“With some luck I just might keep on climbing…”

I always have a hard time settling on what kind of music I want to listen to while writing.  I can literally spend several minutes deliberating on what type of songs fit the tone of what I’m hoping to write about. It may also be a form of procrastination, but I prefer thinking of it as a strange little quirk.

Today’s quirky procrastination soundtrack is old school No Doubt. Something about these songs takes me right back to a very different time.

I had coffee with an old friend today, someone I haven’t seen in over five years, someone who was around during that very different time. She’s in the city for a couple of weeks auditioning for some stuff (everybody wish her many broken legs!) and she took an hour out of the craziness to have some coffee and catch up.

This seems like a little thing to reflect on but, for a few reasons, it’s really not.

First, if you’ve ever dealt with any kind of anxiety, you may understand how nerve-wracking making plans can be and how easy it is to find a million reasons to blow them off. To make social plans and follow through with them is an accomplishment for me. And it’s one I’m very happy about because seeing an old friend and being able to catch up like no time had really passed, well… that’s pretty awesome.

Second, something my friend said resonated with me. Something simple. She remarked on how we had a lot of fun back then. And I thought, “Yeah, you’re right.” And that was a strange thought because I’ve spent a great deal of time judging myself for my indiscriminate youth. But it wasn’t all bad. Seeing this friend reminded me that the good memories deserve as much weight as the not-so-good ones. Maybe they even deserve more.

Third, talking with someone my age who hadn’t given up on the big dreams definitely made me wonder how crazy I’ve been to put such strict limitations on my own. I spent a year auditioning for everything I could get seen for and it was overwhelming and stressful and just really, really hard. But there were times it was also exciting. Hanging out with this friend reminded me of how much courage and optimism it takes to try. She’s still determined to somehow make a life out of performing and that deserves a standing ovation.

And finally. Between apartment hunting and career uncertainty and life changes, my love affair with this city has felt very tenuous lately, but somehow just being able to say to a friend, “This is my favorite place in the city,” reminds me that roots take time to grow, but that some of mine are sinking into these busy sidewalks. And that’s something to hold onto.

Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic…

I’ve been working on a new project this month that I’m very excited about, but I’m determined not to use it as an excuse to neglect my other endeavors. Instead, I’ll just take you guys along for the ride!

I’m starting work on my first middle reader novel. It is also my first totally fictional effort. I’m not bad with the semi-autobiographical, but this is new territory for me so I’m pretty nervous about it.

I’m working on a story that features an LGBTQ protagonist. Shouldn’t actually be all that groundbreaking, but there is a huge dearth of LGBTQ friendly books for kids who have graduated from easy chapter books but aren’t necessarily ready for most of YA. And that’s sad. Because the need is there. Kids are coming out earlier and earlier and finding no literary representation. No one is telling their stories. These kids don’t need the sex and the intense, life changing relationships of YA, but they do need someone to tell them it is totally normal if you’re a boy who wants to hold the hand of another boy or a girl who is crushing harder on Taylor Swift than on Taylor Lautner. Even more than that, they need to see that these LGBTQ characters do the same things normal characters do. They go to the mall and tell jokes and play sports and drink Frappucinos. They get in trouble and win science fairs and dance awkwardly at school functions. And it’s not just LGBT kids that need these books. ALL kids need to see diversity in their literature.

I’m sending in a sample of this new project to apply for a diversity grant. The grant helps support diverse writers while they are creating diverse books, but more than that, for me I think it would be confirmation that I am on the right track with this.

All my fingers and toes are crossed for good news!

What about all of you awesome readers? What’s a book you would have liked to read in middle school that didn’t (and maybe still doesn’t) exist? Let’s discuss!

Chimerical… unreal, magical, visionary, wildly fanciful, highly unrealistic…

Ten Years of October: A Retrospective

10/15/2003

So we’re getting ready for comp. in dance. We go to Tremaine on Nov. 22. I’m really excited about this, but I don’t really think my dance is that great. It just can’t measure up to MI’s choreography. She is amazing. I have so much respect for her, am really quite in awe of the talent she has. And yet, she’s not a snob. And she could be, quite easily. She’s really taught me a lot…not all of it dance. She kinda started the whole “Let’s corrupt Melisa” thing. But yeah, so back to dance. I’m doing a duet I choreographed to Jack Off Jill. That band so rocks. And I think the dance will be real cute when it’s done, but I’m kinda neurotic about that kind of stuff. I just want us to be as good as MI’s group and I know that’s not possible. I don’t have the talent to be that good, or the training. But someday…

