Three days ago I had what I was sure was a sinus infection/ear infection. It was affecting the left side of my head -- behind my left eye. I stayed home from work the following day. Yesterday morning I was feeling right as rain jumped out of bed, headed to work early to prep for a meeting and then met a friend for coffee to talk about an upcoming project. The late afternoon rain poured and I mean POURED as I walked to my car several blocks away. It was oddly refreshing and freeing to not care that I was totally soaked. I was only driving back home after all. My husband was out last night teaching his acting class for kids on the autism spectrum -- last night's lesson plan included mask work. I arrived home, put on my pj's and watched the rain for a bit. My sinus problem was back and was really uncomfortable but had traveled to my right eye. And this headache that was coming on...slow down now. I boiled a stock pot full of water, added lemon, peppermint, & thieves, draped a towel over my head and listened to Shark Tank on the TV. Didn't really help this time...I busied myself with some research for this upcoming project and came back to earth when the phone rang...it was now dark out. I looked at the clock and realized I hadn't eaten yet. And really didn't have a proper lunch either. And this headache...just dull and unmoving. And while I am reading my laptop I seem to notice a flashing of the screen. Why is this laptop flashing at me?
Let's flash forward to the climax of the scene-- It is now closing in on midnight. I have retired to the bedroom, salt lamp on, diffuser with oils on, and have put peppermint oil around my sinuses. Suddenly/gradually (who knows) a searing pain is white hot behind my right eye. Damn it all, I know this all too well... and I fear what is coming. The smell from the diffuser that I normally find comfort in is making me ill...I turn it off. I have to get out of this room. I stumble my way to the shower. I turn on the water and get in. The window is open so a cool breeze is gently coming through as I stand in the hot water flowing around my body. I put my head under the water-- hesitating for half a second while thinking about my ears that have been aching - but who cares at this point if it will shut my brain down. Unplug. Disconnect. This searing pain. The water covers my head and closes up my ears. I hear that swirling sound - like what I imagine to be the sound of inside the womb. Liquid nothingness. I want to stay here for as long as I possibly can. The sensation of the water distracts some of the pain. And the sound is incredibly soothing. But after a while I decide I can't stay in there forever as much as I want to... Off the water goes. I realize I never turned on the lights. The only light is coming from a nightlight above the sink. It is beautiful but in the same moment terrible and distorted...I find myself on the couch with my head in my hands. My hair is soaking or at least that is what I hear from a voice somewhere in the room. It is thankfully dark. Aside from another blue night light. Now my head is cracking open. It feels like white light is pouring out of the cracks starting at my eye and moving back across my skull. I am being asked questions but somehow my mouth is not really working. Even breathing...am I breathing? Have I been holding my breathe? Now I can feel tears on my face and I have the sensation that I might vomit. I need to go outside. I leave my towel behind somewhere and I walk out into the open air on the dock. It is very dark and no one is around. The air is calm and cool and beautiful. And soothing. I look up into the night sky and see thousands of little twinkling lights looking down at me. At us. Brendan is standing beside me. I breathe. I stretch. I cry. I breathe. I can feel my feet on the wet boards of the dock. I am in my body again. I need some water. I drink 2 glasses full and feel like puking again. I sit? Do I sit? Somehow I am in my bed. I am laying on my husband's chest, his hand if firmly on my brain which has backed off. Then is it back again? Backing off...I am breathing. Just breathing.
Ok so migraines! Who gets 'em? What are the hell are they? Why do we get them??? So it turns out even the scientists can't really tell us that. I haven't had one of these bad boys in YEARS...and suddenly here we are. What? Seriously? So I have spent some time this morning trying to learn a little more. I was prescribed some meds many, many years ago when I was dealing with them on a regular basis. I stopped taking them pretty quickly ...Have you seen the possible side effects? No thank you! Not scripts for me...So here is what I learned:
What are migraines? Ok, so technically a migraine is a severe, painful headache. Yep, thanks Captain Obvious. "Scientists believed that migraines were linked to the expanding (dilation) and constriction (narrowing) of blood vessels on the brain’s surface. However, it is now believed that migraine is caused by inherited abnormalities in certain areas of the brain."-- Cleveland Clinic Oh great...abnormalities. That's never good...More from Cleveland Clinic -- "There is a migraine 'pain center' or generator in the mid-brain area. A migraine begins when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to the blood vessels leading to the dilation of these vessels and the release of prostaglandins, serotonin and other inflammatory substances that cause the pulsation to be painful."
