Sunday, December 18, 2011
It took me nine years from graduate from college, thanks to a mild case of wanderlust and general indecision. I once dropped everything and moved to Montana because I'd had a nice visit there one time, and wanted an adventure. While many of my peers got married and had kids in their twenties, I held out for nearly 20 years and did it after I turned 40.
And while my choices may have made my parents prematurely grey, my life has turned out just fine. It's turned out perfectly, in fact.
But my penchant for doing things a little backwards has apparently followed me into my middle years, and I find myself in a situation that makes many scratch their heads: I've spent half of my first trimester away from home, doing a play at a theatre in Myrtle Beach.
During the time that hormones are at their most erratic, when moms-to-be lean on (and confound) their partners the most, when all the weird "what is THAT?!" stuff starts happening to our once-familiar bodies...THAT is when I moved myself 663 miles away in the name of art.
I've been away from home since October 29th, when I left to shoot a film in NC, and in Myrtle Beach since November 8th, the day we began rehearsals for A CHRISTMAS STORY. Here is what I miss most, in no particular order:
Walking/cuddling/looking at/cleaning up after my dog
WALKING to run errands
Cold, winter-time weather
New York at Christmas
Seeing familiar faces on the street
Our crazy old Italian landlords, Luigi and Maria
Dixie sitting on the newspaper
Tater talking nonstop
Dean (bears repeating)
I've had a wonderful time here, and am grateful to Thom and Mindi Penn for the opportunity to make fun theatre with them. I'm grateful to my Dad and Linda for turning their condo over to me, and for putting up a Christmas tree to make being away from home a little sweeter. I'm grateful to Mom and Mike and Sharon and Johnny and Aunt Peggy and Jim and Alice and Paul and all the family who came to see the show and remind me that I'm not here all alone.
But coming home late at night to a pet-free condo, spending 90 minutes a day in the car, and sleeping alone is for the birds. I'm ready to get back to my normal life.
However unconventional it may seem.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Still with me? Good, because from here on out, this blog is going to be really, really fun to read.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pregnant. With a baby. Together, Dean and I have created a human being that lives inside of me, wakes me every two hours to pee, and refuses to let me wear my skinny jeans. And we are thrilled.
In the past few weeks, we've informed our families and some close friends, and the reactions have ranged from tears of joy to spit takes to uncontrollable laughter to stunned stares, and one report of someone actually falling out of their chair. And those are just reactions from me and Dean.
Answers to your most pressing questions: We're due in June, and we don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet. We WILL find out, because otherwise I will explode. We have chosen names, but won't be sharing them with anyone until the BIG DAY. However, feel free to send suggestions, because we like a good laugh and could be persuaded to change our minds for something really good, like Bookcase or Hortence. We're staying in NYC and are keeping our current apartment because it's awesome, it's near the Best Park in the World, and Hank would be devastated if we moved him away from his doggie girlfriend, Fenny.
My friend Kim pointed out that I completely started my life over at 40, and she's right. In the past 2 years, I got married for the first (and last) time, changed my career, moved to New York, and NOW...am expecting a baby.
I realize our child will graduate from high school in 2030, and it freaks me out, because I have no idea how we're going to teach it to drive one of those flying George Jetson cars we'll all have by then. Rather than dwell on the possibility that I might need a walker to attend the child's wedding, I'm going to embrace the fact that as we raise our child, I will have TWICE the life experience to draw from as a lot of first-time moms. And when I get super depressed that my bras don't fit and I can't button my regular pants anymore, I smile and think of how adorable Dean Poynor will look walking around with a Baby Bjørn strapped to his chest.
Before I go eat Second Breakfast, I want to share one of my earliest blog posts with you. It's called "Babyville." It's even funnier now.
Guess I drank the water after all.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
And it felt GOOD. Not just to get rid of that stuff that was weighing me down, but also to revisit how each of those things ended up in my life to begin with. Did I choose it, or was it thrust upon me? How long had I been carting it from place to place? Did it fit me any longer?
