Five or so years ago my car was totaled. It was a silver 2001 Toyota Prius, and It was completely paid off. I bought it when I was still working as a software Q.A. engineer. When it was deemed a total loss I had to choose a new car that fit the budget of an actor. Giving up on hopes of ever buying another Prius, I bought a little red 2008 Toyota Yaris. To soften the loss of my beloved Prius I wanted to buy an Autobot decal for the hood. But I couldn’t find one. Searching the Internets only returned one source that said the item was out of stock.
The world of car detailing is a totally alien landscape. Ironic since my family was supported by the car industry and I grew up surrounded by them. But I didn’t search very long. I mentioned this to my partner and she asked why not search online again. I answered, “I’m just not committed to the cool”. What does that mean? Sometimes I want something just because I think it will look good. Sometimes I want something because it feels like an expression of my creativity. Both of these are things I think are cool. The difference is if something doesn’t have that feeling of self expression, I have a finite amount of effort I’ll put in to it. I was trying to get the decal as a consolation prize. I didn’t really want the decal. I wanted my old car back! It was cool. It was my kind of cool: less pollution, less money on gas, and paid off. Did I mention paid off? Buying the decal I was trying to force a cool I really didn’t want. Eventually as it takes more and more effort or time to achieve “the cool” that’s not true to me, it becomes less important. Instead of putting a Transformers decal on my car I’ll just watch some episodes of the cartoon on the web instead.
There are other “cools” that are in tune with my creativity and the effort to find or maintain them is fun. Like my bowler hat. I wore a bowler as part of my costume in “Ragtime!” and I knew I had to own one. It took some time and a significant investment but I found the right one. As I’ve learned over the years quality hats require quality care and effort. But all that commitment feels like part of the prize.
Its a cool that feels true to me and a cool I am committed to because it comes from a place of good feelings and alignment with myself. And the reflections I get from the outside world echo that positive energy.
So what cool are you committed to?
Last summer I thought the hosting the Olympics in Boston was a good idea. I believed what people said about it bringing funding to improve the infrastructure. I like to think of Boston as a world class city. And, I happen to think the Olympics are really cool. But that was last summer. After this winter and it’s historic snow fall that laid low all the public transportation. I don’t think its a good idea. It’s a horrible idea! You can’t improve the trains, busses and roads enough to accommodate the number of people the games would attract. Sure it might make things better for those of us who live here afterwards. In the same way that the snow which had previously paralyzed our city has made things better for us by melting.
Now it feels like bidding to host the games is more an effort to shush critics of the MBTA by exposing commuters to how bad things could be if you infused thousands of additional people on the system.
It reminds me of the children’s story about the farmer who can’t sleep because of a dripping faucet in his house. When he goes to the wise man for advice the wise man has him move all of his livestock in to the farm house. The farmer moves a different animal in to the house each night and of course he can’t sleep because they are all so noisy. Eventually the wise man has the farmer remove all the animals at once so the only sound is the dripping faucet and it is so quiet by contrast the farmer can sleep. But the “wise man” could have saved himself and farmer a lot of trouble by telling him to fix the faucet.
Maybe instead of filling the farmhouse we should just
“Fix the Faucet”.
The reality is many men have body image issues also. We don’t talk about it because it is a sign of weakness. Or so my generation thought, many younger men are more evolved than I am. Despite that, this post is inspired by a recent Moth Podcast and what a Goddess of the Southwest taught me.
Part of me will always wish my body was more svelte and showed more muscle tone with less work but I love my body.
I love my body because;
My body has hiked mountains at midnight.
My body has watched sunlight creep over the horizon and kiss leaves in countless colors.
My body has tasted incredible roll your eyes back foods.
My body has given me incredible toe curling orgasms.
My body has walked in the waters of 3 different oceans.
My body has explored ancient civilizations and the birthplace of gods.
My body has endured the unadulterated hedonism of college.
My body has held my infant nephew and niece in my arms.
My body has felt the wind race over my skin and howl in my ears.
My body has danced in award winning musicals.
My body has sung in elite choir festivals.
My body has fenced against some of the best swordsmen and women in America.
My body has pulled “all nighters” to launch web sites during the dot .com boom and bust.
My body suffered years of abuse through tobacco and booze but is still performs and is reliable.
