I recently took a personality test online (a Jung typology test to be exact). I was bored at work, talking to some crazy person who needed to buy Wicked tickets or she would DIE, and I decided to do it for fun. The test said that I was an introvert. Well…Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving to be exact. It said I was an introvert! It also said I was a seer…so that’s cool. I was surprised by these results, but my closest friends weren’t. I thought they were wrong. I’m outgoing! How could I be an introvert?
This happened this morning.
Harmony: I feel kind of crappy today. I did not wake up on the right side of the bed. I should go on a run, that will make me feel better.
Brain: Good idea! Lets do it. Let’s just get ready. Put on a sports bra and some running shoes.
Harmony: Cool. Yup. Almost ready. Glasses or no glasses?
Brain: NO GLASSES. We don’t want to see people looking at us.
Harmony: You’re right. No glasses it is.
Ummmmm….what? Yes. I run without contacts in and without glasses on so that I can’t see people SEEING me run. How psycho is that? I actually do this everyday, but today is the first time I thought about it.
I did really well running while I was home with my family. It was lovely running on those tree-lined, shaded, private streets. Alone with my thoughts. Private. Peaceful. Inspiring. Now that I’m back in the city and there are festivals going on every other day, I have to run by mobs of people and it gives me major anxiety.
I was unbelievably shy as a little girl. I didn’t know how to talk to people. Somewhere along the way, I think it was when I joined the Navy, I reinvented myself. You know how Beyonce created Sasha Fierce? I created Harmony Willdrinkyoassunderthetable. She was/is the life of the party and a blast to be around. As I get oldER I find myself mellowing out a bit. I just don’t always have the energy to bring out Harmony Willdrinkyoassunderthetable. It’s exhausting. The real me likes to read books and watch cop shows and likes to hang out with people one-on-one and likes to be alone in silence. I am TOTALLY an introvert. How hysterical is that? It’s taken me decades to realize this. But it’s true. And I’m OWNING it. I’ll wear it like a badge. I AM AN INTROVERT and as such I’m an introverted runner.
So, as good as it is that I can now proudly proclaim that I am introverted, I need to work on the whole “terrified to see the people seeing me running” thing. Tomorrow is another day and tomorrow, no matter how terrifying, my glasses will be on. I should probably be able to see what’s around me for sanity and safety’s sake.
When you’re a Non-Equity (Non-union) or an Equity Membership Candidate (almost but not quite union) actor crashing Equity auditions (especially the big musical ones) sometimes you have to sit for up to 8 hours before getting seen…if you get seen at all.
As my girl Jenny Lamb says (look her up, she’s freaking incredible) you go through the seven stages of audition waiting. Hopefulness. Excitement. Nervousness. Hunger. Delirium. Exhaustion. and Apathy.
There are some old and new tricks that I have learned to make these waits more comfortable.
1) First of all. Dress Appropriately.
Wear something COMFORTABLE. You don’t know how long you are going to have to be sitting there, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting on the floor. If you’re going to wear your sky-high hooker heels (don’t worry, I have them too), wear flats and don’t put the heels on until right before you go in the audition room. Bring a light cover up, because sometimes the room is freezing. Sometimes the room is also extremely hot, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Also, ladies…let’s talk. Those short jersey dresses are really comfortable, but I can tell you as someone who also sits behind the casting table as Casting Director for my own theater company, that we are praying the whole time that you don’t lift your arms or God save us, bend over. I like to employ the Deerfield Windsor Upper School rule of skirt length from when I lived in Albany, GA. Yes, I once went to an Upper School. Anyway, their rule was 2 inches above the knee. A nice sexy pencil skirt is perfect and still leaves something to the imagination. I should be able to do jumping jacks and still have no danger of showing the world my business. Remember, the people behind the table are sitting down. They are eye-level with your crotch. Dress accordingly. Drops. Mic.
2) Bring SNACKS.
