I get emails from readers every so often telling me their stories and asking for love/relationship advice. I don’t print those emails here - not even anonymously - because…well, they’re very personal, and they’re not my stories to share. (Please, always feel free to email me with this kind of stuff, by the way - I love hearing from you regardless of the subject matter, and if you’re nervous about me publishing anything a) know I won’t without asking first, and b) just say “would prefer not to have this published,” and it won’t be, guaranteed).
I’m noticing, though, that a couple of ideas keep popping up over and over in the emails I send back to readers who ask what I’ve learned about relationships over the past decade or so, or what makes my relationship with Kendrick work.
First, you know how they say that you have to make all those horrible dating mistakes before you’re able to open yourself up to a healthy, long-term relationship? That may not be how it goes for everyone, but it was certainly was how it went for me. I fell in love for the first time when I was 17, and broke up with that boyfriend when I was 19 (and then again when I was 22), and for a long time, I thought that was it. I’d been told once or twice that you never love anyone the way you loved your first love, and for years and years, I believed that was true.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t true; not in the slightest. I discovered that not only was it possible to love someone just as much…it was possible to love someone so much more. Our marriage “works” (although I don’t love that word, because it implies that there’s a right way and a wrong way to “do” marriage…and there isn’t) not just because Kendrick makes my heart melt in that way that you dream of when you’re a kid watching Dirty Dancing or whatever (although he does), but also because we met at a time when both of us had gone through so much that we were able to recognize what we had in each other and run with it. And when I was 20, that would not have been a possibility. Had I met Kendrick right then, I would not be with him today, and he would not be with me, and I’m certain of that.
Love is a lot, but it’s not always enough.
I spent my mid-twenties being a total idiot, and did ridiculous things and had bad relationships with bad people, and I absolutely would not have been able to see my relationship with Kendrick for what it is and cherish it the way I do had I not gone through those experiences. But ofcourse I made bad choices; I’m glad I did, in fact, because it was the repercussions of those bad choices that taught me how to care for another human being in the way they deserve to be cared for…and how to accept that care in return. Such things don’t just come naturally to everyone. Love is a learning process, and it can take time. Patience.
The other thing that my twenties taught me: how to see past the sparkle. When I was dating around, a lot of what drew me to people was my perception that they were “special” or “extraordinary” in some way…which, unfortunately, meant I dated a lot of actors (ladies: don’t date actors). But what I was doing, I came to realize, was confusing external markers of “specialness” with the real thing. In other words, I would have rather dated an artist than an accountant for the simple fact that I felt that an unconventional career choice (as one example of these “external markers”) was an indicator of some internal spark, something that made the person more “worthy.”
And while I don’t know that those external trappings ever go away entirely, entrenched as they are…they’re blurry now; they’ve faded into the background. It’s the quieter things, the smaller things, that are brighter these days. I no longer like the toy because it’s fancy and pretty and has cool bells and whistles; I like it because I know it inside and out, because it’s been carried with me such a long way, and because as time has passed I’ve learned every single thing about it, and most of all what I’ve learned about it is that it’s not a toy at all. Because it belongs to me, and I belong to it, and because every chip of paint that’s fallen away has only made it more beautiful.
Look: a job, a haircut, clothing, money…it’s all just stuff, and it can be nice, or not-so-nice, but either way, it’s not even close to the point.
The point happens late at night, when it’s just you two and a pillow and a pitch-black room filled up with the enormity of how it feels to love a person when everything else is gone.
The hardest period in life is one’s 20s. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous and you’re physically in peak condition. but it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.
Concur. Maybe except for the “most gorgeous” and “in peak condition” bits, because wow, was I a hot faux-hair-wearing/priorities-majorly-askew mess for awhile backthere (more on all that here)…but really: no problems turning thirty around these parts.
Thanks so much to Molly for giving me the heads-up about GTLI, which works “to help indigenous people acquire the resources and skills to ensure their long term survival while maintaining their traditional cultural values.”
