Sunday, June 30, 2013

Open Your Eyes - Your Dream has been Deferred

I'm rather appalled that on my mission, when I had absolutely no free time (o sea, very little), I STILL managed to pump out a blog every week. I think I've written a grand total of seven thus far, which averages to a little more than one per month. Which is gay. I could be saying 'gay' as I often do to mean "uh... lame." I know we've all been told by the likes of Hillary Duff and other such celebrities that this is inappropriate. I could also try the "I have gay friends so its no big deal" justification, but other famous folk frown upon that too. So I leave myself the best defense- none. I say it because it's my first amendment right, because being PC is so last second, and because if the homosexual community can change the meaning of the word gay, well, so can I. That being said, you could take it to celebrate the demise of the DOMA. Take it however you want to. It's the joy of the written word.

So. I watched the movie Vanilla Sky last night. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I got. There are several phrases repeated oft throughout the movie, but the film is ended and began by the same command: "Open your eyes!" The main character, David (played by a younger, less brazen Tom Cruise), has difficulty telling apart reality from dreams. Sometimes, they're just so alike... anyway, so it turns out, after a particularly traumatic event, he had opted to be cryogenetically frozen and was living in what was referred to as a "lucid dream." The only reason he ended up finding out is because, even in an induced dream-like state, he had the same problem of knowing what was real and what wasn't, which means the dreams weren't perpetually pleasant like they were supposed to be. Oh, and in case you haven't seen the movie yet,  I should warn you- *Spoiler alert!*

Anyway, dreams have always been a subject of interest for me. They are for most people, because, well, they concerns ourselves. And that's something that tends to interest most people. I've also always been intrigued by how my friends have always been so anxious to tell me their dreams, as if they had actually happened. Often times, it seems we're more concerned with relaying our dream state to other people than to comment on real events that are happening in our real lives. But that probably has more to do with the fact that dreams are often times more interesting than reality. Sometimes we wish they WERE our reality. And sometimes, we don't. But whether pleasant or nightmarish, it always seems to be an intense scenario that makes us want to linger a little longer in our state of surreal, if not at least to see what happens, how it all ends.

Another fascinating aspect of dreams is that we often divide the definition to mean one of two things: Either a cognitive working of the brain during sleep to produce a situation/story or an unfulfilled desire we harbor, with the hoping of having it realized at a future time. I figure that both definitions are bound by a common thread- they are both envisioned by the individual, but neither is based in a logical reality. Half the time I wake up from a dream wondering who the hell I am and what just happened. When I find myself thinking of the future and the hopes I long to fulfill, I often shake myself from my reveries wondering who the hell I am and what is going to happen?

And that inflated introduction brings me to a situation I found myself in a couple of weeks ago. Or rather, a situation I put myself in. I wanted to wait to blog about it so as to give myself a little perspective and hindsight.  It was a Saturday in June, and two days prior, I had called a talent agency in regards to an ad they had been blaring on the radio all that week: "Have you ever wanted to be famous? Do you wish you could be like all your favorite TV and movie stars? Well then call to set an appointment and make your dreams come true!"

Yeah. I liked that.

So I did. This company sent me a commercial for Pond's facial wipes. I memorized it and showed up to my audition on Saturday, only to feel heavily embarrassed by the fact that I was obviously the oldest person there. While tempted to leave, I made myself stick it out. The man in charge of this outfit's name was Brandon and apparently, he used to be on that show I never watched on Nickelodeon called "Ned's Declassifiedes." He and the rest of his crew had that look about them- dressed a little to sharp, talkin' a little to smoothly. And the whole time that he did his hour presentation, he was mostly addressing parents and talking about how, if their little darlings weren't selected, it wasn't because they weren't great and fabulous. But some people have an "IT" factor. Some don't.

