In the Galaxy
As I was lying in bed tonight with the lights off thinking I might go to sleep I started remembering. I remembered was it was like when I was 17 and left home. I went to college for one semester, and then I moved in with a friend of mine who also wanted to be an actress. Her family offered to let me stay there and I would pay rent. So I found a job at The Elephant Bar. I’m not sure if this chain is just a California thing, but in Burbank there are several restaurants that are chains, like Islands. They’re these family themed restaurants with sugary cocktails and expensive high calorie salads. I was hired as a hostess since I didn’t have enough experience waiting tables. It was a corporate nightmare and my plan quickly dissolved when I got an audition and couldn’t cover my shift. And so I became the stereotypical flakey actor that the restaurant wanted to avoid hiring in the first place. Honestly as time went on I made the mistakes I was most focused on not making, as if I was sabotaging myself.
So after that I got a job at a place called Dalt’s, which if I remember correctly was on Victory in Burbank. The manager was a Kurdish man named Zero. My friend Olivia introduced me to a couple of her friends Johnny and C.J. who also wanted to be actors, and I’ve seen both of them in several things, they were smart and driven. They were the connection to Dalt’s. I think it was C.J. who introduced me to Zero and got me the job. Again I was hosting and not long after Olivia started working there too. Dalt’s was right by the studios, so a lot of studio people dined there at lunch. One time Ray Romano was there for a party for the premiere of his show “Everybody Loves Raymond.” He seemed like a nice, serious man. I sound like my grandmother. She describes people in such a way. But my family’s voices do come through me.
The thing is my cause to become the most successful actress in the galaxy wasn’t coming easy, it was a big shock. I mean I knew I was destined for incredible fame for my insane acting abilities. Why wasn’t Hollywood knocking on my door yet? Coming from a smaller if not equally intimidating place called Aspen I found myself in a pool swarming with fish, sharks, whatever. It seemed that all my dreams might not come true. I was considered attractive in high school, but in L.A. I was a dime a dozen. The only people that gave a crap about me were the people I came to L.A. with. The Colorado people. Olivia cared about me until I said some weird, probably rude things to her, possibly predicting some demise in her future. Since I also thought I could see into the future. HA. As if. But she was a really loyal, fun, beautiful person, and definitely very smart. Also not in line with how I wanted to see myself was the fact that after four months I had to go back to Colorado because I didn’t have enough money to survive. I was never able to pay all the rent money I owed Olivia’s parents and they said I could pay it when I had it. But I never had it and eventually they had enough of me when years later I offered to pay like $20. Not a proud moment.
Things I remember about living in Burbank:
The Sevan gas station
Trying the Atkins Diet and winding up eating a ton of brie and bacon and gaining weight
The hot tub
Getting turned down by modeling agencies
Olivia’s collage on her wall
Olivia’s rose tattoo on her back
Olivia’s Donnie Darko poster and other movie posters
Olivia’s vast DVD collection
being very very poor
Not getting very many auditions
feeling like I wasn’t a hustler
So I was finally free from school, I was young, I was attractive, I was nobody, no one understood what I was doing just taking risk after risk to get what I thought I wanted. If I had had more confidence I might have been successful, because I made it that far at 17. I had a good agency for young talent, I had a manager I liked and trusted/also one of my acting teachers, I had friends I could trust, I was able to find jobs, I had headshots, I had a resumé, I had training, I was ambitious, but most of all I was the right age. But I kept seeing traps all around me and I felt like I was dodging land mines. In the end I’ve heard so many people say things about how “If I were more this, if I were more that, I would have made it.” It might have been that some part of me knew I didn’t have what it took to be an actress. Because it was about so much more than being a good actor. You had to work a full, complete game and I found out how much that takes eventually. I saw a little way inside. Not far, but far enough to have a dream, but no reality. Sometimes I dreamed about what it would be like to “cross over.” What it would be like to step outside someday and have people know who you were. What it would be like to wield that power. How I would look. But so many girls dream of that. Not everyone, I know. But a lot of little girls dream of being a movie star. That was my dream. The reality is I was probably always a writer. And another reality is, “who cares?” I care. I care about the people I see. I care about what people do. But I sure do wish I had a better idea what I’m supposed to do, because I’m just making it up as I go, and listening to the voices I hear that sound true. When what people say to me sounds right I try to do it.
There are days though that I really miss that city. I wanted to conquer it. I never wanted to conquer this place by the Iron Mountains. It’s a hard place. One that’s pushed me down in a very different way than L.A. And yes, I get pulled up by each place too. The reasonable side of myself says that I needed to give up on the parts I was pursuing since I’m getting older. It tells me someday I’ll forget about everything that happened. The beginning, middle, and end of L.A. for me. Someday I’ll forgive myself and get married to a nice guy and live in a house with him. Or perhaps I’ll finally revise the novel I wrote last summer and publish something big. Or I’ll slowly build some kind of career based off the foundation that already exists. But more and more I tell myself I’ll never have children, because it would be a bad idea. I love seeing other people’s children in passing, but the responsibility is so great.
Some days I see myself as being a complete failure and I can only see how I’ve ruined myself. I see how many people cannot handle me. I see how much the ones closest to me do. And somehow life goes on. Sometimes I’m happy about how everything worked out, because I’ve got a nice life. I get to run around in the fall seeing trees like bright red hearts. I get to jump. I get to play! People are becoming more familiar. I have the time to write and paint and read and think. I know a lot of school’s of thought say “no thinking.” But honestly I’m not about to give it up. Not yet anyway. I like my brain I don’t care what anyone says about me. I actually have a good relationship with it. And maybe someday I’ll get over the whole wanted-to-be-an-actress thing.
——————————————————————————————————————-----------------------------just be yourself