Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That time I was late for college.

To anyone and everyone who knew me in high school, it is common knowledge that I am late for everything. Honestly. In fact, I feel more stressed and anxious when I'm NOT leaving five minutes before I'm expected somewhere. Or at the precise time I'm expected somewhere. Or ten minutes after I'm expected. But to those who paid attention to the hands of the clocks, it is obvious that my tardiness never exceeded the fifteen minute mark. Blatant disrespect of time follows the fifteen minute mark. So I spent my high school years being cordial in my lateness.

But to those who know me in college, or at least to they with whom I share the Monday/Wednesday/Friday block, I am a responsible adult who cares so much for punctuality to class that she doesn't even allow the thought of a bathroom break to possibly take her mind from being punctual, let alone acting on such a thought. But really its because I take public transit now, and for some reason my brain believes if I leave late but transport myself, somehow I won't be late. But if I leave late and a public bus drives me, I won't get there for four days.

And this punctual thing was working out quite well, at least until That time I was late for college. (Aka Tuesday. Aka the second day ever.)

I'd planned it well: I'd get on the 8:22 which would get me to campus some five minutes before class. "And if I'm late, its the first day. It'll be just like yesterday when it was generally understood by all its a new school year and some people don't know where their classes are or how to get there in a timely manner. If I'm late I'll just take the earlier bus."

Little did I know.

So I waited in morbid grief as the bus kept not coming to get me. I began calling my mother and fondling my bus pass and, to some degree hyper-venhalating. The bus came. I got on, took a nice seat, read some humorous scene in Urinetown the Musical, and got to campus at the time I planned. I hurried to Elizabeth Hall and climbed two flights of stairs. I entered my classroom, surprised it was so full.

Everyone was looking at me.

My brain brought back the image of the time I'd received from my phone moments before.

9:27

The teacher directed me to a seat. I took it, confused as to how the class was already so far in swing with it not even being the start time yet. "You're really late." Said the teacher mild-manneredly.

"The buses were crazy." I said, taking my seat in the far left corner, partcially obscured by his towering corner desk. He made a pleasant response back about the unreliability of buses.

I thought the topic over.

He continued to teach and the film of embarrassed ignorance coating me melted into insecurity and confusion. Was this the right class? I'd made sure of the room number before entering.

And the remainer of the film melted.

What time did this class start??

I couldn't bring myself to cause another distraction by digging in my bag for my well hidden schedule. I resolved to ask him in my serious, kind, bewildered manner after class.

But as luck would have it this man was more Professor Snape than Mr. Feeney.

During the course of my thought process he had begun talking about ediquette for the audience when someone is giving a speech (the course is Public Speaking, I see I failed to state this). "If you come in late," at this point I received a look, "then you do not come in. You wait at the door until..." I continued to listen, keeping my face from showing my mortification and embarrassment. Did I mention this class in particular had a 2-1 guy-girl ratio, and all but two of said guys were brutally attractive?

And then, from the cognitive gates of nowhere, Professor Snape turned to me and said "Half an hour late? Really?!"

And as the only Griffendor in the room, I stood alone in a sea of scornful Slytherins as he continued, "Is this too be expected?"

Half an hour late? Half an hour late? My fears had been confirmed, but in my defense, at this point Snape was half an hour late in his humiliation tactics. I explained I thought the class was at nine thirty. And then I made the mistake of declaring "that's what my schedule said."

"Oh did it?" He scoffed aside to Malfoy who must have been sitting in the opposite corner, because who else would Snape share a joke with, let alone a joke at a Griffendor's expense?

I had meant honestly to say I'd read the schedule wrong, or something more true and not as excuse-y. But I was buckling under the preasure of being the only person in the room not on the right side of the line. I tried to hide my discomfort and humiliation, and in doing so Snape read not my sincere contrition, but flagrant disrespect and unabashed indifference. Even when the phone of the girl directly in front of his lecture podium went off, the cruelty had to return to me. Even after the five minute, freeing rant about learning to turn technology off, the snarl had to come back to me.

I was going to apologize after class. I was going to explain myself with remorse. But he couldn't be adult about it. So I wasn't about to try to be adult about and risk turning into a blubbering, teary mess. No. I left the classroom, and metaphorically left behind any desire to have him respect me as a person, because thus far he's not making it easy to be done in reverse. No, I am writing a speech about theatre, Snape. I am not researching stem-cells just to impress you with my weighty and controversial topic. I am not going to sit anywhere else in your class, and you can remember every day how you alienated me, and how when I signed up for your class I felt you were going to be my favorite teacher. But I'm not going to cross into the baptismal waters to becoming Slytherin. You can be my favorite teacher when an immortal snake bites you into a bloodly mass and you let me keep your memories about your good intentions.

