Saturday, April 30, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part nine

I had intended to write last night, but then I spent three hours revising "Uncharted Territory," and I was too tired afterwards. It was still a bit hard to deal with the evening before, but after talking to my mom, my friend A., and my sister who hadn't even gone (but was very encouraging about my writing abilities), I decided that this was just a "necessary evil" and a part of the process, and I better get used to the discomfort I felt and move on. When I really began to distance myself and look at the piece with an object, critical eye, I could fairly easily see things that didn't work, and as a result I revised the ending (it felt too hokey before, and now it's a bit more ambiguous, plus it sort of brings it back to the near-beginning), added a scene between Karen and Mark at the beach (got rid of some exposition this way, and showed them together at their happiest), and inserted my own poem in the hospital scene. (I realize none of this makes much sense without reading the play, so if someone would like to read it, let me know, and if you included your email address, I'll send you a copy of it.)

The latter was the hardest part. I just wasn't inspired to write something new, and it also had to be from Karen's p.o.v. (I cheated in the original version, and used someone else's play.) Fortunately, I did have some of my own poetry, and one poem in particular seemed to fit. It actually typified, at least to some extent, Karen's fears and ambivalence about being with Mark (though it was written a year and a half ago), and so I inserted it. Does it work? Hard to say, but it's in there now. I have to accept the fact that the play isn't done til it's done (which means maybe never), and as long as I save previous versions, there's no issue about going back and forth and inserting, deleting, and maybe reinserting text. I guess I forgot I did this all the time when I was writing short stories (it's been a while), but you have to be willing to take risks (see? it applies to the topic) and then conceded that a change didn't work if that's the case and go back.

The interesting thing is that this play was performed before it had ever received any kind of reading, which was both a blessing and a curse, as I had no chance to test any of it out before it was presented. It was, of course, also gratifying, and I probably learned as much, if not more, from seeing it read in a more polished setting than I would have if it had received a cold read elsewhere. I was also very fortunate in having such a strong actress portray Karen (and where it didn't work, I could adjust the text, b/c I knew she got the character, so if I didn't like the way she interpreted a line or lines, it was probably as a direct result OF the lines, and not her reading). I resent the play to two festivals I just submitted to, and if they don't accept the revised copy, well, at least I got some hard work out of the way, and now I can move onto other projects. There's a one-minute play festival that would be fun to enter. (How does one write a one-minute play??? Maybe I'll learn something from today's two-minute one, as I used a monologue for this, taken from "Workin' Progress," and in this case I would try to write something that had dialogue instead.)

Yesterday, A. and I were supposed to go to Earth Day at the Hatch Shell, and the lineup was fantastic (Five for Fighting, Low Millions, Anna Nalick, and the Wallflowers, amongst others). Alas, the weather was awful--it rained from noontime on--so we regretfully skipped the concert and went to a French film in West Newton instead. It was fun to get out, but I found the movie slow (A. loves French films and didn't mind that at all), Still, I really focused on the writing and will continue to do that, to get ideas. I'll head off to the two-minute festival in a couple of hours (I'm walking most of the way there, rather than going to the gym; the weather isn't exactly stellar out today, but it's not raining out, so I'll live), and will be eager to see what's presented (30 two-minute plays, including one by D. and my monologue). It should be fun, and a lot less pressured than Friday night. I don't intend to do anything with this monologue, or not much, so I can just watch, enjoy, and maybe learn something.

Finally, on the topic of relationships and intimacy, I feel I'm at a real standstill. I decided not to go to therapy tomorrow, as I have a very busy day (meetings from 12 noon on, and then Writing Center til 9pm), and I leave for Florida the next morning. I haven't even packed yet, though I did laundry today, and can pack tonight. I must say that calling Susan and telling her I couldn't come was a big relief, and I'm not sure that's a good sign. I am in a real quandry now, b/c going to Waltham every Monday morning for 9am is stressing me out no end. I realize that if I leave at 8:15, I can get there by 8:45 or 8:50, and since the appointment isn't til 9am, that gives me plenty of time, unless there is a major accident. However, I hate, hate, HATE driving in rush-hour traffic, and after the appointment, I have to get in my car, race back home, and then get on the subway, arriving at work at 11am at the earliest. It was so much easier when the agency was located in Brookline, and not a big deal in Newton Centre, as that's on the T. But this is totally out of my way, and I don't like starting my week stressed AND sometimes depressed; it's not a good way to kick off the work week, that's for sure.

In addition, I get the sense that Susan and I are not going to make a lot more progress in these areas, and whether it's b/c of her and me or b/c I can't go further with anyone, I can't say. Nonetheless, I feel as if I need a break--I've poured a lot of energy into therapy over the past 3 1/2 years, and I'm tired--and maybe this is a good time to take the break and think about where I'd like to go next (cognitive therapy really does seem to be the answer). In any case, I'll get another week off, head to Florida to have some bonding time with my family (it won't be relaxing, but it WILL be a lot of fun, I hope), and then see what we decide on the following week. I get determined to end the idea of having a boyfriend, and then I talk to D. and she tells me how she and her husband J. and her mother are off to Harvard Square for the arts festival today, prior to the two-minute festival, and I feel rather sad again. It would be nice to have someone at the ready to do things with and to share things with. Maybe I'm not looking for a boyfriend but a best friend! It's hard to say. I also, selfishly, wish I had someone to share expenses with, so maybe I could live in a nicer apartment (or at least one in Boston proper), but that's a ROOMMATE, and of course I love living alone. So the whole idea is pretty unsettling right now, and I guess I'll have just have to take more time to sort it out. In any event, I'm off to read "Empire Falls" (the story of my life the past two weeks!) and then head out to the festival. I suspect the more things change, the more they stay the same (as the cliche goes), so when one problem is solved, another arises out of the ashes, and you can just take it one day at a time. I do plan to have fun today, in any case! :-)

Friday, April 29, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part eight

Well, I survived (yes, SURVIVED) tonight's reading of "Uncharted Territory" in Somerville as part of the Playwright's Quandrangle. Actually, the experience felt pretty excrutiating, although in hindsight I guess the reading itself went okay. My play was 7th out of 8, meaning I had to wait for about 90 minutes or so til we got to it (including an intermission). My friend D.'s play was third and got a good response, which made me happy (I think both actors did a nice job). The actor playing one of her leads played my female lead, Karen, and she was WONDERFUL. I went up to her afterwards and thanked her, and she thanked me for writing such a strong script. (Maybe yes, maybe no, but it was nice of her to say so.) She also said she hoped I won--the two plays that get the most votes, one a 10-minute play, one longer, 20-30 minutes, like mine, will be produced in the Fall--and I thought "Like hell that is going to happen," but thanked her. She was just what I envisioned for the role, and though I would have changed a few things she did, overall she was great.

Alas, the actor playing Mark truly sucked, and his reading (if you could even call it that) didn't help me figure out what worked well and what didn't with the character and his relationship to Karen. He was too young (probably 25 or so), but that wasn't the problem, and in fact my friend A. and others liked that he was younger than Karen. However, he mumbled, looked down at the script the entire time, and seemed as if he were about to fall asleep. He was in the evening's last play, directly following mine, and it was as if he had to save up all his energy for THAT play so he couldn't be bothered giving any to mine. Too bad, b/c it would have been cool to see Karen and Mark really play off one another--without passion, the play is useless--but I'll just have to guess, and I do see areas I can revise. The monologues worked for the most part, which was great. What was painful (to be kind) was to have to sit and watch. I thought, 'Fraud! Fraud! Why did you ever think you could write?! Never write another word, you fool!' the entire time I watched the play read (about 25 minutes), and my heart was pounding so hard I thought I'd pass out. I say this not so others can say, 'No, no, you are great, keep writing,' but b/c I honestly felt this way as I watched.

I cringed and squirmed and put my head in my hands throughout the reading, and told A. I thought I'd die or something to that effect when it was over. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and desperately wanted to run out of the room. Do others feel this way when they watch their work performed? I'm sure some writers must. It's sort of how I feel when I watch myself on tape, only worse, b/c it was happening LIVE. It was awful and I hoped people would glance at me sympathetically and say, 'Well, at least you tried.' In fact, A. liked the play quite a bit (she had read it, but not since I'd revised some of it, and no one had ever seen it staged, save for D. on Tuesday night at the rehearsal she went to for her play), and my parents said they did, though maybe they were just being kind (hard to say, really, though I suppose they liked it a bit, or didn't hate it). God. I want to write, but this is...this is tough. The good news is that I AM eager to go back and revise it, try to make it a little lighter in places (so the darkness resonates more, for one thing, and so you feel more hopeful and maybe more sympathetic toward the characters), and so I will do so, this weekend, hopefully. (I was going to start a new play, but maybe I'll hold off on that to see what I can do with this one.) I sent it out to two more places, and should they take it (doubtful, but who knows?), I would see if they would take the revised version.

Let me add that as the play began, I wondered, Who wrote that? and wondered if some of the words had been revised, as I didn't remember writing them (still don't). I'm also not certain I understand these characters as well as I might, so I will have to spend a bit more time with them. But I had hoped it would be more fun to see it staged, and instead I felt vulnerable, a bit helpless (as I couldn't go up to the stage and take the male lead off and replace him with myself or anyone, and I also couldn't fix lines I knew didn't work), Fraud is a word I've used in conjunction with myself in the past--I even wrote a poem about it, having to do with my improv ability (or lack thereof)--and it's the worst way you can feel, b/c you are so undermining yourself, saying that you are not deserving of anything you receive, and that you ought not receive anything in the first place. I want to write, to have my writing out there, and to feel PROUD of my writing, and maybe I need to work on the third part.

I did not realize how deeply I would feel this, how much it would mean to me, how much it would hurt to feel as if I had failed, had done a bad job, and I'm obviously being overwrought, as the reading was not a crushing failure (though again, I experienced it that way as the play was read aloud; I feel less so in retrospect). But I'm trying to be as honest and candid as I can be about the experience, and I need to be tougher, b/c of course plays need revision, and I need to be able to handle it. And I thought I could--I was in so many workshops as a Master's student at Emerson--but it's been a long time, and I guess I'm out of practice (plus this wasn't a rehearsal or a class but an honest to goodness reading, with a paid audience). I hope it gets easier over time. It seems nothing is ever truly easy, is it?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

You know it ain't easy...

