True As It Can Be

A tale as old as time: Bette Midler has a one-woman show; a musical theatre performer flees her former professor. Last night, I saw I’ll Eat You Last, a one-woman biopic starring Bette Midler as the renowned show business agent Sue Mengers on the day Barbra Streisand fired her. A legend playing a legend talking shit about a legend. I needn’t say the adjective that best describes it. But I will: Legendary.

As we walked up to the theater, my friend spotted our former professor, a man whose approval I spent four years trying and failing to win, and I hid. In an almost silly way, like when a cat tries to sneak across the back of a sofa and falls off. I have a lot of affection for my old professor; he was tough but he gave me my first professional job. But last night, especially in the shadow of the Booth Theater, I just couldn’t face him.

I know that was silly. I have a great life and should be proud of it. The disappointment at having to change my path is small compared with all the great things I have now (improv, vacation time, self-esteem). I never regret leaving my old life until I run into someone from it.

Leaving theatre was the hardest thing I have ever done. Even though I do improv and cabarets, I feel like a fraud when I say I’m an actor. I’ve always defined an actor as someone who makes his or her living performing or someone whose main job and concern is finding the next working gig. I did that for five years; had I not had my vocal issues, I might still be doing it.

As I carted my shit from open call to EPA, a lot of my classmates and auditions friends dropped out of the business. They became teachers, they went to graduate school, they got married and left New York, they burned out. I always felt superior to these people, the ones who couldn’t hack it. I said terrible things, “I’m just jealous you found something you love as much as this. I wish I could,” “Rejection can really get to you,” “I must be sick because I like the challenges.”

How I wish someone had stopped me.

How I wish someone had stopped me.

I now know how much those comments and the condescension behind them hurt because people have said them to me. People who are still sticking it out; those who are working and those who aren’t. The fear of being judged and pitied by my peers kept me in auditions far longer than my love of performing. That’s neurotic and narcissistic but that’s show business kids, ‘cause all of us were neurotic and narcissistic in our childhoods, or something like that. The takeaway, I guess, is that any big life decision comes with some major trade-offs. I’m still working to feel like I don’t have to justify mine to other people. Maybe by the time Bette Milder does her next show, I’ll be ready.a little pun

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The Fly in the Ointment

Happy Sunday Internet! I have to say, this was one of my favorite weekends ever. A Friday night spent doing too many bits with my improv group to productively agree on dinner. A Saturday spent frustratingly waiting for someone to pick up my couch from Craigslist and then getting my own furniture delivered and being reminded why I’m glad to no longer be 22 (primarily because I wouldn’t keep someone waiting for four hours while I pretended to get a Uhaul to pick up a free couch) and catching up with Gigi, the Awesome Opossum, and the Marvelous Meerkat. A Saturday night doing my first show with our full improv team and then drinking with awesome friends. A Sunday beginning with old friends and ending with new ones. This was a great, great weekend.

Blog posts and Facebook status updates giving a laundry list of good (or bad) events over the past increment of time of someone’s life are so annoying. “I had the best sandwich I’ve ever had and then I did laundry and then I bought new shoes and then I watched Enchanted!” Who on Earth cares? But, maybe I shouldn’t be such a naysayer about the joy of others*. Life is hard. There is no perfection. There are no promises. No matter how many things are going right, there is always something that’s frustrating or sad or infuriating. There’s always someone wanting to keep you down or shut you up. It’s easy to get caught on that one frenemy or forehead zit. I’ve spent the better part of my life stuck on the chip in the glass, blinded to the perfectly chilled top shelf tequila inside of it. I’m consciously working to change that. I’m focussing on the good (of which there is so much) rather than lying awake at night obsessing about the thing that’s currently hard.

Much of that conscious change has to do with improv. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons in my time at UCB (tomorrow is my anniversary-wootwoot!). The biggest one is to unclench. I can’t plan. I can’t map out everything that’s going to happen today or tomorrow. There’s a difference between having dreams and goals and hopes, and pinning all my happiness on one specific outcome. Additionally, finding something to love and people to love it with is a huge gift.

