bertha's list: march edition
It is a testament to the life you’ve led when everyone is sad to see you leave the party. On a warm Saturday morning I got home from the gym, took a shower, and was ready to jump into my shorts when I get a call from my Dad. His mom, Abuela Cuca, had passed away. I've always dreaded the middle-of-the-night phone call because it's never a good omen but this didn't make any sense. It was such a beautiful day. Five seconds ago I had plans for a park picnic and now my grandmother was dead. Everything can change in the span of a phone’s ring. Fate never cares about your day plans. Or your life plans. I cried not so much for her because her years were well lived. She was full of joy, love, and joie de vivre. She had more stamina and zest for adventure in her 80 year old pinkie than I did in my 28 year old body. I cried instead for the absence of her. I cried because I was always too busy and self-involved to call. I cried because I didn't get to say goodbye. According to Dr. Brian Weiss souls travel in packs. I hoped to love her again in my next life.
Three years ago I wrote a semi-autobiographical play entitled Detours and that Saturday night it had its first reading. It was equal parts magic and mourning to hear it. Instantly I was transported to a time in my life when not everything was so certain. It’d been a long time since I’d seen that burdened little girl. Hearing the actors read the words exactly the way I intended was very special. In the third scene when the sisters talk about their grandmother's remedy for a belly ache I couldn't help tearing up. The tenderness in the actresses’ voices referring to their Abuela was poignant. I felt Mima closer than ever. A Wednesday night in the city is not like any other regular night somewhere else. There's always something to do, see, or eat. Even on a school night. That's what I love about New York: no day is ever ordinary. We attend a screening of Face of Love followed by a Q&A with Annette Bening, one of my favorite actresses. “When you get a script you can experience it only once as an audience member,” she says, “And your job is to recreate it for the audience.” Two days later I had tickets to Rattlestick's Ode to Joy. That's another thing I love about New York: art, art, art, happening everywhere. It's impossible not to be inspired in this town. I looked through the Playbill for the director’s name when I noticed that the playwright and director, Craig Lucas, were one and the same. I knew from his plays that I loved his writing; I didn’t know I would also love his directing. I was so very impressed and so very inspired. I'd been ambivalent about directing Detours for fear of stifling it but here was proof that it could be done and done well. This was not to say, of course, that anyone could succeed doing so but I left the theater invigorated and full of ideas for both the script and future production.
Sunday night was Oscar night so we got all dolled up and headed to Ryan's viewing party. I feel the same way every year watching the acceptance speeches: the deep yearning and inexplicable conviction that one day that will be me. One fine day. On the home front, our apartment had finally come together; a project that took a little over a weekend. A quick run to Home Depot and a chevron-print paint job later we had ourselves an adorable nest. But it was still missing something... I framed a picture of us laughing like dorks at the Academy Awards viewing party. Can’t wait for the day that sentence is true sans the last two words. I looked at our freshly painted living room, now it was complete. Between dentist/optometrist appointments, auditions, and running around like a chicken without a head I almost forgot the birthdays of my two leading ladies: my mom and sister. Beli was turning 25 and my mom was turning another year young. I missed them both terribly. Seeing pictures of the celebration on Facebook made me wish I lived a three minute drive distance instead of the actual three hour flight. Being away from family was one of the sacrifices this career demanded. Sometimes it asks for too much. All I'm saying is, this better make for a great thank-you-to-the-Academy speech someday!
I don't know how I found the time but somehow I managed to squeeze in a first date. It had been a while since I'd last gone on one and thank my lucky stars he actually turned out to be normal. And interesting. And attractive. And most miraculous of all I actually enjoyed myself! So much so that I accepted his invitation for a second date. Now, you won’t understand why I was so delighted unless you’ve ventured out into the hazardous world of online dating. It’s a cyber crapshoot. Just like Forrest's box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. Sometimes it's a nut. And not the good kind. I once met a guy who wanted to "cut through the small talk and really connect to another soul." Geez, buddy let's just get through this Bud Light first! Now the best part about any date- and feel free to ask any girl because I'm sure they'll agree with me on this- is getting ready. That Yoncé anthem blasts through the speakers (for me it's a toss up between Flawless and Grown Woman) and out come the eyelash curlers and razors. Depending if it's a first or third date that razor will go up past certain leg benchmarks. This, however, was only a second date so need to get ahead of ourselves. I’m a lady after all. Ha! Walking to the subway I’ve got on my moto jacket and I’m feeling like a badass. “Snowbunny you perfect, love” well thank you random pedestrian for the unsolicited remark. The date itself, unfortunately, did not live up to its prep-time hype. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, it was just nice. After three hours of a whole lot of talking (mostly on his part) all I got was a good night peck on the lips. Seriously? After THAT much talking that’s all I get? The next day he mentioned meeting up again. I gracefully declined. If there was no zsa zsa zsu, what was the point?
