Getting more fun out of life.

When did life become so much work?  Seriously.  Have you seen that commercial – I think it’s for a cruise line – where the voiceover says something like ‘Do you ever feel like everyone’s having more fun than you?  They are.’ – and then they tell you to go to Aruba or some other tropical island to rediscover your fun?

I hate that commercial.  I mostly hate it because that damn voiceover guy is right.  Everyone is having more fun than me, and it pisses me off.

Even with stuff that is supposed to be fun, it always ends up being work, too.  Take, for example, the play that James and I are producing:  P L.A.Y Noir.  The whole point of producing a play is so that we can act and direct and do all the fun creative stuff that we love to do, play roles we don’t get cast in, and collaborate with our friends.  Super fun, right?

I’ll tell you what’s not fun:   all the crap you have to do as a producer to make sure the show happens, before you can get to the fun.  It’s not fun to wrangle schedules for 5 one-acts with overlapping casts, 12 actors, and 5 directors.  It’s not fun to send 50 emails a day about all kinds of logistical stuff you didn’t realize you needed to worry about, because it was supposed to already be taken care of.  It’s not fun to stress about finding rehearsal spaces, because the theater is never available.  And it’s not fun to worry about allll the stuff you shouldn’t be worrying about yet because it’s too early to worry about ‘potential’ problems that are still weeks away, when you have current problems right in front of your face that you need to deal with here, today.

Sigh.  Do you see my issue?  It’s quite possible that I need to meditate, or take a valium, or both.  But short of chanting or medicating myself, or taking a Caribbean vacation (I’m still mad about that commercial), what’s a girl to do to inject more fun into her daily life?

I think it has something to do with learning not to take things so seriously, to enjoy the journey, to take fun breaks (Really?  Am I at the point in my life where I need to schedule time for ‘fun’?), to not sweat the small stuff.  But for an admittedly type A control freak compulsive worrier like myself, ‘learning’ how to pause the craziness and smell the roses is damn hard.

I guess admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.  So here I am, admitting it.  I want to have more fun and not stress about everything, but I have no idea how to do it, or where to begin.  If you have suggestions – no matter how simple, or alternatively, how extreme – I’m open to hearing them.

In the mean time, it’s Friday, so I guess I should get started on that fun thing.

Until next time, friends.

Sometimes, you just gotta write.

This blog is dedicated to Danielle Lescure.  Thank you for inspiring me!

When I started this blog, it was with the goal of posting something 2-3 times a week.  This is partially because I have a lot to say (hah!), partially because I feel if I don’t post blogs on a regular basis, people will lose interest and stop reading, and partially because I’m a stubborn perfectionist and if I set a goal, well, by god, I’m going to do it.

Well, the last couple weeks, I’ve been struggling to get one post up a week, and feeling really guilty about it.  I’ve had a lot on my plate:  logistics for P L.A.Y Noir have been more time consuming than I could have imagined and I’d been feeling bogged down with casting (see last week’s post), coordinating schedules, and various other pre-production things.  In addition to the show, and work, James and I have also been caring for our sick and aging dog, who no longer likes to sleep through the night, and as a result, we don’t sleep through the night either.

So, I’m feeling stressed out, sleep-deprived, cranky, and missing the one outlet that always makes me feel better:  putting pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard).  This blog isn’t well thought out, it’s not carefully crafted, and it’s kind of whiny, but here it is:  I needed to take a break from all of the other garbage to sit down and just write something.

If I may leave you with any wisdom in the midst of something that is admittedly self-indulgent and hastily thrown together, here is what I think it is:

No matter how busy or stressed out you are, make time to do things you enjoy.  It’s far too easy to buy into the idea that you don’t have time.  Truth be told, there’s never going to be enough time.  You’ll always have something else to do:  some work, some responsibility, something you should be doing.  So take breaks (schedule them on the damn calendar if you have to) and don’t feel guilty about them.  The work will be there when you return, and you’ll return refreshed and with a better perspective.

I spent 20 minutes writing this, and it’s 20 minutes I should have been spending doing something else.  Oh well.  Nobody died, and I already feel better.

Until next time, friends.

Actions speak louder than words.

I sat down to write this blog as a rant about flaky people, and actors in particular.  We’re casting a couple roles in the film noir-inspired one-act play fest – P L.A.Y Noir – that James and I are producing, and held auditions last weekend.  When looking for actors, I first reached out to people whose work I know.  When the friends I wanted to bring in who were right for the roles we needed to cast weren’t available, I asked for referrals from friends whose opinion I trust, and when that still yielded few results, I resorted to my least desired option and posted a public casting breakdown.

Why would I be so reluctant to cast an actor whose work (and more importantly, work ethic) I don’t know?  Here’s why.  When putting together one round of auditions, I easily invested at least a dozen hours of my time contacting people, narrowing down selections, contacting more people, reviewing resumes, sending out audition sides and directions to the audition location, and then printing out/stapling/highlighting the appropriate sides per character.  I’m not complaining, because it’s a job that needs to be done, but I just want you to know that putting an (organized) casting session together is not a small feat.  It takes some doing.

As last weekend was a holiday weekend (Easter/Passover), I called actors we were interested in to check on their availability.  I talked to several of them on the phone; several others left me voicemails or emailed me to confirm that they were available to come in.  All told, by the Thursday evening before our Saturday auditions, I had confirmed 13 actors to come in and read for us.

