Boxing Lessons

Not everything has to be a lesson. I get so bored with myself sometimes for trying to squeeze meaning out of everything.

Today I had to carry a giant ass white foam box all over Queens for work and I was like, this sucks but at least I’ll learn something. I will find some sort of emotional takeaway and it will all have been worth it.

Okay, but what?

The box is roughly the size of two toddlers, put together, and then fused into a giant lego to make a square. So, 30x10x10. Older toddlers. Ones that can nearly outrun you.

All day people kept thinking that there was something in the box but the box was empty. Three Uber drivers tried to carry it for me and when they realized that it wasn’t heavy they put it back down and let me carry it myself.

And every time that happened I thought, ooh a learning opportunity! But, no. I learned nothing from it, regardless of the pattern.

I looked for ways to learn from the box all day, but nothing really happened. Even during morning rush hour when I hauled it on the C train, nobody got mad at me. Twice, I walked off without the box, because I thought it was a table. But I didn’t get far enough to really learn something about what it’s like to leave a box behind.

Maybe I was just destined to have an ordinary day. The sun was shining, NYC children played in small patches of dirt like always, and I carried around a box, swiping at the hours as they passed. I tried talking to the box, to see if the universe had anything to offer in the form of a Sign. I even shook it like a Magic 8 Ball. But nothing mattered. The box refused to be inspirational.

Eventually, the box and I got stuck in some bushes, because I was in a hurry.

It was then that a very clear learning opportunity finally presented itself: take a deep breath. And then locate and utilize a sidewalk. Not super poignant, but the practical messages are just as good.

 

 

Yet another post about me learning something from children.

There is a phrase that I think about a lot. It takes many forms, but because I love a good prayer, my favorite wording is:

God grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.

I make this request to God frequently, because frequently, I feel like I did something wrong. So I have to tell myself that it’s all in my head, and this prayer-phrase is very motivating in that regards. But anyway, this isn’t what I meant to write about. Get out of my blog, Men!

This week I realized that while man confidence is advantageous and all, I would rather have the confidence of a middle school girl who hasn’t yet fallen off the cliff of Childhood Revelry into the tempestuous waters of Adolescent Confusion and Trauma.

This was solidified for me during a shoot on Monday at a middle school in East New York. My friend Stephanie was directing a series of promos for an upcoming pilot, and asked if I minded jumping on set for the afternoon. My task: to block a short fight scene.

I’ve directed a lot of kids. It requires stamina. And a lot of breathing from your diaphragm. And yep, these gals were just as deafening as every other group of kids I’ve worked with. But there was one major difference: they somehow managed to be great listeners, too. Not just to me, but to each other. Even through all the teasing and the verbal digs, they managed to be accepting, patient, and extremely creative. Sometimes, without even speaking, they would all erupt into the same dance. Or one girl would start quietly singing, and then suddenly they were a choir.

I hardly had to yell at all. In fact: I found myself mostly listening.

A good actor will take a look at a script and flesh out the world surrounding the lines. They will get in front of a camera, or on a stage, and think: what would I do in real life? And then they will find a way to inject that real life into the scene. Atmosphere will roll, the audience will be transported, and we will all live on a different planet together for 15-130 minutes, plus any residual feelings. Easy, right? Not in my experience.

This takes confidence, which is very hard to find. So when these kids jumped right in and put their own spin on it, creating a fully fleshed out and tremendously entertaining scene, I was honestly kinda jealous. They even added a little moment before the scene started, which is something that many grown up actors don’t think to do even after dumping a hundred grand into an MFA.

Their confidence came from an organically childlike place  -one of wonder and adventure- but it was ever so slightly tinged with the dynamism and resolution that comes with being a woman.

What a powerful combination.

30 Days.

I hate running. I have always hated it, and I have always assumed I always will. I am sorry to anyone who’s tried to go on a run with me over the years, thinking that I am a healthy person who does cardio, only to find out that I am extremely slow and that after a mile or so I become inexplicably angry and I start to punch leaves. What can I say, I’m a yoga person.

My favorite thing about running: tank tops that say “I hate running.”

The other day I was doing intervals on a treadmill, which gave me 60 full seconds at a time to analyze why I might hate the feeling of running so much. All I could come up with was that it felt like my body was being tickled all over. It wasn’t necessarily pain, so much as it was discomfort. My lungs don’t hurt, I’m not cramping. My body is just… uncomfortable? Like all my neurons are firing so fast and hard all at once, and the sensation is too much for me. Just a theory, I honestly don’t know. One time a massage therapist thought she was hurting me when actually she was just tickling the fuck out of me, and she sighed and said “well everyone experiences pain differently.”

I told this running theory to my boyfriend, who is someone who has seen me punch a leaf just after the one mile marker, and he said that this has always surprised him, because based on everything he knows about me, I would be an excellent long distance runner. I agree with that, and think that maybe I just haven’t really tried. Maybe, like so many other things in my life, I just didn’t push through the discomfort.

I think I am much more used to being stuck. In my stress dreams, I am always stuck. It feels like I am walking through mud. Or I am running like a cartoon, but someone is holding onto the back of my shirt.