I recently had to transfer contacts from my old phone to my new one, and as I went through the list of names, the feeling is surprisingly similar to when I cleared out my house. It was a trip down Memory Lane, or in some cases, a trip down Where the Hell am I Road.
Because I'm a giver, I thought it'd be fun to share with you some of the actual entries from my old phone that didn't make the cut. Here we go!
Nas- I wrote a lengthy explanation of who this is, but then I realized my mother would have a heart attack when she read it (even though it was REALLY funny.) All I will say is that Kathy Gambrell knows who this is, and we met him at Hush.
Deadbeats with Dogs- Exactly as it sounds. Losers who lived around the corner from me, who let their two dogs run loose in the neighborhood, and didn't seem to care when concerned citizens tried to scoop them up and take them back. Total losers.
Eddie- This appears to be a New Orleans number, which means two things. I was probably with my Aunt Carla, and we were likely at a bar. Aside from that, I have no clue.
North South TV- When I first moved to NYC, I was on a fashion-centered reality TV show. What, you didn't hear about it? That was my plan. I told virtually no one, for good reason. These folks produced it.
Subfinder- Sweet, sweet Subfinder. You saved me many a morning when I was too ill to teach school. I almost had your number memorized, I loved you so dearly. Alas, my teaching days are on hold, and by the time I come back to it (if ever) there will probably be some sort of mind-reading system that not only finds a substitute teacher for you, but also can tell if you're faking.
Dispatch- This was the number for the cops in my old neighborhood in SC. I programmed it in my phone after someone left threatening porn on my doorstep, and tried to break in to my laundry room. (Yes, I said PORN, and yes, it can be threatening, believe me.) New York is a million times safer than my old neighborhood.
Blue Ribbon Cab- New York friends, back in SC you have to make a phone call for a cab to come pick you up, and then you wait for it. If you tried to flag one down in SC, the driver would probably just wave back.
There are lots of other names in there, people I fondly remember, but haven't spoken to in years. I let a lot of them go, relying on Facebook in the event I need to reconnect with them. Looking at the list of entires, I see how far I've come, how much has changed, and how much I've learned. My life is awesome, and all these entries played a little part in getting me here now.
Maybe not Nas, or Eddie, but you get the idea.
Friday, November 11, 2011
You've no idea how meaningful your cards, emails, and mysterious packages have been to me during this busy time. I'd like to take a few minutes to personally address some of the mail I've received while this blog has been on hiatus, and hope that my personal responses will give you insight into who Monica really is- and in the case of IMWTCHNGU666, put an end to the doorstep poetry you seem so intent on leaving for me.
Let's dig into the mail bag, shall we?
Kippy from Toledo asks, "Although I live in Ohio and have never even heard of you, how do you learn all those lines?"
--Oh, Kippy. If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked that question...I'd throw those nickels at your head one at a time until you asked a better question. Next!
Mildred from Hell Hole Swamp asks, "Will you please come help me move? I live in Hell Hole Swamp."
--Mildred, even though I feel your pain and fully understand how traumatic it must be to live in such a place, I am a professional actor, and do not help people move. Unless, of course, it is to a fabulous country home with a guest room I might use later. And only if there is pizza. Sorry.
ParisMtScout asks, "I understand you've recently completed filming a major role in a new independent feature film. Which do you prefer, acting in handcrafted films such as GET BETTER, or being in dumb plays?"
--I know this is you, Chris White. I had a great time working on your film. Now, please let other people ask some real questions.
Cindy Lou Who from Whoville asks, "If you could play any historical figure, who would it be, and why?"
--Finally, a real question! Cindy Lou, I am particularly drawn to the stories of those less fortunate than myself- those who endure hardships beyond our wildest imaginations. Those who battle the forces of evil and strive for goodness in this cruel, cruel, world. I think the choice here is obvious- I would play Cindy Lou Who from Whoville, who battles the Grinch and saves Christmas.
"Wait. That's me."
"And I'm four years old. You're ten times my age."
"I'm not a real person. I said 'historical figure.'"
--Is there a breeze in here?