Jillian Michaels tells me that I have to eat every 4 hours for 12 hours each day. Well, do the math. If you’re sitting there for 8 hours you are not eating properly and your body is going to go into starvation mode and slow way down. No healthy metabolism for you and no way to stay energized for your audition. Also, I don’t know about you, but if I have to go for longer than 4 hours without eating I get HANGRY.
Here are some of my favorite snacks right now that are perfect for throwing in your bag and bringing to an audition.
These mozzarella sticks have changed my life. Well, let’s be honest. Everything from Trader Joe’s changes my life. I have yet to have anything from that store that isn’t mind-blowingly good. I must point out right off the bat that if you want traditional string cheese, that you can pull off in strings this is not for you. BUT if you love soft, flavorful, lovely, FRESH mozzarella THIS IS FOR YOU. It has changed my LIFE.
These are seriously great. For anyone, like me, that is constantly counting calories (Big sigh) this is the best. I’m not necessarily always in the mood to count out 14 almonds. I grab one of these babies and I’m out the door.
I always have fresh fruit on me and berries are some of the best fruits for you. All the antioxidants! It’s the perfect amount of sugar for a little pick me up.
Okay, I don’t eat that much processed food, but sometimes as my girl Lili-Anne Brown says, (look her up too, she’s ridiculously awesome) “I need some chocolate to get me right.” It was such a miracle when I found these. I would rather have these than any chocolate bar you can name. It has the perfect ratio of crunch and pop, sweet and salty. Crazy good and 90 calories.
3) Stay hydrated and possibly…..Misted. Whaaaaaa?
This is my newest, most favorite thing. My childhood is peppered with memories of summers at amusement parks. I would have DIED without my mister fans that I diligently carried with me from park to park. I also of course, had to have a water bottle. I remember being annoyed that I had to carry both things everywhere I went.
NOW THEY HAVE WATER BOTTLES WITH MISTERS IN THEM! I’m sorry for screaming, but this is very exciting to me. Not only do you stay hydrated, VERY important, but let’s say you’re in a non-air-conditioned space lying on the floor with other sweaty actors because heat rises and you’re dying and your hair is too damn thick and you’re getting delirious and your turquoise eye makeup is dripping down your face and the desperation is thick and the competition is like Hunger Games up in there…..YOU CAN MIST YOURSELF! Not that this happened today or anything. TOTALLY hypothetical situation here. Seriously though, trust me. My water bottle/mister was a hit today. It kept me cool and kept others cool. And as my friend Vasily Deris advises, ( crazy, stupid, amazing voice) mist yourself right before the audition and look instantly refreshed.
4) Bring something to DO.
Okay, truth? I’m am the worst at this. I am easily distracted so I’m not always successful with this especially if I have friends there that I haven’t seen in a while, but some people are great at it! Bring your script to memorize, or work on your sides (audition material…a monologue, a scene, or a song) for a different callback. Bring a book. Need suggestions? Here is what I’m reading right now. Do you have a tablet, Ipad, kindle, etc. etc. to infinity and beyond? Bring that. This is my baby right now. He’s my boyfriend.
I love him. My IPad mini has changed my life. I bought it on a whim with some money that I had left over from my last gig, because savings account? What’s that? Anyway, best decision I’ve ever made. It is so light and I can put sheet music on there and sides for auditions. I can read my favorite blogs on my PULSE app, pin things to Pinterest (obsessed), or play one of my games…the possibilities are endless really.
5) Prepare for the WORST.
Expect to be there all day. Expect the accompanist to be the worst. Expect to be extremely nervous. Expect to be distracted by obnoxious newcomers. Expect EVERYTHING and then you will be prepared and pleasantly surprised when it really isn’t that bad. 🙂
If you’re sick legitimately, but you still want to audition here are some of the products I use.
These lozenges aren’t the cheapest, but I can vouch that they are the best. Use one 5 minutes before singing or speaking. Also, how cool is the insert? Divas, Belters, and Screamers…OH MY.
