Day 26: My One-Day Modeling Career…Or, My Last Day as an Ingenue

For the final 30 days of my twenties, I am writing one personal narrative a day that has impacted my life until now.  To read more about my challenge, feel free to check out the first post.  

Also, this 30 Day challenge is also to support a wonderful charity, Zara Aina.  Please check out my fundraiser here and if you’re able, please consider throwing a few dollars toward this amazing cause.  It would mean the world!


I can’t speak for every actress, but for me, there was a specific moment when my worries about women in theatre hit me like a brick wall.  I was very lucky in one large respect as a child–I had theatre, and the roles written for young female actresses–to provide me with the belief that women had something to say in the theatrical literature.  I played Helen Keller, Anne Frank, understudied Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Perhaps most memorable in my own personal experience, was a character named Girl in a beautiful play for young audience’s called Mother Hicks.  Girl–who has never been given a name–is an orphan in a small mid-western town during the Great Depression who spends the play searching for a true home.  Like Helen and Anne, she is on her own hero’s journey–not one that trails along beside a male character.

Yet as I got older, even when I got to college, it was obvious that these rich character arcs were getting left in the dust as I entered the ingenue stage of my life.  In college, though I was very grateful for the roles and great people I worked with, I played psychologically damaged women, or the tough older character that guided the crumbling, delicate ingenue.  The strong, dynamic characters being written for women, were often deranged or in the process of having divorce-induced nervous breakdown.  Luckily, in educational theatre, it is acceptable to act outside your type and age, and so my full disappointment for women’s roles was delayed until I graduated and moved to NYC.

Because then the roles essentially stopped.  After many years of padding my ego as a community theatre child–big fish syndrome–I found myself floundering to make sense of the Juliets and the Ninas, and it was clear in my auditions.  The roles I have been cast in are those rare gems like The Laramie Project, where a woman is not playing the role of a women, she is playing an activist, a writer, at one point and bigoted old lady that I had to somehow connect with.  I’ve played devious 17-century wives that are trying to ruin their husbands, I’ve played men!  But more often than not, the roles I am not cast in leave me feeling like I’m missing something.  I connected with the women on the stage as a child, and yet in these audition rooms, I feel like an unkempt, masculine woman who just can’t bring herself to wear heels as the rest of the room is popping on their 3-inch stilettos.

It took me some time to stop resenting women who could be vulnerable enough on stage to play these beautiful roles–these characters are not to be diminished.  I did play Juliet, but I never felt like I figured her out, almost to the point of embarrassment. Either way, the women I’ve come to know who can rock these roles with confidence, are often tough, fiery ladies, not the docile, introspective characters-in-love they portray.  So I am stuck between the dilemma of longing to have this strength and waiting until the characters I connected with as a child return as I get older.

But where am I going with this?  I’m supposed to be telling a story.  I came to terms with this shift  during that time I mentioned in the flash-mob post, when I was applying for every job that was remotely related to performance.  During my background actor days, I submitted daily through Casting Networks–a site for BG work–for a casting call for “Model Types.”  I assumed that it just meant tall, thin-ish women with high cheek bones.

The thing about growing up in theatre as  girl is that once you hit your teen years, everyone loves to comment on your appearance.  “Oh she’s an actress?” a well-meaning friend would say to my parents, “I can see it, so pretty, she should be a model!”  I know this is meant as a compliment, but for years I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me.  Maybe it’s because as a kid, I did not fall into the typical confines of overly groomed beauty.  My hair went past my waist until the 7th grade, and until I was about 10, I barely brushed it.  It was like a mane to be pulled out of my face so I could get on with the day.  I was told that longer hair would get me cast more, so I was terrified of cutting it.  To this day, it is why I have never dyed my hair either.

Anyway, when I hit puberty, I wouldn’t say I instantly blossomed into some sort of flower.  My eyebrows met in the middle, I struggled letting go of my Bartman t-shirt, and I cut my hair out of fear that public school would be harsher on me than my former bubble of Catholic School.  I can’t say I enjoyed any of this change though, and I was startled by the increase in physical comments the second I started following along with the expected standards of girlish upkeep.  Why comment on my looks when I say I’m an actress?  You haven’t seen me act, who cares about my hair?