By nature I’m a bratty pouter. I’ve thrown temper tantrums and been passive aggressive in ways that most mature adults can’t imagine. I’m trying to break those patterns. Counting blessings over curses is a step in the right direction. I’ll be referring back to this post a lot in the weeks and months to come.

*j/k, I’ll always be a snarky b-word** at heart.

**I’m scaling back on swearing for Lent. It’s not going great. I had to rewrite that footnote like seven times to not just say “bitch”. Oh…fuck! Sorry!…d-, f-, mothe—….crap!

Meme Mondays: I’ll Pick You Up

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Meme Mondays are proof that anyone can master technology but that really fancy, tight dresses and high heels are hard.

Bonus points to Jennifer Lawrence forever for making a quick joke about her fall and for not having a speech prepared. The extra double points go to Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper for jumping up to help her like the gentlemen they are. She didn’t need it, but they were right to offer aid. I want to be best friends with everyone involved.

I’m The Greatest Star…I Am By Far

As anyone familiar with my meteoric rise through the public school and community theaters of Greensboro knows, I am no stranger to early success. I get the heady rush of being bigger than yourself and everyone you ever cared about. It’s not easy, guys.

Like, I can totally relate to how Justin Bieber felt after he wasn’t nominated for a Grammy, because in elementary school I thought I was going be Dolly in Annie Get Your Gun, but it turns out they were only giving leads to eight graders. Like Justin, I fought back. I was the best chorus girl I could be; he livestreamed a concert simultaneously with the Grammys. Like Justin, my art was disrespected. I had to dance in the back because I’m tall; Justin’s show crashed his site. But in the end, we were each vindicated. The girl playing the Dolly stabbed a teacher with a pencil so I got her part and Justin Instagramed a shirtless pouty-face picture that people talked about.JBiebs

And I completely get where Lady Gaga is coming from with her whole refusing to settle with her “FORMER BEST FRIEND” and former personal assistant who is suing her for $380,000 in unpaid overtime. This person, Jennifer O’Neil, is a hater, just as my mom was a hater the time I left my character shoes at home before rehearsal for Godspell and she brought them to me, but was cranky about it. O’Neil thinks just because she was made to sleep in the same bed as her boss, wasn’t given breaks for meals, and wasn’t allowed to be off call for the entirety of Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour that she is entitled to overtime pay. What a bitch. Gaga has been perfectly reasonable, stating that she is “queen of the universe every day” and that her assistant is in the wrong for “not wanting to be a slave” to her. Despite everything, Gaga is helping. Even if she let Jennifer win the law suit, Gaga knows she’d just “go to Intermix and buy herself a new tube top.” Just like after dropping off my character shoes, my mom just used her afternoon to go home and take a nap. People never understand that serving an artist pays in honor.

If this girl doesn't know she could get the same tube top at American Apparel for less than $380k, she doesn't deserve the money.

If this girl doesn’t know she could get the same tube top at American Apparel for less than $380k, she doesn’t deserve that money.

But the celebrity struggle I can most identify with right now is obviously Kim and Kanye’s baby. Like, I’m sorry, but if that baby needs to get around airport security to make a connecting flight to LA, the TSA shouldn’t stand in its way. That baby is trying to grow inside of Kim Kardashian’s womb right now. He or she is busy. It’s just like that time I was late for The Wizard of Oz rehearsal because there was a bunch of traffic and my dad had to drive kind of fast to get there. When you are a gift, pedestrian strictures only inhibit what you’re giving to the world. I had to be at rehearsal and that baby needed to get through effing customs. Be grateful for us so we can be great for you.

