A day in the life of a citizen actor
6:00 am: Alarm goes off and it’s still dark. Stagger through dressing and arrive downstairs to find Griffen already up and watching TV. I suspect he’s been up for an hour. “You been up for a while?” I say. “Nope . . .” he replies casually. Breakfast, then I make the lunches. I am a master at this. I make three lunches in 10 minutes: Ella, Griffen, me. Around 6:24 Ella appears and curls up on the couch. Susan is still asleep upstairs.
7:00 am: Griff and I get in the car. I try to be inside the car by 7:02 so I can listen to the KYW traffic report. Based on what I hear, I pick one of three routes to Friend School Haverford: Turnpike, Roosevelt Blvd. or Washington Lane. On the way, Griff reads and I listen to NPR or songs from my iPod. Sometimes we chat. I’m not upset by the frequent quiet-ness of our rides, believing that the ability to be quiet together is the mark deep comfort and true love.
7:50: I drop Griff off at school. I always have this bittersweet feeling – how much I love him and how, really, I would be happy just following him round all day.
8:00: Main Line YMCA. My workout is now swimming (thank you Michael Phelps). I swam for years during grad school and just after, in NYC. I was in great shape. I have bought two lycra suits – not the truly embarrassing Speedos, these ones go down to my knees. But I do swim in the “fast lane”: 20 minutes or so of freestyle with racing turns, then warm down with back stroke and breast stroke. I slather myself with body lotion after showering, because the chlorine makes my skin so dry. My goggles give me Raccoon eyes for a bit, but they fade in about an hour.
9:00 – 11:00: A coffee shop with wi-fi, and I either a) do legitimate work as Outreach Coordinator for my Quaker Meeting, b) work on my novel Acting in 2020 or c) allow myself to be sucked down the hole into mindless internet time-wasting. Guess which I do most?
12:00 noon: eat lunch I made at home that morning as I drive to rehearsal.
1:30 – 3:30: Rehearse Scorched. We are on stage now and the great butcher block still takes my breath away. I am working off book now, calling for lines and trying to adopt Alphonse’s odd language in his great speeches. I have a lot of my scenes with Ariel, who plays Simon. He is a a handsome and intense actor and recently we have ripped into the second scene to my great satisfaction. I’m grateful Blanka has been nudging me away form the nerdy character I had begun with and towards something more muscular, paternal and eccentric.
3:30: Ride the Broad Street subway to Cecil B. Moore Blvd and Temple University. Blast either the “Funky Nuts” or Head Banger” play list in my iPod. Am reminded again of my strange affection for subways and the little, temporary communities that ride on them, stop to stop.
4:40 – 6:30: Teach back-to-back sections of the same beginning acting class. It’s the tougher part of the semester now, when I am generating the content in the classes, and spending energy prodding, cajoling and coaching students who seem numbed by endless video games and text messages, and for whom the mere act of standing in a circle and seeing each other is a minor miracle. Despite how catty that may sound, I continue to love witnessing young people being brave in front of each other, which is what an acting class is all about, or should be, at its essence.
6:40: Ride the Broad Street subway to Walnut Street and The Wilma Theatre. Blast either the “Funky Nuts” or “Head Banger” play list in my iPod. Am reminded again of my strange affection for subways and the little, temporary communities that ride on them, stop to stop.
7:30 – 9:30: Rehearse more. Somewhere in here some kind of dinner happens. Also, it is during this late rehearsal that I will begin to feel my exhaustion, and start feeling goofy, like someone getting a little stoned on too much oxygen. It’s also here that I will think of Susan, Griff and Ella, and how they are all lolling in “the big bed” in Susan’s and my bedroom, watching something on TV, reading, snuggling. It’s then that I know I would rather be there than where I am – and I love where I am.
9:30: Drive home.
10:10: Arrive. Make coffee for tomorrow morning, Climb the stairs past sleeping children, turning the light off in Griffen’s room, who has recently enjoyed falling asleep under his reading light. 50% chance Susan’s asleep, depending on how her version of this day went. Maybe we talk, but if we do, it’s not for long. No way my eyes are open much past 11:oo p.m.
A Day in the Life of a Citizen Actor Wednesday, originally published February 11, 2009