By my early twenties, I learned to play the part of “lady” and gritted my teeth in silence when the comments from friends turned into catcalls from men on the streets or checkout guys at the supermarket.  When I began to explore background work as a means of an acting-related side job, it was even more clear that there were a few boxes for women–model types, polished business type (must had upscale matching suit), hippie type, edgy women (tattoos and colored hair encouraged), hipster girl, high school student, prostitute.  The one category I seemed to fit into was high school student, which is why I paced back and forth between my fake locker on The Carrie Diaries for way too many months.  I also had good luck with period pieces, but that’s mainly because my thick eyebrows and un-dyed hair qualifies me for 1920’s secretary.

“Model-type” however, was a surprise.  I got called the day before for an audition.  I was asked to wear heels, 3-inches or higher.  We would be asked to “walk.”  Now remember, this was less than a year after hiking the Camino.  I knew how to walk, I just didn’t know how to walk up tall in a straight line with sticks hooked to my feet.  With the little money I had, I bought hideous, three-inch black leather heels from Payless that latched on to my toes like a Medieval torture device, and clonked across my tiny Astoria apartment throughout the evening.  I watched bits of Top Model and other tutorials on model walking/what the hell I was supposed to do with my face.  The thing I hadn’t even thought about for some reason, was my body type.  I was 120 pounds from the age of 16 until about 25, I didn’t worry about my weight at that point.  Anywho, I pack up my stuff and headed to midtown the next day.

As I exited the elevator, a line of striking, made-up women lined the hallway, all towering over me as I passed to pick up my sign-in card.  The casting office, through one of the doors, was only for casting personnel, the hallway was as far as we were allowed.  The requirements of the day were clear, “Walk toward the casting table as if it is a runway, wait for the director to tell you to stick around or not.”  A quick, “No, thank you,” or “Please wait over there” was heard after each girl.

I sat in the corner of the hallway to slip on my heels, and smiled at a few women around me.  It was clear from the very beginning that I was out of my element–that this was a whole other world of female performers that I was unfairly infiltrating.  They sat, focused on their pocket mirrors, adjusting their makeup, fixing imperfections in their hair, and most notably, ripping their body images apart to one another.  Now, before I go on with this, please know that I respect these women and was only taken aback that this particular groups was a creating negative hell of self-deprecation.  I cannot assume that this represented the modeling world–for I have never returned to find out.

“I’ve been working on getting rid of this.” She tugged grotesquely at a inconsequential amount of fat on the back of her thigh.  “Ugh, I know, I’m disgusting today,” answered the pristinely assembled women behind her, “I hope they just told look at my shoulders today.”

I started to think about what I would say if I joined in on the conversation.  “I HAVE MAN ANKLES!” I daydreamed proudly screaming.  I loved my muscly legs, my disproportioned thighs, my blotchy red skin from five weeks in the sun.  As the conversations went on, I began to let of my hopes for the day.  What was I trying to do here?  If the audition is stressing me out, why would I want to spend a week being viewed with these expectations.

I hobbled along the line in my wobbly heels and watched the skilled, strong-as-steel women strut down the slippery linoleum hallway.  I knew my walking looked nothing like that, and I knew that many of my body’s small curves would be considered a disqualifying factor.  So about three women to go,  I just thought, “Well, screw it,” and began to laugh at each panicked, self-conscious inkling that tried to work itself into my mind.  I also started to desperately crave donuts.  It must have been all the anti-food talk reverberating through the halls.

When it came time for me to walk, I distinctly remember the casting director glancing at me for a moment, and then looking back down at his notes to talk to his assistant about the person before me.  No one was even going to watch me try.  So, with a donut dream in my heart, I hobbled with pride and comedy down that loud hallway as two grown men shuffled papers and looked the other way.  I had never been so proud to be ignored.  I stood obediently for a moment, ahead of the table, waiting for my verdict.  The guy looked up, “Oh!  Yeah, you’re free to go.  Thanks.”

As I leaned against the back of the elevator, it dawned on me that I had started to buy into the idea of women in NY theatre and film.  If this was all there was, then I didn’t want to be a part of it.  But come on, there’s no way this was it.  I knew that, but I needed to reach this point of rock-bottom frustration with what I was not to start figuring out what roles I longed to play again.  Why are the child female characters in plays written as such vehicles of bravery and wisdom?  And why do you have to wait until your 30s to get a glimpse of that again?

As I sat at Andy’s deli on 7th, eating a glorious cheeseburger, I contemplated my great respect for the model women who had the strength to project such presence.  I did not, nor did I long for, this skill.  I longed for the Helen Keller roles, the Annes, the Girls.  To all my playwright friends–please keep writing women who have their own Hero’s Journey, and not just one that makes her decide between her cushy-yet-suffocating domestic life and a life with another man (I’ve started seeing this trend in theatre).  We can do more than look pretty and care for families.  Here’s hoping my 30s are more enlightening than my ten years of failed attempts at playing the ingenue.