If I’m really hurting I break out the Singer’s Saving Grace. It tastes absolutely terrible, but it works like a charm to soothe dry throat and sore throat. It’s about $15 for a tiny little bottle, so I only use it when I absolutely have to, but it’s good to have for emergencies.
So here are some tips. There are obviously tons of tips for how to have a successful audition and I’m sure I’ll post about that in detail in the future, but today I wanted to delve into the waiting part of the audition. Since, let’s be honest, we spend way more time in the waiting room than we do in the audition room.
Every single time I get in an airplane I think that I might die. Every. Single. Time. I don’t mean in a terrified way. I’m not afraid to fly at all. It’s just always a thought that creeps into my head, and the more I try to get it to creep back out the stronger the thought gets. Looking out at the cloud formations and often the sunset, it feels otherworldly. I almost feel for a moment that I am in heaven, or taking a timeout from life. My mind wanders to places it doesn’t normally wander, and inevitably I think about my life and if I would die happy if “this was it.”
I can remember specific flights having these thoughts…flying home from my Grandmother’s funeral, heading to my first duty station, leaving the country and heading to London for my first big adventure at nineteen. Each time I would think about dying my thoughts would be, “but I’m so young!” “I haven’t met the one yet.” “What would my family do without me?” “My career isn’t where I want it to be!” Etc. Etc.
I’ve flown in hundreds of airplanes, everything from huge international jets bound for Asia , to domestic puddle jumpers going an hour to the adjacent state, to military flights out of Bahrain where you sit in sort of a hammock seat and water drips on your head for 6 hours. I’ve had nightmare plane rides and been in the middle of plenty of turbulence, but in all of these flights, I’ve never felt closer to death than on my flight to Newport News, VA last week.
I had a weird feeling as soon as I got on the plane and there was a six-month pregnant woman from Australia, holding a one-year-old and telling us all what our chances of survival were if the plane went down. She was supposed to have arrived in Newport News on Tuesday night, but kept getting displaced because of the storm Dorito or whatever it was called (Derecho). I cut her a bit of slack for being obnoxious since it was now Thursday and she must be exhausted and closed my eyes to rest.
I woke up with the Captain telling us that we can no longer land in Newport News because of the storm, but that we were going to try to “beat the storm” to Norfolk. They then came down the aisles and collected everything out of the backseat pockets including magazines and tried to fit as much of our carry on items that were under the seats into the overhead compartments. In my hundreds of flights I have never seen that before, so that scared me.
About 10 minutes passed and then we headed into the worst turbulence I have ever experienced in my life. It was like being on a roller coaster. The plane was lurching up and down violently and at one point I looked out the window and we were tilted so far to the left that from my view it looked like we were almost sideways. It sounds dramatic, but I really did think that this might be “it.”
I found myself getting emotional and calm at the same time and the thought that came over me wasn’t about what I haven’t achieved yet or what I haven’t done. My thought was , “but if I die, how will they know how much I love them?” “They” being my family, friends, and the handful of boys who have held my heart in their not quite right hands.
As silly as it sounds, I thought I might die and that was my pervading thought. I’m a little hippie dippy lately, so I apologize, but in that moment I realized that the only thing that matters when we leave this earth is how we have loved. That’s so powerful and so obvious, but it was a nice reminder.
Obviously I did not die. After 10 minutes in the storm, the pilot decided that it was too rough and we had an emergency landing in New Bern. I’ll tell you what though. It changed me. It changed the way I dealt with my family while I was home. It made me give my parents two hugs before I left instead of just one, because honestly you never know.
So that was my first lesson in a trip filled with them. I’m so happy to be home.
I promise my next post will be less esoteric and will be about ombre dresses and Star Wars or something.
Today was Father’s Day. I watched everyone post photos of their fathers on facebook and each one extolled the virtues of their father louder than the last. I looked at all of the happy pictures and was sad. Sad about getting older. Sad about my father getting older. No one prepares you for your parents getting older and sicker and less vibrant. I’m watching a man who used to light up a room turn into a man who doesn’t want to get out of bed and it breaks my heart. I don’t recognize the man in front of me.
