man oh man. fathers.

have you ever heard an actor say, "if you can do anything else [besides act], you should"

well personally, i think that's total bullocks. the best actors should be able to do damn near anything and yet choose to act.

that being said, when you've gone to acting school for four years, it is very easy to feel completely unqualified in a real, working-world setting.

i was telling my father this. and so he sent me the following email.

A while back when we talked, you were upset because you did not feel that you were qualified to do anything. I have been thinking about your concern for some time now and composed the first of two lists. The first list is suitable for printing and putting in a pace where you will see it on a regular basis.

Enjoy, Love Dad.

Sunday, May 18, 2009


I thought about this for some time and decided you are well qualified to:

Be you
Write your own story
Have fun
Be loved
Make a friend
Be a friend
Make dreams come true
Touch a heart
Touch a world

Be seen
Be strong
Be weak
Stand tall
Be independent
Be political
Laugh out loud
Bring insight

Be beautiful
Show compassion

Congratulations, you are qualified to do all of the above, or some, or none, your choice. You are also qualified to add to this list at will.

Love, Dad

Man oh man, am I lucky.

Thanks, Dad. You're so right. I am pretty darn qualified.

And pretty darn lucky to have you.

post-secret follow up

I thought the end of Ned would be like getting hit by a dump truck, in the best possible way.

It would be a moment--one, single moment--that would knock me on my ass (or damn near kill me {as long as we're going with the dump truck metaphor}) and literally change my life forever. That was the best-case-scenario--that was what I prayed for. 

I'm starting to think it's not going to be anything like that. I'm starting to think it's happening now. And will take a very, very long time. A life, if you will. But it will not be my life--it will simply be one part of it. The end of Ned is a gradual coming to--an ascent into consciousness, the compilation of countless near-obvious realizations.

And I'm starting to think that this whole Ned thing...well, maybe there's a reason it's happened--happening.

For those of you who've read The Time Traveler's Wife, do you remember the scene where (bear with me I've loaned the book out so I have to paraphrase) Clare at twenty has just begun dating Henry. And they're at some club and she wanders off to go to the bathroom and runs into Henry of the future (the Henry she's known all her life--the Henry she grew up with) and she says to him, I miss you, I wish you were the one who was here right now--I don't know this other person. And in return he says, but who you are--this time you spend with the twenty-eight year old Henry is what makes me who I am today--the man you do love so much. I need you Clare. Do you remember this part? I'm absolutely butchering the poetry of it all but I'm just trying to make a point. 

Well, for better of for worse Ned is shaping me. He has made me who I am today. And he is creating the woman my Henry will one day fall in love with. Yes, there was a time when Ned made me unbelievably selfish, unbelievably unreliable and unbelievably unkind. But that time has passed. And for the first time in my life I'm beginning to think that I am, actually, quite strong. 

Now, let's be clear, I am not romanticizing Ned. Ned is bad. Very, very bad. I wouldn't wish Ned on anyone. Ned robbed me of whole years of my life--countless would-be memories. But I am making the choice to be thankful for how I am now responding to 

So, remember this post? Well, my post-secret really was what was written on the card, but there was more--I promised you more and I never delivered on it.

Well, okay, here goes:

About a month ago I decided to stop acting. Not for a long. Just a year. Maybe two. I was having a near impossible time reconciling Ned with the audition process. And I knew as long as Ned is an ever present force in the room with me, I'll never be able to give it a proper go. And I want to give acting a proper go. But I need acting to be my decision. I need to come to it when I am ready--not simply because it's the next step on some pre-prescribed path.

I think I scared my parents. I think they're afraid I won't go back. What I tried to explain to them is I will. That in my gut I believe this is actually the best decision I can make for the future.

And so now I have a year to fail brilliantly and make impossible mistakes. And all I want to do is travel. I have nothing tying me down, so what better time is there?

So I'm looking into teaching English abroad and while I've surreptitiously gathered information from a few of you (thanks girls!), if anyone else cares to weigh in on the subject...well, by all means.

Phew, now that I've gotten all of that out of my system, maybe words will come a bit easier now.

quote found at this little blog
which i've just discovered and
am falling in love with

books books books

i'll not forget the moment i learned to read. i was relatively young--preschool, maybe. sitting in the sunlit hallway--my legs dangling from the navy plastic chairs with slats--i pieced a sentence together. i sounded it out and made one word, then another, then another and just like that the code was broken. what had once been strange hieroglyphic symbols became moving thoughts. i understood. and so i spent that first weekend sitting in a multitude of different chairs reading that same book, max the cat, to anyone who would let me. 

the perk of living down the street from my elementary school was that i didn't need to wake up early. but i did. i'd set my alarm for six and spend a good hour (maybe more) curled up on the game-room couch getting in some good solid chapters before begrudgingly rising to dress. and i didn't mind the long afternoon ride across town to pick my brother up from school. i amused myself with books. i look back on these things now and laugh. you couldn't pry me out of bed before ten (if i could get away with it) and the motion sickness i now get from attempting to focus on anything in a car is enough to keep me from ever again trying. 

but the love of a good book. that just won't change. not ever. reading was the first thing i was ever good at. my greatest talent. of course, it's my greatest talent--it's the one thing that i get to be good at and never have to share with anyone else. i wouldn't be able to share it even if i tried. convenient, isn't it? no one can say that it isn't my greatest talent? no one can fight me on this one, you see?but what i mean is--my ability to fall into a story--for the words to fade away behind images that arise naturally without conscious thought--is this making sense? any of it? not to worry, in this thing (at least) words fail me. 