By Friday afternoon, three of the actors who the day before had told me they were available had cancelled.  One of them had a legitimate excuse; the other two were pretty lame.  One girl actually had the nerve to tell me to call her the next time I was casting something.  Yes, because that’s exactly what I’m looking for:  someone who’s not even reliable enough to show up to an audition that they confirmed the day before.  Next.

By Saturday morning, another actress had cancelled on me.  Another flake, another lame excuse.  Something like, ‘the thing I was going to later that day got moved up by a few hours.’  Really?  Now we were down to 9 actors.  Still, not too terrible.  Let’s see if they actually show up.

All told, out of the 13 who originally confirmed, we read six actors that day.  Out of the 9 left on the ‘confirmed’ list, two never showed, and one called me to cancel while were at the audition (her story, that she got held up at another audition, I actually believed).  One of the no-shows didn’t surprise me, because, when I called to invite her to the audition, she answered her cell phone while on the treadmill at the gym, talked to me while running (I’m not joking), and when I told her why I was calling, it was clear she had no recollection of submitting for the project, and no idea what I was talking about.  A-mazing.

So what is the moral of this story?  As I said in the beginning of this post, I originally sat down to write a rant about flaky people.  But it has been several days since these events occurred and my irritation has subsided, so I’m looking at this from a more philosophical vantage point.  What strikes me as fascinating is why all of these people who claim that a successful acting career is their dream, who are striving to succeed in one of the toughest businesses on earth, when it comes down to actually having an opportunity to do what they say they love, would waffle.  Is it self-sabotage?  Fear of success?

And lest you think this was just an isolated incident, we’re holding another round of castings this weekend, and I’m experiencing a similar phenomenon.  So what’s the deal?  I can only speculate.  But I do know this:  while actors seem to be particularly guilty of the crime of flakiness, it’s not just them.  More and more, I’m noticing the phenomenon of the ‘maybe’ commitment.  In other words, agreeing to a commitment and sticking to it – a plan with friends, a job, a date, whatever – only if something better doesn’t happen to come along.

I know that stuff happens.  Life intervenes.  Things come up.  Plans change.  Have I never bailed on a commitment that I’ve made?  Of course not.  But I can tell you this:  in my life, as well as in my experience producing theater, the people who are reliable, the people who show up when they say they’re going to and who do what they say they’re going to do are like life rafts.  They are rocks of Gibraltar.  It shouldn’t be this way, but unfortunately it is.  Because, here’s the truth:  if you are a person who consistently and reliably follows through on your commitments, you are one person in ten thousand.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how you choose to make your life, this act alone will make you stand apart from the crowd.  Because it does not matter what you say you’re going to do.  Talk is cheap.  It matters what you actually do.

Think about it.

Until next time, friends.

The company you keep.

At the risk of sounding like a snob, who you spend your time with is important.  The company you keep not only reflects on you, but it has a serious impact on your overall happiness and well-being.  Unfortunately, nearly everyone knows what it’s like to have a toxic friend in their midst, one rotten apple who threatens to ruin the whole bunch.

Think about your friends.  Do you truly enjoy and look forward to spending time with each and every one of them?  If the answer is yes, lucky you.  But chances are, there’s one or two in the bunch that don’t elicit the same reaction.  If, more often than not, you feel emotionally drained by someone who is never happy, is constantly complaining, who always needs to be taken care of and made to feel better, or (the worst!), someone who is unsupportive of your choices and cuts you down to make themselves feel better, you have a toxic friend.  Please run (don’t walk) in the opposite direction, as fast as you can.

In L.A., there is a particular class of toxic friend that you can find in practically every hipster coffee house in town:  the bitter buttercup.  The ‘I’m so talented, I should have made it years ago, but the world screwed me over and I’m never going to get a break because there are too many talentless hacks like (insert name of reality star here) around.’  These people (while they may be right about talentless hacks) are haters with chips on their shoulders and their attitude is so unattractive that you’d be advised to stay as far away as possible, lest some of it rub off on you.  I don’t care how gifted the bitter buttercups are, they’re never going to be successful because the truth is, they prefer failure.  They wear it like a badge of honor so they can point out to anyone who will listen how unfair life is, how screwed over they’ve been, etc.  Some people are happiest when miserable and I advise you to avoid these ‘only happy when it rains’ types like the plague.

Wouldn’t you rather surround yourself with people, who, instead of waiting for the world to give them what they deserve, have turned their dissatisfaction into action and rather than complaining, are creating?  Someone who doesn’t worry about what they don’t have, or what they didn’t get, but instead has chosen to love their personal journey and take positive steps everyday to be better, more innovative, and to live more fully?  Yeah, I not only want to have those types of people as friends, I want to be that person.  Relentlessly passionate, relentlessly creative, and relentlessly joyful.

Speaking of relentless, you’d be amazed at the power of relentless optimism in the face of cynicism.  Shuts it down every time.  So say goodbye to the haters, the toxic friends, the mean girls, the bitter buttercups, the wounded birds, and the whiners.  Embrace people who inspire you, who make you want to be a better person, and most importantly, who make you happy.    Life is short and it’s precious.  How you choose to spend your time and whom you choose to spend it with matters.

Until next time, friends.

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