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Archive for May, 2010

Second Thoughts?

Last night I dreamt that I was having second thoughts about my road trip. Does that mean that deep down I actually am having second thoughts? If you ask me when I’m awake, the answer is ‘hell no!’ But you know how when you have a dream it keeps sneaking up in the back of your brain all day? This one is doing that.

I don’t remember much of the dream. After work I went to Leicester Square and watched the girls walk the red carpet (well, grey concrete) at the Sex and the City 2 premiere. When I got home I was exhausted and other than Nick nudging me out of sleep a few times to ask me some questions, I conked right out. I guess when I fell asleep my mind must’ve immediately jumped back in time to when I believed I’d be starring in the movies and on the other side of the ropes at the premieres.

The first thing I ever wanted to be was an actress. I think it started with my grandfather’s touring church productions. And my cousins and I would perform our own plays on our grandparents’ farm – I was always the director and the star. (Except when we did Peter and the Lions – then Pete got to star.) We even made tickets and asked people to pay. Tara and I also did musical performances to records like Barry Manilow’s  Copacabana and interspersed it with commercials (‘Take three.’ ‘Three aspirin?’ ‘No – Anacin Three!’) There were school and community productions like Maria in the Sound of Music in third grade; the Wicked Witch of the West (a role some say I still play), Grease and Tumbleweeds at Bird Middle School; and my dream role as Emily in Our Town. I’ll never forget getting mono as a freshman, and having to stop the touring production of Treasure Island that I was starring in, as well as having to pass on my first high school production because I couldn’t get out of bed for four weeks. I was even too tired to cry. 

I planned to go to NYU, become a famous actress, never get married and, after I won my first Oscar at the age of 40, adopt a four-year-old Vietnamese girl. Getting pregnant at 16 changed those plans a bit … So back to my dream. 

All I can remember is talking to my mom and asking her (as I often do) if I’m doing the right thing by going on this road trip. She (as she often does) answered me with a question: why? I explained that taking all that time off to just drive around the country and not working at all just feels wrong. I’m a follow-the-rules kind of girl. I always went to school unless there was a real snow day – it didn’t matter if all my friends were staying home, even if my mom said it was ok. I don’t call in sick to work unless I’m seriously ill. I always try to do the right thing. And how is puttering around the US when I don’t have a job in any way right? So I told her I was thinking of trying something new: going back to my acting dream. I’d be working, yet having a break at the same time since it would be new and different work. And she, of course, said go for it.

I plan to spend time in LA with Mike and Jen and Jay and Cesha (and new baby Jaxon) anyway. In my dream I thought what if instead of a week, I stay for two months and spent every day trying to get roles as an extra or whatever? That would be working. My friends could point me in the right direction. I know I’m not blonde or thin or tall or gorgeous, but they need all types for movies, right? I called Mike. He is always the one to act like my father (even though I have two of those) and tell me the reality of the situation: ‘It’s not that easy,’ he said. ‘We’ve been out here for more than 10 years and none of us have stars on the walk of fame. It would take a lot more than two months. Never mind all the prep: you need head shots and a CV and …’ he went on and on with all the reasons not to do it. The only thing I remember after that is Mike and I sitting at a table looking at cameras and deciding on a new lens for me. Maybe we decided I should try to be a paparazzi photographer instead, switching to my love of photography? 

So I don’t know exactly what the dream meant, but I do know that I don’t have any regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life or the road I have taken. The question is: which road should I take now?

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Playing it safe

I just fended off a knife attacker! Well, not a real one, but someone playing one in my self-defence class. I also got to be the attacker, which was fun. Obviously it wasnt a real knife; it was a plastic bendable one. I also poked someone’s eyes out, found their pressure points and my old favorite – bent someone’s fingers back. (That was the only way I could ever hurt my older brother when we fought when we were kids, so I know that one works!) Anyway, I thought taking a class like this was probably a good idea since I will be on the road by myself for so long.