My father served on a swift boat in Vietnam, was a star football player in his high school, and excelled in the martial arts. When I was a child, growing up in New York City everyone knew not to mess with my dad. He was the man you called when you needed protecting. He was spry, really strong, and physically imposing.
He was a man of all trades and did anything and everything to support his family. He sold stuffed animals, was the personal bodyguard for Guru Maharaji, and worked as a security guard for a time. He finally settled into commercial lending as he got older and proved to be a natural. He was a dreamer. He always dreamed of creating a perfect life for us.
My father was the first one to take my acting career seriously. He coached my first audition. He likes to think that I got my talent from him since he played Rolf in The Sound of Music when he was in high school. He acted like I won a Tony when I won a Broadway World Award and every single time I get cast in a new show, no matter where or what it is, he says, “well you’ve really hit the big time now!”
The last five years have not been kind to my father. He’s lost a lot including his home and his health. The man that was there even 3 years ago when I was doing a show in Door County, WI, and he was arguing with my brother about the best way to construct our family-sized tent and had to SHOW him because he was doing it wrong, is nowhere to be seen. It looks like he’s aged 20 years since then.
My father has diabetes that is out of control and vertigo (or something) so bad that he has trouble standing. What’s worse than this is that his spirit seems broken. I’ve been here now for 5 days and have seen him for maybe an hour total. He’s shut himself in his room because he doesn’t feel well. He doesn’t take care of himself. I look at him and fear the day that I have to say goodbye and hope with everything I have that that day is far off, but I don’t know.
I arrived home, running shoes in tow, excited to share my new outlook with my family. I was excited to put healthy food in the refrigerator and to take my morning runs. The first day went really well. I got my run in and we went grocery shopping for healthy food. I quickly learned though that my father doesn’t want to eat what he should be eating. He doesn’t want to get any exercise, even a short walk with his cane. He just wants things to stay the same.
The pace at this house is more like a dirge than the uptempo I was trying to bring with me. So for the last two days I’ve sat on a couch and haven’t done anything. I found plenty of excuses. My allergies were bugging me. My knee was acting up. I’ve been depressed and discouraged. He wouldn’t even come out of his room for Father’s Day. It hurt. It was frustrating.
So, this morning, I woke up and put on my running shoes, I walked outside and I started to run. I ran for the man my father used to be. I ran for the man my father is now. I ran because he is still so vibrant and I wish he realized that. I ran because I’m young. I ran because I’m healthy. I ran because I don’t know if my father will ever run again. I ran because I CAN. I love you daddy.
A while ago I stopped buying books. I decided to avoid amassing more clutter that I would just use my kindle for new books. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle, but lately I’ve been yearning for the feel of real books in my hands. I’ve been yearning for cover art. I have always been someone who DOES judge a book by its cover. I have found almost every time, that if a book has a beautiful or arresting cover, I will normally enjoy the book.
This is how I found Harry Potter when I went to London the first time. I had never heard of it, but the cover art was so whimsical and fun that I knew I had to read it. That’s also how I found Savage Beauty, a stunning book about the life of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. The cover was beautiful yet melancholy. I snatched it up without even reading the back cover.
I’m in Virginia right now visiting my family. When I was at the airport I wandered into the newsstand/bookstore to possibly pick up a magazine and I found myself hungrily snatching up these four books instead. I had been on a book diet and boy did I binge.
These were my spoils:
Joyland, by Stephen King
A novel of Carny Life and Death…
“College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he would up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life–and what comes after–that would change his world forever.”
Okay, so I’m a huge Stephen King fan. It started with The Stand, which I’ve read dozens of times. My favorite is probably his Dark Tower series. I love that this book has an old-timey feel and that it seems like pure fun without me stooping to Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey lows. WHICH I WILL NEVER DO. Gross. They don’t even deserve to be italicized. This, however, seems perfect for sitting on the beach, drinking a shandy, and enjoying some summertime crime fiction.