And I got to see that first hand, at the debut of Janet Kenney's play at the Boston Playwrights Theatre this evening. The name of her new play is "My Heart and My Flesh", and it's very strong. I liked the writing, the acting was great, the sets were cool, and the costumes were well-done. The only issue is that, unfortunately, the play wasn't quite ready for its debut, and instead of being opening night, it was an open dress rehearsal. Fortunately, the press doesn't arrive til Saturday night, and w/ a lot of work and a bit of luck, they should be ready. (As if I should know! I'm just assuming so.) I mention this b/c I got to see first hand just how damned hard it is to put on a production, and while I always understood this, I guess I didn't really "get it" until now. Janet had to put up her own money, become the costumer when the person hired couldn't do it, and with the director had to sticker and stamp 1500 postcards (with more to come on Saturday). She barely slept this week and was obviously nervous. Happily, the show is very good, but the actors still had to call "line" at times (which we had been alerted to, but it's something I've never seen before in a professional production, though they moved in and out of their parts with tremendous ease) ,and the transitions were somewhat rocky.

I guess I've kind of taken theatre for granted, to be honest. I figured if it was a production mounted by a reputable company with Equity actors, you had plenty of time to learn lines, mount sets, block, etc., etc., and I see that just isn't the case in the real world. I have the utmost respect for Janet and Courtney O'Connor, the Director (as well as everyone else involved with the play, particularly the fine actors), b/c they've obviously worked their bloody tales off, and when this thing is ready to go, it's gonna be kick ass. Meanwhile, I remembered how hard it was to put "Workin' Progress" on last year--I was the author and performer, but I also had to manage ALL the publicity, book the venues, handle the cue-to-cue, make sure the tech staff was on board, and even direct myself the last few shows. There was nothing easy about it, and it ceased becoming fun, as I spent more time worrying about whether or not the tech person would show up or would understand my cues than whether or not I could actually carry this off (and by the time I got on stage, I was generally exhausted and not really in the mood to perform anymore).

Fortunately, Janet is neither acting in nor directing this production, but she is incredibly hands-on, and I can see how nerve-wracking it has to be (this isn't the easiest play to stage, as it has at least 15 scene changes, lots of costume changes, a ton of props, and NO intermission). And yet, while I watched, I sooo wished it had been my play or I was acting in it (though I had no desire to be director, I confess, and especially not stage manager). God, I have GOT to get cast in something or I may explode! In any case, I really paid attention to what I thought worked in the play (most seemed to be successful, though I thought the ending was a bit forced and rushed; I feel this is problemmatic in a lot of contemporary plays), and I'm eager to sit down, hopefully this weekend, and begin a new play, probably a 10-minute one, as my current one just doesn't seem to work (it needs to be part of a longer play), and I really want to try to write a comedy, which fits the 10-minute form particularly well. It was also nice tonight to meet members of Write-On, the writing group/community I recently joined, and I hope I can continue to contribute and not simply be a hanger-on, as I DO believe in my work. Tomorrow night is my 20-minute play, "Uncharted Territory"'s, debut, and I'll be back soon to report on the results, hopefully successful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part seven

First, I want to start by congratulating my friend K., who received a job offer today! Or as she so succinctly put it:

Blog this: Yeeee-hawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so I have. :-) Congratulations, girlfriend, and I can't wait to resume our bi-weekly (or so) lunches again! K. and I go back about nine years or so, and it's been a while (four years, I believe) since we've worked in the same area, so this is wonderful, and a job she so deserves. She persevered and it paid off, as it was wont to do. There are successes, waiting to happen!

As for me, I have once again dipped my toes into the audition waters, hoping I won't sink, and am scheduled to perform a monologue and hopefully sides for Theatre@First, a Somerville, MA troupe, in two weeks. I had a few emails back and forth with the producer, and he was incredibly gracious, as was Mare, the submissions coordinator. She explained that they had received 90 (!) plays, and only took seven, which made me feel better. (I'm not sure if the same can be said for friend D., but she's going to direct a play, which is fabulous and utilizes other finely honed skills she possesses.) I am not a big fan of nepotism, but I will say that if D. feels there is a part for me in the play she's casting for, I will not be at all unhappy to be chosen, or even to simply receive her initial seal of approval. ;-) I have seen enough cases where directors and producers chose people they knew, and maybe not always the best actors available, and so why shouldn't I get a chance?! I honestly feel I am a strong enough actor to be getting at least the occasional role, and it isn't happening, and it's time for it to start.

I believe the Theatre@First folks will be very equitable in casting, so I will give it my best shot and see. Meanwhile, I have not received any encouraging news from BTM 7, BU's short play festival, but I was so pleased to hear from Kate Snodgrass, the producer, regarding BPT's play (she is also their Artistic Director), so I felt at least a modicum of optimism. As D. and I discussed tonight, however, it's virtually impossible to "get in" if you're not already affiliated with one of the producing companies, but as D. also pointed out (as did a student during advising tonight), there's no chance if you don't put yourself out there. So I have.

I continue to hear encouraging and kind comments from people at work about my play's debut this Friday, and I am brimming with excitement. D. was fortunate to attend the Arlington Players' rehearsal last night (I could not, as I had advising til 9pm, *zzzzz*), and she said both her and my plays received favorable responses and that I should be pleased. I am, as well as a tad nervous, but mostly excited, and of course I want more companies to put on my work (when you get an inch, you try to take a mile and so on). It's just a natural human impulse, I believe, to want more than you have, but I'm not trying to be greedy. As I noted last night, there is just such a high one receives from artistic success, and while the process can be great fun, and ought to be (or why bother?), the product is equally if not more rewarding. (Maybe it ought to be the other way around, but it isn't for me, at least not yet.) Nonetheless, I am looking forward to sitting down and working on a new piece (or perhaps reviving "Uncharted Territory," the piece that will be performed Friday night, after I see the response it receives and get a sense of how it works on stage, since it's never even been READ OUTLOUD), and I might just do so this Sunday before the 5pm short play festival. (Saturday is Earth Day, and I can't miss the Wallflowers, Five for Fighting, Low Millions, Anna Malick, and others, and will be too tired when I return home, I'm certain, to do anything but crash.)

I have decided one other thing recently, and that is that I do not intend to engage in any kind of dating, or even thinking about dating, for the forseeable future. Clearly, I suck at dating, b/c it's never paid off, and I also have so many issues around intimacy that it just doesn't seem worth it. I don't really want to talk about my childhood in therapy anymore, and where these issues might have stemmed from, and I don't want to talk about my current fears, either, particularly when I have no real way of facing them (i.e., I am not IN a relationship and haven't been for a REALLY LONG TIME, so I can't deal with a man who doesn't exist, and role playing isn't particularly useful for this situation). I would actually rather deal with and engage in positive things, like my writing and hopefully acting and advising and female (and male, to a lesser extent) friendships and the like, and forget about that which has caused me so much unhappiness and so little success in the past. Is this smart? I can't really say, can I? Who knows until you play something out?

And maybe when I've given this up, truly said, I will NOT focus on this at all for the next year or whatever, won't read personals, won't try to meet anyone, won't talk about dating AT ALL with anyone, and have kept to this promise, then perhaps I will meet someone, b/c my attention will totally be focused elsewhere and I'll feel much more confident about myself. But I can't do this in a faux way, in a "See, I'm not thinking about it! Now it will happen" way, b/c that's just delusional, and it's fooling no one. No, I have to truly commit to the idea of being single, of enjoying it, and of not gazing longingly at couples on the street and on the subway and not feeling major twinges when my friend E. squeezes her husband's hand as they walk down the street after brunch...sigh. This is not going to be easy. Not at all. But hey, they're doing my play on Friday! :)

Monday, April 25, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part six

Well, notice I brought the success part back. I'm feeling a bit more hopeful today, though my moods did fluctuate as the day went on. The most exciting thing is that I got an email with a flyer for the playwriting festival I'm part of this weekend. Wow! I'm on a flyer that I didn't even create! Best of all, here's the text:

Boston has a wealth of gifted playwrights who needto be heard! The Arlington Players present two nights of new works by emerging Boston playwrights as read bya talented cast. The audience votes on their favoriteand the Arlington Players will produce the winner inthe Fall of 2005.

Imagine that! I'm a gifted playwright! And an emerging one as well! :-) I'm brimming with excitement and a just a tiny bit of confidence as well, as some of the playwrights are well-known, locally, anyway. I'm sorry, but it's just SO MUCH BETTER to be chosen than to be rejected. I can't help it. I get such a high with success and such a low with rejection/failure (probably more the former than the latter; if I'm not cast, it's not that I failed but that I was rejected, or better yet, not chosen). I am certain that the reason I persevere is because of the high I receive when I've acted well in a play or when someone reads and enjoys something I've written. And getting accepted into this festival and the two-minute one by Java Theatre is thrilling me beyond compare. I actually had something to write to the Mount Holyoke Alumna Magazine about! I could share my flyer with my friends (and they are, honestly) the baristas at the Newbury Street Starbucks (who asked for a flyer when I mentioned my play) and some of my colleagues at work have even sent me very kind (or funny) emails. One program director laughed after I accidentally kicked him during an Education Policy meeting today and said, "Hey, you're allowed. You're a playwright." ;-)

Honestly, I don't do this for the; well, no. I won't say I don't do it for the tangible, and external, rewards, b/c I do, at least in part. There is clearly something driving me to write (and act) and if there weren't, and I didn't have at least a modicum of talent, then I wouldn't bother. After all, I could try being a sculpter, painter, model maker, but that would be foolish, as I have little visual talent (despite a few people's protests to the contrary). I could try to play an instrument (which I really do want to take on, guitar in particular) and join a band, but as much as I love music, I can't see my fortunes or success residing in those areas. But the performing arts: now that's a different matter altogether. The greatest high of my life, besides graduating from Emerson College with my MFA in Creative Writing after three long, stressful years and seeing my parents bursting with pride, was the night I performed my one-woman show, "Workin' Progress" at ImprovBoston last February. I was terribly nervous, certain I'd throw up, or forget all my lines I'd written, or do both simultaneously. But the performance was nearly flawless (the first and last time, I might add, it went so well), and everything I did was received in the most wonderful way possible. Granted, I knew many (but certainly not all) of the audience members, but who knows how people will react, particularly fellow actors? But they laughed and clapped and oohed and ahhhed and clearly had as good a time as I had, and the whole time I was onstage I felt in control and precise and ON, and I really had command of the audience the entire time.

