Chipping Away

As my second quarter is on its final legs and we begin our final projects, I find I’m able to just barely keep everything afloat. I start out the quarter so full of hope and energy, thinking that this time I will go above and beyond on my homework assignments – so I can really make the most of my short time back at school. But as the (very few) weeks pass, I find I have to turn in work that is not nearly as wonderful as I first set out to do. Time alludes me. I feel I’m constantly just getting by on my school assignments, work around the house and spending time with my daughter and husband. I just chip away at the long list of “to-do”s.

But as I chip away I unearth a deeper passion for what I’m studying. Today I had a pre-production meeting regarding a play I’ll be designing the set for. I get so excited thinking about the possibilities of what we can do and how we can further tell the story by what we show visually. I love reading a play and having images pop into my head.

A few weeks ago I helped shop for props for a short film my husband is producing. As I was browsing the aisles of Goodwill seeing what jumped out at me as the perfect little additions for a shabby 1991 kitchen, I realized this was something I’ve been doing my whole life. I like to wander the aisles at stores and look at things and see what speaks to me and where each item might look good or what kind of person would buy it.

It’s a really great feeling finding something else I’m passionate about and also feeling like I have a gift for it. The moment I read a script or a play my imagination flies. And now, thanks to school, I’m learning the tools to get the images out from my head and in front of other people.

This is freaking great. It’s not easy, and some days I really feel like tossing in the towel… then I remember how stir crazy I was waiting for my agent to call and going nuts feeling like I wasn’t helping provide for the family in some way. I know I was working a ton and it’s no easy task taking care of a kid and a home, but I felt so creatively dead. And maybe that’s what happened, maybe a part of me died – was creatively starved to death, which allowed a new artist to rise. I would never have pursued this field if the acting gigs had happened just a little more often. I find myself oddly grateful for the way things turned out. Of

I find myself grateful for the way things turned out. Of course I didn’t know it a year ago when I was really struggling and wondering what to do with myself, but here I am feeling full of hope and (still) wondering what will the future hold.

 

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Fashion…and Me

I’ve begun my second quarter at FIDM (started last Thursday), and this weekend I am working on one of the most difficult assignments I’ve ever had. On the surface it is quite simple, and for some it might be one of the easiest assignments they’ve ever had. But for me, given the task of taking street-style photos of 10 16-24 year-olds who are fashion forward has given me a ridiculous amount of anxiety. Today I walked down Melrose ave where there are a ton of great vintage shops and boutiques. My homework walked past me in droves. It would have been like shooting fish in a barrel – had I the bullets (guts) to do it. But I didn’t. I failed miserably and then, of course, immediately mental beat myself up for not doing it. Here I am, a 32-year-old grown ass woman with a family and home – and I let myself get intimidated by young women a decade younger than me. Good job, Julisa.

My whole Melrose experience made me want to run screaming for the hills (the hills of Astoria, Oregon to be exact – more on that later). I have never been one to feel fashion forward – nor desired to be. I prefer classic styles, and I adore vintage classy chic styles. But with the fashion trending towards ripped jeans, crop tops, 90’s floral prints… a lot of 90’s fashion in fact, I feel like a complete outsider. Let’s be honest, that walk made me feel boring, drab, and old. The pressure to look “cool” gave me flashbacks to middle and high-school (and so did the high-waisted jeans).

I have always been drawn to the past. Even when I was a kid, I grew up watching old black and white movies, reading a ton of historical fiction, and scavenging through antique shops. I longed for a “simple” kind of life – to some extent. Obviously I didn’t want to go to extremes – I live in LA for goodness sakes! But even now I enjoy the fact that we don’t have cable television. We have only one t.v and for most of the day it’s covered by a large painting. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account so I could focus more on the life in front of me (and of course the political environment is terribly depressing). Eric and I have worked on decluttering our home and going through everything making sure what we have we use regularly and makes us happy. We don’t have a ton of toys for Cordie (we also don’t have much space).

