“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. ”

I am of the opinion that when people say there is nothing about their lives they would change, they are either lying or completely deluded. There are moments in my past where I can look back and see the fork in the path and I know, if I had it to do all over again, I would take the other path. Would it improve my life? Maybe. Maybe not. But I think there are always going to be decisions we regret. I believe that, to some extent, we are shaped by the regrets more than the successes. I know what I don’t want from my life and therefore my regrets guide my path. It seems, with the new year approaching, that the time is ripe to talk about change. It’s on everyone’s mind. What will this year bring? What has changed since last year? Am I happier? Will I be happier? What are my goals? What are my dreams? In essence, what will change?

I’m personally rooting for a big change this year. I’m ready to stop waiting for my life to start, when the reality is, this is it. This is where I am and what I am doing. Do I like everything about it? Not really. But this month is better than last, so perhaps I’m moving back in the right direction.

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think calling any resolution such is pretty much the kiss of death. But, it’s a good time to reflect on what I’m working toward. Because by this time next year, pretty much everything could have changed all over again.

It has dawned on me that this time next year, I’ll be someone’s wife. That’s incredibly daunting. It pretty much cements this whole growing up thing. I might also be a law student. Kinda cool. We could live somewhere completely different. Heck, we could have decided it’s time to procreate. I’m hoping this year will let me keep doing what I love, because it’s been so good for me. This coming year is going to be a big year.

Not a night goes by I don’t dream of wandering through the home that might have been…

Things are changing. Life is changing. I suppose the truth of it is, life changes everyday that you’re alive, but the current we’re in now feels like it’s running a little faster than usual these days. I am anxious. I am excited. I am “a mess of contradictions in a dress”.

We’ve been back in Albany for a few months now and it feels like we’re making a much greater success of it than last time. Jen and I have a fantastic apartment with our very own speakeasy in the basement. We live in a great neighborhood with the best coffee in Albany close enough to walk to, even in a blizzard. We both have okay jobs that are significantly better than some we’ve had in the past. Jen is headed back to school for special ed certification. I have a fantastic part in a show. We are reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. We are planning our wedding in a very concrete way and it is all really exciting. Everything seems to be flowing smoothly and we are in a lovely place.

The only difficulty with this lovely place we are in is that it is still full of uncertainty. That question of what to be when I grow up is ever present in my mind and insistent upon an answer like yesterday. Law school? Back to acting? Open up a coffee shop? Who knows.

But I do have one truth. I left my heart on a busy street somewhere in the East Village. NYC feels like home to me. I think between being discouraged with my career and hating the neighborhood we lived in, I may have let go too easily. I can’t listen to Empire State of Mind without feeling sick. I miss the craziness. I miss the busy-ness. I miss that I never for a second felt bored. I miss randomly walking into fashion shows and parades. I miss feeling like I was living in the pulse of the world.

When I was little I had two goals. 1. Be an actress. 2. Live in NYC. I’ve been toying with the notion that maybe both things aren’t possible. But perhaps if I can find something to do with my life that doesn’t kill my soul, perhaps I would have the means to come back. I theorize that if I trained as a lawyer, 1. I might be able to do good things in the world, 2. I could afford to live in the city I love so much, and 3. I could afford to train and could still audition on evenings and weekends if I so chose. It seems like a logical course of action and, given that I thrive in academia, one that I might actually enjoy. So, that’s what I’ll be aiming for. Law school it is. Provided I can get in that is. I’m signing up for the LSAT, despite its horrendous $160 price tag, and I guess I’ll go from there. Wish me luck, friends.

In Regards to Hysteria

What I have learned today:

1. Don’t reach into the toaster oven. Ever. Even if your bagel is stuck in the back and getting completely ruined. Even if it’s the last bagel of its kind. Even if it’s the only food option available that is even vaguely appealing. Even if you know you can knock it lose without touching anything dangerous. Just don’t. Because burns that are prefaced with a degree ranging between first and third are unpleasant. Or at least they will be once your nerve cells start responding again. Also, a white patch in the midst of what looks like a sunburn appears to be a bad sign when it comes to burns. Let’s hope for evolution’s sake that everyone else is smarter than, well, me.

2. Hot chocolate is not an effective substitute for caffeine. Just don’t even bother.

3. The difference between hysterical pregnancy and simulated pregnancy comes down to intention. If you want to be the proud owner of your own phantom baby, you really have to believe it. Otherwise, it’s “simulated” and frankly a little weird. Apparently it’s a trendy thing in Japan, though. Huff Post says so and they’re generally reliable.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/09/fake-pregnancy-bellies-china_n_1139157.html

Humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them…

Aside

I have never been a good decision maker. I can waver between mint chocolate chip and cookie dough for longer than it takes to play an inning of beginners T-ball. I can debate the merits of one brand of paper towel over another ad nauseum. I can literally take hours deciding what shirt to wear. That said, there has always been one thing I was incredibly clear on. When I grow up I am going to be an actor and live in NYC. I am going to sing and dance on Broadway.