Day 25: The Night I Slept in the Attic of a Bar

For the final 30 days of my twenties, I am writing one personal narrative a day that has impacted my life until now.  To read more about my challenge, feel free to check out the first post.  

Also, this 30 Day challenge is also to support a wonderful charity, Zara Aina.  Please check out my fundraiser here and if you’re able, please consider throwing a few dollars toward this amazing cause.  It would mean the world!


I’m running out of days, and appropriately, running out of Camino stories.  And although the following began as an insignificant day in the scheme of the hike, I look back on this evening as the moment I first realized how beautiful this pilgrimage truly is–and how much I’d long to go again someday.

It was only the fourth day of hiking, but day one had taken such a toll on our bodies that early physical ailments were beginning to rear their heads.  Courtney was particularly suffering.  Due to the positioning of her shoes as we hiked over the Pyrenees, she had bruised a bone on the top of her foot–a painful ailment only curable with rest, the one thing we didn’t have.  But we were newbies to the journey, and stopping this early in the game went against our schedules.

Continue reading



You are all amazing people!!  As of today, we have gone BEYOND the goal to raise $900 for Zara Aina.  And the best part?  There’s still a whole week to see how far we can get.  I am so blown away by this experience, I had no expectations of reaching the total, especially before the end of the 30 days.  You have all given such a beautiful gift to me and this organization.  Go team.


The amazing couple that put us over the fundraiser’s edge were my cousins, Robyn and Alex.  These are some of the most generous people you will ever meet.  When I was getting to know Ben, the welcoming energy of the family was overwhelming, and came full force from these two lovely people.  I couldn’t be more grateful to call them family.


Day 24: Beginning at the End

For the final 30 days of my twenties, I am writing one personal narrative a day that has impacted my life until now.  To read more about my challenge, feel free to check out the first post.  

Also, this 30 Day challenge is also to support a wonderful charity, Zara Aina.  Please check out my fundraiser here and if you’re able, please consider throwing a few dollars toward this amazing cause.  It would mean the world!


During the six weeks leading up to our move from Plainfield, I kept a countdown both on my bedroom calendar and in my butterfly-adorned diary.  Even back then I was a passionate journaler, but I held back in what I wrote.  A few years earlier, my older sister ripped all the pages out of my diary and posted them on the refrigerator to get me in trouble (I said some not-so-nice things about my mother).  Years later, when I started blogging, I though of it as a form of “posting my own diary on the refrigerator,” but this time about the thoughts I chose to share–and not ones about lamenting the daily life of a 5th grader.  It’s the harder stories, the ones that I fear will somehow come back to get me, that I hesitate before writing.  And yet, if this birthday challenge has taught  me one thing, it’s that these are just stories.  They are not my current reality.  Still, our pasts can drive our decisions and mold our views of the world in ways we don’t even recognize.  When I finally started seeing a therapist in college, it was like wearing glasses for the first time.

My issue now is that I don’t have the words to tell these stories, to really do them justice.  So where do you start?

Continue reading

Day 24: We’re at 99%!!!

So I don’t normally post this early about the fundraiser, but guys, we are $8 away from the goal!!!!  With a week to go!!!  And here’s the great thing about this fundraiser, there’s no reason we have to stop at $900.  If you need to re-inspire yourself this Thursday morning (especially after the anxiety-causing disaster we watched last night) check out Zara Aina’s site, and believe in the world again!  Either way, if any one is up to sending $8, you will be the official fundraiser finisher!

Here are the three people that helped us reach this yesterday…

Zach and Leslie Hoover!


I love these two people so much!!  They knew my husband way before I did, but I like to pretend I’ve known  them for just as long.  They are incredible friends, gracious hosts, amazing parents, and very generous in all the admirable political and philanthropic work they do in their lives.

Carlaina Bell!


I couldn’t ask for a more positive person to sit right across the hall from me at work.  Carlaina is the loveliest of coworkers and so generous for donating to my fundraiser–because of her, we’re now at 99%!  Also, she has the best dresses.  Like, how do I find these dresses?

Day 23: Thank you!!

Hi All!!  I cannot believe we have less than $100 to go!  This is incredible.