If you’d like to support the cause (learn more about GTLI here), there are tons and tons of beautiful hand-beaded bracelets (perfect for stacking!) for sale. They’re just $10-$12, and 100% of the purchase price goes to the women of the Hamar tribe (in Ethiopia) to help them provide food for their families.
My husband and I are bringing our three children to NYC to celebrate some birthdays in August. We thought it might be fun to take them to Chinatown. Since you are such a foodie would you mind recommending some restaurants? I’ve already written down Hop Kee from one of your recent posts!
Thank you so much!
A. Hi Kathy!
I’m so glad you’re planning to take your kids to Chinatown - it’s quite an experience. Something to be aware of, though, that there’s often sort of an inverse relationship between “pretty” and “delicious” in Chinatown - a lot of the best restaurants are in underground spaces with fluorescent lighting and rushed service, so as long as you keep an open mind, you’re good. Hop Kee and Wo Hop are two spots that may not look like much from the outside (or inside, actually), but both have some truly amazing dishes on the menu (as a plus, they also have plenty of standards if your kids are wary of new tastes).
4 large slices fresh bread (whatever kind you like, but make sure it’s straight from the bakery)
What You Do:
1. Brush each slice of bread lightly with olive oil and toast on a baking sheet in a 200F oven until lightly crispy.
2. On each slice of bread, layer 1 tbsp goat cheese, 1 slice of prosciutto, and 2 slices of peach. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, if desired.
Tip: To make the crostini even prettier, sprinkle a few pea shoots on and around them before serving. I should have taken my own advice pre-photographing this dish…but my grocery store was fresh out, and I think you get the idea anyways.
Since you are pretty much my go-to DIY guru, it is for this reason I am writing to you today. I recently bought what was a gorgeous Steve Madden satchel purse, but I cannot find a product that will condition this bag. I’ve tried mink oil, Coach’s brand of leather conditioner, I even spot-tested some Lubriderm on it and so far nothing works.
I am at a loss, and my bag is not so slowly losing its gorgeous [finish] thanks to this unbearable heat. Do you have any suggestions on how I can keep my bag looking new? Is there any product that you use or know of that you think might help?
Thanks a million!
A. Hey Stephanie!
Shoot, I wish I had a miracle product to tell you about…but honestly, I always just treat my leather products (like the Foley & Corinna bag pictured above) with Aldo’s leather spray pre-wearing, and then allow them to get worn over time because I actually like the look of broken-in leather more. To me, as long as you keep the handles and hardware in good condition (or replace the handles as they wear out), you’re OK.
I’m not really certain what you mean when you say that nothing “works” - are the products you’re trying just not making much of a difference? You’re not going to see a huge change when you apply conditioner - the point is more to keep it from breaking down over time in an unsightly way (cracking, scratches, etc), sort of like how applying moisturizer to your face is a good idea in the long-run, but not an instant miracle-worker. Leather will soften up and get more “rustic” looking regardless of what you do, so your goal should be just to keep it supple, not perfect.
You said that the summertime is causing more of an issue - could it be that the products you’re putting on your body (sunscreen, moisturizer, etc) are depositing oils onto the surface of your bag? If that’s the case, try tying a pretty, light scarf to the bag and using it as a barrier between the leather and anywhere it might be rubbing against your bare skin.
Basic leather care tips:
- Clean off smudges and dirt with a damp cloth and condition it (as you’re doing - just make sure you’re using a product specifically for leather)
- Waterproof the piece with a leather-specific product, and let it air-dry if it gets rained on
- Store it in an upright position, not crushed into a corner (wrinkles and such will set in over time)
This is extremely out-of-character, by the way: I usually veer between grey, black, camel, and white, with occasional stops in Navy Land, but this summer, it’s been all-brights, all-the-time. And usually a bunch of different ones at the same time (what you can’t see in this shot: a bright red purse and green sunglasses).
