12:12 pm - Sun 1/13/03
(The first part of this entry is a response to a detailed email Jane sent me, after the D-land entry where I was expressing a lot of frustration/unhappiness over work. And I apologize if anyone is offended over the assumptions I make about their jobs and how they feel about them. It's just my take on things, which could very well be wrong. But anyway...)
I think this e-mail was maybe the most "on target" thing you ever written to me, about me...
> The trouble with you and work is that you've never had a job worthy of your
> abilities--and you've squelched any chance at promotion or getting higher on
> the ladder with more responsibility which could mean more money and less
> boredom--because...? You're self-defined "lazy"--or afraid of failure? Afraid
> of success? Afraid of giving up the idea of "acting" being your primary goal?
> (Like, as long as you're not "successful" in any other line of work, you can
> still call yourself an actor?)
I think one of my fears is the fear of being more bored and unhappy and tired than I already am. I'm afraid of having to struggle more, when I feel like I'm struggling as hard as I can NOW; There's no one I know, who makes more money than I do, where I think "I wish I could do what THEY do...". Kevin's job, Cary's job, Carrie M's job, the managers at the bookstore--What they have to do for their money strikes me as being so alternately boring and stressful that I think I'd want to KILL myself if I had to do it on a day-to-day basis (Cary seems to like his job, by and large--though I think he moved up to his present management position for no reason but the money--but I know Kevin hates his job, and I've never read one sentence in Carrie's journal where she expressed any enthusiasm about what she actually DOES. She might mention liking this or that person, and it seems obvious that she's proud of making the income she makes, but I don't get the impression she gets loads of actual "job satisfaction" from her work. And the supervisors/managers at the bookstore are 1) Still not very well paid for the work they do, and 2) Often seem just as stressed and unhappy as I am, probably because of #1)
My view from the outside is that "moving up the ladder", for most people, seems to be the deal with the devil they make for money and security. People either don't HAVE a dream, or else they do, and that dream gets crushed under the necessity/temptation to make MONEY (I guess you could say that money helps make the dream of having a nice home and nice things and a nice family come true).
Sometimes I feel as if I've simply failed/refused to grow up. I didn't get the memo--"Work is about doing something you don't really care about that much, that mostly makes you feel bored and tired and unhappy and stressed, so you can have two cars, two weeks vacation, and enough money saved so that when you're old, you can go into a nice retirement center where the help won't abuse you" (And often people even get screwed out of that last part. I'm thinking Enron here, amongst others)
I don't really know, to be honest, what my "abilities" ARE, beyond the acting thing. I've always thought of myself as being "bright", but I don't really know what that MEANS, so in effect, it's MEANINGLESS; I sometimes do think I'm working at a job that's "beneath me", but I don't know what the job that would be "worthy of me", outside of acting, would ENTAIL.
And I feel kind of STUCK; I can't think of anything I could just "slide into" that would make me feel any BETTER than what I'm doing, but I can think of any number of things that would make me feel a whole lot WORSE (Food service, an office job, a retail job OUTSIDE of a bookstore, phone sales, any minimum wage job, etc).
Any YES, I'm definitely afraid that if I got on some "fast track" at the bookstore, or anywhere else, that acting would go on the back burner and never get to "the front burner" AGAIN (I've actually said words to that effect a number of times recently; "I'm afraid of becoming a manager at Borders, and ten years down the road thinking, 'I came out to LA to DO something, but I can't remember what it WAS now...'."). And I'm twenty years late starting DOWN this path, so I don't think I have time now to experiment with other professions (Unless I can figure out how to make it dovetail into what I really WANT to do). To do something I might get at least SOME satisfaction from does seem like it would necessitate giving up the dream of acting, or at least putting if off for years (To get training, go back to school, etc). And for something, in my heart, that I don't want to do ANYWAY.
> The trouble is, you've chosen a "career" that is among the most difficult to
> actually make a living at. So be it. But that's all the more reason to give
> yourself lots of credit for continuing to press on in the face of bad odds
> and not condemn yourself if you're not making a living at it--yet.
I think it's very interesting that you put the word "career" in quotes. Very interesting indeed...
This past "weekend" went really well for me emotionally, and I think the reason why was that I was doing the things I'm supposed to be doing out here (And some of it was actually FUN, which has been very hard to COME by during my time in LA). I had moments where I was reminded, as I haven't been in a long time, that I'm actually kind of GOOD at this acting shit. And I felt a sense of encouragement, a sense of POSSIBILITY, that's been missing from my efforts. And without that, the fact that I've pressed on as long as I have is downright MIRACULOUS to me (I spend a lot of time thinking about my struggle to find motivation/stay motivated).
> "I'm missing something here. A part is missing, a piece has
> the machine is not firing on all cylinders. Why can't I just get to do
> something I
> want to do? ... But I want it all. I want to do the one thing I want to
> do, and I
> desperately don't want to do anything else. I know what I want to do, I
> want to get to do it."
