My favorite thing about Christmas is creating the perfect present. The perfect gift is one that is personal, creative, and makes the recipient cry. This is that gift. It only took 20 hours, but totally worth those Christmas tears. This is an album of me and my sister’s adventure in Europe. These are some of my favorite sister memories. I hope that some day we can have another adventure equally as awesome.
I did it. My first art venue. My artwork was featured in an art event where I had my very own venue to fill with anything I wanted. Second Saturday Art Night is put on by the Shasta Arts Council in Redding and every second Saturday of the month from 5-8pm local artists are featured at participating businesses around town. It is free and anyone can drive around town and look at art and enjoy the appetizers. I enjoyed being an observer at these events and was encouraged to be one of the artists of the month.
So tonight I did it. I had my artwork up at a local real estate company which was located in a prime spot for the Art Hop. From 5-8pm I talked to guests and did my best to schmooze (so that’s how you spell it), which is not one of my best qualities. Luckily, the wine helped bring down a few walls. Most people who came in gave me positive responses and encouragement. Everything went without a hitch. People came, ate, drank, saw, and then it was over. It went smoothly. So why am I fighting back tears? Why do I feel so discouraged? Why do I feel like I’ve just been intimate with someone who doesn’t even remember my name? It’s not like I had a bad experience. It’s like I’m laying in bed naked while a stranger tells me, “hey you’re pretty good kid. I’ll see ya around.” and then walks out the door. I didn’t fail. I satisfied. Didn’t I? But it was a one night stand not love at first sight. As I left the venue and headed over to meet my boyfriends family at a near by bar to listen to some live music the feeling started to sink in. Am I loveable? Am I good enough to love? I sat down at our table and I felt like I was drifting. Somber waves were coming over me. At first I didn’t know what was happening. I had fun tonight. Right? Why do I instantly feel alone? Why do I feel so small? I just accomplished something. I had an art show. I am getting my name out there. I’m networking. I told myself it’s not about about selling anything even though I desperately hoped I would. Wait… I did sell something, but my boyfriend’s mom doesn’t count. That’s like a sympathy sale. I want to be loved. As my party leaves the bar I’m left alone at a big table listening to the soothing yet sad voice of a touring Swedish folk singer. I try fight the tears that are attempting to stain my face. This singer performing is trying to be loved just like I attempted. I love her. I think it would be harder to sing my way into love than just hang it on the walls. Even though there are die hard fans for singers rather than artists; The Beatles, Elvis, Katy Perry. No one buys 300 dollar tickets and waits all day crammed with 100,000 people to see a photo shoot with Annie Lebovitz… who’s that? My point exactly. But singing is never ending. You don’t get to hang it on the wall and be finished.
I hate the feeling that my surroundings are the only thing holding back the well that is close to overflowing. I know that once I leave the table and walk outside my body will release what small restraint it had left. This knowledge makes me stay. A small part of me wants to get the crying over with. I just want to purge myself of this emotion. I notice a tip jar on the stage. I want to encourage this artist. I decide I’ll tip her before I leave. I don’t know what is keeping me at this bar all alone listening to music from this folk singer who is keeping my emotions raw. Then the singer says she’s had bad days. She tells us and by us I think she is speaking only to me, that her dad once told her that being a successful artist isn’t how many cds you sell or how many states you tour in that it is about never giving up. Nothing could have been more perfect and horrifying to hear in that moment. I don’t know why that when you are upset that those perfect words that you needed to hear make you more emotional instead of cheer you up. Now I really wanted out of there to let the flood invade my face. I waited till she was done to give her a 10 dollar tip. I didn’t want to tip her that much, but I felt that I should. I knew it would be a little encouragement and that any amount of encouragement as an artist can make a difference between pressing on and giving up. I made it to my car before I broke down. It’s just so hard and vulnerable pursuing art. As I drove I tried to suck it up, as if tears make you more sad so if you fight the tears the emotion will be defeated. When that didn’t work I thought maybe if I just sob and heave then it will get out of my system sooner. I decided to purge, but I refrained from compounding my pain with pity using examples of how hard my life is right now; I have no money, I’m not good enough, I’m still battling an injury, I live at home, woe is I. I refused to take pity on myself. I don’t want to wallow. I want to get whatever this emotion is far away from me. I’m hoping that I will run out of tears and exhaust myself into indifference. I make it home just at the peak of my despair. As I turn my car off and put my head on the steering wheel my dog, Vive, jumps onto my window. She is so excited to see me. Doesn’t she realize I’m having a breakdown. As she jumps frantically around my car searching for a way to reach me my mind shifts. It feels great to have a friendly face who doesn’t care about how my day went. She is just so happy I’m home. Laughter starts to permeate through my sobs before it over takes them. Now I’m just laughing. This stupid dog has robbed me of my despair. It’s over. I pick myself up and walk inside. It’s not about how many pieces I sell or who likes my art, it’s that I never give up. I won’t give up.
I had my first art show. I’ve put my art up in Starbucks and been in a church bazaar, but nothing where I was with other artists at a venue centered around art. The show was at a local bar called Maxwells which promotes local musicians and artists from time to time. The way this came about was that a friend was talking to my sister about an art show she was trying to get together and was looking for some new artists to feature. Well my lovely sister mentioned she should include me. Fortunately, I was standing near by and agreed to it immediately.
I’ve always done photography and tried some art classes here and there, but never imagined myself as an artist. Artists can draw for one. My handwriting isn’t even legible and if you can’t draw letters what hope is left for everything else. Some people assume I can draw because I’m creative in other ways until they are on my team in pictionary and they quickly learn when you assume you make a loser out of you and me.
