Monday, August 31, 2009

HotDish of The Week

I know, I know...TWO HotDishes of The Week in a row?!

But don't worry, I am spinning a new blog right now and it will be up soon. But this couldn't wait!

For those of you wondering, NO, that is not me. (Although it's not far off...I did have that hair cut...and those glasses...and thought I looked damn good like this girl seems to think.) Anyway, this is my way of letting you know that I got in to the comedy show called Mortified! You remember me talking about that a few blogs back.

Well, the producers decided my junior high journals were humiliating enough to be put on stage (thank you???) So, on September 16 at 8:00 PM you can see me divulge the secrets of my 8th grade heart through excerpts from my journal. Go here to buy tickets. They usually sell out so buy them fast!

And to entice you even is an excerpt of what you may hear....

April 16, 1998

Dear Journal,

When his arms went around me to pull me off the hay bale, it just felt so right. He's never gotten so close before. But it's not like I just have a crush on's an ache to see him again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

HotDish of the Week

I'm in a play!

Remember when I boldly proclaimed a few blogs back that I was going to embrace the comedian inside? Well....I guess that will have to be put on hold until this play is through. I'm sure you can gather, judging from the poster, it's not a laugh riot. It's a whole 'nother kind of riot....

But, if you enjoy twenty-somethings in short plaid skirts and would like to see me attempt some seriously sexy choreography - after which the assistant director told me, "Oh, Jessica you are just so cute," the last thing I wanted to hear as I was doing my best Lindsey Lohan impressoin - you should come!

It opens THIS Sunday (pause as I have heart palpitations) and runs through September 27. Buy tickets online! They are much cheaper. So go here and support me.

Becuase there's a disturbed Catholic School Girl in all of us....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Picket Fences

One of my college roommates is pregnant.

She’s going to be a mother, a grown-up, someone who is a responsible adult. I can’t even remember to water my plants and she is going to be in charge of another person’s life.

Of course I’m excited. When she told me I was completely silent for approximately a century. I was in my car and may have blacked out for several seconds until the person behind me gave the signature Los Angeles hello by laying on his horn. I came to and said the usual excited, reactionary things, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! Congratulations! I have sweaty palms! Can you name the baby after me?!”

And of course I cried.

I always cry. Which is strange. I’m not a big crier but over the years I have found that when my best friends call me with big news my first reaction is to burst into tears – leaving them confused and a little annoyed at stealing their thunder.

In college, one of my roommates told me she was engaged as we were standing in front of the chicken nuggets at Dining Services. I collapsed in a puddle of tears so obnoxious that one of the DS staff handed me a napkin and awkwardly patted me on the back as I kept repeating, “I am just so happy…I am just so happy.”

Over the years I have celebrated life-changing events with many friends. And as the celebrations pile up I would like to think I have become more tolerant, more pulled together, and not such a crybaby. But it has actually gotten worse.

After a good deal of soul searching I think I’ve pinned down the reason for all the tears. It’s not an overwhelming happiness that brings on the waterfalls (although I am happy.)

It’s a sense of loss.

After my sentiments about how excited I am, how proud I feel, how they are making the right decision, I hang up and there is a silence that follows. In this silence my loneliness is palpable.

It feels like I am losing my friends a little more every time their life moves forward without me. It makes me realize that I am sacrificing something to live here in Hollywood. By pursuing what I need to be pursuing I am missing another part of my life.

I want to be there, screaming and jumping up and down with my friends instead of being alone, in my car, making the person stopped beside me think I’m having some sort of a seizure. I want to be there to hold hands, to button up wedding dresses, to buy a house next door to my friends, have millions of children who will one day marry each other, and live happily ever after.

Instead I’m in Hollywood where my closest neighbor is the creepy guy who takes out my trash without asking.

Usually it’s fun to be the friend who is single and adventurous, and pursuing her career. The friend who doesn’t need marriage, or a guy, or a family, or a stable job. She has her dreams!!

It is only in my friends’ exciting announcements that I feel that I’m missing something. The sense of loss comes rushing in, overwhelming me. It is only then that I allow myself to grieve over what I’m giving up.

And yes yes. I know if that’s what I REALLY want I can pack my bags, move back to the Midwest, snatch up the first home-grown boy I see and makes lots of blonde-haired blue-eyed babies. And someday I will.

