time rushes by, memories fade, dreams never do…

Man. This weekend was exhausting, and not in the ‘I walked across America’ sort of way.

I spent most of it at home with the parents and to see my sister and Connie. Connie and I hung out two of the four days, and we spent them driving around aimlessly, getting pedicures, eating sushi, and being lazy. It was wonderful. With Jenna, I ate sushi (Feng Bistro in Hartford is pretty fantastical), and got to visit her brand new house that she’s just moved into. It’s beautiful! Much, much nicer than her old one, where I had to spend two hours just scrubbing down the baseboards.  After I got the grand tour, I sat with her on her couch and watched Golden Girls for a little while.  It was comfortable and easy.

Saturday night, I had dinner with my parents, who cooked an absolutely fantastic meal of scallops, spaghetti, and sauteed spinach. I had some wine, which apparently was one of their best bottles. Should’ve drank the whole glass if it was a really good bottle.  Dad kept saying “Oh God, we opened up one of our best bottles on the one kid that doesn’t drink.”  Although honestly, I could’ve mentioned that I like cucumber-flavored vodka and he’d try and scrounge something up for me.  I even said to him that in my NYC adventures I had tried port for the first time, and he started walking towards the basement saying “You want port? I’ve got port if you want it.” I declined.  Port, while good, is strictly for dessert.  When consumed with any other foodstuff, it tastes like licorice.


My dad and I got into a discussion about NYC, my work, what I’ve been up to, and for some reason, I could feel myself getting emotional as I talked about auditioning and writing. Dad then asked the question that I didn’t want him to ask. “What gets you up in the morning? What makes you get up and say ‘Ahhh, can’t wait to do that today’?” So I said “When I wake up and it’s a gorgeous day I think, “I’m going to go to the park, and hang out, and see friends, and get lunch, and if I don’t have work, I’m going to cook dinner and write-” And he stopped me and said “That’s it. The only thing that matters in that sentence is you said you wanted to write.”

It was at the moment that I realized that the one thing that will always be there for me is my writing. Not musical theater. Not acting. Not the dream of Broadway. It’s writing.  There are many days where I’ve doubted my musical theatre ability, or the idea of being recognized for my skills in that arena, or I’ve doubted whether or not I’ll even make it in this business.  I have never doubted my skills as a writer.  When he said that, it was as if my life took a sudden and irreversible left turn in a previously HOV-only lane, into a realm that I never thought I’d enter: the life of a non-actor.

I burst into tears.  Mom gasped and said “Oh no!” And Dad simply shook his head and said “No, this is a good thing. This is a good thing.” And he took my hand and let me cry. I never, ever cry in front of my Dad.  Dad’s motto in life is “Suck it up” as you are all aware.  But he knows the value of a good boo-hoo when he sees it, and if he had tried to stop me, I probably would’ve kicked him.

As he held my hand, I whispered into the wood of my parent’s kitchen table what I had been holding in for three months. “It’s just really hard.” 


And it is. It’s possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I include losing 64 pounds in this category. I put on a happy face and I tell everyone that I’m having a blast here, which I am.  I love the people I’ve met here, the friends I’ve reconnected with, the Tuesday night dinner parties on the Upper East, movie nights in Astoria, and karaoke on the Upper West.  But on the days when it’s just me, I feel like a robot.  My life now is parched of the passion I had when I was acting in community theater in Manchester. And whenever I go home to CT, I feel much more relaxed and at peace and centered. Maybe it’s because I live by myself and have no one to share it with, or because my personality is so irrevocably Connecticut in its essence.  But I have never been this stressed out or lonely or just totally miserable in my entire life, and that includes the dark time sophomore year of college when I was obese and hating everyone.

What do you do when your whole life is spent working towards something and you realize there’s a very big chance that it may never, ever happen?  And that while it’s something that makes you incredibly happy, it may not be the thing that you want your entire life to consist of?  It’s like someone dying, if I may be obscenely melodramatic.