Last night, in my dream, I was dressed like Mary Poppins, eating a popsicle in the rain, and walking down Fulton Street. I was crying, because every tiny step was so exhausting, which often happens in my stress dreams. And then all of a sudden, I was running. In fact, I ran so far that when I finally looked up, I no longer recognized my neighborhood. Yes, in the Mary Poppins costume, which was now stained with popsicle juice. I was in a new neighborhood, but it was more like a ghost town, and suddenly I was scared. Also, I was irritated, because it was so hard for me to get where I was going, and then I went too far, and now I have to turn around and do it all again.

So I got my ass out of bed because I hate those dreams!

I hate being stuck. But right now, in my life, I kind of am. And I am looking for a way to feel the wind in my hair. PS I shaved part of my head. Because: feeling stuck?

For exactly 11 seconds I wondered if maybe I should run everyday for 30 days. Maybe if I did it consistently, it would become a habit, and I would work through my intense hatred of it. But honestly, no. I don’t want to.

Instead, I choose writing. Something thoughtful and complete. That’s what I want to do everyday for 30 days. On this blog. Starting now.

Looking and Seeing

I have recently starting editing a podcast for a healthcare-centered design company. I go into the recording studio with the co-founders/co-hosts, and chuckle quietly while they poke at each other and talk about healthcare. Then I take the audio home and I start crafting. It’s honestly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Last week the theme was Observation, and their conversation is still rattling around in my brain, probably because I have to listen to it A LOT. Yesterday was full of frustrating appointments and tedious meetings, and two bongo players that seemed to be following me from train car to train car, scoring the soundtrack to my nightmare. New York is vibrant and loud and always moving, and I am often able to float along at the pace it requires without too much whining. But yesterday fucking sucked.

So I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time: I bought a falafel sandwich from a halal cart, and I sat down and ate it. Normally I eat them on the run, which is the worst way to enjoy any kind of food, but especially terrible with falafel sandwiches, because most of it ends up on the ground.

I sat on the steps of Federal Hall and watched people, trying not to simply look, but to observe. How do you really see something? And what’s the point?

I watch life closely and then I try to figure out what it all means. I always have. I can’t remember facts and figures, or whether or not something I read was a legit article or a clickbaity headline. I can’t remember which celebrities are dead or just old (Shirley Temple: RIP; Tina Turner: 78 years old), and the other day I realized I had no clue whether or not Bill Clinton actually got impeached (yes- 1998). Those things aren’t tangible enough for me. I have always tried to watch real people closely and without judgement: their unconscious tics and their vocal habits and the shape of their hands. I could spend an hour on my roof looking at the skyline, telling myself little stories about every building, new and old.

Sometimes I need to remind myself to put my phone away, sit on some steps, eat a sandwich and watch all the different ways a tourist can pose in front of the Stock Exchange. For me, it’s not about seeing something crazy or life-changing or worthy of a room-quieting story. I’m content to simply think about all the people who live on this gorgeous planet with me, allowing my eyes to blur with the bigness and smallness of everything, and then letting it all fall away. Everything except the lettuce on my falafel sandwich.

PS: I’ll share the episode I referenced when it comes out in the fall, but if you’re curious about this podcast, please check out the first two seasons at: yahnopodcast.com.

working from home

One very tough thing about working from home is that I have to keep stopping to put my face on the cat.

The problem with this has less to do with my cat allergy and more to do with time management.

Time management is hard for me, because I always think I have NO time, when in fact, I have loads of it, and I spend much of it pacing around convincing myself I’m running late.

So I have come upon a little aphorism: You always have more time than you think you do.

And I say it to myself and I chill the fuck out.

Unless I’m at the post office.

Another thing about working from home is that when I’m here I feel a great need to clean everything.

The irony is that the apartment is almost never clean. I often find myself looking at piles of junk I have strewn about the living room, scratching my head and wondering where my day went because: Didn’t I vacuum and do laundry and organize the books today? Alas! Where did this pile of junk come from?

So another maxim I rely upon: Art before dishes.

I stole this one from a book that I cannot reference because I can’t remember the book. Please know I did not come up with this saying.

Lastly, it is tough to work from home because I believe there are small bugs in my apartment that bite me while I’m trying to sit at my computer, and ONLY when I sit at my computer.

Nobody else believes these bugs exist, but here I am scratching away even though I have not burrowed my face in ANY cat fur recently because I do not fit under the bed.

This leads me to perhaps the most important little mantra I have for myself, being:

Slightly unhinged people also have a best self, and it should be embraced.

xoxo

$78

Today I put my frog suit on, jumped from one job application to another, and caught no flies.

Unless flies are just a metaphor for frustration and despair. In that case, I’m full.

Days like these always start by checking my bank account and realizing that I missed the Chewy.com shipping reminder and have just spent $90 on cat food I didn’t need.

Last week I decided that I very seriously need to crack down on my finances. Set up an IRA, check my balances every single day, get back on the student loan train, not spend money on tacos and Frose, yadda yadda.

