October is always orange. No matter where I am in the world—at least in the Northern Hemisphere—October comes in orange. Wisconsin is a pumpkin orange. Bordeaux, France, is a soft orange. Northern California is a gentle orange. Florida is a bold orange. Russia, China, Japan—they’re all their own oranges.
How did I get lucky enough to travel to so many places? Well, without much makeup and with brown or blonde hair color, I can look a whole range of oddball characters, from a crack addict to a hillbilly to a psych-ward patient to a prostitute. So I actually get a lot of work as unknown, unmemorable characters. I’m the loud, ugly, angry woman in the crowd behind a lynching (ugh!) or a burning at the stake (ugh!). It’s a good thing I can look so unmemorable because I can keep getting roles like this.
With my hair in a ponytail, I can be a soccer mom, the best friend, or an infomercial fitness maven. Hair in a bun and I’m suddenly the understanding teacher or the loving aunt; add old-fashioned glasses and I become the meek secretary who knows her boss’s dark secrets. With more makeup and a sophisticated hairdo, I transform into the rich socialite or the smarmy couture director. Add glasses and I can become a kind professor, a museum curator, a bank executive. Actually, the older I get, the more roles I can do.
Truthfully, though, sometimes the makeup thing makes me feel, well, made up—the false kind…the being-a-fraud kind. Without it I go invisible because my eyelashes disappear, and most of what makes me striking is involved in my eyes, which only really show up with mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow. People have actually gasped when they’ve seen me without makeup when they’re used to seeing my full Hollywood face. Even my laptop doesn’t recognize me without makeup! Oh, well. Here I am—the lashless wonder until the magic wand of mascara has had its way with my long (but light red) eyelashes. I heard it said once (and I’m not sure it was straight from the source) that Cindy Crawford doesn’t even look like Cindy Crawford when she wakes up in the morning. Few supermodels look fabulous without their face put on. That made me feel better, a little less fraudulent. But still….
Back to the orange hue of October, LA has the best orange of all. I love LA, especially in October, but I love leaving it, too, so I can come back and love it again. As you know by now, the constant striving wears me down after a while.
One of the oddest things about me is that it’s easier for me to go to India than it is to go to the post office. It’s easier for me to go scuba diving than to buy a packet of stamps. Regarding going to India, I’m talking everything—go get a passport picture taken for the visa, stand in line for hours at the consulate, buy the plane ticket, fly eighteen hours in a cramped airplane seat to the other side of the world, stand in line again. And that’s just the beginning—everything requires standing in line there. I’m also talking getting Delhi Belly and talking to and feeding lepers in the street.
Scuba diving requires getting to the place, putting on your gear….well, you get the idea. Meanwhile, the post office is just down the street. It even has a parking lot. I can’t explain myself.
One time I was sitting in an auto rickshaw in India watching an older woman line up her few possessions on the sidewalk, sweep out her little makeshift tent with a tiny broom, and start putting the items back. She could sense someone was watching her, and she looked over at me with (what I took to be) fierce indignation and pride.
I wish I could have told her that I was admiring how much reverence she treated each object with. Moments like that put everything in perspective, for a while, until it wears off. And then I’m back to the LA striving thing along with everyone else.
But one thing is for sure—my travels make me love my adopted town all the more. As I ride the airport bus, there are those palm trees, lifting my heart anew. The palm trees in Viet Nam and Thailand and Australia and Florida lift my heart, too, but somehow this is different.
As I lay in bed looking out at the beautiful orange hue of LA in October, however, I wondered if I’d ever have energy to get up and go to China (for example, and no small feat) again. I pulled myself together to head over to Skye’s once a week. That was something, at least.
OMG, did I miss the Emmys? When were they? What happened to September? Was I even alive last month? What about last summer? What in the world did I do? I don’t even remember the Fourth of July. Cyn and I used to go to a restaurant up in the higher hills of Glendale and watch bunches of fireworks displays off in the distance…all while huddling around a fire pit, snuggled up with people we didn’t even know because the wind up there was bone chilling.
