how much for the rainbow?

Last week after work I found a twenty on the ground, folded around a few one dollar bills. I picked it up, turned it over, and saw that it had a post it note taped to it that said:

“If found please call:”

And then it had a number.

Okay, so what the fuck? Spooky, right?

I took it over to a couple of my co-workers. I said, “Should I keep this money?” I was answered with a resounding, “Hell no.”

So dropped it back on the ground as if it were crawling up my arm. A few of the ones scattered away, and before literally running away from the money to jump in a cab, I grabbed three dollar bills that weren’t touching the 20.

“Ma’am!” I turned around. A man was pointing at it.

“No thanks!” I yelled, around the same time as I heard my co-worker say, “We don’t want it.” At least I wasn’t alone.

There is no gold at the end of the rainbow. Only metaphors.

My very first therapist, way back in Chicago, once told me that it sounded like Misery was my comfort zone. My second to last therapist, here in New York, told me that she didn’t think Misery was necessarily the place I felt at home. She said it was the place I feel “safest,” because it’s free.

“Happiness costs something,” she told me, “it always does.”

And because money equals happiness, what would that twenty dollar bill have cost me, ultimately? I fleshed out the possibilities with my cab driver.

  1. I take the money and don’t call the number. There is a tracking device in the money. Someone comes to my house and murders me to teach me a lesson.
  2. I take the money and DO call the number. Someone rewards me for my honesty. I could have been a millionaire!
  3. I take the money, I call the number, I enter a psychotic game of cat and mouse, where I am warned not to hang up the phone or I will be killed, but then it turns out I was the killer the whole time.
  4. I take the money and I call the number. A sophomore in high school answers. They are doing a project for their psychology class on human behavior.

I also told my cab driver about the time that I found a ten dollar bill on the ground that was taped to a fishing pole and I had to chase it like in a cartoon, which was scarring.

“What would you have done?” I asked him.

“I would have taken the money!” He responded immediately, as if the words were burning his mouth, and he needed them to burn mine instead.

“Would you have called the number.”

“No!” He said, urgently, as if he had to go #1, all over my dreams.

A few blocks later, we saw a little black bus. He pointed it out. I saw the word “morbid” on the side, and a person standing next to the driver talking on a microphone.

“Oh,” I said, ” I bet you it’s a spooky haunted building tour.”

He sighed. “You need to get your head looked at.” By this point in the ride, we had become intimate friends, so I took it as a compliment.

I don’t spend much time with Misery anymore. It’s really just a place I go to when I’ve eaten too much dairy. And that’s called aging, people. I guess once you start to get control of your mind, your body peaces out?

So basically, whatever. Some people take the money, some people leave it and write blogs about being a little broke instead. I guess I’m the latter. After all, I can afford cabs now, so I’m doing pretty good.

 

Your Mother is Our Mother

“Don’t you remember? You missed the chair. You missed the chair and you landed on your tuches so hard you threw up.”

I sunk lower into my leftover birthday cake.

“I didn’t throw up,” I mumbled into the stale vanilla frosting. My birthday was two weeks ago.

“Well maybe you didn’t THROW UP, but you certainly had to lay on the bathroom floor for about 20 minutes.”

My mother redirected her attention to Sal, who was grinning impishly over a very large slice of cake.

“Our bathroom is very cold.” She told her pointedly. “It always has been. Even when I was a kid, I used to think to myself, ‘we’re lucky this bathroom is so cold,’ because growing up we were six people in here you know. It would get very warm in here. Very, very warm.”

I didn’t like the look on Sal’s face.

“Me, my mother, and father- they slept in the living room- and then my two brothers and my sister. My two brothers shared the room by the back bathroom where Hal is now, and my sister and I were in Monica’s room. Who wants a Crystal Light packet?”

Sal did.

My mother buried herself in a cabinet.

“You don’t even like things from packets!!” I mouthed.

Sal opened her lips and squeezed a bit of mushed up, watery cake through her teeth. Saliva dribbled onto her plate.

I closed my eyes and wished I’d never agreed to let Sal interview her for her newest piece.