Up there is an Equipment blouse, but below are some similarly pretty, flowery tops for your consideration:
I spotted this post on Tumblr last night, about knockoffs in the arena of furniture design (that’s an Eames rocker knockoff via Oh Dee Doh; they’re easy to find on Overstock for hundreds less than their “real” counterparts), and found it so interesting that I wanted to chat about it over here, because I’m curious what your thoughts are on this topic.
Basically, the author (Peter, a fashion designer) argues that one should no more buy a knockoff chair than a knockoff car - if you couldn’t afford a Ferrari, you wouldn’t buy a cheap, low-quality version of the car…you just wouldn’t buy one. You’d get a car that fit within your budget. Now, while I agree with this in theory - largely because I can sympathize with designers who see their hard work pop up in knockoff form - in practice….not so much. I would 100% purchase a knockoff Eames rocker or Ghost chair, and in fact would probably prefer a knockoff over the pricey version, primarily because a) at this point in my life, investment pieces don’t make a ton of sense, and b) it stresses me out too much to own fancy furniture that might get dented, shattered, or otherwise maimed by my clumsy self and/or my manic dogs. I also buy flats that are clear attempts at mimicking Chanel and necklaces that are obvious imitations of Proenza, and have ventured into Chinatown for a faux Marc Jacobs purse or two in my day.
But. Peter goes on to offer a solution that I love, one that’s less about policing than about encouragement of alternatives: he argues that there should be more of a focus in the design community on affordable innovation that doesn’t compromise style. In other words, kids straight out of design school should be encouraged to create lines that use their talents not to whip up $4000 barstools, but rather “products that fulfill a need, and are made at a great price.” In other words, he says, “The design world needs more of what’s happening in the food world. Chefs are abandoning haute cuisine for food that’s just as innovative, just as well made, but completely accessible. We need more Momofukus and Prunes in Design.”
While I don’t know that I agree with all of this - I would absolutely buy a knockoff Ghost chair or Eames rocker, and in fact would probably prefer a knockoff because it stresses me out too much to own fancy furniture that might get dented, shattered, or otherwise maimed by my clumsy self - I LOVE the idea that “we need more Momofukus and Prunes in design” (e.g. innovative and exciting, yet accessible).
I was just remembering how, in a post I wrote a couple of months ago, I said something along the lines of how I had to “splay out on the couch” to watch TV. And I’m not sure what I was going on about…because that? Was not splayed. That was, like, mild discomfort expressed through a desire to lay down rather than sit up.
Nowadays, there is splaying.
Full-body, spread-eagle splaying accompanied by “Ooooof”s when I flip from one side to the other. And the Ooooofs make me laugh, which makes things hurt more, which makes me Oof again, which makes me laugh harder, and it’s all complicated by Kendrick’s half-horrified/half-entertained expression and the dogs’ utter confusion over all the ruckus.
I’m not complaining: I think as things go (at least so far), I’m probably having one of the easiest pregnancies known to mankind, and I feel lucky for (or guilty about, depending) that every day. Aside from a little tiredness, some breakouts, one Virgil-related meltdown, and one Babies ‘R’ Us crisis, things have been pretty great. But I guess I’m going through a growth spurt or something, because the past couple of days have been…a touch less breezy. The Internet says it’s ligament-stretching; I say ow. But far more painful is the pride thing: there was some Danny DeVito-in-Batman-style waddling going on on the way home from brunch the other day, and I had to stop a few times to do that hand-on-the-lower-back lean. You know the one. And it’s sorta cute when you see other pregnant ladies doing it, but less cute when you think you might need to pop a squat in the gutter while said ligaments sort themselves out.
And right now (literally, right now), the only position that feels good is sitting down with my knees straight out to the sides and the balls of my feet touching. Super elegant.
But you know, in some ways all this discomfort (and I know, I know: I still have a couple of months to go - I’m imagining reading this five weeks from now and thinking, Oh honeyyy…you didn’t even know) is totally welcome, because the truth is that it’s making it feel realer by the minute. I mean, there’s no way you can construct an entire human being without breaking a sweat, and honestly? I love those left hooks to the ribs. Because I get to say “Don’t punch Mom.” And while that may be a less-than-fun phrase to have in steady rotation two years from now, at the moment? So fun.