For now you're alive and I'm ill-expressed and as it stands I am not naming my son after you.

But I need this class to be an Auror. So I'll see you tomorrow Snape.

And I'll be on time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Dream, It's Over

I never thought that could be the problem.

I have too many dreams.

I'm not talking the "I'm going to be a vet when I grow up" dreams. I'm talking the "how this should have gone", "what I was actually supposed to say", "what might have been" kind of dreams.

That's weird, isn't it? That imagining different outcomes to a specific situation is an act of "dreaming."

Leah Nash, of Sixpence None the Richer, sings "don't dream, its over." I listened to that song on the bus this morning, and after admiring Leah's voice as per usual, I began to mull the title statement of the song over. The cheery, blissfully sweet tone Leah gives the phrase, followed by words of "they come...to build a wall between us", has lead me to accept the meaning of the title line to be "Don't worry. No matter what happens I love you. You love me. And we're together." Or, "The battle's been fought and we have won. They can keep trying to tear us apart, but we've already won. They can't affect us."

Don't dream, its over.

But suddenly "dream" wasn't a metaphor for dwelling in the uncertainty of a romantic relationship under siege. Hours later, without thinking on the song more than acknowledging which tune was stuck in my head, all prior interpretation of the phrase fell through, leaving me with the thought that "dreaming" is imagining how life would be going if I was sitting in the director's chair with unlimited resources.

There was a substitute teacher in my high school who could read your personality by looking at you and talking with you; and it could be indepth if given your signature. She sat across from me in my eleven-member English class and told the basics on everyone's personalities as she looked around the room.

"This one's a romantic." She said about me. "That's not a bad thing. You're a dreamer, and you set things up and when someone doesn't act right you..." She sighed, signaling sorrow.

I started dreaming before the interpretation change struck me. I started thinking about how it's too bad I didn't make that show, and he didn't end up playing my brother so we could end up falling in love for real. And that that guy should have asked me to dance. Or at least introduced himself. Or asked for my number.

I came to a halt in my stair ascension.

Don't dream, it's over.

There's nothing to be done. No amount of imagination can change the outcome of anything. Fantasizing only makes the truth harder to attain. There's nothing tangible in fantasy; it's merely a synonym for dream. I spend the dull patches of my days living life in the past, fixing my mistakes and missed cues of others.

Live today. Keep in the present. Be engaged in your surroundings as though performing on stage, as though someone were always watching. But don't try altering the script. Just follow as the directions come.

And don't dream, it's over.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life Sized

Ten years ago I didn't think past age twelve. I played with Barbies, making a new movie everyday; of Barbie falling in love and having kids. Of Barbie working at McDonald's and falling in love and having kids. Of Barbie's daughter growing up to look like Barbie and falling in love and having kids.

Eight years ago I didn't think past being a "teen". I dreamed of lockers and new friends, and Barbie started co-staring in movies about her daughter going to school. And growing up and falling in love.

Six years ago I imagined high school. I imagined a red convertible and a more skinny brunette version of me. I imagined falling in love. I got caught up in adolescents, in a fantastic musician, and in learning that writing wasn't just a desire. The Barbies found themselves in a box, their house sold to a girl blocks away, and my room suddenly low on a third of its past shelving capabilities .

Four years ago I didn't think ahead. I put less effort into school than I'd ever in my life. I tried last minute to bring my grade up in an honors course, and nearly failed another. I was kicked out I'd the honors course anyway. I didn't imagine high school, I was making movies in my head, saying they'd be books soon; movies after.

Two years ago I denied I was aging. I denied the end was coming. I let these delusions keep my mind at ease, making movies and daydreams while school lessons slipped aside. I saw myself as I once had Barbie, and couldn't comprehend why I hadn't fallen in love; or at least why he didn't love me.

Four months ago I realized making movies and future ideals with Barbie had not given me the means to accomplish them. Four months ago I realized it wasn't enough to want to go to college; college costs money. Four months ago I was forced to accept I don't have money. No benefactor would step in and escourt me to my potential out of state. No miracle would come and pay my way in state away from home. Four months ago I realized I wasn't playing with Barbies, and I didn't have the power to make things come to pass as smoothly or promsingly as they had in toy form.