Eric, Cordie, and I recently traveled up to Longview, Washington to visit my parents and while up there we took a day trip to Astoria, Oregon. I’ve always enjoyed that town, but this time around Eric and I were taken by the Victorian houses. It was a rare sunny day in the Pacific Northwest, and the town seemed extra magical. “Move here” it seemed to shout. The calling still lingers… First I need to finish school.

I have a few more days to finish this project. I just wanted to write and share my entertaining anxiety with talking to 16-24-year-old young folks who are fashion forward. Why couldn’t they have asked me to look for “advanced style” people?! I would have had a heyday with that!!!

Ok, I can do this!

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Two Cents

Kitchen

I’ve been meaning to write another blog for awhile now…but time just slips away (surprise surprise). However, after reading this article: “Is Parenthood the Enemy of Creativity”,  I just can’t help myself but to take a moment and write a few thoughts of my own on the subject.

Stop doing so damn much! We get sucked into busying ourselves within every sweet second of our life (I am a huge offender of this thing). Specially while living in LA and doing all the business of being an actor and trying to get my work out there and be seen and noticed. Then to add on top of that being a new mom, the list of “must dos” and “should dos” is staggering and even debilitating.

I’ve had to take a step back and really look at this long list of things I “need” to do. Who is telling me I need to do it? My society or my instinct? This goes for both actor things and mom things. Here’s an example – that is actually quite timely due to recent events: Actor workshops. I hate them with a passion. I did a few because I was told they were what you needed to do in order to get any “real” work in this town but every time I went to one, everything in me cringed. The desperation you feel in that room is just awful, and you can’t help but become a part of it. In a town where you already feel quite helpless, this was just another thing to put you in your place.

So I stopped. The money I would have spent on workshops I spent on my own projects. New filming equipment, money for crew (or at least feeding crew), for submission fees for festivals, for classes that actually helped my acting muscles, etc. And now I feel a heck of a lot less shame – and helpless!

This idea can continue on to other actor-y things: building a twitter following, a large Instagram or YouTube presence, sending postcard after postcard, sending out a million envelopes with your headshot and resume in them, going to a bunch of parties to mingle and make industry contacts…. You can get so caught up in all the things you’re supposed to do to help make your career and get you noticed as an artist, and yet if you don’t spend time and passion on you art, what have you got to give?

Nothing in this town is certain. You could win an Oscar one year and in the next people could be asking “whatever happened to…?” There are no guarantees. You can book a commercial or a t.v show, get excited and tell all your friends, and then get edited out! I think what it comes down to is the work itself. Are you doing work you love and are proud of? Or are you focusing on taking the steps for success -whether that be financial or social. What is important to you? If its popularity and success, then fine! Go for it. But the only thing I have time to focus on, care about, and know I have a little control in is my own work. That means in the scenes I put up in class, the short films I write, shoot, and put out into the world, and even taking time to see the world around me and enjoy it.

So now I switch gears (a bit) and go into my dealings with being a mom. I feel it is very similar in my approach. I can get so caught up in what society is telling me I need to do as a mom! The amount of books I’ve read is… pretty ridiculous. I also find it funny that I am drawn to books and articles that basically reinstate what I already thought was good parenting. Isn’t that what a lot of us do? We take a piece of this theory, or that style, or a new program for parenting  (kind of like how some people take their favorite bits and pieces of religions)  just so we can feel less guilty about what we’re doing. And that’s another thing: GUILT!  Oh dear Lord, the way we can pile on the shame and guilt! I think we like it! Because no one likes a cocky parent or a parent that says “I think I’m doing a great job!”. But why not? (now take that idea back to acting – no one likes a cocky actor either!)

So, now to tie the two of these things together and actually relate it back to the article I had read about how being a parent can decrease you artistic abilities… or be the enemy… or whatever. So far I have not found that being a parent has made me less of an artist. It has strengthened my passion for my art, and it has laser focused the precious time I get when I can work on my art. Yesterday I dropped my daughter off at daycare, headed to the theatre for  three hours to work on a one act I’m directing. I then enjoyed a quiet afternoon to focus and work on a one act I’m acting in, then proceeded to my two hour rehearsal before picking my daughter up at 5pm. This is not a typical day, but when I get a day like that I relish it!! I’ll admit I felt a twinge of guilt for a minute or two, but let it go. I’m spending all day today with my daughter, and now I can focus on her and not worry about the art I’m not doing.