I’ve recently gotten a couple of questions from readers about presents for dads-to-be that aren’t necessarily about…well…the baby. Moms get celebrated plenty, what with the shower and all (click here for baby shower gift ideas), but Dad’s life will be undergoing a dramatic shift, too, and that should be honored and acknowledged. And yes yes, we all know that dad-friendly diaper bags are a nice present for a guy who’s about to become a father, but sometimes you want to give a present that’s about celebrating him.
Below, a few of my favorite ideas (a couple of which I’ve been tossing around for Kendrick’s upcoming 30th birthday…so he’s been instructed not to read this post):
An old-school straight-razor shave at a fancy salon. It should only run about $40, and is a great way to pamper a guy in a way that still feels “manly.” For those of you in NYC, Kiehl’s just opened their very first spa, Spa 1851 (pictured above), with a great for-guys-only area that offers shaves for $35 (a cut is $40).
Pillows. (Really.) He’ll be getting limited amounts of sleep in the months to come, so make the hours he does manage to shut his eyes spectacular ones (I love those Isotonic memory-foam things).
Custom Vans (pictured above) or Converse (which will definitely be found under our Christmas tree in a few months). You can even add writing (maybe the baby’s name…?) to the strip down the heel of the Converse ones.
And if you really want to go the diaper bag route, this is the one I bought Kendrick for Father’s Day.
And this one (Brooklyn), which includes neon drinks, board games, and indie jewelry. While you’re there, stop into Dear Fieldbinder for luxe basics that you can wear all year ‘round.
Some must-do touristy-type things:
Spend an afternoon at the Museum of Natural History (stand under the whale), take a ferry ride around the island, eat a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli, window-shop on 5th Avenue (and for-real shop on Broadway below Bleecker), hit The Highline (followed by a sunset drink at the Rusty Knot), stop into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and eat a dirty-water dog and something from a Rafiqi Food Cart (they’re all over).
UPDATED WITH MORE!!
Try Pastis for some fancy afternoon fries and cocktails - it’s a little (OK, a lot) frou, but it’s also very chic and located smack in the middle of Meatpacking, surrounded by great bars and upscale shops. For brunch, hit August: the baked eggs are spectacular, and there’s an adorable garden seating area out back (also love their beer menu). You might also want to try Cafeteria: it’s casual but very chic, and has insanely good mac ‘n’ cheese. For late night, go to Blue Ribbon for bone marrow, oysters, and champagne.
A couple more: if you don’t eat at Grimaldi’s (best pizza in the city, which is saying a lot) and Shake Shack (ditto for burgers), your trip will not be complete.
Here’s my translation of what Kendrick (who’s made the Grand Tour) has to say about it: Webster Hall is where well-known bands play before they graduate to stadiums, but it’s not the best space (sort of big and unfriendly). The Knitting Factory and Bowery Ballroom (Kendrick’s favorite places to play/see music) put on great shows (the sound and lighting are awesome), and you’re guaranteed to see an about-to-break (or broken) band. Mercury Lounge (my favorite) is juuuust below Bowery Ballroom in terms of who you’ll see playing; the bands are all talented but still sort of unpolished, which makes for a real communal, exciting experience.
Union Pool is a crappy little room that doesn’t fit a ton of people and has mediocre sound, but when a good band plays there it’s wild, and there’s an awesome bar outside and a photobooth. And Pianos has a good vibe, is located in a great area for going out afterwards. It’s a little bit hipster-angsty, but they have great burgers. And the truth is that the bands that are playing there aren’t there for the money; they’re there to play and to build an audience, so they’ll be happy to see you. If you want to talk to them afterwards…you can.
“Long Malacca wood umbrella with black canopy from Swaine Adeney Brigg featuring a detachable handle, revealing a glass drinking flask with rubber stopper concealed in the body. Every gentleman needs a refresher after a hard day, this expertly crafted accessory guarantees you’ll never be caught short.”