Ann from Cedar Mountain asks, "Why don't you get on one of those TV shows I watch? Just call them and tell them you'd like to be on there- tell them you were on 'Army Wives.' And are you eating well? You need to keep your strength up- you get sick when you do too much, you know that. And don't forget, Tommy's birthday is coming up."
--MOM, I will call you later.
Kim K. from NYC asks, "I've got a beautiful wedding dress that I no longer need. Could you use it in your next project? And I wore it because I was REALLY in love. And please come to my purse signing at Daffy's in Herald Square at 4pm."
--Kim, I actually COULD use your dress for an upcoming project. My husband, playwright Dean Poynor, is writing a play that features wedding dresses very prominently. Where can I come pick it up?
You can come to where I work. It's on television.
--But where, exactly?
TV is everywhere.
--But where do you work, so I can pick up the dress?
I'm on TV.
Looks like we're out of time. Thank you all for your messages of encouragement- I will do my best to answer each and every one during my time here in Myrtle Beach. And please, come see A CHRISTMAS STORY at Atlantic Stage, running December 2-18th.
Ooh! A new message just came in! Let's see what it says...
Dean from NYC asks, "Honey, where is the lint roller? And I miss you."
--It's in the pet basket, and I miss you, too. :)
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Since then, I've run into these good people at other shows, some their own, and we have hugged and smiled, and we're even Facebook friends. But REAL Facebook friends, not the superficial kind. Like, we've MET in Real Life and everything.
Last week, I got an email from Jessi Hill, the Director of terraNOVA's Groundbreakers program, asking me to be a part of the One Minute Play Festival at Primary Stages October 16th!
(Yes, you read that correctly. ONE minute. I had to go back and make sure, too. I thought they meant TEN minutes.)
I'll be performing in a few of the 50 plays that day and night (There are two performances, should you care to join us), and I'm excited to see what can be accomplished in one minute of stage time. Off the top of my head, in one minute, a person could:
Make Hot Chocolate
Put on False Eyelashes
Act Like a Monkey
Check the Mail
Make Out with a Pillow. Or a Person.
Win the Lottery
Throw a Rock Through a Window
Fold Three Shirts (Neatly)
Sing "Happy Birthday" and Really Vamp at the End
I'm sure there are more things. I'll let you know what they are when I get the scripts. I hope it's the Lottery, though.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
It's too short to work with people who don't make the work fun.
Life's too short to spend it with someone who doesn't completely get you and support you.
And life's too short to not try your hardest to make the most of it.
Friday, September 9, 2011
This requires a costume fitting, as I have virtually nothing from 1966. To do this, I traveled to The Foundry, in Queens, where the shoot will be next week. (below) The wardrobe guy who worked with me wore a kilt, had a red beard like Kris Kringle, and glasses without arms.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I am very, very fortunate. My husband has a great job, and I am able to pursue acting opportunities full-time because of that.
The catch is, no one pays me to pursue acting jobs. And with our trip to Africa a little over 5 months away, we have to make a plan for how we're going to pay for it. I was fortunate to be paid for my work in Australia, but we decided to contribute that money to Chris and Emily White's upcoming film. It feels good to do good things. To help others.
But the time has come for me to help our family, so I am turning to...background work. (She sighs heavily.) I have mixed emotions about background work. Here are the pros and cons:
Saturday, August 27, 2011
While we've been here, I've noticed some interesting things that Americans may not be aware of. In no particular order, here they are.
1. There are giant bats that fly around here, and they all live in the trees by the library. They're knows as "Flying Foxes," because...they kind of are. They're beautiful and eerie, and one of them pooped on our friend Eric the other day.
2. There is a lot of instant coffee here. Tons of it. In the two times I've come here, I've not seen a coffee maker in a hotel, but I've seen lots of hot water pots for...instant coffee. Also, people here will drink hot coffee or hot tea in the middle of a very hot day. Walking along the Esplanade earlier, I saw many, many people enjoying a relaxing picnic with a hot mug of tea in their hands. And it's 80ºF here.
