la Ketch

my life story

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Virtue Patience

Waiting. Not good at it. Me. I feel this week a little like I did the weeks before our wedding. Impatient. Waiting to go on this trip (only 4 days away!). Waiting to get pregnant (longer than that). Waiting to move to California. On and on like that. I’m a planner. I make plans to live and I live in the plans I make. How can I exist in the in between? (yes Pete, I’m reading it! ) I can make more plans but at this present point I’ve planned pretty much as far as I’m comfortable planning. So here I am stuck with me. I should exercise. I should read a classic novel. I should stop complaining and do something for someone else.

My latest obsession is the Dog Run in our park. We have a great big park just blocks away from our house and it’s such a good thing because Eliott loves to romp around. One of the best things about the park is the dog run where we can let him off the leash and he can run free and play with the other dogs. Our dog run though is a bit dilapidated. I started looking into what we could do to get the place some repairs and I learned that it’s not the city’s responsibility to maintain the run, that every dog run in the city has an association, every dog run except for ours that is! I guess there used to be one but for whatever reason it fizzled out. So what did I do gentle readers? I started a fucking association. Now it’s all I think about. I even started a blog for it. Check the shit out

On one level, it’s been really good for me. I’ve been having a very difficult time this last year coming to terms with my artistic self, my actor self, and I’ve needed someplace to re-channel my energy. I’ve been acting since I was small and it’s so much a part of me that I’ve always assumed that I would always be doing it and now I’m beginning to see that isn’t the case. It’s not like I didn’t know that it was HARD and that most people GIVE UP after a while. It’s just that I never thought that giving it up person would be me.

I’m not trying to tug at your heart strings because mostly it’s my fault. I haven’t worked nearly hard enough to get where I want to be. I certainly haven’t been pounding the pavement for years, knocking on every door possible, begging for the opportunity to work. I haven’t worked as hard as a person who wants to make it come hell or high water should. Also, like most people, for me, that type of putting yourself out there, it’s too degrading, too upsetting, that level of rejection, especially when it comes from untalented people who have their heads up their asses but somehow are behind the table at an audition. I just can’t go to open calls in the back of Back Stage Magazine. I just can’t go on all of these random auditions. Instead, I tried to go the “dignified route”, working with people I know and getting parts from people just seeing my work and giving me a part. This route worked better for me in the past than lately.

The other dignified route I've tried to take is grad school. I’ve really wanted to go to grad school for years. I wanted to go not just because I could get the clout and connections I needed to launch and actual career but also because I wanted some real training. I wanted something intense and all encompassing. I wanted to be pushed beyond my limits. Well, I didn’t get in to a top school. I got into the Actor’s Studio at the New School University – for those of you not familiar, this is the school where James Lipton’s show, “Inside the Actor’s Studio” was shot and yes you can see me in the audience in a few episodes and yes I asked Gwyneth Paltrow a question.. The program is now defunct and for good reason, it was a joke. You’re not actually going to school at the Actor’s Studio, you’re going to school at the New School University. They are two very separate entities. You get to go to the Actor’s Studio and observe but even that is sort of sad because it’s just a bunch of old people sitting around, slapping each other on the back and trying to one up each other with Brando anecdotes, “IIII remember, this one time, I was in a scene and my scene partner, BRANDO, threw me against the WALL!!” “Oh, yes, yes, I remember this one time in particular I was in a scene and BRANDO yelled from the back of the room ‘I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!!”” It’s endearing but also pathetic. I dropped out of the program after the first year and I do believe, especially after talking to people that stuck with it and now seeing that the program has collapsed, I made the right decision. Also, I saved myself from about $50,000 in debt. Now, I’m only $25,000 in debt.