It was unbelievable, and afterwards, all I could do was smile and bask in the happiness and the high. I went out for frozen yogurt with members of my acting class and director V., and it was just as wonderful. I don't think I fell asleep til after 2am that night, and I wanted the good feelings to last forever. Of course, they couldn't, and the next time I did the show, it went well, but not quite as well, and the audience's response was more mournful, more muted, though those watching it enjoyed it, or so I heard. I had a good time again, but it wasn't as gleeful, perhaps, and afterwards I felt oddly disappointed. The third time was a disaster, as I performed at a pub, after two other zippier acts and after being introduced by two obnoxious would-be stand up comics (I use the term VERY loosely), while blues music droned upstairs, the somewhat drunken and largely young and male audience only paid token attention. I did an abbreviated set, as planned, 1/2 hour, and wanted to run off after two minutes, though to my credit I stayed on stage and performed (and to my discredit, screwed around a bit with the script, to no discernible benefit and to my director's displeasure). Afterwards, I ran out of the pub in tears, but at least I realized that it would never be this bad again, and it wasn't, though my performance in New York City, in front of a sum total of eight people, including my director, the videographer, and the producer, was far from successful, on a sticky June night when few things seemed to click and my director laughed a bit (a lot) too loudly and my three improv friends in the audience tried to be kind but were clearly unimpressed.

It's okay, I can say in hindsight, because I took a chance, and as the year progressed, I made some changes to the script, lost my director, hired a consulting actor/director for two hours (it helped, a bit), and performed about four more times, with some success but nothing like the first time. You can never duplicate your first time. ;-) Honestly, I felt as if I had just lost my virginity to the kindest man possible, and I never, ever wanted the night to end. And I can't say that that night had anything to do with tangible rewards: I made no money, no critics were in the audience, and I didn't get famous from that evening's performance (plus the video camera didn't work, so the evening will always remain a memory I'll have to recreate, rather than a visual experience I can turn back to and share with others). Maybe it's just as well, b/c no matter how I did, or looked, it will never measure up to how wonderful I felt during and after (not before, but that's okay) the show.

And so my acting and writing career do have their tangible benefits--I get to share any success I have with others, by having them see me perform or seeing my work performed (and I am beyond excited to see "Uncharted Territory" on stage this Friday, even if it is only a reading, rather than a fully-staged performance)--and of course it's a way to get to share my accomplishments. I can't really say to others, Gee, I had the most awesome evening advising tonight! or, I got one of my proposals through Ed Policy today!, though both are important and worthy of mention. But art is something meant to be shared, and there is its intrinsic value, as well as the happy feelings one gets in creating and having created and then seeing that product distributed/disseminated or what have you. I also will admit to feeling extremely gratified that Kate Snodgrass, Director of the Boston Playwrights Theatre, responded to my email query today and said to definitely send along my resume (Finally, someone was interested! Okay, three people were, but she's the most important and the most likely to say yes.) and whoever was directing the piece BPT is producing for the BTM 7 would consider it and get back to me. It would be beyond wonderful if I should be chosen, but it's certainly nice to be considered, in any case, particularly after Mike's rejection last week. Risk is okay but rejection...not so sure about it, b/c it feels so lousy. But man, success tastes so damned sweet. So maybe I'll stay out of the dating waters a bit longer, and tread in the artistic ones, and we'll see where it all leads. Maybe the best is yet to come.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

On music, b/c it really does matter

I've decided to take a break from the topic (which can be enlightening, cathartic, or downright depressing, and sometimes all three simultaneously) to talk about music. Not that I actually have that much to talk about, but I hoped some ideas might pop up as I typed. I'm currently listening to "Jazz" on Music Choice, the digital music station. I love, love, LOVE the Jazz station. They play everything from Miles and Coltrane to the Marsalis crew, John Pizzarelli, Sarah Vaughn, Jamie Cullum, John Scofield, and EVERYTHING in between. They go light on smooth jazz (get it?! ;-)), though that does get included at times, but vocalists such as Kevin Mohogany are included, and there's also latin jazz and other interesting variations (helpfully, not too much of the Frank Sinatra era--they have other stations tailored to that). I love this station, as there are no commercials, and there are always useful bits of information about the artists and the songs (along w/ title, artist, and name of album), so you learn while you listen (hmm...they could use that as their tagline :-)). I only get two hours of jazz a day at work, streaming live on the Netscape channel (cheap bastards; if you don't have aol, they cut you off after two hours), so I really get excited when I come home and get to listen to jazz.

Netscape and The River, my enlightened adult contemporary station that also streams on the web, 24/7 and for free, keep me focused all day. And God knows, I need music to keep me focused and calm and non-agitated. It may be in part to this condition I alluded to recently (SEPD, or socio-emotional processing disorder), which can make it hard to focus and concentrate. I'm not sure, but I do know that music has always been of utmost importance, and is why I was in djay in college and for 18 months professionally afterwards, and why I must have it on ALL THE TIME. I could absolutely live without TV, and have, but NOT without the radio and CDs. And now that I have my zen creative, aka my mp3 player, I have a very portable way to listen to a great deal of music in whatever order I choose on the spot. I will sometimes move from Donovan Frankenreiter to HotHotHeat (new indie band favorite) to Low Millions to Dogs Die in Hot Cars (the other new indie band favorite) to who-knows-what at the gym or on the subway, and it's awesome to have that power.

It's hard to believe I ever lived without an mp3 player, though I've only had mine since December. It's also been troublesome, this zen creative, and I've had to return it twice (and may actually need to return it again, as the headphone jack is acting up once again), but I'm hoping not. I probably should have gotten a mini iPod, due to its sleeker features, cooler colors (LOVE the pink), iTunes, and its apparently greater reliability. However, I got my zen for about $30 less, including more storage space (although there is now a 6 GB iPod for about $240) and an FM tuner, so it seemed a good bet at the time, and the sound quality IS amazing, WHEN it works. Sometimes I worry about going deaf. There is no indication that this is going to happen anytime soon, knock on wood, and in fact I have pretty good hearing. However, my paternal grandmother started going slightly deaf in her mid-60s (she died at 68, so we'll never know how far it would have advanced, and it hasn't been the case w/ my paternal grandfather, who just turned 95 and is going strong, at least in the auditory area), so I do worry occasionally. However, I am far more focused on my eyesight (which has always been poor and will always be weak, though I am not yet on the bifocals route, THANK GOD), and hope that whatever happens, my hearing will always be at least minimally intact.

I love to talk to others, to hear laughter, especially of my nieces and nephew, and birds chirping and waves crashing against the shore--all make my heart flutter, I kid you not, and fill me with tremendous joy--and I love and need to music to accompany my good moments and those that aren't so good. I even have it on, albeit softly, during advising on Tuesday nights. I find it so calming and comforting, and no one's ever complained, so I guess it's okay. I can't really listen to NPR at work, simply b/c I need to hear music rather than talk (though I need to remember to listen to "This American Life" and "Fresh Air" at other times, and I rarely remember to). I don't like rap, hard rock (e.g., Audioslave), most country (musicians like Lucinda Williams excepted), most classical, or bluegrass, but otherwise, I'm pretty open, and I absolutely adore the blues, new wave, some disco (Abba and KC and the Sunshine Band are favorites), acoustic, and jazz, as noted. I love to work out to it (even if the TV monitor is tuned to, say, the Red Sox, as it was today), walk to it, dance to it, fall asleep and wake up to it, and pretty much everything else in between. Although I don't care for my nieces in Western Mass's choices (e.g., Hilary Duff, Britney, the Cheetah Girls, and Lindsay Lohan, and need I say more?), I do love to see them singing and dancing along to CDs and The Disney Channel on Music Choice, and I feel happy to be able to share that with them. I hope they will have a lifelong appreciation for music and its ability to make you feel better, no matter what your mood.

I realized that being a djay wouldn't work--too corporate, even back in the 80s, and it certainly is today--but the role music has played (for example, I listened to the Jayhawks non-stop while I wrote my Master's Thesis, and it absolutely helped) in shaping my life and my ability to function hasn't lessened from when I was 10 years old and taping American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and reciting the whole list for anyone who cared to listen. I am a decent, but not superb, singer, so I was never in a band, though I was in Glee Club (barely got in, and only after a summer of voice lessons), but someday I would still like to collaborate with a musician on lyrics (b/c my poetry is far closer to song lyrics than to traditional stuff). These days, I spend a fair amount of time scouring and other websites for free, downloadable music (or occasionally paying $.99/song for something like Anna Malick's "Breathe: 2AM"), and this is how I learned about HotHotHeat and Dogs Die in Hot Cars (and now The Postal Service and other up and coming bands). And on a Sunday night, listening to Wayne Shorter, while I read The Sunday Globe and eat popcorn, I can relax and try to forget that I need to return to work Monday, where I'll be reminded, somehow, of the plays I'm not being cast in or the fact that I have no date prospects or am paid far too little at my job. But tonight, I get to bask in jazz, and that's not so bad.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

On risk and rejection, part five

Note that I didn't put the (and success!) phrase in today. The last 24 hours or so have been tough for me, and I thought I'd try to explore exactly why. As I mentioned in my last post, I have been sending out inquiries regarding the Boston Theatre Marathon (BTM 7), hoping to get cast in someone's 10-minute play. Chances are slim to none, as I am not involved with any theatre group at this point (and don't see it happening anytime in the near future), and the producing companies generally go with actors they are already involved with or know. Nonetheless, I took the chance and sent out about seven emails to companies producing plays with at least one female character in her 30s or 40s. So far, I have not received any encouraging news, but not everyone has responded, so it's still possible, though unlikely, that I'll be considered for a part. I am planning to go to the festival in any case, b/c it's a cool opportunity to see 50 (!) short plays in a 10-hour span for $30 and it's a fundraiser. I didn't submit a play, unlike friend D., so I can't be upset about that (she is actually going to be out of town, so she can't go, but my friend A. plans to, though not for the whole time).

