Thursday, May 26, 2005

This week's take on work and art and the rain

Yes, I'm back; I just haven't had much to comment on. I came back from a Preliminary (first) Thesis Review at work this evening; the student did okay, but he has to have an interim review, meaning he can't move onto the next one yet (so he has a lot of work to do). However, it's taken him 2 1/2 years to get to this point, so I was just thrilled to see him show up with some sketches, models (one was particularly cool), and some ideas. He is going to do an experimental music school/lab in New Haven, and since music is my passion, as well as his, I'm his client (I was also available, which counts for a lot ;-)). I was glad to be able to help. It's been a tough week at work, as we tried to get students through to graduation Saturday. It looks like we'll have about 75 graduates in total, counting the 20 from January, and that's the highest total since 1989 (6 years before I arrived there), so we're pretty excited. Frankly, I'd rather be at my sister's in Western Mass this weekend, since my other sister and Sammi and Matt are coming for the weekend, but I'll go Sunday, and it will be a nice ceremony and luncheon, plus tomorrow is the free concert at Avalon with Josh Ritter (excited to see him), Suzanne Vega (not so much), and Bruce Hornsby (could be okay), and A. can join me, so that's cool (we'll start the evening off with pizza at Bertuccis in Kenmore Square, as I have a $10 gift certificate; I love cheap evenings).

Speaking of cheap, I saw FALSETTOS last night for free at the Huntington Theatre at B.U., and it was very good. The kid, 12, who played Jesse was not spectacular (though I think he'll grow more comfortable with time), but the other leads, particularly Marvin and Trina, were magnificent, and though I'm not a huge fan of musicals, this one was interesting, with brilliant lighting and stage design and comic songs (more like sung dialogue at times) and I'm glad I went (plus I had excellent seats, 4th row mezzanine, with NO ONE sitting in front of me--yeeha). As far as the theatre world, I did not have my play UNCHARTED TERRITORY accepted by the Hovey Players in Waltham for their one-act festival in July. However, the producer wrote me a nice email back (after I wrote to him, wondering if I ought to bother auditioning), so I'll go and see what happens (it's in 10 days). I cannot tell you how bloody much I want to act, and as much as I said I would not audition anymore, but passion for acting has overtaken common sense and my fear of rejection, and so I go to auditions once again (except more tears in the future unless, by some oddity, I actually get cast this go-round).

I also sent two monologues from WORKIN' PROGRESS to a small theatre in Chicago; they were seeking short plays on superstition, and while neither were on that theme, they each had to do with a quirky character, so MAYBE that will be enough. I kind of doubt it, but I put them out there and we'll see (it would be so amazing to have another piece accepted by someone, and since this is in Chicago, as it works out, I could have friends go and see it if it gets produced). I actually hoped to be able to write something on that theme, but it's been such a busy week, that I've been too tired to come up with anything, alas, and the deadline was Monday. Oh, well; perhaps the theme will inspire me to write a 10-minute play that another festival will take sometime in the future. Oh, and I'm reading and enjoying (believe it or not, as I have not enjoyed many books lately) PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld. I can't quite relate to the character, as she has better luck than I did at that age, and has actually had men interested in her, but she also struggles, as Sittenfeld probably did, and so I can relate to many of the turmoils she encounters on a daily or weekly basis.

So that's about it for now. I noticed, interestingly, that although Diane (she of the "Sparktacular" blog) live hundreds of miles from each other and have yet to meet or even speak on the phone (though I hope we will sometime soon), our lives often eerily parallel one another's, and so her rather ho-hum week echoes mine to a large degree. This weekend should be fun, however, and will hopefully put me in a good frame of mind for PORTFOLIO REVIEW HELLWEEK, which begins Tuesday. Of course, if it stopped raining--it has been doing so for over a week now, without any breaks of sun or warmth--everyone's mood would improve. We MAY see sun this weekend, and not a second too soon. And if anyone complains about the heat this summer--assuming we HAVE any--I am prepared to slug them.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Boston Theatre Marathon

Today was the Boston Theatre Marathon (BTM) at the Calderwood Plaza in the South End. It was in a much larger, more comfortable theatre than last year, and you could actually leave your seat to go to the bathroom or get a bite to eat and return to it, or one in the general proximity! (You couldn't when they held it at Boston University.) My friend A. debated and debated whether or not to come--she has a sinus infection and is due to have cataract surgery on Tuesday--but is on antibiotics and at the last moment decided to go. I was pleased, b/c I had decided that I wasn't going alone. It cost $30 and it's a bit inconvenient (though I drove and found a spot a few blocks away, so the trip took 20 or so minutes each way, not an hour), so I thought, Naah, if I have to go alone, I'll skip it. But A. did join me--we had both read several plays, blind, in January and were eager to see which ones had made it--and we're both glad we went. She left at around 7pm, whereas I stayed til 9:30pm (it ended at 10--50 plays in 10 hours), and only missed two plays at the end, and we both got to see a lot of work. I find it really useful to watch the form and try to figure out what works and what doesn't and why.

