Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Something Old

Lately, I’ve been thinking about marriage.

I think somewhere in the distance I just heard my father load his shotgun….

Relax, Dad.

I’m thinking about marriage because I spent the weekend with my grandparents in Phoenix and they seemed determined to secure their only granddaughter’s future.

I wanted to tell them a couple million would make me feel nice and secure.

When I walked in the door the first thing they asked (after Grandma said my blond hair didn’t match my skin color and Grandpa asked if I still liked “that dictator in the White House who is friends with Castro”) was whether or not I was getting married any time soon.

For those of you on the edge of your seats – the answer is no.

My grandfather, in particular, was interested in the subject. Maybe it’s because he noticed my ever deepening smile lines or maybe my ovaries were giving some kind of “ANY DAY NOW” signal only grandfathers can hear.

Whatever the case, he wouldn’t let it go.

The conversation got so deep into marriage that when he started talking about me exchanging vows on his farm, I half expected him to open the closet door and shout excitedly “TO THIS MAN I FOUND ON THE STREET!”

On the long car ride back to Los Angeles I started to think about why I’m not even close to walking down the aisle.

Yes, it’s true. I think about it sometimes – when I’m not thinking about how I’m going to make rent or how I’m going to juggle two jobs or how I’m going to pay my taxes or how I am going to become a successful actor.

Somewhere…in the recesses of my mind…the thought of bringing someone else into my world occasionally crosses my mind.

But as I’m always reminded when I go home, I have made different choices than most my friends. I chose to pursue a career that demands a lot of selfishness and a lot of sacrifice.

I don’t have time to be a part of someone’s world because I hardly have time for my own.

I don’t have room for someone else because I live in a studio so I can afford headshots and – if I’m lucky – food.

And just when I think I’m happy with my choice. When I’m feeling very modern, and powerful, and forward thinking, I remember the last night I spent at my grandparent’s house.

My grandfather is getting older. He needs my grandma more and more for simple things like taking off his socks or getting up from his chair. These two have never been big on showing each other affection – or even expressing it verbally – and my grandma cares for him patiently and silently.

And as I was falling asleep on the couch, after a particularly tough day for my grandpa, I heard him whisper to my grandmother as he lay next to her in bed.

You know, I love you.

And she whispered back.

I love you too.

And then I think maybe my studio apartment is big enough for that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pants On Fire

I was the George Washington of children.

I could not tell a lie. Seriously. Not one.

Some called it honest. My parents called it obsessive compulsive.

If you had met my 8-year-old self and had wanted to know the time you would have gotten the “correct” answer.

No, it’s not 12:00, it’s 11:59! No one likes a liar, DAD.

I was a treat to raise.

My obsession with the truth was not limited to telling the time. When I was nine, my babysitter drove really fast down the freeway so I could feel what it was like “to fly” and made me promise not to tell my parents. But that was against my 9-year-old moral compass.

Mom! At exactly 1:27 we drove 98 mph on the freeway!

I was also a treat to baby-sit.

These days I have the opposite problem.

I was recently on a trip to San Francisco for my “day job” and was shopping in Free People. The sales assistant was being friendly and asked me if I lived in the Bay Area.

No…I live in LA.

Oh great, what do you do?

I’m an actor.

Wow! That’s so cool. Are you up here for vacation?

No, I’m here for work.

Wow. That is SO COOL.

Now, did this Sales Assistant assume I was in San Francisco for acting work?

Of course.

And did I correct her?

Of course not.

I kept the lie going the entire time.

I tried on clothes and talked about how difficult it was to film all day.

I browsed the sale rack and told her how hard it was to memorize all those lines.

I waltzed out of that store with all traces of Mr. Washington gone. And just because I was feeling crazy, I looked at my watch, saw that it was 2:27, and shouted over my shoulder:

And by the way, it’s 2:30!

I was high on lies and it felt AMAZING! I was crazy! CRAZY WITH MY LIES!

That all changed when I got back to Los Angeles.

I was sitting in my tax prepares office and she looked at me in surprise.

So, you didn’t make ANY money as an actor this year?

I feigned cheeriness.


Not even $100?

No…not even $1.

Oh, okay…

I smiled through her quiet judgment and tried to push it aside.

I later ate my weight in ice cream.

And in my Cookies N’ Cream haze, I realized that I had lied to that Sales Assistant because I needed a lie for myself.

I needed to live – even for 5 minutes – in the world I was working so hard to create.

And sometimes that world can seem really far away.

It’s easy to lose hope in Los Angeles. It’s easy for people to point at you and say that you are not successful.

But when I think about my last year here, I would disagree with those people. I may not have made money – but I’ve gained ground.

I’ve managed to clear a little more of a path for myself.

And I’ve managed to not give up one ounce of hope.

And that’s no lie.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Better Have More Fun...

I am my father’s (and mother’s) daughter.

I am literally almost an exact blend of both their personalities and features. If you knew my family well, you could find distinct qualities of both my parents and my grandparents in me.

I’m not one of those kids who people think, “Where did that kid come from.” I clearly came from the Bollingberg/Runck lineage. (How is that for some last names!?)

I have been approached in public on two occasions by people I have never met and asked if I was Kim or Del Mari’s daughter. (I am.)

I have my father’s eyes (and his sense of humor.) I have my mother’s smile (and her determination to succeed.) I can thank Grandma Hopwood for my hair and Grandma Lottie Mae for the shape of my body (sometimes ‘thanking’ her is bit difficult.)

I’m sure you're saying, “We don’t care about your genes! Where is this going?”

I’m getting there!

As most of you know, I recently dyed my hair. I understand that people dye their hair all the time. But in my family, it was a crisis.

When I sent my mother photos she said the following.

You're not my little girl anymore.

In her defense, she said it in a sad, reflective way – not a bitter “cutting-me-out-of-the-will” kind of way.

There are no blonds in the family. We breed redheads or the ever-popular “dish-water brown” haired kids. Despite my predominantly Norwegian heritage (Uff-da) there is no place for golden locks in our tribe.

Which explains the outrage, the begging to change it back, the spontaneous – and sometimes hurtful – comments. (One person went so far as to say, “I just can’t get over looking at you and thinking ‘dumb’.”)

But, my agent likes it. As does my Manager (PS: Just signed with a manager…more on that later.)

So, I’m keeping it for a while. Sorry, Mom. And Dad. And Aunt Beth and Uncle Tim and Grandma and Grandpa Hopwood, and the little boy I nanny who said my hair was “too light.”

It’s staying. At least for a while….

(This one says, "I could beat you in Small Claims Court.")

Headshots taken by Amber Bella Photography.