Anywho. Another reason I never considered an art path was because I figured if you were good fame and recognition would naturally follow. Since I’m clearly not famous (except when I’m mistaken for Megan Rapinoe) that must mean I’m not good enough. I wanted to know what would make me good enough. So as I spent some time getting to know my art professors. I realized that there is much more to art than just being naturally awesome. No one will ever know how good you are if you keep all your work in the studio. This shouldn’t have come as a shock. I guess I figured I’d just be dead when my grandchildren stumbled upon my great works and they made millions with my instant popularity. So what if I want fame before I die? Well… promotion. Art is about promotion. Just like in any industry it’s all about who you know. This was disheartening. I think I like the glamor when I’m dead thing more. Promoting myself requires interaction with others. Interaction with others. It’s not that I don’t play nice with others. It’s just that I don’t play nice with others. I have a low tolerance for small talk so I avoid it. This means I avoid most basic human interactions. Now you can try to analyze why I’m like this. Oh she is insecure, homeschool didn’t develop her social skills, she’s an elitist, just too cool for everyone, ect. I think some people just aren’t social. Not antisocial. I’m not a recluse. I just don’t bullshit very well. Now I’m learning that if I want to become successful I have to bullshit all the time. Now some of you wouldn’t call promoting yourself or networking bullshitting, but then maybe it comes natural to you so it doesn’t feel like you are trying to poop rainbows. For me networking feels like I’m working. Work where I try to convince you I’m a valuable asset to you and if we work together it will benefit you some way. For me it feels fake. I can’t narrow down my interactions with people I enjoy conversing with. Now need to include everyone because you never know what or who someone knows. How does this not feel forced, fake, bullshit? How do you know if people even enjoy talking to each other or if they are just trying to sell themselves? This just doesn’t seem fair. Why do some people get the naturally ability to network while others get anxiety over the thought of it?
OK. Back on topic. So promoting myself is a challenge. I’m trying to stay humble while convince you I’m awesome… because I am awesome (shameless promotion through blog). Over the past few months I’ve tried to “promote” myself, which has lead me to this art show. Well technically my sister promoted me, but thats what networking is about… right? After I got secured as an artist to the art show I’ve been preparing all my work. Picking out new pictures to get printed. Buying new frames. Learning how to build my own frames, cut out mattes (ruined 3 before I just went out and bought the right size), and how to hang a piece. Then a week before the show I get a DJ gig. It’s always like that. Every weekend is free then two events on the same night. Now it was art show or DJ gig? Both! I had a feeling I wouldn’t make it to the art show and I was secretly relieved. First there’s no feeling like no one is buying your art. Second socializing. It was my two greatest stressors together and I wasn’t going to be too upset if the DJ gig went too long. So the morning of I set up my art. There was 3 of us and it still took 2 hours. Now off to the DJ gig where I attempted to promote myself… “ummm can I give you some business cards?” Ya real confident. Now for this wedding the couple had a strict play by playlist going between their Ipad and dvd player. Most people don’t realize that what you want to hear in your house or jamming in your car isn’t always what you want to hear on the dance flour. During the 30 minutes of live Bruce Springsteen playing on the dvd player people started to complain. Now I had a feeling this would happen, but I always want to respect my clients wishes. Well they threw out their wishes and gave me a please fix it plea. Unfortunately, all I had was their iPad and my iPhone to work with. Luckily I’m a damn good DJ and I was able to hurry and put together all the dance music. You say you don’t like Michael Jackson, but then you hear it on the dance floor and notice everyone else dancing and then you just happen to know all the words to “Beat It”. The party at first looked like it was winding down and I get out early and make the art show. Thank you Springsteen. Then my awesomeness intervened and I went past our scheduled time. It’s a pride thing. If you are dancing then I’m doing my job and let’s be honest, how sad was I really going to be for missing the awkward art show. Even though I did want to see my art up on the wall again. It looked pretty darn good. Oh bummer I didn’t make it. Nothing sold, but at least I didn’t have to be there hoping some big art connoisseur was going to join the party during the last 30 minutes. Also, none of the other artists sold anything either. Well hello misery so glad you could join us. I have a couple more things lined up, but I’m afraid discouragement is going to kick in soon. Tell then I’ll just keep trying to poop rainbows.
Do you remember that scene in “Happy Gilmore” when Happy’s grandma gets put into a rest home where they use the elderly as free labor and one of the “nurses” (Ben Stiller) continues to berate and belittle everyone. Well it’s not exactly like that, but close. Close enough that my heart hurts from the way that my grandma is being treated. Now she isn’t forced to knit sweaters or run a hamster wheel, instead all her dignity is stripped and she is left immobile in her tiny apartment only to come out when it’s feeding time. She used to live in her own house with a yard, living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen, backyard, in a small community where when she walked her dog friendly faces would wave at her. It was my uncle’s idea to move her. He said that she wasn’t stable enough to live on her own. Regrettably she is losing her memory. She isn’t forgetting places or faces, but short-term conversations. She will tell me the same story 3 times within 10 minutes. I just let her tell it. Or I’ll help her finish it. Or say what a great story it is. I have an overwhelming amount of patients with my grandma. This should be considered normal to some people, but sense I have absolutely no patience for anything else it is my only time to see this virtue at it’s peak performance. Back to gma. I completely understand being concerned for your ailing parent. You don’t want to worry that she will fall or something will happen and no one will be there. So you would think that the “retirement home” (old people hotel) would have nurses on staff or a daily caretaker, or someone around to check on her, making sure she is taking her pills, coming to meals, keeping up with hygiene. Otherwise what is the point of moving her all the way across town! Further away from the only grandchildren who visit her. Further away from town. Only closer to death. Not only did my uncle move her without my consent he did it without my mother’s. Unfortunately, before my gpa died he assigned my uncle as my gma’s caretaker. Supposedly he has last say. Not sure if it’s officially documented somewhere, but for his sake I hope it is. But for now he moved her into this small sterile retirement center as far out of town as it could be while still being in the same zip code. Before it would take me 10 minutes to get to my grandma’s and then another 10 to take her into town. Now it takes me close to 30 and another 15 to get back into town. I know what you might be thinking, “shouldn’t I be glad that there are people around her to take care of her so I don’t have to worry?” Well I would be comforted if that were the case. But no one comes and checks on her. She doesn’t have a weekly or monthly doctor that gives her checkups. If she misses a meal no one goes to see if she is ok. If she falls or hurts herself no one will know. I’m more worried about her now than I ever was. Before she was always eager to get out of the house. We’d go out for lunch or we’d cook dinner or cookies. Now all I can do is bring a take n bake pizza out to the only over in the facilities “activity” room. Due to what they are feeding her she is putting on weight. She just sits in front of the tv and waits for meal time. How is this the way to treat your mother?
