Time slowed when my mom died, slowed more when I was hit by the car, but stopped utterly the day I left N., my director. I had been trying to keep up with my group-and-I couldn't. I just couldn't. No matter how hard I tried, no matter what tricks I was doing, no matter what- I just couldn't keep up. The last day I saw N., I was in my private session with him. It had been rocky for a while, and my resentment was building....You see-it is the worst thing in the world when you're just trying to function, and you are literally being accused of not having willpower or some sort of control over yourself. In this case it was acting. N. was almost backhanded in his faith in my intelligence and ability. I wasn't terrible, you see. I was actually never as bad as my stories suggest. It was one of the true weirdnesses of the past few years-when I could remember before so well, and the after was just strange. N. could be cruel. There I said it. He was not a nice man. Manipulative,charming,brilliant. But not kind-although he had moments. On this particular day, I had my private session, which I usually had, followed by Banana Republic, and then back again-either for a rehearsal or group class. I was essentially spending all my time either at the doctors, physical therapy, or with him. I couldn't remember my lines. I didn't understand my character, I didn't bring work to him. In retrospect, I was protecting my own sense of self. You see, these things were about as unlike me as you could get. That day, I walked in, and he started screaming at me. And? It clicked in-somehow, someway, I didn't need to do this in order to work as an actor. I didn't need someone who clearly didn't understand or care about what was going on with me. I never made a secret of my injuries, except perhaps downplay them, because I wanted to work with him, however when he cast me as a dancer-I had to come clean. And yet? I still danced in every rehearsal. And as he screamed at me, I stood up, picked up my purse, and calmly said-"I'm done. We're finished. Thank you for everything, but I'm done." He thought I was kidding. I knew I wasn't, and would never be there again. Six years. In those six years, I never made a single friend. I thought of the actors being so close to me, so close, finding my secrets out, me finding out theirs. But that day, I left. And I never talked to anyone ever again. That day probably was the one that broke me. I had always had such faith in my ability. But I knew I couldn't stay. It's been two years. I have not set foot on a stage since. But every day, I write. I look at my plays. I go and watch people. I do all the things I've always done to be an actor. And now-time is moving again. I feel the clock ticking, but not in a bad way. In a "what next" kind've way. Because I am lucky enough to be ok. I can think, I can read, I can write, I can go out with my friends-and yesterday? I accidentally memorized a passage by just reading it. Here's what people who are whole don't realize. That every little movement forward, every new thing that can be done, any new person that you can let in your life? Walking outside with a cup of coffee along the waterfront? For some people that's victory. For me-that's victory. And I appreciate it. I made the decision that day to get well. And? Today, I realized, I've not had physical therapy for two months. And I don't care. For years, my life revolved around treatment. Then just maintaining. Now? It's just about seeking happiness. Nothing will ever make up for the time I lost, but I will not let keep me from seizing the time I have.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Here is the worst thing that can befall an actor. They stop wanting to act. It's like writer's block, but...most people think that it is a sign of "growing up". Or giving up. And? It may very well be true in some cases. In my case,when my mother died-I was already struggling..Not acting itself-but-there is nothing else like it in the world. It's literally using your feelings to do what painters do with paint. Actors are the ones that make you feel, that channel a deep stirring in the voyeur watching. It's intimate. The actor shares his or her point of view through emotion, and most audience members don't even realize. The good ones do, anyway. An actor who is shut down emotionally isn't doing their best work-and I know it and I know it and hate myself if I'm doing that. But, here's the thing. I have been onstage since I was eleven, in NYC since I was 16. It literally-is my life. I still can't use a computer properly. Nothing to be particularly proud of-but, theater people don't sit at desks. We live amongst the world, watching and being voyeurs ourselves, just so we can do anything, anything to create a character that can create a world in a little black box. .For years,since I hit my head-I haven't been able to answer the simple question of "what do you do?" I felt like a fraud. I couldn't even call myself an actor to people I didn't know-despite working for six years with a company. I did bad work. I know it. but I worked really hard-because the only way to get yourself back after a head injury? is to know you need to persevere, even if you fall on your face. I lost my lines in a performance. A full house. I ran off after faking it, and wailed into the stairwell. I was so out of it-it didn't occur to me people could probably hear it. I knew it was bad when my director didn't say a word. Not a thing. But if I hadn't done that? I never would have made the strides I did. Such a lesson in character building.....But the next night, back I went. Because I knew I would never leave the house again if I didn't go up. I hate being called "brave" for living my life-just living my normal life. I'm not. It has been my love affair my whole life-it's been the line to everything I hold dear, it helps me understand the world. I need it like I need air. And that's why I need to go back.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I like to think I'm independent. This is something I value, something I treasure. One of the perks of being an adult. I remember being a child, and simply vowing I would do whatever I wanted. As I grew up, I realized, perhaps, Independence is different than doing whatever I wanted. I remember, in my very early twenties, perhaps even my late teens-I held a check from my first catering company, Glorious Food. This check was probably the first money I'd ever held. I was a relatively spoiled girl, but things were given to me. Not money. But as I held this check-which even today is enough-I realized, I am able to be on my own. Escape my house. Be who I wanted to be-which happened to be an actress. I was out with a Spanish man who had two daughters the other day-gorgeous little girls, three and seven. I laughed and told him I was from a family of girls. We were talking politics, and he was trying to figure out if he was Republican. Somehow-I realized he was Catholic. He knew I was Irish, but was so surprised when I told him I was actually Episcopalian. So-I told him the story. My mother had very definite ideas about raising girls. Being Catholic was not part of her plan-because she felt Cartholicism was a very hard religion on women and girls. She made a point of discussing it with me in depth, at 7?. It still has an effect on me-my sprituality, my sense of self. She eventually chose a beautiful Episcopalian Church in Rhinebeck. Father Gerry and his wife were an ex priest and nun, who fell in love and left teir respective orders to marry. Around the same time, I got kicked out of second grade. Apparently-I was staging non-violent protests against my teacher because all the other straight A's were hung on the special wall. Mine weren't. After a conversation with the teacher, my mother determined that the teacher favored the boys, didn't call on the girls who did raise their hands. I still remember my mom pushing my desk down the hall to my new classroom, where I loved the teacher and made my first best friend.(After Meg.) So-you see-since I never felt less than because I was a girl, I felt like there were no limits. I am so glad I ignored the idea that I'm a girl who can't. I am once again independent-and that is the best feeling ever. Ever.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Today, I sat in a doctor's office. Alone. I have always made a point of going alone, from the time I was really young. It never mattered. Then-one day, my neurologist said something. "Where's your family?". I had to think-I was so used to going alone. It never bothered me. But it bothered him so much-I developed a complex. That I was not capable of living alone-living my own life. I was hurt, yes, but? I wonder now if all the noise of my doctors made me doubt myself-if somehow I wasn't living up to their perceptions of me. I went through a period of time after that feeling terrible-because,in all truth, my family-my father and sisters-never did figure out how to handle me sick. Now? My dad has started asking. He wants to compare physical therapy notes, and doctor visits. I don't. I humor him-but this was my struggle. Mine alone. I appreciate the friendships I have, and the kindnesses that got me through. But I never wanted to be a burden, never wanted to be less than. So-today-I laughed when the doctor diagnosed allergies. After all, EVERYONE has allergies. And that's all I want to be now. An ordinary girl. Who happens to be dreaming in NYC.