Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Peace-Out New York City

Lots of reasons to love New York City today.

1) Conversation at work included, "So this is random and hilarious, but speaking of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ..." Also, I went to work with one purse and left with one purse and two giant bags of gifts. Church ladies are the nicest. Also, all Hershey's kisses are gone.

2) Witnessed TWO verbal altercations that almost became physical. The first was while looking at the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window display, and two chicks were getting into it over a dude. Holiday cheer, people...HOLIDAY CHEER! The second was on the train, when a woman started shouting "Hey pervert, stop staring at my titties! I don't like it and you are making me uncomfortable." Her shouting "titties" made everyone else uncomfortable, especially the older gentleman I accidentally made sustained eye contact with - a mood only compounded when her boyfriend then proceeded to remove his rings, threatened to pummel the pervert, and whipped the headphones from his iphone so we could all hear the uptempo ditty that he presumably meant to be the soundtrack to the Pummeling of the Pervert. To be fair to the pervert, the lady with the titties did have a rather large, inscrutable word tattooed on her cleavage that I myself was tempted to spend an inordinate amount of time deciphering. Odestinated? Marikesh? Orelia? It is actually impossible to say. And I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, lady. I just was really trying to read. I'm sorry literacy and intellectual curiosity offend you.

3) Speaking of reading, I got to be a reader for auditions tonight and there is NEVER a dull moment on either side of the table, that's for sure. Note: the right answer to "can I touch you?" is always yes. No exceptions.

4) Pretty sure the apocalypse happened and we all missed it because it's 70 degrees and the humidity/B.O. factor is at it's summer high. I always hoped I'd at least see Jesus riding by on his white horse when this happened, but I guess I'm left behind...ugh...sigh.

5) One of my best friends lives literally two blocks from me and I was able to swing by on the way home while she gave me tea and edamame while debating the ethics and morality of dating. Meanwhile, her horny cats made parrot noises as if to challenge everything we said. Somehow I left feeling as if they know something we don't.

6) I'm leaving tomorrow. Which makes everything about New York City better. Beautiful-er. Brighter. Tolerable. Endearing. Gross.

BOOM. I love my adopted home. Merry Christmas, crazies.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Night, Starving Artist Style

You realize your already open bottle of wine won't keep during the coming week, (the week you had vaguely resolved to abstain from all alcohol - you know, to cleanse), but since you like to economize and hate to waste foodstuffs of any kind, you decide you can't just throw away that open bottle. That's disrespectful, you know, to the starving kids in those remote places in the world you hear so much about. Once it's gone, THEN you can cleanse. Yeah, you could offer it to your roommate...but...reasons not to...

So, you pour a glass of wine or two for yourself whilst cleaning your room. It's Friday, after all, and shenanigans are in order. You deserve it and that's how you roll because you're a young vigorous beast. You're gonna clean that room cleaner than clean has ever felt before. Brace yourself, world.

As things progressively get more wild and crazy with you and your room, you're filling up that bag for goodwill like a boss and rocking out to Christmas music like a LEGEND, you suddenly realize that all of your belongings have either holes, wine stains, or both holes and wine stains.

This isn't surprising, really. If you are honest with yourself, you sensed the truth deep in the core of your being and felt it coming. Somehow, though, halfway through the second mason jar of wine and elbow deep in your t-shirt drawer, it becomes distressing. My god, everyone in the world must know you're covered in holes and wine stains all the time. Why haven't your friends told you before? Do they secretly laugh at your holes and wine stains after you leave parties? Yes, your work uniform is all black, but SURELY they can all see the wine stains. How can you face them again? THEY KNOW.

You must fix this. You can't remove the stains because that requires practical homemaking skills and some serious hand-eye coordination.

There is only one way out. You must shop. Yes, shop.

But you can't. It's too late for you even though there are technically 15 minutes of Black Friday left, because even the online Black Friday deals don't change the fact that you already spent your potential shopping money on wine. You already spent two hours online canceling an order because you couldn't afford it. You already spent your day not trampling people to death in BestBuy because, let's face it, you don't know how to use an iPad yet.

You need another glass of wine. was something you had decided about finish the bottle tonight? Right?


