About Me

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I blog. I also mother, wife, create, preserve, recycle, cook, act, quilt, exercise, laugh, write, lolligag, work, volunteer, sing, and sometimes sleep.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Glamorous Life

Being an actor is weird.

I'm at home on a stage with lights on me, lines memorized, an orchestra under me, an audience in front of me, taking them on a ride, telling them a story, making them love me or hate me or feel sorry for me...and then they clap.  This feels normal.  This feels right.  Curtain call, actually looking at those faces for the first time, seeing the enthused clapping, the polite clapping, the bored kind of clapping, the too cool for school barely clapping, the joyous standing ovation clapping...that feeling is amazing.  It's a drug.  When it works for you, you want more of it.  But most of acting isn't that way...most of acting is drudgery getting to that point.  And it starts with auditions.

I actually LIKE auditions.  I'm one of those weirdos that sees it as a time to play.  A time to practice, to give a little performance, if you're lucky you get the chance, and if you're prepared and have some ability,  you do a good job and make a good impression..and usually I am good about walking away when they are done.  It's rare that I get nervous, but it happens.  It's rare that I get disappointed, but it happens.  I recognize that I could give the best performance I have ever given and they'll decide to cast a man instead of a woman in the part of "woman" (yes, that happened).  Logic is no road out of Crazytown applies here as well...but it can be a little weird.

Hubs is constantly bewildered at the common practice of "no news is bad news".  The idea that I only ever hear back if I book something, as is the practice, is bizarre to him.  This is where walking away is better.  Less crazymaking.  But what are we left with when we walk away?  Scraps.  Actors get scraps.  So I try to cling to the good stuff, because goodness knows I remember the bad.  I even started a journal to write down each time ANYONE says anything nice to me, a specific compliment that touches me...so that I make myself remember them.  I am not always successful at writing these things down, but I am trying to get better at it, because the good stuff doesn't stick.  When the casting director at my session looks me right in the eye, pauses a moment, and tells me "You are EXCELLENT."  That actually felt real.  Even if she was lying.  Even if I don't book it.  I am putting that in my pocket and I can mark down that moment as a success cause it's what I have.  Until the next curtain call.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Oh, Los Angeles

I left the house for work today carrying a binder full of music, a large papaya, a mason jar full of milk, a bag full of syringes, my phone, and a bottle of water (Reusable, Of course). For some reason this combination strikes me as funny. It's probably the papaya.

I left the house 30 minutes later than I had wanted to, which will extend my commute by probably hour. I knew this when I kept hitting the snooze button, but I couldn't help myself.  

I left my house and there's a car parked in front that looks just like my car so I go up to it and try to get in but I noticed that the interior upholstery is not the right color. And then I noticed that the exterior paint is not the right color, either, and I'm evidently trying to get into someone else's car. This also amuses me. 

Overall, I am amused but exhausted. I was up late writing. Working on episodes of the web series I'm trying to create, fielding other ideas in my brain as well, because this is what actors do now. I was always someone who liked to read someone else's lines. It's what I know. I'm really good at it. But then I started realizing I had other things to say. Besides, not every playwright is Tennessee Williams. Not every television show creator is Aaron Sorkin. Because of this, other people's lines aren't always terribly satisfying. And that's when I'm lucky enough to be cast in something!  Now, while I would not put myself on the same level as these amazingly talented people, creating my own story is more satisfying than waiting around to see what happens. At least for now. But it's also a whole new level of terrifying. Right now I'm working on writing a sitcom-like web series, a one woman show, a cabaret (different than the one woman show), a children's book series about chickens (still need an illustrator), a charactery how-to web series, and a novel. It's no wonder I've barely blogged lately. 

I'm a very rare thing in my profession: a Los Angeles native. Born and bred here (with the exception of a little bit of time in Nicaragua that I only barely remember), this is the city I know as my home. I've always defended it, I've appreciated it, I went to college here, even. I like taking advantage of what it has to offer. But lately, it's been pissing me off.