 

10/20/2004

So, dance performance #1 is coming up for yours truly and it would make me one of the happiest girls ever to see all of my nearest and dearest in the audience rooting for me. I’m counting on y’all. Saturday morning 11am. I know it’s early, but just consider it a labor of love. (Plus, the way the outfits are constructed, I wouldn’t be shocked if someone accidentally gives the audience a not-so-G rated peep show. Whatever as long as it’s not me cuz I might cry.) I am in a freaking ton of dances and the one I choreographed myself is the first to go. It’s not quite finished, but it’s looking pretty good. I’m pretty excited.

 

10/9/2005

I’m not getting any younger and I feel like I’ve done nothing with my life. It’s unsettling, to say the least, to know that you’ve completely wasted your life and energy and talent. Performers have such a short shelf life and I don’t exactly have a fallback plan. And while I’m not the best dancer, I think I may be well rounded enough to at least be cast in some obscure off-off-off-off-Broadway show with a liberal director. I’m no Balanchine dancer, I know, I’m not built to be a swan, but I think given some time I could develop a strong Fosse style, which is really more my speed anyway. Funny how that works, to make money in a career you have to have money to train for said career. But I think I could do it. Hell, I’d live out of a car and shower at the Y if it just gave me a chance to get back on stage. I could go without everything else for just a little slice of the life that I want.

 

10/15/2006

I feel very good. I’ve been sad lately, but I feel like things are starting to look up. I’m trying to only see the bright side. I am working. I have a week paid vacation coming up. And I am starting a dance class tonight. Things are very wonderful.

 

10/3/2007

I read something intelligent the other day (in Cosmo of all the obscure places!). It said that you set yourself up for failure with very common ways of thinking. Or something like that. Point being, they gave an example that struck me. It said, we try not to get too excited about things we are going to attempt or things we are hoping for and such, but in tampering down our excitement, we are not showcasing our passion and commitment. We are setting ourselves up to be mediocre. So, rather than tell myself that I am going to try for something, even though I probably won’t get it, I am telling myself that I have just as much of a chance as the next person. Opportunity is what I make of it. I intend to get as excited and be as enthusiastic about something as possible. And if I don’t get it, I intend to allow myself the full range of emotion and deal with any disappointment or sadness. We really cut ourselves off from a lot of feeling, good and bad, and what’s the point? I’d rather be an emotional rollercoaster than just float through life in a gray haze.

 

10/5/2008

Reasons life is good:
*I’m in NY. Like one of the ultimate goals of my life and here I am. Granted it’s not the city, but I’ll be there in less than two years and I’m staying for keeps.
*I’m getting more involved with the theatre department. I got into a student scene and am also gearing up to audition for the spring musical, Into The Woods. Oh Sondheim, you twisted man, I kinda love you.
*It’s fall! The leaves are actually legitimately changing colors and it is beautiful here. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m so cold my eyebrows have icicles, I may be feeling less jovial about the whole seasons thing, but for now it’s not too bad.
* ❤ My little Maddie said Auntie for the first time! ❤
*My voice teacher is not opposed to belting, as long as it is done correctly! Yayayayay for FINALLY having PERMISSION to use my chest voice in lessons. I’m finally figuring out why lessons seemed to be going so poorly in the beginning.
*Halloween is coming up. An excuse to get up to no good…

Life is so good.

 

(Taking some liberties with the dates from here since I apparently wrote nothing in Oct. 2009, 2010, 2011, OR 2012. Geez.)

 

5/10/2009

It’s amazing how much good comes into your life when you stop focusing on the negative. I am ecstatically happy to be an OSU student right now. I love my life. I love my department. My friends are amazing. Psi is SO AWESOME. There was so much good waiting here for me all along… wish I’d have opened my eyes a little sooner… but now that they’re open, I’m loving just about every second.

I have SUCH a GOOD life and I am oh so very grateful.

 

5/25/2010

Sometimes I want to go back to Ocala and be a star. I know I could be there. But Ocala haunts me in the worst way and I know I can’t call it home.

I have no idea what I’m writing about or why I’m even writing. I want to get married and have babies and I want to go to NY and be a gypsy and not worry if my water gets turned off or I’m homeless for a couple days. My dreams are irreconcilable. There’s no middle ground.

I’m so scared that life is passing me by and no matter what choice I make, I’ll end up regretting something.

