Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Soap Box

Lately, when people ask what I do, I tell them I’m a writer.


I skip the whole ‘I moved here to be an actor and it is and always will be my dream’ part and stick with just ‘writer.’

For a while I didn’t see it as a problem.

I noticed at the restaurant when people very smugly said, “Let me guess, you’re an actor,” I took great pleasure looking them dead in the face and saying that I’m actually a writer – (you smug a-hole.)

And my tips were always higher when I was a writer.

At least that was the excuse I gave myself.

But then, a few days ago, I was introduced to some new people and we came to the inevitable conversation about what ‘brought me to LA all the way from North Dakota.’

(I love when people say that – as if it was extra difficult for me to travel ‘all the way’ from North Dakota because it takes a long time in a horse and buggy.)

I smiled, took a sip of my beer, and before I knew what I was saying blurted out the familiar half-lie.

I’m a writer.

Not ‘writer-actor.’ Not even ‘writer but I occasionally audition.’ Just plain, old writer.

I took a longer drag of my beer and looked away.

What was my problem?

And before my shame could choke me to death I blurted out the whole truth.

I’m actually an actor. Too. Actor-writer. But, you know, mostly actor. Right now. I mean, I write to….Book Club….and act. Anyway…actor…yeah….

I felt my face burning as the familiar look of pity mixed with dash of slightly-less-respect-than-was-there-before crowded into their eyes.

I didn’t even notice. I was too busy scolding myself.

Shame on me for balking in the face of ignorant people’s misconceptions.

Shame on me for not being proud that I’m out here pursuing my own Personal Legend. (The Alchemist…anyone?)

When had this shift happened?

And finally, on the night of the Emmy’s, I figured it out. Noah and I were drinking champagne and dreaming of the day we would hold that gold statue when sixty-year-old character actress Margo Martindale won for Best Supporting Actor in a drama series.

She was shocked.

And after tripping on her way up the stairs to accept her Emmy (something I probably would have done too) she was breathless and exuberant and I felt like her first words were aimed directly at me.

Sometimes things just take time. And with that time comes greater appreciation.

Margo, how did you know that’s exactly what I needed to hear?

In that elated speech she reminded me why I was here and the reason I’ve been avoiding being called an actor. Because I’m getting tired. Again.

Tired of the ‘poor you’ looks and the stereotypes that come with being a (struggling) actor in Hollywood.

But Margo’s right. It takes time. And patience. And above all, dedication to the dream. And denying and ignoring the real reason I’m here is not moving me forward.


I’m an actor.

And that does not mean I’m uneducated.

I’m an actor.

And that does not mean I’m a model.

I’m an actor.

And that does not mean I don’t have other skills.

I’m an actor.

And pretty damn proud of it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Twelve Items Or Less

I’m not a fan of grocery shopping.

I wait until I only have one pickle and a half stick of butter left to resign myself to the fact that I have to go to the grocery store.

And that’s after I have tried to make a butter soup with pickle garnish.

So I was already annoyed a few days ago when I pulled into the over-crowded Trader Joe’s, and made my way through the 105 degree temperature outside, to the mass of steaming, eco-friendly bodies inside.

Looking around, I knew immediately that I had made a fatal error. I should never have come to this particular Trader Joes – it always makes me feel like I am in a never-ending game of (fair-trade) sardines.

After a few good shoves, I finally filled my basket and pushed my way through to find a cash register. I situated myself in the “12 Items or Less” line and patiently waited my turn.

Finally, the attendant cheerily rang me up we and exchanged eye rolls about the heat. Suddenly she turned abruptly toward the end of the line and I heard someone talking to her although I couldn’t make out the words.

Then, with a serious face but eyes on the verge of laughter she looked back at me and said:

Ma’m. The lady behind you would like you to know that this is a ’12 Items or Less’ lane.

I stared at her.


I glanced down at my items and then to the line behind me. The women directly behind me was staring at me and frantically mouthing:

It’s not me! You’re fine!! It’s the crazy lady behind me!!

My eyes slid to the ‘crazy lady’ behind her. The woman must have been eighty-years-old, wearing giant sunglasses (inside) and was pointedly not looking at me but instead studying a poster on the wall.

I glanced back at the cashier who had finished ringing me up.

How many items do I have?

She smiled.


I couldn’t help but give a surprised giggle and with a voice much louder than it needed to be, I said:

Well, if that’s the worse thing that happens to her today, she is one lucky lady.

At that, the woman behind me started laughing and the distressed woman behind her gave an annoyed sigh.

As I took my offending groceries back into the heat, I thought about the things that really annoy me.

- Sunglasses inside
- People who wait for parking spots when there is a giant line behind them
- Glee

I guess not adhering to the strict guidelines of the “12 Items or Less” line was one of that woman’s things.

And that’s fine.

But next time – take your damn sunglasses off if you want to complain about me.