Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Amy as herself

January 19 – 25, 2010

Things I notice at the Airports
1. Fine an alternative to the “suit shoes” for fellas. Black loafers and brown loafers with or without tassels are a senseless use of fashion. Some other kind of shoe must be worn. Even some interesting stitching could help this boring, yet offensive, use of footwear. White tennis shoes should also only be worn in the gym.
2. The black leather jacket is out. Yet, I wore mine. Not nearly as many black leather jackets as when I flew to NYC last January or to Austin last February.
3. Airports are peaceful. Folks speak quietly and they pretty much only speak to each other or to their cell phones. However this is not necessarily the case at the Orlando International Airport, which is incredibly confusing. Tons of families going to and fro. Folks arriving are excited with happy kids. Folks leaving have mouse ears and are quiet and testy. Orlando is the most active airport I've ever been in.

Film Shoot
I like it. I like movies. It's not the same actor high for me that theatre is. It's a completely different way of working. Sometimes it's really boring and sometimes it's really difficult. It's not very freeing. It's extremely specific and subtle. I like it.
During rehearsal on Wednesday, I had a horrible caffeine headache so I was kind of crabby. I hope everyone else just thought I was being quiet. I had rehearsal with the whole family on Wednesday. There's two sons, a husband and me. The boys are very cute. Phinneas plays Miles. He's 13 and very wise. His mom is an author and he's pretty cultured and witty. He also wore a “I heart Hot Moms” shirt to set one day. He's the only other person, besides myself, that I've seen wear that $5 Target shirt. It was just as creepy and hilarious on him as I feel it is on me. Royce plays Danny. He's 8 and so cute it's ridiculous. Both his parents were here with him although not at the same time. He also had a sitter here. His older brother, who is 11, premiered a film in Atlanta on Sunday so both parents were in Atlanta for that. His sitter is a gal I know from Knoxville ~ Quinn. She is a talented actor/singer but I know her in a costumer capacity. She costumed me for this historical film for the East Tennessee History Center. It's funny how small the world is. Royce's family are pretty interesting. They live in this planned community that is very much like a commune. Everyone has their own living space and then they have a group space where they all have a few meals together each week. Royce's dad teaches theatre education in schools and through the Alliance in Atlanta. His mom is also an actor. They went to Costa Rica last year for vacation where they worked on a cocoa bean farm. The guy who plays my husband, Thomas, is hilarious. I really adore him. He's very funny and we bonded as soon as we got on set. We didn't really bond at rehearsal although it was nothing bad. He likes to do a lot of improvisation. Unplanned improvisation makes me uncomfortable. I feel pressured to be witty or poignant with improv like that. I crave more structure. If it's planned improv with the director and for a specific purpose, I can go along with it and do fine. But during rehearsal, Thomas (playing Jim) really got into improving scenes that just aren't in the script. Mostly I just looked at him and sat down until he was done or I got the nervous giggles. But when we got on set (and I didn't have a caffeine headache) I decided instantly that he was a BFF. And it helped that he cut out the spontaneous improv. He told me some stories about his cross dressing improv shows and we played on our phones. I think he's a very good actor. He processes through improv and that's cool. I just don't have much experience with that.
Shooting went well. The first day, I kept having to serve these bbq porkchops and eat instant mashed potatoes. It got really gross. During the second scene we shot on that same day, we had to eat corn. Yuck. The crew are all FSU film students and it rarely, if ever, felt like we were shooting a student film. Nobody paid much attention to continuity and that drove me crazy. I also had to do my own makeup/hair but it got done. I think Jaye's script is good. She's really specific and would sometimes over explain but at least she knows exactly what she wants.
I got to wear some really ugly clothes ~ bright yellow house wife dress from the late 50's and this polyester green dress. I'm excited about it. It was very housewifey.
It was interesting to be in a hotel room all alone for 6 days/nights. I'm not used to being alone. I always missed my home and would wake up thinking of my daughters but it was also liberating. I got to watch/listen to and do whatever I wanted in the room. It was only me. I haven't had that experience since before the girls were born.
The weather was alright. There were a couple of pretty days but it rained as much as the sun shined. One day we had tornado warnings and it was pretty gloomy and scary outside. Before I left Knoxville, Lucy Maye said to cross our fingers that there wouldn't be any hurricanes or tornados. I told her that no way would there be anything like that and I'd be home before she knew it. Then there was a tornado warning and I imagined how difficult it would be for Lucy Maye if I actually did die in a tornado while in FL since she had fretted about it. I worried about Emma Jean not remembering me. Then I started thinking about other natural disasters and acts of God that would keep me from my children. I should have never read The Road.