Dad asked me if it was hard.  I said it was the hardest thing I have ever done.  He then asked me if I wanted to move home. I can’t. I can’t go back to CT, at least not yet. If I go back already, it means I have failed. He told me that he thinks of me every day, and wonders how I’m doing, and knows that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and that whatever I wish to do, he will support me. And he told me that if I go for both the acting and the writing thing, I will be great at both. And if I fail at the acting thing, I will be a great writer. Either way, he knows I’ll succeed.  He then gave me a hug and said to me “You know we think about you every day and we just want you to be happy, no matter what you do.  We are behind you 100 percent.”


I don’t know how happy I am right now.  Unless God would like me to walk around in a fog forever.  I’d like to have at least one day a week where I don’t find myself staring vacantly into space.

I want to be a writer. I want to create stories. More than ever, I know that’s what I want to do. But I want to go on some more auditions over the next year, to make double certain that this life is not the one for me. It’s just so much stress, and moving around, and the lack of stability and everything. I just don’t know if it’s for me. I know I love to sing. But at what cost? Of my sanity? Lack of a home life? Lack of a family? I couldn’t do that. I can’t be that nomad that wanders around willy nilly. I need a home.  


On the other hand…musical theatre is all I’ve ever known. I’d die if I didn’t have it in my life. But the NYC style of doing it? I’m not sure if it’s for me. 


And so, with the blessings of my parents, I have made a very, very important decision.

I have decided to stay in NYC for up to two years or at least until my rent runs out in April, to see where my life will go.  If, by April, I still feel lost and in a rut, I will apply to graduate school either here in New York or in Connecticut for a masters in English, so I can become a writer the right way.  I also know in my soul that I want to teach in some capacity eventually.  My sister is a teacher/counselor and I think she’s one of the most wonderful people in the world.  I’d like to have the kind of stable, remarkable life she has, with the little house and the husband and the family.

And hey.  If I find myself in twenty years teaching drama by day and acting in community plays by night, that would be just fine with me.  It’s not the amount of money that gave me the yearning to do theater in the first place.  It’s the idea of being onstage and sharing your soul with a crowd.  The old saying that “acting is exposing your soul in front of a large amount of people who have paid a good deal of money to watch, so you’d better be good.”

One other thing my dad said to me: When he was a teenager, someone asked him what he wanted to do with his life. “I don’t know,” he replied. “But I know whatever it is, I’ll be really good at it.”

I don’t know how ‘really good’ I am. But here’s hoping I find out soon…


ally

PS.  Tomorrow we will return to our regularly scheduled programming of witty repartee and comments about hygiene at my local gym.  Today, I needed to vent.

PPS.  Another thing I’ve realized? Broadway is the dream.  But it’s not the only avenue of realizing my goals of performing.  I want to act no matter what the capacity.  That will never go away, no matter if I’m performing on Broadway or at the Little Theater of Manchester.  Theater is in my blood and it always will be.
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10 thoughts on “time rushes by, memories fade, dreams never do…

  1. Alysa-
    This was one of the best blog posts I have read from anybody, and really struck a chord with me. Thank you for sharing your feelings with all of us. Best of luck to you with whatever you decide to do.
    -Gill

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  2. Your dad is most definitely one heck of a good dad. Having a family around that cares makes a ton of difference (I know…I have one, too).

    I think you are at just about the right stage (pardon the pun). You've done enough so that you have a better idea of what it is you truly want. It doesn't have to be one thing. I started out programming satellites and now I'm a writer and artist. How did that happen?

    When I was around 23 (more than half a lifetime ago), many years into pursuing my techie path, I realized that while I loved computers, I wasn't willing to be part of the professional computer culture–i.e., passionately debating what the biggest piece of “iron” I'd programmed on wasn't something I found appealing. As I was already doing sport photos for UMd, I bid adieu to high-tech and started on a new path. While my wallet, at times, might have regretted leaving aerospace, my soul never has.

    People who aren't writers don't realize that writing isn't something you do, it's what you are. You can't not write. When you take a break from writing on a project, you write about other things. You just do it. From 6-word fiction, to a 22-episode season of a cancelled TV show, to blogs and tweets, to a 250-word story in a newsletter, to a 250,000-word novel…you write.

    And you do all the other things: you teach; you act; you work retail; you take the train to your office at Time-Life; you do whatever it is that you want/need to do. But writers write. All of the book-learning in the world does a writer no good if they don't commit word to medium. Just write.

    With the support of your family, and the flow of expression we get to read here…I'd say you're a writer. Curse or blessing, well, that's up to you.

