Monthly Archives: March 2012

25. James Receives Hope in an Elevator

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This is a short but sweet story.

So the other day, I was on my way to a voice lesson with Tim Howard. As I’m getting into the elevator to go to Ripley-Grier, the elevator closes on me and a stranger. I instinctively pull out my phone and pretend that I’m super cool and have millions of people to text so I have something to awkwardly pass the time. The stranger engages me in conversation.

Stranger: Are you a dancer?
Me:…

(Well. It’s complicated. Cuz I am very self-conscious about calling myself a dancer. Cuz I can’t do tricks like a betch, but I dance and I tap. So. Well. Can I be on So You Think You Can Dance? No. But. Am I dancer? Yes. So..)

Me: Yes.
Stranger: Oh cool. I can tell. My sister is a dancer.
Me: Really? That’s awesome.
Stranger: Yeah.
Me: Where does she dance?
Stranger: Well she’s touring Africa right now, but she’s done a lot.
Me: Wow. Cool!
Stranger: Yeah. It’s hard man.
Me: Yeah, it is.
Stranger: I know, I’m a musician. So I know how hard it can be.
Me: Yeah.
Stranger: But don’t give up.
Me: I won’t.
Stranger: If you keep at it, you’re gonna win.

Then the elevator opened; shortest elevator ride ever.

I won’t forget you, kind stranger. Stranger is a rude word, I feel like, cuz it has the root “strange”. You weren’t strange. You were surprisingly kind. So. I won’t forget you, Kinder. Much better. Has the roots “kind” and “kin”.

Thanks, Brother.

#IBelieveInKindness

Love where you are, but don’t you dare forget where you came from.

(Thank you everyone who has ever been nice to me. Ever.)

James

Loves You

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24. James Believes In Grand Romance

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I watch too many movies.

Tonight I watched this:

A couple of days ago I watched this:

A couple of days before that, I watched this:

Ahem. You sense a pattern, no?

I LOVE love stories. Despite the quality. If it’s a love story, I will probably love it and squeal quietly to myself. So perhaps I should edit my first statement: I don’t watch too many movies; I watch too many romantic movies. So many in  fact that I base a lot of my life on the movies. Once, my little sister/gay brother “Emma” (as we shall call her) told me, “You have too high of standards.” Well. Yes. Perhaps I do. But is that a bad thing? I know way too much to expect anything less than the moon. Everyone tells me: “Never settle”. Well, OK. But I have dreams that are bigger than I am. And because of these movies, I believe in grand romance. The grandest of romances, to be exact. Well, to be most exact:

I believe in being crazy about each other forever. I know that “the honeymoon phase ends”. But I believe that it doesn’t have to.

I believe in the ability to stay faithful to one person forever.

I believe in a sexual connection that lasts forever. Even when both people are wearing diapers. Well, ESPECIALLY when both people are wearing diapers (and not for a costume party).

I believe in Someone understanding me, even when I’m puzzling as Central Park. I believe Someone will know I mean “yes” when I say “no”, but they’ll also know that I’m saying “yes” because I love them enough to sacrifice my wants for theirs.

I believe in Someone making sacrifices for me that match the size of my sacrifices for them.

I believe in Someone loving me even when I feel like death and I look like this:

I’m not sure if you can see them but my triplets: pimple, Pimple and PIMPLE are all making cameos in this picture.

I believe that Someone will hold my hand as I walk down the street. Or be my date to a wedding, and slow-dance with me. In front of other people. Or kiss me on the cheek on the subway. Or on the eyelid. I believe Someone  will give me a piggyback ride when I can’t walk anymore.

I believe in Someone taking care of me when I’m sick, even when I insist that they don’t.

I believe in Someone wanting to take care of me, no matter how hard I push.

I believe in coming home to Someone, taking off all my masks: (Actor James, Kind-to-Stranger James, Making-New-Friends James, Catering James, etc.) and just being James. No masks.

I believe in forever.

I believe that Someone will propose to me in an unforgettable way. And I believe that that moment will shake me to my core.

I believe that Someone will not get sick of me. And they will say, “I will love you forever,” but they’ll mean it. I mean, really mean it.

I believe that Someone will never take my presence for granted.

I believe that Someone will tell me everyday that I am beautiful. Even if I don’t need to hear it. Even when I do need to hear it.

I believe that Someone will be able to make me laugh, despite my efforts to “be cool”.