Today I would like to thank an anonymous donor–an awesome person that has been very supportive to my writing.  And it’s so great that they donated to Zara Aina!  As I have with past anonymous donations, here’s a picture of a cute doggy!

Day 23: The Night I Met Ben

For the final 30 days of my twenties, I am writing one personal narrative a day that has impacted my life until now.  To read more about my challenge, feel free to check out the first post.  

Also, this 30 Day challenge is also to support a wonderful charity, Zara Aina.  Please check out my fundraiser here and if you’re able, please consider throwing a few dollars toward this amazing cause.  It would mean the world!

With only one week left in this challenge,  I figured it was a good time to tackle the bigger stories, the ones that shifted the course of my 20’s, and really, as luck would have it, my life.  I’ve written about this story before–the night Ben and I met–but never in complete detail.  SO here we go.

I almost didn’t accept the birthday party invitation from Jenn, a friend from college who was celebrating her birthday on the Lower East Side.  Nothing against Jenn, I would have just rather given into my trusty depression and climb back into bed with my laptop.  Yeah, that sounds like a better plan.  I was living at home at the time.  The year leading up to that summer left me in a rough spot.  I graduated college, hiked the Camino de Santiago, went through a vicious breakup three days after finishing the hike, worked in a job with a bully by my side for four months, and then found myself curled up in bed back in North Jersey for several months.  It was like a floodgate of emotional issues, kept at bay for years by the structured world of formal education, released its wrath the moment I left its protection.

Invitations like this were few and far between.  And since I planned to move to NYC, I needed to at least try and become comfortable with having social life there.  Yet there were several issues–I barely had any money and I worried my mood would take a dark turn during the party.  Still, I decided to accept Jenn’s offer and she graciously extended an offer to stay with her in Astoria that night.

It was one of the hottest days of July–July 23rd to be exact–and the only thing I could bare putting on my body that afternoon was a small sundress given to me by my friend Claire years earlier.  I stressed all afternoon about not looking like a weirdo, especially since I knew my ex, and many of his group, may be there that night.  Why I was putting myself through this, I did not know.  I just hoped there would be enough other people there that I could manage to have a good time.

After dropping my things off at Jenn’s, we stepped out into the humid night when a dramatic crack of thunder ripped through the air, sending a deluge of water through the streets.  It was a comical storm really, you had to laugh.  Because of this however, we took a cab–a luxury beyond my means at that time, you can be sure of that.  I noticed during our drive down the east side of Manhattan that this was one of those black cars that didn’t take cards–it’s wild how clueless you feel when you look back on your early-NYC self.  We arrived at the bar and I handed over every dollar I had brought for the evening.  I had money in my checking account, but not a whole lot.  So yeah, this should be an interesting evening.

Continue reading

Day 21: Big Fundraiser THANK YOUS!

The past 24 hours have been pretty exciting over in the fundraising world.  I have three sets of people to thank today!!  And we’re at 90%!!!

Debi and Ben Goodrich!

Ben and Debi are both awesome coworkers of mine, and very generously donated yesterday!!  I am so lucky to have Debi to chat with about my blog posts–and it always makes me smile when she says she’s given it a look:)  Thanks, guys!!!


Kelli Meyer!

Oh my goodness, Kelli Meyer!  I’ve known Kelli for 11 years.  ELEVEN YEARS. She’s been my bridesmaid, my roommate, my long-distance driving buddy, and oh yeah, a really great friend.  Love you, lady!


Cortney Conrad!

‘Tis a good day for roommate donations.  I lived with Cortney in college and she has been a dear friend since Drew.  Though she is far away in Colorado now, I miss her so!

We're so little!! And still learning to take selfies!!

We’re so little!! And still learning to take selfies!!

Day 22: A Six-Year-Old’s Story About Her Cat

For the final 30 days of my twenties, I am writing one personal narrative a day that has impacted my life until now.  To read more about my challenge, feel free to check out the first post.  

Also, this 30 Day challenge is also to support a wonderful charity, Zara Aina.  Please check out my fundraiser here and if you’re able, please consider throwing a few dollars toward this amazing cause.  It would mean the world!


With only a few days to go in this writing challenge, I am trying my darndest not to lose steam.  After two particularly long and emotional stories, I just need to write something simple today.

