Erin

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

New York, August 16th, 2019

part one

she awakened early. hot. she had stumbled in the wee hours to the air conditioning control unit, banging against it with contempt for the cold. now the smells of the room rose up to meet her nostrils with a wrinkle. wasn't this supposed to be a luxury hotel? ah, yes. boutique. and it was still New York in August. you got to choose. too hot, too sweaty, too stinky. or. too cold, too dry for your sinuses, scratchy throat. she chose hot and sweaty. and stinky.

she took her time, not normally, but today. she luxuriated. what day of the week was it, anyway? who cared.

well, she did, but only out of habit.

she was sick of social media, living life on line, living connected to a device, living without breath.

so after the applying of the zit cream and the moisturizer and the foundation and the blush and the lip stain and the chapstick and the highlighter and the brow pencil and the cream eye shadow and the smudge and the mascara - thank god her blow out that she had paid fifty bucks for before coming to the city was holding out pretty well thanks to the Russian tae kwon do expert, a former olympian to boot, who had to schlep to the blow dry bar for a day job like the rest of the aspiring stunt performers and a-list actress hopefuls; if not hair then dog walking or tutoring or massage therapy or personal training or waiting in line for rich people at the DMV- after all that, she wandered down to the streets and walked, at first fast, then moderately, a natural swing in the hips arriving fluidly in response to the overtly masculine push toward success she was learning to release every day, nearly every hour, now.

"what," she thought, "what if, what if I just let beauty happen?"

the thought of not working for success at every waking moment tickled her.

she walked all the way from nomad to Chelsea to meet a dear dear dear dear dear dear woman in her life, a friend, fellow creatrix and psychic and powerhouse, they could be sisters or, more likely, young aunt and adult niece? sisters from different misters, perhaps, with the age difference, you see. and over vegan lunch and gay ice cream a deep connection settled in as they spoke of dreams and manifestations until they arrived at a witchy bookstore, no, like literally, there was a sign reading "the witch is in" and they listened to a conversation about sending away unwanted spirits and appreciated the black cat on the counter since the next day was, in an unlikely but remarkable turn of events, black cat appreciation day.

and then there was graffi-tea and talk of obstacles and fears card readings shared entre nous despite the public space, and days later, she would feel so tired and exhausted, having culled the truth of her disappointments and exhaustions from her heart and having laid them bare on the table for her friend to see-

and when it was time to part it was a happy "see ya next time" with a kiss, and they each felt largely fulfilled, they were ready to return to their respective responsibilities and goals, for while you can take the girl out of the overachiever? you cannot? take? the overachiever? out of the girl, oh it makes sense if you are she, anyhow,

until she is a woman

which

witch were we speaking of, now?

so happy for those days of city talking and walking, those moments of utterly delicious wrenches thrown into the works of progress

Morgan le Fay rules over Ayn Rand every day.


Yup! I'm human. 
And I ordered the barista's recommendation,
which was tasty, but,
in my heart I really love sprinkles and
wish I had honored my inner
fairy godmother
and ordered something
sprinkly
instead.







PART TWO:




If you have truly pursued acting in your life, you know how difficult it is to let yourself really feel everything and respond with covering and deflecting the way real people do in life while still inviting people to peek in on your vulnerability while still making it sound like you were just explaining this story to your brother at Thanksgiving.

Or in the case of Tom Sturridge, who sounds like he's sharing in therapy or a 12 step group in his monologue-

Or in the case of Jake Gylenhaal, who sounds like he's sharing at a college friends' camping trip during his monologue-

Just real and even more so.

Best thing I have seen on Broadway alongside "Porgy and Bess" with Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis.

So for some kind of review or something...

These are two separate plays, two one man shows that each take up about the time of an act. They are intimate, deeply personal shows, at least in the delivery and content (if not in the verity of "it happened to me" as an experience.) At times whimsical, at times fragile, at times deeply searching, I connected from my heart to what I was witnessing. I read in the show notes in the program that Tom and Jake, as actors, felt they were giving this to the audience as a gift. I will be honest and say that as an audience member, I did feel that I was giving my attention back as a gift as well? I am sure that sounds bitchy or arrogant or something, and I do not mean it that way. I just mean, it commanded my whole being, and I wanted so very much to offer them my energy as thanks.