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Feeling All the Feelings

The Cherry Orchard at Horace Mann Theater
Oh boy, it's been a fall, y'all. Last time I remember knowing what day it was, it was definitely August 21st. Or 22nd? A Tuesday?

I am always thankful for the busy. Sure, I cry into my whiskey in the shower out of sheer exhaustion sometimes. I definitely drink whiskey in the shower, yes. I know because there's probably still a cup in there. And as the weeks go by and I sleep less and forget to eat, I end up having to wear children's shirts at work because I forgot my uniform, and I start making questionable decisions about who to bark back at on the subway...sure...but all in all, busy and sleep deprived are the bread and butter of any working actor. We like it when we can't feel our faces because we rehearsed until midnight and had to get up at 6 for our dayjob. We like it when we have to cram for an audition after our brunch shift and before tech. We'll be the first ones to tell you that, and simultaneously complain.
The Weirdest Tree I've ever climbed.

But really, I can't complain. I don't know if you remember this one day in August, but I do. I was such a mess that I had to blog about it, but the friendly fellow I auditioned for sans shoes or make-up made the surprising decision to go ahead and cast me in TWO of his plays anyway. So, I've been doing that. I got to work with wonderful, talented, insane people on The Weird Tree, a devised and very physical play based on an Eastern European fairy tale, as well as a notably non-traditional rendition of The Cherry Orchard. See the balloons? The snow drifts? It was pretty magical. And, while all that was happening, I also shot two short films and went to Los Angeles for a week. Because reasons.

It always happens at once, and you have to just go ahead and feel all the feelings and get it done.

Varya doesn't care anymore.
At the beginning of the year, my former roommate and I declared that 2013 would be the Year of Awesomeness. We had said 2012 was the Year of Men, so, 2013 definitely had to be something else. Various 20-something problems aside, I think our prophecy has come rather close to the truth. It was the first year I got very specific and clear with myself about what I wanted. I wrote a list of professional goals, all of which are neatly checked off even though it's only November. It's kind of amazing, actually, and humbling in the sense that many of the goals came about through channels other than my own pursuit. Some of my goals came and found me. After they roughed me up a little bit, we got along great.

Perhaps it was simply a matter of confessing that I wanted them, that I was willing to risk failure for the sake of saying their names out loud. LA, for example. I have been thinking of scouting out the town every since finishing acting school, but it was always a little scary to find the money or the time. So, finally, with a little help from my friends, I just went and did it. I forced myself to make some uncomfortable but right choices personally. I asked for what I needed, and mostly got it. But I had to ask. I had to own it. And now I grow less afraid with each whirlwind.  There will be valleys and peaks, and I now know better how to navigate myself in them. It's not so much navigating the changing landscape of my career, I am finding, but how to craft and navigate myself. 
You have to ask for what you want, Lopahkin!

And I can't skip any steps. It's all connected. I have tried so many times in the past to skip steps. I've so wanted to fast forward to the money days, the married days, the champagne in a slipper days. But you just can't. First you have to grow. You have to go through the whole process, from excitement to disappointment to joy to brutal teeth-gritting to drudgery to joy. The ending never comes first.

I am always in such a hurry to get to what I consider to be the good stuff. But how the heck do I know what the good stuff is? When I look back over the last few years, I realize that my perspective at the time was a little muddled, and I can only assume my perspective now is equally muddled. Only later can I really see how the decisions, work, and time were building up toward something new. Now we see through a glass darkly...And I really do think it will all come together when it most needs to, in the way that is best. Cheesy, but yeah. I am actually having this moment of realizing that something very cliche is true. Not in a tie-dye and crystal kind of way, but in a frustrating, painstaking, reality way. Blah blah blah.

So, with all of my latest projects winding down, I am feeling all the feelings. Pride, elation, thankfulness, and the inevitable post-show-slump. And I am not avoiding any of it, because I want to feel all the feelings. Preferably through a buffer of whiskey. Then, and only then, can I press onward and forward.
I got to wear my glasses onstage! It's the little things.

Friday, October 4, 2013

September When It Comes

And then, ten years later, you become an overnight success.

Your life can change in an instant.

This is something I often joke about with many friends and colleagues and family members - the myth of the lightning strike that turns you from a nobody to a contender.

