Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What is my dream?

When I was in second grade, I was in a play written by my teacher Mr.Crasson. It was about Dinosaurs: there was a Paleontologist from each era who would put a dinosaur bone into a magical box, & out would pop that dinosaur to tell us a little about themselves. I was the Cretaceous Paleontologist, & Matt Stein was the T. Rex.

This, for a while, had me convinced that I wanted to be a Paleontologist. I memorized the complicated names, I got small Fossils as gifts for Christmas, I watched the Land Before Time over & over.

In 6th grade, a trip to Los Angeles was planned to visit my cousins & see Disneyland, & I of course demanded that we take a day to see the La Brea tar pits. I had visions of bubbling tar & dinosaur fossils laying about, waiting to be inspected & classified. You know what I got instead? A bunch of cement holes in the ground.

La Brea tar pits mammoths

It was, far & away, the most disappointing experience of my entire life up to that point. Though they had a great museum on the site, I learned from looking through the windows of the lab that Paleontology was dull & tedious: the scientists were using toothbrushes to clean off what looked like mouse femurs. To my 6th grade mind, it was like going to school to learn how to clean your room, & prehistory got written off my list.

Later on in 6th grade, I was Mrs. Hannigan in Annie at the Westchester Arts Center (a place that is now sadly gone & is sincerely missed), and I perked up again. THIS was what I was meant to do. It was fun, it was easy, people thought I was good at it.

So on I went, through High School Drama & into a BA program at SUNY Binghamton, where I re-learned how to breathe & how to tear apart text. I learned how to get along with people & how to run a dressing room. I even pretended to learn how to design costumes when they ran out of people who knew how to drive a sewing machine.

Which brings me to where I am today: entirely uncertain as to whether this is actually what I want. The audition process over the summer was grueling & discouraging. I'm sure that has relatively little to do with the economy: I know that it's always been tough to get a job in acting, that I have tons of competition, & that networking is key. But I am beginning to resent that my getting paid is an ethical decision for myself, not my employers.

There are other things I love to do: I love to draw, I love to read, I love to organize things. I think I have about an equal chance of getting paid to do any of those things as I do to act.

Maybe one day when I freak out and give up on my 6th-grade dream &; realize there are already lots of tall blondes who want to be actresses, I can move to the twin cities & take up a common-law marriage with my easel (this is not a slight: I have been dying to visit St.Paul for a long time).

Then I'll cut my hair however I want, get an MA in graphic design or illustration & spend my time bringing the worlds inside my head to the one outside. Or maybe I'll get a degree in library science & spend my time in a gloriously specific section of the Library of Congress, telling Masters Students that if they want a book about such-and-such, perhaps they ought to write it themselves.

But for now, I think I have to focus on having one dream at a time. I think I do want to be an actor, & being in the thick of things will help me sort out whether I am willing to put up with constant rejection for the little moments of dizzying exultation & glory.  I'll move to the big-and-bad, & I'll let my life guide me to where I belong next. I can wait tables pretty well, & that will be enough to support me as I figure it out.

2010-10-14--Claire Leia (2)


Danielle said...

I REMEMBER THAT PLAY. I was so jealous that you got to be in that play and I did not get to be in that play.

Also, I don't know if this is true, but before you fell in love with dinosaurs, I'm pretty sure you told me that you really really really wanted to be a bus driver when you grew up. There's still time to live that dream, Beth. There's still TIME!

Bef With an F said...


That's why you're such a valuable friend... You remind me of the important goals in my life!

I'm very sorry you were jealous of me in that play. For what it's worth, I was pretty jealous Matt got to wear the Dinosaur costume & run around like an asshole.