Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do Over

I want a do over. I know my life is not over and I still have a lot to do but I feel like so many things have been ripped away from me. I have to remind myself often that I am not gone, it is not over and it is not too late for me. But last night I saw what I should have done with my twenties and I was just brutally angst ridden. I should have been out here, writing and taking acting classes and working with sketch comedy groups, working with theater groups, working in film.
This was there for me. And I was too afraid to find it. I was too busy chasing stupid men and being abused by them to find my dreams- oh I never gave up on those dreams, I never let them go away but how many things got squandered.
Now I am here and I have to stop regretting the past and do what I can do now. Marissa has an opportunity for her own dreams. I don't know what they are, exactly but I do know that I have never been the kind of mother that lives through her kids. I want her to be happy. I want her to achieve her dreams on her own terms and I will help her but her career success is not going to quell my desires.
My ambition is too fierce, too hot, it still burns brightly within me.
Last night I was jealous. I thought to myself- not only can I do that, I would be really good at it. Why am I not doing it? Why have I never seen this part of LA before?
I was angry, fierce, happy, ambitious. I'm not giving up. Can't make me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First Audition

After sitting around here dealing with mundane this and mundane that, all the necessary red tape, we finally got our first call for an audition. It was really thrilling. I got a text message on Wednesday for a Thursday audition.
Let me back up a little bit. The business has changed a lot in the last six years or so from what I understand. Black and white headshots used to be the thing. No more, they have switched to all color. The internet has taken over. It is still amazing to me how few people are willing to give you information. It's almost like a code of silence. You might do something, and I had to struggle so therefore I will tell you nothing.
Not only has the internet taken over, but it has found a way to make a business of taking money hand over fist. Not a great big surprise, right? I don't begrudge them that for the most part. Making a living, we are all making a living here but this doesn't exist in the small market I come from, so it was a bit of a culture shock. I'm thrilled that we haven't even been on the websites for more than a couple weeks and Marissa's agent already managed to land her an audition.
There are several major websites that you must sign up on and they have tiers of memberships that you can get. Recently, I complained about the nickel and diming of the industry and an actress told me- "Well, it just shows the ones who are serious and committed."
No, actually it doesn't. You can still be committed and broke. Now you are even more so both. This industry has always preyed on the desperate with the promise of stardom and wealth.
So, membership on Actors Access is free, but if you want to submit yourself to get an audition, it will cost you $2. Of course, you can pay a monthly fee to submit as much as you want- like I said, varying degrees of ways to make money off actors who have little money. I'm sure they will say this is investing in your career. Too bad it is the business where they screw you coming and going. It's not exactly like buying a nice dress or suit for your interview.
And for sure, agents are getting the prime listings that don't really get seen by everyone. That's why you want one. But still, I have been spending so much time reading everything, all the breakdowns with character descriptions and roles available. It's exciting and daunting to be in the big pool. The level of talent here is really great. I find the challenge to be invigorating, and so does Marissa. She told me in the car on the way to the audition.
"You get so stressed out,Mom, relax, it's going to be great."
Good attitude to have.
So, yesterday she and I got in the car two hours ahead of the audition time- and encountered very little traffic for once. We showed up an hour early, but that is okay- we had a few things to do and we knew where the location was and just relaxed at that point and went to CVS to pick up a few things and kill time. That is the best when you can show up fresh.
The first person I saw when I walked in the door was Maria Lark, who played Bridget Dubois on the tv show Medium. I recognized her immediately, without a doubt. Marissa kept telling me I was wrong, until I showed her the name on the sign in sheet. I don't know what the etiquette is at these things so I erred on the side of caution and said nothing to her, though I did really want to say hi, and I loved your show, which I did. But the last thing I wanted to do was be pointed out as the dork who talked to Maria, so I kept my mouth shut.
It wasn't long before Marissa's name was called and she went in to do her thing. It was an improv audition where the actors were asked to do a little scene and give one line of dialogue. Pretty simple, pretty straight forward. In and out. There were lots of girls who looked a lot like Marissa there.
So, here is the wait and see part. I'm really glad the first one is over.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Toy Chest Coffin

