Play

May 16, 2012

Sometimes I get the urge to skip. Down the street. Down the hall. I do it sometimes. I wish I did it more. Because you can’t skip without smiling. But it’s the grown-up voice that creeps in my head that stops me. Adults don’t skip. Kids do.

I’ve been thinking of kids lately. No, not exactly having one, but being one. I recently watched this awesome short film Caine’s Arcade (you MUST watch it if you haven’t yet) and was reminded of how the very things I lost grip of as I grew up, are the things I’m currently trying to get a hold of again. Imagination. Determination. Passion. And that carefree feeling when you skip.

Last month I had my first audition in two years. It took me a few days of rehearsing to let go and simply remember to “play”. Imagine. I was determined to do my best and now I’m in two small plays. (hence the two month absence from blogging)

I admire Caine. And his supportive dad, George. I also admire Nirvan, the filmmaker. Caine’s cardboard arcade inspired Nirvan, who then inspired thousands more people who have raised over $200,000 for his scholarship fund. And now there’s a $250,000 matching grant to fund Caine’s Arcade Foundation, which will be “devoted to discovering, fostering, and funding creativity and entrepreneurship in more young kids like Caine.”

We need to play. Create. Save the arts. And skip sometimes.

And I really need to visit Caine’s Arcade.

The Smell of Chlorine

January 23, 2012

Nissa Inhulsen, 1999, Grand Blanc Swimming

I got a whiff of chlorine recently and a part of my stomach jolted. I wasn’t a 29-year-old married, working woman in Los Angeles anymore. I was a scrawny, awkward teenager with braces entering a rival high school swimming pool preparing for a meet near Flint, Mich. Amazing how some smells can bring up such vivid memories.

I tried out for the swim team in 7th grade (or was it 8th?), the first year at my new school. My Dad encouraged me to do it. I didn’t think I would make the team so I was surprised when I heard my name on the recorded list of swim team members. Surprised and terrified. What did I get myself into? Six years of being on the swim team, that’s what.

I liked swimming. I didn’t like getting in the pool for practice at 5am before school. I also didn’t like swimming in the rain during pre-season hell week every other year in Florida. I didn’t like my hair being frozen after practice in the winter. I didn’t like swim caps. And I really didn’t like competing. It made me nauseous (my heart is beating faster as I think about it right now).

So why didn’t I quit if it made me so nervous? Why put myself through that trauma every week we had a swim meet? I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or coaches. Or myself. I didn’t want to be a quitter (I was too far in to quit). And that feeling of accomplishment senior year when I beat my best times at my final meet and graduated from the swim team … that feeling trumped any feeling of anxiety.

I watched My Week With Marilyn last night. I really enjoyed it and it got me curious about Marilyn. I found her last recorded interview, and the following stood out to me:

You know, when they talk about nervousness, my teacher, Lee Strasberg, when I said to him, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m a little nervous,” he said, “When you’re not, give up, because nervousness indicates sensitivity.”

So is nervousness a good thing? Do some people have more nervousness in them than others? Or is it really just about how we translate the nerves?

If I would’ve let my nerves scare me, I would’ve quit the swim team. And the smell of chlorine would remind me of giving up instead of growing up. Braces and all.

#WINNING

March 21, 2011

I was fascinated by the Charlie Sheen tales for approximately three days. I contemplated following him on Twitter. But then I heard that he doesn’t even manage his own Twitter. And then I heard that he posted a job opening to replace one of his strippers – I mean goddesses. Gross. And now he’s going on tour?? Fascination … over.

Charlie Sheen may be out of my life but this #WINNING theme has been more present than ever. With March Madness upon us, everyone is obsessed with winning. I am not a big sports fan and never have been. My favorite part of watching sports growing up? The interviews and stories of the players and coaches. I love me a good “rags to riches” or underdog story. And a good cry.

Last Thursday, I went to a Step Up Women’s Network Breakfast and Drucker Business Forum with Peter Guber, the CEO and Chairman of Mandalay Entertainment Group (you can read more about his impressive career here). The discussion focused on his latest book “Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story”.  He explained that we have always been wired to tell stories and connect to eachother in that way. “Emotionally transporting” your audience can often lead to the support you are trying to gain. Of course he then told success stories (e.g. convincing Castro to let him film in his waters by telling him a shark story). “If you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” The subject is simple yet so easy to forget.

