, between the cafeteria and your 8am class.

We grew up together. We formed a world in which only we existed.

College was wonderful. I made important, remarkable friends in college.

But to be sixteen and on our own, hemmed between two lakes, yet without the bind of the “real world” telling us who to be, we were special. Our parents let us go so we could become who we are.

There is nothing like that place, and those years, in the entire world. We built it, and it’s stronger than that land, those buildings, or any one of us. If we went back it wouldn’t be there.

Where it is now is at a bar on Orchard Street, with arms wrapped around each other, easy laughter and genuine interest in each other’s minutiae. It is in a rehearsal room on 29th street, where suddenly you are not alone; the you of those moments when things started to become clear, are known by someone. It is in a Facebook message, where the years are no deterrent to the pull of that thin fishing line.

I am lucky. Not because I got to go to Interlochen, not that I was deemed “special,” not that I had good friends there. I am special because I was allowed the space to discover what was special about me. I never worried about “what I wanted,” because I had it. All that was left to me was creating the community I wanted to be with me for life. All I had to do was find my family.

And I did. I found Nora, Rebeca, Will, Drew, Auden, Holly, Warren, Tor. Even the ones who scared me– Loralee, Caroline, Chase– they are my family. We shared the moments in our lives when we began to realize who we were. We were there for the surprises, the meltdowns, the times when we suddenly realized what success, what struggle, what love WAS.

That can’t be replicated. I will never, never, have anything like what Interlochen was again. I had those years, and they live in me now. They will, forever.

I was sixteen and the best, and now I am 24 and ostensibly just like everyone else. And yet, I feel that fishing line, tugging, tight and secure, that binds me to the people and the moments when I realized who I was becoming.

These are my people. This is my universe.

My Universes

I am a participant in so many tiny universes.

Today is A’s 28th birthday. Over the Labor Day weekend, we were at his parents’ house in PA. We drove to Annapolis to see his brother compete in a drum corps competition, we golfed nine holes at the local course, ate a lot of shitty food, played board games, and dipped in the little pool. This has been a world I never could have expected to be a part of– one that is in countless ways different from the others. It’s a humbling place to be.

On Monday night, I went to see L’s play. This is the girl who, almost two years ago, was diagnosed with Aggressive T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. I was there for her diagnosis, I was there when she checked into the hospital, I was there on her 23rd birthday when she was so frail and thin that she looked like a ghost, tubes coming out of her arms and chest, food pumped directly into her stomach. I was there when she wrote a short scene, very Ruhl, very Fornes, about a year ago. And now, that scene is a play, and that play was accepted into a festival, and I saw the closing performance, with L in the lead. I cried the whole way through, not meaning to, but unable to stop. It wasn’t sadness, either… more like pride. Admiration. I’m not sure I would have the strength and momentum to throw myself into life after the terror of the last two years. But L did it, and it was magnificent. I feel privileged to live close to her heart.

My parents are coming up for Thanksgiving. My dad hasn’t been to the city since I graduated over two years ago. I’m looking forward to it. I do miss them, but I also want them to feel like a part of my life. Whether or not I’m calling every other day or telling my secrets, I am a part of their universe as they are a part of mine.

I have a universe at work, where the students know me (some as an administrator, some as an actor, some as a peer), and the faculty know me (partly as an administrator, partly as a student, partly as a colleague). I waft through the halls in perfect comfort here, sometimes remembering as I pass ID services the night that I sat with a boy as he played his uke for me, drunken nights in the studios, crying with frustration in acting class in the black box. I have been many things in these places, but they are now mine.

My high school friends, my roommates and peers, sometimes close and sometimes just seen from a distance, live on in social media posts. They also live on television, onstage, in the news. Beyonce’s sax player lived on my hall. One of Buzzfeed’s hottest twins played my brother in a Shakespeare play. One of the princesses in Shakespeare in the Park this summer ate cheerios from the box with me in bed one night. Even people I wasn’t with in school inhabit the same small universe.

Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.

I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.

Glowing

My Junior year of college, I was at my lowest weight. In the Fall semester, I took a scene study course taught by a relatively famous actress (anyone seen Star Trek: The Next Generation?) She commented about how “she would kill for my body,” how she wished she still looked like me. She assigned me great scenes and took a deep interest in me– I played Maggie the Cat from Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Emma in Betrayal by Pinter, Claire in Auburn’s Proof. In early summer, I saw her at the opening night of a Classic Stage Co production starring Dianne Wiest. She gave me a hug and then said, “You’ve gained like, a pound.” My face flushed, and I just responded, “Ha, ha. Haven’t we all?”

So she scares me. I fear that she’ll lose interest because I gained weight.

But I invited her to the show I starred in in December, and she came. Afterwards, she brought me, a costar, and a friend (all of whom were in her class) out to dinner and wine next door. She wined and dined us and effusively complimented our work. She told us she would do her best to get her agents and managers and friends in the biz to our show. At some point, she turned to me and looked into my eyes. “You look beautiful. Truly.”

Last night, I emailed her to tell her about my exciting new project. She responded with this email. I’m glowing.

I am tremendously proud of you! I am not surprised, but I am thrilled to see that not only are you made of wonderful complexities, colors and textures as an actor but you have the steel to go with it. B, this is a great accomplishment for an actress of your age and experience and anyone in this industry would agree with that. I am going to do my level best to pass this information along to people who I think might actually make an effort to go to New Jersey – including myself – although I must tell you that this summer is pretty crazy and that I’m all over the place. If there’s even a remote chance that I will make it – I will. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see you walk out on the stage as the leading lady – and thus I am sure it will be for the rest of your life. Brava!