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Archive for July, 2009

Watching True Life: I’m Having Twins on MTV is making my flesh crawl. Wait… yup, I just threw up a little. 

Though I have no plans to have children anytime in the next decade, it’s (deep breath) something I need to prepare myself for.

I’m a twin. 

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“Well,” you say, “no worries. That skips a generation.” 

Not so. My mother’s also a twin. Did I mention that my mom’s twin sister has a set of twins? …because she does. 

We are one twin-ridden family. I’m told that if my sister, one of my twin cousins, or I give birth to a set of twins, we’ll break the world record for the most sets of twins in one family without skipping a generation. 

No pressure. Maybe someday I’ll warm to the idea, but right now the thought of ever having to care for two newborns at one time makes me want to run very far away. I’d rather not double my pleasure, thank you. One at a time, please. 

(This woman just named her twins Aneesa and Anyssa. I want to punch her in the face.) 

Don’t get me wrong, pregnancy is a miracle. Motherhood is beautiful. But these women are huge. Oh, and look… they’re losing their damn minds. …see you all later. I’m going to go have a long conversation with my ovaries.

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Shark Week is so close, I can almost taste it. 

Something I’d forgotten about living in Florida: if there’s one thing you can be certain of it is this– during summer months, if will rain sometime between 2PM and 6PM.   

There’s a torrential downpour outside right now. Thunder shakes the house periodically. And all of the dogs are crowded onto the bed, trying to burrow their heads under pillows. Or beneath my legs. 

I get growled at if I even think about moving, so here I remain. Thinking about yet another day that’s gotten away from me. Today I: woke to the smell of dog shit, made an amazing cup of coffee, swam in the lake, wrote a little here and there, fell asleep on the dock, made an embarrassingly bad batch of brownies (that’s what happens when you add maple syrup and honey to the batter out of boredom), and thought about reading The Seagull. I only thought about it, but that was farther than I got yesterday. It’s disgusting how unproductive I feel. 

This is how my mind is working today: 

I’ve always got an itch to travel, but I’m feeling especially itchy today. (Or maybe that’s just my mosquito-bitten legs…) Thinking about traveling leads to me think of my friend Hammill, who is bumming around Europe this summer. Thinking about Hammill leads me to think of Andrew Jackson, as Hammill and I make up half of a group called “Andrew Jackson: The Worst President of All Time”. (But seriously, let’s talk about the Indian Removal Act. Though, sometimes I wonder if Buchanan might’ve been worse than AJ. But that’s for another time.) And thinking about Andrew Jackson leads me to think of our country’s early Presidents which, in turn, leads me to think of this: 

I am a nerd. 

So, now I’m left with thoughts of history, thoughts of scotch, thoughts that Andrew Jackson would probably shoot me in the face were he alive to read this. That’s just the kind of guy he was. 

Did I mention that I’m excited about Shark Week?

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An Actor Panics

While drinking my obligatory cup of coffee this morning, I was contacted by a girl I haven’t seen in over a decade. (Mmm, the miracle of Facebook!) Via Internet chat we, of course, played the catch-up game. She started the questioning:

“What are you up to these days?”
“I’m an actor.”

There was a long pause.

It’s becoming a reoccurring theme. Having just finished my undergraduate degree, I’m constantly hearing, “Congratulations! What did you study?” My response, “Theatre Performance”, is usually met with a blank stare. “Really. Well. What are you doing now?” I reply that I’m going to get my MFA in Acting. Responses to that have included silence, laughter, “You can do that?” and, my personal favorite, “Is that like a real master’s degree?”
 
Yes, that’s like a real master’s degree.

Sure, there are the people who “get it”. Usually they’re fellow theatre folk. Others in the arts. And then there’s… everyone else. 

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Despite the Everyone Elses out there, the thought of starting classes is too exciting for words. I’m 22, moving to New York City, and getting to study what I love from some pretty amazing people– it’s all kind of thrilling. 