***

I am almost 40 years old. I shouldn’t be embarrassed about my mother. And I’m not, really I’m not. I used to be, but now that I’m older I understand her. I grew up in the same apartment she grew up in, in Forrest Hills. I went to the same schools, I studied communications at the same community college. Really, other than having children of my own, I understand that I am fast on my way to becoming my mother. Just like everyone says will happen.

My mother and I have the same hyperopic eyeglasses prescription, and the same magnified brown eyes. We have the same matchstick arms and legs and the same round belly. When we are together, my father calls us the Spider. We have the same blow dried bangs, and we wear the same Sketchers. So yes, I understand my mother and I understand what’s it’s like to become your mother.

Sal is my roommate. She just moved in with me about 6 months ago. Sal is in a graduate theatre program at NYU that focuses on performance art, and last year she won some kind of award for a solo show called “Your Mother is Our Mother.” I didn’t see it, because I didn’t know her back then, but when she first told me the name of it I thought it was about the planet. You know, Mother Nature! Because I don’t want just anybody’s mother to be my mother, but I can understand it if it’s nature.

I looked up a clip of Sal’s show on the Internet. I looked up Sal’s name “Sal Greenauer” and then I clicked over to her website http://www.salgreenauertist.com, which immediately confused me because it brought me right to a large blank white page, and I didn’t know where to click. I had to scroll my mouse around on the page and nothing happened. And then I tried clicking all over the page with my mouse and still nothing happened.

And then I got frustrated and I was going to abandon the whole project, and just as a kind of joke, I clicked the mouse in a pattern. You know the little rhyme, “Skunk in the Barnyard?” Like that, like I was knocking on a door. And I was redirected to another page, just like I solved a riddle.

I was redirected to a page that was mostly white again, but this had some writing, even though I couldn’t read it because it was in some sort of colorful outer space font that I had to chase around the page. I clicked around and wasn’t surprised by most of it because, this is New York City, and even though I don’t go to shows, I know that there are a lot of people who come here with wild ideas. It’s not for me, but I understand there are people who have to do their art. Ever since Sal moved in there has been all sorts of weird stuff in my apartment, like doll arms and piano keys. I’m fine with this as long as nothing is a choking hazard to my doodle, Karma.

Then I recognized the name of one of her collaborators, Whit Croc, who is a childhood friend of my mother’s. She’s known him since he was Alfred Brown. In 2010, Whit Croc built a glass house in Times Square, where he lived for the entire month of May. Legally, the bathroom had opaque walls, but whenever he was fully clothed you could watch everything he did. We went to see it, and then my mother got harassed by an Elmo and we had to leave.

It seemed that Sal and Whit Croc had recently collaborated on a piece called “Fearful Towers.” It was a giant yardstick, about 20 feet tall, in a giant white room. You could stand next to it. When I asked Sal about it, meaning- what was the point- she said something about the limits of algorithms, the moral clarity of skyscrapers, and reconnecting with childhood rituals. I told her that Whit Croc’s real name is Alfred Brown.

What surprised me most about “Fearful Towers,” was that it seemed very serious. The kind of piece that makes you question your existence and your place on the earth and whether or not it was worth it. But Sal was not serious at all, even though she was one of TimeOut Magazine’s 30 Under 30. Sal was a joker, sometimes cruelly so. I wish she’d never asked to meet my mother.

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.

$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.

Review: "Songs of the Black Moon" by Kendra Lou

Kendra Lou’s new album “Songs of the Black Moon” is a weird and wonderful ride. There’s no predicting where she’ll take us with her immaculate vocals and raw lyrics, but the album’s titular track kicks us off with an ambient surf rock beat- and we know there’s a journey ahead.

But if producer/guitarist Al Street’s reverb-laden ominous guitar riffs make you wonder if you’re being peeled out of reality and into a western, think again. This album defies category. Appropriately so, as “Songs of the Black Moon” appears to be showcasing the many aspects of femininity in a woman in the heat of her maturity. A femininity which cannot be contained by genre.