I don't like that it takes me 90 minutes to go 12 miles in the morning. I don't like that there's 2200 students in my daughter's middle school, and that I have to drive my son 15 minutes each way to his middle school, never mind the inconvenience that they are each at different middle schools. The weather is ridiculous. The heat is sapping my enthusiasm. We all complain on Facebook, we make with the jokes, but I haven't been able to feel productive in weeks.  Our thermostat in the house is set at 78 and yet our electric bill has never been higher.  Everyone is busy all of the time. When did this happen? When did we all get so busy? I've been trying to make plans for months with some friends and we simply can't find a time. Even my best friend and I only see each other when we work out.

More and more I find myself less and less in love with my hometown. I can't find anything of value here. There's been an uptick in crime in our neighborhood, so much so that I'm not willing to let my kids walk three blocks away to the 7-Eleven. The first two blocks would be fine, but that third block is kind of sketchy. Now, I'm not interested in having my kids grow up in some kind of white washed, sanitized version of life… But I also don't want them to get shot. 

My parents are here. My grandma is here. My mother in law is here. My work is here. We have a crazy rich network of friends here (even though there's not enough time to see them).  These are the things that keep us here. And as much as I would be terrified of the idea of packing up all the crap in our house, the house that we've lived in for the last 17 years, more and more lately I fantasize about moving away. Giving up the acting as work "dream", leaving everyone behind, and finding a new life in a smaller, slower town.  Somewhere where I can still perform on stage, so that I don't go absolutely crazy.  Somewhere with the school system that doesn't require you to jump through hoops, accumulate points, and have your children go to school miles and miles away from each other.  Somewhere where "rush-hour" is actually only an hour long. Somewhere where douche bags don't drive their Porsche SUVs around like they're the only person that matters in the whole world.  Somewhere where I can turn my air conditioning off in October.

 I'm not an idiot. I know what with these things come with. These things come with people who are small minded, no good Mexican food, the inability to find anything to do after 9 PM, douchebags that drive their pickup trucks around like they are the only thing that matter in the world, significant distance between family and friends…and I'm sure there's more I'm not thinking of.  

This is when I start dreaming of what Michael likes to call our "eco-Village". We find a great location, and fill it with people we like who wants to share resources and be a community. And then I get weighed down in the details, throw the whole concept out the window as being too hard to pull off and hope that my drive picks up.  Literally.  Because I wrote this whole thing with my dictation software as I sat without moving on Beverly Glen on my way in to work. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

One Year

Noah Rhoads
Photo by Jim Collum

Here was a boy who was born on a beautiful day in March to a mom and dad who were no strangers to the shortness of life, but who welcomed their son into the world with hope, love, and unimaginable joy.

Here was a boy who played with his brother, who lived in a redwood forest, who had a loving extended family so big no family tree could hold or explain them.

Here is a boy who understood empathy from the time he was walking. Sensitive, brilliant, funny, adept at the things he would try to do, exceptional at the things he put his mind and heart to.

Here was a boy who fought his demons… Sometimes winning, sometimes losing. He fought against injustice, whether it be family feuds on Facebook or with people he never met.  His brain was so strong and his mind often so made up, it was hard to argue with him, even for those of us good at arguing.

Here is a boy who, on September 19, 2014, decided the world would be better without him in it. He decided everyone's life would be easier if he were gone. Boy was he wrong.

I have shed tears of regret. Regret for words I can never say, apologies I can never make, actions I can never undo, conversations I will never finish.

 I have shed tears of pain. The pain of watching my sister, my children, and our family go through the horror of losing this young man in his prime in this way that seems avoidable. And yet, even if he had been unsuccessful a year ago, there is no guarantee he wouldn't have kept trying until he was. He was stubborn like that.

I have shed tears of sadness. Sadness for holidays which will always seem a little more empty, birthdays that will pass without being able to celebrate, the joy that is forever gone. The family that is forever changed.