I believe that someday (if I must), distance will work for me. I believe that distance can make the heart grow fonder.

I believe that Someone will be able to help me heal. I know you’re broken; so am I.

I believe that Someone will make me dinner over candlelight.

I believe that Someone will ride the subway with me and take care of me when I succumb to my inevitable narcolepsy.

I believe that Someone will drive me around in the car aimlessly through the countryside with the windows down. And play with my hair.

I believe that Someone will take care of me for a day without any ulterior motive. Maybe longer than a day.

I believe in Someone who knows when honesty is appropriate and know when to lie to me.

I believe that someday I will have Someone to whom I can give All My Songs That I Don’t Give To Anyone.

I believe that I will someday have a beautiful family of my own. And that me and my Someone will teach these kids how to be awesome and how to perfectly punctuate a sentence with profanity. And how to not wear too much jewelry. And how to never leave the house in sweatpants. And how to handle a fight with a feisty Laundromat Wench. And how to have an incomparable sense of humor.  And how to love with your whole heart, even when you’re terrified.

So, yes. I have very high standards. And maybe someday I will get it all. Maybe I won’t. But Baby’s gonna dream. And I’m gonna keep watching movies. And I’m dreaming with my whole heart, baby, that someday I will have these beautiful moments to look back on when I’m crapping in a diaper against my own will.

Til then, I’ll dream and pray. And stay authentic. Be myself. Cuz if someone doesn’t love me for all of me, then they ain’t the Someone.

Have I met you yet? I don’t know. I don’t know much though. Except this. This blog. I know this to be true.

“Turn off the car, breathe the air. Let’s stay here.

I’ll kiss you awake, and we’ll have time to know all our neighbors by name, and every star at night. We’ll weave our days together like waves and particles of light.

I want only this.”

~”Simple Life” by The Weepies.

James.

23. James Fights Dead People

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So. My previous blog project was entitled “Project Happiness 365”. I started it cuz I had just gone through a breakup and I was super depressed, and I was sick of being sad all the time. So I started taking a picture of something that made me happy. I did that every day for a year. It changed my life. (In case you wanna read it: Here)

People handle breakups in all different ways. I handled mine in a very proactive manner. I decided that instead of waiting for my depression to go away, I would battle it head on. I decided not to let my emotions make a fool of me. But in the process I had to bury a lot of shit.

Honesty time:

As my relationship disintegrated, I did everything I could to salvage it. I would try to remind Mr. ________ of all the good times we had together. I told really specific stories to try to jog his memory. (I don’t believe in long-distance relationships, because I think that the longer you’re away, you start to forget how awesome the other person is. And you forget about how awesome you were together. And who the F wants to be with the person who’s Not There when they could be with the person who is There. I mean that will all bitterness aside. A relationship is about intimacy and what’s intimate about distance??) So. I told really, really specific stories:

Me: Remember that one time when ___________________?
Mr. ________: No.
Me: Remember when _________________________?
Mr. ________: No.

Well. That became too painful. Because it seemed as if I remembered everything and as if he remembered nothing. And I didn’t want to be in that position. I didn’t want to be stuck with all the memories. Cuz I couldn’t sleep, cuz my conscience was a bitchwhore and it decided to flash all these beautiful memories while I tried to sleep. Smells like…. torture. Twas. Twas torturous. So I decided to forget. So I pushed a lot of it out of my head. I buried it all. To me: if I wasn’t important enough to remember, then I would forget it all, too.

So I did. Cuz I couldn’t deal with it at the time.

But now it’s coming back. Cuz I’m ready to deal with it all. And it’s coming back because I’m having flashbacks. And it’s hard. But it’s also   nice. Cuz they’re not all memories that I want to throw away. Do I have hope/desire to be reunited with Mr. ___________? No. But I WOULD like to add the memories to my golden box. So yes, they hurt like fuck to remember. And I know that Dr. Seuss said that you shouldn’t cry cuz it’s over but smile because it happened. Well the death of something good just hurts too much, Dr. Seuss. I’m not particularly sad about THAT death of a relationship; I’m just terrified of super good relationships with other people crumbling to pieces out of the blue. “Out of the blue”.

So. As I embark on a Whatever with a new Trick, me is scared. Me is very scared. And apparently the only way I can deal with it is talking like a two year-old. Ah fuck, Ava is older than two and she’s STILL indecipherable. I can only understand her when she says my name. Which is… nice. To say the least.

James.

James is scared.