Not to say there's no such thing as the bolt from the blue that flips your career. That absolutely happens, perhaps in showbiz more often than any other industry - but rarely does it come out of nowhere and strike a random target.

You work really hard preparing yourself, building your skills, simmering your passion, navigating a dynamic and deadly landscape of extremes, braving conditions that would discourage most egos and navigating tough choices. You do all of this every day, so that you're ready when it happens. You constantly fight to improve your changes, position and posture yourself to be the best possible conductor for the power jolts.
 You want to be hit. You will yourself to be hit. You pray. You submit. You study. You interview. You toil and earn and fight and create and never stop so you'll be ready when the universe aligns.

The secret of successful people is that the universe aligns not just once, not twice, but many times. And this alignment is partially in our control, and partially not.

It seems like I spend a lot of time not necessarily having the stereotypical "big breaks," but rather experiencing nearly constant small breaks. They add up. Down the road, if you stick with something long enough and maintain laser focus on your vision, all those small breaks put together will be the "big break." It's just that no one other than myself will know just how many tiny little breaks, threats of rain, thunder, and electrical storms preceded the lightning strike.

There's a calm before every storm, but the storm always comes. Like a hurricane, my acting career seems to be arced in a tempestuous parabola. It's a cycle of work, preparation, searching, work, preparation, searching, work...Calm, storm, eye...jobless, working, regrouping...

September was a month of little lightning strikes for me. After a few fallow months, I booked an amazingly creative original play and two film jobs all at once. Both film roles were in projects I didn't audition for, and were opportunities supplied by artists I've met over the years and stayed in touch with. And one of those films, to my surprise and delight, brought me my first Taft-Hartley and, once all the filing is complete, my SAG/AFTRA-eligibility.

We spend a lot of time as actors waiting for our big breaks. We sometimes forget to mark and celebrate the small ones. Becoming SAG/AFTRA-eligible was one of my goals for the year, and I was behind schedule in my plans to achieve it by producing my own new media project. Then, BANG, the universe brought me a role through a fellow Actors Studio Drama School alum, who reached out to me. And this school chum, a bolt from the blue, has changed the course of my year. What a gift! Lightning struck and a seemingly small break, one short film role, brought me a big milestone. Thanks, Chelese Belmont, for furnishing such a significant moment in my life (and producing an amazingly fun shoot, can't wait to see the finished film!).

What I am trying to say, dear reader, is that we must always be ready for September when it comes, whether it is a burst of work or an opportunity to use down time in a constructive way. When the small breaks begin that domino effect, you don't want to be caught napping. I want to be standing up, saying yes, and full of decisive action.

We are always building toward something.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sex Machine

Today I literally pulled a muscle and popped an ankle trying to be "sexy." The fact that it was in rehearsal as a prostitute character does not mitigate the shame or magnitude of this epic fail. But it does lead inevitably and conclusively to several indisputable truths about my life that settle once and for all certain doubts and knock certain people off their high horses - while simultaneously raising some interesting questions.

The facts are these: 1) never should I ever try to be sexy, it's obviously bad for my health; 2) strippers are to be envied and admired for their skill, control, and athletic prowess, and I should fall at their feet in reverence as so many other members of the human race are wont to do; and, finally, 3) I should just stop. I'm not a sex machine. I'm not a twerking goddess. Being on the Education For Life - i.e. abstinence - Team in high school has left it's permanent scar. Yes, that was a real thing that I did. This fact is also indisputable and epic. Fellow former EFL-ers (I know you're out there) know exactly what I mean.

The questions today's little incident raises, for me, are these - in this particular order: 1) SEX; 2) what is the line in acting between trying too hard and not daring enough; and, lastly, 3) how did I roll my ankle? I was barefoot.

I do not have answers for any of these questions, especially #1.

Anyway, embarrassing as it is to admit, "sexiness" onstage is rather an Achilles heel for me. The moment a director says, "Be sexy," I try to be sexy, and it's a disaster. I grow an extra left foot and begin to aspirate. Not sure why. Oh yes, that's right, because I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS AS AN ACTION. No doubt therapy is in order.