Tina laughed at me when I told her about this and said, Isnt that the kind of class one would take when moving to a huge foreign city like, say, London? I suppose so, but I have always felt so comfortable and safe here. Of course, it helps that we live next to the Home Office (UK version of Homeland Security) and in one of the most watched neighborhoods in the world there are video cameras everywhere. Smile! Youre on CCTV! Whereas when Im on the road in the middle of who-knows-where no-mans land America, anything could happen and no one would ever know. Thats a bit intimidating.

So I want to be as safe and prepared as possible. I will try to always have my cell phone charged, my car (whatever it may be) in good working order and a can of pepper spray on me. And I plan to be smart about when and where I go, and particularly where I stay. Hopefully a good amount of time I will stay with family and friends; when I cant, Ill try to stay somewhere cheap, but well lit and busy. No Bates motels for me, nor any sleeping in the car by the side of the road. I’ll never forget one place that my cousin Tara, Nick and I almost stayed at when we were driving to Washington DC when Nick was around 5 years old. There was no phone in the room (and we didn’t yet have cell phones), the bolt was literally broken off the door and the room reeked of smoke and mold. We didn’t even put our bags down.

As much as I want adventure, to see all different parts of the country and to rough it a little, I also want to do it in one piece and make it home safe to my family and friends. So for the next few weeks my Monday nights will be spent avoiding punches, escaping headlocks and learning how to fight back!

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Planning

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to plan. I think planning is at least half the fun of anything – especially when it comes to traveling. And this may be my biggest trip yet. Two months (I think) on the road. I so want to get started – but I’m trying to hold myself back and savour my London time. Live in the moment, not in the future. So I’m compromising with myself – I can’t buy any US travel books (unless I see them in a charity shop and they’re really cheap) or map out any routes until I step on US soil – but I can make lists. Like who I’m going to visit along the way. And famous sites I’ve always wanted to visit. And National Parks I can’t miss. And songs I must have on my ipod to keep me company (and awake) along the way. I’m even balancing these with London lists like all the things I still need to see, do and buy before I leave. And of course there are the packing lists: what goes in the six week shipment, what goes in the two week shipment, what goes to France with Nick, what goes home in my suitcases. And the other moving lists like who to change my address with and what magazines and memberships to cancel and … my head is spinning. And I think I need a new notebook.

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Alone

I have never lived alone. I went from living with my parents, to moving out with my baby boy, to being married with a child, to being a single parent with a teenage son. Now my son is going off to college and I will be alone for the first time in my entire life. The mere thought makes my eyes water. Some would call single parenting ‘doing it alone,’ but Nick was always there. From the moment he kicked me from the womb, he has been a force in my life – and the best company. In some ways I think this road trip may be my way of not being home alone. Trying in some way to avoid the reality that there won’t be anyone who needs me at home on a daily basis. That, in fact, there will be no one at home. This road trip may be my denial. But even if it is, it’s also a fresh start. And I’m excited about where it may lead …

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Where am I?

The strangest things are making me long for the US. Case in point: The Last Song. After I saw the movie (it was ok – book was much better; which is funny because I liked the movie Dear John better than the book, at least the end anyway), I exited the theatre into Leicester Square and made my way home through Trafalgar Square, wandering toward Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Rather than the thrill I usually feel for getting to live in such an amazing city, I was struck by the thought that something’s terribly wrong – I’m in the wrong country. How did this happen? Where am I? What am I doing? I don’t belong here. I belong in the world I was just living in for the last two hours (107 minutes) where there are open roads, pick-up trucks, good music, plaid shirts and family – my family. For the longest time I thought that England could be home, but I’ve realised, oops, I mean realized I belong in America. Right there, on the dark streets of London, I had a mini-panic attack. Heart racing, short of breath, disoriented … then I saw him: Abraham Lincoln! Don’t worry, I wasn’t seeing things – it was just his statue in Parliament Square – but I immediately felt better. (He always has that affect on me.) I reminded myself that I DID have a reason to be here (work) and there are only about two months left before Nick and I move back to Massachusetts. But what then? Second mini-panic attack? No need, I have a plan: unpack, finish work, get Nick off to college and then: ROAD TRIP! And there will be plenty of open roads, pick-up trucks, good music, plaid shirts and family!

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