PART THREE:

The night before, the screening again:
wanted to post a few pics.

The Q&A/ Talkback:


Great interviewer! (Rick Hamilton.)


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Walking in New York at Night

A pleasure of its own
after a hot summer's day.
The city has cooled off
and the smell of August has blown east and
away, making room for the
fecund odor of the earth below the massive
buildings. And the crazy throngs, too,
are also gone, leaving only lovers strolling,
men out of their suits and on their phones,
catching your eye if they can and if they cannot
it's a numbers game anyway and,
look! A party, drinkers with their bottles in
paper bags, passed around under the protective wall over the
sidewalk where construction has
begun eons ago and will never end.

And you think about the play you just saw,
and the intimacy of the actor talking about
the birth of his daughter, character or himself,
shadows sewn to his words,
and you think about the man in the audience next to you
who passed out from a heat stroke, or
so he told you at intermission with an apology and never
came back. You wonder if you should grab a hot pretzel
from a blue and yellow stand, thick crystals of salt
beading up over the top where the perspiration gathers.
In the end you decide, yes, that would be a very good idea, indeed,
and you pull it apart as you walk.

So many people walk and eat in New York City,
a place where you live in public.

You think about the conversation you listened in on at lunch, for
to say overheard would really be a
lie; an older man with his two grown daughters,
something you pieced together over cold zuchhini soup with
relief, because you could not tell if he was courting
these very young women with his
familiarity or if they worked in his office as they discussed
dating and relationships and then you heard
the man introduce the women, women whom you hadn't
turned around to look at, you didn't know what they
looked like but you gathered instead from the fry in their
voices and their cadence and the restaurant
they were young and wealthy, and the man you could see,
silver hair and a beautiful wristwatch, he introduced them to the
handsome Italian waiter at the French cafe as
his daughters.

But the Italian waiter was married, and so the
father continued to say a thing I hated to hear
to our migrant worker, "my daughters think
if only
you were a little taller
you would be
extremely
handsome."

But what you wonder about now and
wish he had spoken more on, the father that
is, is 9/11, for he had shared with his daughters what
he would have written in an autobiography if
ever he had done so or got the chance to do so.
"9/11 traumatized me for life."
But his daughters rushed him back to a conversation about their
meager dating lives.

And now, passing by the Empire State Building
at 11 o'clock in the evening, oh God, actually much
later than that, lost in time, you think about
that day, 9/11. You were far away yourself, watching
the second plane fly into the building
on the news as you brushed your teeth, although
you do have a friend who was late to
his job at the twin towers that day, but it that is not your story to tell.

But we all felt
something
that day

Whereas now,
what do we feel?

Do you feel?
Do ya feel me?
But really, do you?

We must take these small joys not
for granted in each moment,
sleepy though we may stumble.

We must take in one another and if we cannot
because we are too shy we must take
in this thing here in your hands,
this
object you hold this simple thing.

Simple and important.
The thick salt, acrid on your tongue, preparing
your palate for the soft fleshy dough below it. The
water dripping down from an air conditioner
onto your head and the grace it was a machine
and not a bird or a person. A tree growing
in the cracks of a sidewalk. A confused girl
carrying a pizza box in two hands
like a serving tray. A boy who lives on the streets with
his rottweiller, all four eyes big and brown, looking
up hungrily as the pizza strolls by. The cool wind
blowing your hair back and a doorman
nodding at you with a wink.

Your heart pumping in your chest,
the pulse in your veins pushing against
the skin of your arms, your breath
heating up the roof of your mouth, cars honking
and a woman moaning somewhere, a flash of a painting
from a museum, a flower, inside, deep inside the flesh of
the pastels of the petals, Georgia O'Keefe and a skull
and a hearkening back to an ancient time
so far back there were no cities and the violence was
different then but there were no guns in schools and
no planes flying into buildings or cars plowing down crowds of
people in the streets, it was probably more visceral
the violence before this kind of city of prosperity could
render those without vulnerable enough to fight or suffer
the consequences,

oh, how happy to have this city, despite the
fact a man just told you it was
a hustle and a grind and yet

just past midnight,
you find it - not - serene - but
something altogether holy.