My take away from today, though, is actually a throw-back to graduate school. In voice class, which was usually my favorite subject throughout the years of training, our insightful guru Margaret Jansen was fond of saying "Trying is dying." (This always echoes in my head in Yoda's voice, no offense to Margaret..."Do or do not, there is no try...")

Anyway, trying is dying. Perhaps even literally. I'm lucky it was just my ankle this time.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Let it Happen

Guys, I am a hot mess.

After I successfully complete a second interview for a dayjob in midtown east, I change out of my power heels and into my flip flops like any sensible Manhattanite with five addresses on her to-do list. Resolutely, I mosey my way uptown for an audition where I will be considered for two plays in one pop: one Chekhov, one experimental. Once it's my turn, things go alright - the guy behind the table is a personable bloke around my age, and chats with me about the two plays before asking me for a monologue. It is then I realize that I am still wearing my flip flops.

Guys, I auditioned for a Chekhov play in flip-flops.

I make it through my Shakespeare monologue, and am asked to sing. All the options I thought of a minute ago desert me. Briefly I consider busting out some My Fair Lady, but those high notes are always dodgy for me, and the only other song I can remember ever knowing in my entire life is a Gaelic lullaby. Well, actually, the first two words of the gaelic lullaby, so I sing them repeatedly. Which is kind of how I remember the first verse going...right? "Pretty," says the guy. He's very nice. We chat some more and I smile, inconspicuously slipping my flip-flops back on because they had fallen off. Again.

Afterward, I make a pit stop in the bathroom and realize I had forgotten to put on my mascara. GUYS, I forgot to put on mascara today. I put on everything else, including actual pink lipstick, but no mascara. I've been walking around New York City with full makeup and no mascara. How does one forget to put on mascara, one might wonder? I still don't know, but somehow this discovery is not surprising to me. Because I am a mess, a hot mess in fact.

On my way to my next audition, I am walked into by a woman on her cellphone as I stare at a window display. If I remember correctly, it was a display of children's clothing. Why??

Soon my mother texts to let me know that my birthday present to her has arrived at her house - two weeks late - and that it was addressed to me, c/o The Actors Studio Drama School. How??

During the next audition, in a sentence, I can't think of a word. (The word I couldn't think of, by the way, is "appliances." Why I was using "appliances" in a casual conversation during an audition, I cannot reasonably explain. Perhaps it is part of a misguided attempt to be quirky and charming, which lands somewhere between absentminded and baffling.) The rest of the audition happens, as time, loss, and entropy happen, with only moderate line jumbling and heartache.

I let it happen. It happened. It's happening.

I'm a mess.

Then, the easy part of the day. I join some girlfriends for a free concert. On the way in, my bag is searched and my three bottles of wine are confiscated. Yes, three. I was carrying three bottles of wine at this point, guys, and I am not ashamed - but apparently there's a law about smuggling them into concert venues. Who knew? I explain to the bouncers that these are my groceries, that they are cork bottles and I don't have an opener, that I had no intention of opening them at the concert because it's an AMY GRANT concert and that wouldn't make sense or be fun at all, but they are confiscated nonetheless.

As we make the way up the stairs to the venue, I see my ex standing in the doorway - because WHERE ELSE WOULD HE BE. Though I knew this was going to happen, I am still somehow unprepared. Luckily, he is a classy person and accepts my jittery hug with a smile. Whew. Later, in mid-conversation, a dear friend slams her fists in the table, stopping us all, and whispers urgently, "Guys, are we going to be okay?" None of us have a convincing response.

More dark adventures also happened that the world need not share, but to say the night ended in frozen custard and blank stares is an understatement.

This is a true New York story. It is my story. Today. Guys. I am a hot mess. Sometimes we are messes. For me, the mess is frequent and persistent, a happening, an endless beatnik parade with no beginning or end time. Sometimes I can't seem to get it together. Rather than bewail my self-made fortunes, though, I have decided to just...just...just...

Well, anyway, it happened. And by the way, I share this with all of you because I think it's quite hilarious and I want my fellow hot messes out there to know - you're not the only one. We'll figure this thing out. Happy Friday, everyone.