I didn't think it would be such a big deal--after all, I knew my chances weren't great--but for some reason, the idea of getting cast became something I really wanted and it bothered me (and still does) that I just can't get it to happen. These feelings were exacerbated by a three hour master class with Tina Packer, the Artistic Director of Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, yesterday morning at work. The theme was how acting and teaching are connected, I guess, and how the teacher can bring more passion to the classroom. It was very interesting (Tina Packer is so comfortable on her feet, as you can imagine, and was very real in her presentation and wonderful working with both the college actors and members of the audience), but I became increasingly despondent as the presentation continued. I guess I saw her and thought, Boy she is SO lucky. She gets to act, to direct, to produce, and to teach, and is involved with an art that she inspires and that inspires her. I'm sitting here, listening but not participating (it's rare for me, but I couldn't think of anything to say), and becoming increasingly jealous as I see the student actors doing Shakespearean works and getting to develop their craft through working with Tina.

Also, nearly everyone in the room was a teacher, but I am not. They could see how Tina's suggestions could directly impact their work, but I do not have a classroom in which to "perform," if you will, and except for Year One in the Fall, don't see that happening anytime soon. Instead, I wish to act, and it just kept hitting me: others get to act but YOU DON'T. This is very narcissistic, I realize, but I couldn't get past it. It hurt so much, and I had increasing difficulty focusing. I wanted to rush up to Tina and say, "Please, let me act, cast me in something or ask someone else to," but I couldn't, of course. My colleague T. suggested I see Tina after the presentation and talk to her about my frustrations and seeking advice, but she was engaged in dialogue with four others, including one of the symposium's directors, so instead I decided to email her (and I will), and went downstairs, after eating more than I wanted and barely tasting any of it.

Back at my desk, I felt so sad and worthless, and needed to do something to feel better. I had also missed yoga (which was at noon), something I HATE TO DO, so I went to the gym and had a pretty decent workout, keeping my knees in mind, as it was my third day of elliptical work in a row, and I try to avoid that. I considered doing a 6:30 yoga class at the BSC in Copley, but I was tired, and really wanted to get home, so I left at about 5:30 instead. The workout did help--it usually does--and I felt better afterwards, though it is more of a distraction, of course, than anything (but a healthy one, at least). At home, I had trouble resisting the urge to eat everything in sight, but I managed not to (this is precisely why I don't keep bags of chips and other fattening things like chocolates and peanut butter in my apartment). I read Empire Falls, which I am still not enjoying--it feels burdensome to have to read it, and I can't wait to be done with it--and then fell asleep early, about 11am. I woke up around 1:00am, after some restless dreaming (this has been pretty constant lately), and checked my email. BIG MISTAKE.

I heard from SouthCity Theatre, and, no particular shock, they had decided NOT to select me for the troupe. Mike has been very nice about this from the start, and honest (he had let me know initially that it was unlikely I'd get chosen, though I think I did impress him and the troupe with a strong audition), and he was also very kind in his rejection email, thanking me for coming out, congratulating me on my recent successes with my plays, and telling me he'd let me know if the play HE'S producing for BTM 7 still needs actors. But it still hurt, naturally, and it was just another no, another "No, you can't act, forgetaboutit" message, and I wonder if this will ever end. My friends at YESAnd tell me to stop trying for a while, take a break, and then come back to it with renewed energy, etc., and I know they are right, and yet I can't seem to stop trying. Is this just foolishness? Masiochism? An inability to take a hint? Maybe it's all three, but I prefer to think it's a need I have, to perform, to express myself verbally, and I know it's fun and the chance to engage with others, and I want to have the chance others, both more and less talented than me, get every week.

Work is going okay, but it's not been especially stimulating lately. I also got a diagnosis recently that I won't go into today, but suffice it to say that certain parts of my life have been impacted by a cognitive deficiency (things that are visual-spatial, like reading maps, fine and gross motor skills, and change) but that my verbal, written, and rote memory skills are especially strong. Having this confirmed, perhaps I'm even more committed to finding areas of my life that I can do successfully, and it would seem that acting (not improv, mind you, but scripted acting) is a natural, but again, it seems to confound me, time and again. As I've said, I realize that I am a natural writer and maybe not as naturally gifted at acting, but I've been performing since I was six years old, and I believe I have some talent. I know how competitive it is, but Christ, I only want a part in a 10-minute play! This doesn't seem to be so much to ask, frankly. At any rate, after getting Mike's email, I went back to bed, but slept fitfully. I finally work up around 6 or so, emailed him a nice response back, turned off the jazz music I'd had on all night, and went back to sleep.

Not surprisingly, I didn't make it to the 8:30 yoga class (I didn't really think I would), and so it looks like there won't be any yoga this week (and I could REALLY use it), unless I manage to get to a class tomorrow afternoon, and I don't think I'll be able to. After I finish this post and shower and pack, I'm on my way to my sister's in Western Mass for a family get together and Passover Seder. I am about as non-religious as it's possible for someone to be, so I'm only going to see the family, particularly my nieces, whom I haven't seen much for the past few months, and am dreading the Seder, but I'll get through it. I'm also hoping that being off the computer, and away from this constant innundation (self-imposed, I realize) with acting and theatre, will make me feel better. I don't think it can make me feel any worse, anyway. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do in the weeks to come, b/c I don't have any upcoming projects, and I suspect after next weekend's readings, I'm going to feel even worse. Then I need to go back to therapy and deal with my inability to deal with physical intimacy. Sounds delightful, doesn't it? ;-)

Please don't think I'm not aware of all the good things (knock wood) I have in my life now, and the stability that I am extremely grateful exists. But this nagging sense I've always had, that I have to work harder than others to get the same things, has made its way to the forefront again, and I'm trying to work though it. I will, but no one said it would get easy. Maybe I'm close to some sort of breakthrough. All I can do is take it one day at a time.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part four

Well, as noted, I have recently attained some success with my playwriting, but the same can certainly not be said about my acting. In fact, quite the opposite. I am still waiting to hear about my being cast in a local improv/sketch/theatre troupe (chances are unlikely, at best). In the meantime, I decided to take the bull by the horns and contact five or six companies to see if they might be interested in casting me for the Boston Theatre Marathon 7, which will be held at the end of May in the South End. This is not very likely, because most of the producing companies already have in-house companies OR have people that they regularly cast (or have recently cast), so why should they take a chance on me? On the other hand, you can't possibly win if you don't try, so I figured I would send out some emails, attach some resumes, and see if I might get lucky. Of course, you need to get cast to continue to get cast, and as no one has elected to do so as yet except SLAMBoston, and they aren't involved with BTM (sadly), I don't really see how this is going to work out for me.

Perhaps some company is waiting, hoping for the right person to happen by, and if they get my email, it piques their curiosity and they have me do a reading for them, or some such thing. I don't know, and in fact this sort of made me feel like a whore for trying, or at least a very desperate actor, and no one wants to feel or come across that way, of course. The reality is that I am feeling rather desperate at my opportunity to act these days (though I found out that Theatre@First in Somerville will be casting for their 10-minute marathon in May, and I am going to audition for that), and don't see it happening any time soon. And God, I so want to act again! The last time I did so was in January, and it gave me enough of a taste that I want to do it again.

I don't mind it only being in a 10-minute play; in fact, that works out really well with my schedule and doesn't present many conflicts or too much pressure. But doing this, i.e., emailing these companies I only know by reputation OR have been rejected by in the past makes me feel so sad and desperate, and who can possibly enjoy this state of vulnerability (and futility)? I already got one response--the link was wrong, and I contacted an incorrect company (though the woman was very nice about it in her email)--and I don't expect any responses to be more favorable. Of course, with this sense of negativity, how can I possibly expect to succeed? As with Bren on The Apprentice, who was fired tonight, primarily for his lack of risk-taking (not a smart thing to say to Donald Trump, frankly), if you don't take a risk and go for it, how CAN you possibly succeed (or at least succeed in a new, unfamiliar area where you haven't gone before)?

Bren decided that he was actually happier where he'd been before the process--as a lawyer in the South, with his wife and two boys--but I can't honestly say I'm happy as a non-performing actor, seeing theatrical productions nearly every week and not participating in any of them. Granted, it's a lot easier to either watch and think, "Gee, I could have played that role just as well!" or complain, and it sucks, simply sucks, to put yourself out there, just asking for rejection, but how else to possibly gain the opportunity to participate? Someone on the sidelines is going to get picked, and it might as well be me. I could get lucky, though I really don't feel that way tonight. You'd think I might, too, after having two plays selected for festivals, but I put that in another category altogether, and realize, as I've mentioned before, that I'm 2/4 in festivals and 1/20 or so in acting (or something like that). So instead of getting excited, this process just fills me with futility, and I can't really help that.

Still, I carry on, and maybe, just maybe, someone will take pity--er, find my resume inviting--and ask me to audition or choose me. It certainly WON'T happen if I hope for it to but remain inactive. But ask me in a few days, if no one comes aknockin', how I feel, and the answer will be pretty low. And it's not about loneliness but about opportunity. I need it, and it's hard to create it for myself, and I can't act in my bedroom, so I have no choice, but it hurts to think of the times I've been rejected and the slim chances I have to actually get cast, with so many capable and more well-known actors in the Boston area. Please, someone, say yes and give me the break I need. I promise to work hard and be good! I swear. C'mon. Pretty please?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part three

No, this isn't going away for a while. :-) I am not sure if I'll actually make it to 12, but we'll see. Anyway, I'm still on a bit of a high b/c my play got accepted in the Arlington Players Reading, along w/ D.'s. My mom and dad now want to come with a couple they are friendly with--an artsy one--and while I feel a bit sheepish about it (what if the acting is terrible? what if everyone hates my play? what if it goes on for three or more hours?), I'm also honored that they are interested in attending, and I said they could, of course. I would love to be at the rehearsal of the play, but unfortunately I have advising on Tuesday nights, so D. will go and give me a report, if she's there when mine goes up. I realize this isn't a HUGE festival, but it's certainly a great start. Of course, I want OTHER festivals to say yes now--naturally, one gets greedy and hungry for more, even if she says she won't ;-)--and my dream is that some festival or company reads "Uncharted Territory" and says, 'Wow, you really have potential. We'd like to develop this with you!' A pipe dream, of course, but I do have PB Sandwiches to offer and I'm sure there's more I could write. Meanwhile, I do have to write more, and maybe I can get started this weekend. The discipline is the hardest thing, no question about it.