But, recently, panic has started to set in. “I’m moving to New York!” has morphed into “I’m moving to New York?” I started thinking about what my first night alone in my tiny shoe-box studio in Manhattan would feel like. I started thinking about what it’s going to be like trying to get to my classes via the New York Subway System. Alone. I started thinking about what it’s going to feel like being lost in New York City. Because I will get lost. And I started thinking about classes… 

I openly admit that I’m a nerd. I love to learn. I’ve always thrived in academic environments. Being the studious and overachieving little actor that I am, this morning I was revisiting Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares and, while skimming through passages that I’d highlighted years ago, I started to wonder… am I ready for this? I can talk about the inner life of a role until I blue in the face, but I don’t feel comfortable in my own body as an actor. And I have a small voice that is in serious need of training.

And the actor’s tools are his voice and his body. Well… damn. 

Rationally, I know that this is all the more reason to continue my education. All the more reason to embrace my Vocal Production and Movement classes. But, the fear of inadequacy creeps in… 

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I started to think about the most recent productions I’ve been in and realized that during every one, there was a period where I was convinced that I was the last person alive who should be playing that role. Every role, every show, every time… there was an element of fear. Which then led me to wonder, Am I brave enough to be an actor?

This afternoon, I stumbled upon a Newsweek interview with Kate Winslet. Here’s what she had to say on the matter: 

 Fear is a great thing for an actor, because you have to confront it, you know. There’s always the feeling of “I can’t do this. They’ve got the wrong person.” This job is so exciting, and most of it is terrifying, but the day I say “That’s it, I know how to act” is the day it ceases to be interesting.

Somewhat comforting. 

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The fear has me thinking about King Lear.

Lear

I’m remembering a particular rehearsal, stumbling through Act III, Scene IV– out in the storm before the hovel. (I have worlds to say about the hovel scene, but that’s for another time.)  

That production was my first time touching Shakespeare outside of a classroom (I’m sure it was evident to anyone who saw the show) and I was terrified. Excited as hell, but terrified. I spent months doing my research, mulling over physical and vocal choices, trying to make sense of a relationship between Lear and myself, a rather odd choice for The Fool. Still, I felt paralyzed in those early rehearsals. I was off-book, but still wanted my script in hand. I didn’t trust the voice that was going to come out of my mouth. I wasn’t comfortable with my scansion and the verse. I’d done the work, but I just didn’t trust myself. (And maybe for good reason.)

On the other hand, there was Peter, our Lear, whose  presence was just commanding. During the particular rehearsal that I’m thinking of, he and I were downstage, my hand in his, trying to persuade him to go into the hovel. Peter broke away from me with the words,

Thou’dst shun a bear,
But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea, 
Thou’dst meet the bear i’ the mouth.

And I remember in that moment thinking, Yes! Sometimes we have to face the things we fear because the alternative simply isn’t an option.

A fellow cast member left a note for me in the dressing room on opening night. “Time to meet the bear.” I like thinking about that rehearsal. About that note. They help when the fear starts to make an appearance. 

 

It’s that time again. Time to start trusting myself. Time to meet the bear. 

 

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Some tunes, for good measure: 

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I’m in a very strange limbo these days. I’ve said goodbye to the people and places I know and love in St. Louis. I’m bound for New York City in a few short weeks. But, for the time being, I find myself in Florida. A town called Lutz. Lots of things behind me, worlds of things ahead, but what now? 

It’s Tuesday evening and I haven’t spoken to another human being in person since very early on Friday morning. Not knowing a soul in this town, I’m left with the company of five dogs that have been placed in my care until my aunt, uncle, and cousins return from Montana. Four very large Labrador Retrievers (one of them a geriatric diabetic), and one brand new Australian Shepherd puppy. Pete, Steffi, Bud, Mia, and Sam. 

It occurred to me today that, aside from a few friendly phone calls, my mouth has only opened to call the dogs. I also realized how many names I have for each of them. Especially the puppy. She’s not usually “Sam”– I too closely associate that name with that of a little boy who’s very close to my heart. No, the puppy is usually “Muffin” or “Blue”, because the markings on her back immediately make me think of a blueberry muffin. 

