dani’s poppin’ bottles (of kombucha)

BRITT‘S IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GABLAGFROMYGAHWHAHOWSWEETBABYJESUSGLABBOLDAFLAIMSOHAPPYYYYYYYYYY

I don’t know how I’m going to write this blog post.  I think I’m going to have to communicate only in gifs.  Because after MONTHS and MONTHS of excitement and buildup and anticipation my very favoritest Britt and bestie and soul sister in the entire universe of everything that exists is OFFICIALLY LIVING IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

There are truly no words.  I would like to say that since Britt arrived we have been doing nothing but lying on the beach, running around like two Tasmanian devils, and partying like it’s 1999.  After all, if you have ever been to a dive bar with me and Britt you know that we will play Miley Cyrus on the jukebox, laugh like hyenas, and piss off the regulars until the sun comes up or we get kicked out of the bar.  Especially if we are also in the company of Suz, whom you met in Britt‘s last post.  There is some sort of chemical thing that happens when we are all together that makes my blood turn into liquid neon and makes us all a little crazed in the best possible way.  

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

But with Suz at USC for her Master’s in Social Work and me at USC for my Master’s in Acting, smack dab in the middle of Fall Semester, grad school has completely eaten our lives.  EATEN THEM.  So instead of being like this:

We are more like this:

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about it.  The first day that Britt and I spent together in LA we wanted to be poppin’ bottles and livin’ it up, but we were in coffeeshops and juice bars with our noses in laptops and books, trying to get our lives together.  Truth be told, we probably spent more time pouring our souls out to one another than doing actual work, but it was amazing just to be together and share the truth of our lives with each other.  And right now the truth is WORK.  This girl truly is family to me, and that means sharing the stressful times and the fun times.  With Britt making a huge move and with me in the throes of grad school, maybe it was a little overly hopeful to think that our days would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows.  My girl brings some major light into my life, but unfortunately I still have a cubic shit-ton of work to do.  

And what is the truth of my life right now?  What the hell am I doing all day?

My Life:  Year 2 in Grad School

Bein' a bimbo.  Complete with duck-face.

Bein’ a bimbo. Complete with duck-face.

Physical transformation.  Movement class with David Bridel is 4 hours a week of pure FUN.  Since the beginning of the semester I have worn (literally) a dozen masks, and transformed into a cranky old man, a sweet old lady from Rhode Island, a Bakersfield Bimbo (see above), and a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.  For the rest of the semester, I am working on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, in which I will get to hate my husband and ruin a few people’s lives.  You know, like you do.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Choking on Chekhov.  In our “Space and Movement” class, we are delving into the late 19th century Russian plays of Mr. Anton Chekhov, and it is completely fascinating and difficult to me.  Chekhov is known for telling stories that require you to completely read between the lines in order to know what the hell is going on, which makes it perfect for a class focused on how you use space and movement to tell a story.  If you can’t say what you’re thinking, how does that thought communicate through your body?  Between that challenge and the challenge of immersing myself in a world that existed 120 years ago, this is one of my hardest classes.  

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Playing with stuffed animals.  Those things in the middle of my class are “phonetic pillows” and they are in the shape of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.  We have been doing all kinds of fun activities with these fuzzy little guys, and they are helping us learn accents in Voice class.  I am pretty much a big, giant child.  It’s great.  It’s also been helping us to get down New York accents for a black box/studio version of this play:

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets (Original production @ the Group Theater)

And helping me to work on a Swedish accent for an iconic transformation into…

The inimitable Greta Garbo

Thankfully, we do not have to worry so much about learning accents for our FIRST FULL PRODUCTION AT USC…

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Directed by our fearless leader Andrew Borba, looking directorial in the middle there.

Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan. Set in 1939 San Francisco, this Pulitzer-Prize winning play is born of the Great Depression and seething with social unrest seen bubbling under the surface of the people seeking solace at Nick’s Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant, and Entertainment Palace.  The whole play takes place in a bar by the waterfront, and people come and go, bringing their troubles and joys with them.  This is the only show we are doing this semester that is fully produced (set, costumes, etc.), and it runs November 21-24 at the Scene Dock Theater.  