Noah, I wish you were here. I wish you were here to snuggle with Tuna, to drive your mom crazy, and unflappably share your opinions… even when they weren't popular.  I wish you were here to play video games with your brother, have Sunday morning breakfast with the family, and swim with your cousins.  I wish I could hug you again and listen to you tell me all about what is going on. But none of those wishes will be. And not one of us is better for it.

I will keep thinking about you, and I will still cry, and sometimes I will be angry.  I will keep swimming, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep trying to help your mom make sense of all this, even though there is no sense to be made.

Here was a boy who thought he was doing the right thing.  And who was wrong.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Announcing the Break Up

I've been watching my weight since I was 7.  Parent divorce, abusive stepmother, genetics, general trauma, food is tasty, exercise is hard, whatever. It happened. I've been on a diet since I was 8, been playing the old character parts since I was 10, went to fat camp at 12, developed an eating disorder and got skinny at 22, got better and happier but fatter at 24, got diabetes at 26, had 2 babies by 30, had cancer by 32...and now it's been another decade...luckily pretty uneventful, comparatively...but I'm still on a diet. And I'm still fat.

I have a great nutritional cleansing program that I love and when I use it, I feel great, I have awesome amounts of energy without coffee, I feel better in general...and I even lose weight.  I mean, some. Not enough where people notice, but some.

After seeing my success and how much I love doing it, my husband decided that for the first time in his life, he would try my "diet". He has never had any issues with eating, in fact he's never had to follow any kind of diet at all. A month later, and he's had great success following the plan, and loves it like I do, but came to a realization last week.  The scale sucks. All scales suck. He's lost weight...about 15 pounds in a month...but he had weeks where he got on the scale, felt it should have moved more than it did, and felt disappointed.  Feeling great, making a commitment to exercise more and eat more cleanly, getting more sleep, being successful with those goals, living a more balanced life in general, but disappointed.  What's the problem?

Well, turns out that the problem is that all of those things can be happening and then you get on the scale and it hasn't moved (enough) and all of a sudden you're sad...sometimes upset...sometimes annoyed..sometimes angry. And as it turns out, none of that helps. My brilliant husband once again came to a brilliant conclusion: we are measuring the wrong thing.

He came to me after a day that I was despondent about my self imposed daily weigh in.  He shared with me his conclusion about how we are measuring the wrong things. He pleaded with me to consider getting rid of the scale. He argued that we should be measuring life a different way. Not by weight, not by our measurements, not by our paychecks, not even by our ages or occupations or any of the things we usually use.  But that didn't mean we shouldn't be measuring at all.  We are human.  We like to count.  We like to measure. So he argued that I should stop using the scale and continue my commitment to being kind to myself, to eating well, to counting my steps, even counting my calories would be okay...but to please stop looking at the scale. And today, I pulled out my enemy, from where I hide it so that my children don't develop the same issues I have, and got on it.  Despite doing everything right this week, yesterday included...I was up a pound since yesterday. Now, the insulin I take makes losing weight a bear.  And I was up way too late having fun last night and didn't get enough sleep.  And I HAVE been exercising a ton, so one could argue that muscle weighs more than fat and maybe that's why. I certainly was feeling good in general this week, stronger, happy, proud of all I had accomplished...until I got on that scale.  And then, once again, for probably the 27,000th time in my life, I felt worthless.  And like I failed.

So, all day I considered the words that my brilliant husband has repeated a few times over the last few weeks, and I decided he was right.  Like he so often can be (don't tell him I said that)...so I'm tossing the scale. Well, not TOSSING. BUT I'm making him hide it. Weighing myself is an addiction, and it isn't good for me and I don't need it. I need to eat healthfully (and I do).  I need to make good choices.  I need to be kind to myself.  I need to keep exercising, pushing myself and making my fitness goals higher and higher.  I need to do the things that make me feel good and feel RIGHT about what I am doing, and I need to stop letting the numbers on the scale dictate my sense of accomplishment.

We're done, scale. I'm measuring new things now. I'm done with you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's Next?