I noticed that if I LIKE a play, and I mean REALLY like it, I get into it, and don't focus as much on the structure, acting (in particular), and character development (or lack of it). If I like but don't love it, I tend to notice more, and if I hate it, I pretty much can't watch it, and start taking notes on all of the plays (which I find helpful later when describing and thinking about them). I would say there were maybe 5 or 6 I loved, several I liked, several I disliked, and 4 or 5 I abhored (and clearly, I'm not going to be any more specific about this, particularly those I wish had not been produced). I found in general that the comic ones worked better, and that's probably b/c 10 minutes is such a short time to work with, and if, as A. pointed out, you try to get heavy in 10 minutes, you may not get to it all or the whole play leads up to that MOMENT, the THING THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING, and so it's really all like one big punch line, one twist, with 9 minutes and 30 seconds as the set up. In a funny play, you can laugh your way through it, and the end isn't nearly as significant (maybe not at all).

There were a few heavy ones that worked, particularly one about marriage that I had initially recommended and that was produced. It was both well-written and acted and worked b/c it took place in a very specific moment (a young couple's wedding night) and dealt with an older couple's loss of their daughters and how this night brought both couples together. Heavy, yes, but NOT heavy-handed or preachy, as a number of plays were, at least in my opinion, and not too esoteric (not at all) or obtuse (as a few plays were--God, why?!), but it's hard as hell to pull off. A. likes my play PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES, which is pretty damn heavy, but she thinks it works. No one has yet accepted it, but I've only sent it to a few festivals, and while I intend to bring it to Write-On for the July meeting, if possible, I would like to keep sending it out to see if anyone thinks it works (I'm not certain, actually). I have also decided that my next play will ABSOLUTELY be a comedy, b/c I was so predisposed toward them both last and this year (this applies to short play festivals only) and b/c I find it easier to write comedy, or at least find it pays off more in the end (i.e., people seem to respond to my quirkiness).

I wondered at times why certain plays for the BTM were chosen (most weren't predictable, but some were pretty damn weak, I thought, though not the majority of them, even if I didn't like them), but everyone acknowledges how subjective the process is. All you can do is write and send off, write and send off, and you STILL have a better chance, me thinks, than getting cast (Oh, ye of little faith!). One other interesting thing I noticed tonight was all of the parts written for men AND more importantly for older men (and women). This was encouraging for the future, and no doubt in part b/c many of the playwrights are older and are writing for peers or that age target audience. Interestingly, I was too old for some roles and TOO YOUNG for many others. Now that's an interesting development! We shall see how that pans out in the future. For now, I intend to get PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES up somewhere, and hopefully UNCHARTED TERRITORY (aside from the Arlington Players, of course), and begin the new play (no ideas yet, but they will come). And another weekend ends, but I feel at least somewhat hopeful, and if nothing else, I know I get to see my niece and nephew, Sammi and Matt, next Sunday and Monday during Memorial Day weekend. :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

On risk and rejection, part thirteen

Well, this may have been a stupid thing to have done, but I set up an audition with the Devanaughn Theatre for Sunday, June 5th at noon (they are half-hour slots). Why stupid, you ask, and why potentially harmful? Well, I had vowed not to audition any more, at least not this summer, and then I go ahead and sign up for one. I did have a real reason to do so: This is for Devaughnan's whole season, 2005-06, and so if I didn't audition, I'd have no chance (most likely) of being chosen for anything. Also, I do like the stuff they do, and the theatre is close to work, so it's easy to get to. However, as nice as Artistic Director Rose Carlson has been to me in the past, the theatre has shown NO interest in either casting me or choosing my plays for the Dragonfly Festival. I feel as if this is the LAST time I take a chance with them. I'll do my monologue or monologues (based on how I did for Theatre@First, I feel pretty comfortable about the dating one from "Workin' Progress"), hopefully read from a couple of sides, and see what transpires. I can't help it--I really want to act! Writing is great, but it's nebulous, and it's rare you'll see your work performed. So it's important, but the contact with the theatre is infrequent, at best, and I really do need more.

I need to meet more people, become involved with more projects, and just put myself out there. While this may prove as disheartening as the last three times I tried with the Dev, I guess we'll see how it goes. I am not giving up anything to do this--it's on a day I had no other plans, and I can work out directly afterwards, especially useful if I feel discouraged after the half hour--and I know it's good experience to just put myself out there. What I haven't learned is how to become more thick-skinned through the process, and I know this is vital if I'm going to continue staying in this world and opening myself up to possible, even probable, rejection. While I get better at auditioning, the opportunities continue to elude me (and, to be fair, many others). I went on the Theatre@First website recently, and noticed that one of the board members (nice, at least via email) had not been cast! So it's certainly tough, and doesn't seem to get easier, despite my starting to become known in the community. Nonetheless, I won't get cast if I sit at home, so try I shall (though selectively).

I may also try out for Hovey's Short Play Festival (my play hasn't been chosen, but no one's has yet, so there is still the chance, slight as it is--this is a competitive festival), if they do have tryouts on June 6th (a night I'm free, and yes, right after the Dev's auditions, so maybe that's a good thing). Aside from that, and stagesource's auditions in July (not hoping for anything, w/ 250 people trying out--nothing came of it last year--except that it's a chance for a lot of people to see me at one time, and I sucked doing my monologue last year, so maybe I'll do better this year), that's it for the summer, and that's fine. I just realized that, through stagesource and The River, I get lots of half price and free ticket offers for plays and concerts, and aside from A. and occasionally D. (who is still at Cannes--so jealous), I have NO ONE to go to events with. And I mean NO ONE. I really need to expand my circle of friends, so I don't become too dependent on A. again (I can already see it's started) and so I can just diversify, which is healthy and critical.

