Monthly Archives: September 2011

If at first…

Believe it or not, I’m not kicking myself in the head (as if I could, given the lack of exercise) for not writing more here – I’m thrilled that it’s still September and I’ve got another post! I haven’t been completely idle – I’ve spent many, many minutes worrying, fretting, and wondering if life is what I want it to be. I like to call it being “emotionally active”. But I had an experience last week that may bear sharing:

It was Sunday, and I had a big, busy day ahead – play date with my favorite 6 year-old, and later, a reading with one of my best friends. All this on top of a Saturday night spent with friends so dear that it didn’t cross my mind to get home at a decent hour. And so, I knew when I got up about 5 hours later that Olivia would have to deal with me un-showered and a a bit sleep-deprived. Luckily, neither she nor the Barbies we decided to play with seemed to mind. It was a busy day for them, too, as they made plans to head to the beach, welcomed a few guests to spend the night, and made a list of the things they needed for Christmas. The time flew, and before I knew it, it was noon, when I’d said I was going home. After a look from Olivia, I moved it back to 1 – and then it was time to hit the road.

i just happened to check my phone, and there it was – text from friend: “You know the reading’s at 2 pm, right?”

Um, NO! Even though I’ve been friends with actors long enough to know that Sundays are always matinees, something had led me to think that it was at night. I had planned to go home, shower off the previous evening, and head into the city, refreshed and ready to be entertained. I looked in my car mirror and grimaced at the gal who looked back. “Couldn’t you have bathed?” I asked. She just rolled her eyes, and I headed for the Tunnel.

I got into NYC at like 1:47. I could tell immediately that I wasn’t gonna get far fast, so I zipped into the Port Authority parking lot and ran downstairs and outside. Once I figured out which direction to go (well, asked a food vendor which way to go), I “speed-walked” to the theater, with a weird feeling that was confirmed by the girl at the door when she asked if I was seeing some show I’d never heard of. Maybe the one you want is next door, she suggested, seeing my look of panic. I ran there, too, but now I was sure – I was in the wrong place. This was NOT where the readings were held. I started text-babbling to my friend, who replied with, “Are you drunk??” “No”, I replied, “just a moron.”

It was too late – I made my way back to my car, with a side trip into the wrong entrance of Port Authority. Got to my car and cried. Called a dear, dear friend, who assured me I wasn’t an idiot and “sat” with me til I was ready to drive back home. He won’t be mad, she promised, he’ll know you tried. It occurred to me that one shouldn’t have to try to make a show on time, they just should do it, but I accepted her reasoning, and was beyond happy when I was invited to try again for Monday night (the show’s last). It’ll be crowded, he said, but you might be able to get in. After my utter failure on Sunday, there was no doubt in my mind.

A brief note must go here: I love my President – LOVE him. But the fact that he was in town on Monday was just bad timing. I got in no problem, parked my car on the East side, and headed to the train only to see people walking back up the stairs. The station was closed. I called: What do I do??? “Get on a bus, and…..” I missed the rest, because I had neither a MetroCard or change. Was the Universe really going to get in my way, after all I’d been through?

No, I decided, and hailed a cab. We got about 3 blocks when our ride grinded to a sloooow, painful crawl. Park Ave was lined with cops, we couldn’t get more than a block at a time between red lights. It was getting late now, and I’d been advised to get there early. I contemplated getting out as I watched the meter rise, but said nothing. It’ll get better, it has to. The cabbie grew less and less patient as he was directed off his route. Somewhere around 51st Street, he said, “I think you’d better get out.” So, I swiped my credit card. Nothing. Tried 3 more times, with 3 other cards. Nada. “I’m really sorry,” I said. “I can stop and get some cash.” He stopped the cab (well, it was already stopped, but he put it in Park) and crawled into the back seat. “See?” I said. He looked at me like I was an alien. “You have to use the touch screen.”  “Oh,” I said simply, “oops.”