Now for the worst part… my Aunt. She is my uncle’s second wife that he married secretly because he knows how much the whooooole family hates her. Detest might be a better word. You know that teacher in Harry Potter that worked for the Ministry. Professor Umbridge I think it was. She would show up in her pink tweed outfit with her high pitched giggles and cat portraits and terrorize the students. That’s this lady. Her outer demeanor might seem genuine if you are either an idiot or a Death Eater. The worst part is that she calls my gma mom. This demon calls my gma something only saved for my mom and the few daughters-in-laws that have earned it. She calls her mom, but then treats her like a child. A slow-witted child. She finds away to take away all my grandma’s independence and dignity with a smile on her face and a concerned tone. For example, my gma gets her hair done at JcPenny’s ya they have a salon in there. Well instead of letting my gma pay for her new do when she is done the witch tells the salon worker’s to wait for her supervision before my gma can pay. I mean how could she mess up handing over someone a credit card. So they summon Lord Voldemort over to take my gma’s credit card and hand it to them. Really? Then last week my gma passed out and was taken to the emergency room at noon. My mom wasn’t called till 5pm. Now if you are 20 and you pass out you might not call everyone to scare them, but when an 83 year old passes out something could be fatal. I understand my mom’s rage when she found out. Even though my mom tried to calm herself she was obviously upset when she said that she needed to be called immediately next time. Acceptable I’d say. Well Ursala says to my sister, “oh wow does your mom nag you all the time too?” So you might be thinking… Aspergers disease? I mean while else would she think she could talk shit about my mother to my sister. So maybe she is more like those dumb laughing hyenas in “The Lion King”*
You might be wondering why this women is always around harassing my gma. Well did I mention my gma is rich. I don’t know how rich, but rich enough to start checking my gma’s pills to make sure nothing deadly is slipped in Sometimes my family will call and Jiffar answers the phone and says my gma isn’t feeling well and to make it a quick conversation. I’ve even seen a note that Scar left by the toilet that read “Wipe from front to back -Love Lucifer”. The first time I saw it I immediately ripped it down and threw it away. How degrading is that? I wish I could wipe my ass on that women’s face. Well the next time I was there the sign was up again. “She who shall not be named” took it out of the garbage and posted it up again. She didn’t know it was me that took it down. My gma could have been disgusted and embarrassed and took it down herself. Where is the decency? So this time when I ripped down the side I peed on it. Wiped with it from front to back… cause it really is the only way to wipe. Then I threw it away uuuughain. Then today there it was again sitting on the sink. With my pee stains all over it. I just had to laugh. Laugh cause Satan touched my pee and probably didn’t wash her hands before eating. My pee is in her mouth. I did wipe my ass with her face. I didn’t have a bowel movement coming so I just threw it away again. Even though it was my own pee I still picked it up with a tissue. Gross.
Ok this is the last thing. Big thing. Today I went to take my gma shopping and out to dinner. I know she likes JcPenny’s. Gotta love those bargains. I even had picked out a nice restaurant for us too. I was excited. I get to her prison and she can’t find her credit cards. Sinking feeling. Not just cause my gma usually insists on paying for dinner, but because I knew it had reached a new stage of dependency. Sure enough she calls my uncle to ask where her cards are and I can hear him tell her that he just gave her money. So I guess the new system is that he gives her a $20 every now and then and holds on to her credit card. Yep. Now the dream team has total control over her finances. She can’t even go shopping. I’m livid. How does this guy with his devil wife get away with this? The worst part is that they have made her feel like she can’t handle it and that they are doing her a favor. Oh “mom” we will hold on to your credit cards for you so you don’t lose them when you sit on the couch watching tv not allowed to go anywhere with your grandchildren. Besides btween the couch and the bathroom where you wipe front to back you might unintentionally donate all your money to the Obama’s.
Can something be done? I still take my gma shopping. I mean it’s JcPenny’s even I can buy her something there. Of course she is no longer in the mood to shop like most people are when they realize that their wallet has just been stolen. I buy her some See’s candies and we combine her $20 allowance with mine to get some decent dinner. No one will stop me from enjoying time with my gma, but someone is taking away her joy and I don’t know what to do. I tell my mom to step in, but she get’s too emotional. I hate this. I hate it when people no longer fend for themselves. When they let go cause others have told them that they can’t take care of themselves. I hope some day soon that… ummm… darn I’m running out of evil villans… Darth Vader’s spawn throws her into a nursing home to wither and mold while someone with bad breath and cold hands changes her burlap diaper.
*the reason all my examples are from movies are:
1. I love movies
2. my bf says my analogies are usually terrible so when I use them I try to stick with what I know
Every time life lifts up my head to grab a few breaths something dark and unknown comes and dunks my head under water. I’m back to gasping, flailing, sinking. All I want is a deep breath. To fill my lungs with fresh air. To my chest expand as I take in my source of life. Why most I thrash in dark murky waters fearing what is lurking underneath? This is my life as an artist.
