Did you know that you can buy both an Inspirational Floral Wall Cross and the Lover’s Guide to Sexual Intimacy on the Publisher’s Clearing House website? True. Did you also know that Costco is not just the go-to-place for sacks of produce, giant boxes of cereal and gallons of barbecue sauce, but that you can get a mammogram, buy a house, and pick out a casket? Also true. Humans like variety. And they tend to have short attention spans. They’re likely to pass up a shop that sells nothing but exquisite socks for a giant warehouse that sells socks by the gross AND lawn furniture. The thing is, it’s not always easy to be everything to everybody. And quantity is not always the same thing as quality…..I am seriously contemplating scratching out that last sentence. It’s so trite and overused. But, I’ll leave it in. For now. It’s not untrue. Doesn’t everyone long to be the someone that everybody loves? We color our hair, we cover our freckles. We buy our affections, we bury our feelings. We go through life trying to be what we believe someone else wants us to be, instead of being who we are. We try to do everything perfectly, instead of finding the perfection in doing. I’m still not nuts about that quantity/quality nonsense, but Imma let it be. Go. Do. Be. I’ll wait.
Like all of us, I get a lot of junk email. G-d forbid I express even a fleeting interest in something. I will then get emails from that something and all of the related somethings for the rest of my life. Which, apparently, according to the more recent glut of emails, is not very long. All of a sudden, advertisements from clothing stores, makeup lines and home goods have been overtaken by missives about hormone replacement, impotence, walk-in bathtubs, burial plots and something called “Crepe Erase”. WTF? Apparently, Big Brother truly is watching me. No matter how old I get, I still feel like I’m 18. Ok, 30. Spoiler Alert. Not. And it really pisses me off that every ^*%@ing day my inbox cheerfully reminds me of that fact. And not just my personal email. The specter of death has infiltrated my work email as well. Now there’s a couple of ways I can look at this. I can shuffle along, complaining about my aches and pains, mumbling to myself, secure in the knowledge that the fact that I can’t remember the term for “welcome mat” is the first step towards dementia. Or I can continue to feel 18. Or 30. Travel, sing karaoke, get another tattoo. I can take care of myself so that I can embarrass the crap out of my nieces when I dance with a 25 year old waiter at their wedding. There is something to be said for being smart, being prepared. Taking care of our health, saving for retirement, wearing our big girl panties. But nowhere in the rule book of life does it say that you can’t wear them on your head.
The thing I’m finding about getting older, is that I don’t feel older inside. For a moment let’s put aside the obvious. The arthritis in my knees, the bunions, the humps, the bumps, the odd little lumps. The spare tire, the grey hair, the batwings under my arms. Let’s ignore the fact that although, according to those who feel the need to give an opinion, I don’t look nearly 60, not one of those people have said I look like I’m in my 30’s or even my 40’s. Inside, in my head, I feel exactly the same as I did in high school. This is a double-edged sword. While I’m sure the fact that I’m embracing my inner child is great, the inability to let that child put on a pair of big-girl panties once in a while, not so much. I remember sitting in my bedroom in Syosset when I was in high school, listening to The Beach Boys, daydreaming about all the boys I had crushes on, creating elaborate fantasies about how they would finally see how gorgeous I was and drop their girlfriends to ask me out. (Spoiler alert: Didn’t happen). Now, I’ve grown up enough to look back and see that I was as cute as anyone else, but I couldn’t see it. Still can’t. It was and is as much a fantasy as the ones I created in my head. The ones I still create. They’re a little different 40 years later, but they still live only in my head. I am a great actress, I am rich, I am thin, I have the best hair ever, celebs are wearing my jewelry, I travel all over the world, I am going to live forever. Ok, no one lives forever. That really is just a fantasy. The others? Doable. But only if I let them out of my head. There is no dream that can survive locked up in one’s brain. It’s dark and cramped and windowless. Dreams and goals need air, and light, and life. Dreams are what keep us young. Dig ’em up, brush ’em off. Let them see the sun, and dance under the moon. Live forever.
Red-Headed Woman with Beehive Howls at the Moon. From the Red-Headed Woman Series
I’m sitting in the Actor’s Equity Audition Center waiting for my 12:10 audition. It’s my first professional audition in 20 years and I have no idea why I’m here. I’m trying not to psyche myself out and just think of this as practice. A learning experience. Everyone around me is so much more “Professional Actor-y” My resume is ancient and not particularly impressive. I have no representation. I’m an actor who sings listening to the auditions of serious kick-ass singers. And I forgot to change AEA•SAG•AFTRA to AEA•SAG-AFTRA. WTF do I think I’m doing here?!?! I can hear them snickering already. I am well aware that I have a certain something, but I don’t know how to show it in 2 minutes or less. The politics of this game with so few winners is so hard for me. It’s true I am feeling a certain amount of pressure from the compliments of well-meaning loved ones. “You need to be doing this!” “You don’t belong at your day job!”. “You could totally make it on Broadway!” And maybe they’re right. But I don’t have a clue how to make the people on the other side of the table see that. The actors around me have a full time job. Being an actor. I don’t have the luxury of doing that. Or maybe I just don’t have the commitment to living that gypsy life. Waiting tables, or working a temp job so I can go on the hundreds of auditions it will take to get one job. Taking classes, vocal coaching, showcases. Would I love to act and make a living at it? Of course. Who wouldn’t? Do I want it enough? Maybe not. Am I being a coward when I say I don’t see how that’s ever going to happen in my current situation? Or am I being realistic? Excuses or reality? Or maybe I’m just succumbing to the monkey chatter ever present in my head. I am here today to do something I hate, to face my fears, to see whether I hate it solely because I’m scared, or whether I hate it just because I hate it. Whether it is a dream to be pursued 24/7 or something I can step in and out of for the sheer joy of it. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Maybe not to being an ACTOR, but to being a better me.
Commissioned by Annette Ferrieri