After his little speech, we all got the chance to meet him or one of his other cronies individually and discuss why this was something we were born to do. I talked about my theater minor, how being an actor had always been a dream of mine, blah blah blah.  He seemed impressed I knew Spanish. Apparently fair-skinned blonds who can do commercials in two languages can be very lucrative. Anyway, he liked the picture I'd attached to my personal info. sheet. It's the same one as my Facebook profile pic.

I know. Irresistible
Then, after informing me that if I were selected, we'd have to get a move on with my career (I'm almost 26, and 25 is the cap age for "new, young, exciting talent"), he sent me to the front of the room  to get in a line, where I would do my audition in front of a blond, balding man in his thirties, who purportedly was an actor. When it was my turn, I was told to begin when ready. I took a deep breath, and let him have it.
"Wow," he observed, impressed, "you've been practicing."
"Little bit," I acknowledged. I was then told I was free to go and would hear back that night if I had made the cut.

 
It's better in person. I hope.


Now, there were a couple problems with everything that happened:
1). Before Brandon made his presentation, a bunch of images flashed across a big projection screen, showing the talent that had already been discovered and the myriad of fashion/television companies worked with by this agency. It looked great on screen, but inside, I was thinking "is this really still my dream?" It was all so flashy looking, so serious, so... fake.
2). This talent company expects money. The teach their selected participants poise and acting and enhance already existing skills. The idea is to then turn them loose at a talent convention called iPOP, where a couple hundred talent agents come to scout for the bestest and most boisterous. But if you're not signed with an agent, you've essentially sunk a few grand down the drain with all your fancy training.

So later that night, Brandon called. I still have my California area code (I moved to the state of Washington... LONG story), and he recognized it. He used that knowledge to break the news to me- I was being called back- CALLED BACK! He wanted me to meet him at the same hotel studio room were I'd auditioned earlier that day and have me read a monologue, after which he would detail to me what he expected from participants in his program. I told him that I was flattered, but that I didn't really have the money required to do it. His response:"Well, I AM the owner of the company. If you're good enough, I can give you a partial scholarship to up to half of the cost."

Wow.

I ended up agreeing to go. But the more I thought about it, the heavier it weighed on my mind. I did some research on the company, and while finding no complaints about them in particular, I ran across other information that suggested these type of programs weren't the best routes to getting fame and fortune. So after talking it over with family and listening to that bloody, pulsing organ located in the left side of my chest cavity, I called Brandon to let him know that I had changed my mind. He seemed good-naturedly bummed out, (not devastated like he should have been), and told me, "yeah, with people your age, I usually encourage them to go for other hobbies and interests. Best of luck to you."

End scene.

The stage calls to me. T.V., film, theater- I love it all. And it's still very much a part of MY lucid dream, whether I'm awake or asleep doesn't seem to matter. But sometimes dreams change, or at least, certain aspects of them do. I've accepted that I'll probably never be a "star" in the traditional sense. Does that depress me? It might have, a few years ago. But now I realize that I have other dreams and passions that deserve attention, just as much or more so than my "easy come, easy go fame and fortune" one.  And I can't help but think of one of my favorite poems that I first ran across while in high school English class. It's by Langston Hughes and it's called "A Dream Deferred." There is also a famous play I've read a few times that bears the title of one of the lines in the poem. I won't tell you which- you can guess or do some actual research. There will be no spoon feeding in this blog entry.

A Dream Deferred

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
http://cswnet.com/~menamc/langston.htm

I like how Hughes isn't spoon feeding his readers, any more than I'm willing to do so to mine. See what you can learn from good poetry? He paints some very vivid imagery of what might happen to an unfulfilled dream- showing that the results are often as varied as the individuals who have them. But he doesn't give any hint to what the effect of these retired dreams have on the actual dreamer. Maybe that could have been the part II of this poem, had Hughes so desired it- what the denied dreamer does- do they dry up, run, rot, sag, or explode? Or do they find a way to lead happy, successful lives in spite of it all? 