I finally did my first solo DJ gig. I was so nervous. My biggest fear was technical problems that I wouldn’t know how to fix. Doesn’t matter if I pick all the best songs and mix them well that even Grandma Mimi is dancing if the speakers fail and the music stops. When me and the DJ I worked with met with our client the week prior he brought the equipment for me because he wasn’t going to be able to make it to the gig due to a family death. We set up the equipment in my dad’s shop and I recorded where every plug went and what the vital buttons did. I had spent the days leading up to the gig downloading music. I made sure I had the specific songs; processional, recessional, first dance, cake cutting…ect. The bride music preference was slow rock or easy listening… No one can dance to that. Even though I did my best to clutter my iTunes with her long list of elevator music I hoped that once everyone was dancing she wouldn’t care to hear Third Eye Blind or Matchbox 20. Also, she was a country fan. Ugh. Other than heavy metal country is my weak spot. So I spent a couple days jammin with Swift, Chesney, McGraw. If you don’t know who that is then lucky you. I guess it could be worse. Screamo wedding? I would have to double my price.
So I downloaded hundreds of new songs… and by download I mean pirated. Did I say this was my first solo gig? No way can I afford to buy every album. I was excited for the wedding. The day of the event I got help setting up the equipment. The wedding was upstairs and even a buff chick like me could use an extra hand, speakers aren’t light. The wedding went off without a hitch. Everything sounded great, no technical issues, and I got everyone on the dance floor. I love seeing people sing and dance along to songs they enjoy. My next favorite thing about being a DJ is when I’m packing up people of all ages let me know how much they enjoyed the music and how I would mix it up between new songs and oldies they grew up with. However, I still got to work on my MC skills. Next on the list is to pick a DJ name.
You know those days when you open you’re eyes and you are overwhelmed with fatigue and it stays with you all day? I was dreading my long day and the struggle my eyelids would have against me. Just stay open for 10 more hours. I love busy days, but right now I’d kill for tomorrow to come sooner. Kill.
I was so prepared for a bad grumpy day, but was sleepily surprised. My first stop of the day was to check on video camera. Very knowledgeable guy gave me all the info I need well except how to afford them. For a Canon 5D the body alone is $3,000. What’s so special about this camera you might ask. Well since I’ve been educated let me tell you. The Canon 5D has become the standard for filmmakers. I mean Spielberg isn’t using one, but the directors of the show House are. What’s great about this SLR (single lens reflex) is that it not only takes pictures at 28 megapixels, but also HD video. With the add on lenses you have control over your depth of field unlike in a standard video camera. There are 2 problems with this camera. One is that the internal microphone is useless. You have to buy an external mic which aren’t cheap either. Second problem is with the auto focus. It doesn’t have one while filming. So if you’re recording and your subject moves out of focus you have to focus them manually. This can get really tricky if you are shooting wildlife, sports, or documentaries. It is rumored that Canon is coming out with a new camera in a month or two and possibly the focus problem will be fixed.
I guess I’ll just wait for the new one that comes out the decade I can afford it. When I walked into the store I thought maybe $1,500 or the most $2,000 was what I had to save up for not $3,000 plus an extra $1,000 for some lenses and a microphone. Who is buying these? No wonder they are being used in the film industry because no average hobbyist could afford it. Including me.
Here is what the lovely camera looks like. Isn’t it beautiful? If anyone wants to donate some money to my camera cause I will humbly accept. Or if you are one of the lucky millions that has one and is tired of it not being put to use I will gladly take it off your hands. Or you can make an investment and I will make you a beautiful video.
30 days left. I’ve chosen a path. I don’t know what this path looks like. I don’t know where this paths leads me. I look at this allusive path and it’s dark. It’s scary. But its mysterious. It looks like adventure, success, pain, doubt, but freedom. Freedom for the average. I’ve decided to be an entrepreneur. No more job interviews. No more being controlled by the man. Freedom. So here is what I’m doing.
I’m moving towards something. I’m not sure what. I’m moving slowly, but anything is better than stagnant. So far I’ve taught one tennis lesson, put up my art in a gallery, had DJ beat matching lessons, and filmed a promo. Only 2 out of 4 have income, but I’m hoping to bat 1000 in the future. It’s amazing how expensive life is. I need about $500 a month to survive. But I don’t want to just survive. I want to live, invest, enjoy freedom.
