Blog Sketch #1: Using acting and writing to deal with vulnerabilities, transitions, and fist-fighting Descartes.

This was supposed to be a blog about my recent work and pursuits as an actor. But, then I realized that isn’t really what I wanted to write about. I realized I wanted to write a piece that was less of a journalistic snapshot of my life, but more of a personal piece for catharsis. I deem this more of a sketch (in the Jack Kerouac sense, not the SNL sense) than a blog.

Here it is:

At what point after having made a choice is it too late to change your mind, to alter the course? What is free will to a promise? Are we chained to the decisions we’ve made? Are any choices irrevocable?

I don’t want to start off asking questions. I’m trying to reach in and write something worth feeling. No matter how many times I put my pent to a journal and write the letter I, I fear I will never truly know myself. Even after ten years of a Buddhist mindset I can barely carry my awareness. I’ll never understand why in high school everything mattered more that it does now. That high-school love deserved a moon landing—but what I can’t understand is if it was the mind or the reality.

I was not the most honest person.

I’ve changed a lot since then.

I remember hopping the fence to the beach under the gray moonlight and swimming out to the rafts, our clothes waiting for us ashore. I remember begging you for forgiveness in my car, in the parking lot of the ice skating rink.

I moved to Los Angeles. I ran away to Los Angeles. I ran away. I left Toledo for Los Angeles. I left Toledo. I left. I left home. I left home. I left one place for another. I turned my back. I turned my back turned away. In some ways always turning away.

I don’t want to digress on a nonsensical stream-of-conscious tangent, so I’ll evade.

When I was in kindergarten I would write my own Goosebumps fan fiction. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Freshman year of high school I was distraught by my surroundings, a business & technology driven academy, and realized that I didn’t understand what could possibly be done with my life. After some deep and angsty soul searching, it slapped me right in the face. I wanted to make movies. Twelve years later I’m actively pursuing my dream in LA.

The killer is that time is passing at an outrageous speed. I thought time was flying back home, but with the beautiful Cali weather it’s like time doesn’t even exist.

All the things I want to do. All the places I want to see. All the places there are to go. All the people there are to meet.

Such a shame to have only met someone when there are so many layers to unfold, so much history to be built, so much love and pain to be discovered.

There is an undying fear that I will never be able to get across my writing the deepest feelings I want to express which is the reason I write in the first place.

We used to drive to different cities just to visit thrift stores. We called them day trips. You drove. I made the playlist. We smoked out. We pulled off to the side of the road, under the patch of trees, and did what possessed us. We never got caught.

When I go home for the holiday I won’t know what to say to my family.

I miss my friends. I don’t know if it’s me, but friendship hasn’t been the same out here. It’s probably me—probably too driven toward my career, probably don’t provide an opportunity, probably looking it dead in the face.

Oh, right. Less stream of consciousness:

Now over a year in LA without booking any significant work as an actor, over a year of fighting the urge to give up and go all in with writing, it seems well-deserved that when right on the edge I’m offered the lead in my first feature film. The first question I’m usually asked is how much I’m getting paid, and I always answer with a laugh. After having all my expectations of pay shattered in the first few months of living in LA, I’m just tickled by the thought of receiving as small as a gas stipend for my talents. The thing is that I’m fine with it. For now, I can work for free. If the work is good, and if I think I can bring something to the job, I’m willing to perform or write out of sheer faith.

Personally, I enjoy being a twenty-five year old wannabe-artist loser. I’m proud of the fact that I have virtually no understanding of what my degree can do for me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I moved to LA to immerse myself in a writing, acting, and filmmaking culture, that most of my time is occupied by unpaid work and a fair percentage of my income is shelled out to the discouraging budget for classes, materials, and networking (drinks, and drinks).

The downside is that I can barely convince myself in a conversation with someone about trying to justify why I’m not quite looking for a desk job, that I’d rather devote my energy to authoring and performing. No, I’m not making that much money. No, I’m not living beyond my means. Yes, I’m breaking even and I’m terribly happy. I can barely fathom that with the right luck I could pay the bills doing what I love.

Recently I was cast as one of the primary characters in my first feature film gig and the amount of work I’ve put into the role over the last couple months is absurd. But I loved every minute of it. Due to the nature of the script, this project alone requires me to have approximately eighty pages to memory, not to mention the gift (and daunting job) of being able to truly create a character. Finding a group of filmmakers you can trust is something I hold at the highest value, and this project lets me really test the acting waters with a group of people I’ve known and worked with over the last year. When the script is good, and the team is good, I could care less if I’m getting paid. The fact that people do make a living for doing what they love gives me reason to push myself every day, and this hunger has forced me to grow as a person like nothing ever could.

Although even after having done it for ten years, every time I take on a character I am tackled by the doubt that I’m not being true, I’m not being in the moment, I don’t have a voice, that the performance looks contrived. (I am unabashedly proud of my work and talent as a writer, thank you very much, but acting is another story [these blogs are an exception, they’re the only work I’m comfortable sharing having written it in the middle of the night on five hours of sleep in two days.]) Trust me, I’ve read enough Descartes to talk myself out doubt, but there is no logic to make me feel that I’ve done (or am doing) something right. Maybe that’s the fuel to keep improving, to keep getting better. A good friend of mine likes to remind me the importance of being undeniably good. But I don’t want to be undeniably good. I want to be damn good.

And then, I’m not even sure on what grounds, the writer/director casts me to carry every page of the script. I know I should feel honored that someone saw something in me, but I’m more nonplussed. What I wouldn’t give to see one of my favorite actors at work, preparing for a role, to see which methods work and don’t work for them, to see the right levels of normal and the right levels of crazy.

Over the past couple months I’ve been consumed with technical creative work. Memorizing lines, rehearsing, editing, writers room on a sitcom. Today I felt like writing something for me. I’m not trying to write a blog, I’m just trying to write. I’ll try to be more traditional next time.


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