Sunday, August 18, 2013

The One Where My Feelings Got Hurt Very Badly

Published 8/18/2013

So for the past few months I’ve been trying to anticipate the very specific whims of casting directors by expanding my set of bookable skills. I think they really ask far too much of actors- fire breathing, unicycle riding, competition-level tango dancers- really? Why would I know how to do those things? But when one has no agent and little cleavage, one has to get creative. My British accent has gone from awful to passable, so I figured it was time to move onto other pursuits.

I mentioned before that I danced for a couple years, but I didn’t keep up with it because I moved around so much as a child. In any event, between multiple viewings of Black Swan and discovering Misty Copeland, I decided that I would buy a bunch of cute leotards and leg warmers so I could walk around like this, and casually return to ballet after a 10+ year absence.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve seen too many inspirational dance movies (Take The Lead, I blame you) in which someone who has never danced or given it up long ago because of That Accident/The Breakup/Ambiguous Guilt/Insurmountable Injury/Urban Struggle, reluctantly puts on their dancin’ shoes and after a few bruises, a class-conscious romance and a montage to a Journey song, emerge in under 120 minutes as a nearly-professional dancer who wins that competition or achieves their way out of the ‘hood.  Well movies lie. This is something I know well, but I foolishly ignored the truth. What has been happening for the last few weeks is no one’s fault but my own.

There are a ton of adult ballet classes in LA so after a few days of trying to do this, I signed up for one. Before I attended my first class, I had a lot of very specific expectations in my mind. I’m often told that I’m graceful and asked if I still dance. I’m also generally really good with choreography. Le sigh. First of all, when I arrived, I was the only dork wearing a leotard. Apparently, adults wear yoga attire to ballet. What followed after my wardrobe faux pas can only be described as the exact opposite of the gossamer and pointe shoe-filled fantasies I’d been entertaining.

I don’t remember sweating in ballet and most importantly I don’t remember not being the best one in class! I have a little problem that involves me not being able to do things without competing- I have injured myself attempting to be the most flexible person at yoga- and I was hoping that this would be like riding a bike. I thought I would be like Billy Elliot running out of the wings, but I felt more like this. And get this, the best person in class is a dude!  He pretty much looks like this, and if I fail to hold my passé/ releve` combo I can feel him giving me the stank eye.  Why is this happening?!!! Oh, maybe because ballet is a freakin’ sport! Professional ballerinas end up with feet like this! This is not a game!

Anywho, I’ve decided to stick with my classes because I love them almost as much as I unabashedly love wearing leotards and leg warmers, but if I ever book a dance movie, I hope for the sake of everyone involved that that there is a stunt double. Yes, that was a man doubling for Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. I hope I didn’t just ruin anyone’s childhood.


Location: 5 (Studio A in Silverlake is da bomb. I still plan to try Millennium in Noho and Align in Weho.)

Number of times per class I get the stank eye from Amazing Ballet Dude: 512

Level of pain in my calves: 27

Intensity with which I hate doing frappes: 10

Monday, August 5, 2013

If All Else Fails, Say You Invented Post-It Notes

Published 8/5/2013

Because I’m an actress and being over 17 in this town means being relegated to playing moms, layers and cops, I usually attempt to remain vague about my actual age, but I’ve recently attended an event that unfortunately betrays my years.  If you guessed going to the DMV to switch the picture on my license from vertical to horizontal you were close, but actually it was my first high school reunion.

I must stress that I skipped a grade and my birthday is late in the school year, so I’m still safely in my 20s, but I continue to be carded at the movies and thusly continue to audition for 18-to-play younger roles, so if a casting director should get ahold of this, I will deny every word of it!

I have to say that I had absolutely no intentions of attending, partly because I went to high school in a town with only two busy streets and businesses that close at 10PM, but mostly because I’d failed to become a heart surgeon (or marry one), win a Pulitzer or an Oscar, or just generally be where I thought I would be in life at this juncture. Unfortunately, I had 1) recently been in a neighboring town and become consumed with nostalgia, 2) started to feel really bad about making my friend go by herself, and 3) watched that slightly cheesy, but surprisingly charming Channing Tatum movie, 10 Years.  At that point I decided that because I live in driving distance and because I didn’t have to work, I would go. 

And also, I started to become insanely curious. Of course I’ve been glimpsing the lives of my former classmates in bits and pieces through the Book of Faces, but that only reveals so much. The baser parts of me wanted to know if the popular kids had gotten fat and who had become more doable.  The latter was the prevalent trend. While in high school, I experienced the weird phenomena of doing popular things (cheerleading, track, choir, drama) without ever actually being popular. I also had a friend who was the Lynn Collins to my Kate Mara or the Rachel McAdams to my Lindsay Lohan so I was secretly bracing for a night of being compared to her as in days of yore.

I needn’t have worried about that. People were nice! They were more than nice, and my plan to lie about some unreleased (non-existent) studio feature that I had just worked on and the carefully planned escape that my friend and I devised were quickly forgotten. Only about a fifth of my graduating class showed up, but suddenly four hours didn’t seem like enough time to catch up.  I realized that part of my apprehension came from being accustomed to the daily dance of one-upmanship that is LA conversation and the constant need to tell tales about your career. What I actually found were unassuming interludes with people who knew me when Destiny’s Child was still together and who have witnessed some of my more regrettable fashion decisions. 

I spent most of the evening in the photo booth, trying to remember our alma mater in its entirety, being perplexed by the attention from guys who would never have taken me behind the bleachers ten years ago, and laughing at the ones who proceeded to get extremely sloppy. I also witnessed the requisite attempts to initiate ye olde drunken hookup and ye olde rekindling of flames that burned out shortly after we were handed our diplomas.  Hilarity ensued. There was also a lot of music from the age of my matriculation that made me laugh and cringe. Thong Song anyone?

I was shocked to find that I was actually a little sad at the thought of not seeing some of my classmates again for another ten years, not because I missed riding the bus with them, but because they felt like family. Fortunately, I did revive a couple of important friendships that have fallen by the wayside for no good reason so when it was time to leave, we did it without crying to the Vitamin C Graduation song like we did back in the day. I got through the night without having to tell anyone that I invented Post-It Notes, so I’d say the evening was hella tight (early 2000s slang that was been retired from my vocabulary- you’re welcome.)


Venue: 5

Alcohol Situation: 5 (Also, I wasn’t legally old enough to drink last time I saw these people!)

Friendships Revived: Several

Personal Victory/Dignity Retained: 4 (Only because we ended up at Jasper’s in “downtown” Lompoc. Just being there is a questionable decision.)

Atmosphere: #winning (Again, I heard the Thong Song played and appreciated un-ironically.  Where else is that going to happen?)