Friday, September 19, 2008

Yowza -- been a long time

Been a loooooooong time since I've been a blogging.
Three years to be exact, but folks keep bugging me to write again, so here I am.
So much has changed (for one thing, I'm over 30!!!), but to quote dear old Uncle Walt: "Things don't change, we change."
I have been battered and broken a little bit (weeeeel, a lot a bit) since 2005, but in a beautiful way ....(brokeness is where the healing is) and I am standing taller and with an even deeper tenderness, maturity and vulnerability today than before.
So, I'm back in Blog (and back in black).
More to come soon, but here's the skinny:
Tomorrow morning I'm heading up to Poughkeepsie to begin workshopping my new show (Drugged up Love), and last week I booked two other acting gigs.
When I'm not acting and hanging out with my dog and thinking up reasons to travel or to go out nature (hard to do do after almost 8 years of living in New York City but I'm a native Pacific Northwesterner and the lakes, mountains and trees will never leave me), I read. (So I can therefore escape to the lakes, mountains and trees inside my vast imagination, though right around this time of year I'm usually desperate for a week away from the calamity of Manhattan.) But I digress.
After watching the stunning film Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, I wanted to buy the book, so went on to Amazon and did the whole click to order thing and saw another book called Blankets by Craig Thompson.
I bought both of em!
And I'm a comic newbie -- but now a comic convert!!!!!
Equally as stunning, and like Persepolis did, Blankets resonated with me on so many different levels, especially spirtitually and developmentally. My teen years were tough (whose weren't???), and Blankets helped me feel immediately less alone and more able to talk about growing up as an evangelical Christian in an increasingly anti-evangelical culture (for good reason).
I was raised in an A of G church and went to an extraordinarily evangelical school from the age of 12 to 18, and acting professionally from the age of 15 on wards was one of my only outlets for the extremism and legalism and confusing emotionalism/pressure involved with having to As Ann Putnam says inThe Crucible (oh the genious of Arthur Miller) , "seek loose spirits".
Anyways...........back to work and more to come.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sunday, July 03, 2005

"These are the days that must happen to you." -- Walt Whitman

My job sucks. I don't suck at my job, but it does. I answer phones, all day and busy, bizarre, rude New Yorkers are at the other end of the line. From 8 to 5pm, Monday through Friday, for the past year and a half I've sat at a large reception desk on the 44th floor of a non-descript building on 6th Ave in midtown and said the name of my firm over and over and over again.
Not the most joyful job in the world, let me tell ya.
Since posting my first blog entry a month ago I've been stunned at the joyfulness of everyone's feedback towards it. And their joy has been spurring me to take action. For my life. I've hemmed and hawed about my second blog entry, though. I've been feeling pressure to write something entertaining for everyone, but every time I've tried I've quit, because I don't know if I can live up to my first entry. (And maybe because I haven't been digging this whole joy curve thing I invented for myself.)
But I committed to sharing my life with a wider audience, so here's how it's all progressing:
In this past week I went to a friend's art exhibit, read a New York Times Review of another friend of mine's award winning play, and received an email from a playwright who I worked with a year ago telling me he'd just won a prestigious playwriting fellowship. These events were wonderful, and I sincerely congratulated my friends with much love and admiration. "Their success is mine", I said to myself. "I need to be happy for them, and shower them with praise", which I did.
Meanwhile, yours truly is still slumped in the corner of the R train at 7am, stuck in her "don't-bother-me-I'm-playing-my-i-pod-because-my-life-is-joyless-these-days" slouch, wondering when it's going to be "my turn" and believing yet again that everyone else but me has the corner on joy.
But you know what? I'm beginning to think that my attitude sucks way more than my job.
But it's interesting, isn't it, this question I ask of myself: "when is it going to be my turn?"
because it's a question rooted in self pity. I'ts all about thinking that "I -am- the -spare- tire in -the- car- that- is -my- life".
See, I've been really good -- exceptional, in fact -- at not telling the truth about how I feel. I've convinced myself, my family, my friends, and my co-workers that I really am happy answering phones all day. That I really didn't mind it if my friend gets a great review in the New York Times, or wins a playwrighting fellowship, or has an art exhibit.
I do mind. A lot. Not because I don't get the spotlight, but because I'm not a part of something that is bigger than myself . And there's no way I'm going to get the joy curve if I'm completely self absorbed.
And while I really am thrilled for my friends and really do want their success, I keep wondering why it's easier for me to be in the congratulatory role. I wonder why I'm printing my friends New York Times Review because she might need hard copies. My nice christian up-bringing tells me this is a good thing to do and well, here's the deal: thinking about what Jesus would do might help me these days. He might extend my joy curve, and has been known to on occassion. But thinking about what I need to change in my attitude might be the best move, along with finding another job.
So for the past two weeks my head hunter has been setting up interviews for me.
I went to several, and lo and behold, was offered another position, but I decline. Yep, that's right, pull an ole' Nancy Reagan and "just say no". I interviewed well, but something inside told me to wait. That it wasn't a right match for me.
It also didn't help that the individual interviewing me pressed me for close to ten minutes about my acting background and then said the only reason he was questioning me about it was because his "ex-wife was an actress". Or, maybe it was because he was a little too curious about the nationality of my last name.
Or maybe it was because I just couldn't imagine spending another year of my life answering phones for a company I cared nothing about. For the same pay. In the same neighborhood.
These days, if the ability to repeat joyless and un-endurable circumstances in my life were an Olympic sport, I'd take the gold.
But as Uncle Walt says, these are the days that must happen to me.
And I must allow them to happen.
Even when I think it all sucks.
Even when my blog postings are self-absorbed. :)
More soon. I promise.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Catching The Curve of Joy

