Wednesday, November 27, 2013

And Still You're Grateful

You're always sorry,
You're always grateful,
You're always wondering what might have been.
Then she walks in.

And still you're sorry,
And still you're grateful,
And still you wonder and still you doubt.
And she goes out.*

(The "she" in this is referring to the men's wives. It is something different for me. It can be something different for you too. The genius of Sondheim's lyrics. Interpret as you see fit, dear reader.)

Thanksgiving is a holiday I have fully embraced since first moving to the U.S. 5 years ago. I love the sentiment, I love the invitations, I love the people and I love the food! It's like Christmas without the stress.

First attempt cooking for Thanksgiving in NYC, 2009.

What I love most is the fact that people take time to reflect on what they are thankful for. Something we should be doing daily. And, in this business, it is certainly something that helps our sanity. A time to reflect regularly about what we have that we should be grateful for.

As I get older, I realise that so many of the things that I felt sorry, sad and regretful about are the things that I realise now were the right things for me. Things that happened for a reason. Even if I could not see it at the time.

In no particular order, I am grateful for:

1.  The fact that I am unwell right now. I have inflammation of the lungs so am at home resting and have time to write this blog just in time for Thanksgiving.

2.  Not going to drama school when I was 22.  When I was in my final year of high school, I played Meg Brockie in "Brigadoon" and then sang in an end of year concert.  And that last month of school planted the seed that I might actually be able to pursue acting as a career.  It had not been a serious option before.  But I had two wonderful teachers who saw something special in me and even my father paid me a compliment, so I knew it must be serious.  I went to University, as planned and studied for my MA in Philosophy and Theatre with the aim of going to drama school in London when I graduated. I fluffed one audition and had fallen in love so did not even apply to any other schools. Love and youth. Spent my twenties regretting it and now I am so very grateful! My thirties are so much better.

Everything's different,
Nothing's changed,
Only maybe slightly

3.  So many wonderful teachers. Teachers who have challenged me. Teachers who have become my friends. So many wonderful students.  Students who have challenged me. Students who have taught me. Students who have become my friends.

Bermuda High School trip to NYC
Recording radio shows with ACTeen Juniors

4.  Having my heart broken. The material I have been able to use in my acting work is endless. There was one man in particular that I thought I would spend the rest of my life mourning. Now I realise that it would have been a disaster if we had stayed together. I thank God every day that I did not marry him.

You don't live for her,
You do live with her,
You're scared she's starting to drift away  
And scared she'll stay.*

5.  Netflix.  Cable became so expensive and I, like so many actors, am broke.  So I cancelled it.  Netflix is wonderful. And I am watching some excellent stuff (most recently "Breaking Bad") instead of lying on the couch in a coma watching some reality crap on cable.  Watching good acting and feeling inspired.

6.  Clinical depression. I have battled with depression for years. I am grateful for it and the challenges it brings. And, as ever, how it helps with the actor's homework. I do not trust people who are happy all the time!

You're sorry-grateful,
Why look for answers where none occur?*

7.  Being Scottish!

Dancing a Gay Gordon's at The Caledonian Ball in Bermuda.

I have several issues with being Scottish here and working as an alien. There are challenges in addition to the normal challenges American actors face. I am not allowed to join Equity here and have had to turn down work as a result. But, I look at the positive. It makes me stronger and more determined. Besides, being Scottish is pure dead brilliant!

8.  Not getting jobs after auditions. Before acting, I got every job I applied and interviewed for. I did not really understand failure properly (well, apart from getting 42% on my second year Physics exam.) Of course, when I first starting auditioning and getting callbacks, I prayed for a big break that would get me my dream job. But it did not happen. I am grateful for that. I understand the day in/day out process of auditioning and  have realised thanks to some of those wonderful teachers mentioned in 3 and my wonderful new manager Kathy Olsen of Encompass Arts that, I can give a wonderful audition and not get the part. There is so much more to casting than that (that's for another blog). But the preparation and the going out there is what matters and learning that the job is not mine is making me stronger and a better actor. Fairly recently I auditioned for one of my longtime dream roles and I did not book the gig. Of course, I was upset, but now I realise, that if I had booked the job, I would not have been able to be doing what I am loving every Monday night at The Cafe at Broadway.  (now Polly's Follies)

There are so many more things to be thankful for but I do not want to go on forever. Perhaps I'll revisit them next Thanksgiving.  

I must end the list, however, with the best. 

9.  I could not be doing any of this if it were not for these  grown-ups in my life...

My family:
Back row: Dad, my sister, Jane, brother, Andrew, Mum
Front: brother, David, me, brother Johnnie
Foreground: back of a nephew's head!

10.  ...and these wonderful little people:

Nieces and nephews:
Back row: Nancy, Molly, Flora, Tess (on my knee), Hector, Jimmy, Charlie
Front: Tom, Jock and George

*Sorry-Grateful from "Company" 
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (for whom I am also eternally grateful)

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