The last audition

When I left L.A. and moved to Virginia, I used breakup terms to explain my exit from the film industry. Figure out what I really want.

Find myself.

Get my head together.

It's a break, not a breakup. (Just FYI: it's always a breakup.)

My agent seemed to take it just about as poorly as my ex-boyfriends did.

I wasn't brave enough to make a totally clean break and leap head-first into the unknown Real World. If a script looked really fantastic... if the producers were really interested in me…you know…maybe….

I shoved a tiny wedge in the door and left it open, just a crack. It felt safer that way. Slamming that door shut tight would have left me all alone in the dark.

My agent slithered through that crack. A film was casting and the producers had requested to see me for a role. The project sounded interesting but if I agreed to this, was it just a matter of time before it seemed like a good idea to fly back to L.A. to audition for a guest spot on Everybody Loves Raymond? I really felt like I needed to get out of the film world, but I waffled, scared to leave behind the only moneymaking ability I had. My agent felt her 10% commission slipping away again.

“But, it’s Martin Scorsese!” She squealed.

Well, okay. This was a big deal. He was a big deal. (And still is a big deal.)

I agreed to audition and promptly started freaking out about the idea of going back to work. There was no offer yet, but it suddenly seemed that life needed to change. I needed to lose 4 pounds, get some color on my legs and not dye my hair “Mahogany 51” from a six-dollar bottle from the Rite-Aid. There were so many things to be done and they all sounded horrible.

But sometimes it’s hard to tell if a pounding heart indicates excitement or terror.

When an actor cannot get to the city where the audition sessions are being held, they can do an audition tape where they record themselves reading the lines at home and send it to the producers. They inevitably look like the most horrid home movies.

My boyfriend, Jeremy, was cautiously supportive of this audition. If he had been too supportive he would have been accused of thinking that me leaving L.A. was a mistake. Not supportive enough, and I would have said that he never truly loved or respected me. The poor guy was pretty much relegated to smiling and nodding.

My audition tape set up involved a bed-sheet duct taped to hang over a closet door, providing a neutral background. It always looked exactly like a duct-taped sheet. A complicated system of IKEA floor lamps and vertical blind manipulation created a lighting situation that made me look about 57 years old.

My dogs, having just moved across the country and into my boyfriend's flimsy, bare, grad-student apartment, were feeling a little needy and would bark and whine whenever they felt excluded. So, for the sake of the sound, one dog remained seated on my lap with the other curled up at my feet. We framed the shot close enough that the animals were cut out.

Finally we began. I had a lengthy speech before Jeremy had his first line. He said it and it was loud.

And it was British.

For some reason, he was using his from-the-diaphragm theater-training voice, although the microphone was mere inches from his face. He also had some sort of odd, Cockney accent. This character is not British. Jeremy is not British. There is absolutely no reason for this behavior. Ah! He is trying to make me laugh so I am more comfortable. He is probably not even filming.

“Stop, stop, stop.” I laughed and waved my hands in front of my face. Jeremy turned the camera off. Damn, he was filming.

“You were doing great. What’s wrong?” He asked.

“Yeah, I was fine, but what were you doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Were you trying to be funny?”

“Did I say it funny?”

I explained to Jeremy that the mic is right near him and maybe he should be quieter so that our sound levels match. I assumed he knew the accent needed to go.

We started again, and again he was loud and even more heavily accented. I tried to get through the scene with the ridiculousness of the emotionally unsettled dog on my lap and the loud British man reading with me. It wasn't good. I wasn't good.

It was all just uncomfortable. I felt like a grown-up woman trying fit into the jeans she wore in middle-school. I was half-heartedly trying to recreate a moment whose time had past. 

When we finished, we watched the video back to see exactly how much of a train wreck the thing was.

“Wow,” Jeremy says  “I was really loud. And do I have some sort of accent? Oh, you did great, though.”

I did not get the job. I tried to imagine Mr. Scorsese watching this thing, squinting in confusion at the drooping sheet background, the dog ears that occasionally popped in to view and my loud friend from the British Isles. I could blame it on any of those things, but whatever the reason, there was no offer.

And that's how it goes. You usually don’t know the reason you don’t get a job. When it was released, we went to see The Aviator in theaters. Gwen Stefani played the role I read for.

