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.

video 
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

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