Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Have the Greatest Manager in the World

I have the greatest manager in the world. I am so lucky.

I have not done a play in nearly two years. This realization is giving me palpitations. If a lawyer did not practice law for two years, you would still call her a lawyer. If a doctor didn’t see a patient in two years she would still be a doctor. Why is it that after two years of doing no plays, I feel like I am no longer an actor?

My manager knew I was pregnant before my mother did. I had to tell him when I got an audition for “Taming of the Shrew” and not only could I not work on the script without feeling like I was going to hurl, I knew I could never take the job. There are some roles I can imagine doing while pregnant. Kate is not one of them. I told him with trepidation that I was pregnant. That these were deep waters we were navigating. Still very early. But I couldn’t in good conscience take the audition.

So I told him, and then I took a deep breath. I feared he would pull a Donald: “You’re Fired.” With a capital “Y” and “F”. Instead he said “Mazel Tov!” and sounded as if he were jumping around his office for joy. Did I mention he is the greatest manager in the world?

He has been patient with me as I have continued from deep water to rough water and then to dead-calm-no-wind-stuck-in-one-place water. Year one of baby’s life. I really don’t know many moms who are working actors who aren’t famous. I have one friend who works constantly. She is a wonder. A few others who are struggling to figure out how to go back, as I am. But where are the rest of us?

Hellooooooooooooooo? Are there any other unfamous working actress moms out there? Maybe ones who used to be regional theater actresses and now don’t want to or can't leave home?

Working as an actor in New York City is impossible. If you aren’t famous.

I got new headshots done. I’m trying to lose the baby weight. It is stubborn. I fear I am too old. That it’s too late. That I missed this particular bus. That I wasted a lot of money on grad school. Acting is a young person’s game. These are the things that would keep me up at night if I weren’t so exhausted from caring for the baby nonstop.

But my manager is patient with me. I took him the new headshots, and he raved about them and said when the baby is two she’s going on the road with me. He did not yell at me when I said we were leaving town for a month so she can get thirty dollar swimming lessons in my hometown. Saving me approximately two hundred dollars.

He was patient and understanding. Said we’ll sit down and talk in August. Was excited about my vlog.

If he can be patient and understanding with me…perhaps I can be patient and understanding with myself?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Does It Mean to Eat Your Children?

"What Does It Mean to Eat Your Children?"

I had a teacher in grad school who asked us that question. She was crazy but to her credit it had a context. One of those horribly horribly Greek tragedies in which someone ends up being fed his own children in a pie. I was an acting student. I suppose if you are going to act eating your children you need to take a moment to consider what that means.

I have had the opposite experience for the last two plus years. I have been eating for my children. Unborn or otherwise. It was about two and a half years ago when we started trying to get pregnant. And from that moment on every single bite I took, every single drink I sipped, every breath of air I breathed, contaminated or otherwise, did not enter my body without being assessed for its potential harm to my unborn and then newborn child. I suppose that makes me sound fairly obsessive compulsive. I have a streak. I’ve actually returned from the subway platform, having PAID MY FARE, to make sure the gas stove was off. And I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and worrier. So yeah, I didn’t eat hotdogs or drink or enjoy soft cheeses when I was pregnant. And I thought about how well I could metabolize the Splenda and caffeine and ginger ale and peach schnapps when I was breastfeeding. Did I mention I’m also a lightweight? Yeah I totally am.

So I have done this obsessive monitoring…oh by the way don’t let that lead you to the oh so erroneous conclusion that I gained the perfect 25 pounds during pregnancy. So far as I know, no brownie ever led to fetal brain damage. Yeah I gained forty five pounds during my pregnancy. So I have monitored potential pathogens obsessively…until today. Coincidentally my 13th wedding anniversary. Here’s how it went down. We had raviolis for dinner at home since my husband couldn’t get home early from work today so we could go out. I left two on my plate. I am still trying to lose those 45 pounds. But they are really good raviolis, and my husband was in the process of taking the plate to finish them off when I said “oh wait” and took a few forkfuls of the very nice, tomatoey sauce because it has really good things in it for the baby. And then I remembered. This morning was probably my last breastfeeding. Ever.