It was at that moment, in the darkened theater, that I realized I didn't want to be Gwen Stefani. I wasn't longing to be up there, taking direction from even the great Martin Scorsese. I wanted to be right where I was. Living in a flimsy grad-student apartment, with a couple of neurotic dogs and a boyfriend who inexplicably broke into foreign accents. That was where I was truly happy. I didn't want the complication of trying to impress Hollywood with duct taped sheets and IKEA floor lamps. I wanted to have pasty legs and hair the color of Mahogany 51.

I had no clue what was next in my life, what might happen after those credits rolled, but I knew I was done with acting. I had done it already. It was that simple.

So, that was the last project I auditioned for.

That audition had been the breakup sex. It was the one more time that you go back and give the relationship that last chance...only to find it was as awkward and unfulfilling as you remembered. But we all need that one last fling, that experience that lets you finally walk away with a few good stories, but absolutely no remorse.

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Storytelling: honesty or exploitation?

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When I first decided to be a little more open with my writing, I was really nervous. I was concerned about interaction with the faceless "public." But I soon realized that I absolutely love getting your emails and Facebook messages. Connecting with you all is a joy. I'm honored that you would reach out to share your stories and ask me questions. (You also tend to be a kind and hilarious group of people who write well, so that's pretty damn cool.)

Recently, I got an email that really made me think. I believe that it said some decent things in the beginning, but in typical me-style, I skipped right over them and got to the part that made me squirm.

...the only issue I have with your blog posts is that you keep pointing out that you "were" an actor. If you want to move on from your past as much as your posts seem to illustrate, why do you keep bringing up the fact that you were once an actor publicly on this blog? Are you exploiting the fact that you were once an actor to promote your book and blog site?

Ouch.

But after I licked my wounds for a bit, I realized that I really wanted to answer this question.

When I left L.A, I hid from my former career for more than 10 years. I rarely talked about it, even to my closest friends. I denied it when people recognized me. I was ashamed of the way it made me stand out and how I was treated differently from other people. I felt like a freak.

I've since decided that negating 18 years of one's existence isn't healthy and I wanted to have the freedom to talk about my life from age 4 - 22. And by "talk" I mean "write" because I'm a writer and that's what I do. I write about it, because my past exists, and I look like an idiot when I pretend there is not an elephant in the room. I'd rather invite that elephant to sit down and rest a while and not worry about trying to hide behind the ficus plant.

More than that, I wanted to write about the stuff that few others seemed to be talking about. Like the fact that actors are normal people. The fact that the entertainment industry is not automatically the right path for everyone. The fact that when you see the sausage being made, sometimes you don't want to be part of it. The fact that people, regardless of their profession, can change their minds and chose a dream that looks different from what people expected of them.

Am I exploiting my life? I don't know. Cheryl Strayed wrote Wild about walking the Pacific Crest Trail. In it, she talks about her past - so is she "exploiting" her drug history? Her mother's death? Maybe she is exploiting Pacific Crest Trail itself?

Writers tend to write what they know. Which is a good thing, because when we write about things we don't know - it makes for some pretty shitty reading material.

But he went on:

Almost a little hypocritical if you ask me. I honestly believe if you wanted to step away from your celebrity status completely, then you should change you name, make a classified pseudonym for all your public posts, and creative writing projects.

While I want to thank this person for his career advice, I also want to add that I've been doing that for years. I did change my name and have another successful blog that has absolutely nothing to do with my former career. I also wrote for non-profits and did communications consulting. You don't know about any of that...well...because I used a pseudonym.

In addition to that writing, I also want to write about pop culture. I'm a sociology nerd who reads soc textbooks for fun. I'm fascinated by the way we structure and institutionalize our lives and the way we, as a society, behave.  I want to write about the cultural pressures that come along with choosing a different path in life and I don't want to feel like I have to hide who I am. And who I am includes (but is not exclusively limited to) my past.

I wanted to write about some of my personal experiences because I think they are a way in which I can contribute to the conversation. I have some stuff to say that I hope can be of use to someone. I've shared some things about my life, and in return, people have told me the most wonderful, intriguing, inspiring things about their lives. That connection through storytelling is what it's all about for me. And I can't connect if I'm not honest about who I am.