These are just some of the reasons I love my dimpled slightly droopy pudgy body.
Why do you love your body?
Today was the final performance of Mother Hicks by Emerson stage. The first play in the Ware trilogy was produced as part of the full cycle in collaboration with Wheelock Family Theatre producing A Taste of Sunrise, and Central Square Theater producing The Edge of Peace. Ware is a small close knit community in Illinois. The people are facing multiple hardships including the depression and the desolation of the dust bowl. While the characters put forth a stoic and self reliant face there is a quiet desperation and uncertainty under it all. On a much smaller scale I felt an empathy brought on by the snow disaster that hit New England this winter. This play could not have been more timely. Even more the play’s themes of how we treat people as a community and what makes someone an outsider or accepted resonate loudly with many if the conversations happening on the local and national level.
The people of Ware are a great example of the complexity in every person and remind us that you can’t take anyone for granted.
I I hope everyone has a wonderful, and health new Year!
The morning after the L.A. riots in 1992. My father and I spoke on the phone. I heard something in his voice that I didn’t understand. There was a weariness in hs words. It was a weariness of one who has seen all this injustice before. As I watched the news in 2014 and listened to the decision not to try the officer who murdered a young Black man. As I watched the demonstrations turn to riots I felt what 20 years ago I only heard. That same weariness. Instantly Rodney King and L.A. came to my mind, and as I watched the flames in Ferguson grow I remembered the flames of Los Angeles. But When I was a young man I was filled with rage. That night so long ago I said if that’s what it takes for justice then let the city burn, let all the cities burn.
I’m no longer young, I don’t have the energy for rage I once did. I don’t have the faith that even burning all the cities would bring the justice would make change. That is why I marched. Because I’ve seen this all before. I am weary. I want to believe that this country can still change so that my neices and nephews, and my friends’ children will never even feel the spiritual drain I feel, let alone how to fear for their lives from those who should protect them.
Photo: “Thank You” by Reggie Ballesteros
It’s november and recently I’ve been getting a lot of reminders to practice gratitude. Right now I want to offer a sincere thank you to the Boston Theater companies for rejection letters. Nope I’m not being snarky. While I’m disappointed every time I get a little email saying a director has gone in another direction or can’t offer me a part at this time, the email itself, even if it is just a form letter, is a professional and kind act.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of jobs in a lot of industries. I’ve also had a lot of chances, good or bad, to look for jobs. Outside of theater rejection letters are rare. Even now when digital communication as natural as breathing, a job submission, or project negotiation my abruptly be met with radio silence once one party hears something they don’t like.
As an actor it’s easy sometimes for me to take these communications for granted, specially when I have received a lot in succession until I’m pursuing projects outside of theater and am reminded how it feels when the other party doesn’t take the time to communicate. In theater we talk openly about how actors “put themselves out there” at every audition all the emotion the hope, excitement and possible let down of the process. Maybe mindfulness of that contributes to the culture of communication we have in our community. I’ve been on both sides of the interview table in a few places, and The woman going for the software development position, or the guy trying to get the entry level graphic artist gig is putting herself or himself out there just as much as any actor, with all the emotions and excitement and let downs, it’s just manifested in a different way. Maybe it’s easier to forget someone is making plans based on your decision in other industries.
Anyway, to any Boston theater companies who’ve taken the time to communicate rather than leave me to figure it out (which I think is all of you at least once.) Thank you.
“I believe I deserve success” will be my mantra for a while. Historically my career choices haven’t reflected this. As part of an acting career master class I’ve had to look at my past career and try to identify patterns that server me and patterns that don’t. One big pattern I’ve noticed in both my professional and personal life, is clinging to my childhood belief not to speak up. Not to draw attention to myself. I know, how did I become an actor then. Long story for a different post.
But clinging to the idea I shouldn’t be seen, also meant I have held on to the belief I shouldn’t try to be too successful. I don’t deserve it. I audition, and target small supporting and ensemble roles. Not the leads. On the occasion when I would be offered two different roles in two different shows, I’d choose the smaller role, or the lesser known company.
This has been a repeating pattern in my career since college. I see this pattern now and I choose to break it. I have a voice. I deserve success. I will target the roles I really want. I deserve the roles I want.
I’m working on it.