Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A little of my journey

What Saved Me Current mood: luminous Category: Life
I think quite literally, theater saved my life. I wish, in some way that I had found my way in earlier, but that "things happen for a reason" sometimes seems to apply.
When I was five, the first thing I knew was that I wanted to be an actress. I was absolutely fascinated with all things television and movies. Wow. I think I bravely voiced it outloud once to my family and was soundly ridiculed so I kept quiet about it. My mother confided to me that she had always wanted to be a performer, notably an opera singer, and that she took lessons for years and years but was never quite there.
She wrote stories and poetry quietly and then someone told her she was terrible (she isn't) but I think a part of her still believes it.
Maybe that's why she took the practical route and suffered silently, unfulfilled in so many ways, eeking out ways of expressing herself, taking to the stage once in while at a benefit. The woman has published five books and still doesn't consider herself a writer. They are only academic books, she says.
The women do a lot of that in my family. "It was only... it wasn't a big deal... I just got lucky..."
We are pink cheeked and embarrassed at our own naked ambition. But it blooms in us, nevertheless. At seven, I knew I was a writer and that it would be added to my dreams but that I had a better shot at that than anything else. Still, it was my mother's angst and my grandmother's bitterness that drove me. Dreams growing quiet with the years.
Every time I saw that far away look, that unshed tear, that quiet acceptance of "this is not for me", I rebelled further. I made a secret plan. To run away to California when I turned 18. It seemed only right that I go back to where I was born and pursue it. I was just waiting for the courage. But I was going to find it.
I was going to arrive with $200 in my pocket and luck on my side. Sounds absolutely crazy, but that was my plan at the age of seventeen. I didn't care about college or the smart way or the compromises people take. I had the stupidity of youth and a track record of calculated risk, and I was not afraid of it. I was more afraid of not doing it. I don't think I really fleshed out my plan to my then boyfriend. He was moderately supportive but mostly just an ass. He probably listened to some of it and dismissed it, and me.
Maybe I get it. I don't know. I hate that people ridicule and marginalize our dreams. I still hear it today.
"yeah... you know that is going to be quite difficult."
Really? Cause in my imagination it was going to be easy... you idiot. Shall I not do something because it presents a challenge? Am I not smart enough? Not lucky enough? Or is it YOU, naysayer, with the lack of imagination? Of course it will be difficult, I wouldn't want to do it if it did not give me a challenge. Anything worth having is worth working for.
But at 17 and 1/2, the stick turned blue and I knew I was now facing the biggest choice of my life. I think the easy one was having that baby. I turned 18 on a beautiful day in May, and I remember vividly sitting outside on the front steps of the apartment I shared with my boyfriend and breathing in the sweet spring air and wondering what was going to become of me. I was still wearing regular clothes, that little baby bump, barely visible to the outside world, moving inside me. Me, knowing that the practical thing to do, the thing that made the most sense, the smart thing to do, the right thing to do would be to give him up for adoption.
But I have never taken the strictly practical route because I have always believed that I can do the impossible. Find a way. I can always find a way. So, I hit a bump in the road, I will find a way. I've done plenty of things for practical reasons and done the practical thing many times but I rarely argue with my heart when it tells me to love and give.
We never have children for practical reasons. Let's face it, the reason is never that. That beautiful day when the weather was a little chilly in the morning but the sun peaking at noon told me that it would warm up nicely, I knew that the best laid plans of mine were forever burned away. But maybe there would be another way.
Four years later, I drove to California with my good friend who had been pregnant at the same time as me and she gave her child up for adoption. She was moving there to be with her boyfriend. I cannot tell you how many things died inside me with jealousy on that trip. It was... my dream she was living... it was... the road not taken.
I was there for a week, that Saturday was my 22nd birthday and we went to Disneyland. It was a wonderful week, a magical week. My two kids were at the sitter and I was free for the first time to sleep and go places unencumbered. A thousand joys and a thousand deaths plagued me that week. I kept thinking, I belong here.
We went out to Santa Monica beach, where I was born and lived the first few years of my life. I don't remember much but being lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean, and the salt air always seems to bring back in me a visceral, tangible memory of a time that was ripped from me.
