Tag Archives: Books

Carrie 

27 Dec

In 2009, after a lot of tests revealing nothing,  I was sent to a cognitive therapist to see what the hell was wrong with me. Among the homework I was thereafter to be assigned, I was to begin a diary. 

…But because I only ever wrote in them when angry, (and because hypochondria is another fun bit to my persona), I told my shrink that I couldn’t do that… cuz what if I died suddenly and then people found and read these moments of anger and thought that that was how I truly regarded them?  

…So then she said,  “Fine,  do a blog then,  something in a public forum. This way you will need to find a healthy alternative in which to spin your anger and resentment and frustration for a reading audience. ”

…So I did. 

…And you’re still reading it. 

…But this is all to set up that: as a writer,  as an actor,  as a mentally fucked-up human (which we all are,  in our own ways, P.S.) I needed a model of study. Because that is what I do in my profession. 

…And my profession has–had–(FUCK YOU,”had”!) an ambassador of the first rank. 

…It was at that time that this one book just happened to be on the NY Bestseller list,  and on all the feature tables of Barnes and Nobles. And I bought it NOT because it was featuring Princess Leia,  but because it was written by the author of “Postcards From The Edge, ” a particularly fantastic insider bio of truth and shock and humor, by Debbie Reynolds’ kid. (Cuz that’s how *she* ranked in my childhood priorities .)

…The thing was: at that particular time,  I was seriously fucked up. My motor skills were for shit and at times I couldn’t feel my extremities.  I couldn’t eat,  so dropped 35 lbs and the “new skinny” just looked wrong, I was having respiratory issues,  getting winded within six to ten steps,  couldn’t sleep because of chronic spins that would make me heavily nauseous when I closed my eyes, my hypochondria was on steroids,  and I was on about seven prescriptions to try and counter it all,  to no avail. 

…Which is when the MD wrote me a prescription to his own personal therapist. 

…So: when I say that I was fucked up and in the worst mental and physical place of my life: believe me–it was bad. 

I was 29.

…By the end of my first couch session, I’d been diagnosed and told that not only could she source it to age five, but that if I hadn’t totally lost my shit when I did, NOW,  I was so bad that by 35, I would likely have ended in a psych Ward. 

…Which is never “good” to hear. But even less so when you are an accute anxiety-bent hypochondriac. 

…So with the mental picture of a future like Frances Farmer in my head, I went desperately seeking out any –ANY–possible option to the contrary,  in my own associated self-help program. 

…Which led me to Carrie. 

…A Carrie I already liked and was comfortable with not because of an epic Star Wars trilogy, but because she made me laugh and think and commune with her as a fellow single in “When Harry Met Sally, ” and because of her books.

 …That brilliant, bombastic, bipolar brain she brandished on the page with liberal seasoning of caustic wit. 

…While we shared not the same diagnosis, we did on the levels of frustration at being perfectly functioning people until (for no apparent reason, and beyond our own control) we weren’t. That sense of loss in regards to power and just plain practicality was something she described so perfectly. And the way she could balance that loss with the analytical behind-the-scene viewpoint of a twisted blooper reel,  was –God’s honest truth–the first time I had laughed in months. 

…Because it was real. NOT of my imaginings or horrors,  but truth in its ugly fucked-up form. If it wasn’t real,  how the hell could she be writing about the thoughts my own brain was thinking?  How could she understand how fucking dark the blackness got? How much of a freak I felt? 

…But most of all,  how in the name of all that is holy,  could she be making jokes and laughing about it,  like it was no big deal?! It was a GIANT, ALL-CONSUMING goddamn deal. Wasn’t that the whole point?!? 

Nope. 

The point was: she was laughing at it. 

…Scary as fuck and frequently beyond her control to do anything,  but. So: fuck you dibilating mental health issues! And the demon dragon you rode in on. 

This beyond all else. THIS. Learned NOT from my super excellent $110 an hour shrink, but from a woman on the inside who knew the road cuz she set fire to the damn path before she walked it, hot coals et al… THIS was the greatest piece of education I received (or will likely ever receive) on what will end up being my lifelong journey as a person struggling with mental health issues. 

…Like my own version of AA. I chose my greatest support from one who had been there and fully understood what it meant and took to fight this shit every day. 

