How long has it been since I’ve written something for the website? How long has it been since I’ve done anything remotely related to this industry? How long has it been since I had that “moment” that reminds you why you’re in this industry at all?
A long time, my friends.
Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
and I think of you
caught up in circles of confusion —
is nothing new
As I listen to Cyndi Lauper’s classic (and my stepfather’s, God bless him, favorite song of all time), ‘Time After Time,” I am reminded of a few things. First, the high-top sporting, Meth addicted lady who sings Cyndi Lauper songs at the 53rd and Lex, E platform and occasionally in Union Square. She’s a combative one, that crazy. However, she really does sound like Cyndi Lauper and, for what its worth, its a good time listening to those good old 80’s ballads. She does some Madonna occasionally but it doesn’t carry the same fervor, unfortunately. But she’s tenacious.
Daily, I see her rocking her shit and/or arguing with some wind flutist who has swept under her radar and taken her territory. She’s aggressive but its almost as inspiring as it is heart wrenching. Here is this girl who works so much harder than I do at finding an opportunity to perform. She is there every damn day come rain or shine. Granted, I don’t think she has many other money-making opportunities because of the smack but she doesn’t sit back and say ‘woe is me, I have no opportunities to perform, no one will cast me.’ She MAKES her own Midtown Karaoke (as we will call it). I watch her and I contemplate: I am trained and I know that I love to perform but do I get up at the crack of dawn, carry my karaoke machine to the subway, and belt tunes for the compassion-less commuter? Do I even get up at the crack of dawn and crash Equity only auditions in the hopes that I will be seen at all anymore? At one point, I would have. As of late…something has changed. I don’t do these things. I also don’t do Meth – so thats the good news.
What has changed?
almost left behind
suitcases of memories,
Well, some time ago, ‘Time After Time’ held a different place in my life. It was part of the pre-show music for my last production at the University of Colorado. I was playing L’il Bit in Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive (my DREAM role… one of many). And I would think of my loving Step Father and his weird adoration for this tacky tune and how he was my biggest fan in the world (instead of these days when I think of my Step Father’s incessant rant that, by my not becoming a Doctor, I am wasting a very powerful mind). And, from that moment on, I would always associate this song with preparing for that role: imagining the strength of that character’s relationship with her uncle, my relationships with family, with the people who raise you, shape you, mold you. For good and for bad. And, now that the show is closed and the reviews have been written, and the set has been struck – I associate that song with the feeling of sheer bliss. Accomplishment. Touching audiences. Impacting people. Breakthroughs. Growth. I grew in that production as an actor as much as I have grown as a person here in New York City these past 10 months. But, these days, “Time After Time” is slipping back into a distant memory. I used to be able to hear the song and have a physical reaction: immediately transferred to that feeling, that “moment” in time when an actor, an artist, realizes what its all about. I cant go into what it IS all about. That “moment.” That specific feeling. That’s like asking someone to describe what an orgasm feels like. Its different for everyone but at the same time, so indescribable.
I don’t remember that feeling anymore (the former, that is ;-p). I remember liking it. I remember loving it and I remember it being the reason I have dedicated my entire life up until this moment to pursuing a job that will provide me with that feeling. Up until this moment…
This is what I have been struggling with: when your passion and your “job” are the same thing… you are destined for sadness. Is this true? The security guard at my day-job/store says that that is a road to disappointment. We have deep conversations during my mind-numbing shifts at my oh-so-classy retail establishment. Another reason why I have taken a sabbatical from my theatrical career: the three day jobs I must work in order to be able to afford to live here and pursue acting are killing me softly with their song. And they further my thoughts of finding a more practical day job. Maybe I am wasting my intelligence. Maybe I should go back to school for Medicine (or for Bikram Yoga teacher training or Vegan Culinary school… more up my alley(s)). But that is me listening to everyone else. Listening to my step father
… listening to his own projections
… listening to my worries.
Listening to bills piling up and day jobs not making the cut.
Listening to self-imposed deadlines.
Listening to critics that don’t exist.