I'm finally joining the Screen Actor's Guild this week. It's been a long time coming!! I have been acting since I was 3, working on being a "working actor" as an adult in TV, Film, and Commercials since 2011, eligible for SAG since 2012, and just waiting until I HAD to join. That happened last week when I was cast on a new sitcom with just one day of shooting...not enough to cover my dues, but enough to get excited about, the acceptance of which meant I had to finally take the plunge. So I rallied some friends and family to help me cover the expense, and I filled out what felt like 20,000 pages of paper, and then spent the equivalent of 2 months of my mortgage to get my SAG card. I know I should be breathing a sigh of relief, but here's the thing...I don't know that actors ever get to do that.

When I came back to the world of theater after a post-college hiatus, the thing I noticed pretty quickly is how all conversations with actors or people in the business have the question "So, what's next for you?" in them. If you notice, even red carpet announcers and late night talk show hosts do it. If you're not in a show, you should be rehearsing a show, or preparing for an audition, or waiting to hear back from some project you worked on, or something.

My main background is theater. TV and film is such a funny, different world. No idea what is coming next at this point, I find out about auditions mere hours before, and booking is next to impossible.  I'd love to be at the point in my TV and film career where there is even an answer to that question... but right now, all I know, all I have some kind of control of is live theater.

I closed my last theater show in July.  I had an incredible start to the year...2 dream plays and a dream role in a third...When people asked me what was next, I was honest and said that after 3 back to back shows I needed to have a little hiatus to spend summer vacation with my kids and that I wanted to be writing my one woman show...summer turned to fall and I got busy sewing, as I do.  When I auditioned for a show in November, I was pretty certain I was going to get it...a part I'd be great for, a director I love who loves me back, and a theater I've worked at...and I didn't get it.  Couldn't have lost the part to a better actress, so that part was fine, but if I'm going to be honest, it messed with my mojo more than not getting a part usually does.  The universe tried to fix my mojo by offering me an unexpected part in another show a few days later, but I wasn't able to take it because of conflicts, and I decided it was time to put my head down, focus on writing MY show, and to take some time to REALLY do all the things my agents keep asking me to do. I've had a few other auditions that haven't worked out since then (one absolutely mortifying) and it's been a bit disconcerting...but at least now I have an answer to the question that seems to appease people: "Next, I'm spending some time focusing on TV and film work."  That seems to satisfy folks, but I don't know how much it satisfies me...especially when I think that the "what's next" questioning will NEVER END.  I mean, Meryl Streep gets asked this question!  Is there any other career where people ask "what's next for you?" ?  Maybe an attorney after they try a huge case, a doctor after they perform a crazy surgery?  A teacher when she is done with her school year?  I mean, I get it...we are never done.  We are actors, we are performers, we are artists...our creative work is never done.  If a person says they're "retiring", people scoff.  You're not allowed to rest...and I think for actors and performers, they call it "retirement" so that people STOP ASKING THE DAMN QUESTION.  I mean, it sucks that even if you get cast in a long running show as a recurring character, it will end.  And then people will ask.  But that's okay with me for now.  I WANT to have a "what's next" and a "what's next after that".  After all, I'm union now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


A few years ago, to prove a point to a single friend of mine, I went onto OkCupid and created a profile so that I could search the options available.  I used a junk email account, put in the bare minimum of information and promptly forgot it even existed.  A while later, I got asked by a friend to check out his profile and give my opinion, at which point I remembered I had an account...from there I started periodically helping friends edit content, suggesting picture changes, etc.  Michael tried to get me to perform a few social experiments, but I used a variation on my actual name as my screen name, so I was reticent to do that.  

It's been really interesting.  I've actually met a few people there who seem nice enough, some who don't believe the "I'm married" line (or who hope it doesn't matter) and a couple who wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell on their best day.  I eventually put a picture up because I had gotten chatty with one man who told me a LOT of personal information (M said I was his free therapist), and one day, at his insistence, I showed him my picture.  I never heard from him again.  I'm pretty sure I'm not *that* hideous, so my theory is that he somehow knows me in real life and panicked that I all of a sudden had a whole bunch of information he wouldn't want someone he knows to have.  I figured, since I wasn't trying to hide my presence (unlike the other married folks on OkC, who you can pick out by the fact that they don't have identifiable profile pics), that a picture would be fine...so I put up a non-suggestive, but recognizable shot.  That way, I wouldn't hear any more secrets unless someone wanted to tell me.  