> I think the piece that's missing is the "inner parent"--the kindly
> disciplinarian that directs your feet back to the craggy path toward what you
> "want" to do. You don't get there by just wanting to BE there--and with
> acting, the direction of "the path" just ain't too clear, so... That's why
> "sensible (?)" "chicken(?)" people don't choose that path--just do something
> else to put macaroni on the table and keep community theatre alive in their
> spare time.
I think you're right there. My life to date has been a struggle to find the "inner parent" to give me the "kindly discipline" I need. And I knew that would be an ISSUE out here, but what was there to DO? Stay in Lansing another 20 years, till that "inner parent" finally decided to put in an appearance?
> "Why is life, why is my life, spent in perpetual frustration over how
> tired and
> bored I am? How pointless it all seems? How lonely I am? How life is
> flying by
> and I feel like I'm just watching it all from behind a thick pane of
> glass? Why
> re things going this way? I genuinely don't understand."
> "I haven't been able to stick with things."
> Could that be IT?
> Do you give up before you GET into "the middle of things?" Do you quit before
> you're the one "making things happen"? Do you lose patience/interest in
> people/projects before you're an "insider" "expert" "leader"? Do you, on some
> level, not WANT to be an "insider" "expert" "leader"? Would that make you the
> "adult" when you really still want to be the "child" because you never got
> enough encouragement when you WERE a child?
I think there's a lot to ALL of that. I think I'm VERY easily bored, and frustrated. I think I'm afraid of being criticized, yelled at, etc. And I think a lot of it DOES boil down to still thinking of myself as a child. And unfortunately, not a very HAPPY child.
But lately, I've had a persistent thought that strikes me as pretty "adult"--The thing for me to do is get over my fear/discomfort/embarrassment/unhappiness over being me, and just BE.
I don't WANT to be the manager of a Borders. I don't want to be a computer programmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or an Indian chief.
But if I want to be ME, and do what it is I want to do, then yeah, I have to be prepared for some rough sledding. It really IS "the road less travelled"--And I have to give myself "props" for that, because that's not a road trip everyone's up for TAKING--but if I'm really going to GO down that road, I have to commit to it, and not spend my time crying about how hard it is, or how I wish I had this or that or the other thing that my lifestyle doesn't afford me.
The job here is not to be someone else, but to continue to figure out who I am, and how to get the most out of that I can. And try not to be quite so stressd and afraid all the time (Having some FUN lately made me realize how little fun I've BEEN having).
Jane, I wanted to thank you again for being such a support to me. If you weren't there for me, I don't think this would be possible. So thank you.
This past "weekend" was very busy for me, in terms of acting stuff.
In addition to the commercial thing on Thursday, I had auditions for student films on both Friday and Saturday.
The thing at Cal State-Northridge was for a film called Stealing Breath.
I don't really know what the film is about--something to do with a guy getting out of a mental institution and trying to make it in the real world again--but they had me read for two parts, the Doctor/Supervisor of the institution, and the manager of a convenience store where the crazy guy gets a job.
The script was badly written--And I've noticed that bad scripts are often bad in the same way; In real life, people use contractions constantly, but some screenwriters are uncomfortable with them, and their dialogue sound stilted as a result--and when I read the Doctor, I heard myself struggling with the dialogue.
Reading for the other guy, I thought I did much better. It was still badly written, but the underlying emotion was pretty clear; The crazy guy had screwed up, it was probably a "last straw" kind-of-thing, and my character was letting him have it.
Anyway, the two filmmakers seemed pleased, so we'll see how that went.
The other thing, yesterday, was for a film called Befriending Gumbo (About a guy who, well, befriends "Gumbo", a homeless man).
This script was a little better, or at least, I had more of a response to it when I read the sides.
They also had me read two characters.
Interestingly enough, the first one involved another scene of someone losing their temper, though trying to keep himself in check.
I read that one pretty well, playing it for the humor of a guy who wants to be mellow, but at the same time is feeling a downright explosive anger.
The other character they had me read was "Gumbo" himself.
I thought I kind of hit that one out of the park; I found myself channeling "Pap" from Big River (The two characters seemed, in my eyes, to have a lot in common; animal cunning, and an intersting mix of anger, self-pity, and blatant manipulation).
And I was kind of proud of one touch I had; In the scene, there's a point where "Gumbo", asked why people call him "Gumbo", sings a "nonsense song", then says "That's why they call me 'Gumbo'".
I started singing "I'm Gumbo the Homeless Man..." (To the tune of "Popeye The Sailor Man"), as I shuffled around doing a little impromptu homeless guy dance, and when the two guys started laughing, I knew I had them (That was always something I tried to do in community theater auditions; Give them something that not everyone was going to think of).
Anyway, it was obvious they were very impressed--They said, "You could do either part..."--so I'll be surprised if they don't call me for one or the other.
The only way I think the "weekend" could have been improved-upon is if those auditions had went as well as they did, but for paying things.
But the time is coming.
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