I know that weaning can be really difficult. Friends have told me of sleepless nights and engorgement. But my baby was one of those who pretty much decided she was done. She just really likes sweet potatoes and cheerios. And though nursing was pretty successful for both of us for ten months, it never reached those transcendent otherworldly planes I have read about. It hurt and I had blebs and then her teeth came in and I never felt like I had a huge supply (as witnessed by the fact that I leaked once and could really only pump about five ounces from both sides combined at best). We are close. We are snuggly. But nursing was fairly utilitarian for both of us. Which maybe made it a self-fulfilling prophecy. I always said I wanted to make it to Memorial Day. I just never kind of thought that she’d hear me and then say “ok Mama I agree.”

I stopped pumping at night last night. And this morning she latched on for about three minutes and then happily guzzled her organic formula. And had a great day.

So when I reached for the tomato sauce and thought “these great lycopene thingies will be really good for the baby” and then stopped suddenly, I was genuinely surprised to feel myself tear up. For the first time in years, what I eat will not go directly to someone else. For the first time in years, I do not have to weigh every mouthful. For the first time in years I don’t have a little being dependent on my good judgment for her very sustenance. And while it is liberating, it is much sadder than I expected.

I still don’t know what it means to eat your children. But I know what it means to have my children eat me. And then move on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Addicted to Blog Giveaways

My name is Wendy. And I am addicted to blog giveaways.

I spent all of naptime today entering them. Seriously. I did.

Ok it started because I was listing my own blog giveaway on some blog giveaway sites. And let me say here for the record—there are blogs for EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. Macrobiotic LOST Fans. Stay at Home Moms who Dream of Hosting their own Crafting Shows. Roller Derby Circus Clowns. You name it, someone is blogging it in full color complete with helpful diagrams.

So. People list blog giveaways. As the complete content of their blogs. Bless their good-hearted souls. Because you can just enter one after the next after the next. And there are SO MANY.

And may I say, I have already won three of them. Three. I hate to make this public because then so many others will start dedicating all of naptime and lunch hours to entering them and my odds of winning will plummet. Admittedly, one of them I won, well, there were five entrants for three prizes. Those are the ones you gotta find. But still, the odds are usually 500 to 1 at the worst and much much better at the best. I have a box of eco-friendly cleaning supplies to prove it. And two other gifts.

And winning is just friggin fun. It convinces me that exploring the blogosphere is so much more than a time suck. It’s practically a job. I’m gonna feed and clothe my family on stuff I win on blog giveaways. Plus the last time I won something I was in the fourth grade and it was a cakewalk at a school Halloween Party (this was the late 70s when the fear of razor blades in apples was in its fullest swing and trick-or-treating was shunned in favor of school Halloween parties which basically sucked except I won this cake). I got to choose from what seemed like about 50 cakes all spread out in the science room. I picked Winnie the Pooh.

So because I’m a good person. I will tell you where to go to find lists of giveaways. Perhaps in so doing I will cleanse myself and break my addiction. After all, it worked for Facebook Scramble. Which has now been replaced by entering blog giveaways.

www.prizeatron.com (ok I just entered another one between the time I typed that url and found the next one…I’m totally serious…I may have a real problem) www.bloggiveaways.blogspot.com and www.acontestblog.com.

Enter at your own risk. You also may soon forsake bathing in favor of giveaways.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Apology to the Girl at the Cruise Lines Audition

I don’t know a lot. But I do know that I don’t want to be that Mom.

Let me explain. I’m a freelance actress. Mother of ten month old. Wife of hotshot doc. Something of a failure but not completely hopeless yet.