 

5/14/2011

And yet, maybe I’ve learned a lesson or two in my time. Maybe I’ve learned that people are what really matter when it comes down to it. Maybe I’ve learned compassion and responsibility somewhere along the way. Maybe I’ve learned that we don’t deserve the world on a platter, although it’s damn impossible not to be jealous of the ones that *do* get it, so I guess that lesson hasn’t completely sunk in. Maybe the things I needed to learn weren’t the things I would have been able to learn if I’d done it all the “right” way.

 

08/23/2012

I’m starting to accept the idea of not being Peter Pan. I’m starting to see that the worst thing isn’t growing up, the worst thing is refusing to grow. And with that thought the doors of life swing wide open. I want so much. And it’s exciting to know that it could all be possible, to know that my heart is healing and I am going to live a life that is good and that I am going to try to help people and that I am going to try and do my best although honestly maybe some days my best will be sitting on my tush watching Buffy reruns. And that is OKAY! I am okay! I am braver than I believe and smarter than I seem, maybe because I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know so very much. But I know that I am a work in progress and I know that that work hit a very rough spot, but that my jagged edges seem to be smoothing out and some of those breaks at the heart of the piece of art that I am, well, they’re getting better every day. I forgive. I try. I hope. I love. Oh I love. I love so very much that it feels like an act of faith. I suppose it is. I love enough to know that it would hurt if it all went away. That’s a pretty big improvement I’d say. I love. I love, I love, I love. And I am so grateful to have the opportunity, to have the absolute gift, to do so.

 

10/2/2013

#sorrynotsorry

New mantra? Yes, I believe so.

 

10/4/2013

What I’ve learned from ten years of blogging:

  1. I have had an irrational fear of aging for an inordinate amount of time.
  2. Everything always comes back to theatre.
  3. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to take the big risks for a very long time.

I picked those particular entries because they made that point to me. They drove home the fact that I have never been brave enough to just throw caution to the wind and go for it. I’ve been a wishy-washy dreamer for TEN YEARS. And I’ll grant that I’m not very old and that ten years ago I was just a kid, but even as a kid I had lots of pretty dreams and no idea how to achieve them. Well, I’m not a kid anymore. And excuses aren’t enough. I can continue to be a sad little coward lamenting the loss of her opportunities and dreams, or I can “grow some,” for lack of a better descriptive, and do something about it.

When certain songs come on the radio my entire body tenses up. My shoulders un-slump and my knees plie just a little like my body still knows to be prepared for that awesome moment when it gets to take flight. My entire focus is internal and I know exactly what the next move would be. My arms hurt from the effort to keep them casually at my sides. Despite being grossly out of shape and despite not having been in a dance class for several years, I physically ache for it. I was never the most technically perfect in the class. I didn’t have the best body or the best feet. But I could hold an audience’s attention. Something bigger and better than me always took over and that part of me, the BEST part of me, wants nothing more than to be let back out.

That part of me has a voice, too. It keeps my internal radio broadcasting full time and it takes a very concentrated effort not to just lapse into song on a regular basis. I sit in class all day and by the time I get home there is music literally BURSTING out of me. It’s a rare moment at home that I’m not singing (in fairness, it’s usually because I’ve paused my song momentarily to talk or because it’s 3am and my neighbors would shoot me). A certain kind of artist will start singing and I swear my breathing changes so that I can join right in, even though I know that I’d probably be hospitalized if I started randomly singing in a law school atrium.

It’s intrinsic to me, this need to sing and to dance. It’s not something I can help. I didn’t pick it. But it’s something that I need and something I can’t keep ignoring if I value myself and my health and happiness at all. It’s like a whole new coming out. And in some ways it’s scarier.

I am an actor.

And that’s terrifying. I’m not a working actor. I’m not even sure if I’m still talented at all. I don’t know what the future will look like. I don’t know if I’ll be working part time schlepping coffee for the next five years to pay for dance classes and headshots. I don’t know if anything will ever come of it or if I’ll end up doing bad community theatre in Brooklyn. I don’t know. And that’s a scary thing for someone as compulsive as me. But there it is.

I’m an actor.

It took ten years of blogging about it and running away from it and trying to fit myself into any other niche that would have me. Ten years of spending way too much time suppressing the best part of me. It took me less time to come out as a bisexual! But as scary as it is, it’s a relief. I don’t know what’s next, but I know I have to figure out how to be my best me. Wish me luck.