What are the triggers? So obviously different people have different triggers...weather (barometric changes), emotional stress, sensitivity to food preservatives or chemicals, caffeine, tension, periods, missing meals, excessive fatigue, and/or family history. Great. My paternal grandmother. They suggest to keep a journal for this...I seriously can't imagine myself doing that.
What are Auras? Ok, here is where it gets a little woo woo for you. This is science, y'all. So no judgement. These are signs that a migraine is coming. They could include: ringing in the ears (maybe); a change in your sense of smell (yes), taste or touch. Visual auras could include: distorted vision, flashing lights (!), bright spots or lights (yes), wavy or jagged lines (yes) or temporary vision loss. These usually last under an hour and could occur before, during or after the pain. If they last more than an hour, you may be tripping...and then it gets really weird...
I hesitate to admit to any of these but may or may not have experienced most of them at some time...
What to do once a migraine starts? Hang on for dear life?...Well, I wish I knew a sure fire way for relief but I always start here... try cold compresses, warm compresses, lots of pillows in a cold, dark, quiet room, pressure on my head, showers, Excedrine for Migraines, sleep if possible and now newly added to the list - standing outside naked under the stars...
What creative minds are migraine sufferers? Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Jefferson, Claude Monet, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Charles Darwin, Virginia Woolfe, George Eliot, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Elle MacPherson, Carly Simon, Loretta Lynn, Whoopie Goldburg, Hugh Jackman...
Do you have migraines fellow artists? What do you do? #stayhealthy #healthyactors
It can be exhausting being an imaginator... You are getting ready for your day ahead, you are in the shower and you start to imagine a scenario of a meeting or a telephone call that may or may not happen later in the day. Your mind begins to go and then suddenly your body is on auto-pilot performing whatever mindless duty is at hand while you begin to play all the roles involved in your pretend scenario. You play out the whole scene in your mind, and even start to get really invested in why the "person" you are "talking" with just "responded" in a way that was not what you "hoped." ...Do all actors do this? Do normal folks? Is this going to get me locked up? I'll tell you right now I am not taking the meds...
Ok so how about this one...You are driving in your car or say you are riding the bus or the subway. Suddenly you get short of breathe and for one brief moment you have a flash of real terror because you imagine that an accident is about to take place. The driver in the car next to you is wanting to get over, you can just feel it...or the car next to the bus is just a little too close to your lane and that driver isn't even aware of it...or that girl on the subway is just about to snap (you can see it in her eyes) because she has had a really terrible day at her temp job where she puts labels on coffeemakers out in Yonkers but what she really wants to do is be a dancer but she has to have this temp job to pay for her crappy apartment where she lives with 2 room-mates who.... You can see it all play out in your mind in a nano-second.
So we were traveling this weekend. My husband and I are not seated together on the way home. I get to my row and an older man is in my seat. "18E?" " Yep, 18E." A very helpful steward (is that right? I can still say that?) comes over and suggests I sit down in the empty seat adjacent to the man while the rest of the plane boards while he gets the passenger manifesto. I learn that there are 4 dup's (the steward is laying down the lingo for me -- duplicates) on this flight...Ok. I think, hm that's strange and unusual. He asks if I am me. I say I think so. He looks at me, I say yes. He reseats the man to his real seat according to his print out...at the back of the plane. I ask another steward, "Does this happen often?" I guess it does. But generally not this many on one plane. "How does this happen?" Some glitch in the system she tells me -- but the real problem is when they print off the passenger list too early then that is not "right" either...They work out my situation just in time before another issue arises...Another pair of travelers are double booked with seats. The one in the aisle is traveling with her mother and insists on sitting with her. Oy. We wait. The woman from the ticket counter inside the terminal comes on board. Neither woman is budging and the passenger that is seated can not find her boarding pass...Seriously? Now she is saying that the ticket clerk took her ticket. "I am the ticket clerk, m'am." Oh lord...what is happening. I feel my mind starting to go...who is this person? She is a business woman by the looks of her. Very nice handbag. Expensive. On comes the newly printed passenger list. They work it out, just in the nick of time before the passengers around them start to get antsy and before I convince myself that she is not a business woman by an international spy...Somehow the nice steward works a miracle and my husband is sitting next to me now...I notice this guy two rows up...how do I know him? Was he on our outbound flight? Hm. He looks so familiar to me...As Brendan sits down he asks me to casually look in the row behind us. There is a VERY chatty red-head. He swears I know who she is...I do? She has on a houndstooth scarf. Is she from Alabama? She is clearly drunk. And as I over hear her conversation...(oh please don't act like you don't do it too...) I learn that not only is she from Alabama, she is from Birmingham, we went to the same university, her parents now live in a town on the other side of the state where I did a show last season and she is in the high end real estate market. I dare not look back again. Bren is convinced we know her. I am convinced otherwise. But who is that guy in in 16F? I DO know him...I think I know him...