Simple

Personal Liveblog About The Golden Globes

The Awesome Opossum and I have been liveblogging this entire awards show, but only on our phones, to each other. We might just try to get it together for the Oscars to do it here, but here’s a little taste of what we sound like when we are alone:

AO: Who would you rather hang out with? You HAVE to choose:

PP: Haha, ok

AO: Anne Hathaway or Taylor swift

PP: Oh sweet Jesus

AO: And either way you are going to run into Lena Dunham have to make small talker with her for 5 mins

PP: Taylor. She would be annoying but only about her personal life. I feel like Anne Hathaway only knows how to talk to strangers about her craft

PP: And you?

AO: Oh I would pick Anne

AO: I would really probably kill Taylor swift

AO: Or at least try to get her hooked in crack

PP: More details.

AO: I feel Anne at least is a grown up and can carry a conversation. Taylor would only talk about unicorns and cotton candy and give me tips on dating a high schooler

AO: Joaquin Phoenix just doesnt give a shit

PP: I would prefer the latter to having someone drone on about every moment of her acting career

AO: Fair

AO: I bet you really could convince Taylor to do crack so maybe that would be worth it

PP: I would probably be mean to Taylor and then I could have a song about me and her called “bad friend/sad friend”

AO: Haha that is a great plan

Say Hello To The Girl That I Am

Like always, Britney Spears and I are experiencing similar life changes. We’re both changing jobs. Britney is leaving the X-Factor. I just left my administrative position at a hedge fund. There are all sorts of rumors for both of our departures flying around. I’ll keep them neutral to protect both of our privacies: “She didn’t like sitting on the trading floor.” “She didn’t like having so much national scrutiny considering she’s still learning to cope after a very public, and recent, breakdown.” “She wanted more time with my kids.” “There was too much filing involved.” “She felt unheard.” “Not enough cheese grits on site.” “She wants to focus on her music.”

I feel like a lot of people have this gripe.

I feel like a lot of people have this gripe.

Longtime readers of the site know that, though I don’t like to name drop, Britney and I are very close. I wouldn’t say she’s my BEST FRIEND, a slot occupied by the Awesome Opossum, but I would say that she is up there. We have a lot in common: we both love her music, are from the South, and we both know who Britney Spears is. And it’s like, I get that she has to do what’s best for her, but I do feel a little like she’s copying me. Like, I’m always like, “Oh Britney, I’m leaving my job to go back to my old company,” and then she’s like, “Oh, um, me too! I’m leaving my $15 million contract with Fox to go back to making music.” It just feels a little like she’s copying me. Like, I know she’s leaving hers, but it was my idea to take a break from being professional musicians and get desk jobs. And like, in 2006 I broke up with this college football player I was seeing for three weeks in Colorado and then she got divorced from Kevin Federline. And then, like, in 2007 I totally forgot to go in for my hosting shift at my new fancy restaurant job and almost got fired, which totally freaked me out. And she had to go and shave her head and whack cars with umbrellas and hang out with Paris Hilton, and it’s like, Brits, can’t I just have this one thing?Ugh

But, benefit of the doubt, neither of us was that happy at our job. Britney was meant to spread joy and hip beats, not shatter the dreams of people who are also too fragile to probably be on national television. I am meant to file less often. In the end, we’re both happier, which is just going to make our friendship stronger.

If She Keeps It Up I Just Might Tell Her So

Last Thursday, I went to my old midtown restaurant to have dinner at the bar and catch up with my restaurant friends. I ordered a glass of white wine and an appetizer. I chatted with the Party Lion while she made martinis. Then two ladies walked in and I was able to employ my favorite pastime: eavesdropping.

What I always look like in public.

What I always look like in public.

Both ladies were blonde and older enough than me that we would not have attended elementary school at the same time. One was slender (Blonde #1), the other a little heavier (Blonde #2). #2 opened with her recent thirty pound weight gain. I don’t know if she gained it all that day or if she’d just had a moment of truth (like getting weighed at the doctor) or something, but man, she went on and on about it.