    And again, kudos to your pops…he's good.

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  3. Ally,

    I completely agree with that first comment. I just signed on to see if anyone had new blog entries and I stumbled on yours. My eyes could NOT leave the screen. This was one of the best reflective entries – and I hope it does your heart good knowing that I am in a very similar position.

    I love theatre. I really do. I also love music as I've played the trumpet my entire life. After I finished Aida at the Warner, my work schedule has made things impossible for me to continue my two main passions. Theatre & Music. Time to focus on your career, right? The hours that I'm currently working makes things impossible whether I choose to work crew, act, or perform in the pit orchestra. Forget those things and focus on the important stuff – make money, be successful. Yeah, yeah, yeah… I mean, I guess that's one way of looking at it, if one must make that type of decision… but with everyday that goes by now, I know it's not me. All of the things I do outside of work, is what makes me… well, me! And if I can't continue to have a work/life balance – I'll go insane. I miss all of those things dearly.

    And I also find that I'm in a fog, day in and day out. Lately, I've been asking myself in the mornings, “What's MY motivation?” Before it was because I had Marching Band or rehearsal… now I don't have either of those and there's a big part of ME that isn't there.

    I'm 28 years old… and I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. But I do know that whatever is that makes me, me – it will be filled with MUSIC and THEATRE. I'm completely content with Community Theatre. It's the rush of performance that is unparalleled to any feeling that I've experienced.

    I'm sending some good vibes your way – especially for someone that I can relate to. And your dad is a good man for getting you to focus on YOUR passion of writing. And I do hope that you succeed in the city. But don't look at returning to CT as a failure in the least (if that's what you choose). Because your heart will be in the right spot – and as you put, “flow of expression” be it on stage or in a notebook will be with you where ever you go. Plus – we might get to work together on something!! Haha… be strong.

    -Tony
    toenee11.blogspot.com

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  4. Having been blessed with the ability to do a variety of things, my overall life has been sort of a “jack-of-all-trades and master of none” journey. My jump from one type of activity to the next perhaps did not involve the angst that you shared with us here in such a masterful way, but at many times I would be down for not sticking with one activity, one discipline, and becoming a master at it.

    I now pursue the life I feel I was meant to pursue; my varied activities, disciplines and talents were all valuable in their own way. In retrospect, the important thing was making the best out of whatever situation I was involved in at the time; making them all worth while for when they all came together in the end.

    Good luck. You definitely have a gift with writing.

    Kirk Sinclair
    Norfolk, CT

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  5. Hey Ally,
    I really enjoyed your post today. It was very sincere and real. You relly captured your true feelings and I definately identified with what you wrote about. Keep your head up and enjoy the hell out of NYC!!!

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  6. Hi Ally,
    I wanted you to know that I enjoy all your posts, both funny and serious. You have a great talent with your writing. Wishing you luck in whatever you do.

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  7. Dear Ally,
    I love your blog. As a retired drama teacher, I can tell you that teaching drama is incredibly satisfying. I have an actress friend who feels that NYC is definitely not the place for everyone to start. Her son went to Chicago and has crafted a very fine career there. It is a little more nurturing than the Big Apple. Just a thought- it might not be you, but rather, the venue.
    Break a leg!

    Like

  8. Alysa,

    There are things you can do while in New York. Musical Theater is a tough grind. I have a brother who tried it, and I think only one of his friends kind of made it, and that was with touring companies, and that is hard labor. My oldest daughter has a friend currently doing the touring show route.

    But there may be a couple options my younger kids are doing: You can get a non-residential creative writing degree (MA or MFA,) while still working in New York. Or you can think about writing screen plays and becoming a writer's assistant on a TV show. My son is learning a lot more than he ever got out of Syracuse working at Ghost Whisperer. There are shows in NYC, and maybe some are hiring. It starts as dog work, but you learn the process and start making contacts.

    Good Luck. Be strong. It will work out!

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  9. I have been following your blog all along, but never felt the need to comment until your Wed. 7/22 entry. I see everyone else had the same reaction–wonderful writing. You got to my emotions with the way your dad knew just how to ask the right question about your day, then zeroed in on the writing — and that led to your getting it all out. Beautiful stuff!!

    Like

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