dani hides like a sneaky little weasel

Human beings are slippery little creatures. Do you have any idea how easy it is to hide from yourself?

I feel like as human beings we spend a lot of time skirting the issue, avoiding the confrontation, masking our feelings, and hiding from the things that are actually the most important to us–the things which are so important, in fact, that they are major motivators for us and dictate our behavior. But we are so clever at hiding from ourselves (and others), that we don’t even know that we are hiding! Humans are so smart!

Oh my God! In fact, the truth is that I’m actually avoiding the real point of this blog post by speaking in general terms and skirting the issue RIGHT NOW!

I have barely written a word since being back from India, either for my self or for this blog, and I’ve come up with excuse after excuse to avoid addressing it. To be honest, I’ve been deeply unhappy and confused for the past month or so. I’ve felt totally lost and fragmented. There were so many things that I unearthed in India–deep aspects of my personality and past that I discovered as things that are hidden motivators for my behavior. We all have them, and sometimes you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone in order to shed light on the things that usually lie in darkness as they dictate your behavior in your day-to-day life. My major discovery was that perhaps my biggest motivator–the dynamo that is the engine for every good thing I’ve accomplished in my adult life and for every bad thing that I’ve brought on myself as a form of self-sabotage–that motivator is a sense of self-hatred. I sense that I am not enough and so I have to do X, Y, and Z in order to prove my worth to myself and to the world.

This might seem like a heavy thing to share in a public forum, but I feel motivated at this moment to do so because I know for a fact that I am not the first person to feel that way. In many ways, it is a fundamental aspect of American consciousness, which is maybe why I needed to go to India and experience another way of being in the world in order to identify it as my personal truth. Being back in LA has been extremely difficult, and I think the major reason it has been difficult is carrying around this new self-knowledge in an old environment, and seeing my own insecurities so clearly reflected in the world around. For example, show me a twenty-something in LA who ISN’T insecure about her body and I’ll show you a thousand women crammed with false images from the media who hate their own skin. It’s not a comfortable fact, but it’s a true one.

I also feel that as a writer, as an actor, and as an artist I can’t move forward in my work until I acknowledge my personal truth. I felt artistically crippled. I couldn’t write in my journal, I couldn’t write this blog, I couldn’t be more than 90% present in my acting work because I quite simply did NOT want to know the truth about what was going on with me. I was hiding from myself.

So yeah, I guess that’s what I wanted to share with you all today. There is no point in hiding from yourself, in denying what it is that is really going on with you, because the things that you hide from the most are also the things that motivate you the most. Whatever inferiority complex I have, it has made me move to Portland by myself at the age of 17, it made me take a million credits per semester in college and get a super pimped out resume, it made me a major player in the foundation of a nonprofit opera company, it made me go to grad school and move to a city I never thought I would be ready for. It’s that inner dynamic that helps move me both towards and away from my dreams.

Even though this underlying dissatisfaction has been an omnipresent force for the last several weeks, here are some of the fun activities I’ve been doing to distract myself and lighten my spirits in the meantime! It’s been kind of a love affair with LA in a weird way, because despite the angst which has sprung out of transitioning back into my life here, I’ve been exploring all that this amazing city has to offer. And LA is actually really fucking rad, you guys.

My month:

ImageHiking adventures! We got a huge group together to go hiking/swimming/cliff jumping at Hermit Falls. This is Sean and Suzanna, who invited us to a huge warehouse party in downtown LA, successfully giving us the most “LA” day in the history of time.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery movie screenings! Cinespia hosts huge events over the summer in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Thousands of people turn out with blankets and picnics to watch their favorite movies projected on to the side of a mausoleum, and it is AWESOME. My favorite night was all-night movie night, which was a vampire-themed triple feature of The Lost Boys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Interview with a Vampire. At least, that’s only how long I was able to stay awake. Movie enthusiasts in LA will watch obscure French lesbian vampire porn until dawn. I am not that enthusiastic.

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Beach trips! Most of the time my Silver Lake home is just too far from the ocean to see my Mama Pacific too often, but in the summer it is all palm trees and hot white sand. Bliss.

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Visiting family! I am lucky enough to have a bunch of family about 4 hours north of LA in the scenic town of Guadalupe, California. Ahhhhh the smell of broccoli.

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Reuniting with friends! That beautiful woman is one of the very very VERY best friends of Britt and I. She is now living in my house in LA, where Britt will soon join us, and she is a social activist and social worker and Master’s student at USC. We are in love. We are also both in love with Phil and Connor, two of my very best friends and two of the very best sexy man-actors in the history of the world. All of these people are part of the Portland takeover of LA. Watch out, world!

