The Airing of The Grievances

Last month I recorded the lead voice-over for a national radio spot, appeared in an industrial for Microsoft, started rehearsals for a show that opens this Friday, started conversations for a show that starts rehearsing in December, conversed about appearing in a TV series to air on the SciFi channel, and was confirmed to take Mrs. Man of God back on the road in February. So why does it feel like I’ve done nothing, I’m doing nothing, and I’m stuck in a glut of non-artistry?

1. I want blame the braces. Honestly. I haven’t sung since I got them, I haven’t written since I got them, I’ve done a big fat load of nothing that feels good since I got them. You see, the braces are accompanied by the constant feeling of having just been hit in the face with a baseball. This pisses me off. And since the pain is constant, the pissed-offedness is, too. Not good for Horton Happy Time.

2. During the gig at The Children’s Theatre, I felt like I had finally discovered my true self – my core – completely fulfilled, both vocationally and avocationally. I experienced pure balance, and I’ve never felt better. Weigh that with the contract work I’m now doing, and it feels like I’m right back where I was before the CTC – doing unfulfilling work to make some cash while I hope for the Next Big Gig, but really just floundering in a sea of wasted time and energy. On top of that, I totally blew my last audition at CTC – it was my one remaining chance to get cast before next fall, and I totally blew it. The director pushed me to “go bigger,” and I did so, but within the realm of realism. I later discovered that he wanted over-the-top caricature. Had I asked the right questions at the audition, I would have been able to provide that and therefore judged fairly, but I didn’t ask, so I couldn’t provide, and therefore didn’t even get called back. Three months later and I’m still kicking myself.

3. It’s difficult to watch some of my peers catch the Awesome Train after I did, yet continue on to success – it feels like my car got disconnected at the switching station and I didn’t get onto the correct car in time, and now I’m stuck in a car detached from an engine – meanwhile, the aforementioned peers are being taken further down the line on The Big Party-Time Success Car. One has three full-time paying performing gigs in a row, including a stint at the Guthrie, one is winning screenwriting awards all over Europe, one is making music for Oscar-winning films in LA. I couldn’t be happier for these people, but conversely my eyes couldn’t be greener, and I HATE IT when I’m jealous. It makes me feel more ashamed than I already feel for not achieving those same successes.

4. Of course, the jealousy catapults me down the whole “am I good enough?” actor’s spiral of self-pity. My friend Cooper said, “You’ll never get the answer to that question because it’s ART. It’s SUPPOSED to be subjective. Some people will love your work, others will hate it, others will be disaffected. Either way, you may as well stop asking the question unless you simply enjoy torturing yourself.” It kills me, KILLS ME, that I have a calling, yet that calling depends on other people to judge me and accept me. It’s like someone telling you, “yes, I know you went through medical school, and you have all the qualifications and some great experience, but we’re just not looking for brunette doctors right now. Sorry!” Or, “…we’re looking for doctors with a wackier bedside manner right now. Sorry!” Or, “…the head doctor is 6’4, and we really need a doctor that better suits his height. Sorry!”

5. Am I playing a ridiculous trick on myself? Am I not good enough? Am I supposed to be miserable so I’ll finally go back to school for broadcast journalism in radio (long-form documentaries)? Do I need to take a business/marketing class so I can figure out how to better play the system – to wheel and deal – to market myself as an indispensable product? That feels so…disingenuous. Yet I’m at a loss for what to do, other than creating my own show or movie or whatever – and that takes an immense amount of work that I’m not at all inspired to tackle right now.

So consider this my proverbial letter-nailed-to-the-door. Perhaps it will re-kindle the wide-eyed hope I once had. Perhaps a nice breeze will sweep through to fan the flame. The good news is that the only place to go from here is up.