When I first moved to New York in January of 2001, I sent out anecodotal emails about my life in NYC to all of my friends and family called "New York Stories". These developed quite a little following. They were entertaining, fun to write, and dare I say, joyful. Then I stopped, mostly because my life here became hard, really fast. And at times, un-endurable. (Or so I thought.)
Over the past three and a half years friends and family have reminded me of these old emails and asked me when I'd be sending another. "Next week", I'd say. But, it didn't happen. Don't really know why, except that my fiction became non-fiction, so to speak, and I lost a bit of that story teller's perspective. That ability to, as Hemingway put it "write hard and clear about what hurts", and I might add, about what heals. Peering a little more deeply into myself, perhaps I lost the ability to step outside of my life and to, with humor and compassion, witness it as more of wonderful albeit challenging story.
So, I am going to resurrect this tradition of mine and begin a new kind of "New York Stories" forum/format: a blog about my life in New York City centered around the theme "catching the curve of joy". This stems from a quote that has meant a lot to me in the past year and it goes something like this: "the un-endurable is the beginning of the curve of joy".
Ironically, I can't have joy without the un-endurable. So this time around I'll be more honest and a little less sugar coated.
Allow me introduce my own little "curve": my name is Erin and I live in Astoria, Queens, NY. I have a "day job" that can, at times, be un-endurable. When I'm not there I do many things to catch some joy: I practice yoga three to four days a week, write, read, hang out with friends, loved ones...occasionally audition. I trained as a professional actor in London for three years after under-grad, and then moved myself to NYC, alone, with a suitcase in my hand, four and a half years ago. the whole audition thing: I started acting when I was fourteen, booked my first Equity gig when I was fifteen, and from there pursued acting with fervor and momentum.
I wore myself out. And got tired of not having any health insurance.
So I chose a day job to get some stability. To get out of feeling that my finances were un-endurable.
And now that I'm a year and half into this day gig, I'm observing that I don't have much joy. Instead, I worry that I'm compouding the many self protective layers I've developed through the years. And it's those layers that are becoming so un-endurable -- not NYC, or my job, or the overly perky barista at my neighborhood Starbucks.
I can tell you who I am, or rather, the activities that I think define who I am-- acting, yoga, running, knitting, writing. I know I'm a friend, lover, daughter, sister, aunt. I'm a recovering this, and a recovered that -- I am many things, like all of us.
I'd like to thrive, though....I'd like to stop hovering just above despair and start reaching towards this curve of joy.
I first read this quote in Rolf Gates "Meditations For The Mat" , an excellent book with meditations for the practice of yoga, specifially an asana based practice.
I liked it, and it resonates with me, mostly because I seem to think that everyone else can or will get joy. Except for me.
And I'm pretty tired of thinking that. Really, it's just a load of crap to think that someone else has got "the edge" on joy.
What a self-defeating thought, and yet I admit one I inhabit on a regular basis, particularly in the midst of my daily routine. I observe myself on the subway in the morning, and I know I've developed this "don't-look-at-me-I'm-listening-to-my-ipod-and-closing-my-eyes-because-my-life-is-kind-of-hard-these-days" persona.
I mean, what the heck? I chose this life.
But for a while now, this whole "weary of the world routine" has clung to me,
and suddenly I'm not so comfortable with this misery, particularly the self perpetuating kind. After many years of hovering just above the despair line, I'm thinking to myself: Who the heck is that girl on the R train? When did she adopt such a cynnical and closed face? Why is she sleeping in the corner seat, huddling her bag to her chest, wishing for the day to be over?
Why is she so tired?
....and most importantly, why does she look as though everything is un-endurable?
The thing is, this just isn't really me. And my life isn't un-endurable. I mean, come on, it's pretty good. I'm angry at myself for believing and then choosing to act as though my life sucks, because really, that's just another way for me to avoid life. And to avoid the rather substantial part I play in creating my joy.
I have begun to ask questions of myself. A frightening but necessary thing, because wearing my misery is wearing me out, i-tunes could bankrupt me, and I'm so darn tired of being afraid of joy.
So maybe it's time to investigate the curve of it.
Stay tuned.
Erin (Erinskaya)