Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some tardy (non-acting) thoughts on the Fourth.

They look so small from up here. Smaller even than you'd have thought.

Yeah yeah I know. I gotta back up.

Perhaps because it's an expectation-free holiday, I have a fondness for the Fourth of July. I love Christmas, too (I am the Christmas Ho, after all), but we want Christmas to go a certain way. The tree, the gifts, the music, we need it all to be just so; for Christmas, we even make requests of the weather (snow!).

But not the Fourth. You can go to a barbecue, or not; head away for the weekend, or not; gather with family or simply stay put. Up to you.

Me-- well, you know. I love fireworks. Love 'em. But this year I'd decided to head to LA for the weekend, and the return fares on the Fourth itself were simply to cheap to pass up. Since arrival in JFK in time to make a fireworks display would have meant leaving LA at an ungodly hour, I decided to gamble on the next best thing: a late afternoon flight that, if the route was right and the weather held, just might put me over some fireworks. It'd be a new perspective, and fun.

We push off fifteen minutes late, have a long taxi (TWO Delta flights get the call in front of us! Why? Why??), and aren't wheels-up until almost five. I curse American Airlines as I feel my plan slipping away.

But I do have a tendency to struggle against trusting in Faith.

The sun sets as we cross the Rockies... we clear a cloudy stretch... and we're somewhere over the Heartland (Iowa?) when I first see it: a small cluster of lights which can only be a town. (Thanks to the pervasiveness of the Sodium-Halogen streetlight, there's a distinct look to urban areas, even minor ones, from up here.) Then, just off to one side... there... no bigger than a single spark from a sparkler, really, so small I'm not even sure... until there's another. And this one's red. A tiny bright pin-pop that quickly fades.


And I suddenly ache to be there, wherever There is: some baseball diamond, some fairground outside of the town, sitting on a blanket, looking up at the night. The town's now sliding underneath the wing and out of view, but no matter: here's a slightly larger town, and over there, another... and if you let your eyes sort of... drift... these tiny, colorful puffs dot the land below. Pop, fade. Pop, fade. Happy Birthday, America. Happy Birthday, us.

Now, an incredible turn of good fortune: in the distance but coming up fast, Chicago! What are the odds? A major city, at just the right time-- and on a clear night! I'm gonna get my Big City fireworks after all.

I notice two concentrated bursts that are busier than the others --the big displays-- but, funny thing: from here, they're not that much different than the smaller ones. Not much at all. Still I watch, for the Grand Finales will be impressive, surely. And they do get a bit brighter... but then they simply stop.

I settle back in my seat. I'm depressed, a little, let down, a little... but there's something else, a thing I've felt before; a vague feeling of what I can only call profundity that's making itself known. And since I am a religious person I believe that to be the gentle nudging of God.

"Oh, come on, what--" I think, "can't I just sit here and feel depressed?" Fine. OK, Universe, I'll bite: what am I missing? Think, Peter.

Personally, I go back and forth on the whole There Are No Accidents concept. But tonight, well, the timing could be chalked up to chance (but that delay at the gate...), the clear sky, to predictable weather patterns...

...but the good stuff outside the window is NEVER on my side of the plane.

So. I got the Big Show, like I requested... but from up here, there really wasn't much difference...

Ah. Got it. I'm a little slow sometimes, but in the end I get it.

It's one of my great flaws, see, this Wishing I Was Somewhere Else. And I can imagine myself on that rural baseball diamond, pining for Chicago (or that plane flying way up high), not appreciating what was lighting up the sky right over my head, losing the moment while not realizing that, depending on your seat, that change-everything difference isn't such a difference at all.

Which leads to: is it like this about everything? Beauty, wealth, accomplishment? When you're Up Here, far enough from it, do all our seemingly-important differences grow narrow? All these distinctions we measure by, and value so highly-- success or failure, rich or poor, hot or not?

And I wonder if this is how it will be when we Depart: a flight that doesn't follow the curve of the earth but flies straight, soaring off while behind us everything slowly... fades. What's that? What kind of car did I drive? From up here you can't even recognize cars. (Although a bit of practical advice from a lot of night flying: have bright headlights.) So, maybe, none of this matters so much.

No. It's this: ALMOST nothing matters. For as I think on it, I come back to where I always come back: love.

I'll miss that a whole lot. I wouldn't have a panicky urge to claw out of my plane just to jump back down to get my car; I'd want to get back to the people. Sure, I'd want to experience a little more. But I've experienced plenty. Really, I'd want to feel a little more. That's what I'm gonna miss.

None of us have taken that particular flight yet, though we all have a reservation. But we already know that the feelings won't fade. As for the rest... perspective.

So, Universe, thanks for this-- and, ya know, worth the Holiday flight. A new experience, and a lesson learned.

But next year, I'm going to a Big Show.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A few thoughts about home (what else?)

"Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that Tara, that LAND doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts."
--Gone With The Wind.

Nine PM. Back at Terminal Four at LAX. And, indeed, where better to finally write to you than the Admirals Club?

And, no, not gloating. At all. The kind of chap who's a gloater, see, would have MADE that 4:20PM flight, and not had to spend his last few hours in LA gazing out at at incoming and outgoing air traffic.

Anyway. Sorry for dropping off the radar for a bit. I've been working on two (!) Scene-of-the-months (and they're winners), and I didn't want to write 'til they were done... but here I am. Thinking. (...and, in truth, drinking as well. Never good, but free wine will do that to a man.)

I am by ancestry Irish, mostly. And as such, am a member of a culture for whom bonding to a place, a home, is a defining link in the DNA.