WELL.  The messages started coming in like crazy.  Pictureless, I got very little attention.  With a picture, despite the clarity in my profile, the messages came.  Most people tentatively checking in to see if married meant I wasn't actually looking...then one day a young man asked how much I charged for editing services (I mention in my profile, in the "you should message me if" section, that "you should message me if you want me to edit your profile.)...I had no idea how to respond, so I asked if he was looking for grammar/spelling or content editing.  He responded "Content.  I need someone to take a good, long, hard look at my...content."  Aha.  Okay.  I told him I didn't provide the sort of services he was looking for and we both moved on.  

But today, it finally happened!  A "gentleman" wrote me, seemingly simple, just a "good morning, how are you..." and when I responded...well.  That's when the fun started.  

Monday, September 8, 2014


When I was 13, I challenged myself to stop being judgmental.  It stemmed from a challenge posed to me to strengthen a relationship with my beliefs.  Fresh out of a horrible Catholic school experience, I wasn't ready for that challenge to be religious, despite the spiritual focus intended.  My mentor through the process was patient and kind and suggested I challenge myself to figure out WHAT I believe in and to come up with a challenge that would help support that.

Sitting on a red rock formation in the desert at dusk, watching my friends prepping their camping equipment and settling in for the evening, I was asked "What DO you believe in?".  I remember pondering that question.  I remember jokingly answering "pre-marital sex!" (I was years away from it, but not that far away from being a smart ass.)  And then, while watching the antics of a person who has stalwartly stayed one of my closest lifelong friends, but had a tendency then (and sometimes now) toward the annoying...I said, quite simply...I believe in the goodness of people.

I continued (although without the gravitasse of Kevin Costner's BULL DURHAM speech or even a Chuck Lorre vanity card) to explain.  My recollection of what 13 year old me is strengthened by the fact that I was a writer, even then...and my journal explained it quite clearly.  Too lazy to find it and recount it verbatim right now, I hope you'll trust my paraphrasing... I decided that while I believed that all people were INHERENTLY good, their actions didn't always add up...but that I needed to force myself to stand by my beliefs.  To recognize that a person acting in an annoying or mean fashion may be doing it because of any number of reasons.  It could be because of their upbringing, fear, insecurities...any number of reasons over which they did not have control. And while every human can control their ACTIONS, that I needed to realize that no one was perfect and not judge them.  The 13 year old who had been judged since the 3rd grade for her weight, her unruly hair, her dramatic flair, her Jewish background, her Latina heritage, her general lack of cool points, her economic level, and her parents' divorce decided while sitting on that rock that she wanted to believe that people were good and her challenge was to NOT judge them when they acted in ways that were annoying, mean, or "bad".  Instead, to have patience and not "talk behind their back" and to hope that they would be able to learn the errors of their ways and find their way back to good.

Grownup me has trouble with this sometimes.  First off, certainly, in the wake of such serious current events like the uprising in Ferguson, or the domestic violence issues in the NFL, it's hard for grownup me to think anything but anger and frustration towards the people responsible.  13 year old me may have not been thinking about criminal activities, exactly, so it's possible her theories aren't foolproof.  But this morning, I found myself getting all worked up about a person's status update on Facebook.  A status so judgmental and self serving it made me want to punch something.  Or someone.  And then, as I do, I felt 13 year old me wearing the silver piece of cloth, symbolic of my challenge, tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me that anger and annoyance and frustration would not benefit me. 13 year old me reminding me that this person lives their life in fear.  That their status isn't INTENDING to hurt anyone.  And so, as she often does, grownup me calmed down and stopped judging and moved on.  Well, first I blogged.  But now I'm moving on.