Perhaps I’m not quite writing this out as well as I would like… but the point I’m trying to make is that being a parent has deepened my relationship with life and the world – and how can that not make you a stronger artist. Don’t look at the quantity of time you put towards your art, look at the quality.

So that’s my two cents on this early Wednesday morning. The sun is coming up and I hear my daughter waking. Time to get on with the day!

 

PS: I’m super excited to write more about how I’m letting go of my “identities” as mom, actor, wife, etc. ….. but that’s for another early morn.

In the mean time, check out this book: How to Wake Up by Toni Bernhard.

 

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Puppies and Callbacks

Why not start out the new year with a little post about 2 wonderful things?!

#1: A puppy: photo-2

We will be picking her up and bringing her home this evening and we are beyond excited! We still haven’t picked a name since we’d like to spend a little more time with her and get a feel for her personality.

#2: First callback of the year

Last night I auditioned for a play that I had done before – about 8 years ago. Same role but my view on the role has changed a bit over the last few years apparently. Nothing quite like reading sides from the play and realizing that yes, indeed, I have learned a few more things about the craft since I left my hometown 6 years ago. Phew!

I’m excited for the opportunity to possibly do a play again. It’s been quite awhile. The last play I did I wound up meeting my now husband. Crazy world.

As for what my general goal for 2014 is (in case you were wondering), I’m feeling like this is the year to deepen and strengthen relationships. Last year was a really great building-a-foundation year. Now that I have a lot of the ground work done I look forward to enjoying new friendships and building on the ones I already have.

Of course I have a long to-do list for this year as well, but for now….let’s just take another look at that oh-so-freakin-cute-puppppyyyyy!!!!!

 

Happy Wednesday, my friends. Be well.

new year

 

PS: I jumped through icy waters in Minnesota this Christmas.
Now I am officially a part of my husband’s family. Yeesh!

Ice Jump

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Balancing Work, Play, and Craft

Here we are finishing up November! Thanksgiving is next week. One of my all time favorite holidays. Lots of good food, friends and family spending time together, and no worries about buying gifts for each other.

Last week I took Lesly Kahn’s Triage to see if I liked her studio and to see about starting her comedy intensive class. I did like her and her studio and I’m very excited about starting class next month. I’ve been spending so much time on the business side of my career that I discovered I was letting the craft part slip a bit. Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking: I trained in school and have all those years of theatre growing up that I don’t need to work on my skill so much now. FALSE! I went to a casting director workshop last weekend and I apparently mumbled my first line. The CD asked for me to repeat myself since he couldn’t understand me. Shock! Horror! Have I lost my diction?! Suffice it to say I have started a morning routine that I used to do back in college rehearsals. I warm up my body and voice every morning and follow it by going over my last singing lesson and practicing the songs I’m working on. Today I’m working on sides for an audition I have this afternoon but on days that I don’t have auditions I’ll work on a monologue or read a new play to find more fun things to work on. My muscles are a little weak and it’s time to get them working regularly again.

I’m still working on my silent film but it seems to be going slowly, so to give myself a project that only involves myself I’ve decided to finally put all my voice lessons to good use and perform a one woman show on my 6th anniversary of living in LA.  April 16th, 2014. Mark your calendars. I’ll figure out location and other details as it gets closer and let you know. I’m looking forward to doing this show. I already have half the songs compiled and worked on. Now it’s just adding a couple more and then writing the fun stuff in between.

But the point of today’s post is: don’t forget to keep working on getting better. That’s what keeps you in it. I feel like an actor when I’m working on a script or writing one or even doing my physical and vocal warmups.

Do the thing you love doing and push yourself a little further today.

 

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