After that show closes, we will get to focus on our other big project of the semester, Solo Performance.  All semester we are working with Luis Alfaro to write our own one-person plays.  Let me tell you, if getting through year 1 of grad school together wasn’t enough to bond my class, or if the requirement of spending 13 hours a day together this year wasn’t enough, we have been brought together by Luis Alfaro’s class.  This man fearlessly plunges into the deepest darkest places and he accepts no less from his students.  All semester he has been encouraging us to write the story that we need to write, not the story that we want to write, and I have learned so much about the incredible people I spend my days with by hearing their stories.  We are going to have a stunning night of Solo pieces by the end of this semester.  

Last but not least, there is film class over at the School of Cinematic Arts: “The Art of Collaboration” with John Rubinstein and Eugene Lazarev.  We’ve been working with directors in the MFA Film Directing program to explore the relationship between actors and directors in film, and we’ve created some pretty rad projects.  We are screening all of them tonight, and hopefully I can post a little something for you guys soon.

THAT’S IT!

whew.

So although what I want to be doing is partying down with my Britt and/or writing sweet blogs about all the stuff going on, I just get to do the things.  All of the things.  I am exhausted, exhilarated, consumed, focused, determined.  Some days I feel completely overwhelmed and under-rested and unable to bring myself fully to the work.  But by the same token, I get to imaginatively explore all these different worlds and all these different facets of humanity every day, which makes me one lucky actor.  And when I am lying on top of my bed on a Sunday evening, trying to find the motivation to get up and prepare for another week of grueling 13-16 hour days, I find myself in the snuggly embrace of my best friends, the muses that inspire me every single day to take the road less traveled and do the work necessary to get there.  And it is totally worth it. 

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Reunited, and it feels so good.

❤ ❤ ❤

Dani

dani channels her inner gypsy power

Dude. So before, when Britt and I talked about being gypsies, I was being somewhat facetious. I mean, yes, I do tend to move around a lot and I do really feel like myself when I’m traveling, but am I really a gypsy?

I mean, technically I’m not.  Technically I’m German and Swedish and Irish.  But let’s think about this for a second! Humanity started in Africa, right?  So my ancestors migrated from Africa so far North into the cold frigid Northern European lands that they lost all the pigment in their skin and became weird crazy Albino humans.  You know, like me and Britt.

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“I’m gonna eat this horse!”

Then they got pissed off from being so damn cold all the time and so got on some boats, put on some silly hats, and pillaged a bunch of other people.  Even then they weren’t satisfied, so they moved all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to America. And THEN my predecessors STILL were too antsy to stay put and migrated all the way across the continent to the wild wild West.  So maybe my ancestors weren’t gypsies but they were some nomadic mofos!

Johnny Depp as a gypsy in Chocolat

Don’t look at me like that gypsy-Johnny!  I’m not trying to insult you!  This is SCIENCE, yo! ………Okay let me try another angle on this……

I would be lying if I tried to say that the movie Chocolat is not, to this day, one of my favorite movies.  Maybe it doesn’t have the reputation of The Godfather, but it does star Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Lena Olin, Alfred Molina, and Johnny Depp, which is an incredible lineup. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about a French/Mayan woman with a nomadic soul who moves to a conservative French town and tries to open a Chocolaterie. Of course, she meets a gypsy and falls in love, blah blah blah.

But watching this movie as a kid, the thing that called to me most achingly from the movie was the concept of this North Wind. Whenever the North Wind blew, something in (the main character) Vianne’s bones told her it was time to move on to the next place, and she packed her bags and moved on, forever. It was a sort of blessing and a curse: She had to abandon any relationships she’d built, but she also got to fulfill this deep primal urge to move on to whatever’s next.

When I was a kid in Boise, my absolute favorite time of year was the Fall. Literally, the North Wind started blowing: the air turned crisp and fresh, the leaves turned, and their was a sense of campfires, hot cider, and impending winter on the way. The winds of change started blowing, a new school year began, and the frigid winds promised that snow and holidays would eventually come.

Extrapolating this out to my adult life, for the past two years, I can’t seem to stay in one place for more than three months, on average. At first I blamed it on circumstances of living situations, on being in my 20’s, whatever. But this Spring I came to realize that, damn. It might just be Me. I think it’s in my blood.

“That’s deep, Dani.”

Awwww Thanks, empathetic Oprah!  You’re the best.  But as soon at March 20, 2013 rolled around, Spring officially became the Season in season, the Santa Ana winds started up in LA, and I started feeling antsy as fuck.

