A day in the life of the citizen actor
7:45 a.m. It is my turn to take the kids to school. In the front seat next to me: my “everything bag” with books, scripts and lunch; the swimming bag (the afternoon’s activity) with suits, towels, a diaper bag for Ella, Griff’s swim goggles and some snacks; my workout bag with workout clothes and iPod. After loading the kids into the back of my car, it looks like we are going to Cape Cod for the weekend.
7:55 I drop off the Revival prep doc and postcards at Kinko’s. Griff stays in the car, listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on a diskman. Ella comes with me and re-arranges the marker display rack while Kinko-kid tells me to come back at 3:00 p.m. to check the proofs. Then I drop Griff off at the Friends’ school where he is in first grade, and which is under the care of our meeting. Then on to Ella’s day care, where she spends full days so that Sooz and I can both work. The irony of that is that the amount it costs to keep her there full days this fall is equal to the amount either Sooz or I will make as actors during the same time period. So we are both making the choice to stay active in our careers, rather than sit at home with Ella. It’s a choice I have mixed feelings about.
8:45 a.m. I visit my chiropractor to see if he can excise the alien that has burrowed into my neck, making turning my head a small torture.
9:15 Starbucks, where Sooz and I should be stockholders, for a half hour morning break. I read the paper and sip my grande sugar-free hazelnut cappuccino. I ask for it dry and they still put too much milk in it.
10:00 Rehearsal for Jason and The Golden Fleece. Fight work then run of act one. Then adjustments and scene rehearsals. I work until 2:15, eating lunch during ten minute breaks. Sooz stays at home this morning, trying to learn lines for Lady from the Sea. She plays Ellida, the lead female role, and has a lot to learn. She leaves home for rehearsal at 12 noon
2:15 Starbucks again, iced grande unsweetened coffee with an extra shot of espresso, Splenda and half & half added. I splurge and add an espresso fudge brownie. On my way to pick up Ella, my eyeballs rotate in odd directions from the caffeine and sugar.
2:50 Ella is playing doctor with a baby doll when I arrive. No matter how stressed I am (and I am relatively unstressed today), the hug I get from her obliterates all clinging worry.
3:00 Feeling happy and still jacked on the coffee and the brownie, I pick up Griffen from school. He tells me a classmate said the F word in school today, and I am glad for his well-rounded education.
3:15 Ella and I go to Kinkos to check on the Revival prep doc. Griff stays in the car with Harry. There are problems with both the document and the postcards. I explain what they are and Kinko-kid tells me to come back at 6:00 to re-check.
3:30 at the YMCA where we are too early for free swim, so Ella, Griff and I play with basketballs in the empty gym for a while. Griff “beats me” 5 – 2 in a game loosely based on basketball.
4:00 We change into our suits in the men’s locker room. Griff has developed sudden-onset modesty, and demands to change in the bathroom stall, where I worry about his clothes falling on the urine-stained floor. I wrestle Ella in to her swim diaper and suit, praying she won’t follow a recent trend: pooping while swimming. Note to new parents – changing a soggy, poopy swim diaper is not for the feint of heart. It gets EVERYWHERE.
4:10 Swim fun. Ella allows me to put a floatation device on her and doesn’t poop. She could swim on her own with it, but panics whenever I try to gently nudge her away from me. So we splash happily with me generally attached to her. Griff, who is completely independent in the pool, explores the deep end. I am reminded of something I heard in The Rooms once: “My whole life, I wanted to stay in the shallow end, but God keeps throwing me in the deep end”.
4:45 I change Ella and Griff back to street clothes and I get into my workout clothes. They transfer to the YMCA daycare room while I get an hour in the fitness center: stretching, sit-ups, a half an hour on an E.F.X. machine with arms, more sit-ups, shower and change. This workout ritual is as much about mental and spiritual health as it is about trying to stay 175 pounds. And it’s the one place I can rock out. Today I listen to the “Headbanger” playlist in my iPod: Black Crowes, Stones, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc. – you get the idea.
6:00 Special weekly treat, dinner at Ruby’s, the local burger joint and another business Sooz and I should invest in. For Griff and Ella, there are no other dining options. It’s also a treat for me: I don’t have to make dinner, and Ella and Griff eat hungrily. Even as my conscience wags it’s gnarled finger at me, I have an “itty-bitty” hot fudge sundae for dessert. They really are quite small.
7:00 I return to Kinko’s. A different guy tells me my proofs aren’t ready. I am pissed and say I’ll be back tomorrow morning.
7:15 I plant Griff and Ella in front of the T.V. where they watch some Looney Toons on D.V.D. while I unpack the car, unpack the bags, the wet towels, suits and workout clothes, the lunch containers, check the mail, and get the kids rooms ready for bed.
7:45 After enforcing tooth brushing, Griff goes down fast. In the darkness of his bedroom, Ella sits in a chair quietly while I stroke his back, giving him “tickly scratch” as I sing James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James”, the song that I have sung to him regularly for five years and which forever will be Griffen’s song. Ella’s personal lullaby is Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. Sooz sings them her personal lullabies too, but I’m not sure what they are, since I’m seldom in the room when she sings them to our children. Griffen’s green, stained-glass turtle night-light glows in the dark, and I kiss him a lot and tell him I love him.
8:00 p.m. I take Ella upstairs, where I check emails. Ella has a later bedtime then Griffen because of the early afternoon nap she takes at day care. Sooz surprises us by getting home early. She’s had a rough day, with an awkward run-through on stage and a visiting director who gave her a note afterwards. She wanted to tell him to shove it, but was gracious, a skill she has which I do not.
8:45 After struggling with Ella for twenty minutes, Sooz comes upstairs and appeals to me for help. I go down and settle her quickly, a skill I have which Sooz does not. Ella and I have developed an understanding about bedtime that she doesn’t share with Sooz.
9:00 Sooz and I lie in bed, exhausted, and watch the season premier of the second season of one of our favorite T.V. shows, Lost. We hide behind a pillow for the scary parts, and Sooz blows my mind by accurately predicting an improbable plot line. She and I look forward to this moment all day most days, this time alone together in bed, to watch something fun, snuggle, talk about our days and, on the rare nights when we have the energy and inclination, make love. Beneath the careers, the projects, the children, this time at the end of the day is the foundation of our marriage.
10:30 p.m. We are both asleep.