Thursday, December 8, 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As an actor, you constantly put yourself out there.  You go to auditions and you bear your soul in a way.  Yes, you’re acting, getting a chance to be someone else for a moment, but you are always drawing on your own experiences to do so.  Going to auditions is tough.  It’s hard to put yourself out there every time and not get feedback.  Well, you get feedback, but it’s in the form of pass/fail.  There are no progress reports.  And everyone is so afraid of bruising your ego that it’s hard to get anyone to tell you if you’re good or not.
A little bit of background.  

1. When I was ten years old, I wrote a letter to my mom telling her that I wanted to be an actress, and that she should get me an agent, and that I was writing a letter so that she’d take me seriously.  I didn’t get an agent.  But I didn’t stop wanting to be an actress.  Other things to be when I grew up came into my life and left.  I thought I’d be practical and be a psychologist or a psychiatrist  because I liked helping people, and I was a natural listener.  Then I started drawing, painting and sculpting, and I thought I’d be an artist, but I was still trying to be practical, so I figured I’d go to college for graphic design, because then I could get a job.  And then my school had an art college fair and they all told me my portfolio needed more pencil drawings.  I still hate pencil drawing.  So, I decided to go to school for Theatre to become an actress.

2.  I completed my undergraduate degree in Theatre Studies.  I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, which means I didn’t take any math or science classes in college.  I never even took pre-calculus in high school (I really didn’t like math).  So, in order to go back to school for a Masters degree, I would either have to go for a Masters in Fine Arts, or do some prerequisites, depending on the degree I want to get.  Basically it’s not easy.  And if I went for a Masters in Fine Arts in Acting (which is what I would love to do) it takes a LOT of time, and I want to have kids, and that takes a LOT of time too.

3.  After undergrad I moved to California (L.A. to be precise, and then the O.C.) to become an actress.  At the time I went there I was a bit of a theatre snob.  I didn’t think that I ever wanted to do film.  I lived in California for 3 years pursuing acting in theatre, doing some shows, and doing one film.  All the while working either as a waitress or in the school system.

4.  Then I met, or should I say, re-met my husband and moved to Utah to be with him.  (that’s a story for another post) We married a year later, and I lived in Utah (Salt Lake City) for 2 years.  I do not like snow, enough said.

5.  After quitting our jobs and living out of our truck for 6 months (see Life Without a PermanentAddress), we went into debt and decided to settle down in Knoxville for two years for my husband to get his Masters Degree.

And that about brings you up to speed.  

So now here I am, 30 years old and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  My husband’s schooling is coming to an end, and he’s trying to write a thesis, work as a Graduate Assistant, and look for a job somewhere else.  Needless to say, he's a bit stressed.

We never intended this to be our home, but I’m learning something as I move from place to place.  Nowhere feels like home at first.  Nowhere has everything you are looking for.  Nowhere do you meet the people you click with right away.  Nowhere do you find the hotspots of things you want to do, and people you want to hang out with right away.  It takes about a year and a half.  And then you start to find community.  Then you start to sort of like where you live, or at least not hate it.  And this is where I find myself now.  I’ve gotten to know people in the film community here, and I LOVE film!  I love acting in it, I love watching them, I love all the things I’ve learned about film from working with so many talented people.  And I feel as though I’m starting to make some headway.  And we’re moving in May.

My husband just found a job that is his dream job.  Literally, dream job.  And it’s in a place that is far from any city, from any film festivals, from any theatres.  But, it’s sunny, and warm, it has red canyons and blue skies, and it’s his dream job.  And I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so who am I to say, “no, I don’t want to live there.”  I want to be a supportive wife.  But I also want to be an actress?

This is my struggle.  Do I continue to push for acting, continue to strive to become better, to do more?  I just had two auditions that I thought went well, that I went to and put myself out there, and the feedback was, “No, you don’t get the part.” But no why, no reason.  I found out once that I didn’t get a part because I had the wrong hair color, so I know that the reasons can be many, but it’s hard to have faith in yourself when you don’t know why.  And no one gives you feedback about your audition, telling you, “You need to work on x, or y” or “next time you should do z, and you’ll get the part”.  So how do you get better?  How do I get better?  How do I tell my husband that I want to be an actress, when I don’t know if I’m any good?  I think I am.  I’ve seen some of the films I’ve done, and I think I’m pretty good.  But maybe I’m not.  Maybe I’m just average (I hate that word) and I should quit while I’m ahead.  Get a “real” career.   Please don’t think I’m crying and begging for validation or being self-pitying, I’m just frustrated.  If you want to be a computer programmer, you can figure out pretty quick if you’re any good at it.  The programs don’t work if you’re not good.  Instant feedback.   As an actor, I don’t get that. 