Most of my friends stopped calling. I guess they were tired of suggesting things to do only to have me say no over and over. I would do a like-storm on Facebook—liking everything in sight…something would really have to suck for me to not like it—just to let them know I was still around and cared for them. I just didn’t want to see them.
I have a few thousand friends on Facebook. Okay, maybe a few hundred are people I’m pretty close to—friends, family, special coworkers. But I do care about all few thousand of them.
My high-school class has a FB page, and every now and then someone posts about a classmate who’d died. I’d look at the pictures of who the person evolved to over the course of his or her life and what people wrote about him or her. I looked them up again, knowing each one of them probably had someone like me crying her eyes out about him or her.
As I scrolled through Facebook, all those stupid, friggin’ memes that say things like “A broken heart is how the light gets in” made me want to scream, “Fuck you!” My attitude needed some help, that was for sure. The ones that said things like “Don’t quit your daydream” or “Goal Digger” made me smile…a little bit.Even my nighttime dreams had changed. That recurring bad dream that so many actors have—that it’s opening night and we realize we hadn’t memorized our lines well enough—had faded. Non-acting friends have recurring bad dreams, too, perhaps about showing up for a final and realizing they hadn’t studied well enough. My dreams of late seemed to involve whispers and angels and Cyn, somehow. I didn’t remember them well enough…as soon as I’d realize I was awake, even if Cyn wasn’t clearly in my mind, my heart would say, “Something’s wrong. What is it? Where’s the pain coming from?” And thoughts of Cyn would flood in. The dreams popped like soda bubbles.
Cara called about an audition for a role I could actually do—a mom whose child dies. Plus it had twelve lines in a movie being filmed in the Philippines, and it was filming right away. The woman who was supposed to be the mom got very sick, and the casting director was in a state.
“The CD wants you off book,” Cara said. “Can you do that?” Translated, that means the casting director wanted me to have my lines memorized.
Well, usually I can be off book just fine. “Sure,” I said, although this time does not fall under the doing anything “just fine” category. Cara sent me the “sides” (the part of the script I’d be reading from) and I tried to start memorizing them. Emphasis on tried.
Dressing for auditions is the easiest thing to dress for. If it’s for a teacher, I dress like a teacher—slacks, blouse, soft and slouchy cardigan. If it’s for a detective, I dress like that—slacks, jacket, blouse, black glasses. An overwrought, stay-at-home mom? Sweatshirt and leggings, hair in a sloppy ponytail. A best friend? Jeans and a fun, not-too-colorful-so-I don’t-outshine-the-star top.
Other than auditions and parties, including opening nights, I live in my workout gear, although it’s usually the trendiest I can find since I still have an image to keep up…if only to myself, LOL. My jackets and shirts cover my butt, though, which is too skinny to be fashionable. But if I plump it up, the rest of me gets too plump. Sometimes I can find leggings with booty padding, but that feels dumb. My mom and aunts aren’t very skinny, but they have the skinny white-girl’s butt that I inherited.
I dragged myself to the studio and got the part. They didn’t even care that I wasn’t completely off book—this was the first and only audition where I didn’t have the lines memorized. I guess in my bedraggled state I really looked the part of a mom whose child dies.
Then I dragged myself to the Philippines, which had a tinge of orange. Then I dragged myself home, which included a moment on the plane.
I’d fallen asleep, kind of. In that in-between-awake-and-asleep state, I was thinking of going home to my beautiful city with the perfect weather, to my beautiful home, to my wonderful friend and roommate.
“Oh, no!” I’m not sure I said it out loud. The people around me were dozing, so it must’ve just been in my head. Some enormous wave of something or other shot up from my gut, and I was wide awake and ready to start screaming or wailing or both.
All those years of breathing lessons in my acting classes kicked in, and I just slowly breathed through my nose and deep into my belly and slowly out through my mouth.
Back home, I fell back into bed. But at least I did something; it was a start—or restart as the case might’ve been.
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