Beautiful Ruins: a novel, by Jess Walter
“On a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, a daydreaming young innkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat–a story of fascinating people navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.”
This is an example of a book that I bought PURELY for the cover. And it’s set in Italy in the 60s? SOLD. It’s also on New York Times bestseller list and NPR called it “a literary miracle.”
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
“Why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun.”
I’ve heard about how wonderful this book is for a while. It’s a #1 New York Times Bestseller. And honestly, it sounds like the journey I’m taking right now. I’m super stoked to read this book and be inspired!
The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness until she meets Ernest Hemmingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group–the fabled “Lost Generation”–that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I ADORE historical fiction. It is one of my favorite genres. And this has all the right buzz words. Chicago? Check. Paris? Check. 1920s? Check. Jazz Age? Check. I’m in and I can’t wait to read this!
So what are you reading??? Anything amazing that you’ve read recently? I devour books and like almost every genre. Feel free to give me some suggestions!
So, I wasn’t planning on it, but I ended up watching the Tonys the other night. I’m glad I did. I think it was the best Tonys in years. I don’t always love the Tonys, or quite frankly what Broadway musicals have become. It’s so commercial and so shiny. A lot of times I feel like the individuality of a performer is stamped out in some effort to appeal to the masses. The young leading ladies of Broadway musicals are so similar nowadays in appearance and vocal quality that many times I can’t tell them apart. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part I miss the individuality and comet-like stage presence, and ACTING CHOPS, of women like Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone. So I was so relieved that one of the first things I saw when I tuned in was Caroline O’connor KILLING a tap number in A Christmas Story. So fierce.
Who? I realize she’s not a household name to non-theatrical folk or even to some theatrical folk, but she is one of my heroes. Maybe this will clue you in. She played Nini Legs in the Air in Moulin Rouge and danced this PHENOMENAL tango.
The first time I saw that, I lost my shit. It was the sexiest, most emotional, incredible dance I’d ever seen. Caroline not only wiped the floor with this tango, but she stole every scene she was in in the movie. She was so expressive. Her comic timing was impeccable. I didn’t know who she was at the time, but she left a huge impression on me. I have also watched that clip hundreds and hundreds of times. It’s one of my favorite things in life. I find it incredibly inspiring and so passionate.
Flash forward a couple of years. It was the Summer I got out of the Navy. I was in NY auditioning for Juilliard. (Another story entirely). While I was there, my mother and I met up with a family friend that we knew from when we lived in NY and we went and saw Chicago on Broadway. As I was reading my program, I realized that the woman playing Velma was the tango dancer from Moulin Rouge! I was so excited and she did not disappoint. She was brilliant!
Flash forward another couple of years. I’m living in Chicago and working as an actress. I hear that Caroline is going to be in Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater with some of my friends incidentally! I knew I had to see her. I ended up going, and not only saw a terrific show, but had drinks with her afterward! She was a complete delight. We drank whiskey together and she told me with a twinkle in her eye to “never trust a New Zealander because they’re all inbred.” I don’t know if this is true, but it cracked me up. I love that she’s such a dame. Such a broad. We need more of those in musical theater. And she’s SUCH a triple threat. A TRUE one. When she writes Actor/Singer/Dancer at the top of her resume, she’s EARNED it. She’s also earned a spot on my heroines list. I mean, just LOOK at this:
So, the very next day after my little running facebook experiment, I got up and before I new it, I had on running shoes and was out the door. I’m not sure how it even happened. I didn’t think about it. I just went. I wasn’t even awake. I don’t think I realized I was running until I had run about 6 blocks. Then memories started flooding back.
It brought back when I was a preteen and loved to sprint. Sprinting was exciting, but even then I hated and feared the longer runs. I hated them to the point where I pretended to pass out from heat exhaustion when my counselors at summer camp, seeing my love for sprinting, entered me in a sustained running event in our mini-Olympics.