You know those stories you tell as a kid–over and over and over again–because they’re the tales you save up for a super-exciting moment when everyone is listening??  Well, I had a bunch of those, and they weren’t always exciting for everyone forced to listen.  Either way, I told them a lot.  A lot, a lot.  The following was one of my go-to tales, so imagine it through the eyes of a six-year-old:

My cat Moonlight was my best childhood friend.  Completely black from head to tail, she fit the mold of any spooky Halloween sneaky creature, but couldn’t have had a friendlier disposition–a bit like the Coraline cat.  She was also sharp as a tack.  She, like most of our other cats, were indoor/outdoor kitties, and when she came inside for the night, she would immediately recount the adventures of her day through enthusiastic meows.  You could ask her questions about what happened in the outside world, she’d wait for you to finish speaking before chattering on with her “response.”  I was also convinced that she was part circus cat.  I had trained her to chase after certain toys after leaping over ottomans and under chairs.  We had a good thing going.

Earlier that year, my dad had started an infamous re-roofing project and the pile of old shingles hung out in the back of our garage for several months.  A frequent way of entertaining myself was venturing through the old grapevines my neighbors had once grown on the trellises on the side of their yard.  I would duck under and over the old rubble that piled up over the years and emerge from behind our line of sunflowers that flanked the back of the yard.

But on one particularly hot afternoon, as I passed the back of the garage, I heard a sad mewing and hissing sound coming from the pile of shingles.  I squished myself through the heavy door and delicately climbed as close as I could to the opening in the mountain of materials.  And then I saw it, it was Moonlight, somehow stuck underneath the shingles, trapped and hissing in panic.  I was devastated.  I ran to my parents inside who immediately came running.  Eventually, other neighbors came to help and my mom called the vet for advice/the message that we would run to his office as soon as she was free.

A little while later, I was told to back off, since animals in distress can become angry and lash out when they’re hurt or in danger.  So I dragged myself inside, defeated.

I perched myself on the edge of the dining room radiator–it had one of those flat metal covers, so I often sat there when I needed a spot to myself. I put my head in my hands and heard the hollering outside.  It didn’t sound like any progress was being made.  Just as I closed my eyes and dropped my forehead further into my palms, I felt a slick, warm cat head bounce off my shoulder.  The comforting kitty purred for a moment, and briefly licked the side of my hand.

I looked up and scratched the top of her head.  “Thanks, Moon,” I said thankfully…my head snapped up…”MOONLIGHT!”  There before me, fit as a fiddle, was my cat Moonlight–you know, the one currently stuck in the garage.  You can imagine my mixed emotions as I realized that my cat was okay, but that some random black cat was not.  Either way, I had to go tell half the neighborhood freeing the cat from the rubble that it wasn’t who we thought it was.

This type of plot twist was too wild for my six-year-old head.  I went outside and didn’t know how to explain that Moonlight was okay, but that we had a whole other issue on our hands–that someone else’s poor cat was stuck in our garage.  Eventually, they did free to poor kitty and took her to the vet.  I was always unsure if I got the full story from my parent’s, but to my adult knowledge, the cat was a stray that needed a good deal of medical care, and came through in the end healthier than before (let’s hope that’s true!  Let’s say it is).

Moonlight however, was still at my side each morning as I brushed my teeth, and we continued to work on our circus act.  For years after that, we were the lookout family for the strays of the area.  When people scoff at this, I always ask, “What were we supposed to do?”  We found homes for families of kittens, took in a cat with one ear, and even had an opossum following us around for some time.  His name was Petey.  A neighbor’s dog–who they barely fed and was often left wandering around the town–frequently enjoyed my mom’s leftover meatballs from dinner.  The cat that would eventually take Moon’s place when she passed away at a ripe-old age, was a great, white goofy creature name Teddy, that climbed up our screen door during the great snow storm of 96.  Again, what were we supposed to do? Leave him in the snow drifts?  And either way, I got a new cat buddy.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I was surrounded by animals as a kid, and loved it.  My family’s relationship with the lost animal souls of the neighborhood may have been non-traditional, but it taught me that each creature deserves care, no matter where they came from or how they ended up on your back porch.  And I am glad for this.  Without it, we may not have these two fatties in our lives:

14615670_950770785759_8914252654447287408_o 14692071_951975446609_3926326159542724502_o


Day 21: Thank you Dana! You are Awesome

Hi all!  With just over a week left of this challenge, Dana Sumner-Pritchard has very generously donated to my birthday fundraiser!  Dana and I have worked together in theatre since college–she is a fabulous actress, writer, and all-around hilarious individual.  She also put us at the 80% mark!


Look at her dancing the night away at our wedding! Cause she’s a champ!