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Thursday, June 30, 2005


When I Grow Up

At work the other day, the new guy guessed I was an only child. Is it that obvious? I guess it is.

I threw a bachelorette party last weekend. The groom joked that we'd all be home by 9pm - I have a reputation for getting sleepy early. But we stayed out until 2:30. 18th Street felt like an amusement park. We ended up at the Reef and I found myself in intense people-watching mode - everyone seemed younger, everyone was wearing the same trendy clothes; I felt like I was watching an ant colony or something.

Last night my husband was at a going away party for a friend from college so it was just me and Cosmo. I ordered hunan bean curd, szechuan eggplant and stir-fried spinach from Mr. Chen's in Woodley Park. I drank a Heineken. I watched a film called "P.S." in which the main character learns she needs to stop feeling sorry for herself, to root for her own happiness. In The Artist's Way, a book I read last year, the author talks about how the universe opens up to you once you know what you really want. People tend to experience synchronicity - once they admit they want something, opportunities present themselves.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. As a teenager the dream persisted. I remember at one point my dad said to me, "if that's what you really want, you should go for it." Then later, under the spell of the TV show "L.A. Law," I temporarily decided I wanted to be a lawyer instead. "Oh God," my dad said. "That's the last thing the world needs, another lawyer."

I'd still like to be an actress.

Sunday, June 26, 2005



I auditioned for Washington Improv Theater (WIT) this weekend. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but part of me thought I might have a shot. When I woke up Saturday morning I was a ball of nerves. The audition itself ended up being a lot of fun, and I was remarkably relaxed that afternoon as I waited to hear whether I would be called back for the second round. They said they'd call by 6pm -- at 5:45 I was suddenly stricken with nervousness; at 6:05 I was morose; but then at 6:30, when I returned from a walk with my dog, I found the message light blinking on my answering machine: I got called back! I was ECSTATIC. I screamed, I jumped up and down -- I was bursting with happiness. I went out with friends and as we parted ways at the end of the night, one of them said to me, "you know you've been glowing all evening." What a great feeling, to be so happy it just shines off you.

But then at the call-backs today, I was off my game. I felt like shit. I had one good scene but otherwise I felt off, and lame. In part it was because I didn't really click with my audition group; so much of what makes improv fun, and good, is chemistry. In part I think my nerves got the best of me. And in part I think I just had an off day, which I know happens to everyone. Whatever the cause, by the end of the audition, the feeling of failure had sunk into my gut like a ton of bricks. I can do better. Let me try it again.

They were going to call by 8pm tonight if I got in. They haven’t called.

I know I’ve been doing this for under a year. I know I should feel proud of myself for even trying, and excited that I got called back. But instead I feel like I just got so close to something I care about, and someone shut the door.

I wish I didn’t want it so much. Intellectually, I know that it's not like I'm left with no creative outlet – I still have the feeling of community that comes from my involvement with WIT, and I still get the joy and stimulation that comes from getting to do improv every week in class, and through a practice group I'm part of. But my heart wants more. I am hungry for the next level. I want to be part of a group of performers who get to know each others’ rhythms, to feel the “group mind,” to perform for audiences…I want to be part of a performing troupe.

I can't tie this up in a neat little bow - it's 9:43pm, and part of me is still fantasizing that the phone will ring, and they'll explain that it took them longer than expected to make their decisions. But mostly I know that isn't going to happen, and I don't know how to deal with the disappointment. Intellectually, I know I'll bounce back; but my heart doesn't really give a shit about my intellect right now.

Let me try it again.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


And Puppy Makes Three

I got married at 23. My husband was 22, just a week out of college. But we’d been dating for 5 years at that point, and we just knew. “You’re so young to be getting married,” everyone said. Then, in the next breath, “When are you having kids?” We didn’t know if we wanted kids – we still don’t know – but we knew we couldn’t live without a dog.