As I sat on my bar stool of judgment, I assured my blonde neighbors that I would out shortly and they would be welcome to my seat in the middle of the crowded bar. #1 asked what I was eating. The Party Lion leaned over the bar and explained the smoked salmon, arugula, crème fraiche, and homemade potato crisps. I exclaimed it was delicious, to which #1 replied, leaning in closely, “Mmmm, that means it’s full of calories!”The essence

What. The. Fuck. Seriously, what the fuck? Who says that to a stranger? I was so shocked that I just laughed and looked at the Party Lion who, as a tipped employee, remained neutral with her face, but not her eyes. Suddenly the diatribe on thirty pounds made a lot more sense. I felt bad for judging  #2 so quickly. Her friend (#1) was a bitch. It’s possible that all #2’s talk about her body was just to preempt snarky comments cloaked in well-meaning concern. It’s also possible that I’m projecting, but probably not.

Ladies, if you have a friend who makes you feel bad about yourself do not hang out with that friend. This is a hard lesson, especially if your not-nice friend is someone you admire or a horrible bitch who has shamed you into feeling lucky to be her friend. Shame is a powerful tool for women, especially regarding appearance, career, sexual partners, Halal restaurant choices, babies, not wanting to wear heels, not being able to curl one’s eyelashes, etc. Women are taught to want to please, and that goes double for friendship. It’s easy to get lost in that. I have had not-nice friends who’ve said mean things to me and made me feel like I deserved to hear them because I didn’t measure up in some way. It takes a long time to get over that stuff, and a lot of good friends to erase the words of the bad. If someone isn’t kind to me now, they don’t get to play with me. I don’t have time to have my self-esteem crushed every couple of weeks over brunch. Friends don’t meanly snark at each other. We have the cast of The Jersey Shore for that.

Barbara's definition of "interesting" gets broader and broader every year.

Barbara’s definition of “interesting” gets broader and broader every year.

It’s a Bitter Sweet Symphony


“When a relationship dies do we ever really give up the ghost or are we forever haunted by the spirits of relationships past?”

-Sex and the City

(I totally hate myself for posting that quote.)

I am always astounded when I run into someone I know by chance. If I run into him or her on the subway, I am dumbfounded that we are both taking public transportation, let alone the same line, let alone the same car. What are the odds of that?! I don’t actually want to know. Statistics ruin the magic of kismet.

You take the subway too?!?!

You take the subway too?!?!

Yesterday, even more improbably, I ran into someone I knew on the street. She was my first New York City best friend. The year was 2007. We were two non-Equity babies sitting in a sea of non-Equity babies waiting to be seen for an audition we knew we were not going to be seen for. A group of people sitting on the non-Eq benches with us were snarking about the various auditioners audible through the walls. Our eyes locked and simultaneously rolled. And the rest is BFF history. Except for all the parts where we let each other down, and accidentally insulted each other, and stood each other up. It was a fast friendship but not built to last.

On the record, I hate Sex and the City. It is the worst one-dimensional portrayal of women and their friendships of all time. Plus, all my friends always make me the Miranda. But in Season 4, Episode 5, entitled “Ghost Town” (I didn’t always hate Sex and the City), Carrie feels New York is haunted by people from her past. The city is just big enough that you can forget about someone meaningful who has left your life, but not so big that they stay gone. Whenever I run into someone from my serious auditioning days I think of that episode, which causes me shame and peace in equal measure. Those years gave me a tough skin and a biting sense of humor. The people I came up with were a vital support system and I’ll always love them for that.

I love Cynthia Nixon, but my friends don't say I'm like Cynthia Nixon.....

I love Cynthia Nixon, but my friends don’t say I’m like Cynthia Nixon…..

My old BFF, who incidentally is always the Carrie of all her friends, looked great. She seemed happy. We’ve both pulled back from the audition scene that bonded us and subsequently made us insane. We’re both thinner and with shinier hair. My ghost looked great. I hope hers did as well.

Available at tinyzoo.wikia.com

Available at tinyzoo.wikia.com