I may go to TOOTH AND CLAW at the Calderwood Plaza by myself in the South End this afternoon, and that's fine, once in a while, and I'm also going to FALSETTOS at the Huntington Theatre in Boston by myself (both are free tickets), but dammit, there must be people who would enjoy going with me, and I don't know them! If I can't have a boyfriend, I sure do need female friends!!! So I'm out there again, and I don't feel optimistic, truly, but I will go in with as positive an attitude as I can muster and will desperately try not to leave feeling terrible (or feeling worse if/when I don't get good news, or any news, for that matter). Thankfully, this is a busy weekend, and a busier week, and next weekend is the River show at Avalon, Commencement, and then my sister's visit, so I won't have any time to wallow in sadness. Free time usually equals unhappy time for me (unless I'm really tired or burnt out). Anyway, I carry on, and perhaps I'll have happy news to report in the near future.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's the little things...

And that's a good things, b/c the big things are often pretty bad (or rare). Anyway, today was one of those days that contained a lot of small but satisfying moments. For example, I don't usually go to the Thursday night yoga class--I prefer Jess's on Friday--but b/c I might have to attend a final Commencement clearance meeting during the class tomorrow (groan), I wanted to make sure I got in a yoga class this week. George's class was nice and small--only three of us--and he's mellow but not easy. My balance was better than usual and I just felt centered and focused (maybe b/c it was at night, and my mind races far more during the day). When we got to backbends, I did a full, unassisted one (and didn't even realize it!). At the end of the class, George made a comment about backbends, I said, 'Oh, I can't do one,' and then tried and DID IT! First time ever! George then said, 'I noticed you had done one in class,' and I was amazed. My mind completely went free and let my body take over and that's so rare but exactly what you want to have happen in yoga! I was beyond pleased. Clearly, my flexibility is improving, and so a year and a half of training has not gone for naught.

Also, I managed not to binge today (my stomach is still a bit funky, but still, the tendency to binge is always there), and I had a nice, somewhat (for me) leisurely walk at lunch, going to the Public Gardens, doing one loop around, and heading back. Gavin McGraw was on my mp3 player (and man, I LOVE the pink color) and it felt nice to bask in the sun (not as warm as I would have liked, but hey, it wasn't raining out), the tulips were beautiful, and it felt nice to be out. I also finished a project with Dave, the Interior Design Director, and that was satisfying, plus I'm getting more proficient on SCT, which is our new administrative system. It's not easy or intuitive, but the more I use it, the more comfortable I feel, not surprisingly. This is especially important b/c my boss got the job in Tennessee yesterday (yes, that WAS fast) and will be leaving, I suspect, by the end of June, since her new position begins July 10th. Understandably, we are all pretty distraught about this, but I guess the more I learn now, the better it will be later.

Anyway, nothing tremendous or particularly exciting happened today, but little things can be rewards in themselves. I am looking forward to eating my Stoueffer's Lasagna tv dinner and microwave popcorn, watching the season finale of "The Apprentice," and beginning "Prep" by Curtis Sittenfeld (I gave up on "Fat Girl" by Judith Moore b/c I find her annoying and her writing style very irritating and sloppy). I feel sad when I realize I have no one to spend tomorrow night or all day Saturday with, but I did rent two movies, including "Vera Drake," and perhaps I'll take a long walk Saturday, if the weather's nice, or maybe get some writing done (along with laundry) and then take in the Boston Theatre Marathon w/ A. on Sunday. Anyway, I'd rather stick to the present for the moment. That's my day and I'm sticking to it,

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Not much to say...

And that's why there haven't been many posts from me. The latest piece of bad news I received was that my supervisor, V., is leaving at the end of July (if not sooner). She is moving with her husband to Tennessee to be near her family and b/c her husband is not at all well and they can't figure out why, though she suspects stress. V. is incredible--a team player, supportive, smart, and just NICE AS HELL--and she will be greatly missed. (She has been my supervisor for two years, and worked in various capacities at the school before that, so I've known her for about 8 1/2 years.) I also am certain it will take many months to replace her position of Registrar, as the school I work for currently has openings for an Admissions Director, an Admissions Counselor, and a Financial Aid Director (the latter open since December, I believe) and can't fill any of them. I have little faith that we'll have someone in before Course Registration in mid-August, and maybe not for quite a while afterwards. Meanwhile, three of us in the department--me, the Director of Student Services, the Assistant Registrar, and the Assistant to the Registrar--will have to run the department and I can't see how we can do it using our new administrative system. I am distressed, to say the least.