And people who know me will say, “But Emily, you’re such a great teacher, you’re so smart, you have so many options, you can be whatever you want to be” and I know this, I just don’t know what I want to be.  A teacher?  I don’t like the current education system, but I don’t want to be the person who changes the education system, so if I were to go into teaching, it would be in an unconventional way, which is always the harder road.  But maybe that’s what I do.  Maybe I go to this small town for two years, have some kids, and try and become a teacher somehow.  I don’t know.

So, I guess I’m left with the same problem I had when I started writing this post, what do I want to be when I grow up?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And the season's, they go round and round...

I started this blog last year on my birthday.  I turned 29, and I haven't been very good about keeping up with it, and I apologize.  But now I'm 30, and I'm much more responsible and mature.... ok, so I'm still figuring out what it means to be an adult, and maturity... well, let's just say it's spotty.  But I am going try and do better, in fact, that may be one of my resolutions for the 2011-2012 year.

Now let’s see, New Year’s Resolutions… from 2010-2011 A recap.  Let's see how I did.

1.  To eat less fat:  I have to say, I think I've done ok on this one.  Not as good as I would like, but I think I've done well.  My weight has stayed pretty much even since last year, though I would like to see myself doing better on this for the coming year.

2. To climb, dance, love, give and write more:  Well, I think I've climbed more, and danced more this year.  I love my husband even more each day, so that one's covered.  Giving more... Not sure what I meant by that one, so who knows.  Write more...  Perhaps I'll do better this year.

3. To finish my play:  Epic Fail.  Play remains unfinished.  I may try and find someone who wants to work with me to finish it, or perhaps take a playwriting course sometime this year, but no promises.

4. To say NO in order to say YES:  I think I've done this.  I'm much better at turning things down that I would "like" to do, but that I know I won't do.

5. To be more direct:  I know I'm doing better at this all the time, but it's one that I think I'll always need to work on.  I'm a "people pleaser".  But at least I'm aware of it.

6. To go to Yoga and find my balance:  Well, I went to one class at the University, but I didn't like the teacher.  I did buy a livingsocial deal for Yoga classes that I plan on starting once I finish the play I'm in, so that's a step in the right direction.  As for finding my balance, well, as I said in a previous post I think that may be a never ending process. 

7. To age gracefully:  I think I'm doing ok on this one.  I'm older, I'm growing, and I want to age and be responsible and mature, but not to loose the little child inside of me.  

8. To drink more water:  Sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose.  Overall, I think I'm doing well at drinking more water.

And now, on to figuring out what this year's resolutions are...  I think some will stay the same, and I will add some new ones.

1. To eat less fat and be more active (especially in the winter)
2. To write more
3. To be more direct
4. To go to Yoga and continuously find my balance
5. To drink more water

6. To take a painting class once more
7. To finish what I start, but know when to quit
8. To accept the huge changes that are about to come
9. To keep in touch with family better
10. To be more open

To new beginnings.  "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Comedy makes you think, but drama stirs my soul.  There is something about watching other actors perform that is inspiring.  To see another’s passion that they bring to the roll, it stirs my own passions.  I just finished watching Phaedra at the Clarence Brown Black Box Theatre.  It was a full house, I wasn’t even sure I’d get in since I hadn’t gotten my ticket ahead of time, but I did.  And I was moved.  I am moved.

Acting has always been my passion, the flame that burns in me, that keeps me going.  When I was ten, I wrote my mother a letter telling her that she needed to get me an agent.  I told her, the reason I was writing the letter instead of just telling her, was so that she’d know I was serious.  She didn’t get me an agent.  But when I was in High School and deciding about college, she did support me when I decided to get a BFA in Theatre.  I think I might’ve preferred the agent. 

So here I am, almost twenty years after that letter was written.  I am not a professional actor.  I miss acting.  I miss drama and new works, and ancient works, and performing something that I am passionate about.  I miss the voice of Jim Spruill in the background with his “oh yeah” and his “uh-huh”.  That feeling of knowing that you’ve captured your audience and you hold them in your hands and it’s your job to take them on an incredible journey.  Since graduating college I have mostly done comedy on stage.  Comedy is what people come to see, comedy is what sells.  And I do believe that comedy has its place in theatre, don’t get me wrong, I love comedy.  Comedy does make you think, and that is so important in life.  Christopher Durang, you are one of the best examples of this I can think of.  I just miss drama.  I am not performing with Shakespeare on the Square this summer, and I am a bit sad about that as I was excited about finally getting to sink my teeth into some Shakespeare.  

Ah well, hopefully this opens my summer up to find something else that can stir my soul and let me move people.