So I’m rooting for Butler University this week (my cousin Ashley went there so it’s not JUST because they are the underdog again). And if I actually hear a story of how Charlie Sheen is being authentic, then maybe I’ll root for him too. Either that or if he has a comeback story after he goes to rehab again.

I have to add that I also just saw a movie called “Win Win” (Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan) and highly recommend seeing it. It’ll make you smile, maybe cry, and laugh a lot. Awesome cast/characters. And of course … great story.

Yo! It’s about that time.

December 19, 2010

Thank you hunky Marky Mark for bringing good vibrations with the Funky Bunch. Thanks for also realizing when you had outgrown the persona and left it in the past as you went on to pursue acting.

Andrew and I saw The Fighter recently (I must add that Mark Wahlbeg was there for a Q&A and looked just as good in person. He was also foul-mouthed and hilarious.). The film had great fight scenes, more humor than expected and fantastic acting, especially by Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo.

So maybe Mark is the reason why I want to box.

I started this blog to take a risk and to commit to continue taking risks. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten that over the last month. It’s too easy to get sucked into the work routine and forget to take care of yourself sometimes – and I mean that physically and mentally (if anyone working 10 hour days can fit in a workout, please help me).

I’ve started to fantasize about being a boxer. Yes, I am serious. I can’t help it. I drive by this All-American, classic-looking gym called Trinity Boxing Club everyday to and from work. I will be honest by also saying that there have been a few times recently where I’ve wanted to give up. Or hit something. So I’m curious about this gym and I’m going to give it a try.

As some of you know, I got hit with a softball during a Magnani Pickles game in Chicago a few summers ago. I quit after that. (Please note: I still do not want to get hit. By a ball or a fist.)

But I am done with being afraid. I’m hoping I’ve outgrown that part of me for the time being anyway. 2010 is almost over and it’s about that time …

Pefection

November 20, 2010

After a few weeks of adjusting to this work thing again, I’m back at the blog. Sorry for the delay (because I know you all are soooo sad when there isn’t a new post).

It’s been … challenging. I’m an Account Executive at Velocity Marketing now. We do all sorts of marketing and advertising for Chevy dealerships. It’s busy. Really, really busy. And it’s all new for me and there is A LOT to learn. Starting a new job is stressful. So many expectations. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I don’t want to screw up. Which really translates to me striving to be perfect. And beating myself up when I’m not.

Not only did I start at Velocity recently, I also worked as a server for the first time for Along Came Mary, an event production company, last Saturday. I haven’t been a server since college and I’ve never done it for an event. Especially not for such a high profile event like this. It was A Happening to Raise Money for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Just a little nerve racking. Remember Aunt Becky from Full House? She was at my table. Beck performed. Will Ferrell was there. Gwen and Gavin (they just might be the perfect couple). Among the mega rich also included Rachel Zoe, Rachel Bilson, Chloe Sevigny and Mila Kunis …which leads me back to the Black Swan trailer I posted (starring Mila and Natalie Portman).

It hasn’t been all work over the last few weeks. We’ve seen shows at the Hollywood Improv. Some good (Craig Robinson, John Dore Nick Kroll). Some bad (Kato Kaelin, yes, really, Kato Kaelin). We’ve also seen a lot of free movie screenings through the Producers Guild of America. My favorites include Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, Fair Game and definitely Black Swan. (Go see all of them!)

Black Swan is trippy, thrilling, disturbing, sexy and beautiful all at the same time. The producers did a Q & A after and explained that Natalie Portman did ballet training on her own dime for a year before filming. It paid off. Her performance is, dare I say, near perfect. I normally don’t love dark thrillers but I kind of related to this one. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy. I’m not a lot of things that are in this film, but I do get in my own way like Nina does to herself in her obsession with perfection. I’ll stop there to not give anything away.

I made mistakes serving. I also made mistakes at my new job. I’ve been angry with myself, but continuing to be angry is just going to get in my way. The only thing I can do is learn from my mistakes and not make them again. And remind myself that practice makes “perfect.” Natalie didn’t just wake up and film an amazing performance as a ballerina. She practiced over and over for a year.

