Cranky used to be a creative person. Cranky used to write plays and monologues and act in films and do print ads and theater and go to auditions. Now Cranky’s life consists of divorce depression survival techniques: figuring out ways to sleep through the night, staring into an empty refrigerator and knowing she should buy food but not knowing what to buy. I had an older friend whose life at the end boiled down to frozen waffles. I understand that now. I really do. Occasionally a friend will take me out to eat and I can order exactly what they ordered and have a normal meal (thank you Lisa!). I forced myself to go my beloved Trader Joe’s last week and the only thing I was excited about was on sale Pellegrino.
It feels like any shred of talent I once had has escaped me. If it ever comes back I will thank the Lord! I may even give up cursing.
I wonder how I ever wrote all the things I wrote. I actually look at the few published things I have written on my bookshelf and think, “Was that really me?” I remember something about carrying around a notebook and writing down things I thought/heard/saw that seemed hilarious. That would be a first step. Not the notebook. But finding one fucking thing hilarious again.
How can anything be funny when you are wondering if you, just by accident, wasted twenty years of your life with the wrong person?
I did have an audition recently. For a famous writer. A writer who is an idol of Cranky’s. A writer of iconic comedic plays. Cranky actually felt happy for five minutes when she learned of the audition. Cranky went to his apartment on Central Park West to meet with the writer and the director. They had me wait in his den with the view of Central Park. All Cranky could think of was: famous writer sits on this couch, famous writer looks out this window, famous writer uses this lamp, famous writer writes in here! There was a rack with manuscripts of famous writer’s plays. Cranky worked herself up into a Cranky tizzy. Always a mistake to look forward to meeting someone. Always. Expectations really mean expect to be disappointed. If you assume someone is going to be an idiot, you are pleasantly surprised when you see one thread of cogency.
So when I am called into the room and introduced to famous writer, he mumbles something. He then sits on the couch and stares at his sneakers the entire time I am reading. With a reader who is positioned so that if I look at her the director will see the back of my head. So I can relate to the reader or be fakey/phony and cheat out so he can see my face (writer is not looking anyway.) But really, who cares, because the sneaker staring writer has wigged Cranky out to the point where she is doing radio theater and accentuating all the ALLITERATIONS and PRONUNCIATIONS. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Is this the way famous people run auditions?
I go home and immediately call my acting teacher, Mr. Inscrutable. “I just auditioned for FAMOUS WRITER!” I cried. “Was he weird?” was his reply. Turns out he knows him very well – they are fellow members of The Actor’s Studio. “Yes! It was awful!” I say. “Oh yeah,” replies Mr. Inscrutable, “I always try to keep the writer out of the audition room. They have the habit of staring at the ceiling and driving the actors nuts. They think the words are all that matters, and as you know the words come last.”
Thank you Mr. Inscrutable. Thank you for being in my life. At least I haven’t wasted twenty years of my acting life with the wrong teacher. At least that is one thing. One thing on the list of recovery.