Aside from that, I have no news. I may never be able to afford a new car (serious debt, thankyouverymuch), I have no boyfriend prospects, none of my plays seem to be generating any kind of interest, and I am going through serious acting withdrawal. Oh, and I have started binge eating again. Man, I sound terrific, don't I? I'm sorry. I am just not in the best state at the moment. (At least I'm back in therapy again; I hope it helps.) I am reading "Fat Girl" b/c I hope it gets me back on the healthier eating trail and b/c eating disorders fascinate me. I'm also going to the Boston Theatre Marathon this Sunday w/ A.--10 hours of 10-minute plays--though I'm not certain how wise this is of me, considering that I didn't get cast in any of them (at least I didn't submit for it, so I can't feel badly about that). If I really start to get depressed, I'll leave of course, but I enjoyed it last year and hope to again, plus it's in a comfortable theatre in the South End, and I should have fun chatting about the works with A., who read several, as I did, in the weeding out process (I hope to get some ideas for future plays as well--a monologue I wrote, "Chair," was inspired by a play I saw last year, so I'll bring a notebook with me and see).

Work is pretty slow, not a bad thing, but I do feel more tempted to eat to fill the void when that's the case. I've struggled with eating issues all my life, so there's no reason now should be any different. I'm still a size 8, desperately wanting to be a 6 but more desperately refusing to get to a 10 again. So, anyway, that's where I am right now. Which isn't really anywhere. And that's why I won't be writing too often until I do have something interesting to say. Let's hope that's soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Tough week...moving on

If you're keeping track, you may have noticed I haven't posted much this week. Good reason for that; I didn't have much to say, and what I did wasn't particularly positive. It gets pretty frustrating to keep writing depressing things, and so I chose to say nothing. The week started off on a bad foot, when my car sounded as if it were about to explode and couldn't be fixed locally. It continued by my not being able to see my therapist again, third week in a row, due to the car. Since she has so few openings, we couldn't find one, and so I didn't get out to Waltham. I auditioned for one-act plays (really, 10-minute ones, and I already was a bit frustrated, in that mine hadn't been accepted) on Wednesday night, and was not cast, though I had a strong audition and my two-minute monologue, taken from WORKIN' PROGRESS, went over really well. Then I had to return my zen creative mp3 player on Thursday night, due to the headphone jack (third return since December!), and though I now have a nice pink one, and it seems to be working well, knock on wood, it was a hassle getting to Cambridge Soundworks and having to deal with one of the sales associates who clearly did NOT want to give me another (fortunately, someone named Michael was far nicer and did work with me on this). The good news is that I brought the car into the Kia Dealership in Lawrence yesterday, and it was the catalytic converter, which was, unbelievably, covered by my warranty. So now the car drives well again--for who knows how long--and I am incredibly relieved, though on the lookout for another car, possibly a Ford Focus, though my preference would be a Civic (which I had wonderful luck with in the 90s) or a Corolla (love the look AND the dependability).

Last night I stayed home, after working out at the gym, watched "The Hours" (yes, it's depressing, but I knew it would be, so I was prepared, and the performances were amazing, particularly those of Meryl Streep and Ed Harris, one of my favorite actors). It felt good to stay home and chill without worries. Today, I'm going to work out and then go to a co-worker's party in Somerville, which should be fun and lowkey. The weather is much nicer out than predicted--no rain yet, temps around 60 degrees--so no complaints there. The issue, in part, is that I got SO upset by this week's events, and that's nothing new, but also something I haven't been able to overcome. I didn't know what was wrong with my car, and while I had every right to feel annoyed--it's a 2000 and only has 33,000 miles on it (16,000 through me, the rest prior to owning it)--I got so depressed and frightened, fearing the worst. I was CERTAIN it would be something major (which it was) and that it wouldn't be covered by the warranty (which it also was). So, as my sisters pointed out, there was no sense in worrying about it beforehand, and yet I did.

I was also really sad over not being cast in the Somerville short play festival, even though it would have required a lot of time on my end, and for which there weren't too many roles I would have been able to fill. (If D. had had another play to direct, I may have been cast; she really liked my audition.) While I didn't get to try out for roles I am certain I could have done well, the same was true for other actors, but I took it very personally, as I always do. I've talked about rejection so many times, and it NEVER gets any easier for me. While part of me wants to say Screw it, no more auditions, my desire to act is great, and it's hard to not give it a try. That's fine, if I don't get devastated by the results, but I DO, and therefore I HAVE to take a break from it. And it's all well and good to say I'll write, and of course I want to, but I also need to have structure to write, and ideas, and I don't have either at the moment.

I'm also particularly upset about my financial situation, which never, ever seems to get any better. I don't see how it can, when my rent comprises 50 percent of my monthly earnings, and when it is impossible for me not to buy CDs and clothing (not every day, and not at boutiques, but still...). My mom suggested yesterday that, in trying to save up money for a downpayment for the car I intend to buy within the next six months (sooner if possible), I give up my daily bagels (from Dunkin Donuts) and iced tea from Starbucks, but I really look forward to both, and don't see how I can. It also seems so unfair that at 42 I still struggle with these financial issues, despite having a master's degree, despite working a fulltime and two parttime jobs (writing center and advising), despite having spent 10 years plus at my job. I'm whining, aren't I? I'm sorry. I just don't feel very hopeful right now. I feel as if I need some good news, and I don't see any on the horizon.