Well, now I’m something like a grown up and the one thing I have always been certain about is the thing that is causing me more anxiety than my impending doom from my incredibly loud neighbors falling through my roof.

I have always, always, always been sure of myself on this and it has always been incredibly comforting to me to know exactly what I want. Yet it seems my path has diverged somewhere I never really expected and all of a sudden here are a million considerations I never made and a thousand new paths to consider and I have to pick one. By yesterday.

So, some of my options. Maybe if I write them out, they’ll make more sense to me.

1. Get my confidence back by doing Rocky Horror, get my butt back to dance class and voice lessons, and find a way to get back to the city and try again. The pros: I won’t feel like a sellout/quitter/loser. The cons: I want to have kids sooner than later and that makes this particular line of work even more difficult. I can’t expect a kid and a wife to want to be gypsies with me. And I don’t want to miss out on the munchkin that I KNOW I am supposed to have.

2. Move to LA. Pursue a career onscreen rather than onstage. I have traditionally been a purist about acting and the stage being the only real place to do that, but what I have realized is that any given day you can turn on a TV show or a movie and chances are you can find someone like yourself. That’s more difficult when you look at a Broadway show. So, Pros- there’s a chance I could have more opportunity on the west coast, if not to be a household name, at least to make an okay living doing something I love.Cons- it’s LaLaLand. It could do more damage to my self-esteem in a week than NYC did in several months of solid auditioning.

3. Stay working for my current company. Get promoted to permanent. Hope to get put into a position where I can train to work from home. Do community theatre. Hope like hell that that is good enough and that twenty years from now I won’t hate myself for throwing away any potential I may have had. For throwing away a gift.

4. Train for a new career. I have a couple in mind that might actually be kind of interesting, or at least might let me feel like I’ve done something good in the world.

  • First idea here- Go to law school. Either focus on entertainment law as a way to stay in the business or focus more towards human rights laws and fight for the world to suck a little less than it currently does. Pros- If I can’t have the career I want, at least I can afford to live somewhere decent in the city that I love. Also, I could do some good in the world. Cons- It’s not the theatre.
  • Second thought- go into the MA/PhD program at U Albany and come out w/ a Women’s Studies MA and a PhD in Sociology. Pros- I’ll be a freaking Dr and w/ a PhD a lot of doors will open to me. I should be able to get into pretty much any law school after that if I choose and then be crazily marketable and thoroughly prepared to turn the world on it’s head and put it back together in a way that makes more sense. Cons- grad school is expensive and I don’t want to settle for some sub par school if I go back. If I’m gonna do it, I want to do it right. Also, the apps are due asap so I’ll be stressing it like whoa if I make this decision.
  • Third educational idea- culinary school with a focus on baking and pastry. Coupled with a couple of business classes, I could put myself in a great place to open up my own little coffee shoppe. Pros- I’m really great at coffee stuff and I have a lot of fantastic ideas about ways to incorporate all of the things I love. Cons- for the first few years, I will have to devote night and day to this place, making that whole offspring idea incredibly difficult.

I just read a book about a girl who started a blog and let people vote on her life decisions because she didn’t feel capable of making them herself. I understand precisely how she felt. But, I’m the only one that can choose my path. I don’t want to be Sondheim’s Cinderella, “Then from out of the blue, and without any guide, you know what your decision is, which is not to decide.” I’d like to think I’m braver than that. (But I sure can understand where she’s coming from.)

Good luck Cinderella.

That whole not starving thing

Something everyone should know about me- I am a Food Network junkie. I adore watching cocky would-be chefs getting their butts chopped right our of the kitchen and watching culinary artists create gravity defying miracle confections out of pickle juice and gum paste. This kind of talent awes me. However, I was quick to discover that being great at watching cooking shows hardly translated to being good at the actual cooking part. I graduated college a complete and utter flop in the kitchen. I am an educated woman, full of modern ideas and political opinions, but I have to tell you, I would have benefited a great deal from a semester of home ec. In fact, future academic game changers out there, let’s get on this. No frilly aprons and bouffants for our future students, but I say let’s make every college student get through a survival level class in how to not burn down your home while attempting to cook something involving at least two of the food groups. Now, I survived undergrad on a pretty steady diet of cold bagels and caffeine on those days when I couldn’t make it to the dining hall, but after a few years away from college, I find I’m ready to expand my repertoire from spaghetti with bottled sauce and take-out, to some meals with just a tad more variety. I’m still working out the logistics on a steady diet of relatively nutrition and palatable foods that I cook myself, but I have picked up a couple “Really Stupid Things You Should Never Do” along the way.