"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final." Rilke, via my dear friend Suzette.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Do It

I've always been a girl with a lot of fantasies. Whether it was an impossible dream like jumping into the climactic action of Gunga Din alongside Carey Grant to do battle for Queen and Country and save the Empire myself or an achievable one like keeping a house plant alive in New York City, my head is always brimful of ideas and jam packed with notions. It's really daydreaming, you might say, that sometimes manifests as planning, to be followed by list-making, to be followed by Netflix and napping. Therefore, I have never learned Spanish, taken salsa classes, traveled to Iceland, or even - shame! - owned and operated a hot-dog stand.

One of the biggest challenges of being a professional artist, to me, is effectively managing my time and energy. There have been times where I felt like I had to pick and choose my dreams because I just couldn't do it all. Where I limited myself based on what I thought were real, external constraints but ultimately boiled down to my attitude. I'd skip an event because of a small entrance fee or postpone opportunities because of...something that seemed important...can't remember what it was...

Well, phooey on that.

I'm calling myself out a bit. Rather, someone else called me out recently and now I'm taking credit for it. I was yammering about my fantasy plan for an ideal year and my friend looked at me and said, "Do it." Like it was that simple. Like we were in a Nike commercial.

And I'm thinking to myself, well heck, why not? Sure there are time and energy and financial constraints as always, but it all boils down to making a strong choice. As an actor, that's supposed to be my thing. Strong choices. Action.

And so I have determined to turn a new leaf in my dreamy life. I'm going to go after the things I want instead of counting the reasons why the timing might be off. This begins with a quest for a new yoga studio home and resurrecting my teaching practice. For once, I am going to travel to a dear friend's wedding even though it's on the other side of the country - because I want to be there. I'll actually finish writing the film script I want to finish, and commit to bringing it to life. Then, classes in something other than acting that I am curious to learn. I'll read the news at least once a week instead of relying on Facebook or clips of the Daily Show. Why not?

I'm taking responsibility for my dreams - all of them - and holding myself accountable. Next time I catch myself sighing about what could be, I'll smack myself and say, "Do it!"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


my mom's sunflowers
 I am in northern California. My mom is recovering from a surgery, and we are using that as an excuse to essentially be on vacation together in her home, doing very little, sitting in the sun, escaping from reality for a while and creating an alternate universe of our own.

My mom is an awesome, lovely, sweet woman who is currently reading a book called, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking." She is not quiet at home. I am a cranky New Yorker readjusting to clean air and kindness, reading a book by Goethe called "The Italian Journey," and find myself saying very little in this holiday world. My step-dad is jolly and hard of hearing, occasionally popping in to shout jokes at us before disappearing to read a book called, "Chasing the Wild Pendulum: a History of Consciousness." It's been in the 90s all week and there are about 30 hummingbirds fighting over 3 feeders hanging from nearby cedars and bays. And that I think sums us up admirably.
mom's butterfly
We've realized through talking this week that I've been in New York City longer than I've lived anywhere else, and I'm not sure what to feel about this accomplishment. My mom's current house was my pre-teen and teen haven, but I've slept in New York City longer than I dreamed in the corner room with the writing desk. My step-Dad has been driving my old Mazda protege longer than I ever did, and now it smells distinctly of dog and cigar. It's not my car at all any more, even though the Japanese prayer my brother brought back for me is still hanging from the rear-view mirror.

There's been a slight paradigm shift under my feet as I've sunbathed in the rocking chair, a gentle ah-ha, settling-in feeling; the comfort of being around family, looking out the window at a tree-covered mountain, having nothing on today's schedule. Obviously one can't be on vacation all the time, but I dare to hope that this feeling of support and peace can be cultivated everywhere I go. And I think I will go other places. Having hit a record in NYC, I feel a release to dream new dreams and learn new things. That city doesn't have to be my comfort zone, because that place is here in my mom's garden.

her other butterfly
She waters it every day, even if she needs a cane. She let me help her with it a couple of times, but frankly she doesn't like being helped. We talk about the amount of time and water it takes to keep her plants alive, and I confess that I would feel rather oppressed if I knew I had to come home to an hour-long watering chore every day. It's a big commitment, cultivation. Mom agrees that I lack the natural knack, but she insists that standing still with a hose in your hand is a kind of a meditation, a cycle of nourishing at a pace I have grown incapable of keeping. She feeds her plants and they feed her, there's a symbiotic understanding between them more subtle than shade or scent. Slowing down is tricky for me, but it really is all I want right now. So I take up the hose.