…Which then got me thinking of one of my alltime favorite Sorkin pieces:

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
“Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”
…Look, I know what the bulk of her obituaries will be saying. And as a person in the Entertainment field, I would be the last kind of person to down-play her iconic importance in so many people’s lives as a Force of Royalty and wit. 
…What I’m saying is that: I’ll mourn that tomorrow. Today,  I have to give thanks for an essential life-teacher,  who woke up every day with a massive fight ahead of her, manned with an arsenal of searing truth, humility, wit,  wonder and fucking chutzpah in spades…which she shared,  at every opportunity, with all of us, so we should never feel alone or shamed or outwitted for our own fights. 
…She was a princess to many,  but a badass mutherfucking Queen to a lot more people,  than she would have ever known. 
Thanks, Carrie.You were epically amazeballs, and I’m so pissed at your early passing. It makes my guts hurt. But you fought your ass off,  babe, more than almost anyone I know. I guess I can’t deny you the much-earned rest. 
Keep it hopping up there! 
~D

Netflix Whore

4 Nov

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Books.

Back to paper and words again. I’m getting office fever as every day our sells drop and the hours slow to the point of almost going backwards.  So am back to treadmill-stepping in between phone calls, and feeding my brains with other people’s lives and words.

…Just finished this for instance:

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…Purchased as part of my usual actor-stalkiness.  Because, yes, it is in fact THAT Lauren Graham who wrote it.  Cuz guess what?  She’s an author too. And she ain’t bad.

…If you’re an actor, you’ll totally get it in a “call-out-during-baptist-sunday-service-amen” kinda way.  If you are not an actor, but like Lauren Graham…you can totally hear her quirky line delivery with every sentence. If you are a little (or lot) frustrated with how your life-plans are behind where they are supposed to be, you can treat it like a drinking game every time she nails what you feel like right now…(then drunkenly commiserate that at least you aren’t totally alone in feeling like this.) 

…And if you aren’t any of those things…sorta screw you a little bit.  You’re a giant big fat Gilmore-hating, money-making success.

Congratulations, asshole.

…Now I’m on this one:

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“…That’s one hell of a segue,” you may be thinking right now.  And it is, but then, I realized like yesterday how two giant show auditions are just around the corner.  I was caught off guard, understandably, on account that both are like 4 and 6 months away from opening…but the powers that be, wisely looked at three major holidays ‘tween now and then and thought (I imagine, anyway), “Well, damn…plop all that together and it’s like a month of conflicts, we best get on this shit!”

…I specifically like the powers-that-be for “Miracle Worker” thinking that…just because shocking contrast makes me smile. (As if you haven’t guessed.) Almost as much as incomplete sentences, ellipses, and sinking smarmy parentheticals into everything.  I’m like a grammatical hooligan all up in here.  Not as blatant about it as the Twitter/texting aficionados, but then they are just secret freaks with their special number-acronym-mystery-language.  My stuff mostly makes sense at least. And rarely contains hashtags…which, BTW* are called POUNDS.

…Try telling that to a 20-year old sometime.

Go ahead. Try.

…Anyway…the book.  It’s about study time.  It’s time to hit the books again for this and other shows that will be popping up.  To get my jones on.  I feel it, already.  Plus, it’s got a two-for-one bonus of keeping my brain occupied until the next OITNB* season starts.  

(* yes, I note the irony. It’s part of the joke.  “Oh, there was a joke,” you ask?  Yes.  But it’s not funny now that I have to explain it. So thanks for that.)

So maybe I’m a little grumpy right now.  But only a little. It’s the “I’m busy reading don’t bug me” grumpy…not the real mean kind.  It is partly mixed with depression though…the depression of exhausting all my streaming joy sectors on Netflix. I’ve Gilmore-Girled, Parenthooded and Orange-Blacked myself through a wildfire of epic consumption.  All seasons…ALL…since just October 1st.

…I realize there is a wealth of “more” out there still to be had, but frankly, I don’t think I can get this close to another cast of characters again in such quick succession.  I sorta feel like a giant  streaming whore right now…just voracious appetite and flying through them faster than a bag of Costco Halloween candy on the day-after sale.  It’s a lot to hold onto. Like, in my head and heart.  I get too close to fake people.  And obsessive.

…Just ask my google history.

…Anyway…there is where we are. 

I’m on books now.

It somehow feels more personally productive. 

…Though as Lauren states in her book, it’s not like binging on quality TV isn’t an educational and worthwhile tool.  For instance, what if Netflix calls me up from that audition I never took and says, “Hey, we really need you to be in season 3 as Vee’s secret drug-mule daughter she left in Mexico that one time, but gets caught crossing the border, is put in the clink, and decides Red is gonna be her oedipal mom substitute. Do you need a character/family chart for that?”