And for all of those perfect looking celebrities at the gala … well, that’s just thousands of dollars worth of personal stylists. And plastic surgery.

Leaving Chicago on our way to Los Angeles

So this analogy is technically backward but whatever. All of my friends and family are on the other side of the country. They are far away physically but they seem so much closer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my friends and family during this past week. I didn’t get the job I interviewed for, which is a bummer. If I was still in Chicago, I would’ve had some wine with friends. But I can’t fly there just for a night of wine drinking. A reminder of how far away we are. Andrew’s cousin Zachary Sompels was hit by a car on his bicycle near Grand Rapids, Mich. last Wednesday (he is in critical condition – please, please, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers). Another reminder of how far away we are. I wish we could afford to fly there to be with our relatives.

We saw The Social Network when it opened a few weeks ago. I recommend seeing it if you haven’t (and not just because Timberlake is in it). The writing, directing, acting and music – all of it was done really well. It’s hard to believe that Facebook wasn’t around seven years ago (and now they are doing crazy things like help you forget about exes). I was skeptical of the site at first and it took me awhile to join. Online social networking can be intimidating, especially for a non-risk taker like me. I’m still getting used to Twitter and how long did I think about writing a blog?

I have spent many days in our apartment by myself since moving here. It can be lonely but social networking sites have kept me sane. I still can’t have wine with old friends but I can virtually over Skype. Andrew and I can’t be there in-person for Zachary but the online support I see on The Adventures of Zachary A. Sompels Facebook page is amazing. And it’s so much easier for family and friends to get updates on how he is doing. My parents are visiting this weekend. It’s been two and half months since I saw them but thanks to e-mail and cell phones, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.

So thank you Mark Zuckerberg and the other people who take risks with new applications and technologies. But when is one of you going to work on that teleportation idea?

Something Missing

October 14, 2010

Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in “Back to the Future.” Can you imagine anyone but Michael J. Fox? And can you imagine how Stoltz must’ve felt when he was given the part and then had it taken away? As the viral clip explains, he worked on the film for five weeks and then was let go because “there was just something missing.” Actors hear that a lot. People looking for “normal” jobs do too. And so do people dating.

That “something” is hard to explain sometimes. For jobs, it could be experience, skills or personality fit. For acting roles, it could be any of those things or it could just be because you are blond (and in that case, I blame my parents). And for finding a significant other, it could be a million different reasons or that strange thing called chemistry. It’s hard (for me anyway) to let go and accept rejections. I used to get bitter. I think it took me five years to accept that I didn’t get cast in a high school musical because I didn’t sing as well as the others. I look back on those bitter feelings in high school and laugh now. It was a high school musical. Not a Broadway musical. But it was so much easier to be mad than actually work on being a better singer.

Last night I went to a free workshop with Dallas Travers, an actor’s advocate and author. At one point she said “your next moves are determined by your mindset.” If Eric Stoltz would’ve been bitter and mad, he may not have gotten roles in “Pulp Fiction” or “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

So I sit here waiting to find out whether or not something was missing during the job interview I had on Monday. If I didn’t get the job, I will do my best to accept it and move on with a positive mindset.

Unless of course I get a visit from Doc Brown.

As spoken by Miles in the movie Risky Business: “Say ‘What the fuck.’ … If you can’t say it, you can’t do it.”

Yesterday I had a gig as an extra for a new talk show called Gossip Queens which will air on the LOGO channel starting September 20 (look for me in the audience during the shows airing 9/22, 9/23 and 9/24). Met some new people and was entertained by the talented and hilarious panel (Alex Mapa, Loni Love, Michelle Collins and Bernadette Pauley). Also entertaining was Jay Flats who pumped the audience up and kept us energized during the three tapings. At one point in between shows, he asked us if anyone wrote a blog. Normally, I would’ve kept my mouth shut. But since this idea of a blog started, I am committing to being more active and less passive. So I told everyone that I started a blog about taking risks. I said it. So now I have to do it. Crap. Not that anyone in the audience will actually check up on me, but saying it out loud was enough to kick me in the butt. So here it goes. What the …

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