Okay, I am going to write about this and be done with it because there is literally nothing I can do about it and I need to move on. A friend of mine just apparently broke up with me for no apparent reason that I can tell. To the best of my knowledge, I was a good friend to her for over 25 years. She used to call me every day, we used to talk about everything. Something changed in the last six months or so and I could see it in her but I couldn't put my finger on it. She became jealous,threatened, accusatory with me. She began setting me up in situations I knew were going to bring out her worst insecurities and then later tearing me down both to my face and behind my back. The judgment began.
You might ask, with all this going on, why would you want her as a friend? Longevity is a powerful thing.
New friendships are fledgling, flighty little things, they haven't been time tested and they are likely to be need of the moment based. Maybe the two of you are going through a similar crisis at the same time and when that crisis is over, you don't need one another any more. We've all been there, right? So, you kind of drift apart but are glad to see one other from time to time.
A few years ago I ended a toxic friendship, but we did it respectfully, after a long and nasty set of emails, and a last ditch attempt to save the friendship, I realized we needed a total breakup. I don't do casual very well- especially with someone I had been very close with for two decades, it had to be a complete end. It was hard, it was brutal, there was anger and pain. Part of me missed her, part of me hated her and was still angry and still had things to say and part of me, a very small part wanted to talk to her again.
I mean, even my worst, most heinous ex boyfriends, I will speak to them. I have never put any relationship in the deep freeze for life. And you know, if I saw her in the grocery store, I would say hello but I don't think I will ever pick up the telephone and call her ever again, or drop by her house or send her a Christmas card. Here is how that is different from this. Because it is what we decided together- we mutually agreed on these rules and we ended it gracefully and respectfully.
I have too much honor to do it any other way. And after being friends that long and that deeply, we owed one another some mutual respect. So as painful as it was, and my first real breakup with a friend, we at least did it with a conversation.
Not the case here. This girl decided I meant something I did not mean, threw a hissy fit and blocked me from her entire life. After 25 years, I wasn't even given the decency of a conversation. I mean, what is she, twelve? Still, I gave it the prerequisite time and space, given the longevity of the friendship- and after a month, we did talk briefly and I was promised a conversation when I got out here to LA- promised that there would be a grown up conversation. There was an item that she had given me a long time ago- a toy chest, that I promised to return if ever I drove out here. Well, I kept my promise. I drove it out here. And when I arrived, I called her and she wouldn't return my calls. I gave it a week after calling once and texting once. I then informed her voice mail if I did not hear from her, I would be dropping off the toy chest on her front porch. Can you imagine?
How immature and cowardly do you have to be?
I gave it a couple days. To be fair. This was an important family chest for her and the last thing I wanted to do was drop it and leave it unattended. I knew it meant a lot to her. And it burned me up that I was being so considerate to someone who was being so childish and inconsiderate to me. Why should I care if she didn't?
It is stupid. So stupid. Both of us have friends that have died suddenly. What we would do for one more conversation. To be this stupid at this age when we have experienced such loss already in our lives, it is almost criminal of her to treat me like this, so callous, so cruel, so stupid.
On Tuesday, I went to Trader Joe's and forgot about the stupid toy chest until I opened my trunk- but there it was. Now where the hell was I going to put my groceries? The chest was now making me angry because it was inconvenient and annoying. It was time. I was done.
I drove over to her place, it was just getting dark and I picked up the toy chest and I put it on her front porch. As I turned to leave, her eight year old daughter came running to me. My heart stopped. This toy chest was for her, and I expected her mother to be right behind her. Oh God, I did not want to have a confrontation in front of this precious child. I just wouldn't. The kid and I were pretty good friends. She had joy in her eyes when she saw me. It broke my heart.
"Is my mom with you?" she asked.
"No," I replied. To my great relief, the neighbor was watching the little girl.
I pasted a smile on my face and told the little girl the history of the toy chest, that it had been her mother's when she was a child and her mother had given it to me for my children and for safe keeping to return to her if she ever had a child, but driving it out to LA from St. Louis had been a challenge. But now it was here. I felt good that I had kept my promise, kept my honor, and happy that me telling this to the child was bringing such happiness and wonder to her face and terrible that I was doing it for someone who was displaying such cruelty towards me. Still, I knew I was doing a good thing, at least for the child and that was small comfort, I could hold my head high.
I turned and left, not knowing the state of our friendship but suspecting it was dead in that toy chest now. In that coffin lay twenty five years of friendship. There was no wake, no funeral and no memorial service. I went home and wrote all my pain and my anger in a letter that I would drop in her mailbox a few days later. But it's like shouting in a deaf person's ear. No response. I can't even know if she read it. I'm left with all these feelings and I'm trying not to be held hostage by them. I have to be content with the fact that I vented my feelings whether or not she received them, they went out into the world as energy and my cries were heard, even if she was deaf to them.
It shakes up your world to know that friendship ends.
I'm going to have to work this out in my own time.
I don't need her, but I miss her.
We had way more good times than bad times.
When she was my friend, she was true and good. She wasn't mean to me for 25 years. She was supportive and loving and generous. Sure she could be a real bitch sometimes but I love her, anyway. I knew there was this side of her but naively believed it would never be turned on me.
I know that this behavior will back up on her. That one day she will realize it was her foolish pride and her insecurity and her issues that she projected on to me. Every day that goes by makes me wonder if I can forgive her and be her friend again. She has breached a huge trust.
I remember being dumped by a boyfriend in a particularly heartless way and knowing that there was a period of time when he could take it back and I could forgive him- maybe a few hours for him to make it right- but there was the part of me that knew he had crossed a line to a place where it would be impossible to come back from- that the heinous thing that he had done was something I could never condone, and I think I have been fooling myself that I can forgive her and move on in the friendship. I have to be worth more than that to myself.
Longevity has been what saved her up til now. But I deserve better. And I have to hold myself to a higher standard. I have to know that I don't deserve to be treated this way.
I can't know the future but I do know when that ex boyfriend came crawling back, I knew he was not worthy of my love and forgiveness. I don't know if she is. That guy had three months of my life but I do know that every day that passes makes me stronger in this. My tender heart likes to forgive but I like myself stronger with more resolve. I suppose there is a reason for this but I still find it a dreadful waste of pride and stubbornness where it is unnecessary.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Survival Mode