The issue I have the greatest difficulty about, as I continue on the risk and rejection road, is dating and relationships. Basically, I've never had a serious boyfriend, and at 42, the idea of having one seems rather improbable, frankly. Maybe that's part of my problem, but I simply can't envision it. I walk around and see thousands of other couples of all shapes and sizes and races (and it makes me sad), so there's no reason I shouldn't have a companion, too, but it has not happened. God knows, I've tried dating services, personal ads, and online dating services ( and recently okcupid), but have had little success. I'm a terrible FIRST DATE person. I'm just ridiculous. I get so scared, and so uptight, and want it to work so damned much that I either give off desperate signals or am just really unappealing. I usually talk too much, and I also tend to allow the other person to pretty much say (or even do) what he wants--no, not in a physical way, but certainly verbally, e.g., berating a good friend of mine one guy dated briefly--and I rarely, if ever, take a stand. I get irritated with him, but also feel trapped, and helpless, and vulnerable, and so do nothing.

Afterwards, as I'm pondering how poorly the date went, I think of 'what if's' and so on, and wonder why I spent as long with him as I did (or, occasionally, what I did or didn't do that made him find me unattractive or incompatible when I didn't feel the same). It's like a job interview, only worse, because you really are being judged for who you are on potentially superficial things, like the color of your hair, what you're wearing, your weight, the color of your eyes, or whether or not you like a certain food or kind of music. It could be as simple as that, and I think it often is. Compatibility is such an intangible, and that's what makes this so difficult. I think it's far easier to explain why a job candidate was chosen over another, but a date? Not so much. "Well, she just wasn't for me," a man might say, or "He really didn't do it for me," and what the hell does that mean, anyway? I'm usually so scared and uptight that I don't think I'm giving a particularly fair picture of myself, and the man might be in the same position.

And the older I get, the harder it gets, b/c I just become increasingly obessed with the fact that I am in my 40s and have NEVER HAD A SERIOUS BOYFRIEND/RELATIONSHIP. Why should I really that I will have one soon, if it's never happened? What has changed in my life to convince me that now is the time or that he's out there and I'm open and willing to take the chance, to risk being seriously hurt (in an emotional way, that is--God forbid there is any physical violence involved)? I don't know. Do I really try to find someone? Well, I don't do a lot of clubbing, but I highly doubt I'll meet someone that way, particularly at this point in my life. I am not a member of a lot of groups (like THE BOOMER GANG, which seems ridiculously inactive), and I also know I am picky. I would rather date someone around my age, give or take five years, than someone who is, say, 10 years older than me, and probably looks it. I would rather date someone 10 years younger, but how likely is that? Also, I need someone very open to taking it slowly, and I doubt that is the norm, though it could be.

Finally, I'd prefer someone without kids, though I am trying to be openminded about it (I've never wanted children, so why would I want someone else's?), and it gets harder and harder to find men sans kids at this point. With acting and playwriting, as I've noted below, so much less is at stake, at least for me, but relationships are a key component of people's lives, and it's the area that has most alluded me and continues to do so. If I could just meet a nice, straight, single guy who wanted to be friends and talk and do things together, trust me, that would be a wonderful start. But there's so hard to find...I don't even know how you find someone like that (in the personals? unlikely, me thinks). So I continue to feel sad about my lack of a man in my life, though I remain very independent and active (and have every intention of remaining that way), and am at the same time ridiculously afraid of sex, and don't see that going away soon, not after a gazillion (or 15) years of therapy.

My therapist actually suggested on Monday that I might want to acknowledge that I am just not comfortable with the idea of having a physical relationship with a man, and therefore grieving the loss and moving on. But I can't say that yet, and I WILL NOT cut off such an important part of my life, not yet, that's for sure. Maybe someday, but it will be MY choice, not hers, and it will be after more effort (and maybe failure; hell, maybe even success, who knows?). In the meantime, I applaud and rejoice in the successes that have recently come my way, while sad in the knowledge that the ellusive soulmate is just that. Ellusive.

Monday, April 18, 2005

On risk and rejection (and success!), part two...

Well, I was all prepared to write this entry about how hard it is to fail when those around you are succeeding, blah, blah, blah, and then...MY TWENTY-MINUTE PLAY GOT ACCEPTED INTO A SHORT PLAY FESTIVAL! I am totally happy dancing in my seat and have notified nearly everyone I know to tell them! :-) The problem--yes, there always has to be one--is how excited I got by this acceptance (the first time a play as opposed to a monologue has been accepted into anything) and how crushing it will be the next time a rejection email comes around. But I will let that problem wait for a bit while I bask in the happiness of being successful, of achieving a measure of success, and how happy I feel about receiving this external validation. As I am new to playwriting, I had no idea if anyone would have any interest in either of my plays, "Peanut Butter Sandwiches" or "Uncharted Territory" (terrible name, has to be changed), and I see that at least one company, the Arlington Players, does. A reading is not a full production, of course, but that's fine, as that is how the majority of plays (or at least many) get developed, and I will get valuable feedback in seeing it performed (and of course interpreted in the process).

I was totally prepared to feel sad tonight, as I had already found out that one of fellow playwright and friend D's plays had been accepted and I just assumed (wrongly, I now see) that mine would not be. Why? Just because. I have little confidence in the artistic process, and I have received so many acting rejections that I naturally assumed that the same would be the case with writing. I have received a few rejections (and this isn't counting the 30-something ones I got back in the mid 90-s for my short stories), but already have doubled (two to one) the success of my acting tryouts (nothing except SLAMBoston, which is great,'s just one company, two directors, actually, and that's it, and nothing since January). I was supposed to attend an audition tonight--sort of a call back--but I decided to have a birthday dinner with my parents instead, b/c it would be (and was) fun and b/c I just wasn't in the mood to put myself through another 2 1/2-3 hours of auditioning when the end result was likely to be negative (though of course it could be otherwise, but I've already auditioned, so we'll just see what happens from that).

I assumed I would come home and see the NO email, tentatively and with trepidation opened it, and was delighted and amazed to see it was a YES. The play will be performed April 29th in Davis Square, Somerville, and I will certainly will be there, as will my friend A. and D. and her husband and other friends. It is an amazing high that one receives when accepted (and in fact desiring this acceptance; it's not like auditioning for a play you didn't really want to get cast in and having it happen, or interviewing for a job you don't really want and being offered the position). I suppose I shouldn't (bad one, I know) get so excited, b/c it means that means so much to me, and it means when the next rejection comes, I will be terribly downhearted. On the other hand, it also means that I care passionately about my work (as I do) and my art and I want to share it with others. There is no money involved, and little fame, but there is a lot of satisfaction in others receiving my work favorably.

As I've wanted to write since I was a little girl, and have in fact been doing so, in one way or another, since I was 6 or 7, it's not incredibly surprising that I would have at least a modicum of success in the field, although that wasn't the case when I was sending out short stories in the 90s. I think I've had the technique down for quite some time, but not the distance. Once I began writing about others, rather than just myself (and in a pretty autobiographical, thinly veiled way), I began having more success, and I think this will continue to be the case, blog notwithstanding (no one ever said this was great art, nor is it meant to be; rather, it's a contemplative look at events that are happening in my and others' lives). I really do want to act, and desperately hope to be cast in something, but now both D. and I know that our work has merit (we were both recently contemplating whether it made sense to write or whether we might be wasting our time; I argued otherwise, but it was hard to defend that viewpoint, given that both of us had only received rejections to that point, at least me and her for a while). We both have a lot more to write, and revisions to make, but at least we have the impetus to continue.

I sometimes wonder whether acting is out of reach--if it's something that just isn't meant to be, b/c I'm too old or too ordinary looking or really just too ordinary and only slightly talented and thus not someone most would have any interest in casting. I would like to believe otherwise, and in fact believe my auditioning has gotten much stronger in the past six months, so I will continue to audition, but it's hard when success has been minimal at best. It is not, however, going to be hard to continue writing, and in fact I am surging with enthusiasm, at least this evening, and cannot wait to actually see my words come to life on a stage (and not once but twice in the same weekend, while all I have to do is sit and watch and enjoy and take notes but have no other worries!!!).

I'll conclude by noting that I had a long, really nice conversation with my friend L. in California last night. Sadly, L. has been unemployed since December, I believe, and this has resulted in a fair amount of depression and anxiety. The good news is that she had a very promising interview last week and will find out soon if she will be hired by them in the next couple of weeks. I complete understand how much she has suffered--this was the case with me the last time I was unemployed--and reminded me again of how dependent we are on our jobs, or careers (with luck they are one and the same), to make us feel worthwhile, even if we don't need them for the money (and I certainly do). Self-esteem is so wrapped up with success, and I won't pretend that rejection doesn't hurt me like hell, b/c it does, whether it be in dating, or in a play not accepted, or in a less-than-enjoyable date, or even in someone cancelling on our plans at the last minute (for reasons that might not be even remotely tied to me). I feel pretty hopeless about dating at the moment, but that's for another evening. For now, I will wish L. and K. (who has an interview this Thursday) the best of luck and will continue to inwardly celebrate my literary success and hope for more of it in the future. If nothing else, it was a lovely way to end a nice birthday weekend.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

They say it's my birthday...

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. :-) I had a nice day. I started by reading The Sunday Globe in bed, then heading off to a friend's house to join up w/ her and her husband. We walked to a place called The Washington Square Tavern, met up w/ another friend, and had brunch. I actually had a Mimosa--well, 1/2 of a Mimosa (which friend A. finished :-))--and a yummy breakfast. Afterwards, A. and I went for a long walk around the Reservoir, followed by my sitting on the condo building's roofdeck for a while, and then heading to bookclub friend D's house for his "I got into grad school!" party. Fortunately, I changed dinner plans I had w/ two friends, pushing it back an hour, b/c one of the friends, the boyfriend of the other, called me a half hour b/f I was supposed to show up to me she had had a "reaction" to minor surgery on Thursday night and probably wasn't up to my coming over (and he never called back again either way). This was no huge surprise--she cancels on me nearly every time we have plans (which is not often)--but it would have been a problem had I left the party or hadn't even gone and then had to spend my birthday evening alone. Since I anticipated this, it was no problem at all, and I stayed at the party til 8:30, then drove K., who lives a block from me, home. It was a very nice party--pretty mellow but conversational--and the only sad thing is that D. will be moving to Syracuse come the end of August and we'll all miss him a lot. T. already left to return home to Sweden a few weeks ago, and the two of them are the only men in our group! Nonetheless, both have moved on (or will) for good reasons, and I'm happy for them. We have bookclub again next Sunday, and I assuming I get the Richard Russo book read (meaning I better start it already! ;-)), we should have an interesting, albeit small, discussion.

