Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who Told You That You Could...

One sunny morning back in... let's say '99, I was singing a merry tune to myself as I stepped out of my one bedroom in Atlanta. With ironic timing only the universe can manufacture, my landlord Tzafi was standing right there (trimming bushes?) and shaking his head at me. I blushed, and then recovered with a charming "I should be a singer, don't you think, Tzafi?" He countered, with the practicality inherent in the self-made immigrant, "You should be Something..."

Here's a question that haunts me frequently these days, and used to be my pre-recorded punchline to a bad performance: "What makes you think you can be a ________?" Usually the blank was filled with the word 'actor', with an occasional improvisor, or politician, as the situation required. It was a recognition of the power of people to influence each other in major life decisions: Your mother came to every play you were in, so you became an actor. Or everyone at your frathouse told you that you were the funniest guy there, so you got into stand-up. Maybe you, at the maleable age of 15, received a "Best Supporting Actress" award at the District Thespian Festival for your disturbingly acurate portrayal of an 85 year-old crone with murderous intent. I can literally see my head turning as they called my name, my paradigm shifting like the Round-Up at the county fair. REALLY? You all love me? You really do?? And so the path is set.

Who told you that you should BE an actor? Which of your myriad of childhood experiences caused you to decide that you LOVED the color green, that Alabama was the best Football team, that Beck was better than Weezer? These choices aren't stamped on our DNA, they are forced upon us, seemingly at leisure, by those whose approval we desire most - and don't even try and deny it, oh you of the Indy Rock Scene. Somewhere back in time some blue-eyed devil who never spoke to you at lunch suddenly stopped you in the hallway to compliment your Kiss lunchbox. And so rock was born.

And at 30, I'm paying a head-shrinker to help me decide what I want to do, what I Should BE, as defined by my own personal desires, and under the influence of no mother, priest, boyfriend or TV personality. I had no idea I knew so little about myself! I thought, because I was told I was a good actor, that I should BE an actor. That it was predestined, somehow. Of course I love the stage, of course I love making people laugh. Who doesn't? And yes, I'm good at it. But the career is more than that. They didn't mention that when they handed me the award. No one said that in order to keep the trophy I would have to write my own play next time, and find the sponsers to finance the production, generate my own PR and fill those seats every night for two months with paying customers. Then, do it again. And again. Oh wow... You mean I'm the arbiter of my own destiny? Crap.

And so Huck pushes the raft into the river - or better yet, tells Jim to do it for him. I've been told I'm a good writer. So I've begun to peer into some new corners, and see what I can do with this skill. One mantle removed, another donned. Funny how the neck aches in the same places. Maybe I'll never really know what I want to do. Because maybe you don't always want to do much of anything. Excpet of course for getting back to Kingdom Hearts 2. Now there's a hint...

5 comments:

Nic said...

That's crazy. I had a dream about you becoming a writer, yesterday... weird spooky time... Very nice!

anonymous sister said...

I had a wave of bad feeling today - like the kind of feeling when you finally puke after a long night of drinking. It hurts when you're in the thick of it, but afterwards you'll be better for it. I'm not drunk and I haven't been drinking, but I had that feeling - in a sort of nebulous way.
The feeling came about when I realized how society has held my head back and poured vodka down my throat. When really each person needs to choose their own drinks. So be a writer if you want. I believe in you.

Tommy said...

Based on the beauty and wit of that last blog entry, I'd say you're already a writer, Tara. A damn good one.

Hey, I'm still figuring out the writer thing myself, after years of doing it, but just so ya know, Kid Sis, if you're interested:

Mentor seeks Protege for sharing feedback, tales, ideas, war stories, cures for writer's block, first drafts, and polished brilliance. No fee, just honest exchanges and empowering mutual support. Inquire within...

Greg said...

Dear Tara,

In case you haven't gotten my other posts (I don't trust these simulacra; tonight is the first time I've ever tried my hand at blogging), I want to tell you that I think you are a brilliant actress (we've been in action a few times) and a beautiful person. Here's what I say:

I'd forever talk to you,
But soon my words,
They would turn into a meaningless ring,
For deep in my heart
I know there is no help I can bring.
Everything passes,
Everything changes,
Just do what you think you should do.
And someday maybe,
Who knows, baby,
I'll come and be crying to you.

Give my regards to your sis. (Too bad I was too chickenshit to kiss her, too.)

gregjhayes@bellsouth.net Come one, come all! Hope you write sometimes.

Your Teddy always,
Greg

Laundry and Children said...

And who played your sister as you were trapping little girls in toy boxes? Oh yeah. That was me! :) It was at a similar Thespian festival where I decided that I wanted to be a director. Someday I am going to get back to that.