But I currently pay rent on three storage facilities. I am having mail held in two cities. My car keys are with a friend. I offer a quick nod of acquaintance to the ID kid at the TSA line at LAX (who, I SWEAR TO CHRIST, is the twin of Jake Gyllenhal), and he says: "where you been?" I have not boarded a plane in about two months and realize that is my longest flight-gap in over three years.

And standing here, gazing into the mirror of the admittedly lovely restroom in the Admiral's Club... I look tired. (When it didn't matter, I was often called "young-looking." Really, who gives a shit? Now, an embarrassing truth: I do. And I'm not, any more.) I don't think people are meant to live like this. At least not people like me.

But... what if I'm wrong? I never thought I'd get good at this life, but. No matter what it is, we get good at what we do. And I don't know how it happened but this is what I do.

Is there ever a moment? When a person looks in a mirror and realizes that, perhaps, This Is It, For Me? (and, if so, shouldn't such a moment have come earlier in life?) Is there a too-yong part of me fighting this, protesting that no, there's Something Else?

Besides. Amongst us humans there are nomads-- entire cultures defined by their ability to never put down roots. As one of the Concord Poets (Emerson?) pointed out, migratory birds never return to last year's nest. Thing is, how does one know such a thing about one's self?

Do you?

Outside, in a ballet of slow-motion, whale-like grace, a Quantas 747 is pushed onto the taxiway. Strange, how silent it is behind glass. In truth, I love this part. I love wondering where that plane is going, what lives are moving forward. I do love forward motion.

And now, quietly in the background, Miles Davis. Flamenco Sketches, off "Kind of Blue." One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded.

Again: what is it, exactly, with life? How can it be beautiful and mysterious and lonely and hard and joyful all at once? I thought only women possessed that capability...

I owe you an apology, I think, because this was heading somewhere when it started (I swear it was). But it ended... here.

So. I'm in NYC for a month or so, with a few Boston weekends in the mix. I'd love to see you-- so if you're looking for a class in NYC or Boston let me know.

Actually, shoot me an email either way. I'd love to hear your thoughts on all this. I really would.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some thoughts on my last day at 601

the view from my ex-office

I saw your picture today.

Yes, sir, yours. In black and white. You're sporting that full, proud head of hair in your headshot, staring out at the world with your best "you know you want this" look.

Now, you're a little... older. And thicker. And bald. It happens.

Oh, I saw yours too, missy-- you too with the hair, the leather jacket, and nothing but a lacy black bra underneath(!), looking for all the world like The Hot Extra in a Van Halen video.

Now you've got a different last name, a kid (two?), and don't really act much anymore. It happens.

And I saw you, too, my friend. I wasn't really prepared to see you today. You were alive then.

Now you're not. It happens.

I moved out of my office this weekend. As some of you know, my awesome and entirely too lenient landlords at 601 W. 26th in Manhattan had, when I shifted my base of operations to LA, offered me a sweetheart deal on my office, with the understanding that if a "full-price" taker came along, well, that was that.

How come we never, ever think these things will come to pass? I'm still in LA, mostly, and simply cannot justify full freight on my amazing office, so it was time to go. (But I will be back.) I'd been slow to respond, and February's a short month-- next thing you know I'm realizing that I've got ten days to clear out. Oh, I was prepared for the hassle: if you're an actor, chances are you're a "mover" too (funny, the things we get good at)... but.

What I was not at all prepared for was how difficult it would be inside.

My mom's a hoarder. Foolishly, I thought I was immune to this; I am cured of that misconception when I open a desk drawer and find it stuffed to capacity with paper napkins. (Hey-- they give 'em to you every time you get, like, anything at the commissary on the 8th floor-- and, ya know, Free Napkin! It just seems like a waste to chuck 'em.) (I'm right about this, BTW, and NOT crazy.) It takes about ten minutes to realize that A) I've been in this office longer than I'd thought, and B) there's been a whole lot of hoardin' going on. Time for some hard decisions. A little tough love.

So I labor. I agonize over each keep-it/chuck-it moment, and there are hundreds of them (How is this possible in a 10X10 office??). And in the midst of this Hoarder Hell... I finally arrive at my headshot files.

You should know this: if you have ever, ever walked into my office with a headshot, in any city, at any time... I still have it. I resolve to thin this herd by at least a half. It's ridiculous, really, all these crates. (As a side note, I'm saddened by the gaps in my recent collection due to the lazy proliferation of "oh let me just send it to you electronically." Do yourself a favor: print your headshot. Pay the money. Get the richest, most vivid headhsots you can, and carry them with you, and give them to people like me. It will pay off.)

So I spend the rest of the day staring. At you. So many headshots. Each one the representation of a dream. All these little triumphs, little heartbreaks.

Here's something I bet you think isn't true, but it is: I remember you. Whether we met on Harrison Ave or Babcock Street or East Broadway or South Street or Greene Street or 440 Lafayette or 6th Ave or Greenwich street or any of the other countless rooms I've rented over the years... I remember you.

And in remembering you then, I remember me then, too. Who I was. The sky I saw. The world I lived in.

And here's what I realize, as today's sky darkens and the lights of Manhattan outside my gorgeous window (sigh) twinkle to life and I'm still sitting, overwhelmed, amongst a sea of headshots: I'm proud of you. Because in the end, whatever the result, I think it is the attempt that counts. I believe that. I do. And I was a part of that and I'll bet I didn't say thank you but I am. Thankful. More than you know.

It's fully dark when I come to realize one more thing: I'm keeping your headshot. In fact, I'm not throwing out a single one.

IN those rare moments that I share, I sometimes tell people that what I want most in my life --my deepest fantasy, my porn-- is photo albums. Or, more to the point, to have a life where photo albums would exist. And every day I carry a little ache with me that I don't.

But sitting in that dark office I realize that I do.

You're my photo album.

601 W. 26th St.
Feb 28, 2011