So it's been a very pleasant birthday, filled with good food (though I didn't go crazy, and happily there was no cake, so I didn't overindulge), good friends, and good (brilliant, even, 70 degree) weather. I don't seem to be too upset about turning 42, probably b/c it feels the same as 41, and I stressed over that all year. I guess I'm over the stressing now. ;-) My sister turned 39 last Thursday and she said it's bothering her, mostly b/c most of her friends w/ kids are 34 or 35 and she's now no longer in her mid 30s but nearly 40 and that's tough. I hope it won't be as hard for her to turn 40 as it was for me. God, it was painful, and even the trip to Paris, wonderful though it was, didn't really make up for it (plus everyone on the trip was younger than I was, so age seemed inescapable!). But my friend L., in California, is 45 and just called and said that "Fifty is the new forty," so maybe forty is the new thirty, in which case I don't mind it so much! ;-)

Anyway, off to read. Tomorrow I'll continue my series on risk and rejection. It will be especially relevant for me, as it will be after a 2-2 1/2 hour audition. The fun just keeps on funning...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Keeping it short...

My 13-part series on risk and rejection will resume either tomorrow or Monday night. :-) In the meantime, I do have an idea for a 10-minute play, where the protagonist has a bad job interview, then a bad date, and THEN gets really bent out of shape (this idea thanks to friend A.) over something ridiculous. I am trying to find a way for it to end on a happy note, however, rather than the traditional tears, killing someone, or slitting of risks (I'm big on the latter two ;-)). I really want to try writing something fun or funny/humorous now, rather than a downer. Both my 10-minute play and 20-minute play are pretty dark and even dour, and I need to work on something lighter at this point.

Speaking of shows, I saw Mike Albo's one-man show, "My Price Point," tonight at the Boston Center for the Arts and liked it quite a bit. It was a lot more risque than "workin' progress" was, and he's got a ton of experience performing (plus he's extremely flexible!!!), but it gave me some ideas of what I could do with my show, if/when I bring it back (my friend D. would be willing to help me with it, which I really need; never attempt to self-direct a one-person show if you want to enjoy the process). I really got to see how he "conversed" with someone not there, as he often had conversations as The Underminer (hysterical), belittling in that oh-so-coy way someone he knew at yoga, or in the dog park, or at a bar. He had the right timing and that right look to make it seem as if the person was really there, being...well, indermined, and it's something I never quite got down but would like to try in the future. Since I have no idea how to insert pictures yet (tis sad, I know), go here:

I also cleaned the apartment today (two hours! a first!), worked out (so I don't have to tomorrow, birthday-day), went to the supermarket (always stressful for me, but a necessity), and had dinner with A., D., and D's husband J before we ushered for the play. I am the world's WORST usher--I seated at least 8 people in the wrong seats, I kid you not--but then I went out in a most daring way wearing a "Theatre Offensive" white sports bra over my black, three-quarter length Gap (naturally) cotton shirt/blouse and was received very well (it was for fundraising purposes, people, and I didn't disrobe, unlike both Mike Albo and the bartender who was wearing the Theatre Offensive's jock strap and pretty much stripped to let it I feel like I redeemed myself, and it was fun to perform, if momentarily. :-) I had to stop myself from becoming completely depressed when D. told me one or two of her plays had been accepted for the Arlington Players 10-minute festival--realize I haven't been told mine haven't been accepted, as the director hasn't notified anyone yet except D., because she asked, and I'm jumping to ridiculous, if well-founded, conclusions--but I guess I'll just wait and see if I do get one of my plays accepted (I think I submitted "Peanut Butter Sandwiches" and my monologue "Chair," but I honestly don't remember anymore). It would be a lovely birthday present (and would mean a weekend of both D. and my works being performed, as it's the same weekend as the Two-Minute Play Festival in Providence and Boston), but I also don't want to find out I was rejected (somehow, I always come back to it ;-)), so I may just wait to read the email, should I get it tomorrow and not Monday (not sure yet, as said director is in NYC til tomorrow).

So, tomorrow I turn the big 4-2 (actually, in less than an hour, but I may be asleep when the moment arrives), and we'll see how I do. I have brunch planned, a possible walk in high 60's degree weather with A., dinner plans with two friends I went to Paris with two years ago through the college, and possibly a book club friend's celebratory party (he got into graduate school), if I can fit it all in. Should be a fun day without any stress (aside from turning the big 4-2, and I haven't quite internalized that fact yet). We shall see how I do...

Friday, April 15, 2005

On risk and rejection, part one

Well, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to do this, but I guess I'll find out as I go along. My idea is that rejection occurs as a result of many things, all risk-taking, of course, and there's nothing wrong with that. The problem, if you will, is that rejection is so damned painful and you wonder if it's really worth putting yourself in a vulnerable position for the hope that something good will come of it.

Let's begin by exploring job searching. I haven't looked for a job for over 10 years, and God willing, I won't have to UNTIL I'M READY TO. There are various reasons I've stayed at my current job: there are some interesting challenges, I love working with adult learners who are non-traditional (commuter students, for example, working fulltime, etc.), the workday is quite flexible (for example, I can come in at 11am one day and leave at 7pm and there's no problem; in fact, it's encouraged, since we are primarily a late afternoon and evening school, at least as far as courses are concerned, though this is slowly changing), there are some great people who work in the college, I have a lot of responsiblity AND autonomy, and it's a safe, comfortable environment. I know that I am very adverse to change, and the thought of going somewhere where I would be at the bottom of the totem pole scares the hell out of me. One of my sisters doesn't think I should ever leave my current job; while I can't agree, I'm in no hurry to go (and getting to teach Year One Seminar this fall is yet another reason to stay. Most importantly, were I to leave, I would have to begin a job search, and there is nothing, NOTHING fun about job searching, although of course it's easier when you have a job.

A friend of mine who used to work in education and wants to return to it has been searching for a job for several months. So far, nothing has worked out, though K. has an interview next week that seems very promising. Nonetheless, she has gone though a lot of stress in the process, and the major problem with any kind of search is that you put yourself out there and often, through no fault of your own, you are REJECTED. It may be, in the case of job searching, that someone was an internal candidate, or more qualified, or just struck the interviewers as the kind of person they wanted working for them. It can be as intangible as that, just as it can with dating and interviewing. The difference, in my mind, is that, unless you are auditioning because you have to (i.e., it's an intregal part of your career), or you are seeking a boyfriend b/c you can't bear the thought of being alone (and then that's something to examine, isn't it?!) or want a parent for your children or what have you, there is less at stake.

If I don't get a part, it stings like hell, but I can go on with my day job, and know I can continue to pay the bills, can keep writing, and of course can keep auditioning, and the hurt will ease and eventually go away. With job searching, you may well be dependent on the job because you are living at home, or your household needs the income, or your unemployment is about to run out, or you have to get back into the workforce before your skills become obselete, or you are about to LOSE YOUR MIND b/c you can't take being at home anymore. I may be overstating the reality of this, but the facts are that job searching is grueling and if you put yourself through it, you really want the job and there are all sorts of reasons why it matters and why it hurts like hell if you can't get the interview or if the interview doesn't pay off in a job. At the college I work for, students have to work, and I see how hard it is every day for many to obtain a first job in the design field or to move on after spending several months in an unsatisfactory position. I feel so badly for them, and yet there is nothing I can do.

I understand the inherent sense of frustration and helplessness they likely feel, b/c I certainly felt this way when I was job searching as I finished my graduate degree. I was willing to take a job for $20,000--this kills me--and I couldn't even get an INTERVIEW! How sad is that? And the fact is that you can do everything but everything right and yet still not get the job and never really know why. Again, this is the case with auditioning, dating, sending out manuscripts (God knows, I've been there and am still there), but I can justify it by saying, Well, I don't have to be chosen for this festival to keep writing. It hurts more with acting, as I've noted in the past, b/c you can't really act in a vacuum and b/c the communal aspect is what is so appealing to me, but still, I have plenty of other interests to keep me occupied. But if I don't have a job, then what?! How do I pay the rent? How do I ever have the chance to travel, to buy CDs, clothing, see movies and eat out with friends? Do I have to leave my apartment and move to a cheaper area?

I can't even imagine how hard it is to have to sell yourself over and over, with the possibility that NO ONE will say yes. Of course, you can be lucky and have companies falling over themselves to hire you, but I think this is the exception rather than the rule. In the case of K., I think she has a good chance of getting this job next week, but who knows? She is handling it a helluva lot better than I would--in fact, she says it may be easier than (or equivalent to) artistic rejection, b/c it's not really calling your talents or your very self into being. That's true, but I guess I'm not pouring my heart and soul into the work. Or maybe I am, but again, I realize that despite the pain, I can push it away and delve back into the work or other interests. Because I need, must have, structure, what would I do if I had to keep looking for work, sending out resumes and cover letters, going on interviews (entailing dressing up, and I abhore dressing up), and trying to stay busy? In the past, this resulted in my working out far too hard, followed by chronic injuries, and I have no doubt that this would be a likely outcome again; I tend to work my body too hard as it is, and I am trying to keep my workouts to 75 minutes a day. What if I weren't working? What if my self-esteem couldn't be based on the work I did every day, and the pleasure I get in seeing students succeed in the field and hopefully graduate? It scares me to think about it.

I was on the other end of the interviewing spectrum last year, on a search committee for the newly created Director of Liberal Studies, and man, it killed me to have to say no to some very competent candidates. I hope they all found fulfilling employment (or at least employment), but in nearly every case, their nerves showed, and I felt as if I were acting God-like, and it made me pretty uncomfortable. I hate to be judged, and there's nothing but judging that goes on in an interview. Sure, you get to say no, too, to reject a job, and it happens, of course, but how often? It's far less often, I'd wager. So job searching entails nothing but risk and likely rejection, and the stakes are high, often supremely high. While I have enjoyed some tryouts (though not the resulting rejection), I can't remember ever enjoying the interviews themselves, and remember how uncomfortable they made me. I did have to say no a couple of times, when the salaries offered were too low, and it made me angry, b/c I wanted to say yes, and yet couldn't, and why couldn't they offer me more?!