…Now, (thanks to my diligent hours and hours of study), I can be like: “Dudes, I’m already on it.”

…And I’ll totally own that part.

…And win the Emmy.

The end.

~D

 
 

Bookin It

28 Jul

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Sleep was a total exercise in futility.

When everything hurts from moving 12 times your body weight across 9 or so hours…”rest” isn’t gonna happen.  Just throbbing fucking everything.

…By 7:30 am, I gave up, dragged my pillow to the couch and screamed as I sank into the couch cushions.  Then, I yelled again as I got up for tea about half an hour later, then again, about thirty minutes after that. By 10:00, I was exhausted further, just from hurting.  The actual act of “hurting.” 

Rejoining the world at-large, I managed to finally brush my teeth, and joined Ma at the town house to art direct one of her main bookcase walls in the living room.

…I do love me an architect who sinks a full wall of shelving into a home for the pure purpose of showing off as many sexy volumes of classic, bound text, in as many genres as you can fathom.  Directing that to look like just the cluttered, half-hazard home to an eccentric Lit Professor, takes time. Hours and hours of it. Luckily, its something I totally dig doing, and it was the right amount of light physical manual labor to help loosen the death-clutch of muscle seizure, but not influence anything further.

Done, and done.

…And so is m’day.

Off for some more “Studio 60,” and yelling in pain, as I flip flop back and forth on the sofa.

Being out of shape really blows, you guys.

~D

I Have To Go Be 16 Now…

30 May

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Regardless of the post-rehearsal double Long Island making me want to curl up into a ball under the covers and produce a lot of “Z’s”…I am here serving my devotion to you by my nightly blog.

…Because a promise is a promise.

…But a book is also a book and I have three new ones to take in, right now, courtesy of Dame Builder, who I’m playing teenage swappies with.  I loaned her the film, she loaned me the books, and together (though separately), we are feeding one another’s teenage angst and bubble-gum yearnings in the “Beautiful Creatures” department.

I want to be completely honest and say, “I really just wanna go get buried in one right now, no offence to all the yous.”

Had a full day, rehearsal was successful in being rehearsal-like, and we post-funk as a cast, like professionals. 

No big surprise there.

…So now it’s off to face-washings and some ridiculous southern-gothic sci-fi.

Huzzah!

(Also, it’s almost Friday. Another “Huzzah!”)

Now: onto virtual cupcakes of happy “Yay!”

~D

I Don’t Have To, Cuz It’s M’Birthday

28 Apr

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I’m terribly busy with this glass of wine, reading my new books.

…Portland OR, and Powell’s are to blame, but I think it was in the end inevitable that I would want to blow off any real blogging for the day.

It’s my Birthday.  I don’t have to.

…So there.

More will be revealed later, when I feel ready to peel my eyeballs from my new toys.

Right now, I want to be selfish and just go back to playing.

…So I’m gonna.

…And it will be good, and informative, and funny, and dramatical, by turn…depending on whatever it is I am consumed in at the time.

…But right now, I’m consumed in washing my face, and brushing my teeth…so I can snuggle up in bed with glossy pages, and funny Brit accents, and Joss Whedon anecdotes, and Hedda Hopper bitchings, Nazi flounderings, Midwifery, and period English Drama in real, live, paper book form.

Birthdays are awesome.

…Even 33rd ones.

~D

Rogue Cracker

15 Jan

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I am speaking about a Ritz on two books in my bedroom, which has nothing at all to do with race relations, so just chill out.

…Periods make me do weird things. 

I blame the hormones. 

…And also, the badly timed cramps. 

Inevitably, they have me up anywhere from 3 to 5 a.m. trolling the cupboards for easy nibbles so I can take pills for the pain, then roll around the mattress with a heating pad, trying to gain some kind of relief.  Put that together with chocolate and salt cravings and it explains why once a month, my house looks like the Easter Bunny hid a bunch of shit all over the place and bolted.  I have chocolate Digestives in the living room.  The kitchen is sporting scones. The bar has some kinda nuts (“various.”) And my bedroom has a single Ritz cracker…resting between Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South,” and “Sylvia’s Lovers”…which is directly next to the Jane Austen twins of “Persuasion” and ”P & P.”

…I just thought you should know.