Trying to be everything to every one while being nothing to myself.
I should really just listen to 80s music and the meth-heads karaoke machine…
Sometimes you picture me–
I’m walking too far ahead
you’re calling to me, I can’t hear
what you’ve said
It is important to know thyself and be strong in one’s independence. It is just as important, for us social creatures, to have support. I moved here alone – no family, no friends, few contacts, and a dream shared by millions. I left everything behind. And I foolishly thought I had to cut my ties in order to isolate myself enough to see myself clearly. What I did instead was lose myself completely. This is when I stopped wanting to submit to auditions. I first took my break after the Graduate School auditions. I then decided to continue the break when I realized that I wasn’t pursuing my “dream” with the spirit and perserverence I normally with which I typically pursue dreams. That was when I realized: I dont know what I want. I am crazy when I KNOW what I want – nothing can stop me. I am the Cyndi Lauper girl! I have the gawl, I have the training and I have the talent – of this I am fully convinced. But do I have the heart? Or, MORE IMPORTANTLY, do I have more FEAR than HEART? What a scary question to have to ask yourself.
I have heard so many times that the majority of the people in this world are too afraid to follow their hearts… to follow their dreams. My step father followed a business model. He left it later in life when he was offered his dream job. The recession hit and he was fired. We filed for Bankruptcy two months after I moved to New York City to be an artist. No wonder he wants me to be a doctor. And how selfish did I feel? Moving to NYC to be an actor, to do what I love, to feel warm and gooey with my career that fulfills my ever waking spirit… How masturbatory “the arts” suddenly became. And how the pressure to succeed exponentially increased. The fear. The loss of heart. The loss of memory.
NOW HERE’S THE RUB:
Something I had would not let me forget what i had left behind. Music, for me, has been my tool for characterization. It helps me tap into a physical deposit of emotions and sense memory from with to draw intentions, characters, qualities, etc. Music can release L’il Bit, it can unveil Mayella Violet Ewell, and it can awaken the hard-ass bitch on the Subway who for sure as shit isn’t gonna give you money no matter how well you sing Cyndi Lauper because I, too, am a struggling performer. Music can also help me to find something ever so precious. In that same play, How I Learned to Drive, L’il Bit is told about a “fire in the heart.” My flame dwindled in the humid winter of this city. Cyndi Lauper, some self-discovery, some self-acceptance, some self-FORGIVENESS, have all led to me to vaguely recall that “moment” and to rekindle that fire.
In these past months I have learned so much. That no man is an island. I need a community. I need love. I have learned that if you push, you will be pushed back. That it is important to find strength, find balance, find a foundation before you take a step in any direction. And, if the world is not ready for you, its because its not the right time. Whether we like it or not, time is ALWAYS moving and to put a finite deadline on dreams, particularly dreams that are artistic in nature, is to chop down a tree before it can be climbed.
Then you say, go slow
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds
Now I have not decided if… this path I am on is where my heart is. But I have decided not to succumb to fear. Fear that I may fail if I decide that it is my passion after all. Or fear that I may have to abandon everything I’ve ever worked for and what people may “say.” I have decided to explore my options and to not rush my dreams. And not to rush my life. And to not rush my decisions. I HAVE however, after much deliberation and some auditions in Denver, CO while visiting family and assessing my life/goals/life in NYC, that I am going to stay in New York another year. I owe it to this city to give it a shot when I am not in a shitty, shared-studio, living situation and when I am not in a tremendous life-altering transition. I owe it a REAL chance. And I owe myself time, patience, forgiveness, love, compassion, understanding, and heart.
Life is already better in New York. I have made the commitment to stay and now I am beginning to settle much faster than before. I am beginning to maintain friendships and walk strongly on my own knowing that the friends and family I have at home are strong relationships that I carry with me. These boys I write this blog with, those crazies I train with at Jiu Jitsu, my entire BFA class, my mother, my sister, my Cyndi Lauper-loving step father.
if you fall I will catch you — I’ll be waiting
time after time