There were other times when I was so certain I would be the ideal candidate, but for some reason wasn't chosen--they rarely get specific and give you tips as to what you could have done differently (of course, this is true for nearly everything, even when you ask)--and God, the pain was tremendous. I can't think of many things more painful than job searching, although dating comes pretty damned close. And that, my friends, is the topic of my next post. Coming soon to a blog near you. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

On yoga ...

I have thought about taking on rejection in its various forms, from dating to friendship to job searching to auditioning, and everything in between, and I think I'll do that. A friend said it might even turn into a play, which would be very cool, as I could use new topics to write about! :-) However, I'd like to talk about yoga tonight. It's probably the most beneficial thing I've taken on in a long, long time, and I'm grateful to have found it. I started Hatha (and then Gentle) Yoga a few years ago at the Boston Center for Adult Ed. It was okay, but I wasn't really committed to the practice of it back then, plus the sessions were only seven weeks, with breaks, and it was hard to get a rhythm going. (In addition, the latter was too easy for me, and I prefer Ashtanga Yoga, anyway.) When I joined the Boston Sports Club, about 18 months ago, I hesitantly began yoga again, and couldn't be more grateful. Finally, I found my stride. The classes are athletic and yet focus on breathing and modifications (at least most do), and I was privileged to have Dave be my instructor for over a year.

Under Dave's tutelage, the class and I grew increasingly proficient, and my flexibility and confidence both grew. I started letting my body do more of the work, letting the mind follow--the opposite of writing, of course, but perfect for being "in the moment"--and so my ability to undertake more difficult poses, to hold them, and to really stretch myself got better every week. Of course, some days are better than others, but you keep believing in yourself, judging only your performance, not others--actually, measuring it, rather than judging it--and you do see results over time. Sadly, Dave is not teaching at my branch anymore, but Jess is, and she's great, too. Tonight, I took George's class, and while it wasn't quite as physically challenging, it was still a good workout, and I found my flexibility and particularly my balance better than usual.

Also, I wasn't afraid to plunge in and follow him. This is so important, b/c it's the first step in my effort to take risks and not just play it safe and the same every day. Of course, yoga isn't like, say, undertaking a trip somewhere new by oneself, but it does mirror life in many ways, and is also wonderful for learning to focus and calm oneself, as well as push boundaries in safe ways, and I am very, very lucky to be able to do yoga every week. When my heel was at its worst, about two or so months ago, I had to take a week off from yoga, and when I returned, I still wasn't able to do much. I was SO concerned that I might have to take weeks off, but thankfully that wasn't the case, and in fact yoga made me feel better, not worse (unlike, say, walking, at least at the beginning of the injury, or the elliptical machine, which I can finally return to in its modified form, cousin cross-trainer). I do not take exercise for grateful, treasure the opportunity to do it, and let it teach me.

So tonight, I feel relaxed and am happy to sit with those feelings. Tomorrow night, I will begin my 12-part series on the meaning of rejection. I know you can't wait. ;-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Not much to report today (though I'll find SOMETHING)...

I wanted to check in, just so you wouldn't worry. ;-) Seriously, today was just "one of those days," neither great nor terrible. I was happy that the elastic brace (or whatever you call it) that I wore on my left knee really helped my cross-training workout, and I could do 45 minutes pain-free. YAY! I think I now have a mild case of shin splints on that same leg, due to fast-walking on the treadmill yesterday, but I'll be fine. I'm still kind of upset about not getting into the troupe I auditioned for Sunday night, mostly b/c the play would have been SO MUCH FUN to be involved with, and b/c I knew the minute I walked in the room and saw M. there that I had no chance (and I was right). Sigh. I still haven't heard from any festivals about my submissions except the 1-2 minute one (which is something, at least), and so I know I need to write more, starting this weekend. I also have a friend involved in a tough job search, and I'm grateful to be gainfully employed.

I'm also excited that I'll get to teach the Year One Seminar next Fall. Still, today was a sort of blah day, and I was tired after the 90 minute advising meeting after work, so to cheer myself up a bit, I bought myself a little present--the CD "Please Describe Yourself" by Dogs Die in Hot Cars--and hope I like the disc as much as I love the single "I love you 'cause I have to," which is a kind of fast ska/punk song and PERFECT to work out to. I had hoped that would be the case with the Dandy Warhols CD I downloaded, but aside from the tracks "Not if you were the last junky on earth," "Minnesoter"--yes ,that's how it's spelled--,"Cool as Kim Deal," and "Every day is a holiday," the songs are too trippy to use as anything but background music (fine, but not what I was looking for, esp. when "Bohemian like you," from another of their CDs, is the BEST. SONG. EVER to work out to. Trust me on this one.).

And so the week carries on. My birthday approaches, and I'm trying not to let myself get down about it, as it will happen either way. ;-) I do have both brunch and dinner plans with friends for Sunday (my actual birthday), and b/c it's a three-day weekend, due to Patriots Day/the Boston Marathon, I get to fill Saturday AND Monday with fun stuff (at least I hope I can) as well. I also found out that I have 77.30 (!) hours that I need to take of vacation time b/f June 30th, and happily my friend C. in Buffalo invited me to spend four days with her, including an overnight in Toronto, so I'm totally excited about that.

Off to watch The Daily Show. Looking forward to yoga tomorrow night, warmer weather, some down time, and the chance to read "Empire Falls" by Richard Russo for book club. For now, it's time to tape The Daily Show and slip into bed. Rock.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Highs and Lows of the creative life...

Cause you can't have one without the other! ;-) The good news is that I got a two-minute play--actually a monologue--accepted into a short (i.e., one and two minute play) festival that will take place on April 30th and May 1st, both in Providence, R.I. and Boston, MA (so I can go to the latter). It's a monologue I wrote called COMPUTER GUY, and it was originally in my one-woman show. I took it out b/c it's from the man's point of view, and so it seemed a bit odd to put it in when nearly every other scene took place from the woman's p.o.v. However, it isn't a bad piece, and I got it down to about two minutes and decided to send it. D.'s play got in, too, so we can both see the festival together, and I'll finally have something to put on my resume! It really does feel a helluva lot better to get accepted than rejected. ;-) To temper this, I was not chosen to be in the play I really hoped to be a part of in June. The group is well-known and very funny, and they chose a much more accomplished actor instead of me. What was disappointing and disturbing was that there was a third woman at the audition who did better than either M. or me, and yet she wasn't chosen. Clearly, they went with the brand name over the lesser known model, and I think they made a mistake (but what do I know?). It was disappointing b/c this is a troupe I'd love to be affiliated with, but I guess it ain't gonna happen. It was a three hour audition that was actually fun, and the thing I can be happy about it that I had a strong audition and felt I did as well as I could (that's always a good feeling). I still have MM's troupe next week and then...well, I continue the acting drought, most likely, unless he should happen to choose me (possible but doutbtful).

I also attended my first "Write-On" playwriting meeting last night and enjoyed it. It was interesting to hear the play read and fun to get to perform in D.'s 10-minute play (which got a pretty favorable response, making me v. happy for D). She does need to do some tweaking, but she was given recommendations which she'll hopefully make, and if she does I think she has a good chance of getting the piece accepted by a short play festival in the near future. I met some cool people and am looking forward to future meetings. Wow, there are 30 and 40 somethings out there who aren't sitting at home at night, recovering from a day of child rearing! Whoulda thunked it?! I also learned that D.'s friend K. met her husband through an online dating service (though it was a Catholic one, so not for me), and I suppose that was a bit encouraging. There are all sorts of ways to meet people, and you have to be open to all possibilities.

This is a really, really boring entry today; I'm sorry! I guess I'm feeling sort of blah today. I didn't get to do the elliptical, b/c my knee is sore and I didn't want to risk working it two days in a row, so I did the treadmill with 3 lb weights, which I find very boring (and not very cathartic, but better than nothing). I also got the phone call TODAY about not being cast, so that stung a bit, and no news from any other play festivals. I guess I'm also thinking about my birthday this Sunday and how NOT excited I am about turning 42, and I have another three hours of work (advising) left before I get to go home. On the plus side, I found out today that I do get to teach Year One Seminar (an intro to the college) next Fall, which means $500 a semester for five weeks of work and I can stop doing Writing Center, which I enjoy but I find tiring as hell and sometimes a bit stressful. Booyah there. Oh, and it's snow-showering out, which irt really should not be doing (How can you go from 65 to 35 in a day? Insane.).

So, there you go. I feel like BEGGING someone to take a longer play and particularly to cast me, but I know it really doesn't work that way. I told D. that we ought to rent a space ourselves and put on plays. Who knows, maybe we just will this summer...if you can't beat them, go around them. :) And it's only three weeks til I head out to Florida to visit my sister, niece, and nephew, which fills me with absolute happiness. So today rates a 5, and I just hope the rest of the evening goes pretty quickly, cause I'm beat AND hungry!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

And now for something COMPLETELY different (a measured response!)

And yes, most of that is from Monty Python. :-) Based on a few responses I've received lately (and thanks for reading, guys) and my overall thoughts, I've decided to offer a more tempered view of things today. I would hate those of you who know me well or don't know me as well or don't know me at all--as in, all of you--to think my life was horrible and/or my feelings about life were utterly depressive and possibly unrealistic. This isn't the case at all. I'm learning about blogging as I'm going along, and it's a mix of journal writing, memoir, and perhaps some entertaining, enlightening, or enlightened comments and quips as well. I guess I've been more dour than upbeat lately, and while I'm not sure I should apologize for that--these are based on my feelings at the time I post, and of course they are real (I'm nothing if not honest)--I think more "fair and balanced" reporting (unlike our "friends" at FOX News) is in order, and I promise to strive to provide that.

So, how ARE things going? Well, knock wood, not badly. I have a steady job, friends, a family I'm close to, a nice (small but nice) apartment that's near the subway, the opportunity to see lots of theatre, and the chance to audition and send out my writing. There are lots of disappointments and frustrations I encounter, particularly in the area of performance and dating, but that's to be expected, I suppose. One thing I do take some issue with is when people accuse me of not trying, of not being able to deal with rejection, or not just going out and putting on a damned show myself! What some of you may not know is that last year I performed a one-woman show in Cambridge, Boston, and even NYC (the latter costing me a fair amount of money with view benefits except the experience of doing it) throughout the year. I wrote the show, I did all (I mean ALL) of the marketing and p.r. for it, I booked the venues, I picked the music, I arranged the tech, and I of course performed.