 

Huckleberry Hound?

Huckleberry Hound?

 

In  addition to “Muffin” and “Blue”, she responds to “Goof”, “Nut Job”, and “Freak Show”. Many names for one little puppy. 

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A bookworm of a child, I always seemed to want the name of the heroine of whatever book happened to be in my hands. I wanted to be Alice, Jane, Anna, Moll, and Jo. I also wanted to be Finn. 

This desire for another name wasn’t limited to literature. For a few years, my twin sister insisted on watching half-an-hour of The Sound of Music every night before we went to bed. I used to look forward to rainy days so that I could slip into the backyard and dance with my imaginary boyfriend Rolfe who would lovingly call me “Liesl”.

I think this stemmed from the fact that I grew up knowing that my mother hadn’t intended to name me Lindsey. She knew she was having twin girls and wanted “Anne and Abby” or “Tyler and Teighlor”. Her story goes that one of my uncles suggested “Lauren and Lindsey” to my father and she gave her post-delivery drug-induced approval. So, I began to wonder what life would have been like as an Anne or as an Abby. Would my hair have more curl in it? Would I still have my tendency to get the hiccups? These are the thoughts that come when you’re six and trying to figure out who and why you are.  

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When I was a baby, my dad had songs for each of his girls. Every night, he sang “You Are My Sunshine” to my sister, Lauren. That was her song. Mine was “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. I can’t hear that song without having vivid memories of my father’s voice. And call me Sweetheart, he did. 

Sweetheart. There were other names, too: Linds-Bins. Little Lindsey Lou Who. Loula Belle. My first roommate in college simply called “Lou”. I had a boyfriend who, after hearing that I wore capes to grade-school for a good stretch of time, called me “Clark”, as in Kent. 

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It’s funny– the different images that certain names bring to the front of the mind. Say one name and I’m sitting on the ledge overlooking the Grand Basin in Forest Park, my legs dangling over the side, book in one hand, strong coffee warming the other. Say another and I’m laying on a blanket in the same park, knees toward the sky, speaking English laced with French and laughing to the point of pain. Another name and I’m terrified and eager in a brightly-lit church-turned-rehearsal hall. Another and I’m laying on a little boy’s sleeping bag, watching the stars, a tiny and warm hand in mine. There’s the ugly, too. Names that cause my jaw the clench and fists to tighten on their own. Names that I can’t hear without having to control my breathing. Names that force me to remember things I’d rather forget. Whatever images they conjure, I’ve always had a deep understanding of the importance of names. They help us recognize what we know. 

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When I was in high school, a fellow classmate overheard me expressing dissatisfaction with my name. He listened to me wish for one that carried more significance for me, for the rest of the world. He slipped a note into my locker later that week. I still have that note. “Lindsey means ‘linden trees near the water’.” He explained that he thought it was beautiful and very appropriate, considering my love of the sea, of rain, of water in general. 

His research went further. “Linden trees are strong. They have very deep roots and heart-shaped leaves. German’s call it ‘the lover’s tree’.” He told me that in Greek mythology, Baucis and Philemon were granted a wish for pleasing the gods. They wished to spend eternity together, so upon their deaths, they were turned into intertwining trees– he into an oak, she into a linden. 

 

Leaves of the Linden

Leaves of the Linden

 

 

He wrote, “The name is fitting for you for a multitude of reasons. Take pride in your the fact that you are Lindsey.” 

It was a short note from a thoughtful boy that taught me to love my name. I think now of a younger version of my sister yelling it because I’ve done something to upset her, her voice high and rough at the same time. I think of a little boy laughing it after I’ve done something silly. I think of a friend using it as an exclamation after I’ve done something unexpected. I think of someone far away saying it, and I have to catch my breath. 

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My temporary seclusion from the rest of the world has made me miss a lot of things. One of them being the sound of my name in another person’s mouth. The sounds of the names of the people that I love in mine. 

Yes, it is important to call things by their right names. Sometimes it’s important just to be called. 

 

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