Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Jenny, Nina, Prudence

So I find myself uncharacteristically nervous. Nervous because tomorrow I am to take part in a show with my fellow acting classmates at a tiny little theater in Harvard Square. The show is the traditional end to the class, in which the students subject their friends and family to a series of hopefully entertaining monologues and scene studies, showcasing what they have learned in ten weeks. I haven't done anything remotely like this since the 8th grade Christmas pageant at Bethany Christian Junior High.

Tomorrow, I will be impersonating a distraught grieving housewife (I will of course be drawing upon the week we cancelled cable for my motivation here), a starving New York city actress unduly interested in anal probes, and a prissy preppy girl on a blind date. It is times like these that I wonder just how I managed to stray so far from James Joyce and Irish transnationalism.

That is the thing about odd hobbies. People think you are so weird for doing them (I didn't tell my in-laws I was in acting class until they found out by accident) and yet their weirdness is exactly why they are worthwhile. Does it make sense for me to be chasing down a pink sweater set and a set of plastic cups (no glass on stage!) all day rather than something more practical...say, writing pages nine through twelve of the old disser? Of course not. But it's so good.

I love that I feel a little nervous about something--in this case, the prospect of looking like a true idiot in front of 60 people for forgetting a line, spitting up on my pink twinset, or just plain acting like crap. It's a lot harder these days to get that kind of feeling. I no longer jiggle so much as an eyebrow when presenting a paper on threshold symbolism in Ulysses to a roomful of Joyce scholars (they're ancient and extremely receptive); I long ago got used to lecturing to Boston University undergraduates on something I just read for the first time the night before; and no matter what manner of unusual or neurotic thing I do in front of my husband, he's already gotten on the train for the long haul, so how high are those stakes, really?

When we were kids, adolescents, and even post-college newbies, every move was fraught with disaster-making potential and ruin, or at least it felt that way. For every uncomfortable, terrifying new thing, there was also great hope though: the possibility of relief, success, achievement. Now we're older, smarter, and more comfortable, less freaked-out about whatever it is we do on a daily basis.

Comfortable is of course just a tiny, skinny little hair away from complacent though, isn't it? For that reason, I'm not ready to give up that sense every so often of being on utterly shaky ground--completely out of my element--that feeling that the whole house of cards is at imminent tumble. So here's to new diversions, interesting "acting friends," anal probes, twinsets, and the possibility of doom. Huzzah!


At 3:37 PM, Blogger Sebastian said...

Hola Sara, buena suerte esta noche! Maybe it's because I'm younger and less mature, but I still feel somehow intimidated by some things I do, not to say fearful. But I agree that it is good to walk into spaces were certainty is not the rule. Otherwise, life would be really boring. I'm sorry I'll miss your play tonight, I hope I can see it on video later. Good luck!

At 2:48 PM, Blogger charles.bukowski.costanza said...

that is nails, sully. i'm tempted to spill out some love along the lines of I'm So Proud Of You Sara, but, even though it's true, it's still a retarded thing to say. cos it's self-indulgent: that engsem replay of midsummer night's dream we did was entropic and grand, and for some reason the memory has calcified in my head as you waving a stick madly while jumping from the bed to the chair. so instead i'll say that this--"comfortable is just a tiny skinny hair away from complacent isn't it?"--is nails. money.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger joyandpain said...

I'm still quite attached to the word "comfortable" myself, but I know what you mean.

I can't believe I didn't get to attend! How did it go?

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate being nervous, but I now understand better what you're talking about here. I went to a shooting range over the weekend and shot a gun for the first time! I was v e r y freaked out, but I'm glad I did it. Thanks for the encouragement to continue with weird hobbies.


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