It makes no sense. I LOVE everything I am doing. Lately, the ole Grad Program has been piling on material, and every time I get another scene or sonnet or project or whatever to work on, I get a sick pleasure out of adding it to the pile of stuff to memorize. But another part of me is waking up in the morning and making the same damn drive to the same damn parking structure and trying to force myself to eat the same damn healthy foods and be such a good girl with such good habits and LOSING MY MIND.  Routine is killing me.

I’ve come to realize that I literally have NO habits. Good or Bad. I have tics, maybe, mannerisms, but habits?  Not really.  I think I am incapable of doing something consistently. I can do anything with a Puritanical discipline for two or three weeks. Then I get bored and distracted and feel restricted. So I guess I have a bad habit of not having good habits. Or I habitually break habits.  

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Curses!!

But here’s the thing that this realization has helped me realize… (Shut up, y’all, I didn’t major in English.)  I can actually turn this quirk to my advantage!  You know why?  Because there are only 3 1/2 weeks left in the semester!!  WOOOOOOOO!!!!!

tumblr_mh9h4kstQA1qhg3z2o1_400If you had talked to me a week ago, or even two days ago, you would have encountered an antsy, dissatisfied, grumpy chick whose mind already had flown across the globe to India.  But no more!  Today I am re-framing my life:  3 1/2 more weeks of hard work, then 3 weeks of preparation, then 8 weeks of India!!  I can do anything with Puritanical discipline for 3 weeks, remember?  So maybe that’s the secret for me.  I’ve just gotta bite off life in 3 week chunks, so I can really be present in devoting myself to whatever I am doing.  It is incredibly empowering to me to acknowledge the fact that, maybe my inner nomad starts to call to me with the change of seasons, but that also gives me all this great energy to pour into my work.  

So with that said, I have no choice but to leave you with this song.  I’m not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, but baby, I was born to run. 

dani talks discipline

I had to laugh at myself when I wrote the title for this post.  As someone who has totally gone off the rails of our TwoEvilActors blog posting schedule in the past couple of weeks, where do I get off talking about discipline?

But I had kind of a revelation yesterday!  It goes sorta like this…

1.  I can be kind of a brat.

2. Living in the moment doesn’t mean being attached to the moment.

3.  Discipline isn’t about pushing yourself when you feel driven, it’s about pushing yourself when you don’t want to do something, or when you feel like you can’t.

Let me unpack this a little bit.

1:  Being a brat:…

This one time, my friend Phil and I were at Shari’s preparing to enjoy a feast.  Sitting in the booth behind ours was a family with a 2 year old child, and this kid had somethin to SAY about it.

The kid’s Mom, with the patience of a Saint, was trying to get the kid to simply sit in the booth.  As the Mom tried to gently slide this little punk down the vinyl seat towards the window end of the booth, the kid fought with all four limbs like a spider monkey and articulately said,

“I DON’T WANNA SIT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Phil and I, in our very actor-y way, were absolutely fascinated, not annoyed by this little banshee-monster-devil-child, but fascinated.  Such free self-expression!  Such lack of inhibition!  That kid had the stupidest objective in the world but by God she was pursuing it heart and soul.  One of us, I don’t remember who, leaned forward and said,

“What if adults all acted like this whenever they had feelings?”

And then we both lost our minds.  The world would go to shit, and nothing would ever get done.  But a lot of the work that actors do is being in touch with those impulses and allowing them to live.  After all, most stories that we tell through film/theater/television are not about the day that you repress or redirect your true feelings about your wife/best friend/bosss, they’re about the day that you let loose and then have to deal with the consequences.

Living In The Moment

The point is to find a balance between allowing your impulses to live but making choices about how you want to act on them.  Both as an actor and as a human.  

…What I’m trying to say here is that I KILLED A MAN.  BLOG CONFESSIONAL TIME!!

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Just kidding!  No I didn’t.  …..Or did I?  This blog IS called Two EVIL Actors…..

…But seriously I didn’t.  I really shouldn’t joke about these things.  On to the next thing!

2.  Being in the moment without being attached to the moment…

Those that know me can attest that I’m really not THAT MUCH of a brat, and that I have never killed a man.  But for me, and I think for all of us, “living in the moment” can be kind of an intense experience…

Think about it: if you really allowed into your conscious experience everything going on in your body, mind, soul, emotional life, etc. for even ONE moment, it would be a lot to process.

