Also, it's my 1 Year Crazytowniversary, you guys. I guess I should've registered somewhere.
By Alisha Giampola (Actor)
I woke up this morning more than three hours earlier than I had woken up on any day of my entire Christmas break and thought to myself: "What is it that I do for a living? And where exactly do I go to do it?"
Two weeks off is awesome, but I pretty much forgot what real life was like during that time.
I went to get my teeth cleaned (because I scheduled my dentist appointment to be the same day I went back to work, AND I also went to the bank, which pretty much completes the trifecta of Adult Responsibilities Capable Of Being Accomplished In One Day) and while I was lying in the chair with my mouth open, my hygienist asked me how my first week of the year had been. First of all, let me mention that my dental hygienist is a young Armenian lady who wears her name in a gold cursive chain around her neck, full false eyelashes, heavy kohl eyeliner, severely straightened hair, and has possibly had collagen injections. It's basically what it would be like if Kim Kardashian had gone to dental technician school.
"My first week has been....pretty relaxing, actually." I answered, trying not to swallow any of the toothpaste or tools that were currently in my mouth. "Well that's good. I always say that the way you begin your year is how you spend your year. It's true. I always say that," gainfully-employed-version-of-Kim-Kardashian said. "That's why on New Year's Eve, before midnight, I took a nice long shower and I washed my hair. I was like, I'm going to have clean hair for 2014." I squinted up and tried to focus on the current cleanliness of Fake Kim's hair, hoping that she had decided to wash it again since December 31st.
You know what, though? I kind of feel Fake Kim on this one. There is definitely something to be said for starting your year in the way you hope to spend it. Jumping back into productivity after a lot of days off and a lot of calories and a lot of naps... well, it just feels good. It feels nice to have an entire year streaching forward, offering lots of blank canvas space on which to create.
Right before I left for winter break, I was asked to write a recommendation letter for a student of mine who is applying to preschool. Let me repeat that. I wrote a real-life, seriously-requested-without-any-irony recommendation letter so a child can apply to preschool. I came home from work and told Daniel what I had been asked to write, and we laughed about it for a while. The things poor Manhattan parents feel compelled to do on behalf of children who are far younger than I or any of my peers were when we first went to school is unreal. As in, it doesn't feel real. It feels like a Portlandia episode. What was I supposed to say about a child who was still unclear about the difference between his mom leaving the room to run to the bathroom, and his mom disappearing forever from the face of the earth? He wasn't going to be declaring a major, he was going to be fingerpainting. Right? RIGHT?!
I sat down to write the recommendation letter and tried to imagine what kind of admissions person would be reading it. Did he or she find their job at least slightly amusing? I found myself using words like "attentive" and "focused" as well as phrases like "shows adeptness at" and "engaged in the classroom environment". I felt justified in considering his primarily monosyllabic interactions with other children to be "quite verbal", and at the end I advocated for his presence in their preschool by dubbing him "a positive addition". I looked over what I had written. With a few minor alterations, it could serve him equally well later, if he ever decided to apply to law school.
Besides being a pretty funny work anecdote I can now whip out at parties, the Preschool Recommendation Letter made me think about how random life is. It is incredibly bizarre that I have any influence over whether or not a perfectly adorable, happy, ordinary little boy does or does not get into a fancy Brooklyn preschool; and the people who have influence over whether or not I get the job, get cast, get published, get promoted, get a random free pass to something cool are equally random.
You never know who the people who help further you along in your career are going to be. Sometimes they aren't the casting director you've gone in for 500 times. Sometimes they're the guy who was playing the piano at one of those 500 auditions who ends up composing something wonderful. Theatre people know that it always pays to be nice, and not just because being nice is awesome. Being nice is how you meet the people who are going to be your creative family- the people you want to work with and who want to work with you.
I hope my relaxing first week of 2014 was an indication that I'm not about to have a stressful year, but I also hope that 2014 is a year in which I lose my dread of that horrible word: networking. (Seriously, can we all agree that "networking" is a terrible word and it leaves a yucky, skeevy taste in our collective mouths? That it conjures images of nametags and wine in plastic cups and feelings of obligation? Feel free to offer any suggestions of new words to replace it. I love the word "effervescent", but it unfortunately already has another meaning.)
So you guys, I'm counting on you to help me remember that 2014 is the year of No Stress; Overcoming Fear Of Ridiculously Petty Things Like Networking And Also Cockroaches; and Being Productive. I really appreciate it. I'm already 8 days into failing at my New Year's Resolution to journal more often, so this is clearly why I'm not allowed to make resolutions.
I've been thinking about the movie Frozen, recently, and not just because of the weather. It also happens to contain my favorite 3-year-old's current favorite song, which he rocks out to regularly and gives Idina a pretty hard run for her money. Let's end this by listening to Josh-Gad-as-a-snowman sing a song about my favorite season, which is only 162 days away:
(Tennyson quote image via.)
ALISHA GIAMPOLA is an NYC based actor/teacher/writer who is probably not qualified to write recommendation letters for anyone over the age of 4.
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