Quote of the day:
"When you get there, there's no there there."
-- Gertrude Stein.
Having just gotten home from my friend Julie's smashing birthday party at the uber chic and seemingly downtown New York hotel, Maison 140 -- www.maison140beverlyhills.com -- where I imbibed a bit in the "Julie-tini" made in her honor, I have put a quilt on my legs, propped up a thick, cozy, big Dutch pillow behind my back and with Gatsby splayed out on the bed next to me, I am writing away with The Shins playing gently on my Pandora... Ahhh, life...
1. Keep Trying. My beloved cyber-blades, when Gertrude (how different does her name sound when you clip the "Stein?") spoke these words, she was actually referring to her hometown of Oakland, California. But I take her words to be the result of unquenchable success. Not meaning success doesn't exist or that we are not eternally grateful for the rewards success invariably brings with it. But rather that there is no "there" when we accomplish something -- we are always seeking more. To be a better actor or writer or painter or teacher or ceo or sibling even, husband or agent or even dog owner. A better human being. We are always striving to better ourselves. We need to be doing this. We need to never sit back and be satisfied with ourselves.
Because there is no there there. Do we stop after the Academy Award? What about our first published book? Or our first movie? Our first starring role? Our first million? No. We don't because the search is endless. And wanting to get "there" only gives birth to a new there -- because there is wherever we are not. Thus, we are on a perpetual journey to get there. And as long as we dream, as long as we strive and as long as we work towards our vision -- of more and more dreams and more and more happiness and more and more sharing... There will indeed never be a there there.
My teacher Shalom once told me that a very Pisces characteristic is running a killer marathon and then, walking the final stretch. Like the fact that we are ahead, that we can envision our win is enough. But the truth is -- nearly tasting our success is not at all the same as devouring it whole. Pouring that wine down our throats is terribly different than holding the bottle to our hearts.
And today, my friends -- I did more than pour the bottle. I poured some seriously KILLER wine down my throat!!!
I took the great Lesly Kahn's advice -- www.leslykahn.com -- she is like Buddha to the thousands of actors and actresses who pour (like the wine) in and out of her building. And I for one count myself a fan as well. After all, it was she who compelled me to create a blog!!! And here you all are reading it... :):):)
She said to me, when I asked her what to do about THE DIRECTOR, because we hadn't made contact, I emailed her and asked her what to do and she wrote back simply, "All I can say is keep trying."
And I did. I kept trying. I called again and spoke with his office assistant. Then, he called me from his cell. And then, I thought -- well, you all know what I thought -- because I blogged about it, and I did leave that message. And I said it allll my my heart. Every little last drop. I seriously felt like that kid again who was in final auditions for The Diary of Anne Frank, and the super cool casting director, Kim Miscia, came over to me where I was sitting, leaning against the wall in the Douglas Fairbanks theater, my walkman playing my Dad's piano music... I think it was Here, There, and Everywhere. My Dad always played that Beatles song as I was falling asleep... And now, it was prepping the shit out of me for my final Broadway call-back.
Anyway, Kim leaned over towards me and asked in kind voice, "Kieren, are you ready?" And -- you have to imagine this in context because if you don't, it's gonna sound TV Movie -- my eyes were red from the music, I knew all of my lines by heart and there must've been an intensity in my gaze and there was absolutely a certainty in my voice, because I pulled my ear pieces out of my ears and stopped my music. I looked up at her and simply said, " I was born ready."
And this is how I felt today, talking to the director. Like everything I was saying to him -- because he graciously asked me about me -- everything flowed out of me as if I were saying these words thousands of years ago, as if I knew at some point that I was going to say exactly these words. And they felt, or rather -- they made me feel perfect as they came off my lips. Like I was born ready to say these words. Like I'd aced the exam -- just as I aced the Broadway call back and was on the New York stage months later.
And so, we shall see what bursts forth from this first phone conversation. He asked to see my work. And so, I emailed it tonight.... Yayayayayayay.
2. Listen to your gut.I sooo dug the first round of my headshots - the pics of me in a white tank top, looking fresh and commercial. As did my commercial agent, Jamie Hernandez, at Special Artists. But when I was down in San Diego, looking at them with my friend Amy, I discovered that my hair was looking wet-rag-esque as the shoot carried on. And that the last dress I wore looked too loose and I appeared washed out. So -- I listened to my gut. And I called the great Paul Smith and we are going to shoot one more look and I am hiring a friend to do hair and makeup, so that I show up all did and ready to go, bitches and ho's! (That was meant to have some NYC slang!)I am stoked that I listened to myself and called him. That's a great sign for me that I am growing up and taking charge of my life. Because I know what I want. And I need to pay the price (literally) and to express it. And Paul was totally kind and open to it. And I think my agent was thinking the same thing I was -- get one more look with my hair and make-up perfect. And this week, I shall. And then, we will have all we need. And I also always say that chances are if you're thinking something, if you have a gut feeling -- then the other person (in this case, my agent) is feeling pretty much the same way. And she was. Good stuff.
3. My story. My memoir is a book I started to wrote as an undergrad at Barnard College, Columbia University. And I have had this story embedded in my soul since then. I've felt this burning need to share it. To tell people. To affect people with it. Gather you all up and put you in the lap of my heart and let you listen closely as it thumps and beats and expands to hold all of my stories. All of my pain and overwhelming joy. And I have given myself March 1st as my deadline for handing it 50 pages to Judy Clain, publisher extraordinaire, and to the William Morris Endeavor agent to whom she so graciously referred me.
And yet, I haven't even picked it up. It's like I feel fogged in the head about it. And this year is 3 things -- best-selling author, movie star and millionaire. And yet -- I was last summer soooo close to my dream of seeing my story in print that I sang the whole drive home from dropping my amazing, new friend (twin!) Brittaney off at BU in Boston, in my Dad's silver Volvo, I sang after two weeks at amazingly verdant, swooping countryside of The Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, I sang. Because this dream was sooo close.
And I mention this tonight, today! Zoiks! Because I am writing to keep myself accountable to my dreams, my promises that I make to myself. That we all make to ourselves. Because I remember telling this officer in my Barnard Literary Society, which I founded, that if as she had threatened, she was going to stop writing poetry, who would care but her? Honestly, if she kept in her words and her truth and her ultra personal story, who would care?
Would women stay up late in bed, sobbing because Stephanie had refused to tell her tale? Would farmers stop the machines mid-crop dusting, heartbroken by her refusal to continue writing poetry? They wouldn't even know what they were missing. But we would.
But for me. But for Stephanie. But for all of us. Because ultimately my story is your story. In one way or another. We ALL have stories to share. And we are mainly cheating ourselves by not sharing them. And then... after we do that, we are cheating all of the human beings out there who could feel comforted and loved and who could laugh out loud and maybe, just maybe, feel less alone because of our stories. And so, I tell you this all tonight. That tomorrow, I shall figure out my opening. And begin to organize my excerpts to send out on March 1st.
My little blades of grass, whisper "grow, grow..." to me in the morning hours and throughout the day. And I shall whisper back. And we will light up this wilding world with our angelic sounds...
Just remember -- Sleep with the angels. Keep trying. Go with your gut. And let us all share our stories. Because if we can't be "there," if indeed there is no "there there." Then, let's be here, Truly here. Having the courage to share our stories.
Love, love, love to all of you.