Not to say it’s genre-less. In fact, part of the album’s genius is the ability to blend genre seamlessly. Much like a woman, choosing which part to play in an often one-dimensional world. Kendra Lou draws inspiration from the heavy hitters of blues, jazz, soul and rock. This impressive blending gives us songs that are all at once quirky and girlish, yet dark and cosmic. Think about: a David Bowie / Nora Jones / “True Detective” collaboration.

“Cause I’m sweet, and I’m bitter,” she sings in the album’s third track “The Coco Tree.” And this may be the best way to describe it. Minor chords tell a dark story, but the sun always breaks through, taking the music to delightful new places.

“Songs of the Black Moon” consistently surprises the listener with the possibilities of genre. A solid bluesy foundation supports an atmosphere of familiarity. We’ve heard all these sounds before- yet the remarkably nuanced vocals and original melodies provide us with music that is clever and unpredictable. This album is perfect for a breezy summer night, as Kendra Lou promises to take your imagination to the stars and back.

Visit Kendra Lou’s website for a listen.

kendra

Photo courtesy of http://www.kendralou.com

 

Ham Pants, Penis Palm

When I started auditioning my arms would go numb all the way up to my shoulders, and my hands would cramp into steady fists. I would leave the audition room and find someone to unfold them so that I could go to McDonalds and hold the McFlurry I was inevitably going to cry into. This happened for a few years before it got worse, and then got a bit better.

I have terrible anxiety, mostly at night. The kind that sends a wave through my body and shoots me out of bed when it reaches the top. I’m nervous all the time, but afraid to show it, and I feel like sometimes I come across as an overconfident bubble. I daydream about moving to my very own cave, as long as Seamless will deliver, and my therapist has said more than once: “I’m curious as to why a person who tries so hard to be invisible chose to be an actor.”

I’ve bombed so many auditions that I’ve conditioned myself to treat them like job interviews and do them “correctly.” Being poised, however, is reallllllly boring, and it’s just not who I am. I once pooped in a garbage can in someone’s dorm room because the girls bathroom was locked and I was too shy to ask for a key. Don’t worry, I was alone! Now the Internet knows my biggest secret and I am free at last.

I told my manager that I’m working on letting my personality shine a bit more when I audition, instead of freezing up and putting on my good girl face. She told me about a mutual friend of ours who is working on something similar. So a few weeks ago, before he went into his audition, he stopped by the bathroom and nestled a slice of ham into his underwear. Ya know. Around the boy parts. I mean… how can you take anything seriously when your scrotum is using deli meat as a hammock?

He booked the job.

Today I found myself battling my nerves before a meeting with a casting director and I remembered that story. I searched through my bag, but there was nothing that would fit into my pants comfortably. So I snatched a red pen and drew a penis on my hand. Because I am a 12 year old. It’s not a great illustration. It looks like a nail with a cartoon dog mouth, but it gave me a chuckle.

Tomorrow I have a callback for a very dramatic role. The character is “poised” and “elegant,” but I, Tory Flack, will have a penis on the inside of my hand, which will not be cramped in terror.

Next Stop: Sports Illustrated.

First things first: I’ve got lots of shows coming up! Check out this page for more details.

A couple weeks ago I got an email from my manager asking me three questions:

1. What is your availability on October 13? (Totally free!!)

2. Are you comfortable around horses? (Um, YES)

3. Can you send me a picture of yourself in a bikini? (…)

I have no pictures of myself in a swimsuit. This is intentional. I once ate a photograph of myself. I ended up taking a mirror-selfie. In my underwear though, because I don’t know where my sexy Old Navy bikini wandered off to.

Glad to know that picture is now floating around on the Internet, waiting to surface when I’m up for a teaching position in rural North Carolina somewhere down the road. At least I’m smiling in it.

So, I was a little worried I’d have to ride a horse around in a swimsuit, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was a really, really great experience! There was a horse and a dog and a ton of beautiful dresses and really talented artists. I don’t have the pics yet, but here’s a video sneak peek:

https://vimeo.com/109299598

 

I wouldn’t call myself a model. In fact, the other model on set asked me if I would be doing her makeup.

“So what do you do when you’re not modeling?” she asked.

“Comedy.”

I had such a good time, that I wondered if maybe modeling is something I should look into. But LADIES, PLEASE! I love the Pizza.