I remembered being in bootcamp. It was my 20th birthday and I had just had my wisdom teeth removed. We were practicing the mile and a half, the requirement for every Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT). I had cotton in my mouth and I was crying. My RDC (Recruit Division Commander) was running with me, vacillating between encouragement and admonishment.
It brought back all the tactics my shipmates would use in the following 6 years to get me to keep running and to not quit while running the PRT. Some tried to distract me by talking about other things, some whispered support and tried to empathize, some screamed at me or shamed me, and some just ran next to me and didn’t say a word. That was normally the best tactic with me. Just run next to me. Don’t say anything. Let me deal with whatever I’m dealing with on my own.
So, a couple of days ago during my first mile, once I actually realized I was running it went something like this…
Body: Huh. I’m running. That’s weird.
Brain: WHAT!?!?! WTF are you doing. No!!! We want to stop. We want to stop. Who thought this was a good idea?
Body: Come on. It’s not that bad. We’re not even tired or out of breath yet.
Brain: But we COULD run out of breath! Don’t you understand?!!! We could RUN OUT OF BREATH! And then maybe we would DIE! Or we’ll FAIL. And everyone will know!!! And then we’ll fail at everything in life and everyone will hate us!!!
Body: Oh please. That’s ridiculous. We’re not going to die. No one hates us. We’re running our first mile. Calm down. And this is Eric’s mile. He’s our best friend, he deserves a good healthy mile.
Brain: Well. I control you and I’m going to stop moving our legs here in a minute and you can’t do anything about it.
Body: Come on!!! That’s not fair. Okay FINE. We’ll walk this block and then we’re going to run again, okay?
Brain: Okay. We can do that. Okay. Getting ready to run again. Okay. People are watching us!!!! Okay. Here we go. Oh GOD. This is the worst.
(This struggle continues.)
Body: See! This is great. We’re so much stronger than we thought and LOOK I can see our house! We’re almost there. Let’s finish strong! Wait….what? WHY HAVE YOU STOPPED OUR LEGS AGAIN!?!
Heart & Soul: We think you’re both nuts.
So…yeah. I would love to say that the first time out the door I ran five miles without stopping and it was great and my lifelong phobia of running was assuaged in the first 15 minutes…but this is not true and I’ve promised myself that I will be completely honest on this blog and not embellish any truths. I ran one mile the first day. One. And it was a labored mile. Not because my body couldn’t handle it or I was really out of shape, but because my mind is still a hot mess when it comes to running. But you know what? I got up today and I did it again. I ran longer than last time and my brain is still crazy, but I was able to fight it off more this time.
So this is the plan: My total “likes” and comments on facebook and on the blog in that 24 hour period was 60. So that’s 60 miles from now until the end of the Summer. That’s 12 weeks. So it’s about 5 miles a week. I know that there are people that run that in a day, or more. Congratulations. I am not you. This is going to be really hard for me, but I’m growing and learning and it’s good. I’m going to start off small and hopefully build up over the summer. I’m entering into a couple of different 5ks over the Summer too.
The last thing I want to comment on is the support and love that has been showered on me this week. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would get so much positive feedback not only for this challenge, but for this blog and what I’m trying to do with it. I thank you so much for the comments and private messages and texts. I heard from people all through my history, friends from high school, the military, fellow artists, and wonderful friends. Thanks for people offering to run with me (not ready quite yet 🙂 ), and for one fabulous chick, Jennifer Lynn Hawthorne, who is doing the challenge too! We were stationed at Diego Garcia together and I so admired her and my friend Tiffany Brown as my running inspiration. So I’m sure she will rock this challenge WAY more than me, but I love the fact that she’s out there in a different state doing it too. I think about her every time I run and I think about when we would run at Diego Garcia along the beach as we watched the sunset over the water in our beautiful tropical paradise. That made running almost tolerable for me.
Also, there is no RDC yelling at me now. I don’t have to run a certain length in a certain time. This is for me and only me. So I’m proud of myself, however small this step forward is and I thank you. So. Much. Again.