i only bring it up because...all my life i think i've striven to make manifest the talent lost to solitude. acting seemed the natural solution. and oh how i love to act. and any talent i have to acting i owe entirely to my love of reading. the love of reading that cultivated the love of words. the love of structure. the musicality of language itself. someone recently told me (i think it was his way of flirting) that i seemed to possess a musical soul, and did i? i laughed brazenly. i played the clarinet for over five years and was a disaster with it. and much as i love to sing--rhythm has never been my thing. i can't stand jazz (oh trust me i wish i did, i inherently get that it's just so damn cool) and i actually loathe opera (even if the note on my sidebar suggests otherwise). so i laughed brazenly, looked him in the eye and said,  do words count? because if they do then yes--yes, my soul is terribly musical

sometimes i would be asked, just what it is about the act of acting itself that you love so much? and i wouldn't know how to answer. there was no tangible reason. i swung miserably in the air grasping at straws. and then i would ask myself, why do i love this? why am i doing this? and slowly and surely i'd pick up a good play and read a brilliant passage and lose my breath because between my fingers i held the answer. the plays. the ideas. the words. oh, my god, the words. 

you know why shakespeare is so good? have you ever seen macbeth? well, there's this moment where the son of the slain king attempts to avenge his father by getting this other noble man who's just lost his wife and two kids to macbeth's hands on the merry bandwagon of revenge. and this guy--they guy who's just lost his wife and two kids--do you know what his response is? okay, ready yourself for this (i even pulled out an old signet edition just to be sure, Act IV, scene III, line 216):

He has no children. 

read it again. sound it out--as if you're learning to read. the line is gloriously monosyllabic! He. has. no. children. imagine this--as an actor you're thinking oh my god, i have no idea what it feels like to lose a wife and children. this man must be beside himself. how can i ever hope to act this part? don't. don't act it. for the love of god, please don't act it. just turn round, look the other bloke in the eyes and speak the words that shakespeare has given you--put them out into the space. He has no children. holy smokes. he's saying, there is no possible way to hurt macbeth as he has just hurt me. because he has no children. no flowerly language. direct to the point and absolutely deadly. 

it all seems a bit ridiculous now that it didn't strike me sooner--that i'd like shaping the words just as much as i loved to speak them. don't get me wrong--i am not a playwright. i have no intention of becoming one. but here i am a year out of school, no acting to be seen anywhere and words--the writing of them--no matter how silly or seemingly unimportant--these little words, their creation is saving me. saving my life. introducing me to myself. little gulps of air that i manage just before falling back beneath the rising water as my legs keep kicking me upwards. 

i don't know why i'm writing all this. perhaps as an explanation...if i've been a little absent lately it's because i've been working tirelessly at my penultimate talent. i copied down all of your book suggestions into my barnes and noble book journal entitled book lust, and decided to begin instead with novel on my roommate's shelf, Dancing on Thorns. The cover made it look a little trashy and quite a bit of fun and after weeks of sludging (ugh, the sludge) through The Emperor's Children, i felt entitled to a bit of fun. 

ohhhh, my friends, i'm loving it. i've spent hours reading it. it's quite long and i wouldn't have it any other way and I don't want it to end. i was up till three in the morning last night (and i had to be up at seven). it's all about the world of ballet and the genius of a true artist and the toll that takes and what must be sacrificed and is the sacrifice worth it--i could go on and on. i find that it's quite well written. and it is unbelievably, undeniably sexy--i've never read a sexier book. it's poignant and moving and far from perfect and i'm loving every second of it. so you put it on your list. and i promise to read the one's you've left me (my aunt texted me because she couldn't figure out how to leave a blog comment, so i'll pass on that she suggests Steinbeck's East of Eden). 

oh and did i mention this is set in london? i've been before but the constant references to the west end and covent gardens is...oh i just have to go again. and soon. 

25 before 25

Inspired by the amazing Carolyn over at My Thirty Before 30 Journey, I decided to make my own list. I said I needed a change? Well, it's in my hands to make it happen. My half birthday is April 4, so I have a year and a half to begin these--to make them a priority. I've lost sight of how much fun goals can be (I say this now, we'll see how I feel three months, six months, a year from now {though I have a feeling I'm going to love these--how hard some of them are--how much of a challenge they'll present})

1. take a trip abroad

2. read 25 new books
3. fall in love with running
4. give up soda and coffee (and yes, that mean's saying goodbye to starbucks)
5. figure out how to get some swimming into my life
6. host a dinner party
7. finally start a book club (stop talking about it and just do it)
8. get a job that i truly love (even if it's only temporary)
9. see the elephants walk through manhattan
10. see the yankees play in the new stadium
11. explore and document different nyc neighborhoods
12. write a little. every day. stretch those creative muscles.
13. choose 15 of shakespeare's great female monologues. disect them. figure them out.
14. speak a little poetry--a little shakespeare out loud every day
15. improve my spanish speaking skills
16. stop buying tabloid magazines
17. unleash my inner fashion mavin
18. lower my cholesterol
19. figure out what my happy weight is
20. eat at least five fruits and veggies each day
21. treat my body with the respect it deserves 
22. get my finances in order
23. become a real--working--professional actor
24. say goodbye to ned. for good.
25. fall in love

What would you put on your list? Do you all have any suggestions?