The school that I really wanted to get into was NYU. Me and everyone else you say? Yes, this is true. I didn’t even get called back the first time I auditioned and I have to admit that I wasn’t ready for it. My audition sucked and they shouldn’t have let me in. Then, last year, I decided to audition again. I was 30 years old when I did the second audition and that is old for the NYU grad program. Most of the kids are right out of undergrad. Anyway, I worked really hard on it and once again, I didn’t even get called back. I thought my audition was good but I’m pretty certain that I blew the second part of it and that coupled with my age fucked me. So now it’s pretty clear to me that I’m not going to grad school for acting. I’m married and I want to get pregnant soon. My husband is in grad school. The window has closed. It’s just not happening. Not only is THAT not happening but my acting career isn’t happening either. There’s something paralyzed in me now. Something that was seriously damaged by that rejection that I’m having a hard time finding. I’ve lost the edge, the eye of the tiger, the loving feeling, the magic touch. It’s gone babies! I don’t have it anymore! I’ve been mourning this loss for a while now, like a little baby sent down the river in a basket. I’ve been saying goodbye and goodbye to it. Then last summer, I took on a new project that I thought might be the answer to my artistic prayers. Well, that pretty much didn’t work out either. That loss is actually too fresh for me to talk about here. I haven’t figured it out yet but it’s intense.

I don’t think that I will never act again. I think I will find it again but it can’t be forced. I’ve decided to just step away from it for now and I’m not sure how or when I will step back.

That’s where the dog run comes in. I’m totally obsessed with this project, this doggie community. It’s a hard project, a lot has to be done and it’s going to take at least a year full of fundraising and manual labor before the place is in ship shape but the thing about the dog run is – it needs me. The poor little sad thing needs my help so badly. No one will step up and take on the responsibility of being in charge and it seemed so obvious to me that I had to. It’s like I’ve appointed myself the president of the Dog PTA. As you can imagine, the dog owner personalities are difficult and some are downright crazy. I’m doing my best to avoid conflicts in the personality arena, it can’t be avoided but I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far. I’m trying to listen to people’s needs and concerns without trying to please everyone. I’m trying to lead by inspiring people and not by brow beating them. It’s so funny because it actually brings back a lot of memories from my days as Student Body President. The other thing about working on the dog run is that it’s concrete. The fence has a hole, patch the hole. You see the results. I like it.

Last night I had a dream that I was a guest director at a graduate acting program. I was watching the student’s scenes and critiquing them, sort of like “American Idol”. I was being really supportive to them though and I really believed in them, I had this affection for them. The whole thing was taking place in the office where I work in real life. In the dream, while I was working with these kids, I was also working for the Portfolio Manager of our company (he’s the head honcho). He didn’t mind that I was working with these kids as long as I continued to greet his guests and answer his phone. He had a meeting with three people and I had to go out and greet them, get them something to drink and let them know that he would be with them in a few moments. When I went to get the men I realized that one of them was the Dali Lama. In my dream I knew the Dali Lama because I used to work for him as his secretary. He greeted me warmly and I sat him down at one of the desks and told him that my boss would be with him in a moment.

He seemed content to sit and wait.


At 2:32 PM, Blogger tina said...

Goddamnit, Hilarina. You are so great. I just love you. Jesus.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger P'tit Boo said...

That was such an amazingly insightful , moving and just all around kick ass post.

There are people who go through what you are going through and don't face it. These people become bitter.
You won't be them because you have the awareness lady.

I have no freaking patience either !
Let me know how you work on being more patient because I am interested...


At 2:30 PM, Blogger la Ketch said...

thanks to you both. thanks!

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Eve said...

Man, oh MAN, I SO relate to this post! Aaaghhhrrhhh!

I find that I'm just starting to come to terms this year with my "dreams" changing, and developing some new ones that I am happy with and excited about.
You're right- you've gotta have a passion. At least I do.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger A Large Slice of Cake said...

Hmmm...I've been sitting here trying to figure out what to say, not wanting to sound presumptious because, oh yeah, I don't actually know you! But I definitely sympathize with sadness about putting a dream to bed. I think the dog park sounds like a great idea--very fun, necessary and original, and maybe you could get a "Talk of the Town" article done about you! And also, there's your kick-ass blog, a creative display of your excellence that I hope pleases you.

I LOVE the dream and the Dalai Lama connection. Priceless.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger hpmelon said...

I keep typing in comments and then deleting them. I hate giving people advice, but I wanted you to know that I have had a similar struggle.

I left acting for almost 6 years. Coming back to it was both painful and glorious. I too have struggled with the wish to go to grad school and felt that that time had passed for me. But my new take on things is that, there is rarely a real 'never'. It may not be clear yet, but the stage and grad school, and who knows what, may still be in you cards. Congrats on starting the association. Elliot has a kick ass mommy.


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