As we sat on the tarmac waiting for take-off, the captain comes over the airwaves. "So ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. In my 20 years of flying, this is a first. Our brakes appear to have lock-up on us..." AAAaaaaannddd we're off, there my brain goes...Something is not right here. They are bringing a crane or something to pull us back to the terminal but I have stopped listening to the captain. I am having a full-blown Shirley MacLaine moment. Out on a Limb. The camera in my mind is zooming in and pulling back at the same time. I should text my family. I think this may be it for us. Why do we know these people? Maybe this IS why the guy in 16 looks so familiar to me and why the woman behind is someone Bren has seen before. Do I know her? We are on the brink here of having a major life (death) event so we must intuitively know some of this, all of this...Everyone is very calm on the plane. The atmosphere is very positive. Is that a sign? Why is everyone so happy? I can see exactly how it goes down. Various scenarios play out in my mind while I am looking and nodding and smiling as my husband is saying something to me that I just can't quite hear. My mind is filled with dialogue & scenarios of the tragic future events playing out in the movie in my mind...We are back at the terminal. We change planes. After snacks are purchased and bathrooms are used, we all load onto another plane. How is it that they just happen to have another plane sitting there? Conspiracy minds at work...Here we go again...Now they are handing out free cocktails. Oh no. They know. They are just trying to make us comfortable. I successfully distract myself with a book. Someone else's story. And suddenly I am fully engaged in Gloria Vanderbilt's childhood...Before I knew it we had touched down to earth once again...
But my god. Imaginators busy at work...Please tell me that this is the unfortunate side effect of the creative brain...#actorproblems
ps. I don't know who you are jennifer nicole lee but that image rocks and you have disappeared off the interweb...
Have you ever read a subject line and had a sudden intake of breathe due to excitement only to exhale in disgust upon opening the actual email...Yep. It was one of those. From a casting director. Until dudes are asked to show their junk on a very regular basis...Actress friends, this is for you~
There are times when I am so over this industry. I mean really over it. We are bombarded with images throughout our day thanks to technology. And if you are a woman, much of the information being directed at us is about how we are not pretty enough (remind me to tell you the story from a college interview), not thin enough (remind me to tell you the story of a wardrobe fitting for a national) and not young enough (remind me to tell you about this season). Not enough of a sexual object. Or too much of a sexual object if you dare to be confident in your sexuality... You're a hootchie. Or worse , you're a slut. Or you look too "smart." Seriously... ugh...OVER IT!!!! I know it is just part of what we signed up for. So you can either learn to deal or just drop off the key, Lee and get yourself free...
I don't care what they told you. Looks matter. If they told you otherwise, somebody has lied to you. Love it, hate it, let it drive you to drinking... they matter. A lot. So much so that even if you work out for hours a day and are a super model, they are still going to photoshop your ass. Photoshop has become a verb and everyone now knows exactly what it means. The great irony in the face of all of this is that women are banding together via social media to speak their truths while still spending ridiculous amounts of time perfecting our selfies... There must be 100,000 different memes shouting "I am woman hear me roar". Our latest collective feminine mantra is "we are enough." But the mere fact that we have this as our mantra means that we don't really own it yet. ABRACADABRA-- CREATE AS YOU SPEAK...but actresses seem to stay pretty quiet on this. At least I think we do. Why?
I'm not even getting into equal pay, reproduction rights, equality in the workplace, domestic violence in this piece today. Those are issues that are really important so I don't really want to clump those together with looks. However, here I am writing about this stupid shit. Because looks matter in our world and in America and they are hugely important in the entertainment field -- even if I personally think it is incredibly shallow, stupid and silly... But I can tell you I spend more of my time worried about it than I truly care to admit. Which frankly pisses me off. Because after all that is what we are dealing with a large majority of the time in this industry -- particularly for on-camera work. Does she "look" like this role? Is she tall enough? Thin enough? (And god knows on camera those chicks are RAIL THIN...) How will she "look" on camera? How will she "look" with the star? Does she look enough like (fill in the blank of some A lister from a few years back who will probably ultimately end up booking)? I would love to believe that acting chops still count for something -- anything -- but I am seriously beginning to doubt that --especially for certain things in certain regions. Looks are important. If you are a shorty size 4/6, you are too thick for the recurring roles. Truth. Deal with it. So I either slim down or eat a milkshake once a week and start auditioning for the fat friend. Truth. ** Casting Directors/Directors who are reading, PLEASE feel free to prove me wrong and cast me.