The squashes and the sunflowers are hard for me, nothing but leaves, but once I make it to the tomatoes and the hot sweet smell of them hits me, my imagination chimes in. The tomato plants transport me to Marlon Brando's death scene in the Godfather, where he's chasing his grandson, and the memory of sharing the film with my Dad. Their earthy, bright smell takes me back to another garden mom kept in another county, another life when I was half my size and surrounded by all the people I loved in the world (it was a smaller world then). The tomatoes we pick for our salad are small and still hot, and taste like the Amalfi coast in Italy, where my mom daringly took me to celebrate graduating from High School.

might just stay here...
I still don't think I am ready to knuckle down and devote myself to a garden as vast and lush as my mom's, but that is only because I haven't built up the patience or the land yet. I understand now how she can devote herself to it, how it gives itself back to her, how it becomes it's own world of memories and thoughts as well as living forms. There's a small succulent plant on my windowsill in Harlem that my roomie is keeping alive for me at this very moment. I explained to her that if I can keep this plant a live for a year, maybe then I can trust myself with pets, children. She pointed out that recovering addicts have the same process, which I think is hilarious. I am not a recovering addict, just a bit of a workaholic space cadet. Why is it so hard to keep other things alive? That succulent of mine may have company soon, because I really want to take my mom's garden with me when I go back. I want to spend time and energy in the garden, to tend and garner results. I want to slow down. I want to live at the pace of plants.
happiness least, sometimes...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day 2013

My Daddy taught me that real men are fathers to every child in the world; that women were capable of anything, that my mother is my best friend, to trust my gut, think all the time, eat pasta (but not too much), imagine, find humor in everything, champion beauty and loveliness, work smart, fight for what's right, do what's fair, have panache, listen to the Holy Spirit, respect children, value loyalty, listen to beautiful music and watch beautiful films, make meatballs, wear a pantsuit, kick ass and take names, and relish the *$&% out of life. Even when I sometimes fumble in applying the lessons he's taught me, I feel strong and loved because he took the time to be not just a Father, but a Daddy. Dads (and future Dads), your impact matters SO MUCH.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing poems. It didn't seem to serve any purpose anymore. There was no time and, frankly, no interest. My step dad wasn't around to read my poetry after a few shots of tequila and tell me I was a genius, which left only myself and one very nice professor from undergrad to glance over them once in a while. Gone were my jobless teenage summers, sprawling sun decks, and endless thoughts. After grad school, I hit a plateau where I didn't want to think anymore, didn't want to string words together on paper in journals or submit to publications or care. If poem could be a verb, I didn't want to poem. Poetize? Poemify? Yeah. Not gonna.

There was this one time like 8 years ago that I struck up a conversation with a lady on a bench in central park. She was wearing a long hippy dress, hadn't brushed her hair, and had a journal with a big moon on it on her lap. She was sitting there to write poems about her dreams, never to share with anyone. She told me it was for her own eyes only. She must have been in her forties, frizzy and alone, and something about it struck me as too much. I mean, good for her, but it suddenly hit me that this was a possible future me and I very urgently I realized I didn't want to be wearing hemp and writing in a moon diary when I was forty just the same as when I was fourteen. And I didn't want to be the girl giving everyone poems for Christmas and birthdays anymore. I thought, "How embarrassing is that at 19? Gross!" (I was gross. I was young. I'm less gross now. At least I think so. At least, I don't think poems are a gross present anymore. I think it's awesome.)

My dreams and poems used to mean a lot to me, but after a few years in New York City I just didn't want to care. I didn't want to be a poet with feelings sitting alone on a bench with a journal - it was very occupying being an actor with feelings, thank you very much. Very occupying being an actor with feelings doing things and trying to do more things and not being allowed to do certain things I wanted to do like get famous and reserve a table at schmancy expensive clubs in TriBeCa and jet off to Cannes. Writing things sounded just impossible. Or ridiculous. Between eight weekly shifts at a restaurant, rehearsals, auditions, and the mounting August crankiness, I lost my poetry. I just lost it.

But just this week, I think I found it again, and I think I know why.