I guess that's up to the individual. As for me, well, only time will tell. But if I had to choose... I think I'd explode! *Spoiler alert*

And now I leave you with your own soul-searching question: In his hit song "Airplanes," rapper Bobby Ray asks, "and when your  plans unravel in the sand, what would YOU wish for if you had one chance?"

What indeed?

Inquisitively yours,

Sweeney

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Say it Best... When you don't say it ALL

Ahhhhhh... I love it when it's been so long since I've blogged that so much has changed and I no longer care about what I was originally planning to blog about. No matter. 'Tis a duty (is 'tis an abbreviation of 'it is?' And should I blatantly be declaring my lack of knowledge on the matter when I could oh-so-easily look it up myself?)

Anyway, last time I clocked out, I was sharing with the whole wide world how I've used the Internet to find man friends. Which after fishing around a bit on other blogs/storyboards/profiles, turns out to not even be a big shocker anymore. Ok, it is and isn't, but either way, it will most likely always be perceived as the mockable option. Like living with your parents into your mid- twenties. Wait, that gives me an idea... (Note to self: future blog post about a subject I'm sure has already been talked about, re-talked about, and then overdone, overkilled, over-and-out. But that's the joy of a year-and-a-half absence from "the real world." Everything is still new and nothing is off limits. In theory).

So... online dating part II, eh? I want to talk about SOOOO many other things instead. Like my big move up to Washington. Or wanting to visit friends who live farther away than I'm used to and being too poor to do anything about it. But damn-flabbit, I made a commitment, and I'd always turn 3 shades of pissed when investigators on the mish didn't follow through with theirs. How can I become my own worst enemy in my own hour of need?

In a nutshell, an online dating profile might be like my favorite type of profile- the criminal profile. One of my all-time favorite shows EVER is Law and Order: SVU (dun dun, dun dun duh dun dun- der nerrrrrrh!) There's also the myriad of other shows, such as Criminal minds, CSI, Psych, Covert Affairs, The Closer, etc. (some of these I watch, some I don't), that use the whodunit and why formula for figuring out the inner workings of their Un-Sub (which I finally found out means "Unknown Subject," or in other words, your antagonist). And that's online love for ya. Lots of Un-Subs whose motives you have to figure out and determine whether or not they're killers. After my many browsings, these are some of the profiles I've managed to identify. This just proves what I've know all along- that I am soooo ready to be Olivia Benson's partner. Is she not the coolest of all female television protagonists? I purposely digress. Again.

1). The Auto-Biographer- Ok, we get it- You're a REALLY in-depth individual. You're not just into watching endless t.v. shows on Netflix next to an empty bag of Funyons (how'd it GET that way?). You like deep conversations. Like, really deep. And when the website of your choosing (Plentyoffish, OkCupid, Match.com, eHarmony, etc.) allows you several boxes for self description, you fill them all. Completely. Each is a separate island and short-long novel in and of itself. I once spent 20 minutes reading some guy's profile, no joke. And while that may be more my fault than his, I feel like the idiom "short but sweet" exists for a reason. The worst part is, I actually feel like I know you after all the energy I spent reading about you, which in reality seems like saying I "know" [insert celebrity name here] because I follow all their tweets, like, everyday. Essentially, even though I rarely believe less is more, I do believe the LESS you explain, the MORE I have to learn and to ask about if we ever meet in person.

2). The Cocky Ass- We get it- you're too cool to be on these sites, and you're just "bored" and want to "see what's out there." Right. I say this too. But at least I have the good sense not to spend quality ME space explaining that. Just get over it already- you weren't too cool for school, and you certainly aren't above screen love. Even if your picture is 95% more appealing than all the other ones I've seen in the last half hour. This category also applies to the dudes who like to add a big, long list of exclusionary conditions of what they will/won't accept from their online femme friend. Let's get one thing straight- some things are definitely deal breakers (I don't feel the need to list them). However, don't close doors before you've even seen what's behind them. You're laundry list of dos/do nots might discourage someone really great from coming knocking, simply because they don't want to waste time figuring out which key opens the many locks you've put into place.