I’m scared. Relationships are scary. And whatever the F I’m in is scary. Cuz there’s no going backwards. It only goes forward, up the staircase. And I think it’s perfectly acceptable to be scared. Life is scary. But you don’t stop living today just because yesterday was scary. Today was hot. Tomorrow will be cold. Tomorrow will not be like today, but it will be similar. And it’s ok to see the similarities of Yesterday’s Visage in the Face of Today. But they’re not the same. Similar is not The Same. And yes, Affection looks similar Today as it did Yesterday. And while you should learn from history, you shouldn’t be inhibited by it. Otherwise, you would never fly on planes and you would never let another boy make you smile.

But listen Winners, I’ve been through the worst of what Love can throw at me. I have visited the depths of my depression. And I know how to handle it. I can handle this.

And Today is much, much different that Yesterday. Today makes me laugh every day. And when I’m mad but I say I’m not mad on the phone, Today still knows I’m mad.  Today sees through my bullshit. And I can be real with Today. I tell Today how I feel, even when it makes my stomach hurt to confront my feelings. Because if there’s one thing I learned from Yesterday, it’s that I need to say how I feel because it matters. Burying my feelings for the sake of someone else, that’s not good. Cuz I’m worth more than that. I always told myself that I would say how I felt when it really mattered; I told myself, “Choose your battles, James.” Well, I’m worth fighting for.

While there are so many painful Yesterdays, I have so much hope for Today. Thank God for Today.

THE WORLD ONLY SPINS FORWARD. (Thank you, Tony Kushner)

DON’T GIVE UP. Yesterday may have owned you, but you own Today.

JAMES.

(Yes, blogging about you is scary cuz it’s hard evidence that you are real.)

22. James Attends 55 New York Auditions…And Learns Some Shit

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I has learned many fings. I decided that after attending 50+ New York auditions, I would know a few things about auditioning. Here’s what I have learned:

1) Don’t be a crabby whore. If you don’t get seen, have humility and grace, for the love of god. If you are a girl, you will occasionally get screwed at auditions. It sucks. I’m so sorry. But be a fuggin’ lady. There are an F-load of girls auditioning in NY. So. Sometimes for the sake of time, they will ask you to only sing 16 bars. Sometimes they will cut it to 8. I will concede: 8 bars SUCKS. So sucks. I’m sorry. But 16? Come on, if you can’t get it done in 16, then you ain’t doin’ it right, bookay? And if you are a sourpuss in front of the monitor, they could say shit about you to the people in the room. You’re an actor. ACT. ACT like it doesn’t bother you. And then go outside and swear your face off; you’ll fit right in.

2) Do not go to every audition. I know that some people encourage you to go to every audition you can. I STRONGLY advise you against this. I tried this. You absolutely can. I tried. You can audition 5 days a week. You can sometimes audition 7 days a week. You can go to at least 2 auditions a day, 5 days a week, every week. But you will burn yourself out. Trust me. I am hardcore, and I have tried this. I promise you. Please trust me. Cuz once you burn yourself out, you will need time to recharge. It happened to me. I was auditioning my ass off, and it really wasn’t to my benefit. I was going to dance calls, singer calls and principal auditions. And I wasn’t really fully prepared for all the auditions. But I DID learn that you don’t need to be over-prepared for every audition. But I started getting depressed as F. Cuz I was auditioning all day every day and not getting any jobs. And that surely affected my auditioning, because I was super discouraged. And I had to take a long break from auditioning, cuz I felt like I was gonna have a breakdown. Dealing with that much rejection is painful. And even though it may have nothing to do with my talent, I started to take it personally. Yes, it is helpful to get your name out there, and make people know you. But you NEED to take care of yourself, cuz I promise you that no one else will. New York will kick you ass day after day after day, so you need to be your own advocate. You need to take breaks. Today I lied in bed with the Trick til 11:30 am. If you know me, you shall be shocked. I never do that. You will meet people who know how to slow down. LEARN SOMETHING FROM THEM.

3) Have a life outside of theater. You can’t talk about theater all the time. When I go to open calls and I hear those people just talking about all the auditions they went to, it makes me want to die. YOU MUST HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF THEATER. I started cooking. I blog. I love reading good literature, watching good movies and watching Rachel Maddow. When you go to an open call, please, please PLEASE don’t be that person who just talks about all the auditions they went to. Don’t talk about what jobs you’ve booked and which superstars gave you compliments on your weave. Cuz I can see straight through it all: you’re super insecure and you’re trying to validate yourself by talking about how cool you are. It’s ok; we’re all insecure, myself included. But I literally want to rip my ears off and eat them when I hear theater talk all the f-ing time. It’s ok if you’re insecure. Journal about it. Have a discussion with a friend about it over some wine and cheese and dairy farts. Just be a real person.