I get it. I am WELL AWARE that we are putting it out there to be judged and criticized and critiqued. But sweet baby jesus, it is not for the faint of heart, I am telling you... All of this to say:
"They" want to see me for a topless role in a SAG feature. NEXT! I don't even think this role has lines...lol... No, it does have lines. It's a principal. I just looked again to double check. But really? REALLY? Look, I have gone topless on stage. Hell, I have gone bottomless on stage -- twice. More than twice. Twice in one show. But it was ALL about the story. For me it is always about the story...Give me a great reason why this woman has to do this that moves the story & the characters forward in way that can not be done otherwise and yep, I will take it off. If the story is one worth telling. But I am going to be real honest here. I don't have the confidence after a rather tough summer to go in for this shit right now. For all I know, it is a role of some random chick showing her jugs for 30 seconds in the background and that is all she wrote... Who is this woman? What is her journey? Could I read the script? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Now that's a laugh. Who am I to ask to read the script? NEXT!!! I am sure they will easily book the role with someone cuter, younger and thinner... NEXT!!! Let's just be clear: the breakdown doesn't say, " Woman 30's to 40's blah blah about her character and the arc of the story..." It says "Woman - Topless." Seriously? Yep. I just laughed out loud as I wrote this. Nothing about the movie, the commitment, the character, the creative team. "Woman- Topless." And the funny thing is -- or the sad thing is -- I bet you good money that all of the audition times are booked solid. "Woman - Topless." It might as well have read "We need a pair of boobs." That about sums it up here, folks. And also funny enough -- sad enough -- I bet this blog gets more hits than my others just because of the title. NEXT!!!!!
What is it like to be married to an actor? Well I will say it is a hell of a lot easier if you yourself are an actor too! We have had the good fortune to not only share this journey together as performing artists but we are often cast in the same show and this summer we have had the unique experience of playing in 2 2-handers together! The show is 3 one acts and we are in 2 & 3. As we embark upon closing weekend, here are the highlights of this most special experience!
1) Memorizing lines in our PJ's
2) Coming into the rehearsal space surrounded by art easels complete with classical music playing in the background (the space doubles as an art studio!)
3) Sushi lunch breaks & AEA HEALTH WEEKS
4) Snuggled up on the antique loveseat (old set dressing) backstage running lines before we go on (gross I know)
5) Backstage Blue Light dancing to no music
6) Quick kiss & "see ya on the ice" before lights up.
7) FIRSTS -- I left my sweet husband on stage ALONE on final dress (invited audience) while I dealt with a costume malfunction - think "Ms. Jackson if your nasty..." LOL
8) British/Cockney dialects and quick changes
9) Doorknobs, olives, biscuits, break away wedding dress, coffee on wedding dress, ripped suit jackets, umbrellas, Tammy Faye Baker mascara...
10) Laughing audiences!
2 more performances! Thanks #TheatreConspiracy We have had a grand ole time! xo
Welp. It is almost august and it is hot as 1) hell 2) balls 3) balls in hell here in SWFL. This week has been super busy with us beginning our rehearsals, meetings about ongoing and newly developing projects and taxes. Yep. Taxes in July. Not Christmas in July but taxes. I will just leave it at that. Every working professional actor knows the sad lament..."1099's, W-2's, unemployment, oh Christ." One word of advice...use the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program our union, Actors Equity Association, so graciously provides. Thank you AEA!!! We LOVE you! Orlando office rocks! Well, I am running off to study my words...and drink a nice big iced coffee.
I'm a southern gal with liberal politics who has worked my ass off and sacrificed a lot in order to be a working regional theatre actor. There are lots of working actors who are out here grinding without begin famous. And we consider that we have already MADE it. I really like to tell stories and solve the puzzle of the text. I LOVE untangling scripts and unlocking characters. I really give a damn about the planet and am an avid gardener. I love to get my hands dirty. I am completely fascinated by fellow journey(man) actors and how we survive and thrive. Ballin' on a budget, Baby. http://www.rachelburttram.com/