Monday, March 28, 2011


After the Banff Film Festival World Tour

I always get this really conflicted feel after watching movies like those I saw tonight.  Like I want to go out and do big things, and leave a giant footprint out there somehow.  But I don’t know exactly how, only that I want to do it outside and in a big way. What is my calling?  I don’t know.  When I have an office job, I can’t wait to go outside and play.  When I have a job outside playing, I can’t wait to get home.  Am I just plagued by the ever popular “Grass is Always Greener” curse?  Perhaps.  But maybe I’m just conflicted.  I need to find balance.  For my 30th birthday I want to hike the part of the Appalachian trail that’s in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  At first I thought, “I should invite a bunch of people and that would be awesome.” My next thought was “I should do it on my own.  Alone.”  Which, if you know me, you would know was totally counter to my nature of thriving in groups and on interactions with people.  But I think I am seeking balance.  I feel like I have this big justice balance that represents my life, but instead of the scales being empty like they are on the statue, they’re loaded.  On one side is family and houses, warm – wait, I take that back - HOT showers, shampoo, face wash, theatre, 2 pairs of jeans and a microwave, and on the other is a pair of running shoes, canyoneering rope, climbing shoes, a tent, a nalgeen and a pee rag all stuffed into a red Osprey backpack that hasn’t seen nearly enough trail time.  Right now the hot shower side is tipped SO low that the Osprey side is in danger of being flung off.  Where’s the balance?  When I first move to Salt Lake City, when I first began this life with my husband it was the exact opposite.  He put the climbing shoes, canyoneering rope, tent and pee rag on the other side and tipped my scales all out of whack and now I’m searching to find out what I want to keep on either side and how to balance the scales again.  The hot showers are definitely staying, that much I know.

But how do I find the balance?  Maybe it’s this ever elusive thing that is always being thrown off by one thing or another.  Perhaps all of life is this finding of balance, rather than being balanced, and I should be happy with that.  There’s this quote, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.  Do not now seek the answers that cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Love the questions now.  Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Here’s to finding balance.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I LOVE sushi

I LOVE sushi. This week, my husband made sushi 3 times, and I sort of want it for dinner again tonight. For our 2nd anniversary, we didn't go out to dinner, or get each other presents, he made me sushi. That is how much I LOVE sushi.

When I tell people that I LOVE sushi, they often look at me funny, because I'm vegan, and they wonder why I eat fish, but don't put cream cheese on my bagel. Well folks, I do not put cream cheese on my bagel, nor do I eat fish. I LOVE vegan sushi! And I've decided to share this with you all. My cousin recently asked me for a recipe for vegan sushi because she's pregnant and can't have regular sushi so I'm passing it along to anyone who feels compelled to read my blog. Enjoy!


Items needed:
Sushi rice
multi-grain rice mixture (optional)
delicious vegetables*
tempe or tofu (cook this)
nori aka roasted seaweed**
Rice vinegar
soy sauce
wasabi** if you like it, we use powdered

cookie sheet
sushi roller**
bowl of cold water
super sharp knife

*I recommend avocado, cucumber, carrot, sprouts, portabello mushrooms and sweet potato
**available at most health food stores, or at cute chinese grocery stores where you will likely be the only non-asian person in the store, but they will likely still all speak english

Step 1. cook sushi rice according to package directions (or put mostly sushi rice and a bit of multi-grain rice mixture in a rice cooker and push the little button down, I can't make rice any other way)

Step 2. Cut veggies into strips for sushi and cook them, either water fry or bake(we cut the sweet potatoes into the small strips and then bake them on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil for 10-15 min's at 400) *note: carrots, cucumber, sprouts and avocado do not need to be cooked, unless you really want to.

Step 3. boil equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar in a small pot *Note: it will smell like old gym socks, but it tastes good

Step 4. When the rice is done, spread it out on a cookie tray and spoon the soy sauce/rice vinegar mixture over it to wet most of it (should not be soaking in the mixture). Let cool until you can handle it with out burning off your fingerprints.

Step 5. place the nori shinny side down on your sushi roller and then wet your hands and take a hand full of rice and moosh it down on most of the nori leaving about an inch and a half at the top. *Note: wet hands more if the rice starts sticking to your fingers

Step 6. place some delicious veggies and/or tofu in the center of the rice going from one end to the other (so you can roll it up)

Step 7. lightly wet the one to one and a half inches of nori you left un-riced a the top of your nori.

Step 8. proceed to use the sushi roller to roll your sushi roll, the water you used to wet the nori will help it to stick together when you finally roll it completely. *Note: this is a fine art. My husband usually does it, and is quite good, but it takes practice, your first rolls may be sloppy, they will get better

Step 9. Repeat steps 5 through 8 until you have many rolls of deliciousness and no rice left. Then you will cut them using your super sharp knife. Dip the knife in water before cutting, and you may have to dip it more than once when cutting a single roll.

Step 10. Enjoy your delicious sushi, victory is yours!

Overall Note: These will make the kind of sushi rolls with the rice on the inside, and the seaweed on the outside. If you want to make the rice on the outside kind, you'll need saran wrap to wrap your sushi roller in, and it's a lot finer art. Look to try this once you have mastered the art of the rice on the inside type.