4) Be beautiful. Just be a good person, for F sake. When someone walks into the room, do not give them The Deathly Look of Judgment. Say hey. Smile. BE NICE. Don’t bad talk the other people in the room. Because you are brewing hate. Talk about how gorgeous someone is.. and then GO TELL THEM how gorgeous they are! BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED SUNSHINE. Auditioning SUCKS. It sucks. And if you like it, you suck. I’m just kidding. Totes kidds. But it is terrible. And sitting in that room is awful, especially when it’s brewing with hate and insecurity and negativity. Being nice is so easy. And it encourages other people to be nice. FOR EXAMPLE: The other day I was at this audition and there was this girl who looked JUST LIKE Vera Farmiga. So I told her. I said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Vera Farmiga? You both have such calm faces. She’s really beautiful, don’t worry.” And she was super flattered, and she said that no one had ever told her that before. That was my one act of kindness. THEN. I went into the audition room and sang. After I came out, the guy behind me said, “You sounded really great in there.” I said, “Oh my God, thank you.” Because he had no need to be kind. He did it JUST TO BE KIND. Ok. Well maybe he wanted to S my D but I would like to think that he just wanted to be kind. But then I went downstairs and this girl was like, “That is such a great color on you. So beautiful.” Ok there! THAT was unwarranted kindness. Cuz it’s clear that I’m gay cuz I’m at a fecking audition. So. What I’m saying is: be a beautiful person. Cuz if you’re being hateful, you’re just rotting your heart away and you’re becoming those “typical New Yorkers” who honk their fucking horns too much and hate everything, including cake. Do you REALLY want to hate cake? Do you want to be THAT person? Be. Nice.

5) Make time for friends. Auditioning sucks cuz it feels like the people behind the table don’t care about you. Like they couldn’t care less. So make time for the people who do care about you. It makes a huge difference. Cuz New York will kick you while you’re down, make no mistake about it. And it feels amazing to know that there are people who will pick you up while New York is trying to curb-stomp you. For example, I was having this phone conversation today:
(this was near the end of the call)
Stacy: What are you doing tomorrow?
Me: *rambles on for far too long about my day tomorrow, somehow get on a tangent about how the west was won, get sidetracked and talk about what my face will look like in 20 years, whether my nose will get big enough to obstruct my view constantly*
Me: *after far too much talking* Why do you ask?
Stacy: I just have to get ready for tonight and–
Me: Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! Go ahead! Go go go go, have an awesome night.
Stacy: No, wait, shut up, I love you, I love talking to you, I just want to finish this conversation tomorrow.
Me: *tears up but Stacy doesn’t know cuz despite not getting cast I am a MASTER ACTOR* Thank you.

It makes a difference to know that people care about you. It feels earth-shattering to be able to laugh your ass off at the end of an exhausting day (otherwise known as ANY DAY LIVED IN NEW YORK CITY). Being hardcore is awesome. But being a person is awesomer.

6) Journal. Get out it out. All that anxiety, anger, insecurity and even the good shit just boils inside of you. You need to get it out. I told Caity today that crying is just the same as pooping and peeing to me. It’s just a bunch of shit that builds up and you need to let it out or else you’re gonna explode. Let it out. Write down the stuff that you’re afraid to say to anybody. Write down the good stuff, too. Just get it out. Sometimes when I’m bitching to Kaylee, I tell her that I just need to get the poison out of me. Cuz I don’t want it inside of me. Write it down. Or you can burden other people with it… but I have a feeling that bitching makes you a less desirable person to be around. Just saying.

Those are my most important lessons. If you don’t do theater, I hope you can still learn something from all this. Or maybe you laughed. Or maybe you think that I actually went on a tangent with Stacy about the size of my nose. (It didn’t happen. I exaggerate for comedic effect.)

I’m getting closer. I can feel it. Can’t give up. Never give up.

Read the next blog: I’ma write about the aftershocks of Project Happiness 365.

Woof.

Oh I should include a picture…

The other day I cooked a whole meal wearing this wig. Sometimes you gotta make yourself laugh.

I love you.

JAMES.