Saturday, January 21, 2012

Auditions...Learning from the Experience.

I always think I know what's going on psychologically during the course of an audition, but then again, stress and anxiety do amazing things to us and when we try to recall them later, little can be "learned" from the experience.

"What'd you learn?"  "Well, as long as you learned something..."  "We learn from our experiences."  No no no.  Shut up.  Because what you learn is rarely what you actually do or use in life.  I don't mean that pessimistically, really.  At least for me, 99% of what I actually DO is in response to a stimulus.  It's impulsive and reactive (and ideally, the outcome is on par with executing an impossibly witty comment: victory).

However we can't win 'em all.

So in the instances (of which there are many) that things just don't work out or the feedback was ambiguous and we're just not really sure what the response was or will be, looking back and reflecting on the why's and what if's is a colossal waste of time.  First, because we can't relive it and second, because we're never going to really be able to recall what was coursing through our minds and/or bodies at a moment that mattered.  Because if they really mattered...well, you get my drift.  At least for me, stress and emotions are far too formidable and turn my brain to mush.

So taking auditions as say, a random and potentially uninteresting example to 99% of the population, there's no question I usually want the job for which I'm auditioning and my competitive spirit and expectations of myself are in full gear.  Thus, getting in the car afterwards and rehashing it over and over in my mind is totally pointless due to the fact that I've just been in a highly stressful situation.

So I guess the point of all of this is that a) we don't learn anything from our auditions other than to speculate on what we think we did or what we think the producers/casting directors/etc were thinking as they stared blankly through our souls, and b) under duress, there's little point in trying to accurately decipher play by play what the hell just happened.

And finally, to avoid this seeming like a negative outlook (it's not, I swear), when it comes to this crazy game of instincts called acting, everything we take away from it needs to be just that: going with our gut.  It either feels right or it doesn't.

Adjust accordingly :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home Is Where the Heart Is...or Brain

Yep, it's that kind of title.  Dripping with sentimentality and craving a place on your kitchen wall.

When I spend the kind of time that I did these holidays back home (in New Jersey), I have no place to escape my thoughts and just seek solace in being, well...home.

I'm kind of a homebody.  Like majorly so.  I'd pretty much cry every time I'd have to leave home right up until about...last year.  This year thankfully was different, but regardless.  I so vividly remember the absolute nausea and fear having to leave for college in Chicago that I thought I'd actually die.  And waking up that first morning in my dorm room wanting to die.  Don't get me wrong - I love my family to death and they're constantly the people in my life that bring me back to earth when I start to lose it - but I'm pretty sure, having examined this phenomenon for the 27th year in a row, that it's the security, peace of mind, and familiarity of which I can't get enough.

That said, why the hell did I move to Los Angeles?  Or even to Chicago?  Especially given they're sprawling metropoli filled with crazies and evil.  And shitty drivers.

Oh right, the suburbs.  Great to grow up in, great to return to...in short increments.  At least for now.  Beyond that - yeah, nothing.  I feel like the suburbs are like a steady dose of Xanax: level, peaceful and stress-free.  Good when you need them.  And always easy to take.

So given my penchant for *occasionally* overindulging in some stress now and again, I feel like this year, given my shockingly enhanced perspective for all things life (at least I think), I could objectively enjoy my suburban hiatus without getting emotionally wound up in it and appreciate what it could provide: a break.  I just realize now that I need that sensation a lot more.  At my actual home.

Since I've lived in Los Angeles, I've been constantly striving for that feeling of "home" with limited success, though I feel like I'm getting closer.  I do have to say, location is a significant factor in such a mission and living by the beach doesn't hurt.  So even with my family and many friends far from reach, I'm starting to think it's possible, even without the actual suburbs surrounding me.

80% mental, 20% physical.  I should turn this whole post on its head and make a sweeping sports metaphor...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New 'tude

It's a new year.  Hooray.  2012.  After a dismal showing in 2011, it's out with the depression and defeatist attitude.  In with...good stuff.