Monday, August 19, 2019

New York, August 15th, 2019.

I hurtled through the sky in the middle of the night from the City of Angels to New York, arriving Thursday morning. My reason for going to NYC was a film festival: our short film, "Near Death," was an official selection of the Chain NYC Film Festival, and I was coming as the sole representative of our work. By "our," I mean, me, Carlo, the director Matteo, and all our fellow cast and crew.



I had planned to sleep the entire flight but I sat next to a very talkative (and lovely) Hasidic lady with a beautiful baby on her lap. My eyelids were heavy, though, and at one point I just... dozed off. I awoke every hour-ish, wishing I had bought on of the pillows Jet Blue had been selling.

And then, as travel changes our relationship to time, suddenly I was in New York. I hopped into my shuttle from the airport to the hotel, sitting in the back with my sunglasses on, as I do when I'm still tired, sand in my eyes. The driver looked at me before officially leaving the airport, crammed all the way in the very back, and he said, "You're staying at the Roger Williams, right?" I said, "yes," and he said, "why don't you sit up front." I looked around in surprise. Why had he asked me? Of course, my mind went right to, I'm a single lady. But there was some putrid smell in the back of that van, and so I said, "okay."

Once upfront, the driver said, "I rescued you from a bad smell in the back." I said, "I noticed that! Thank you."

The families in back chatted happily with one another. The driver was a man of undeterminable age, but I'd guess on either side of 40. His accent was not distinguishable, but it sounded like when a character in a movie practices Santeria. His short cropped hair was receding a little at the temples and his eyes were scrutinizing even though his smile presented a welcome. He listened to classical music on the radio and he kept looking at me curiously.

After a few moments he inquired, "and what is your business?" To which I responded, "I'm an actor and a writer." He asked what I write and I told him about "Near Death," the short film that was in the film festival, the whole reason for my being in NYC at all. He said, "ah, you write science fiction?" And I answered, "sometimes." And then he asked what I thought about aliens. I knew instantly where this conversation was going.

It was certainly not my first- and probably not my last- rodeo with alien conspiracy theorists. All of my experiences with alien conspiracy theorists, including friends, including one guy who told me all about his (self-reported) alien abduction.... I have noticed a few traits they all seem to share: 1) bright intelligence 2) a chip on their shoulder 3) a certainty of being right 4) creativity that seems to have been thwarted somewhere along the line and 5) at some point in the conversation, everyone of them seems to be looking for supportive co-conspirators, and upon learning that I neither believe nor disbelieve, they start trying to convince me.

So, from a conversation about my short film about a priest who undergoes a near death experience and wakes up with a psychic ability to remote view tragedies as they happen... came a intense lecture about aliens; about how there is no God; about how demons are aliens, miracles are aliens, angels are aliens, etc.

Eventually, getting no reaction from me, he searched again.

"And why do you not paint your face and not paint your nails?" he asked.

"Oh, I do paint my face," I said, "but I just got off a red eye flight."

"Oh," he answered. He seemed almost disappointed I wasn't mad at his question. "And your nails?

"Well, I'm an actress, so, if I keep my nails painted and I get a last minute audition or booking for a role where the woman wouldn't paint her nails... like the last role I played, she was a preacher's wife, she wouldn't have painted her nails... so I only do it if it's for a role."

He seemed to like that answer.

"So you do it if your work demands it of you," he said.

"Yeah," I said.

"I think also, it means you are secure with yourself. Women paint their nails because they are not secure in themselves."

"Or for fun," I countered, offering another suggestion. "Like, it might be an expression of beauty. We've adorned ourselves since the dawn of time, lots of animals do, too."

"No," he said. "Definitely it's about being secure with yourself."

I shrugged, and inwardly I was chuckling to myself

Welcome back to New York City, I thought.