1. If you are unfortunate enough to have to cope with a gas stove, first of all, my best wishes to you. And second, though more importantly, do not decide that the oven needs to preheat for an extensive amount of time and do no, do not, DO NOT forget to turn off burners. It’s crazy, but when you use gas you kind of have to be cautious about it. Apparently it’s kind of poisonous when you breathe a bunch of it in. After two calls to the authorities and two very sleepless nights (completely separate occasions btw) worried that I was accidentally poisoning my gf and the cat, the message finally sunk in. Gas = bad. Do yourself a favor and triple check that you’re not leaking toxic fumes into your world.

2. If you have any sort of food borne illness paranoia, do yourself a favor and invest in a meat thermometer. Seriously. Because if you’re at all like me, you will overcook to kill the germs or under-cook to avoid overcooking. It’s pretty much lose/lose. But if you get a fancy meat thermometer, you can just stick it in there and, voila, it magically tells you when you’re safe to chow down without risk of salmonella poisoning. Which is a big bonus because at some point dinner with a side of charcoal or potential bacterial infection gets a little old.

Now again, I’m no pro on this survival stuff and I haven’t quite got a grasp of all things cooking related, so a couple other ideas for not starving:

1. Steamers. Pretty much everything comes in steamable bags now and some of it’s even affordable and/or nutritious. It’s a quick fix pretty much anyone can manage. (Only, as we learned just last night, it’s wise to make sure the microwave is completely empty before tossing the bag in and pushing start.)

2. Deals! At some point, even the most enterprising culinary amateur gets sick of making an effort. Happens to me at least once a week. Days like that, make friends with Groupon or, if you’re lucky enough to live in a big city, fantastic apps like Level Up and ScoutMob. Living in NYC, any time we decided to go out, we ate for basically free or cheap. We got to explore all kinds of crazy stuff and we rarely spent more than $10 bucks to feed two people. We pretty much owned discount dining and it wasn’t even hard to do.

The likelihood is, you probably won’t starve. It’s pretty hard to do. But the biggest thing I have gotten out of this whole growing up and learning to survive thing is that there’s no point being scared to try new things. They’ll either be good or they won’t and either way no one’s hurt. Keep a couple of safety packs of Ramen in the cabinet in case of disaster and go play Iron Chef. (But try not to injure yourself or anyone else. Just a disclaimer.)

A little background

I like to pretend that I’m not a grown-up. That I don’s have bills to pay or thank you notes to write or dinner to make. Generally speaking, I am a master of self-delusion. But- yesterday was my birthday. And it was an important one. The kind of birthday that makes you realize that eventually even Peter Pan had to learn to turn on a stove and wipe his feet at the door. So I have landed myself in a big old pile of reckonings and wonderings and I find myself at an impasse. It seems to me that the time is ripe to make a decision. While Baz Luhrman had a lot of things right with his Sunscreen speech, I think he maybe misled us a bit on a key point.

Says Baz, “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.”

But here’s the thing Baz, what you forgot to tell us was that even if we didn’t know what we wanted to be, we still had to find a way to be something. And some of us might even have had to come to grips with the idea that that fantastic thing we wanted to be when we were little kids just isn’t an option as grown ups. To all you folks who are 35 and still cherishing dreams of becoming an astronaut, well, we still don’t have a space program. Time to move on. The reality of life is that not all dreams get to come true. I don’t say this become I’m a jaded skeptic, I don’t even say it because I’m bitter about my own dreams. I say it because someone freaking has to. Sometimes what you want and what you’re capable of are just two different things and somehow we have to find a way to be okay with that (and no worries, we will analyze this topic ad nauseum at a later date)

But I digress. The reason I am here, and maybe the reason you are as well, is that this whole “grown up” thing is kind of a tough one to figure out. Our parents seem to have gotten the hang of it and a few of our peers have managed it, but my friends, we seem to be a bit of a lost generation. More and more of our ranks are finding themselves in Mom and Dad’s basement with a framed BA, a ratty futon, and student loan bills that show no sign of magically disappearing. Or we’re out in the real world living in crummy apartments and trying to squeeze by with enough left at the end of the week for a cocktail or two and a few hours to breathe. It’s a crappy way to live, kids.

But that’s the easy stuff to write about. Funny story, bet you thought I was another pissy pseudo grown up with a chip on her shoulder. Well, I kind of am. But the cool part is that here and there I’ve actually learned a couple things. I’ve also gotten really good at laughing at the sheer ridiculousness that is us as we navigate our way into a future that most of us are frankly not even sure we want.

So here goes nothing. Follow along if you will. I don’t promise to teach you how to do things, but I can probably give you a tip or two on how not to give yourself carbon monoxide poisoning and how to deal with a house pet with a proclivity for vomiting. It’s not the great American novel, my friends, but I think there might be a few things worth documenting.

Check back soon. Pretty sure the first stop on this journey is sustenance. How to find it, what to do with it, and how to not die of sodium overload because the only thing we graduate from college knowing how to cook is ramen,

Toodles.