I wish my grandfather, 95 and very wealthy, would loan or give me some money, so I could take care of the car situation, but I can't ask, as this would cause resentment within the family. I wish my job would give me a hefty raise, but there's no way (if I get 3 or 4 percent this year, I'll be VERY lucky). And of course I wish I would meet a boyfriend, but I can't do online dating services, I run across few if any straight, eligible men in my week, and my friends aren't looking, so what do I do?! Oh, and let me add that I binged a bit this past week; I wasn't horrible, but I certainly cheated, and bought Tostitos (hoping that more ppl would show up for book club, but only two did, so I ate the rest of the large bag after they left, over a couple of days) and also snacked on m&m's and a couple of other things at work. While my weight is fairly steady, I have gained a couple of pounds, so instead of moving toward size 6, I am more fully implanted in size 8. That is also a bummer, but I know it's the case when I'm down, and it could have been worse. At least I'm continuing to be vigilant (but not excessive) in working out, and am on my way to the gym in just a few minutes. So you can see why I haven't written more: I just don't really have much news, and what I have is not very inspiring. I suppose I'll have to come up with themes, as others do, e.g., "Who I sit next to on the T" or "Amusing anecdotes from the work world." Suggestions are certainly welcome.

So that's it for now; it might be best, actually, for me to think less and just be present (yoga was great on Friday, because it was strenous but doable, and I just kept bringing myself back to the moment, and felt great afterwards). I'm not sure how I'll feel about going to the Boston Theatre Marathon next weekend with A., and of course, I don't HAVE to if I don't want to, though A. and I have already agreed to, and it will be interesting to see how the plays have been presented and what ideas the playwrights came up with (some plays I've read, many I haven't). So, onto the gym, more Boston Sunday Globe, and then the party and...well, let's hope this week is a better one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

On risk and rejection, part twelve

See, I told ya there'd be more. And as you can see from the title, there is no success listed tonight. I auditioned for plays that are part of a shorts festival. (Supposedly they are one-acts, but since no play is longer than 15 minutes, that's really stretching it.) My play had not been chosen, and that's okay, b/c PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES isn't really ready and UNCHARTED TERRITORY is too long and wouldn't have fit in. (I actually think either of D.'s two 10-minute plays would have worked well, but that's just me.) Anyway, I really wasn't in the mood to go tonight. An online friend from California was in town, and we'd been waiting a long time to meet, and finally got to, but only for about an hour (which sucked). It was a beautiful day out today, too, 75 and sunny, terribly rare in Boston, and we could have had a wonderful dinner outdoors (we did stroll and chat a bit, which was very nice). Instead, I hurried off to Somerville, delivered a two-minute monologue from UNCHARTED TERRITORY, "The Boyfriend" (which went better than usual, I have to admit--I got quite a few laughs and nice applause afterwards), and then waited to read a side.

I did ead one, from the play D. is directing (though I'm clearly not 50 years old, but whatever), then waited, and finally read another side from a cool play about a superhero. Alas, I don't feel I did a good reading--too over the top--and I could tell from the lack of response I got from the directors (both of whom see VERY young and I wonder how much experience they have). I was already feeling rather down, listening to Keane "Everybody Changes" (quite the mournful song), and having no confidence that I would be asked to read another side or, if I were, that I would be cast. There were actually two other plays, maybe three, I would have LOVED to have read for, but was not asked to. One in particular, about a 30 year old woman who gets a date from an agency for her birthday, was really fun and I could totally relate to it. Yes, I KNOW I'm not 30, but my situation is a lot like hers (except I am clearly not getting over a bad relationship, b/c there haven't been any relationships to get over!), and I could have played this role, I know it. But I wasn't asked to read, so it won't happen, and I doubt I'll get cast in the other two. So there's another night where I was paraded out like an animal, made to wait painfully, came away saddened, and will receive the rejection call or email tomorrow, I've no doubt.

After I had read my second side and was told I could go (Gee, thanks for the release from prison), D. came over and said I'd done a nice job, not to feel badly or be overly critical of myself, and that there were a lot of good actors there. That, of course, is code for "You won't get cast," and so another fruitless audition passes. I decided then and there that I was NOT going to audition for any more plays unless specifically asked to, and the only tough thing is being true to this pledge. It's like a bloody drug, this acting thing, but auditions are not good for me, and there really is no high, since I don't get cast. There's the dream, the fantasy, that I WILL get cast and I'll get to have the fun of acting and being part of a community--stop me if you've heard this one before--but I really know the chances are slim to none, and it's not a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I really give it my all, but more the fact that there are far too many actors and far too parts for 42 year olds, even 42 year olds who could be in their mid-30s (since most parts are for women in their 20s to early 30s, women in their 50s and 60s, and men, men, and more men, though there were few men in the room and tons of women, naturally).

The rather ironic part of the evening is that after I gave my monologue, a nice woman, also auditioning, complimented me on it and said, "Have you performed that anywhere? You should. And has it won any awards?" This naturally made me feel great, and also nudged me yet again in the "Why the hell aren't you just writing and NOT auditioning anymore?!" place deep and not so deep in my heart and my mind. I realize it--I'm a far better writer than an actor, and perhaps more significantly, there are far more opportunities for me to write than act, as my age and gender has nothing whatsoever to do with whether a play of mine will get accepted (unless the festival is seeking only women writers, in which case I have the advantage). I have to just accept this fact and move on, and if I do, just maybe a casting opportunity will arise, but not by looking for it. It's like dating--it's not working out, so why keep torturing myself? It is true that I could be extraordinarily surprised and find out tomorrow that I was in fact cast, but this is extremely unlikely, so I'll just concede defeat and move on.