* * *

Our dog’s name is Cosmo. He’s almost 6 years old. He is black and tan, about 35 pounds, with sweet, expressive eyes and the softest fur you’ll ever feel. He likes attention from people, long walks, baby carrots, chasing sticks, naps, and humping pillows. He has been known to emit long, insistent, multi-octave howls – but only when he has something to say.

* * *

We got Cosmo at a farm in Winchester, Virginia, 3 months after our wedding. He was 7 weeks old. Driving home we tried out different names – Jackson, Homer, Brownie – but settled on Cosmo because when we said it, he stopped crying. For weeks he wouldn’t fall asleep in front of us. He kept us up all hours. I thought we might have to give him away. Then we took him to puppy kindergarden. He was a whole new dog. The structure let him relax – he understood his place in the pack. The trainer said it was good how much I talked to him during the exercises.

* * *

I have been known to be fairly high-strung. I’ve gotten better lately, but for most of my life, little things have gotten to me more than the average person. Case in point: we were living in a tiny apartment on Kalorama Road – tiny as in, about 500 square feet, and you walked through the kitchen to get from the living room to the bedroom, and the bedroom was only big enough for…the bed. I was having a rough week – I don’t remember why -- and the toilet kept overflowing, and when the toilet overflowed for the third time in 2 days, I just lost it. Broke down crying. And Cosmo came to me, and nuzzled me, and let me hug him, and even though I already loved him, that was when I really loved him.

* * *

One night last winter I went to an improv class I didn’t usually attend, and I was making small talk beforehand with a couple of women I didn’t know very well. I said something about my husband, and one of them yelped, “You’re married?! Oh my God, I assume everyone’s 23 like me.” I didn’t mention that I was married at 23. This was right before Valentine’s Day, and the women – now fascinated with the fact that I was married – said, “So you probably have big Valentine’s Day plans.” No, I said. My husband feels like it’s a Hallmark holiday and I don’t mind. He actually has class that night. “Oh,” one of them said, “well I’m having a bunch of people over, you should totally come.” “Thanks so much, but I actually need to be home for our dog that night, since my husband has class.” They stared at me. I explained, “He’s alone all day, while we’re at work. It’s not nice to leave him alone at night, too.” “Whatever,” the woman said. “If you don’t want to come to my party, that’s fine.” “I’m not making excuses – I really need to be with the dog.” “Ok. Whatever.” We sat awkwardly. “I can’t believe you’re married.”

* * *

A weekday morning, somewhere in Kalorama:

Me: So you can be home by 6 tonight? Because we need to leave at 7 to get to the restaurant on time, and Cozzie needs at least an hour of company.
My husband: I’ll try.

Later that night:

Me: I feel so bad for Cozzie. It’s not nice when he only has an hour of company after being alone all day.
My husband: He had a walk this afternoon, and I gave him a nice walk after work. He’s fine.
Me: I just feel bad.

My husband tells me either not to make plans, or not feel bad when we do. He’s right. But it’s hard. Our friends like to do things on weeknights – grab a drink, meet for dinner. Sometimes we like to retreat and be homebodies – but sometimes, on a nice spring evening, sitting home in our one bedroom apartment feels like we’re missing out.

* * *

House-hunting sucks. Trudging through neighborhoods we don’t want to live in, looking at shitty overpriced houses, getting in and out of our car, feeling like we’ll never find a place with the space we want, in a location we want. It’s exhausting. We come home, finally find a parking space, stagger into our apartment – and there is Cosmo. Bounding out from the bedroom to greet us, tail wagging, eyes bright, curling his body against my legs and looking up at me, ready to be pet. Welcome home.

* * *

It is a Saturday afternoon and we are throwing sticks for Cosmo in the park and he is bounding towards us, smiling.

* * *

Wednesday night, at Larry’s Lounge, at 18th and T. Dogs are allowed on the patio. It’s a beautiful spring evening. The waiter brings out a bowl of water for Cosmo, and coos and pets him, as do the people at the next table. Cosmo basks in the attention. My husband and I drink beer and order curry from the Malaysian restaurant next door, and talk, and Cosmo lies at our feet, nibbling baby carrots. The sky is pale blue.

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