One week ago I realized it's over. One week ago being a citizen of the USA became more than saying a pledge each morning. The things I'd ignore my parents say about money, the things Barbie and the movies never had to comprehend, became real. Last night I realized life isn't like Barbies. I can't change the story every day. I can't morph the outcome to pacify me.

Four days from now I enter adulthood. Four days from now I'm out of excuses, and Barbie has to cease being a way of life, and become--for good-- a memory.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Craftsmen Dionysus

Actors have it hard. At least in the world I grew up in.

Acting isn't a talent. I mean, you get on stage at a talent show and sing and -if you're good- the crowd applauds and says "Oh, the talent!". You get on stage and play the flute or trombone or ukulele or what have you, and -if you're good- the crowd applauds and comments on your fine-tuned skill. You get on stage and recite a monologue -even if it's not Shakespearean- and the audience golf claps and looks at each other with raised eyebrows mouthing "Did that kid just read to me without reading? I thought I got enough pointless lectures in college."

Acting is as much of a talent as kindness. Over half the population wouldn't applaud or acknowledge such a trait as unique, acclaimable skill. The majority of them might not even acknowledge its existence.

For this reason I've been forced to ignore talent shows nearly my whole life, because -even under a well developed character and blocked monologue- the average joe looks upon any recitation at any age as they would a fifth grader rambling Shel Silverstein in monotone. Ironic, is it not, that a talent that only exists to be displayed is often misunderstood or ill-accepted when exposed?

I think film actors hold their fame not because of skill, but because they've been on screen, perhaps even multiple times. Not to say they're all talentless nubs, no. But I don't think Americans leave the theatre thinking "Well gee. Did you see his facial expression when the old man fell off the bridge. I mean... It was so raw. Like he was actually feeling it."

No.

I'm sorry.

People keep seeing their movies because they keep appearing in movies. They like them because they're familiar faces, talent or no talent doesn't seem to matter.

Nicholas Cage. Case and point.

I'm not intending to be rude. I feel comfortable jabbing the knife and twisting it into the pompous hearts of the unappreciators because I've been there. It wasn't until recently that I found myself suddenly detached from a movie for a moment to admire the way the emotion was splayed on the face. In fact, during a particular episode of Family Ties (as viewed on Netfilx) I had to re-watch a snippet of a scene at least eight times to thoroughly soak in Michael J. Fox's face upon realizing he was in love. It was incredible, the change...like an awakening...

But I digress.

People expect the actor to entertain, not to bring the emotion of life to a tangible level. As a self-proclaimed actor I have suffered un-intended ridicule at the hands of my lesser informed peers. At work one day I had to go ask the Bakery Boys in the back for their mop. As I left the girl I was working with told me "You're an actress Erica. You can do it."

To understand why I was fragmentarily offended, you have to understand what "you're an actress" means to me, an actress.

I in no way shape or form indulge or accept the idea of acting in everyday life. By this I mean what is commonly known as "being fake". IE, if I don't like a person -if there's just something about them that leaves and ill taste in my mouth- I don't run up to them when I see them and hug them and ask them animatedly about their cat. I know people like that -I doubt that you don't as well- and they thoroughly disgust me. I try to be straightforward without being brutally honest. If I don't like a person I don't treat them like my best friend to their face, but I also don't openly say "I don't like you. Bluntly, I hate you." I simply avoid them. And if they scamper up to me I tolerate them until they're gone, all the while not being overly kind, but not being mean.

Putting on a show of kindness for someone you detest, that to me is acting. That to me is the amateur, false, any-body-can-do-it method that for some reason has survived the test of time. I do not practice this method, and when people expect me to pull falseness out of a hat (such as the Bakery Boy scenario -to "act" in real life) I can't help but be offended that they label my 'profession' among that of the mudslingers.

This post wasn't going to be a high-horsed account on what is acting or not. I actually sat down pondering the idea of writing a monologue play about the misconceptions of a stage performer -mainly the actor. No offense to my more musically inclined friend, but I feel the art of acting is second banana to a good singing voice in this po-dunk state.

I think that's why I want to live out of state. And it's most certainly why I want to own my own theatre. I want to give the actor a chance. I want to give the actor the hope that their talent can be expressed in places more relevant than facades on the street. I want to make a name, not for myself, but for the actors who have fallen to mal-information and labels.

I want to give the Michael J. Foxes a chance, in order to slowly rid the world of Nicholas Cages.