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Noooo!!!  Don’t freak out little owl!  Here’s the beautiful thing about the whole concept of “living in the moment”:  There’s always another moment!  You’re never going to run out of moments.  Just because you allow yourself to truly go through an experience doesn’t mean you have to get attached to that experience and spiral down into an abyss of panic, fear, depression, or murderous rage.  Just breathe.  A new moment is waiting to rush into you.  Literally.

3. Discipline is for the times when you DON’T feel motivated…

Since last we met, dear readers, I had an overwhelming whirlwind 3-day trip to Boise, Idaho (my place of origin), came back to LA sick as a dog, and slammed into the first week of the last half of the semester like a hurricane.  Last week was a difficult one, but oh my GOD did I learn a lot.

First of all, despite the physical and mental stress I was under, my work actually reached a new level in my classes.  In the process of training, whether you are training to be an actor or a distance runner or whatever, the progress can feel painstaking and gradual on a day-to-day basis.  Rob Clare, our Shakespeare instructor this semester, told us, “Shakespeare isn’t hard–it’s just gradual.”  And this lesson applies to all kinds of rigorous training.  It is gradual.

And one day you might wake up and be totally sick and deeply exhausted and it forces you to just surrender to the experience and you realize, “Oh my God.  I can just trust myself and let go and all of my hard work will still be there.”

And then a week later you wake up still totally sick and exhausted but you discipline yourself to show the fuck up mentally and physically and you realize, “Oh THIS is what discipline is.  It’s putting in the work every single day whether you feel like starting or not.  It’s trusting that on the other side of the pain or exhaustion is a new experience, and it’s worth it to get to the other side.”

Before, I viewed “discipline” as being motivated to do hard things.  But for me as an actor, I think that discipline is the thing that grounds you in the practical WORK part of being a creative professional when you really feel like being a brat.  

Again, it’s a balance.  Creatively, it’s a balance between setting up a structure in which you can do the work and just allowing yourself to exist in the moment and follow your impulses.  Personally, it’s a balance between disciplining yourself and indulging yourself…

That’s right y’all, I’m ending my LATE POST ABOUT DISCIPLINE with a message of self-indulgence.  I’m a work in progress, people, and maybe I feel like being a brat today.  

Have a great Wednesday night, friends.  Treat yo self.  

D

britt talks GCOES

I just finished writing down a list of worries and fears into a notebook and then chugging a 16oz coffee. I think both of these things were good decisions.

I’m not going to lie, you guys… this week has been a bit of a struggle for me. It has been one of those weeks where I felt the need to change my iPhone, personal laptop, and work computer backgrounds to inspirational shit like this:

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..that’s how you KNOW its bad.

In a nutshell, this week has been a whole lot of Brain Mess and a whole lot of GCOES.

What is GCOES, you ask? Oh, friends…

GCOES is this:

mutha feckin GCOES.

mutha feckin GCOES.

… “Glass Case Of Emotion Shark”. I’m pretty sure it’s my spirit animal.*

But really. I can joke about anything to make myself feel better (and it almost always works), but I also believe it is important to let yourself feel and fully process the not-so-happy stuff. It is valuable for me to feel that heart-break, that stress, that fear… so I can own it. Because I cannot change what I do not own.

Dani said to me a couple of days ago: “Remember to surrender. Control is just an illusion anyway.”

Wow. D. You save my life and my sanity everyday.

I need to “remember to surrender. Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, it’s so true that even it rhymes, people! So one would think it would be way easier to remember. But it’s totally not. Giving up control, especially for me, is difficult.

The Surrender post was a pretty big deal for me to write back in January. It allowed me to give myself permission to publicly “come out” about my plans to move to Los Angeles and to stop defending my personal and professional decisions to others. Even if I end up in a gutter somewhere, I’d much rather be chillin’ in that gutter as a result of acting on my instincts than sleepwalking through life, unfulfilled.

See how the GCOES is coming out?! It’s awesome. Let that crazy GCOES flag fly. Who cares! I’m GCOES and proud! 

GCOES must be here to teach me something. I have made the choice to not settle for Comfortable. I have made the choice to tell those I love how I feel about them. I have made the choice to be vulnerable, knowing that my heart will get hurt. I have made the choice to be a good human. I have made the choice to spend quality time in limbo, waiting for the pieces to fall into place.

And you know the best part of being in limbo? This song.

At least for me, Radiohead makes everything okay.

And also, dancing.

Mad, mad, dancing. In your underwear. To something embarrassing like Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” or Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA”. I may or may not have done this already today…maybe.