Well, it is hurry up and wait time in Los Angeles- we have filled out the forms and put her resumes on line and met with the agent and now we are waiting for the work permit. We are in survival mode, spending only the most necessary money, looking for bargains, cutting corners. Fretting over everyday items like toilet paper and salt. We are settled in and oriented. Marissa is almost lazy, she is on the computer and texting with her friends. She doesn't want to go out much. I want to be out every night!
Yesterday I took a long walk through my neighborhood. Across the highway is a really nice neighborhood, the houses have manicured lawns and some driveways are gated. I walked all the way up the hill and just admired the houses built into the side of a mountain. My thighs really hurt when I got to the top of the hill but it was good exercise on a lovely day. I know those houses were millions of dollars over there. As I was walking around, it occurred to me that I have mostly been able to go wherever I want in my life unhindered. I knew that as I walked around, likely no one would call the police because a woman was walking around looking at the houses. And I was looking.
Clearly, I had no ill intent, but I realized that my freedom is greater than some. I know that based on race, there are some people that would have been harassed doing what I was doing- walking around. It weighed a little on me. I guess if you want to case a place, send a white woman to walk around. No one thinks she could possibly be up to anything.
I can go so many places and no one even blinks and no alarms are raised. I am by looks harmless and honest.
Okay, I am in reality- honest and harmless- but you can't tell that by looking at me!
I love that my passage is open. It allows me great freedom. But I wish everyone had the same. Can we help ourselves that we make assumptions? I'm not talking about those instincts where our hairs on the backs of our necks raise up. I'm talking about- hey, a stranger is walking around my neighborhood- oh, it's just a girl. Are we by nature less suspicious about white women?
I'll just keep walking and see how it goes!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Go West Young Women

When I was 21, I drove out to California with a friend who was moving there. It was kind of a bitter angst with which I took the trip. A wondrous journey but one I knew I would have to leave behind. I was wishing the whole time it was me moving here to be a writer, an actress, and I didn't know yet I wanted to be a director. It was the first time I had really left my kids and it was for a whole week. There were only two kids at the time, Cory and Cassandra, and they were very young. I called every day to talk to them and check up on them. It was more difficult than I thought to leave for a week and less difficult than I imagined.
I was born in Santa Monica and lived there only when I was a baby before my family moved back to St. Louis. My parents were on sabbatical that year which is how we came to be out west. I have always felt the pull to Los Angeles. Not just as my birthplace but the place I needed to be to pursue the ambitions that burn within me.
But I had those children at home and no support system at all here. I didn't feel I had a solid plan or a realistic idea of what I would do and ultimately terror and indecision kept me there. It was important for me to do the right thing by my kids.
I decided that before I could possibly move I needed to finish college. Who knew it would take so long? But I gave myself a goal and I met it. I think those experiences along the way have shaped me well. As I look back at what I gained by having those experiences, I realize how ready it made me to be here now. Not to mention, meeting my husband and having the last two children- the first of which is half the reason I am here now.
The first time, I drove here, I was a fetus waiting to be born.
The second time I drove here, I was a very young woman, more of a child than an adult, a shadow of who I would become.
This time, I am a woman sure of my path and who I am.
We went to Disneyland on my 22nd birthday while I was in LA and it was magical in many ways, but I still felt like I was on the sidelines of my life. There is one picture of me from that trip and it is me standing on the beach in Santa Monica, right across from the neighborhood I lived in as a baby. Jeanna, my travel companion who was moving here, took my picture with the sun behind me so what is visible is literally a shadow of me. I think I had to find me before I could really get here to be me.
I remember chanting "go west young women" whenever Jeanna and I got back on the highway after a rest stop. I remember stopping in New Mexico at a gas station and buying crystals from some Rainbow Hippies on the side of the road, so they could get some gas money and get out of there.
This time, I thought 'go west, young women' as I drove with my daughter to take us out here, to take a chance and see where it leads us. We stopped more and I appreciated the landscape more this time. I think I saw more beauty than I paid attention to the last time. Marissa did a different drawing for every state we passed through. She likes road trips as much as I do.
I caught a glimpse of her reflection in the glass on the way into the hotel one night and for a split second I thought it was me. It's strange to look at her- naked ambition in my face, but without the fear and with all the confidence. That must have been what I looked like when I was alone and dreaming.
We have gone west. We are here.
When I pulled up into the carport of our residence, I rolled over a sign. When I got out of the car, I picked it up and it said:
"Destiny- the choices we make, the chances we take, determine our destiny."