See, I was the only child at home after my brother moved out, and with our 12 year age gap, it was more like I was an only child. And like most only children, my imagination was my constant companion - my BFF. There was a lot of wearing funny hats and sitting in trees talking to myself and my invisible unicorn friend Bow, and I wrote a lot. Don't get me wrong I totally had friends - non-invisible ones - but I was always equally happy to sit down all day with a word processor. Literally, all day. Once I clocked 12 hours. And my imagination was prolific - there were bushels of short stories, books of poems, two unfinished novels and even one finished (not my best, I think, but a good start). Alone time was always my friend, and honestly, I wrote for myself.

The thing with story telling is that it can't exist in a vacuum. Something I am really digging about my acting classes at The Barrow Group is the way that they remind us, over and over in various ways, that we're actually not there to have a personal experience. We're there to tell a story. And we're not telling it to ourselves, we're telling it to our audience. I mean, duh, right? But somehow I super need the reminder. Actually, I never really thought about an audience while writing...which means I kind of missed the point.

I don't really write for myself anymore because I don't want to just sit with myself. Part of the reason I stopped writing poetry was because it felt a bit...self-involved. TOTALLY unlike blogging right??? Sheesh.

Well, anyway, I just needed to stop the poems for a bit. I didn't have the spare energy for sitting with myself because I had blocked that off and was so busy with other people, but now the thought of writing again is exciting to me because of other people. I want to write for them, tell them stories, give them poems. I want people to read my stuff. And I am really happy, actually, that I had some time away to think about the difference between living privately in my imagination and sharing parts of it with others. Communicating. After all, what use is a light if you hide it under a bushel?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Momentum and Memorials

April showers bring May flowers, and the downpour can be my only excuse for neglecting this blog so long. April saw a boom of work for me both in and out of the entertainment industry, and on this rainy start of the Memorial Day Weekend Festivities, I am relishing the chance to slow down, hole up, catch my breath and gain some perspective for a minute.

me and my stunning prom date Larissa
April and early May saw one of my year-long goals accomplished, as I got to appear in a fantastic production of "12 Angry Jurors" with the AlphaNYC off-off broadway. My first episodic TV gig came through in the form of Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel, and I had my first pilot reading with Brown Dog Productions. Whew! What an awesome month. I also got to attend the Private Theater's Prom, an epic fundraiser that knocked the socks off of all my previous prom experiences, even the year that I went with the Prom King. It's great to be busy in New York City.

In honor of our three-day weekend, our busy-ness, our heroes, our barbecues and our collective sigh of relief this weekend, I'd like to seize this moment to cherish the momentum that has picked up in my life and thank everything that came before that made it possible. Like our soldiers whose sacrifices have enabled us to live in freedom, our past experiences have created this moment for us to make the most of. Freedom isn't free, and opportunity is a responsibility. I certainly mean to make the most of my opportunities now, at this moment in my life, and not squander my freedom and youth. It is a great thing to be American, to be the recipient of all that came before - and it is also a job. I can't drop the ball now. The momentum has to keep flowing. I have to keep paying it forward. To remember and to honor and to move forward, creating - that is my Memorial Day Weekend plan and, if I can stick with it, my year plan.

Now off to movie nights, rooftop parties (if the rain stops), auditions, and frolicking in the Big Apple. And let's all remember to honor our men and women who didn't make it back to the land of opportunity.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

All Things New

New apartment. New life and singleness. New budget. New scene partners and conversations and plays and props in class, lines to learn, crosses to justify. New plumb line in headstand pose. New interviews and auditions and email addresses and appointments to keep track of. New goals. New vest - for free! New box of wine. Yeah. A box of wine for my birthday. How cool and new is that.

New neighborhood grocery store, laundromat, subway stop, routine, neighbors who let us use their toilet when ours breaks, street rhythms and lights and strange, long absences of sirens. New bedroom to myself equipped with closets (!!!!!) and hallway. New doors with broken knobs, glass panels, and original wood finish. New March, new year in my existence and wrinkles around my eyes. New address. New wall colors and new old dogs who like to lay on a new old floor in what to me is a new old floorplan in a new old brownstone. New sky. 