…There isn’t room on my bedside table for it (apparently) as that is where the giant tub of Pamprin, and fuzzy water lives (together with an antique framed pic of Gram, a writing book void of all script, my alarm clock, an antique Tiffany lamp with duel pull chains, and a bud vase…with no bud in it.) 

…Also in the general region, just to the side, a stack of books (in case I get brain starved in the night?), on a small shelf…including those I am borrowing at the time and have yet to get around to ever reading.  Some I’ve started, and just never finished.  All: I have sworn to “hurry up and read” at some point in the not-so-distant past.

…Really, all I have to do is look at the stack of them and I get overwhelmed.

Here is the list:

A Kate Hepburn Bio (On loan from L.M.)
“The Mists of Avalon” (1/3rd in, by demand of Marty)
“The World of Downton Abbey” (Last BD gift from JM. It was delightful, you should pick one up)
“Complete Novels of the Bronte Sisters” (Christmas 2011, from Ma, mostly as a joke, it weighs in at roughly 11 tons)
Ken Follet’s “Fall of Giants” (1/4th in, and can’t remember a damn thing…but the last one I read was courtesty MK and I liked it)
“The Collected Stories of Noel Coward” (Delicious.  Both times.)
“Allen Ginsberg Selected Poems, 1947 -1995” (Good lord, do I still have that book?? I need to get it back to S!)
“Beat Collection” (Ditto)
“The Moonstone,” by Wilkie Collins (I actually can’t remember if I finally read it or just watched the movie, which was why I wanted to read it)
“Three,” the Lillian Hellman triplet autobios (they’ve recently come much in handy again 😉 )
“Salt Dancer” by Ursula Hegi, (Another MK read, daddy- issue novella…liked it)
“Oscar Wilde and the Game Called Murder” (Gyles Brandreth does a brilliant mash-up of Holmes and Wilde solving cases to grinning delight)
“The Irish R.M.” (Because I miss it sometimes)
Ken Follet’s “The Key to Rebecca” (Any time you wanna build on Du Maurier…be my guest)
“Charlotte Gray” (Espionage and WWII?  Why yes, and thank you)
“Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” (Cuz I’m not obsessed or anything)
&
“The Fry Chronicles,” by Stephen Fry (Which should come with a Thesaurus and serviceable Oxford dictionary, though delightfully fun to read out loud and giggle at)

…And that, my friends, is only the one at the head of my bed.  I still have clumps all about the room separately.  Cuz I’m an addict.

…With a very obvious eclectic taste.

…Which further explains the craving for strawberry ice cream, Tillamook cheddar, and salamie I’m having right now.

But, instead of ALL of that, I’m gonna go catch up with “Downton” episode 2, at last…and see what Edith is up to.

~D

I Want To Eat You

28 Oct

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It’s something I say to a book, sometimes…so get your mind out of the gutter there, friend.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t consume a book fast enough to please me.  I’d spend ten hours straight, totally uninterrupted on a Summer’s day, and rip through “Gone with the Wind,” or “War & Peace.”  I’d plow through Bronte and Austen and Dickens every Holiday Season. I’d devour L.M. Montgomery and Twain in special closeted room seclusion.  On every car ride, on every vacation and trip…even at the breakfast table over Cheerios: there would be a book.

…For me, it wasn’t only the stories, it was the language that fascinated me. I would eventually begin introducing their speaking patterns and word choices into my own lexicon…which is weird to hear comin’ out of a little eight-year-old Latina kid.  I’d speak in accents for whole days…just because I could, and it seemed totally natural to me.  And these worlds and words became obsessions…I would always hunger for more, the more I read…wanted to consume them…to read them out loud and chew them. 

…To actually eat the words, and have them somehow make me a better, more clever, talented, funny, bold, and dramatic. To MAKE me into those specific characters…even if only for a little while.

…Which is a large contributing reason of why I love theatre.

It is your opportunity to consume and digest words on a page, and use the power that they give you via their interpretations, meanings and thoughts, to bring this character to life from a book’s pages, a script…with more choices involved being as you are now responsible for even their walk, stance, physical interactions, plot projections, and vocal choices.