Love your blog! Do you have any suggestions of brands or places to look for a good-sized (but not ginormous), functional tote bag that is sturdy and practical (it will take a beating), but also nice-looking and somewhat feminine? I’d like to spend under $100!
A. Yes! Try this Fossil (also available in black, brown, cream, and stripe; price varies by color, but they all hover around $100):
The whole Fossil Vintage Re-Issue line is great: sturdy and practical, but still super-cute. Although many of the items are a little pricier than you’re looking for, there are lots of bags on sale in the $70-$120 range.
Other great places to look (if you’re willing to move into gender-neutral territory) are in the men’s departments of chains like Old Navy, Gap, etc - they have great, sturdy messenger bags with wide shoulder straps for reasonable prices ($30-$80, depending on whether you go for fabric or leather). I’d steer clear of trendier spots like Urban and TopShop for stuff like this - while the bags may be adorable, they won’t wear as well, and you’re paying for style over functionality.
Anyway, it was delicious, and satisfying, and took no time at all to make, and felt relatively healthy…so I thought I’d send it your way.
Since this is the most improvisational (and easiest) thing ever, here are the basics:
The Pasta: For traditional pasta primavera, you’d use a shorter, fatter type of pasta (like penne), or slice the vegetables into matchstick shapes to mimic longer, thinner pasta types (like spaghetti). I like chunky vegetables, so even though I only had spaghetti in the apartment I skipped the matchsticking, but do as you will.
The Vegetables: Basically, use whatever looks delicious and fresh, but stick to heartier vegetables that hold their shape well after cooking (such as cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, and broccoli). Use as many or as few types as you like - I just went for onions and broccoli, because I passed a farm stand on the way home and that’s what looked good.
The Meat: You don’t have to use meat in this (whenever I order it in a restaurant, it’s almost always a vegetarian dish) , but I like how chopped good-quality bacon adds a little extra saltiness and heartiness.
The Sauce: I have a thing for tomato sauces, but olive oil/garlic/parmigiana is more traditional. And the addition of some cream is never a bad idea - had some cream been laying around last night, it would certainly have made it in.
To make the version above, here’s what you need/what you do:
What you need:
1 package fresh pasta of choice
1 onion, sliced into thick rounds
1 tsp minced garlic
6-8 slices of good-quality bacon, fat removed and cut into matchsticks or roughly chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 small heads broccoli
Salt & pepper
What you do:
1. Put about 1/4” water in the bottom of a pot and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli, stem side down, and steam until just tender (a fork should slide easily into the stem). Remove broccoli from pot and cut into florets of desired size. Toss with a little butter, lemon juice, and salt, if desired.
2. In a saucepan, heat a little olive oil, then add the sliced onion, minced garlic, and chopped bacon (you can also add a chile here for a little heat). Cook, stirring constantly, until the bacon is crispy and the onion is translucent.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan, turn down heat, and let simmer about 15 minutes.
4. Cook fresh pasta in a pot of boiling water (it should only need to cook a couple of minutes, but if you’re using dry pasta of course it’ll take longer), and then drain pasta and toss together with sauce and broccoli florets. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of cream, if you like.
I am on a mission to find the perfect dress for a CA wedding that’s coming up in 3 weeks. It’s for a nighttime garden wedding in wine country. The vision I have is strapless/above knee dress/nude pumps/statement necklace. The inspiration is this Shoshanna:
Budget is $150-$200 for everything.
Can you help or point me in the right direction??!!
BIG loyal fan,
A. Under $200 for everything - dress, shoes and necklace - is a bit of a challenge, but let’s see what we can do! I’d say go cheaper on the dress, and put the bulk of your budget towards accessories - that may sound counter-intuitive, but good shoes and a beautiful necklace can instantly dress up and polish even a relatively casual summer dress.
You’ve written in the past about the perks of Keratin treatments. However, I’ve checked at the salons here in Portland, OR, and since my hair is halfway down my back, it’s going to cost me a small fortune to get that done. I’m in my third year of grad school, broke, and have come to accept that’s not an option.