It's something I have to watch all the time--this allure of acting, so strong that I'm willing to go through the pain to get to the pleasure. The difference is that there is rarely pleasure but there's a lot of pain, and why the hell do I keep hoping for something so unattainable? Somebody, please stop me next time I say, I have an audition tomorrow, I beg you!!! Meanwhile, I should have some time on Sunday to do some writing, and I just need to get down to it. It can't be coincidental that I keep getting compliments on it (it's just that it's all happening in a short time span), so why not go with the thing that works? Good bloody question. Maybe I'm just a masiochist, or maybe I don't like being told that I can't have something I want (see: car, as in I WANT a Corolla, MAY get a Ford Focus, and HAVE a piece of shit Kia in the meantime that sounds as if it could explode any second, God forbid). I can't really say, but I can say that, as with tortilla chips and other salty carbs, the thought of eating them doesn't match the self-anger I feel after they have been consumed. Therefore, to avoid the after effects, never pleasant, and to stop myself from eating them is to keep them out of sight, and the way to not think about them is to not tempt myself.

The same holds true for acting. Instead of Tostitos, I can have microwave popcorn, and instead of auditioning, I can send out my writing. (Instead of dating...well, I do have female friends.) I realize this is a silly analogy, but both eating and theatre are intregal parts of my life, really, unavoidable, and so I have to find a way to manage my addiction. It's really a day-to-day struggle, but keeping myself out of harm's way seems most sensible. And next time I can spend an evening with a friend and go to bed a lot happier.

Monday, May 09, 2005

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

Well, kiddies, we've come to the end of the road. (Not really. I just felt like writing that.) We have indeed reached part eleven, but, not surprisingly, I'm not ready to stop writing about this topic, so I won't. I suspect that it is fairly interesting for the two ppl out there reading, and probably a LOT more interesting than reading about my car troubles (and hoo boy, do I have them; I think the catalytic converter is shot, and my stupid Kia only has 32,00o miles on it! ugh!). But that's not terribly interesting, whereas my relationship with the arts is moreso, or I like to believe as much. I returned to work today, feeling pretty anxious (thankyouverymuch, car), sans therapy (since I couldn't get out to Waltham, and Susan isn't free again til next Monday, feh), and with a ton of catch up to do, after taking four days off. Exercising helped a lot, and after a 60 minute work out, I felt a lot more relaxed. But it wasn't until I went to my Write-On writing group meeting tonight that I started to really feel better, and continue to feel so as the evening progressed.

When I first got there, I didn't really know anyone, and sat in the corner (or near the corner), eating my pretty sad Wendy's homestyle chicken strips salad (granted, it was tasty, and a decent source of needed protein) and feeling rather lonely. But then a few people arrived that I knew from the last meeting, which was nice, and finally D. and a couple of her friends showed up and the first reading began. It was pretty interesting--Leslie Dillen is VERY talented, and had strong actors reading her work-in-progress--and the comments were as well. Then D. presented her 10-minute play, and I read the part of the daughter, to a good response (Damn, I love to cold-read!). Finally, she had her two-minute play read, and then my piece, "Computer Guy," was performed, and those in attendance really seemed to like it! The man reading it did a great job, and there was laughter and then genuine praise. It just made me feel so good. In fact, I felt as if I were walking on air. People liked my writing! They think I'm a comic writer! WOW!

Could this be for real? Do I have some legitimate talent! It's a short piece, but still...the response was far better than I'd anticipated (maybe this is a common theme for me), and gave me such confidence, as I really respect the writers and actors (primarily the former) who were there. I just wanted to take a leave from work and write for a week straight, then send my plays out EVERYWHERE. Clearly, this isn't possible, but what a high to have my work appreciated. It is such a validation, and I guess it's not my desire or fantasy but a reality, b/c I didn't ask for the praise, but I received it (I just had the piece read for the hell of it, b/c people wanted to hear a two-minute piece). I'm excited about the two-minute one I wrote while I was on the plane to Florida (and then refined at my sister's) and hope another festival comes along where I can present it. Meanwhile, I am starting to feel more confident about my abilities, and more and more eager to sit down and do the writing deed.

I sincerely hope I get cast this week at the Theatre@First auditions, b/c I dearly want to act, but I know I have my writing, and that sort of keeps me from going off the deep end. I may be poor (relatively speaking), I may get frustrated at work, I may not have a boyfriend, I may not be as pretty or as thin as I'd like, and I may not even get cast this week (though I better! ;-)), but I DO have my writing, and that's a wonderful thing indeed.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Back from Florida...