This is the first time I've returned to LA from my holiday travels actually looking forward to being back.  I daresay I'm actually ACTIVELY starting to like this place.  Okay, maybe "accept" is a little more realistic. Baby steps.

Rest assured, self-deprecation and cynicism are to remain fully intact.

New postings to resume tomorrow.  Mondays are better for clean slates.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why I Love Foreign Films...

...and I say this having just seen the American version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

To be fair, I liked it.  I did.  It was well-acted both by Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, well-directed by David Fincher, and very aesthetically pleasing.  It tells a good story (granted, I still haven't forced myself to sit down and read the book, but could appreciate it from a "non-fan" point of view), and despite it being epically long (and overly so), I found myself quite involved the whole way through.

This is not intended to be a critical review of the film or anything like that.  In fact, I consider myself to be a pretty lousy critic because my main priority in films is always the acting.  Mediocre storyline, crappy lighting, bad directing - kind of whatever.  They still manage to fall by the wayside if the acting is sublime.  So, feel what you will about the book or film, there are loads of positives and negatives.

When the film came out, the main reason I wanted to see it was because I'd seen the Swedish version of the film courtesy of Netflix instant streaming.  I was skeptical as I often am sitting down to any foreign film, mainly because I don't trust my impatiently lazy American ass to sit through and read (um, like, seriously, I like to watch my films, not read them, okay?) subtitles.  Inevitably however, particularly if it's French, I end up loving the damn thing and all is forgotten in the way of reading and splitting time between action and text.  Hopefully that redeems me.  So anyway, setting up for the Swedish "Dragon Tattoo", while unsure, I was still committed.

LOVED IT.

Totally great.  Great acting, dark dark dark not only in story but in atmosphere, made my skin crawl in all the right parts - in a word, yes.

But again, this is not a critical review.

I've concluded that, while taking my lazy American ass into account, foreign films force me to really engage - I can't update my Quicken spreadsheets or Magic Eraser the stove - while I'm watching, it's the only thing that exists and for that, it's like escapism on ecstasy.  My most engrossing film experiences are watching the foreign variety. And as I said before, the acting is always paramount to me, so there's nothing like identifying a truly outstanding performance from the actual acting and emotions and not the language.

To be fair, they're not my most memorable probably because there is that inevitable barrier that, given my empathetic approach to film watching, I may have more difficulty transplanting my psyche to Shanghai as opposed to New Jersey.  But since any overwhelming film experiences I've had (there have been many, so I'm not that discriminatory) are often (though not always) due to some sentimental theme and draw up home and family for me, naturally the ones that really stick with me are the ones where I feel I can pretty literally identify "home" in the background.

But that's a story for another day.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue digging up new titles in the Netflix foreign films section.  Never know when they'll remake it into an American version.

Merry Christmas :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Keeping Perspective

In short...I'm wretchedly terribly horrifically awful at it.  Brings to mind Judith Viorst's (another childhood favorite) Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.  And add some superlatives.

Damnit.

I sweat the small stuff probably more than anyone I know.  I can be honest about it...it's hard, but I can.  Sometimes I question if there's a spine back there.  Or if my skin is more than a millimeter thick.  But I pretend regardless.  Fake it 'til you make it.  Then when tested, I collapse into a pile of bricks.  Or some really pathetic sandstone that's been baking out in the desert over a two year drought.

Recent examples:

I just got a parking ticket and almost lost it.  LOST it.  I was SO BURNED UP over it, I let it completely ruin my day.  Way to go Liz.

I can't turn left into my driveway without stressing out that some asshole is going to lay on their horn and give me the finger while passing.  Granted, it's next to a very busy intersection and I basically block the whole street, but regardless.  I stress.  I am getting better about this one.  I think.

Driving is obviously a favorite pastime of mine.

These are obviously very minor examples of me taking completely unimportant things and blowing them out of proportion.  They don't matter, and intellectually I know that they don't, even if I think I might have a nervous breakdown.  The things that I really do have to improve on are, I think, far more difficult for me to justify as being minor.