3). The Imagineer- Speaking of appealing images... maybe we don't all have them. The biggest online joke is that what you see isn't always what you get.
http://kravabykiki.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/360px-honesty-in-the-online-dating.jpg

But no one is fooled by the pics that only show you from your neck up. Or that you mysteriously have a hat on in every photo. As my good friend Hannah Montana sings, "Nobody's perfect." I may not want to see a close-up of the two hairs that still have squatter's rights on your head.  But if you're honest about how you look now, it'll save us both some disappointment in the long run. Because rest assured, if I can't identify you if and when the real life meeting takes place, you can bet I'll break into a long run- away from YOU!

4). The Word Painter- 'Hey Sexy.' 'What up, babe?' 'You're hot, post more pics, please.' There's a right and a wrong way to start a conversation with someone. These aren't even profiles I'm mocking at the moment, so pardon the deviation, but man- nothing sucks more than someone who can't think of an original question/comment/observation to send to my inbox. You're not being charged per word, folks. If first impressions count in a real, face-to-face scenario, imagine how that's magnified when you can't even see the person! Use your words, people!

5). The Derek Downer- This guy's worse than number two. For me, the only thing more annoying than a Cocky Ass is an Eeyore- the Sad Ass. You know the type- they make you uncomfortable because they are the ones who say the male equivalent of "does this dress make me look fat?" I swear, for all the grief women get, men are just as bad. I've never had so many guys tell me how not attractive they are. Great. Well, let me just send you my number, cuz I'd love to hear more about that. I've told many of them and I'm saying it now- make me believe YOU are responsible for bringing sexy back. Even if you just get me to think you were one of the extras in the music video, I'll take it. We can't all be Timberlakes. But that's the magical part- we're not all looking for J.T.'s. Some of us go for the Timbalands, Kingstons and Pitbulls... (perfect time to make an "International Love" joke, courtesy of Mr. Worldwide himself).

6). The T.M.I. Guy- This real winner of a man match differs from number one mainly through sheer brassy audacity. I don't need to know how many times you were cheated on. Or all your deepest, darkest fears. "So... you're only on here for casual sex, you say?" That's promising. "You've been a real mess ever since [insert family member here] died, huh?" I especially love it when you give a guy your number and he feels the need to tell you that it's his first time... getting a girl's number. Do us females a favor and keep this type of information buried deep, deep inside. So deep, you might even forget about it yourself.

So there you have it. Just like all the best Facebook relationships, "it's complicated," more so than I'm willing to detail. It's no easy feat translating everything good/enjoyable/realistic about yourself onto a two-dimensional screen page. It's really an art in and of itself. I can't think of any of my friends who have tried it, myself not excluded, who hasn't at least confided in and asked the opinion of another person in perfecting their online presence.  But I guess that's the good news- that behind these two-way computer connections are real people, with real potential. And really, isn't that what keeps us coming back for more?

Update: As of now, I've given this whole Internet dating thing a break. Of course, time and hormones have a way of roping us back in, even when we swear we've had enough. (Isn't it great how I switch to the all-inclusive 'we' pronoun when it's convenient for me)? My real problem isn't online anyway- it's my curse. I've realized that any time I'm about to head out and move away (to college, to my Washington D.C. internship, before my mission, and NOW, right before moving to Washington), is when guys I've know for awhile FINALLY find the courage to admit to me (or to a third party who will then relate to me) that they find my Sweeney ways to be alluring. Or in layman's terms, they like me. I feel so delightfully elementary school right now. But maybe my sad/funny excuse for a love life would make for a decent Disney princess plot line. But they'll have to come up with the ending of how to break the curse. I'm out of ideas. And for the moment, that's fine by me.  But no matter what, I know I will- sorry... I know 'we' will all live _____________ever after." The End.

Smiles and such,

Sweeney