The drive up north was grueling. By that time, I was driving an old clunker that could barely make it up the I5 freeway. The air conditioner stopped working going up the Grapevine and Maude and Squeeky were suffering terribly. By the time we got to Oregon, Maude was acting strangely; climbing up and down the seats, crying almost croaking sounds. Panicked by her behavior, I held her on my lap as I drove. I was relieved when she quieted down in the motel room, but her breathing became more and more labored, and just over the border into Washington, she died in my arms. I pulled into a rest stop and broke down and cried. My very best friend in the world for sixteen years was gone. I had put her through hell – moving from place to place, forcing her to adjust to new houses and new people while she stayed ever faithful, never complaining, always loving and talking to me to the very end. I held her close all the way to my mother’s house and buried her next to my father’s favorite rose bush. Now the only cat left of my entire brood was Squeeky and I hoped he wouldn’t leave me for a long, long time. He was all I had left.
Adjusting to life in Marysville was like a dead person adjusting to purgatory. I saw myself as a pitiful failure and didn’t much care about anything. I was breathing but my existence bore no resemblance to life. I went through the motions of living: spent time with my sister and family, signed with a temp agency and went to my various jobs and spent my days feeling like a zombie. But, being a good actress, I made sure no one knew how I felt and that no one suspected that I was really no longer alive. At night, I would hold Squeeky and cry and face the horror of possibly having to stay up there for the rest of my life.
Eventually, the acting sickness that had plagued me since I was in the third grade started showing signs of life again. No! No! No! Why can’t I just forget about acting?! Get an agent? Oh, what was the point?! What kind of work could there be in Seattle anyway? I need to forget acting and keep on making that agonizing trip down the freeway toward my office jail, wishing I’d get hit by that proverbial truck that never seemed to find me. My destiny had been to fail no matter how hard I tried, so why even think about acting anymore? Boo hoo, poor me. Wah, wah. I was really wallowing in it. It was over! Over! I contacted SAG Seattle and asked them to send me a list of agents in Seattle.
I interviewed with a few agents and ended up with Topo Swope, one of the best in Seattle. To my complete surprise, I started going out on auditions for independent movies. I also kept track of Equity play auditions and went on “generals,” where you do monologues for theater groups and hope you get called in later for an actual role. There are two kinds of actors: those who go to New York or Los Angeles with stars in their eyes wanting to be rich and famous, and those who seem to be cursed with some sort of disease, that inexplicable need to act and to attend classes and learn to be the best we can be, whether we do it in a multi-million dollar Hollywood production or on a small stage in Nowheresville, USA. Unfortunately, I seemed to find myself in the needy category whether I liked it or not, so here I was yearning yet again to act and bring to life the lines on a printed page, doing my best to make them real.
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