So if anyone of you were wondering where I was, that's where. :) I had a nice time, but as always, the time goes by WAY too quickly. I'm not sure how that happens. ;-) A work week takes a lot longer to pass, but a trip to Florida is gone like *this*. Still, it was wonderful to see my sister, niece, and nephew. The weather wasn't too wonderful on Tuesday, Wednesday, OR Thursday til the afternoon, which was kind of a bummer. Still, it was alright b/c I got to go shopping at Sawgrass Outlet with my sister, always fun and a highlight of the trip (the prices are great and the stores are terrific, from Banana Republic to Ann Taylor and everything in between). I bought my first Lucky purchases, a belt ($15) and reddish/brown (like maroon) light cords ($22), amazing prices for Lucky. I was hoping to get a regular pair of jeans, and the prices were fine, but the fit was not, so that didn't happen. You have to be a size 2 or 4, like my sister, to fit these things, and I'm an 8, and short, so it wasn't going to happen. (I would still like to get to size 6, but I'm not feeling that optimistic at the moment, despite all my working out. I did the treadmill every day at my sister's, yesterday flew home and did the elliptical, and today took a power yoga class, but I still don't eat small enough portions to lose more weight, considering my verrrrry slow metabolism. Sigh.)

We had fun, and then went to the Cheesecake Factory (amazing food, huge portions). Friday, we did get to the beach, and that felt wonderful. Back in Boston, it's rainy and cool (only 47 degrees and VERY raw), so it was quite the tease. SOMEDAY, it will be warm here again, and I hope to get to the beach and Walden Pond this summer, as well as walking around the Hatch Shell and the Public Gardens. I would give ANYTHING to have a little deck or backyard, but the public roofdeck will have to do for now (and probably the near and far future). The hardest thing about seeing my sister in Florida is knowing that the visit is brief and intense and that it will then be anywhere from weeks to months b/f I get to see her and Sammi and Matt again. My other sister and her kids are in Western Mass, so I can get out there at least once a month, and they can get to my parents in Northern Mass as well. But it's expensive to fly to Florida, and also inconvenient for Laural for me to do it very often, b/c I do stay with them and so it throws their schedule off a bit.

Now, if I had a place there, like her in-laws do, I could come quite a bit, even if for three days (when Song and Jet Blue run specials, and they do quite often), and that would be great. But it's not possible now, and not for the forseeable future, as I don't see my parents getting a condo there anytime soon. I feel so out of their lives, and I really want to see them grow up. It seems so unfair--why can't they live in Boston?!--and while I know the answers, it's a bitter pill to swallow, particularlly b/c I'm so close to Laural. So many people I don't like live in New England; why can't people I love live here, too. :-( So it's always hard to leave (and Sammi is very attached to me and gets very sad; Matt gets sad, too, of course) and the only consolation this time round is knowing that they are coming back to New England in late May for Memorial Day AND in July, when my other sister's husband leaves for a business trip. Then I will probably see them in early October, after they've moved and Matt has started his new university school (he's only 4 1/2 but VERY bright, and this is a good time for him to begin, at pre-K).

Anyway, I got home yesterday, unpacked, did a workout, and went to a play at Mass Art with D. All was well until I got back in my car at 10:00pm and heard the most awful sound. I thought maybe it was the muffler, but nothing's dragging, and I was somewhat afraid driving home. Today, the sound was back (awful when I put my foot on the gas), and I stopped at a full serve station for a fill up and more importantly for an oil check. Not necessary, said the serviceman, but he thought it was the exhaust, so I'll have to bring it in tomorrow and see. I hate, hate, HATE car problems (okay, all problems). They stress me out NO END, and with the Kia Sephia, the biggest piece of crap car ever made, the car problems are constant (every 4-6 months, anyway, really frequent considering how little I drive the damn car). This also means I will miss therapy, and Susan will be less than enthralled with me (I left her a message, but she may not get it til tomorrow). While I'm happy I don't have to get into work late tomorrow, considering I've been off four days and will have a lot of catching up to do, it's been three weeks since my last appointment and we really need to discuss whether I'll be continuing. Sigh.

The car problems caused me to have nightmares and I've been anxious all morning. Even going to yoga did little to curtail the concern (though, admittedly, it was with a new instructor whom I didn't particularly care for in the large studio at the Allston/Brighton gym--I drove to Cambridge, only to discover that the class was at 9:30, NOT 11:00am, and then I couldn't find parking in Boston, due to the Red Sox game, for their 11:00am class), and I'm still sitting here, rather upset. All I can do is bring it in tomorrow on the way to work and hope it IS the exhaust and nothing more major. I'd dump it in a second if I could, but I can't afford to--it isn't even paid off yet (I probably owe about $2000 more on, or something along those lines--maybe a bit less, but I took out a five year loan, and it won't be done til November 2006, alas0--but I can't do it. So there you go. Now I sit here, listening to U2 on The River and waiting for book club to arrive for our 4pm meeting (I'm hosting it this month, which I haven't done for about a year, and bought some snacks for the people attending, four others I think).

This is another sad item (I'm full of glee today, eh?!)--friend E. is leaving after next month's meeting, T. has already gone back to Sweden, and D. is leaving after the summer, when he begins grad school in New York. The demographics are getting younger and younger, and if N. leaves, I may, too, since I would then be the oldest BY FAR. A., the founder and leader, is trying to recruit new people, and we'll just have to see who shows up. I don't want to be 10 years older than the next member, though I like everyone in the group. And finally, today is Mother's Day, and for the first year in many, I am NOT spending it with my mom. She and my dad went to Stephanie's in Western Mass yesterday and won't be home til late this afternoon, during book club. (Even if I wanted to go out to see them, I couldn't, due to the stupid-ass car.) I'm a bit sad about that, though happy that they had a nice time with the nieces and my sister and brother-in-law (a cookout yesterday in the pouring rain, and the twins' first soccer game today). Steph got breakfast in bed, presents and cards, and seemed to have a great morning. Laural is having a nice time, too, with breakfast in bed, water park this afternoon, and then dinner at the Hard Rock.