3. Bacon is different, more like country ham. Not as crispy, but wider, and lots of it when you order it.
4. There is no ketchup, but there is "tomato sauce," which is LIKE ketchup, but nothing like our tomato sauce. It's more BBQ-y than ketchup. But there is also BBQ sauce, so that's confusing.
5. People refer to their significant others as their "partners," regardless of their sexual orientation. In the US, I hear this a lot with gay and lesbian couples, but here, everyone uses it. Pair this with the fact that few men wear wedding rings and it makes things confusing.
6. Passengers ride in the front seat of taxis. I took one last night, and as the guy who runs the taxi stand was loading people into cars, he always opened the front passenger door, rather than the back door.
7. In addition to driving on the left side of the road, people WALK on the left side of the sidewalk. This proves my theory that the people in NYC who don't keep right on the sidewalks are people who come from countries where they drive on the opposite side of the road. In Australia, I am that annoying, walking tourist.
8. There is virtually no free WiFi in Cairns. It is pay-as-you-go, and slow if you're using a connection at a cafe or hotel, where you've got access to their password.
9. There are no gummi bears, only jelly men.
10. A surprising number of people walk around barefoot here.
11. There is art everywhere. Painted on the sidewalks, tiled onto buildings, mounted in parks...it's all over the place. And Cairns is very kid-friendly, and wheelchair accessible, which is nice. There's even a playground and a face painter at the local version of Home Depot, to keep kids occupied.
That's all for now. I'll think of more to share...likely during our 14 hour layover in Sydney tomorrow. Yes, you read that correctly.
But I won't be posting if I have to pay for WiFi.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
More bog posts to come. It's a busy time, as we open TOMORROW on a double bill with La Mama Melbourne.
Wish y'all could see this show.
Oh, wait. You CAN. We're doing this show in NYC in October, so clear your calendars for October 19-23. We'll be at The Flea Theater!!
Friday, August 19, 2011
And I haven't started packing yet.
I haven't even picked up the laundry yet. I've not showered yet. My To-Do list is long.
Don't get me wrong- I am so excited and very fortunate to be traveling to the other side of the world to perform Whales and Souls. I'm thrilled to see old friends in Cairns, to bring these characters to life, to get to know my playwright friend Andrew Kramer better (22 hours of travel time should do it.) I'm interested to see how the audience responds to the work there, and I'm excited to snorkel again on the Great Barrier Reef, and maybe even hold a koala again.
But you know, it's tough to leave your loved one for 11 days. Tough to leave your cats. REALLY tough to leave your dog. It's tough to leave your kitchen and your mailbox.
So...what I have to remember is that I get to come home. I get to do this amazing play in a far away, tropical place, and when it's all over...I get to come home.
And when I get back, I will not complain about walking the dog for a very long time. :)
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
It's funny. When I'm in a play with other actors, I don't feel as pressured to learn my lines quickly, because it feels like the cast shares the burden together. As if it's only 30% my responsibility to be off book. This is crazy math, I know. There's a feeling that "the lines will come" once the cast gets in the habit of running the scenes over and over. There's this trust that things will fall into place right on schedule...or sometime shortly after.
This time, it's different. I'm my own scene partner. If I plan on learning Beatrice's lines, I darn well better learn the ones for Tamara, because they're in a scene together. I can't hang out backstage and listen for when Thandi comes on, because I AM Thandi. I can't rely on Eedric's cue line to remind me what I say next, because Eedric is ME. And I can't run offstage to the restroom during Joven's scene with The Creature because...you get the idea.
Don't get me wrong- this is an awesome opportunity to test myself like this, to branch out and try something new. But it is no small feat. And with THAT, I return to my script.
I just needed a momentary diversion.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
This morning, the city's Tear Up West 75th Street Project has inched its way to right outside my door, leaving only one pane of glass between me and the thunderous sound of the jackhammer. It's loud, it's tough to focus, and I'm wondering HOW my director and I are going to rehearse here this morning with all that clamor.
What an enormous inconvenience! What a terrible distraction! What a blessing in disguise!
It dawned on me, as I was listening to sound cues sent by our playwright, that we need a cue for a scene where construction crews come in to "improve" (and ultimately destroy) a small village. So, I took my trusty iPhone, opened up the voice memo app, and VOILA! A new sound effect for our show!