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Bachelorette Party?! That beautiful woman in white is now a Mrs., and she came down to LA to celebrate her last weekend of bachelorette-dom in the sunshine with her ladies. In a stroke of madness, she left the bachelorette party planning to me and another LA-based ex-Portland artist-friend, and we had a magical weekend of beach-time and debauchery in Santa Monica. Needless to say, Batman was our designated driver that night.

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School resumes! I just finished week 3 of year 2 of my MFA in acting, and I am pretty damn excited about all of the work we are getting to create for the next two years. How many actors in LA actually get to ACT for 13 hours a day for nine months? I am a lucky mofo. Lucky, lucky, lucky. This pic is of my ensemble playing with letter pillows in voice class. Life is good.

Much love,

Dani

dani gets her mind read

Obviously, Britt is the one reading my mind, as always.  For example, last week, Britt talked about her Sunventure during the Portland summer fake-out, and the fact that she bought a ukulele and started learning Speechless by Lady Gaga.  I would include this incredible song in this post, but I did that before, and I don’t want to be redundant.  But the mind-read-y part is that I have been learning Speechless on the guitar and singing it nonstop for about two months now.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD, BRITT HARRIS!!  You better bet that once Britt and I are reunited in LA you will be able to catch us butchering covering so many rad songs at so many open mic nights.  

I was MIA from this Blog-Land last week, since it is finals time in Grad-School-Land.  And in my particular Grad School, that means culmination performances, lots and lots of rehearsals, and 0% down-time. In the chaos of it all, I started to get a little stressed, a little scattered, and mental static started to build up and cloud my mind.  

Not only had I not been writing in Blog-Land, but I wasn’t writing at all.  Just at the right moment, I got an awesome article in my inbox from Britt called “Why you should write daily.”

Stop reading my mind, Britt!!  

…Actually don’t stop.  Ever.  Please. (***By the way, what happened to you Lindsay?  You used to be so great!  Come back to us! )

*Sigh* But seriously it is kind of amazing to me just how quickly I start to lose my mind when I get lazy or fearful and consequently refuse to engage myself in true self-expression.  And I don’t think it’s just me, I think it’s true for all of us.  Creativity leads to self-knowledge, which leads to universal knowledge and a better understanding of humanity.  Without that progression, it is easy to get lost in a vortex of misapprehension and/or self-deception.  It’s easy to lose sight of what is real and true, especially in a society filled with so many distractions and demands on our attention.  We owe it to ourselves to be creatively engaged, and I owe it to myself to write.  

So, with that, I missed you, Blog-o-Sphere!  However, I’m not ABOUT to share my journal on the internet.  A lady needs to keep one or two secrets!  Instead, let me explain my absence by telling you what I’ve been up to this week:

1.

Making a film!  My degree is definitely focused almost entirely on theatre, but we have a class called Freeplay which involves, well, FREE PLAY but it’s all film.  Everything we do has to be entirely written, acted, shot, and edited completely by us.  For this project, the challenge was for all 11 of us to write, act, shoot, edit 1 project.  We were inspired by this rad NY Times article that our instructor Ntare showed to us, then we came up with a premise that could get all 11 of us into 1 film.  We each developed a character, improvised a bunch of material, came up with a structure, and then shot and edited it.  The full thing is like 15 minutes long, but here is a chunk of it.  

I ended up doing a lot of shooting and editing, so you won’t see me in it a whole lot, but it was a total blast and I’m actually really proud of it, considering that I had almost NO experience with film at ALL at the beginning of this semester, and I had certainly never edited a damn thing in my life.  The idea behind Freeplay is to learn by experience and to empower us to create our own work in another medium besides theatre.  

2.

Clownin’ around!  Clown class with Matt Walker has been aaaaaawwwweeeeessssssoooooommmmmmeeeeeee.

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3.

Rehearsing “Don Quixote.” We have spent the last few months creating this play together completely from scratch, using Cervantes 940 page novel as our source material.  It has been distilled into a 99-minute imaginative adventure created with just our bodies in a black box theatre.  This is us doing a company line-through outside a couple of days ago. 

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4.

Getting 5 shots!  

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I don’t know why I’m making the same face in this picture as when I was a clown, but I’m assuming it’s because I had just gotten 5 shots.  Not “taken” five shots, but “gotten” five shots.  Although I totally got a fever from the flu shot that night and felt/acted completely drunk.  It was kind of awesome.  

Why might I get 5 shots, do you ask?  Because in 21 days I’m going to India!!! 

I. am. so. excited.  

Holy mackerel. It has been a challenge to stay focused on all of the tasks at hand during these last couple of weeks with my trip looming like a beautiful shiny lotus flower at the end of the month.  Thankfully, I haven’t really had time to sleep, and therefore I haven’t really had time to think about things beyond the day-to-day.  

As of today, I have 3 culminations down and five to go.  Time to keep acting, keep writing, and keep sane. Let’s get it!!!!