Meanwhile, I sit here, worrying, and having been asked a few times at the gym if I'm a mother (no, I replied; are you?). It's an age thing, in part, b/c I certainly COULD be and others are rather young to be. I still am not sorry that I didn't have kids and don't expect to be, particularly b/c I have a wonderful family, but it stings a bit on days like this, or rather, just makes me feel a bit weird to not only NOT have kids but not even to have a boyfriend. But we won't go there again today, b/c I have enough to worry about at the moment. I'm sorry this wasn't a more upbeat post; I did have a nice time in Florida, playing soccer with Sammi and Matt, reading stories, watching "Dragon Tales," and just hanging with them (they are adorable except when fighting, which is a fair amount of the time, but usually not for too long, and this is normal for a two and four year old, respectively). But here I am, back in reality, with car and therapy problems, and that's a sucky way to start a new, very busy week. However, as there is nothing I can do about it today, I will simply finish today's book (yes, I still have 10 pages of "Empire Falls" left), read the Boston Sunday Globe, and hope that the book club will help distract me a bit. Perhaps tomorrow I will resume my series on risk and rejection (and success!); I had originally called for 11 installments, and I only have one left to go. So I'll finish it up and then make it a recurring series, as relevant topics come up. For now, some deep breaths are in order.

Monday, May 02, 2005

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

Well, guess what, kids? There is SUCCESS written all over this post! Unbelievably (at least to me), my play, "Uncharted Territory," along w/ my friend's play, won the Arlington Players' Quadrangle Festival! As a result, both of our plays will be fully mounted in the Fall! I am beyond excited. Granted, it helped that we had friends there voting for us :-), but I also feel if our plays sucked--and word on the street is that mine doesn't (I know D.'s doesn't)--they wouldn't produce them. So my revisions this past weekend weren't for naught (not that I thought they were, but you never know), and I will get to see the revised play staged in a few months. WOW! How exciting! What's more, I indicated my hope that a new individual could play Mark, and the director agreed. Unfortunately, I don't have anyone particular in mind, but I do know the type of person I'd like to play him, and offered that.

This is all so mind-boggling, considering the lack of success I've had writing. As some have pointed out to me, it shouldn't come as such a surprise. After all, I have an MFA in Creative Writing, and this is combining two of my favorite things, writing and theatre. But considering that I haven't been engaged in playwrighting for very long, I am having good success thus far, and am very excited and motivated to keep writing and to keep submitting. Of course, I still want to act, very, very much, and will pursue opportunities (like next week's Theatre@First auditions), but I will save the majority of my energy for writing. I do have some new ideas now and hope to have time to write. Yesterday's two minute play festival was interesting, in that I got to hear so many different kinds of short plays. Some worked very well, some not so well, and some not at all--I thought my monologue, "Computer Guy," came out pretty well (and I didn't freak while I watched it! Progress!)--and I got a better idea of what to write about and what is more likely to be successful (for example, don't just END the play; it doesn't work, it isn't clever, and it's just bloody frustrating for the audience).

Meanwhile, I am so happy that I revised the ending of "Uncharted Territory" so it's a bit more ambiguous, much less hokey (and God knows, I HATE hokey), and also brings back dialogue (hence proving the "end is in the beginning" dictum really works). I am so eager to see this performed now (I hope not to cringe next time ;-)). I was just flying on sunshine during my elliptical workout (the last one, alas, til Saturday, but just b/c I'm going to Florida to visit my niece, nephew, and sister tomorrow, and I can't wait to see them and to relax in warm weather), and again, success feels a million times better than failure, or lack of success, if you will. I have always felt that I was a strong writer and that my time would come, but that, as I am slow to grasp so many things, it would be delayed. This seems to be true. It's not that my short fiction was bad, exactly, when I was studying at Emerson, but it didn't have any perspective. It was all about me (poorly and barely disguised), and though well-enough written, not especially insightful. Maybe short fiction isn't as natural a genre for me, either, but in any case, I knew how to write but couldn't find the subject matter.

Over 10 years later, I'm able to see outside of myself well enough to write about people who aren't at all like me, and I don't find it impossibly tough at all (though I like to write about myself, too ;-)). Interestingly, one of D.'s friends asked after the reading Friday night if the play was about me and my mother was as horrible as Karen's. 'God, no,' I replied. 'This isn't about me at all!' She was relieved and I was pleased that the idea might be possible, and yet I could honestly say that there was little, if any, of me in the piece. Perhaps a few of the emotions, but not many. I could understand these characters, but they were not me, and that is very freeing, I've learned. In any event, it's been a long time coming (considering that I started writing when I was six or seven, and that I took a creative writing class in college, with pretty mediocre results), and I am savoring it all. Granted, I haven't won the Pulitzer, or had my play performed by the Huntington Theatre, but this is quite all right for now. With luck, it's the start of something good, and satisfying, and if anyone tells you that external validation isn't that important, you can tell them I say otherwise.