I was wondering if you knew of any options for at-home treatments? I’ve been looking but have no idea what’s what, and which stuff is legit and not a rip-off.
A. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried any of the at-home treatments myself, so I can’t speak from experience…but here’s a review that a reader did for RG (summary: she didn’t seem to be too crazy about it).
I don’t know about them, honestly…I feel like either they’d be too mild to do much more than a great deep conditioner, or too strong to mess with yourself (and you’d really need help getting to the back of your head, which adds to the annoyance factor). And my mom just got a Keratin Express treatment (which hovers around $100), but ended up going back to the salon for the real deal because she felt like it didn’t “take,” so I don’t know that I’d recommend that either.
In short: when it comes to Keratin, I’m more comfortable putting myself in the hands of professionals.
BUT…that doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck! I haven’t been able to get a treatment for the past few months, of course, but I’ve found some products to use in the meantime that do an excellent job of battling my frizzy summer hair. My favorite new discovery is Leonor Greyl Huile de Palme, which is an oil that you put on for fifteen minutes pre-washing your hair, and then shampoo out. I’ve never used anything like it, and I love what it does to my hair: it makes it super-soft and manageable, and even Kendrick (totally out of nowhere) said that my hair looked especially healthy after my first use.
I’ve also been spritzing Alterna’s Dry Oil Mist on my hair after blow-drying, and have found that the one-two punch of Huile de Palme and Dry Oil Mist makes a huge difference. In terms of a frizz-battling style, my favorite thing to do is leave my hair sliiiightly damp, braid back the front section (off to one side), and then wind the rest into a neat low bun (bonus: when you take your hair out later on, it’ll fall into lovely waves).
Also, keep an eye out for Keratin deals on discount sites - my friend Katie just got a treatment for $99 on Groupon (amazing). And FYI, John Sahag Workshop offers a 10% discount on treatments to RG readers.
You’re so genuinely excited about the opening of the brand-new Fairway on East 86th Street that you simply can’t wait to go check it out, and look forward to it all day. And then while waiting for your prosciutto, you say things to the lady next to you like, “This is such a enormous improvement on the quality of life in the neighborhood. And the prices!”
But seriously: it’s awesome. I spent the last two years shopping at the crappy Food Emporium on Second, and the two years before that shopping at the crappy Food Emporium on 43rd, and this is just…a totally different thing. The produce is gorgeous, the staff is wonderful, and it seems like they have anything you could possibly want (plus tons of fresh and organic products - the bakery practically made me glow with joy, and I definitely spotted two meringues the size of basketballs).
I am aflutter. And so, it seems, is everybody else - I have never seen such happy faces on supermarket shoppers in my life.
(Or: “Win Your Bridesmaids’ Love In One Easy Step”)
Midsummer, as it turns out, is a great time to shop for heavily discounted bridesmaids’ dresses. And sure, most of the pieces on sale are the “summery” colors, but pale silvers, jewel tones and grey/lilac shades can work beautifully for fall and winter weddings, as well - picture that orange one-shoulder dress below worked into an autumn palette of chocolate and gold.
Glucose Screening Tests Are The Scariest Things EVERRRR!
No, they’re not.
(That’s a kinda awkward shot, huh? I was trying to fit both of my bandaged arms in. Apologies to the squeamish. But can we just take a moment and appreciate HOW MUCH HAIR I HAVE?! Apparently it will all fall out the second I give birth.)
I was sort of nervous about yesterday’s glucose screening test, which checks you for gestational diabetes. This is what I knew about it going in: it involved a blood test, and some kind of soda, and would be ONE OF THE WORST THINGS ABOUT PREGNANCY. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Would full-on pints of fluid be forcibly removed from my veins? Were people leaving out the part about how the sugary drink would send you into fits of uncontrollable vomiting? Which part of this, exactly, was supposed to be so bad that everyone (everyone) goes “Oh, GODDDD, THATTTT. It’s the WORST.”