Transaction complete, I got out and headed to the nearest corner. 7th and 54th – I needed to be at Broadway and 21st. According to my phone, it was already 7:15, and the show started at 7:30. I stood there for a minute. No way would I get there, but what to do? Go back home? “NO!” the little voice said. And before I could argue, I was speed-walking for the second day in a row, this time down towards the theater, not at all sure what to do when I arrived.

The man in the lobby of the building (I was almost sure it was the right one) told me 904. My brain fried, I looked at him – how do I get there? “Umm, 9th floor – elevator”. I hopped in, and started up. The doors opened, and immediately my hazy brain remembered this as the place for all readings. I tiptoed down the hall, saw the sign on one of the doors, and found a seat. I could actually hear the actors, albeit muffled. As I sat, the company manager came out; I told her my story and bless her soul, she said that the first act was almost done, and that she’d get me in for the second, even though it was packed. She then made a friend for life when she offered me a cup of wine. I accepted it, and the two that followed. My heart began to return to normal, and I shared my adventures.

Before I knew it, intermission came, and when they started the next act, I had a makeshift seat on a piano bench right by the stage. It was a terrific reading, and well worth the struggle. In this case, at least, half a play was definitely better than none.

I’m not always as dedicated as this – since that day, I’ve had more than one night of working well past midnight and waking up tired and annoyed at my own seeming inability to change. But underneath that, the speed-walker in me knows that if I choose to try, there’s not much that I can’t get  done.

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Do (over) or Die

So what? It’s okay to start over. No, it’s ESSENTIAL to start over, and this is the start of all starts; the push off the ledge, by me, of me. The girl who fears has been put away, if only for today. She can bang, cry, plead, or yell, but she knows now that I am in charge.

Those others, they are not the only creative ones. They may not even be the most creative – but they act on their thoughts, put their ideas on paper, and that has been their advantage. Doing, rather than just thinking. I started reading a book I bought long ago about writer’s block, appropriately titled, “Stuck.” The author tells me that being stuck is almost always (or always always) because of some demon from the past who was overly critical, or even dismissive, of our talent. Their voices – teachers, parents, bosses – are what keeps us from writing. I looked around, but found no one to blame. Until my eyes met another pair, in the mirror.

I do not need an imaginary parent or teacher at whom to point a finger. Life silenced me; fear silenced me. The fear of the words not fitting together perfectly, of putting the puzzle together only to find that there are pieces missing, and the picture is incomplete. The fear of sounding stupid, or sounding anything at all. The indescribable need to be invisible, to hide flaws by being nothing in which they can be found. The fear of discovering that I’m really not nearly as good as I thought, that the dreams are just that.

Risk, reward… if I don’t sit down, don’t place a single word on paper, there can be no reward. No pain, either, but no pain does not equal happy. No pain equals numb. I’ve been trying to live a life of no pain. There was so much early on, that stopping it forever seemed to be a wise, self-saving measure.

And then, teeny little choices began to be made – an easier college here, a less-than-challenging job there. With no experience in hard work towards a goal, one hasn’t got the tools when they’re needed. Suddenly, every small bump in the road becomes a mountain, and every opportunity looks like a 5000 foot-high rock wall. The body and mind quickly learn to respond to offers with a polite “no thank you.” And with each decline, we learn to settle, to stay in our safe place. I never learned how to navigate the river because I was unwilling to leave the pond.

Today is do-over day. The things that were are gone. And yet, there could be a million things behind Door #2. Am I willing to open it? To peer beyond what I “know” to see what is possible?

I am a writer who sees beauty in a blade of grass, who can find perfection in the absurd, and rays of light in every person I meet. Can i not greet my own reflection with the same open mind?

So, I call a do-over, just like in 3rd grade, when you didn’t jump into the rope at the right time and needed a second chance to get the rhythm down.  I call today the new starting block, from which a real and fair race can be run. It’s time to start the game.


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