Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Pumpkin of Positivity

Happy Halloween to all. 

I did not sleep well last night, and as I come out of my groggy state I recount yesterday’s events. Oh yeah, that thing happened yesterday. 

I lay there and start to get angry and a bit sad.  I realize yesterday I said the pity party would stop, but I lied a little bit.  I need a few days of self pity before I move forward.  It just feels like the right thing to do. 

My parents were unaware of yesterday’s announcement as I decided to leave that bit of daily info out of the dinner conversation.  Pork Belly certainly doesn’t mix well with tears.  I knew I needed to inform them right away, so I stumbled into the kitchen and asked if they had read the Times this morning. They hadn’t. Crap. So I tell them. Shock and awe ensues.  Questions are asked, and I slam a few doors in reaction to my mom’s seeming lack of support and encouragement.  She apologizes and we move on.  In the end, they know as well I as do that this is life, and it happens all the time, particularly in this industry.  There isn’t much any one of us can do so we simply have to take it day by day. 

I have to give a little shout out to Jürgen for taking the news incredibly well, perhaps better than I did.  We both have tempers, but he really remained very calm when he delivered the news and during the subsequent conversations later that night.  I am very proud of him for this. After all he lost his job, not me.  He has to say goodbye to some new friends and figure out what he is doing next.  Really I just felt angry for him, and for the entire company.  My heart breaks for all of the actors, crew, and especially for the children in the show who were making their Broadway debut.  Welcome to life as an actor kiddos, it certainly sucks sometimes.

Throughout the day I feel various waves of emotion, but mostly I am irritated at the producers.  I don’t know them personally and I am sure this decision wasn’t made lightly, but still can’t you give the show a little time? The holiday’s are right around the corner and ticket sales will certainly pick up.  Doesn’t the playwright know some people who can front some cash? Why didn’t you have a deeper cash reserve?  I realize my anger won’t get me anywhere, but it certainly feels good to try to blame someone.

(I could go into my feelings on the state of theatre in general and why I think Broadway is struggling, but I will save those feelings for a later post).

Still, the day ends up being quite lovely. As a birthday gift to my mom and myself, my Dad gives us each a spa treatment.  My massage therapist comments on the “mammoth knots” in my shoulders and says “something must be stressing you out.”  I chuckle and say “I am moving tomorrow.”

Early in the evening  many children visit my front porch for Halloween candy and I greet them with enthusiasm. Two dear friends come over, and one brings her adorable little boy (decked out in a beyond cute lion costume) and we talk about my news, among other things.  I will miss them a lot.  My parents and I have a fantastic dinner at Art Smith’s restaurant, Table 52, and they remind me how lucky I am.  I don’t dispute this claim as I know in my heart how true their words are.

That evening after they have gone to sleep I talk to Jürgen and he tells me he made me a “Positivity Pumpkin” today.  The entire cast decorated pumpkins between shows and he chose to make one for me.  I find this to be incredibly sweet, and very apt.  Positivity is the only thing that will get us through this little quagmire of a situation. 

By the time I go to sleep I am 27.  I hadn’t planned to move to NYC on my birthday, but I am kind of glad the cards fell that way.  It feels right, and, symbolic somehow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

That's Showbusiness

It's 6:15pm on Friday night. My parents and I have ordered our drinks at the popular Chicago dining establishment, The Publican, when my phone starts buzzing.  It's Jürgen and I ignore him.  I can do that because he is my husband.  I peruse the menu of various pig parts and I receive a text from him which says "I need you to call me as soon as possible. Really."

I excuse myself and instantly assume he is being dramatic about a mundane issue which shouldn't be just cause for interrupting my dinner.  The phone rings as I stand near the communal sink and he answers,

"What's wrong." I ask (there is probably a hint of aggitation in my voice)

The words register in my brain as a foreign language which makes no sense. They can't possibly be closing. They just opened, to very favorable reviews, I am moving out in two days...

"Yes we are closing on Sunday."

I immediatley think that I simply cannot deal with this right now.  I am at dinner, with my parents, it's my mom's birthday today, I just quit my job and a show, I am moving to NYC to be with my husband who has a contract on Broadway, this doesn't at all work into the plan which I had created in my mind.

Ok before we go any further, a little backstory:

Earlier this year Jürgen was cast as an understudy for two Neil Simon plays which were set to appear on Broadway starting in mid-October.  This opportunity was greeted with great enthusiasm by myself and all of our family and loved ones. After all this was a Broadway contract. He was moving up in the world of theatre, and I had no problem whatsoever riding his coattails.  And to be perfectly honest, both of us were excited about the financial possibilities of this development.  For the first time in our brief life as a married couple one of us would stand to make a decent living, and we may be able to (gasp) save some money along the way. The prospect thrilled us both.  The initial plan was for him to move to NYC and for me to stay in our home in Chicago.  I had a life here, many wonderful friends and frankly I just wasn't totally confident in my abilities to "make it" in NYC. However as time crept closer to his departure I began to realize (and with a little goading from some of my friends) that I was turning up my nose at a great challenge, a great adventure! I could try to forge my way as an actor in NYC! Now was the perfect time, of course, with Jürg having a stable job and me having nothing, except for my own trepidation, actually tying me down in Chi Town.  So I gave notice at my day job, backed out of a show which I was set to be a part of (in all fairness I had already done the show for two years so I am not a total jerk) and made plans to venture out to the Big Apple.

This conversation was never in the plans.

We spoke briefly, and he quickly apologized for calling me while at dinner. I told him how sorry I was, and mentioned that we needed to talk about this all later, as I couldn't handle telling my parents right now.  I said goodbye and turned the corner as though nothing had happened. But something had happened, something big, literally a rug had just been pulled out from under me.  All of a sudden that security blanket which I clung to so tightly had been ripped from my hands.  How could this ever work? Why had this happened? The show had just opened, and had received good reviews! Why oh why must life be so hard?

That pretty much brings us up to date.

Let me be clear...the pity party, it stops here. Or at least I will do my best to quell its swells.  I realize  what I am feeling are the feelings which ring loud and clear to so many families across this country, across the world. Particularly right now.  We are both so lucky to have a home in Chicago that we can always come back to.  We don’t have any major debts and-oh yeah!- we have each other! Not to mention being in good health and having great families.  Life really isn’t so bad.  Still, while I can count many blessings, this was the first time in my life when I felt as though I had really been dealt a major blow.  A hit that would alter the course of my little life journey.  I am so blessed to have made it this far without one, and I suppose I knew it would happen at some point, but nothing can truly prepare you when it does.

I decided I had a choice.  I could cower and retreat from my decision to move, or I could look life in the eyes and face this challenge head on.  The former was not an option.  I would go on as "planned" but with a bit of a twist.   The stability of Jürgen’s contract wouldn’t be there for me, for us, to fall back on, but are great adventures built on stable ground? I think not.

This blog will serve as a space on the interwebs to hold myself accountable as I move onto this new path.  A path of positivity and challenge.  A path of artistic and personal growth.  A path that may seem a bit foggy right now, but day by day will become a little clearer.