New confidence, lighting in the mirror, knowledge of myself, and clarity. New action plan for seeing friends, new fire lit under me to get things done. New sense of attainability. New boss at the dayjob and new relationship to build. New orders of business. 

New seconds and minutes whizzing by, filling eternity as they etch stories in our souls, drawing closer to a new future. New need to trust God. New desire. New earrings and dress. New recipes. New books. Happy Resurrection Day!

"Behold, I am making all things new." - Jesus

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Ang Lee and the Uncertainty of Success"

I don't often use my blog to refer to other articles, but this one was so poignant, timely, and needful to my heart today that I thought I would share it here as well. Thanks to my friend and colleague, actress Chelese Belmont, for sharing this on facebook and giving me some much needed comfort and sense of community from the true-life story of a great artist!

"Much is made of genius and talent, but the foundation of any life where you get to realize your ambitions is simply being able to out-last everyone through the tough, crappy times — whether through sheer determination, a strong support network, or simply a lack of options."

Read the full article "Ang Lee and the Uncertainty of Success" here from

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Note To Self

I am having one of those weeks where I am tired and busy and beginning to succumb to those kinds of thoughts whose spidery tendrils whisper and grab at you from within most dark and twisty of nebulas, Desperation. Fellow actors, I know that you know the galaxy I mean. It is a tiny vortex, always accessible through a sigh, where sight is distorted and deep draughts of the drink Compromise are cooked up by a broken bartender.

Dali's Rabbit Hole from Alice in Wonderland
We none of us like to admit that we frequent the place (it is rather the unfashionable end of the universe). Going there is a nasty habit we pretend not to have, a source of shame, and we try to hide our furtive trips to its shadowy doorstep. But we go there, hypnotized, pathologically comparing ourselves to each other and beating ourselves up for things we didn't do instead of acknowledging the hard work we've done and the successes we've accomplished.

And what's nuts is that we're usually convinced it's the only way - a required pit stop on our trip through life's lessons, an unavoidable toll bridge from point A to point B. As if we can't just steer our starship around it. As if Desperation is everywhere no matter what, like dark matter or god particles or whatever the heck the universe is actually made of. We float into this gross galaxy each time we worry about jobs, auditions, appearance, or the future, and do not remember to breathe deep and take care.

Tonight, thanks to a mentor who has saved my life multiple times (my Dad), I had a bit of a reality-check and intervention within my own mind. I woke myself up on the threshold of that smokey hole and shook off it's weak gravitational pull. I thought I'd share some of the basic things I was reminded of tonight that lifted my gaze from the netherworld of doubt and worry. A simple note to self reminded me that making choices should always be guided by the simple truths that any 6-year-old worth their salt knows implicitly.

Here's what I came up with:
  • Money is never a good reason to do anything you are uncomfortable with.
  • Be legitimate. Be professional. Be your best, bravest, and brightest.
  • Avoid slippery slopes.
  • Don't break your mother's heart.
  • Stay lovely. Practice loveliness. Look for it everywhere!
  • Enjoy life and be thankful for it.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated. No exceptions.
  • If something isn't right, it isn't right, and it isn't right. Do the right thing. 
 As my Daddy jolted me by saying, "If God wouldn't do it, don't do it." A tall order to be sure, but a good thing to aim for. I plan on using this simple note to self to help me avoid falling down the rabbit hole next time.

Fellow voyagers, there is no reason why we should let the dark side of the force overwhelm us. It doesn't have to be complicated. Why waste away in a black hole when you can just...not go there?

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013: Year of Awesomeness!

Hi friends! I am stealing today's image from a buddy's facebook feed, as a refreshingly cheesy reminder about positivity, hope, and forward motion. (Who doesn't love cheese?!?!)

Don't give up! My roommate and I have declared that 2013 will be the Year of Awesomeness, and so far, January is laying some great groundwork. I'm happily working my acting muscles at The Barrow Group's fabulous Scene Study 1, meeting cool new acting peeps, attending workshops and EPAs, and working on producing two awesome original projects. AND I got a promotion at my dayjob! Don't you love the days where you can see some of the fruit of your hard work?

Want to join in making 2013 awesome? What are some awesome things you want to make happen this year? Our energy, intention, and perseverance can make it happen!