I put other people's misery, stress, frustrations, etc. on myself.  I'm empathetic in the worst way possible.  If other people I care about are feeling like shit, well, so shall I.  I'll wallow until I'm blue in the face.  And while I generally think of empathy as one of our greatest human qualities, leave it to me to muck it up to the degree of "the world is ending."  To be fair, I also empathize when people are exceptionally happy, but it just doesn't have quite the same soul-stirring effect.

But then I have these very clarifying moments where I am absolutely convinced that someone or something is looking out for me.  The strangely serendipidous moments I've had where, if I hadn't turned the wrong way that I had, or made the choice that I did, I never would have been set on the right path.  Universal order kicks into gear and I get a healthy dose of perspective.

Or if not the right path...or even anything resembling sense, balance or order...at least something a little more interesting.  Things work themselves out eventually, right?

Right?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If You're a Masochist Like Me...

...you probably also have an assortment of issues, but let's not get into that.

This is a fitness-oriented post.

I've been an athlete all my life, which makes me a bit of a paradox considering I once dislocated my shoulder while running.  However, klutziness aside, I love my sports and I'm kind of a weirdo fitness nut, so I'm all about what's new and improved and challenging myself...(yawn).

Ok, so...Insanity.  It's insane.  Everybody's heard of the P90X business - I've never tried it, but apparently it works for people.  Insanity is the next step up.  It makes you wish for death...but you'll have great abs on the way down.  There is, much like the other "system" like 12 different workouts that you rinse and repeat and subsequently get crazy in shape.  In theory.

My friend Nina and I embarked on this "journey" if you will, on Tuesday and today is day two.  The level of soreness from the other day is going to make today considerably difficult, but I'll keep you posted on whether this is something actually possible/worth sticking to.

Let the chiseling commence!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

Almost a week later, I'm still recovering from food comas and alcohol overindulgence (granted one glass of wine gets me pretty well soused so that's not saying much).  Thanksgiving is entirely my favorite holiday and I tend to express my joy in blatant overconsumption.  That's not to say I feel guilty or anything, I mean, it's one day, but that one day continues to express itself days later with ample bloating and an outright aversion to anything edible.  Thankfully, recovery period is coming to a close

This year I went to Lake Tahoe (for the first time ever) and it was a convergence of the entire Saydah clan in all its grandeur for four whole days.  That's a lot of folks and a lot of food.  And a lot of indoor time as it was FREEZING.  Usually my Thanksgiving experience consists of my immediate family coming together over a grilled turkey and some potatoes in New Jersey, but this year it was far more grandiose.

Jay and I braved a nine hour drive through the mind-numblingly dull central valley before ascending into the breathtakingly gorgeous (and snowy!) scenery of Lake Tahoe.  Highly recommended you go...but make sure you like with whom you're going. The air is pristine, the ground is litter-free, and people are NICE.  They actually greet you and make eye contact and not because you're stuck in your apartment building's shitty, broken-every-other-week elevator.  I daresay they make conversation that surpasses a three sentence exchange!

Granted, I can only subject myself to these surroundings for a period of less than a week before going stir-crazy, but sometimes...sometimes it's kind of awesome to think about what it would be like to just bail out of LA and its filth and congestion and just live in a cabin for the rest of my life.

...

Yeah no.

I like to think I'm low-maintenance but I'm really not in the scheme of things.  Like, I don't get my nails done or pay for haircuts or buy anything full price, but - hot water, aversion to bugs, a sub-$30 taxi ride to the airport, readily available organic products, a convenience store within walking distance - these are all prevalent factors in my life - at least for now.  So I'll just settle for fish-out-of-water status and not pretend like I know how to put chains on a tire or build a fire.

Impromptu limerick:

I wish I could say I was outdoorsy
That a jaunt in the woods doesn't bore me.
But the truth of it is
That high-maintenance Liz
Always swoops in and successfully floors me.

Regardless, I do take the time to embrace these moments that take me out of my element and appreciate them.  Next trip: white water rafting.