The construction workers looked at me kind of strangely, likely wondering if I was recording them so I could file a complaint.
The only complaint I have right now, is that they're not using a wider variety of destructive machines. This cue could use some variety.
Monday, July 25, 2011
So, I have a LOT of lines to learn before I head to Australia next month. Like, ALL the lines in the whole play. LOTS. OF. LINES.
Usually, rehearsing scenes with other actors helps the lines stick in my brain. Like when you hear a song over and over again, you eventually start to pick up the lyrics, right?
But what happens when the other actors in the scene are YOU? When YOU are all the actors? When you are in a scene with yourself (or selves, as the case may be.)
Enter the iPhone. Have you seen that voice recorder app on there? The one you thought was for grocery lists or to record that great screenplay idea you had on the train. It's quickly becoming my best friend. I recorded all 26 scenes of Whales and Souls as individual sound files, and can now listen to them as I run errands, ride the train, and...read my script.
Some people are visual learners, some are kinesthetic learners, and some learn by hearing things. When I was teaching school, we recognized that the more ways you can impart information to a person, the more likely it is to stick. Having a kid read a chapter on the civil rights movement is one thing, but having him watch "Hairspray" as well helps to drive the message home. (You see, it's about the civil rights movement...and DANCING!)
While I would love to watch "Hairspray" right now, I will instead be listening to the sound of my own voice for hours on end. Like Dean has to do every day. (Ba-DUM-dum. Enjoy the buffet, I'm here all week.)
Send me good thoughts. Otherwise, I might be calling you to run lines with me.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Last night we wrapped up week 4/Cycle 3 of #Serials at The Flea, and once again, I had a great time.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, here's what happens: 5 teams each perform a 10-minute original play. At the end of the show, the audience votes for their 3 favorites. At the end of the weekend, the 3 teams with the most votes come back with Episode 2 of their show, while the 2 losing teams each have to start from scratch and come back with an entirely new show. On Saturdays, there's a band, and everyone has a great time.
This week, I got to work with some brand new Bats, and get to know some of the older Bats better. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This group of actors is the most drama-free, supportive, smart group of people I've worked with in a long time. Every person there takes their work seriously, even when they're wearing fake beards, fairy wings, or holding a giant puppet. Even when they're saying lines that would get their mouths washed out with soap, or when they're doing a line dance. Even then.
It's nice to be a part of something, especially in a city as huge as this one. To have a place to go, a place with friendly faces and work to be done, and opportunities to be grasped...well, it's pretty great. I feel really lucky these days. Incredibly lucky. And I plan to make the most of it.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Filmmaker Chris White has cast me in his upcoming feature, GET BETTER. (See photo above, featuring my fellow actors Robert Linder and Traysie Amick.) His recent work, "Taken In," was just released this week, and he's currently on a 20-city tour promoting the film.
In GET BETTER, an adult daughter cares for her dying father...while helping him achieve a long-forgotten dream (that's where I come in.) The film will be funny, heartbreaking, and ultimately life affirming. Shooting will begin this October, and you can learn more about GET BETTER, Chris White, and the rest of his work by clicking HERE.
I'm excited to work with some of my favorite people...and some soon to be favorite people, I'm sure.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I'm heading to The Cairns Festival next month!
I am excited and honored to be returning to the Cairns Festival in Queensland, Australia next month, performing Andrew Kramer's one-woman fable, Whales and Souls. In the play, a leader of a small, rural village is enticed by a large monetary offer that could change the town forever. Meanwhile, an unusual creature emerges from the lake with an ominous warning for the villagers. Whales & Souls is a gritty, sensual fable that examines the way we relate to the environment, ourselves, and each other. It was developed by Kramer under the terraNOVA Collective Groundbreakers Playwright's Group in New York City and is presented by The Salvage Company. And I play ALL the characters.