My friend took a picture of me into the sun and all you can see is a shadow surrounding me. It's one of my favorite pictures. I am there but the shadow of my child self lingers over me.
For the next few years, all I talked about was getting back there and finding a way back there. I talked to everyone about it. Like I could finish school out there. My brother and his wife even kind of offered to take the kids so that I could find a place and get my crap together. Why did I not take him up on it? I think because his sole motivation was to get me out of my parent's house. And a solid plan was never made. It would have been hard to be away from the kids and to burden someone else with them.
Life intervened. I thought I would get there with the next boyfriend who promised me we would move there. He had lived out there for two years and we would go. But being black and blue dissuaded me from his promises.
Life intervened. I threw myself into school, determined to finish college and move out there with a degree. After two years of persistence, the slide began. The depression was overtaking me. Here it comes. I fought but it was like a wave, just when you thought you could breathe and swim, it takes you under again.So there I was in my twenties, sinking fast. I think I gave up on everything, gave up on myself. There was a period of time, years, when I didn't write a word. Not a letter to a friend. Not an email. Not a word. Dropped out of college again and began the slow process of drowning.
The dream was choking. The dream to do what I love. I think I would just turn on Oprah and watch all those people following their bliss and it was quite literally killing me because I could not imagine how to start. For me, every tiny little thing was potentially the last thing I would do. It was of utmost importance that if I got even a little of it, it was something that wouldn't last.
I had gotten cast in a play at Webster, my first, and I was quite literally convinced it would never happen again, that I should squeeze every ounce of joy from it as it would never happen again.
At the depth of my depression, I remember reaching through the darkness and touching something...a light that would be my daughter...a hope that would begin things anew. I did the practical thing when she was born and went to work for Cicero's to dig me out from that debt, and it was okay for a while but the spiral began again.
In that dark place, there is always a candle I keep burning. I never could quite give it up, the dream. It seemed impossible most of my life, it seemed improbable once I gave my life to those babies. After a series of fights with the owner and back and forth, I was moved to night shifts at work. Managing nights has it's own series of problems but I much preferred it to days.
There was a couple that came in that were regulars. I really liked them, but the wife was rather particular about how she liked her food so I saw a lot of them. They were pleasant. Fix the problem and they were done complaining. They were never unreasonable, just particular. As with many of the regulars, I grew fond of them and began to have long conversations with them. He taught high school theater and they were both very active in the theater community.
Recently, they had just joined a local community theater group and he was directing a play. They were a directing team, and they brought the whole cast in after the show. I looked on with happiness and angst.
"I always wished I could do that." I said.
"Why don't you?"
"Because... I...." There were no words... why didn't I? Because I didn't know how. Because I didn't know this existed, because I couldn't believe that any group would possibly want me.
The husband said to me later...
"You really want to do this? I'm directing To Kill a Mockingbird this summer. Come be my assistant director."
"I've never done anything like that before."
"I'll teach you."
And he did. That was seven years ago, and I was hooked. And it quite literally saved me and saved my dream. I didn't know what we had here. In one year consecutively, I was a writer, actress and director, and that is all I ever wanted to be.
I'm so glad I didn't give it up and do the practical thing.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I hate waiting. I sometimes have so little patience, I just want my life and the good stuff to start right now!!
Like I have this project in the works. We're shooting a ghost story I wrote and I cannot wait. I am so eager to start on it right now, right now. I want to have meetings and talk about everything and focus on the work and get it all together and I am so excited about it, I cannot think about hardly anything else.
I know I need to pay attention to what other people have going but I am just so excited this one is happening- that I get to do this and it's real.
I also find that because this is going to happen, the jealousy I used to have for other people getting to do this has just melted away. Instead, I feel generous and lucky and like giving and helping.
Amazing what a little life fulfillment will do for you.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bit by the Past