And on that note…

I know you all will now use the term GCOES in your everyday speech. It is okay. You have my blessing. Go forth and spread my genius. #GCOESandproud.

all my love,

~britt

*(Full credit given to my dear friend Suzzane for finding this GCOES gem on the interwebs and integrating it into my everyday vocabulary.)

britt talks surrender

This week has been a week of surrender.

Some weeks are periods of work, some weeks are times of triumph, or stress, or badassery… but mine? Definitely a week surrender.

This is what had kept me powering (with what power reserves I had left) through my workday:PDX cold season

That’s right. The dreaded PDX cold/flu season is upon us once again. I guess you could argue that this is the case 9-months-out-of-the-fucking-year here, but the month of January seemed to hit especially hard this time around. It’s like the plague. I’m talking about the kind of sick you want to hibernate two weeks through just to get to the other side of it.

Ultimate body shutdown can be a blessing in disguise. At least for me. It makes me forget the worries and burdens I am constantly carrying around. Later I wonder, “Really? I had to get to sick to realize that the world isn’t going to end if I don’t solve every one of my problems overnight?” That’s right. Even after shutting the daily routine down for a few days, all of that junk is there waiting for me on the other side. Right where I left it. (Epiphany!)

I am about to pull the trigger on a series of choices that will lead up to a pretty big change in how I will be living my life. That’s right people, I’m moving to Los Angeles. 

Dani recently called me out on “being in the closet” about my plans to move, and she is right– it’s time to come out. I have been going back and forth about this event for about a year now, and I would say that this strategic life move for me is, at least at this point, equal parts undeniable-gut-pull and fear. This fear has reduced me over the past few months to a small, wavering voice in my own head that I do not recognize, afraid to make a decision for the deathfear of making the wrong one. If anything will ultimately destroy me, over-thinking things will. Simultaneously however, this fear makes my gut-pull stronger, making me want to move in the scary direction even more. 

Someone once told me that fear is an indicator we are moving closer to the truth. I’ve carried this thought with me since.

I came across this recently: “There is nothing to be afraid of. The truth is the truth. You are better off knowing the truth than to not know it.” -Jack Canfield

Hmmm. That doesn’t make things sound so scary. The truth is just the truth. It is what it is.

So I guess, I am on a constant quest for truth. When things don’t feel right, I am compelled to adjust them. As an actor, this makes sense. It’s written in us–the unquenchable desire to find truth in each moment and tell stories that matter. Soooo (another epiphany!), I know that I need to find truth. My truth. My story. Not someone else’s story, or the story others want me to tell. And lately I realize I’m just scared out of my mind to make the decisions I need to make to get closer to it. This knowledge of my own truth has become a burden to me for reasons that MAKE NO SENSE. Why fight them? Let go. Surrender.

“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” –Joan of Arc

I thought about all of this in a weird in-between-sleep-and-awake state that one seems to spend hours in while sick. Physically letting go somehow opened the door for me to mentally and emotionally let go as well. And I think in the midst of this life change and big choices, I needed that. I needed the sick time. I thank the sick time.

But I didn’t just wallow in my bed all week, NoSireeBob (though trust me, I did do a lot of that). Here is a re-cap on interesting endeavors that came my way over the past few days:

My Week Recap

I finally watched this little beauty! “Throng” is a mockumentary about the auditions process and the northwest film scene at large, produced by my friends at We’ll Fix It In Post Productions. Let’s just say you’ll see a familiar face (cough cough) make a few (slightly embarrassing) cameos. (…isn’t it normal to get asked out during a casting??)

And speaking of auditioning, this week also brought about casting sessions for my pal Amir Shirazi’s musical, “Crumbs”, that will be workshopped next month. I always find it very interesting as an actor to sit on the other side of the casting table. I think I learn more from watching 40 auditions than doing 900 of them myself.

Here is a Mr. Amir and Mr. Max Maller in action, looking oh-so-very-serious (stopitboys, immediately):

Amir & Max

And here is Mr. Andrew Bray, our fearless accompanist, making a poopy face:
Andrew…All taken with the amazing quality of my iphone. Like ya do.

But mainly… the energy of my week was spent on an intense focus of getting through my day job so I could head straight to bed and be pathetic. Don’t be fooled.

Take your vitamin C and zinc people, because at least in Portland, winter is out to get you. (Or, get sick and super hopped-up on cold meds and have life epiphanies of your own. Wheeee!!)

Until next time,

Britt

//