My busy work week continued on. I had auditions/rehearsals/belated newsletters to tend to. I also struggled with my newly imposed wake up time. I read somewhere that successful people get up really early. I figured if I could rise at 7AM I could gain a few hours to go to the gym, meditate, work on my writing, and even save the world while I’m at it. Most days I barely made it out of bed by 9AM. Synchronizing my circadian rhythm was proving to be more tedious and frustrating that enrolling my mom in the Marketplace. There goes my success. I did, however, manage to make it through work during the day and rehearsals with Ryan at night. Our Actors Studio audition was right around the corner. Rehearsals for Psychosis were also underway. The director needed pictures for set dressing so we had a photo session in The Cloisters. It was my first visit and I was in awe of the architecture and the art. It was one of those places I knew my dad and I could probably spend hours going gaga over all the history behind it. That same day I emailed him all the pictures I took for him. I couldn't wait for the day he’d see it in person. When I found out that the actual museum was built circa 1935 with grants from John D. Rockerfeller I was a little disappointed- what do you mean it wasn't built and lived in by monks in the 1300’s? Still, it was such an idyllic place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The first day of Spring had finally arrived and so had Ry's birthday. He booked a weekend trip with the boys to celebrate his dirty thirty in San Francisco so Vicky and I decided to have a girls’ weekend. Which was really just a cute name for dog-sitting their pooch Jasper, eating all their food, and watching all their Netflix. Other perks: Kiehl's products and a quiet place to write my tragically late newsletters. Friday night we had tickets for INTAR's Adoration of the Old Woman. Perfect start to our Girls’ Weekend Adventure. Walking to the theater we see a horse-drawn carriage passing us by. I tell Vicky I’d always wanted to ride one and probably should before they are removed by the mayor. She hollers at the coachman, “How much for a ride?” He yells back, “For you? Free!”. It was on his way to the stables so he dropped us off close to the theater. It was a perfect New York moment. Spring weather hadn't quite arrived but there were some warmer days peppered in with the more don't-leave-the-bed frigid temperatures. One such night was Daley’s birthday party at The Royalton penthouse. We're dressed up, we’re looking good and we know it, and we don't even need an overcoat. This makes me happiest of all. I almost taste the summer nights not too far away. All our friends are at there; they are dancing, laughing, and everything in the world is “alright, alright, alright.” This is the part where I mention I'm also drunk, drunk, drunk. Suffering from low tolerance as is, it also doesn't help breaking my "vow of sobriety" with a Cuba Libre and a virgin Cosmopolitan. OK, that was lie. There was nothing virginal about that Cosmo. Shameless flirting with cute bartenders will always get you extra liquor. Vicky disappears halfway through the night, I can't find Natalie or my clutch but I do find myself out on the terrace stealing puffs from the smokers. Somehow I wind up in the corner making out with a friend of a friend who was not so keen on talking but very keen on groping. As the crowd thins out Vicky spots me and we hail a cab home. Next day we head downstairs to Harlem Public for Sunday brunch and girl talk. We swap the mimosas for cappuccinos and over an order of chicken and waffles she dishes about last night's escapades. This was one for the books. The stories we would tell in our old age about our wild and crazy times as twenty-something New Yorkers. Sometimes you just need to let your outgrown pixie down and have some fun.
In the end, Ryan and I were not accepted into the Actors Studio. It is the second consecutive denial for me so here's hoping that third time's the charm. All I'm saying is this better make for a fun anecdote to share with James Lipton someday. It is also a testament to the life you’ve led when you refuse to never, never, never give up.