We spent the rest of the ride talking about his daughters, and whether or not parents should impose adult dreams on kids. I thought to myself how desperately I begged my parents to move to Los Angeles when I was little so I could be a child actor. I don't talk about it often. For some reason, it stings a little to think about, even. Actually for many reasons.

A lot of people want things to be different than the way they are, maybe most of us, maybe all of us, at least some of the time. That's never a recipe for happiness. Of course, in 2019, we prize happiness as a spiritual trait, a sign of spiritual goodness and enlightenment. In Europe during medieval times, Christians prized sorrow and the gift of tears for the same reason. For me, I'm just looking to change my life. Again. :)

***

At my hotel there were no rooms open yet, so I stopped in at the tea shop next door, did a little work on my secret (not so secret, but still, yeah, secret) novel/ screenplay. I texted some NY friends to start setting up dates. And then I went to the Whitney Museum over by the Highline.

***

The thing about art museums is, I love them, but especially when I have time to surrender to them. I like to find something that moves me and get lost in it, romance it, pull back, see how I feel. The Whitney has a lot to offer, especially during the Biennial, which was going on. But there were a few pieces that hurt my head- that's normal for me- I am very sensitive- and then there was a Georgia O'Keefe painting and a Laura Ortman video piece that swallowed me up.

First, Georgia. I know there is so much to discover in that museum, tons of great painters who are maybe slightly less famous than the flowers and animal skulls of O'Keefe. But I love her. I just love her work. I don't know if it's because my mother loved her? Maybe. And maybe because I've had some intensely bizarre and meaningful experiences in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in New Mexico and the plateaus of Hopi land in Arizona. Her neighborhood. Her subject matter.

And I've always loved flowers, too. I love to lean in, drink them in, inhale them and whisper back nurturing carbon dioxide, sing a little opera if I'm alone enough or with those who also understand.

So I was drawn in to (posting, but not sure if that's legal for me, so, hopefully someone will let me know if I gotta take it down):



Georgia O’Keeffe Flower Abstraction, 1924
Oil on canvas, 48 x 30 in. (121.9 x 76.2 cm) Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
50th Anniversary Gift of Sandra Payson 85.47
Copyright Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York



It's like we can dive in and swim around. An expansive femininity. An integrity within the delicate textures. I love it.

And then, a Laura Ortman video, My Soul Remainer, which I stood in front of for several viewings. In this video, she's playing Mendelssohn (on violin) in concert attire but in different locations in the Southwest (she is a White Mountain Apache, and her crew and fellow collaborators were also from various Native American Nations.) I just wanted to watch it for hours. I want to watch it now.

Ortman's video has me entranced, and I don't know why. Yes, it's dynamic, and beautiful, and full of tension. But also, it just seems to express- for me- the beautiful anguish between our nature roots and the human couturing of beauty through music and hair and clothes and.... I can never say it in words, not like she presented in the video. Just go find it and watch it.

***


That night we screened at the Chain NYC Film Festival in a block titled "Faith." It seems we, collectively we, I mean, have a fascination with the pain of the priesthood as there were several different explorations into their lives. Honestly I was surprised! I felt that we were unique in using a priest as a hero, because, well, you know. The church scandals that have been coming to light, again and again, as they should. We address this only a little in our short film, but we do address it a lot in the longer piece we've written (Carlo and I) (a TV pilot) because I feel it's a copout not to. And it's great character development and story telling and needs to be opened up and addressed both directly AND indirectly so that we can stop the abuse and heal the victims. But we were the only film that DID mention that part of the priesthood.

There was a real standout- a Croation short called "In the Name of the Strawberry, the Chocolate and the Holy Spirit." (2018) 20min | Short, Comedy | 27 April 2018 (USA) One Sunday after the mass, in an overly Christian village, Petar, a priest devoted to his profession, wants just one thing: enjoy an ice cream. The film goes on to hilariously show his many struggles in this endeavor. I laughed out loud.

When our film screened, it was fun to watch the audience. There was a moment with a collective GASP. That was gratifying. I also watched for where they were drawn in, where they were checking out, who, and why, etc. You can learn so much about storytelling watching audiences in theaters as much as you can learn about the film itself.