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Reflections and Hopes for 2011

As I was reading through my facebook friends status updates, I found this little gem that inspired me.
"I'm going to start living my life and stop letting life live me. I have to remember it's not how many don't love you that matters but how many you love."
This came with a completely predictable measure of irony as I was just lamenting how I wished I could spend more time with a friend who never seemed to have any time for me.
It's a constant reminder in my life, that I need to be grateful and committed to the friends who have always found time for me- wanted to make time for me- and not waste any more time lamenting those that don't love me and value me as I do them. It's hard to let go of the notion that I want to be liked and am not paying mind to the miracle of being liked. I have at times found myself jealous and pained and quietly suffering. I still sometimes cannot make sense of it.
This is the little girl that lives in me. The watcher. The one who watched all the other kids play but was too afraid to ask to join in.
Last year I was lamenting the terrible treatment of me by someone I had been friends with who had mysteriously disappeared and frozen me out- as I was relating the pain and confusion of this, I was reminded by the person I was talking with that I had real friends who valued me. I guess I needed this reminder again. Maybe we all need to be reminded that we don't need to chase what we already have.
On New Year's Eve, I attended a party thrown by a couple of very dear friends. Two rare individuals who are always there with an ear to listen, stories to tell, and always have words of support and encouragement. These two are amazing friends- I think I have now known them for about 19 years and in all that time, I have never heard a disparaging word from them.
Truly, this couple is inspiring. I have had deep and meaningful conversations with them for hours, separately and together, and they were always interesting, insightful and intelligent. They are open to meeting new people and some of the most welcoming and open minded people I have ever met. Their kindness is the most genuine and I value my conversations with them.
I haven't told them they are special for a long time, so I must take time in the new year to let them know this.
What I hope to learn is that it is okay to love people who don't necessarily love me back. That it is better to give that friendship and not look for something in return. In the end, it is my own thwarted expectations that do me in.
When I look to my left, the calendar sits on January and the quote this month is "Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to."
I love this. I love how for the past few days, I have seen more meaningful quotes encouraging me towards my future.
I leave tomorrow for an adventure. My daughter Marissa and I are driving to Los Angeles and will be there for two months. I began this blog as a girl who refused to give up her dream. At this moment, two of us are racing towards a dream.
What will happen? We will take each day as it comes. One step at a time. It is after all a marathon, not a sprint.
We reach not for stardom, we reach to fulfill our dreams of doing the work.
For me, the idea of being a writer, a director, an actress is the only thing I need to be doing. I need it like oxygen- it lets my soul breathe.
For Marissa, the world is just opening up to her. She will learn and love and experience life with juicy mouthfuls- she does nothing halfway. Seize the day was written for us.
My hope for this new year is that I can be open. Open to listening and seeing what the Universe is telling me and showing me. Open to meeting new people, open to the understanding that not everyone will have my best interests at heart but open to the experience of learning that will come from that.
I hope I can be the kind of friend that I want to have and remember to honor my commitments and be as honest and courageous as I can.
I try to keep hope shining in my life- and when one option closes itself to me, I shut my eyes and find the hope I need to continue. I think we all need that. Where would we be without hope?
On a bad day, we need to take a deep breath and hope that tomorrow will be better or if it isn't, hope we have the strength to survive it. I have always hoped I will find my way to my dreams. I never imagined they would happen in the ways that they have. And that beauty would come from so much pain.
I am always hopeful in the new year. It's like getting a fresh start on things. We need to know there is always a day to start over, to begin again. I know that it means nothing that only a few days ago, it was a different decade, but somehow it feels like the air is clean with possibilities.
On New Year's Eve, I was with a roomful of very positive people, many of whom are very creative- at least five times, I heard someone say "It's going to be a great year, I just know it."
That made me feel really good- that joy of hope in the air. The confidence of belief.
I hope this year brings with it lessons we need, joys we can share and when there is pain, let it be pain we can overcome.
Happy New Year.
I hope my optimism has not been too annoying today.