37 long grueling days of work left before I quit to pursue something better. 37 days fast intense days to find another source of income. What am I going to do? I have a long list of ways to get by, but nothing substantial. No career path. I just don’t know what I want to do. Well I know what I want, but don’t know how to get there. How does one become a National Geographic Explorer? How does one travel the world documenting what’s going on in places we have never heard of? How does one tell stories of people that we know nothing about? How do we love the unknown? I don’t know how but I do. I love what I don’t know. I love places I’ve never been and people I’ve never met. I love tastes that I could never imagine and experiences I couldn’t have written myself. I love not knowing what the day will bring. I’m not looking for security. I’m not looking for a husband, a job with a good maternity leave, and a house in a safe neighborhood for kids. I’m looking for adventure. I want a life worth telling. I want a life you could read about in books and magazines. I want a life worth living. What I have now I wouldn’t call a life. I’m not living. I’m surviving. I’m passing time. Wasting away. I’m a vegetable and no one has had the courage to pull the cord. Life is my feeding tube. But recently my eyes have begun to flicker. I think might hand might have twitched. Wait it looks like their might be some brain activity. The doctor says I’ll never be the same though. I’ve killed too many brain cells in my coma-like life. Is it too late? Never. I feel the fog lifting. I can hear voices. My eyes aren’t open yet, but the voices are there. The voices are back telling me I’m going to live. I’m going to pull through. It’s not over. There is so much left for you. There are aromas you haven’t smelled. Flavors you have yet to taste. Places to go and so many sites to see. Hearts you have yet to touch. Life you have yet to live. It is all waiting for you. Just hold on. Wake up. Open your eyes. Come to life. Breath. Take out the tubes of mediocrity crippling you. Wake up Amy. As I struggle to come to life I feel fear. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what I’m able to do. Will I ever run again? Can I leave the comfort of the known. The comfort of being average. The comfort of not failing due to not trying. What if I fail? Can failing be worse than this numbness. Can trying be worse than feeling like a victim to unfair circumstances? What if I’m not good enough? Is it worse than knowing I’m better than to live out my remaining days in a coma? What can you accomplish in a coma? All you can do is imagine how you were made for something more. She was so young. She had so much life yet to live before she put herself coma of average. It’s like a dream the moment before you wake when you realize you are dreaming. You are relieved it’s just a dream. There is the small voice that says wake up. Hurry and wake up. You are going to be ok. This isn’t real. This coma isn’t real. It’s just a dream, more of a nightmare where you run and run but your legs are heavy. So heavy. You know you can run faster, but the lead in your legs is slowing you down. If you could just run as fast as you know you can run you’d make it to safety. The bad guy wouldn’t catch you. Legs Run!!! Wake up Amy. I’m awake. I can run. I can breathe. I’m ready to live. Life what do you have for me? I don’t need any more insecurity. I’ve had my share of doubt. Give me the good stuff. Give me what you have given the heroes. Give me hope. Give me life. If you don’t give it to me I will take it. I will take it and never give it back. I will be great. Nothing will stop me. I’m ready. Even though my muscles have atrophied and my mind is muddled. I can’t remember what greatness feels like I know it feels great. My coma has made me realize how wonderful life is. The soreness my body feel reminds me that I was made to move. Move mountains. Move hearts. So I’m at the starting line. I’m down in a runner’s start position. My muscles are twitching in nerves and anticipation. I look around and no one else is around. Where are the other runner’s? When will the gun blast? When do I start? I’m ready. Someone tell me when to start. Judge? Wait is this a sprint or marathon? Am I prepared. Just give me the sign to go. My muscles start to relax. I’m waiting. Maybe I should stretch some more? No I feel ready. Let’s go. If I’m to run alone in this race why do I need someone to tell me when to start. Start now Amy. Now? I didn’t hear a bang, a go, or start. You don’t need one. This is your life. Just go. Now? Yes. RUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!
Good evening Mr. bond
I just finished my first ever monologue for the intermediate acting class. I know I know. Compared to how terrifying the last class was you’re surprised I would torment myself again. Glutton for punishment. Last class was miserable but I squeaked out without doing a monologue. Which was a blessing since it wasn’t really a monologue. This class we were supposed to prepare a monologue and be ready to play 10 measures of music using an instrument that we’ve never played before. Crazy huh? It took me 3 days to decide if I still wanted to take the class. I waited till the Wednesday before the class to register. After much convincing and self determination. I searched for hours online for a monologue. Finally my mom stumbled on one that was a perfect fit. It was a bond girl. One of the smart ones not the dumb blondes that dies after having sex with Bond. Then my dad gave me his harmonica for my other performance. I picked “Blowin in the wind”, by Dylan cause I knew the rhythm. Even though when I played it you couldn’t tell. I was terrified. My sister being present in this class was only a small condolence. She was going to sing for her instrument. I know that’s cheating. Exactly what I told her. She definitely has used that instrument before. And she didn’t prepare a monologue. Can you believe it?! My sister who always talked about being an actress refused to prepare a monologue. Ridiculous. She says it’s not fear though. Who believes that? Not I.
We started the class with some exercises that gets everyone moving and interacting. Next was our music audition. Everything was intense. Every performance was taken to a new level by the instructor, Di. I was nervous what extra stipulation would be added to my performance. Anna didn’t sign up to play her “instrument”. Don’t worry it’s not due to fear.
In one person’s performance she had everyone get involved by dancing or playing music. After 20 minutes we took a break. I looked at my watch and it was only 12:30. I still had 4.5 hours to go. Me and my sis grabbed some grub and headed back to the room of vulnerability. My sister talked to the instructor about her song and that she wasn’t sure she was ready to take acting seriously. Or something like that to get out of it. Well we didn’t go back to the performing music, but shifted to some other exercises. The instructor had us all get in a circle and had one young man walk around the circle and make eye contact with everyone. We were all supposed to give off love and encouragement to help him open up and prepare the space for our monologues. Well after he went around the circle multiple times with multiple instructions Di introduced him to each person and said something about the love that person was giving off. Well when they made their way to Anna, Di told the man that Anna had a song for him. So then she asked Anna to sing her song. Glorious!!! Get out of that one. Oh the look on Anna’s face. I had to hold back my chuckle. Anna hesitated to get her bearings then sang to the boy and everyone else in the circle. The lyrics went perfectly with the scenario. It was a worship song about going through a valley with God and about being accepted for who you were. It was only about 15 seconds, but I think it made a difference in the guy’s demeanor.
After this exercise people started to do their monologues. The first one was from Shakespeare. The girl did an amazing job and Di pushed her to even more amazement. The rest after that seemed to be the same level of seriousness and intensity. I purposefully avoided a monologue that would cause me to yell, cry, or act crazy. I guess in the acting world the more intense the better. As time started to slip away Anna slipped out the back door and off to work. There was one more hour left till I got to escape and I had yet to perform. I was not so secretly hoping that I would dodge another bullet. During a break someone said they had to leave early so he would like to go next. Di said she wanted to make sure everyone got a chance and wanted to know if anyone else had to leave early. I didn’t want to say anything, but since she asked I couldn’t very well sneak out innocently any longer. So I was second. The guy had chosen a calm serious scene that he was having a hard time getting any emotion out of … now I know why actors choose intensity… it’s easier to portray. Having to portray a less obvious and intense emotion can be a lot more challenging. Sadness is crying. Anger is yelling. Joy is laughing. But what about contempt. Or smugness. I look at my watch for the 176 time that day and I have 15 minutes before work. I’m gonna get off the hook… “Who’s up?… Amy.” Damn!