Someday I will trade in my picket lines for picket fences (okay, I’ve never been in a picket line but I just couldn’t pass up that great play on words – plus the sentiment is the same.) Some day I will live closer to my family (I promise, Mom) and raise kids, and have a backyard with a grill and a dog. But for now I want to live in a an apartment with no backyard, a creepy neighbor, and no grill. I want to have long phone calls with my friends and try and get through the momentary feelings of loss.

Because if I moved home I would lose something even bigger.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Piece

Apparently, I’m funny.

I never wanted to be. Growing up I was the cheery, happy girl who wished desperately she were more sullen. I wanted people to take one look at me and think I was mysterious and intriguing. I was the girl who made-believe she was the servant not the princess because it was so much more tragic. The girl on the Speech team who always did the monologue about rape, or cancer, or the-sister-who’s-other-sister-drowns-in-a-lake-and-now-she-has-to-secretly-raise-her-dead-sister’s-love-child-as-her-own. (Real example…)

Instead, I was a glasses-wearing, permed-hair-sporting, Laura Ingalls Wilder-loving, well-adjusted and dare I say…happy….child.

So I became an actor.

I sank my teeth into the meaty, juicy, serious world of the ‘the Theatre’ (to be said in an English accent.) I lavished in the overly dramatic, confusing-as-hell kind of plays. You know the ones – where everyone is in a body suit and they keep repeating the word ‘cocoon’ for no apparent reason.

When I moved to Los Angeles I was still on a warpath for drama. But as I went on audition after audition for the sweet, innocent girl who’s lover dies, or who’s mom leaves her, or who’s secretly addicted to crystal meth, I would look around and realize that everyone else wanted to be that too.

It was just bad odds.

So after a few well-received comedic scenes in my acting class, I started to think that maybe I should try comedy….it seemed to be more of a niche market.

And last week, in an attempt to try out my comedic chops, I auditioned for something called Mortified. For those of you who are thinking… “Umm..that’s a state of mind,” let me explain. Mortified is an amazing real-life comedy show that celebrates the crazy, funny things you created as a child (poems, journal entries, etc.)

Long story short, I submitted and got called into audition (I think it was the poem I wrote in 4th grade about what it’s like to be a black slave….pause for horrified reaction….that really secured my place in auditions.)

But as I stood up to read from September 5, 1997, something strange happened.

I didn’t want to.

ME. The girl who writes about her life and posts it on Internet, DIDN’T WANT TO TELL STRANGERS ABOUT HER LIFE. I sat there gripping my journal and realized I was worried they wouldn’t think I was funny. They wouldn’t think my life was worth putting on stage. That these most private of thoughts were not funny at all but actually just pitiful.

Maybe I didn’t want them to know I had a big crush on Brandon Albrecht in the 8th grade (don’t worry Jessie Albrecht I’m over it…), or that I thought Titanic was the best movie EVER, or that I ever had the audacity to write an entry that proclaimed “They’ll see, they’ll all see….I’m going to be someone!” But I buckled down and relived junior high.

And they laughed.

A lot.

And despite the fact that sweat was forming unappealing half moons under my arms and my belt that was really cute when I left the house now felt like a ring of fire in the non-air conditioned studio, and my skin was one big nervous hive, I felt good.

And then one of the producers said something that changed everything:

“You are really good at playing yourself.”

And that, loyal readers, is the golden ticket, the whole reason I put you through this long, tortuous entry. This may seem obvious – of course I’m really good at playing myself, I am myself – but for me it was ground breaking. I realized that I am not a tragic, bummed out, girl-who’s-raising-her-dead-sister’s-baby. I don’t even have a sister.

I am just me. Quirky. Funny. Who sweats under her arms and breaks out in hives when she’s nervous. And that’s better than the dramatic girl I wanted to be. Because she’s not real. And ironically enough, Hollywood expects actors to bring one thing to the table – your true self.

And yes, yes…all of you actors reading this and thinking “But acting means playing someone you’re not” can put down your pitchforks and Stanislavsky manuals. I get it. But we actors bring a piece of ourselves to every character we play.

And I’ve finally found my piece.