As it turns out…I continue to have no idea what anyone’s talking about with this one. You literally get a tiny bit of blood taken, drink about 8 ounces of something that tastes like flat Sunkist, page through Newsweek for an hour, and then get a tiny bit of blood taken again. And then, because you had to fast beforehand and are starving and pregnant, you get to reward yourself with a Belgian waffle. Woo!
I asked the nurse why everyone makes such a fuss about this test, and she rolled her eyes and said, “Because they’re extra.” And then she looked at me and said, “Honey, if you think drinking orange soda is something to get all in a bunch about, just wait until labor.”
I was wondering if you could do a post on metallic sandals — I’ve been looking around for some cute, delicate gold flats that I can wear to work and on the weekends.
A. No problem! My favorites are still the Seychelles pictured above (I really have to order a pair one of these days), but here are some more options (the strappier ones are, of course, for a more informal office). I kept ‘em on the relatively sturdy side, because if you’re wearing them both to the office and while walking around on the weekends, you don’t want them falling apart on you after just a couple of weeks.
Years ago, I had a serious problem with stage fright: it was crippling, actually, and was a big part of why, after awhile, acting simply stopped being something I wanted to do. It never manifested on a set - only at auditions…but it’s extremely hard to get to the being-on-set stage when you collapse during the getting-there process. Knowing you’re capable of performing once a camera is on you is lovely, but it’s others, unfortunately, who need to be convinced.
My stage fright was so bad that I had to devise ways to get around it, like wearing scarves (even in the summer) to disguise my flushed neck, or pants in case my legs shook. But sometimes the indicators couldn’t be hidden, like the time when I was auditioning for a famous actress and the panic rose up in my throat so badly that I actually stopped the audition midway through, said “I can’t do this,” and ran out. Or the time when I met with the head of a major studio and could not get out a single word that wasn’t quivering with nerves. It didn’t happen all the time, of course…but it happened often enough that I had trouble trusting myself.
And I thought all that was gone. Certainly I do tons of on-camera work these days, and never even have a flicker of anxiety - it’s something that I’m really, really proud of, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I feel much more relaxed and confident as a host than as an actor. But yesterday I had to audition for a project, and halfway through…I sort of fell to pieces. My voice got shaky, my cheeks flushed, my ears started ringing, and I felt myself retreat into a shell, wanting to hide from the people watching me. I don’t know how much of how I was feeling came across in the room, but I do know that I didn’t do what I’m capable of. It was horrible, not because I probably won’t get the job…but because I thought that part of me had been conquered and slayed. Because I wasn’t able to rise to the occasion and just deal with my stupid nerves like a grown-up even though I have a baby on the way, and I want so badly to provide for him as best as I can.
I thought about what happened a bunch afterwards, and I realized that it was the fact of auditioning itself that sent me into a tailspin. You see, I hated auditioning, hated everything about the idea that you had thirty seconds to prove your worth and if you couldn’t be perfect in those thirty seconds, you - and all the work you’d done to prepare - were thrown away. But it’s not the fact that I screwed up an audition that’s bothering me, especially since I don’t really audition often at all anymore: it’s the fact that something that plagued me for so long, that I thought I had overcome for good, is still lurking there, ready to trip me up. It’s shocking and upsetting to realize that your old foibles and fears may never quite go away, even after the passing of many years and the gathering of much experience.
But you know what? Before, when this happened, I would fall into spirals of despair (“I’ll never be successful, I’ll never be worth anything, and nothing will ever change so long as this problem exists in me”). And now?
I screwed up.
But I didn’t run out of the room: I kept going, finished as best I could, and went about my day.
I screwed up.
But it wasn’t a disaster. It wasn’t an indicator of something larger, a pathological, crippling flaw that will be my downfall if it’s not banished forever, never to return again…it wasn’t anything more than a mistake. And the fact that I made a mistake yesterday doesn’t mean that I’ll make the same one tomorrow, or the next day.