Di asked me what I needed in the scene. James Bond. So after I briefly explained my character and the scene I took a deep breath… and died. Some part in my died. The part that had never done a monologue. The part in me that thought I would never act. The part that told me I wasn’t good enough. The part that apologized when I walked in the room. The part that feared failure to the point I never tried. That part died and another part of me was born. I was alive. I was doing it. I was failing and being ok. I was acting… well… for two lines before Diane stopped me. She said I was acting as if I’d seen the movie and was just trying to portray what I saw. She asked me all sorts of questions to help me understand where I was coming from in the scene.
Is your character smart?
Is she a virgin?
What relationship does Bond have with you?
I have just met him and I want to prove I’m just as smart and good as he is.
So this is a competition?
And he might ask you to have sex with you later?
After starting then being told to stop again I thought I wasn’t going to get through this. I just wanted to run out of the room. Di told me to quit trying to act. I wasn’t adding the attitude which is why I picked this monologue. I’m a jock I know how to banter. I know how to put a guy in his place. I shifted in my seat and put Bond is his place. Here was my monologue.
Casino Royale (2006)
by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis
Vesper: Alright, by the cut of your suit you went to Oxford or wherever, and naturally think
human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn’t come
from money. And your school friends never let you forget it. Which means you were at that
school by the grace of someone else’s charity. Hence the chip on your shoulder. And since
your first thought about me ran to orphan, that’s what I’d say you are…
Oh, you are? I like this poker thing. And that makes perfect sense. Since MI6 looks for
maladjusted young men, who give little though to sacrificing others in order to protect Queen
and country. You know, former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches. Rolex?
Ah, Omega. Beautiful.
Now having just met you I wouldn’t go as far as calling you a cold hearted bastard. But it
wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine. You think of women as disposable pleasure rather than
meaningful pursuits. So as charming as you are, I’ll be keeping my eye on our government’s
money, and off your perfectly formed ass.
Even accountants have imagination. Good evening, Mr. Bond.
I did it. Everyone in the room started clapping. Di told me how proud she was of me. I did it. I can’t believe it. It felt good. I felt the I said the lines how they were supposed to be said. I had conquered that fear. I had to immediately run out of the room and head to work. I felt invincible. On the way to work I was hot, flushed, on a high. I can do anything.
Today was a turning point in my life. I took a step through a door that I have kept shut my whole life. I took a step closer to my dreams and destiny. I took an acting class. It was terrifying. To some people this might not seem like a big deal. Just like sky diving might not seem like a big deal to me, but if you have acrophobia (fear of heights) then it’s a different story. Well today I was an acrophobic sky diving. I felt like I leaped off a cliff. Now this torment wasn’t my idea. My sister begged me to take the class with her and my mom proceeded to prod me. I figured it was time to face my fears, but really I was hoping I wouldn’t be too involved. That would be a false hope as I received an email telling me to prepare a monologue for class. What?! I have to act?! Immediately I was ready to drop the class. I’m not ready for this. My sister and mom continued to persuade me saying that this would be good for me. Well as doom day got closer I found my escape route quickly diminishing. I had to email a quick bio of my acting experience and what I hoped to get out of the class. My email went something like this:
My name is Amy Brown and I’m a Redding local. I have a BA in Cinema and Digital Media. I do not have any acting experience. I do not plan on acting in the future. One might wonder why I’d take this class. Well my sister loves acting. She is in this class and asked me to take it with her. I understand that if I plan on working in films it’s important to understand what to expect from your actors. I hate public speaking and being in large crowds and I’m terrified of monologuing and this class. This will be quite a challenge for me, but action conquers fear… or so I’m told. I’m hoping this class will challenge me to be comfortable expressing myself personally and creatively.
Quite honest I know. Too honest? Well here is the response I got:
Hi Amy, Diane Venora here. Thank you for your email. I need to let you know that this class would not be advisable for you. The class is intense physically, mentally and technically. I do not teach beginning actors. I know those who do do that more effectively than I. However they are in Los Angeles.
Thank you for your response. I was unaware of the qualifications and I appreciate your concerns. I respect your profession and the experience you will bring to the class. I understand the frustrations that can arise when a student is out of place from my tennis coaching experience. However, motivation and determination can overcome some technical skills. I doubt that the purpose of your email was to inspire me to want to take this class, and if so I’m even more impressed. Nothing lights a fire and eliminates my fears more that being told I can’t or shouldn’t do something. I’m not just stubborn, but excited for the challenge. I’ve tried to take an acting class before and it was canceled. I’ve been hesitate to become a local reporter because of being on camera. I’ve made a decision lately to think big and do something I’ve never imagined. I’ve given my self 90 days to quit my job and pursue a passion. Since then I’ve faced opposition and discouragement. I now believe I’m meant to take this class because something is trying to prevent me from pursuing something greater. Now the decision to let me go to the class is up to you. I respect your professional opinion and in no way and I’m trying to guilt or pressure you. I’m confident my life will continue on to a better story whether or not I’m in this class so don’t worry about that. If you think it’s best for me to find a beginner class than I will do what it takes to find one. Once again thank you for your response and concerns. If I don’t see you Saturday I’ll make sure to find out everything from my sister. Enjoy your day.
I have officially requested my own death sentence. She let me in the class.