Yesterday I was at the dragon lady's commercial casting office. The office where there’s never anywhere to sit and if you stand in the hallway the other tenants of the floor yell and throw things at you. The one where I am always a bridesmaid but never a bride. I have never met "herself". Or shall I say I've never been introduced to "herself". Perhaps I have met her several times. Listen, I’m sure she’s actually a lovely woman. I just hear things…

So I’m waiting to go in for what ended up being actually a very fun commercial audition for whipped cream (yeah not that fun…hold your horses there John Wayne) in which I actually got to use one or two of the skills developed over years and years of classical training (yeah did I mention I do Shakespeare…or rather I did Shakespeare…? Now, if I’m damned lucky, I sell chewing gum). So actually thanks for that fun audition, dragon lady. See you're not so much of a dragon after all. That audition made me feel like a bit more of a person and a bit less of a walking, talking, lactating boob for the ten minutes or so I was in there.

Anyway, I’m looking over the fairly humorous copy when a mom carrying a ten-month-old or so in a Bjorn (look into the Ergo lady…I’m just sayin') and her sweet 7 year old daughter arrive for the Cruise Ship call. Mom sighs dramatically. Flops down. Very nice girl Karen who will audition with me smiles at her, and Mom sighs again and says “yeah, it’s hard.” Wah wah. But anyway, it is hard, so I find a moment of generosity for her.

Mom starts to fill out size card for seven year old (How do I get my friggin adorable kids into commercials? you ask. I’ll tell you later.) and discovers that sweet young seven year old needs to be in her bathing suit now. For the audition. This I was aware of because I had seen the other little girls walking around in theirs to get their Polaroids (yeah commercial casting used to be the only thing keeping Polaroid film alive…but no more…requiem for Polaroid) and thought they were so sweet and fearless and why don’t I like wearing bathing suits anymore—oh yeah it’s that big fat undulating donut encircling my bowels. So Mom says to sweet seven year old “you need to be wearing your bathing suit.” Sweet seven year old looks horrified. She scans the narrow hallway for some privacy. A bathroom. I know the bathroom is outside near the elevators. Nothing. “NOW!” says Mom, “I didn’t carry your sister down here for you to…” Oh my god. Sweet seven year old mutters something quietly. Mom says loudly and very indiscreetly “No one is looking at you! Now change right now!” I stare at the copy which I have now completely committed to memory.

And right at this moment, I failed you sweet seven year old. I had a large coat. I had no ten month old strapped to my chest. My baby was at home. I was once a terribly self-conscious seven year old who would have become paralyzed from the neck down had my mother insisted I take off my clothes, and put on a bathing suit…on a cold metal bench in a HALLWAY! I could have offered to hold up my coat so you could have undressed behind it. I could have taken you to the bathroom. But I, too, was scared of your mother. And I didn't want to intrude. So I did nothing. I stared concertedly at the Xeroxed paper and cringed and hoped you could change quickly. And I feel you did. But still, I should have helped you.

I am a bit traumatized by what that Mom made that young girl do. Not just the auditioning. Because God knows that auditioning for commercials is soul-killing enough after adolescence let alone before. But the public nakedness too.

Resolution to self: as a mother and an actress, help any young girl who needs it. At any time. Regardless of how scary her mother seems. Because you are a grown up now.

Also apologies to Karen. Who I think was actually trying to make friends as we left the building. But I was thinking about the babysitter and if I had time to stop for salmon and I’ve lived in New York for so long that I’ve forgotten I’m a nice girl from Pennsylvania. I think Karen actually reached out her hand when we were leaving and I didn’t take it. It wasn’t until I was descending into the bowels of the subway that I realized, my gosh, I think she would have talked for a few minutes and then maybe even made a date to meet for coffee. Maybe she has a baby too. Maybe she could have been my friend.

I’m sorry to you too Karen. I’ll be looking for you in the shadow of the dragon lady.