Since the key to having more money is making more money, I got up at 6:30 last Monday morning and applied for bar jobs, tour guide positions and temp work. By Friday, I got through the rounds with a tour guide company which now seems to have blossomed into nothing, decided that my schedule doesn’t really allow me to bartend right now after all, and nearly cried in a temp agency when they told me “12-13 dollars per hour.”

I also decided that setting up an IRA was too confusing, and I told myself that I had enough in my account for now and I’d be fine and didn’t need to check everyday.

I’m not irresponsible. I’m very organized, highly neurotic and concerned for my future. However, when you don’t have money, checking your bank account is like being tied to a chair and forced to watch a horror movie. I guess you have no other choice but to watch.

So I can say I logged into my bank account this afternoon and immediately yelled “run, idiot, run, he’s gonna stab you.”

AKA: $78

 

Thus triggering my money panic routine which goes like this:

  1. I will get a job in an ad agency or something.
  2. I look through copywriting jobs and think about what my life would be like if I made at least $30,000 / year.
  3. I tell myself I have no experience and/or marketable skills and decide to move on.
  4. What about social media?
  5. I tell myself that I have no followers on Twitter or Instagram and therefore nothing to prove and also I hate social media.
  6. Ah, administrative work! I start with colleges and universities.
  7. I imagine what the job would be like. The beloved children’s book character Amelia Bedelia races into my mind and I imagine myself accidentally breaking machines, fucking up travel itineraries, crying and watching Excel how-to videos on lynda.com, and getting a firm talking to in an office while sweating through an ill-fitting pencil skirt and a thong. For some reason.
  8. I decide I am too scared to work as an administrative assistant.
  9. I curse myself for spending 10 years of my life pursuing acting.
  10. Oh wait, I am an actor with 6+ years of teaching adults with developmental disabilities, at-risk and homeless women and hundreds of kids ages 3-15. I go to Playbill.com.
  11. I find the perfect job and then realize I have to write a cover letter.
  12. Quick! I see if any of the previous cover letters I have written will suffice.
  13. Nope.
  14. I tell myself that most places prefer you to have an MFA, which I think is a waste of time, and that I’m not diverse enough and therefore don’t deserve to teach our youth.
  15. This is a good transition into brand ambassador work.
  16. I go to Craigslist and consider applying for the job with the headline “No nudity required, promise!” for about the 600th time.
  17. I tell myself that I am worthless and stupid and I probably won’t be able to connect to the monologue I am doing in class tomorrow even though I have a high emotional IQ and that is about all I have, which makes me an extraordinarily overdramatic person who has a hard time falling asleep at night.
  18. The dog outside begins to bark so I spent time cruising around for new music on Spotify and I hate everything and wonder what is wrong with our youth, why do they listen to this absolute crap?
  19. I remember that writing makes me happy and sometimes posting a self-deprecating blog post perks me up.
  20. I scold myself for not writing more blog posts.
  21. I realize I could have spent all that time looking for auditions.
  22. I think about emailing my mangers to tell them I’m done acting. But then I realize I have no back-up plan.
  23. Here we are.

Dudes, I could have spent the whole day playing around with setting my sock fuzz on fire instead of all this crap and it would have been way more productive.

And in an ironic twist, I have to stop typing so I won’t be late for work.

I’m babysitting tonight, which means I’ll get to hang out with a child who could probably afford to pay off my student loans- but at least I will get to shut my brain off and use my imagination for a few hours, which is something that I am, in fact, pretty good at.

But first, I have to feed the cats and replace the litter in the box with real paper money.

I’m No Fun

The number one problem in my life right now, I shit thee not, is that I am not having enough fun.

Here is proof:

  1. I can’t stop cleaning my apartment: there’s always something to clean
  2. I keep a food journal
  3. I keep a journal for lists
  4. Today when I walked into a tree I yelled at the tree
  5. When someone tells a joke I cannot hear it and I continue with my serious thoughts
  6. I am actively trying to have more fun
  7. I am writing a blog post about having fun
  8. I only read cookbooks now
  9. I keep listening to the soundtrack from the movie “The Hours” over and over
  10. Everyone keeps telling me to have more fun

Normally this wouldn’t matter, but I am an actor and yeah, much of the time, having fun is part of my job.

I started this blog way back in 2012 as a way of taking care of my depression. It was an outlet. In the nearly 5 years I’ve been maintaining it, it has gone through many phases. Tracking moods, documenting experiences, telling silly stories, writing reviews, and most recently: Updates on my acting career, which has proved to be the most boring thing I’ve written about… what??

My acting teacher, Anthony Abeson, has been trying to infuse us with more fun. “Wild Theatricality,” he calls it, because somehow, it’s been lost.

“Are we nuts? Broke AND not having fun?” He recently Tweeted.

I, like many actors, am worried about doing things “right.” Which is, you guessed it, NO FUN.

However, this isn’t my actor website. This is my personal blog. So it doesn’t have to be organized or professional or have a fucking logo or anything. It just has to be a place where I can dump my brain out for a bit and sort things through.

And sometimes I just find the craziest things in there!!