Then the worst happened. I find out that my sister didn’t request work off. She waited so long that when she finally asked no one would cover her shift. Now I’m pissed. I guilted this acting professor to let a beginner into her class just because I’m a stubborn over-overachiever and now I’ll have to go solo. It’s amazing the amount of stress that is released when just one familiar face is in the room. What was going to make this class bearable was that familiar face. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t possibly go to the class alone, but I couldn’t bail after the fit I made. I stressed about my decision for the next 3 days before the class. It was all I could think about. I also had to figure out what my monologue would be. I didn’t know what a monologue was so I had to look it up.
mon·o·logue [mon–uh-lawg, -log]
I thought I understood what I needed to do. So I wrote a monologue. I wrote a personal reflection/monologue. It was maybe too personal, but I didn’t know what else to write.
|I don’t belong here. Everything is telling me that I shouldn’t be in this class. I lack the experience. My sister who begged me to take this class with her bailed on me. My own fears and doubts tell me that I’m out of my league. I keep telling myself that I don’t have to put myself through this. But I know that no great story comes without risk, suffering, and sacrifice. The fear I have for this class cannot be greater than my fear of failure. I cannot let the voice that once said I was meant for something great be silenced by the voice that now says, “maybe I’m just average”. I’m here to face my fears. I’m here because this is where I belong.|
After a couple of days of practicing and with one day till the class my sister asked what monologue I was doing. I told her I wrote it. Well she informed me that you don’t write monologues, but memorize ones from plays or movies. What?! Why didn’t she tell me this earlier? Now I have a fake monologue memorized and nothing to fall back on. My sis tried to assure me that it would be fine and just go ahead and do it.
The dreadful day came. As I drove to Inspiration Place (that is the actually name of the school where it was held) I’m terrified. I am hurriedly rehearsing my lines in my head. I realize that it is nearly impossible to drive and say my lines. This is probably why action stars don’t have long monologues. Too much multitasking. I walked into the room of my eminent doom. Luckily and unfortunately I don’t know anyone. If I could stereotype an acting class this would be it. Actually this class looks like any kind of self-help class. Everyone was different which is better than everyone being the same unless you are the same as well. I have no problem joking around with jocks because I can play that role. Now to walk into a room of politicians would leave me feeling a little left out. So the wide array of stereotypes brought me little comfort; the mom giving it another go after her kids got a little older, middle-aged man who still doesn’t know who he is, expressive black girl, quirky British girl, older shy tap dancing women, middle-aged confident competent women, emotional contemporary hipster dancer, too-not-so-cool one earring bro-man, chubby dramatic girl from Hairspray, serious unfriendly teacher’s pet, eccentric amazing acting professional teacher, and me, insecure self-aware out-of-place jock. It was drama. Like any time you put a bunch of people together drama plus ten times more intense. My heart was trying to punch a hole in my chest.
We went around the room saying our hellos and what we hoped to get out of the class. Next was some small exercises. We had to walk around the room reciting our monologues, out loud. Then there were obstacles put around the room that we had to step on, crawl under, jump off of, while still reciting our monologue. During this time I couldn’t stop looking at the clock as the second hands slowed to a stop. I think time was standing still. Not in the good way like you’ve met the person of your dreams, but the heartbreak way when you find out the person of your dreams is cheating on you. All I want to do is run away. It takes all my energy not to break down. As the day continued the exercises got more and more… geez how else do I say dramatic. We were put into groups and had to portray the movement of a plastic bag expanding after being squished into a ball while telling a story about it… without words. Drama… eye roll.
I was halfway through the class and so far I had survived. I hadn’t cried or run out of the room. I also hadn’t stood out as the worst actress in the room, mainly because we haven’t had to do any solo performances yet. I had started to feel like I was going to survive by blending into the background. Oh how wrong I was.
One hour before I was released back into the safe world we did one last exercise. We were paired with someone and we were supposed to convey an emotion while we both held on to a stick. The emotion the teacher chose was… wait for it… insanity. Seriously. Insanity. Why not something simple like sadness, anger, awkwardness, frustration, fear, any of the feelings I were currently experiences would have been helpful. Oh no. I have to get The Joker emotion. I didn’t even know what to do. Joining this class was insane so if there was a way to harness that poor judgement I would have been great. Instead, I just stared at my partner who I was convinced needed to be institutionalized while I portrayed terror; sheer terror. I let go of the stick (prop), which I quickly learned.was a big no no. The teacher told me I had broke the scene and didn’t capture insanity like my partner. I don’t really remember what the teacher had said afterwards because I felt a fuzzy fog take me down to hell where I sweat through all my clothes and minions clawed my flesh. All I wanted to do was crawl in a hole. When I was finally released from her grasp I sat back down and fought back tears. I was extremely shaken up.
I finally calmed myself down in time for the monologues. As each person volunteered to do their monologue I was counting down the time. We looked like we had more monologues than we had time to perform them. Luckily, so many stage whores were excited to perform that the teacher never had to call on somebody. As each person performed I prayed they would get a lengthy critique. Some people had to recite their monologue over 10 times before the teacher was satisfied. More critique for others meant no critique for me. With 2 minutes left on the clock and another Rachel Berry itching to go I knew I was in the clear. For the first time in 6 hours I took a deep breath and my shoulder found their way down past my neck. I did it. Well not really because I never did a monologue. Not that I had a real one prepared anyways. I was safe. I thanked the teacher and hurried out of the room. I vowed never to go back. Acting is way harder than you think. There is so much emotion and vulnerability. I’m the first girl to try new things, but I have found my limit.
It wasn’t my dream to become an actress so I don’t know why I was so affected by this class. I should have just done the exercises and laughed it off. Maybe I shouldn’t have forced myself into the class and therefore put so much pressure on myself to keep up. I can’t imagine going to an audition in front of judges and thousands of people and perform your heart out only to be criticized and possibly ridiculed. I wish that I wasn’t so terrified of performing in front of others. I don’t believe in having phobias or debilitating fears. I’m not saying everyone should swim with the sharks or climb Half Dome without any gear, but I believe that if something prevents you from having a full life then you should do everything you can to conquer that fear. Fortunately, being on Broadway isn’t a goal so I’ll just let this fear hang by the wayside. I tried and for that I am proud of myself. Now to go work on my insanity.