Heading Home
My cab driver is from Nigeria. He tells me he arrived here in 1974, before I was born. I can't help but correct him and admit I was actually 5 years old. In Nigeria, he had been accepted to Law School but his father felt that the job of a lawyer is to turn truths to lies and refused to let him go. The father instead offered to send the cab driver to Britain, the Soviet Union or the US for a master's degree. He was accepted to some schools in the Soviet Union but their was a language barrier. Long story short, he attended the University of Wisconsin and got into Medical School but couldn't afford to go and because he wasn't a US citizen, he couldn't get financial aid. Money is gross. He and his wife now have 5 children, the oldest two have Pharmacy degrees, the middle child is a financier in DC and the youngest 2 children (a he twin and a she twin) are still in college. I wanted to ride around all day in the cab with this man. I wanted to meet his wife and his kids. I bet they throw down a great supper table.
I arrive at the airport and I am in a terminal with a gaggle of middle school students on their way to DC for 4 days. I go through security with a group of girls all dressed in velour jumpsuits and Ugg boots. They are thrilled and have contagious giggling. Only I don't catch it. It's too early for giggles and velour. I go to the bathroom and they are there and they are so loud. I kept reminding myself that I was once a teenage girl. I once giggled.
As I wait, seated, for my prop engine plane to arrive, one of the chaperones ask if I want to go with them. I admitted that in the bathroom, surrounded by the vivacious young women, I wondered how I would survive my own daughters when they reach that giggling awkward age. She answered that I would because my mother survived it and that she was currently surviving it. I watched the chaperones, most parents and some teachers, take a big breath before getting on to their charter flight to DC. I was just a little excited for them and I was relieved for the obvious lack of giggling. It left the room like air from a balloon.
The gentlemen behind me makes calls. He's a lawyer and he's calling clients for directions. He's calling his office to instruct his employees to do a reconstruction from a car accident. I think of the Nigerian cab driver and his fathers opinion. This lawyer behind me could be turning truths to lies but he speaks so kindly to people on the phone. It really strikes me how nice he is in asking his employees for the reconstruction. I hope he's a good lawyer because his voice is so friendly and kind.
The lady sitting next to me is clearly talking to a man she is dating. I can tell it's new. I overhear her asking the man to give her some reassurance because she's feeling like she needs it. As the conversation continues, she also giggles. It's coquettish. She talks about buying chocolate as her splurge. It's not sexy but flirty, childish. I can tell that whatever reassurance this man just gave her still leaves her uncomfortable. I want to tell her that she should never ask a man for reassurance. But then I would have to admit that I'd been eavesdropping and really what do I know about relationships. I have this feeling that the man on the other end of the line isn't in it to win it. She reads the sign posted right in front of us, “There is not a lavatory on board this aircraft. Please use the restroom before boarding. Thank you.” Then there's a pause and she says something about already taking care of that part and then another pause, giggling and the explanation that she doesn't know why she read that to him. Doomed.
My flight from Tallahassee is late and I miss my connecting flight in Orlando. I'll only be behind a couple of hours so it's no big deal. The flight to Charlotte is uneventful. At the Charlotte airport, the service everywhere I go is wonderful. Even in the public bathroom there is an attendant. She wipes the seat down before each person enters the stall. She has a buffet of mouthwash, tampons and breath mints right beside a huge tip jar. All the service people that I see are black folks. It makes me wonder what Charlotte is like outside the airport. I have a perfectly delightful time with people being so nice to me. The Starbucks ladies call me both “Sugar” and “Honey”.
During the flight from Charlotte to Knoxville, I sit next to Gary. He's the first person I've really spoken with on any of these airplane rides. He's going to Knoxville on business. He's staying in Cedar Bluff. I tell him about Taste of Thai, Bakers Peters, Che Guevara, Sitar and then tell him he should really stay downtown and brag on that for awhile. Then I get to brag on how close we are to the mountains and to Hot Springs. I say that Knoxville is unsuspecting in all it has to offer.
I'm really glad to come home.

Well, my suitcase is still in Charlotte. Vince picks me up and we go get my car and pick up my girls. I am relieved to see them. It's like I've been thirsty and they are huge glasses of water. I'm really glad to be home. We go to Earth Fare to eat pizza and I lock my keys in the car along with my phone. Meanwhile my luggage arrives and I miss the call. At around 7:30, we are on our way home and my luggage is on it's way to my house and I'm no longer a movie star. I'm just a mom making her way to tomorrow. We get home, do homework and I check the mail. I have a W9 from MGM but I haven't done the MGM work since 2005. It gives me a little hope that a residual check didn't get to me but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Surprise actor money? Maybe.