Performances are August 26, 27, and 28th, and we plan to mount it in NYC when we return. I'll keep you posted!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
After being away from home for 2.5 weeks, I returned to our apartment to something unbelievable. Something I haven't seen in close to a year.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I’m in tech rehearsal this week, 10 hours a day for at least four days. My full time job this week is to read magazines, change my clothes, and talk about Michael Jackson, serial killers, and the rap class offered at Duke University. Oh, and occasionally rehearse my scenes, which is awesome because I have a fight scene. In heels. And pearls.
You really get to know people when you have to kill hours and hours on end with them. And it’s been nice to see that everyone here is really...nice. People offer each other their prime floor space, share their snacks, and go on coffee runs. I’ve had good conversations about unexpected topics (see above) with people I barely knew.
While this group of actors is fairly young, their talent and experience is really remarkable. (When you come see “Future Anxiety,” you’ll see what I mean.) People ask each other about their auditions (some of our team have managed to squeeze TV auditions into our lunch break, which is no small feat), and they share information with one another. They genuinely help each other out, and want each other to succeed.
Believe me, I want my friends to succeed. I always have. But I will honestly admit that in the past, I have sometimes experienced what one might call a mild case of “competijealousism”, a malady I named just this minute. It’s just what it sounds like. But here, it doesn’t seem like any of our company members have that with one another. And if they do, they hide it really well. Like I said, they are talented. (When you come see my show, you’ll see what I mean.)
It’s all about Kharma, it really is. The more good stuff you put out there, the more good stuff comes your way. I am proof of that.
After sitting around for hours, it’s good to take a walk. Get out and breathe and stretch a little more, turning here and there, not really caring where you end up. Discovering new shops and restaurants, realizing, “Oh, that’s where that is,” seeing how close this neighborhood is to that one. And even if it starts to drizzle a springtime rain, it’s ok, because you have your umbrella, flimsy though it may be. That’s what I did during dinner break today (thanks to the generosity of Sean Crespo, best dog-watching neighbor ever), and I gotta say, I love TriBeCa. (For those of you not in NYC, it stands for “TRIangle BElow CAnal (street), and is where The Flea Theater is located.) When you come see my show, you’ll see what I mean.
Living in New York City is the best.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I don't think there's a better place in the world to be Irish today than New York City.
The 250th New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade is happening right now. Right this second on the other side of Central Park. 250 years. A quarter of a millennium. And this isn't like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, or even the Ferris Bueller Parade. Floats, cars, balloons, and such are not allowed, and the parade consists of about 150,000 people marching- including military groups, bands, dancers, police officers and firemen...you name it. As long as it walks, it's here.
The parade is televised, and the commentators are actually Irish. It makes me wish I were prepping for a production of a Brian Friel play, the dialects are so good. Parade Day kicks off with mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and (SC friends, brace yourselves) the highlights from this morning's mass were replayed as part of the parade coverage. Mass makes the news here, people.
There are several bands full of bagpipe players, which confuses me, because I thought that was a Scottish instrument. I also thought that the Scottish and Irish hated each other, so I'm surprised there hasn't been more brawling. I mean, I'm attacking everyone I see in a kilt, but I'm just on one block of W. 75th, and it's hard to know how the rest of my Irish friends are faring across the city. What? Oh. OHHHHHH. My bad. I was just informed that "Ireland and Scotland have a very close cultural relationship as both countries are of gaelic descent. In fact the Scots are an Irish tribe who settled in what is now Scotland from the 4th century onwards." Huh. Either way, bagpipes make me cry.
There are so many police officers and firemen in the parade, I hope there isn't a city-wide emergency. Is there a joke in there somewhere? It feels like it.
It's a beautiful day for a parade- we're getting up to the mid-60's (SC friends, please don't rub it in.) And it's a fantastic day for Irish advertisers! I've seen so many "visit Ireland" spots and so many Guiness spots, I find myself wanting to ride bikes along the winding roads of rural Ireland with a beer in my hand. In plastic, of course. Glass would be irresponsible.
Time to dash. I've left some soda bread baking in the oven, and my bangers and mash are almost ready. Yeah, I'm kidding. Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone! Especially to my Uncle Tommy. This always strikes me as HIS day. :)