Another acting class? http://amebrown.blogspot.com/2012/05/monologue.html
I’ve perfected my insanity.
There are just too many websites. Going online is no longer fun or convenient. With all the options thrown at you it’s harder to find what I’m looking for. Or I question if I can find something better. I can spend hours looking for the perfect granola recipes. I know there isn’t a perfect one and even if there was how would I know? I’m not a granola expert. What prevents me from just picking the first granola recipe website that pops up? What difference does it make if the granola is cooked with olive oil or butter? What about adding cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts? Is it better with raisin, craisins, or dried cherries? What about making it pumpkin flavored or adding chocolate? There are just too many options. I wish there was only one option. I wish if I wanted to make granola I could just ask my mom or grandma for the unique family recipe. Whatever the recipe called for I knew was a hit with my family. I might get bored of it after a while and then I’d do some more research, but right now I need some foundation. I wish there was a progression chart for cooking. For a first timer make this recipe… When you are ready to move on try adding this… or this… or replace this with that. Simple.
The web is supposed to make my life easier and in some ways it does, but when it comes to cooking it makes my life hell. I guess if I can’t stand the heat I should get out of the kitchen. I research and research and by the end of the day I haven’t made anything but a long list of recipes I’ll never have time to make. I’m wasting precious time, I’m destroying trees, and in the mean time I’m starving…. ahhh I’ll just go for Take ‘n’ Bake pizza again. I want one recipe site that I know and trust. I don’t want options. I just want the best without suffering through making the worst.
There must be a private culinary club where chefs collaborate on the best of dishes. They all get together and narrow down the best blueberry pancakes… and syrup to top it. So where do I sign up? Someone please help me out! I’m frantic with ideas and no commitment. What if I hate it? What if this is the worst granola I’ve ever had. All that wasted time, energy, money, effort? Wait that’s what I’m doing now. Damn. Granola is for hippies anyways. Pop tart anyone?
So I’ve cut back my blogging. I now realize why people shouldn’t stop exercising or cheat on their diet. It’s so hard to get started up again. Evey time I think about blogging I find something more important to do. Blogging takes a lot out of me. It takes me about 2 hours to brainstorm, write, edit, and publish each blog. It’s not like I have been just wasting that extra time. I’ve been reading more, knitting hats, cooking, ect. I’ve actually done a lot this past 2 weeks. I had my first DJ gig of the year. I really feel like I could be really successful as a DJ if I could afford all the equipment. Currently I’m just working as an assistant. Wicka what?
I also had my first wedding photography gig. Granted it was for my boyfriend’s aunt’s wedding so it wasn’t truly professional. There were only 12 people in total. I wasn’t getting paid and it was more of a potential family favor. I’m glad this was just a practice round because I didn’t have any experience or much confidence in wedding photography. On the way to the church the bride said she didn’t care about any pictures of the wedding, but to wait to take group pictures afterward. Well luckily I figured she was just stressed and didn’t really mean that. The bride’s sister agreed that I should at least take a few pictures. The wedding was in an Orthodox Catholic Cathedral. It was beautiful, but not ideal for pictures. It felt like it was lit with candles. Nothings worse than natural pictures with a cheesy flash. Grrrr. Then of course my darn flash slowed down shot taking and I missed “the kiss”. Good thing she wasn’t counting on getting any pictures of the ceremony. Well there is one experience under my belt. I actually hope I can get some more practice, even though it was very stressful and that was just with a low maintenance bride and 11 other guests.
Next new adventure was glass blowing. I finally blew my first piece. Wow the burner is hot. I thought my face was going to melt off. Working with melting glass is extremely difficult. What was I thinking? Liquid magma on a stick and I have to make a cup?
Now I can’t even believe I did this next one. I took a hip hop class. All by myself. I even busted out my jazz shoes. The class was at held at a local college and was only $5 for an hour class. I was a little nervous. The instructor said she didn’t have beginner classes and that everyone will just figure out how to keep up. I didn’t. Luckily no one did either. It was a fun class and I’m sure I’ll take it again even if it wasn’t totally hip hop, but more pop and cheer leading combined.
So off to my next adventure. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I’ll let you know. If you have any ideas of things I should try let me know. Not back to my blog break.
So blogging on my phone every day I think is giving me carpal tunnel. My hand starts going numb and tingles when I start to sleep. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’m going to cut back on blogging for now. I doubt you’ll miss me. But I’ll miss you.
I do! After 29 days I finally had milk again. It was the first thing I brought back after my hypoallergenic diet. I was told the thing you want to bring back first and crave the most is what you are usually allergic to. This morning I had regular milk, not almond, rice, or coconut milk. Good old fashion cow milk. It was so amazing. I totally forgot how wonderful milk is. It is completely different from all the other wannabes no matter what anyone says. There isn’t a weird false milk aftertaste.
There are plenty of arguments accusing animal milk to be unnatural for humans to consume. We are the only species that consume milk past infancy and also consume other species milk. Now I don’t think we should all switch to human breast milk. I’m conflicted to drink dairy because it tastes so amazing. Nothing goes better with warm chocolate chip cookies or apple pie.
When I lived in Switzerland I would walk down the street to the Milchcentral and get a glass bottle of fresh warm milk from the cow in the back. There isn’t any milk better than that. So rich, creamy, fresh. I could bathe in it.
I feel so conflicted. I want to be as healthy as possible, since I don’t seem to be allergic to milk it’ll be hard to stay away. And by hard I mean impossible. I won’t cry over it though. Unless it spilt.
“Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger (1975)