My former acting instructor was my director for a number of months, and she helped a lot, initially, with confidence-building, blocking, and editing. However, after about five months or so, she grew tired of the process, and began to extricate herself from it. She also recommended changes that I didn't really agree with, so in September she resigned as director (she wasn't getting paid, so believe me, I was grateful for the help), and I had to go it alone, making it even more difficult. I was never sure if the tech person would show up or understand the directions (and since it was always someone knew, mistakes were inevitable, since the rehearsal was virtually NIL). I never knew how many people would show up, or if they would like it, but more importantly, I had no one to share the process with, to help me warm up, to give notes, to take on some of the pre-show burdens. It was me and ME, and that's just too tough (and not recommended). I never got paid for any of my performances (well, I think I might have made about $20 for the Wednesday night shows, but that was it), so I really couldn't afford to pay a director, though I did pay a consultant $50 and she made some helpful changes.

My point is that I did exactly what people suggested--go out and do it for myself--and the result ended up being extremely stressful. The performance ended up taking a backseat to all of the prep before the show, and by the time I got on, I could barely focus. That's not what performance is supposed to be about! It's one thing to start your own company or troupe (which I've also done, and which included directing, p.r., and acting as numbers dissipated), where you have the support and participation of others, and another thing to go it alone, which I really DON'T suggest, though again, it was wonderful experience. Now I'm writing my own plays, short for the moment (anywhere from 2-20 minutes), on the way to a one-act play, and depending on others to accept the work, and thus far it hasn't happened. That doesn't mean it WON'T, of course, and also doesn't mean the work is even worthy of being produced (I think it is, but am not entirely sure), but simply that it hasn't happened yet.

One difference between writing and performing is that you can continue to do it even without tangible success. You continue to write while you wait to see if your work is being accepted, and unless you have serious misgivings, you still write, regardless. There is, of course, a measure of faith you have to have, but if you need to write, then you do. With acting, it's hard to do it in isolation--acting in one's bedroom just doesn't work too well--and I've already mentioned the difficulty with going it alone, although of course it doesn't have to be that way. You can always rent a theatre and "put on a show!" with friends, but again that does entail a fair number of costs and time and effort, and by the time you're ready to perform, you might not have any energy left to devote to the performance.

That said, I am auditioning for a reputable troupe tonight (that uses improv toward scripted work) and am also auditioning for a troupe next week that incorporates both improv and improv-inspired sketch in their performances. I'm not particularly confident about being asked to join either troupe, particularly the former (only two slots available, and they are a very well-known company), but if you don't try, you can't succeed, and it's always good experience to audition (and in the best cases, it's fun as well). What I also intend to do--will do--is continue writing, and want to take a playwriting class in the fall, as my formal training in playwriting is nearly nil (aside from a five week course at the Boston Center for Adult Ed, and that hardly qualifies as serious instruction, although it gave me the needed jump start). I have an MFA in Creative Writing, but that was in short fiction, and while the two, playwriting and short story writing, share many of the same skills, they are different beasts (plus I received my degree a decade ago--!!!--and I'm rather rusty). It's necessary to workshop one's work, and I also work better with structure (i.e., having deadlines), so the pressure of producing work each week, along with the feedback, will be extremely helpful.

I go through highs and lows in my creative life, but because I believe I am a talented writer, and I've always wanted and NEEDED to write, I will continue to do so. I'm not as sure with performing, but it's certainly fun, and I will do it when I can. I get down, but I pick myself up and carry on. I cannot say the same thing with dating. Suffice it to say that my track record is very poor indeed, and the truth is that the older you get, the harder it is to find eligible partners. Since I don't want children, I'm not worried about the "biological clock" winding down, but I do wonder about spending the rest of my life sans partner. I'm not even thinking about marriage, but more about having a companion to share the good and bad with.

Friends are so important, and I would never discount them, but you cannot attain the same intimacy with them, nor should you. OkCupid and, as well as online personals, just haven't worked for me (and I have tried all of these methods)--I even tried a dating service when I was younger--and I work in a field that is dominated by women and gay and married men. Single straight men my age are few and far between. I'm not exactly worried but I am rather sad about my prospects. The old adages are "When you least expect it, it happens" and "When you're not looking, he will come along," but I'm not so sure. Nonetheless, dwelling on my single state doesn't help, and because looking in places like online services hasn't either, I just have to let life take its course. I work out nearly every day (too much, thus the knee and heel energies, and have to cut back a bit), I watch my weight, I try to dress well (well, I dress a lot better than I used to), and I hope I present a confident image. There's not much else I can do. Trust me, I don't sit in my apartment every day and bemoan my state--there's no time for that, and I'm a busy person--but it hits on Friday and Saturday nights, or other times when co-workers or friends share their stories of buying their first condo with their significant other or what have you. Still, since there's not much I can do, I just need to keep working on me and let life happen.

I guess in conclusion, I'm just trying to say that I realize life isn't perfect for anyone, and I'm grateful for what I have. It's also easier to complain than to exult (though I promise that if I make a troupe, get promoted, meet a man, or have a play produced you all will be among the first to know!), but I will try to write down the good as well as the bad. Today, for example, is a beautiful spring day, with highs expected to reach 60 degrees. After some time spent reading the paper, I'm going to pick up a large veggie pizza and meet three friends for a picnic and walk. Then I'll try out for the aforementioned troupe, and finish off the night with reading. There are far worse ways to spend a Sunday. Complacency really isn't such a bad thing, and my goal is to try to stay within the moment--improv teaches this, and yoga requires it, via breathing and instruction--and enjoy what I can. That's all I can really do.

Friday, April 08, 2005

When will I stop feeling so damned OLD???

I get upset over little things, as well as bigger ones. :-) Cancellations are one of the biggest, and I've always felt that way. If I've counted on someone to spend time with me, and then they cancel last minute, I feel personally offended, though usually it has little to do with me and everything to do with the other person's schedule. This always hits especially during downtimes (e.g., vacations) and used to kill me when I was unemployed and desperately seeking ways to keep myself busy and NOT preoccupied by the job search. (Fortunately, I haven't had to look for a job for over 10 years, so the latter has not been the case for a long, long time.) In this case, one friend cancelled tomorrow night's dinner plans (which she had suggested), and another only has time to meet for an hour. Both people have perfectly legitimate reasons to reneg--pressing work issues--but it's still disappointing. I get this sinking feeling, and then wonder if I'll ever have someone in my life whom I can truly count on (by which I mean a boyfriend, if you were wondering). I'm not upset at either friend, and I don't even mind having the time to myself (b/c it's going to be a very busy weekend, even with these changes), but it's just the idea that someone would cancel (and in one case, it's not particularly unexpected).

Anyway, I think about my solitary state alot--how can I not, at almost 42 years old (next Sunday, and it's something I'd rather not contemplate at the moment)--and am constantly surrounded by things that remind me of how old I am (or young, but for me, it's old), whether it's people getting engaged, or me finding another gray hair (so damn many of them), or going to a new hairdresser today (Rob, on Huntington Ave in Boston, and v. good, let me say) and being extremely relieved at the fact that he's 42. a whole year older than me, and doesn't look his age, either! There was a time, not that long ago, when I wouldn't obsess about my age, but that time ceased to be nearly two years ago, as I turned 40, and it's gotten progressively worse. I swear that I thought by the time I turned 41 I would have accepted the fact that I was no longer in my 30s, but no, I can't do it. I admit my age (generally--sometimes I say I'm 40, but never younger), but I do so w/ sadness and trepidation. The great irony, of course, is that I hated my life in my 20s and part of my 30s (never mind my childhood, which was a landscape of depression), and am far happier now than I was then. But when you're in your teens, 20s, and even 30s, you don't contemplate mortality--well, that's not entirely true, as I've always feared death, starting when I was very young, 10, perhaps, and had nightmares about nuclear holocausts and felt I was being suffocated in my sleep or falling to my death from a high building I fell off. But I didn't obsess about my age, instead just feeling generally miserable. Now I think, Why can't I be in my 30s and be happy? How can I possibly find a man who wants me and doesn't look like he's about to keel over? (Okay, I'm being overly dramatic, but you know what I mean.) I wish I didn't care if a man were balding or going gray or looked old (older than me???), but I do, and I can't really help it. I desperately wish I were my youngest sister's age, 35, so that I would have a better chance of finding a man, and so my therapy could really help while I was still viable. And of course I am still viable, but okcupid doesn't seem to think so, or, or The Boston Phoenix, or anyone I know.

So, it's disheartening, particularly b/c I'm still struggling with the idea of physical intimacy, and the years are tick, tick, ticking away. How can I be turning 42 ??? How is this feasible? Why are most roles written for 20 and 30 somethings? Why won't someone ask me out? Do I really, truly give off signals that I'm not interested or available? And most of all, when will I feel comfortable being my age? It helps that I look younger and work out every day and am losing weight; in fact, last night, a former student (whom I've always adored, b/c he's cute, nice, smart, and hard-working, and I am so happy for him that he's married w/ a baby, but I would love to marry someone like him) gave me a big hug at a lecture and said, Hey, Skinny Sue, and I couldn't stop beaming, feeling incredibly validated (and not feeling as fat as usual in yoga class today, which is a place where it's easy to feel fat and ugly, as many participants weigh about 100 lbs). But inside me, I don't feel...okay with myself. I do more than I used to, that's for sure; I dress better, my hair is a helluva lot more stylish, and I think I move with more confidence (I hope I do). But I can't say, Yep, I'm happy with who I am, and that's an almost 42 year old single woman, b/c I don't want to be an almost 42 year old single woman. Or maybe I do, but by choice. I want to date, and I want to know that men find me desirable. I want someone to hug me and ask me how my day was. I want to share a play I saw or a story I'm working on with someone who's cuddled up in bed with me, and this seems entirely inconceivable to me.

I'm very fortunate to have friends who are also single or are married but without kids, so that I have compatriots to go to plays and movies and concerts and cafes with, and I don't take these friendships lightly, but I still long for a different kind of relationship, and yet it continues to seem unfathomable. Really, I want to say, I'm 42 (almost) and that's okay, b/c I have a job and I take care of myself and I'm creative and talented and loveable and faithful and all of that. But...I...just...can't quite say it. At least not the part about being 42. Not yet. Maybe when I turn 43...