This morning was its usual nightmare of waking up so early that it's painful. The girls are grumpy and needy and want me to dress them from head to toe. Then they want to watch a video and don't eat their breakfast and I have to turn the TV off and they freak out. I take out the garbage and brush their hair. We are on our way. Fortunately, the music fromPrincess and the Frog was written by Randy Newman and we listen to that on the drive. We jam out to Momma Odie on our way to school. It's good. On Tuesdays, I take Emma Jean through the drive thru at Starbucks after we drop Lucy Maye off and she gets a chocolate milk. It's a special little date for just she and I. She loves doing it. Oddly enough, one of the Starbucks employees has just seen the historical film at the East Tennessee History Museum, the one Quinn costumed, and tells me I was the best one in it. To my recollection, I may have been the only one in it. I'll gladly take the compliment though. I haven't showered today. I'm wearing a bandana on my head and have pop tart on my shirt but that compliment kinda makes me feel like a movie star.

The world is a very strange and wonderful place.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where's the map?

I've been divorced a little over 2 years and I keep looking at that as a defining moment. Not because of the divorce itself, but because after I got out of that situation, I could just be myself all over again. Before it felt like I was constantly asking permission. I felt like I was trying to force my way. Now it feels like I'm on my way, like some kind of gate has been opened. I'm not saying that divorce was a completely freeing experience. I've had to adapt a lot. I was very sad for a long time but now the choices are mine and the journey is a map of my choosing. I am good with that part. I really have no idea what I'm on my way to do or what I'm going to find there. I'm working on a map.

I've thought a lot in recent months about what it means to be your authentic self. I know the things I'm best at. I've been around long enough to know that. Howie, my dear friend and neighbor, and I made a list of the things I love the best. They also happen to be what I tend to do the best. Right now, this list serves as my map.

Here's my list:
4.Working – particularly Special Event planning. I really dig it.

I'm doing my best to follow the map.

I love my daughters. It doesn't even make sense to list being a mother as something I enjoy or something that I do. It is a defining part of who I am. I don't even know if I enjoy it all the time but you don't always enjoy what you love the most. I love them the most. At their worst, they are my best.

I'm going out of town for almost a week to do a film. It's a short film and whereas all expenses are paid, I do not get paid. I only shoot for a few days and I'll have time to do any of my work via computer and phone while I'm there. I'm totally broke right now. I really struggled with how to make a decision to do this. I looked at this list and since acting is #2, I figured I'd better chance it. I like the script and had success with a short film back in 2001 so I'm crossing my fingers that this will, at the least, give the universe a little push to get me moving. I play a mom. I haven't played a mom yet. I have spoken out loud that I need a mom role. I have also spoken out loud that I need to do something on film that's not in a modern time period. The film is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. So here's a mom role set in 1962 and I can't help but worry about being out of town. I'm doing my job on a contract basis right now and I really enjoy it but I don't know how long it's going to go on. It feels like a risk to go but I can stay home and worry about being barely employed or I can shoot a film and sit in a hotel room in Florida and be worried about being barely employed. I'm jumping in the deep end. I'll be worrying in Tallahassee in hair and makeup, making phone calls and going online to stay involved. Vince will stay at the house. The girls will stay with their dad. I'm hoping for good karma at this point.

My only New Year's resolution is to have a garden. I figure I can do that. It seems to be a reasonable goal. It will take some amount of effort but I can make a garden grow.

My contract labor job is essentially with special event type stuff. I really like it so I'm going to hang on to that as long as possible and spread the “for hire” sign around to the people who are doing like minded things. Maybe I can make a big soup of work to keep my head above the money water and get some really great things done around here. Please wish me luck.

A bit about 2009:
I wanted to travel more in 2009. I did it.
I started the year off following a great friend from rehearsal to rehearsal in NYC for a few days and kissed another very dear friend's sweet son and saw a couple of friends. I went to the beach at Edisto Island with my daughters and my sweetheart. I went to Gulf Shores with six of my friends that I've known since we were in elementary school. I went to Hot Springs a couple of times; once to celebrate love and another time with my four closest Knoxville friends to celebrate my birthday. I really like to travel, even if it's simple. All of 2009's travel was pretty simple, pretty modest. I hope to hop across the pond pretty soon. I've been thinking about getting a passport but I'm almost afraid that when I do, I'll hop across the pond. I'm not sure how to problem solve that just yet. I'll probably put it on the list for 2011. It'll be a part of my map. I might get a passport just in case.
I also fell in love. It's a lot different than it was in my 20's. I should say I'm a lot different so the approach to love is completely undiscovered territory. Some things are the same but navigating my daughters, my sweetheart and myself is something I've found is better if I allow myself to watch it unfold instead of trying to manage it. Lessons, lessons, lessons.
The only real disappointment in 2009 was having to downsize the Glowing Body. But it's surviving and we are all better for having been together for that brief little while. It was like a burst of energy and I learned a lot and made wonderful friends. So not all things that seem bad are bad.

Here's to 2010, a map and lots of people who keep making my life better.