I've spent the day in tears. It's amazing what comes out of confrontation and the unwillingness to back down.
I'm beginning to understand the phrase punish the victim. It took me a long time to see myself as a victim in that situation. I'm afraid it's embarrassing to be taken advantage of and to have been used and abused. But what is worse is when you're then years later accused of bringing it on yourself. It took me years to realize what had happened to me, and let go of the guilt of the situation and accept that what happened to me happened. That I was groomed from a young age by someone waiting to pounce on me as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
But now, how dare I confront him? How dare I stir it up? How dare I speak my mind? It's in the past, and I am supposed to submit to being a victim of his the rest of my life. I'm supposed to be over it. Well, I am over it, what is your point?
I have not spent my life in limbo over this. I've moved on successfully, I think. But that doesn't mean I don't have the right to confront my abuser. I have that right, and gee, I'm sorry it makes YOU bystanders uncomfortable. It's really none of your business how I deal with this or when I bring it up.
How dare he leave a trail of victims and we are penalized for not keeping our silence?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ok-- things are getting creepy. I often write the thing that won't leave me alone, the story that follows me around in the dark and pursues me non stop.
I love that story, it's the most powerful-- the one that won't leave me alone. In light of this new blog, I've been looking at my old blog for my 'greatest hits' so to speak-
Not that there isn't enough going on but, first you must know that I have written a ghost story-- my daughter helped develop the story (she is still convinced that this house is haunted-- I often laugh about that, having never even gotten a hint of a haunt) but I digress.
I'm getting ready to go into production on this script and there is a scary guy named Jason- he's a ghost. My daughter insisted we name the ghost Jason. Mainly, she wanted to do that as an homage to Jason the dude from Friday the 13th, which I found annoying, but I let her name the character because nowhere in the script do we ever hear his real name.
Honestly, even though I said this dream had stuck with me, I had forgotten all about it until I read this just now.
So now, it's a leeeetle bit creepy-- but cool. Now I really think we need to shoot this film in my house! We are currently scouting some locations but have not settled on any-- hmmmm!
Below is the post:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Ghosts / I dream about dead people
Current mood: imaginative
Category: Dreams and the Supernatural
I had the coolest dream. Kind of. It also scared the crap out of me.
I was sitting on the couch with my bare legs under the covers and my leg kept itching and I kept scratching and finally I couldn't take it any more and I threw back the blanket and there was an essay written on my leg. It was something like "My name is Jason and I'm stuck here in this house and I need you to help me..."
Okay, weird. So I immediately called out to John who was sitting across from me. And he read my leg. The indentations were beginning to fade. It's like he used some kind of heated pressure thing to write that essay. So I was like, what do you think we should do?
I turned to my left and there was this disembodied head, transparent and in black and white on the back of my couch, inches away from me. One hand dangled over as well. It was like he was coming through the wall from behind the couch.
Since it was a dream, I can't recall the nature of the conversation that took place, what was said simply faded away from me. I was scared but not scared. I woke up several times during the night and kept getting back to that dream. It seemed very real and very important. Somewhere in the night, it occurred to me maybe I should write a ghost story. When I told John, he was like "Been done!"
I said "Not by me!"
But I often think of writing about my dreams and it seems silly in the daylight later. This one really has stuck with me.
I think I dreamed it in part because I saw that silly movie Ghost Town on Friday night. It was funny.
This morning, I dreamt I was talking to my deceased friend Dan. Another ghost. I love those dreams because we are just talking. I was jolted awake suddenly and was disappointed we didn't get to finish our conversation. I have these dreams about him many times. Because he isn't here, it's the only way we can stay current with eachother. It's always comforting to dream about him.
Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming about dead people.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The old and the new

I've been looking over my old posts from My Space-- here is one of my favorites in personal growth:

That date won't own me
Current mood: pensive
Category: Life
There are anniversaries in our lives, some good, some bad and I am blessed and cursed with a terrific memory. Some of it because I replay things in my head over and over but mostly just because I was given that gift.
It's a gift because I can recall things with better than 90% accuracy though I do not have a photographic memory.
Cursed because I forget almost nothing, but it does happen, sure I do forget things. Where did I put my car keys? Yeah, I'm human...
But the point of this is, when bad things happen, I tend to remember the date. This happened to me on November 19th...on March 31st...and then the anniversaries happen. I had a friend who is no longer a friend basically encourage and reinforce this behavior in me. She did a version of the same thing.
Recently I have decided to not let those dates own me. I don't celebrate those horrid (and they are truly traumatically horrid) things happening to me and should not be forced to re-live them and torture myself with. I refuse to let those dates own me. The fact is, those things are not happening to me on this day NOW and I have learned what I need to learn from those terrible things and now I won't let them own me.
From now on I will celebrate the wonderful anniversaries and not give room to the traumatic anniversaries. It isn't like I will ever forget those things happened but I can't undo them and should not continue to torture myself. If I happen to think of it, I have simply moved on with my day, telling myself I don't have room in my life for that negative energy any more.
Yes, that date doesn't own me.

First One Here, First one there...Becoming

Hey everyone. I'm migrating over here from My Space from my small, intimate audience who have heard my everyday trials and have stood by me and given me support and comments.
Let me tell you a little bit about me. I dream the impossible dream. There, I said it. Now that being said it, I'm going for it, full out. No one ever said this was going to be easy but I'm making my dreams come true a little bit at a time.
I'm a writer/director/actress.
I write plays, fiction, screenplays and well... whatever I want.
I think I can write anything-- except maybe a news story. I tried in college, hats off to news writers, I'm afraid I am hopeless without my juicy adjectives, and I am afraid my skills were sorely tested trying to stay in the lines of just the facts. Okay, I admit it, I am an embellisher, you may as well know that going in.
I can't seem to help myself sometimes.
It's the truth, only with glowing globes of interesting details that make it all seem shiny.
Below is one of my early posts on My Space, I cannot pinpoint the exact moment where thing changed but I do believe they have. Here is my first vision of what I wanted.

Monday, June 04, 2007
The Vision

Current mood: optimistic
Category: Writing
I'm taking some time out to think about my life and have begun to dedicate time to dealing with my own dreams and taking control of things and not being lazy, frightened and avoidant.I have now officially begun the process of stepping out and putting my work out there, although I haven't sent anything anywhere, yet. I now have a list and have different categories in my head and I'm actually really excited about it.That is because the rejection letters have not begun to come in yet!Still, I feel very optimistic NOW because I know that I am better than I have ever been and I am beginning to have a plan.Things I have been missing for years: Being my own life coach!Treating my dream like a job until it becomes one!As I was describing my long and checkered college experience to my former English teacher, I was really beginning to understand how far I had come from where I began.Ironically, no one regards me as a screw up anymore but a mentor. I guess making all those mistakes really paid off (ha!)I had to learn the hard way in some ways but what I really learned was never give up your dream. Line from Flashdance "If you give up your dream, you die."
I saw that movie when I was...15?And I thought, I will never give up my dream and then two short years later, I was considering it, resigning myself to it as silly...or having it beat out of me, maybe a little of both.But somewhere deep in there, somewhere I nurtured it, gave myself permission to keep it. So now I don't have to be idealistic but realistic. It's a part of me and it isn't going away and every time I try, I get to experience a piece of it.So, here is to the next phase...

Ok, so I wrote that two years ago and the miracle of that is I actually stuck to it, after so many disappointments and setbacks (and I know there will be more) I'm actually doing things that I dreamed of doing, instead of losing momentum, I am gaining it.
Next month, I will be beginning the process of auditioning for the short film that I wrote and will be directing. This is a huge step in the right direction for me. I just had my first piece (a trailer) in the St. Louis Film Maker's Showcase and I have moved forward from there to my next project. I'm shopping a feature film in Hollywood-
The Vision is becoming.