Sometimes, just like when reading aloud from a Novel, these things come easily to you, free of thought really…the character seems to just “be” this way, in it’s most basic form, and you build from there. Sometimes you have to dig and dig to get the information needed at every stage of the character’s building…like an Archaeologist slowly resurfacing information, one tiny sweep of sand at a time, on who this person was, buried in this paper tomb and waiting to be reintroduced to the world again. Sometimes it volunteers you information, from places you are totally unaware of, and can’t quite explain…yet because of it’s insistence of “being” there, I always work doubly hard to justify the “choice” made in that moment. Because it was (for whatever reason) a gut instinct that just happened. And gut instincts are usually the correct line to follow, simply because it was a natural inclination. Not forced.

…Because of this long-time fascination with language and words, it happens most often that the “gut instinct” choices will first form with the words. If I read a script out loud (the only way they are meant to be), in time a natural voice for the character will emerge. And because I’ve done character acting for so many years, it tends to be often of some accented requirement. So this, then, becomes their voice…with changes here and there in pitch or cadence to fit them closer. What is really difficult for me, is when the voice is asked to change, halfway through the process.

…By now, it is so much a part of the character, that the lines just naturally cling to it…as much as the posture on stage, naturally falls into place. I am passed now, the point of thinking about those things…they were built and settled several weeks ago, and my head is now onto other specifics. It is a note, however, of wanted change, so I am now trying to retrace my step back to the root to retrain my brain, who is stubbornly wanting to be focused on other things. It shouldn’t be a difficult alteration…it isn’t a true accented issue (which was confusing me, until a specific clarification was made)…it’s a softening of the “r’s” mostly…sometime a softer “t” here a there…a more cultured and genteel sound, for the fact she is more educated, a Lady in Waiting, a certain status, not just a kitchen serving wench. And it also is placed to put more likeness to the stiffness of Malvolio’s regime over the house and his specific speaking style, to help bridge the gap between the two worlds of servant and master, that she pops in and out of…and what happens as she allows that mask to slip when in the company of Sir Toby. It is part of showing her struggle between doing the thing that is right and proper, and the moments when we see the total unabashed relief and joy, in saying, “Fuck it! I’m just gonna have a good time!”

…But if I am not explaining that enough with the action of it, or if it is getting in the way of the bigger picture, it has to change.

…Now, you can certainly pick and choose your battles with notes given, and though it is a major character choice for a reason to me, I also understand that it is hitting the Director’s ear and saying, “No.” So “no” is the answer. And my job: a new alteration, and justification. It’s what notes are for: to bring each character into the pack, as a whole, and to make one joint vision of this thing. When your instinct to fight a note pops up (and I’m stubborn, so I have to work extra hard on this point), you need to step back and trust that this thing is for a greater good aspect. At this point, we are all so tunnel visioned with our own work and characters, it is impossible to see outside of that.

It’s our job to focus, so we do…it’s our job to define and interpret…so we do. It’s our job to make specific choices, and put them out there on that stage. And it’s the job of the Director to keep all the plates spinning, the show as a whole, with all these individuals attacking words in print and flinging them about the stage with a thousand intents and purposes.

Now that certain concessions have been made on the Monologue From Hell, this is my new task to tackle. To change her language…how she eats her words, difficult because it was there in her first beginning of learning to walk and talk…like a child, learning that “this” word sounds “this” way, so “this” is how I will always say it…contributed hugely by the influences of those about them.

…Which is how, in even a non-accented situation, you get choices that delineate and are specific. The difference between “Ont” and “Aunt.” “To-ma-to” and “tomato.” “War-shing” and “washing.” “Caribbean” and “Car-i-bbea-n.” Vocal choices…we make them all day long in every conversation we have, not even knowing it, because it is so much a part of who we are at this point.

…Guys, acting ain’t for sissies. When you break things down to these kind of elements, and need to re-educate yourself, its almost like learning another language, on the fly, and justifying it, letting it alter the heart of your character as little as possible at a stage where we are soon launching into tech.

Homework is good…it makes you push to an end, to have a specific focus. Where this note is specifically difficult, is that it is sourced from literally my childhood. The way a person sounds, is just how they sound…and always have, to my ear. Like a musician ear caters to specific notes in succession, making music. I only really realized WHY she talked the way she did, when I had to study it in order to find the code to break it. Then once understanding why the natural choice was made, and realizing what that brings to the table, I learned so much from that discovery, that I want to keep it alive in some way, because it’s pretty straight-up legit.

…So between now and today’s run through at 3:30, my homework is to give Maria a new voice, with the old reasons still intact.

…This is just a long way to say: “I have a lot of work ahead. And what we do on a stage isn’t easy. Just so we’re clear on that.”

~D

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