He concluded by saying that actors have amazing opportunities and that:

This aspect alone in my mind is well worth the tradeoff of being labeled a "celebrity" with a "fan"base.

To that I say - awesome, you should go be famous. Enjoy.

And, if after this you still find me to be an exploitive hypocrite who was wrong to leave my job - that's okay. Luckily there are lots of other things that you can read on the internet.

——–
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Autographs

Recently, I've had a bunch of requests for autographs - which is very kind and sweet and I'm flattered. However...

I've been tip-toeing around this and trying to figure out how to not hurt anyone's feelings (and how not to sound like a jackass) -- but I've decided to come clean.

Here's the deal:

Signing autographs makes me wildly uncomfortable.

Because when I sign an autograph, it puts me back into this little actor box that just doesn't fit me anymore. It makes me the "celebrity" and the other person is the "fan" and that just feels icky. I think we are both much more than those narrow parameters.

And really, what is the point? Does anyone actually know what my signature looks like? If my husband/friend/mailman scribbled "Best Wishes, Lisa Jakub" on an index card, would anybody know the difference? As long as they got the spelling right, probably not.

Even if I did sign it, so what?

It makes me feel creepy that someone would value something just because, what, I wrote on it? We haven't established any kind of connection or relationship. I don't get to know anything about you, like where you grew up, or if you are a dog person or a cat person. And you don't know anything more about me, except that my Ls are very loopy.

So, I'm not going to do autographs. But if you want to email me or communicate through Facebook or Twitter, I always do my very best to respond. (It just might take me a little while.) Instead of doing the autograph thing, let's have a conversation about something like two normal people.

Now, when my book comes out, I might be convinced to sign that....but that's a whole different deal. (ETA: the book is out. And I do sign and personalize it. Click here.)

I hope that's cool with you guys.

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In which I attempt to impress my niece with "Teenaged Girl Underwater"

My 7-year old niece wants to be a marine biologist. She was explaining that her first favorite are great white sharks, but dolphins are her close second favorite. At the time, she and I were standing on a paddleboard, cruising around the sadly shark/dolphin-free Bass Lake in California. I don't get to hang out with her, or my 5-year old nephew, very often, since my sister-in-law and her family live on the opposite side of the country. As an only child, I was never sure that I'd have the chance to wear the label of Auntie - so whenever I do see them, I always bring gifts to try to bribe my way into being Cool Aunt Lisa. I'm not naturally good with kids, so I rely on books, baseball hats and interesting stories. I jumped at the chance to get into her good graces.

"I got to swim with dolphins."

She quickly turned around on the paddleboard to look at me, almost dumping us both off.

"Really? Why?"

Shit. I hadn't really thought this through. Should I just say something about Sea World? No, I shouldn't lie to 7-year olds.

"Ummm. Well. You know I used to be in movies, right? Didn't you see that one with your Grandma?"

I thought I had remembered that she came across Mrs. Doubtfire with my mother-in-law, and she had been totally confused about why Aunt Lisa was on TV and looking so young. Other than that, we'd never talked about it. In fact, my former acting career so rarely comes up with any of my in-laws, it's easy for all of us, including me, to forget it happened at all.

"No. Ohhhh. Wait. I do kinda remember that."

I explained that I had done a TV movie called Bermuda Triangle and that's where I got to swim with dolphins. And actually, there was a shark in it, too.

"Great white?" She asked.

"No, it was just a blacktip reef shark." She tried to cover her look of mild disappointment.

I tried to get my cred back.

"I think there might actually be a clip of it on YouTube, if you want to see it." She brightened and nodded, but she was clearly lost in a different thought.

"You know, I think being on TV runs in our family. My Grandma used to be a dancer and she was on TV. So, it's just like that!"

(When her Grandma was 8 years old, she was in a dance troop called the "Hi-Steppers" and they were once on some sort of variety show wearing top hats and white gloves.)

"Yep, just like that!" I agreed.

When we got back to dry land, I was able to find clips, here, here and here to show the kids my dolphin encounter. I tried to ignore the fact that these were clips of me in a hot pink bathing suit in family-friendly TV movie that somehow got removed from context and categorized under the slightly pedophile-ish sounding title of "Teenaged girl underwater."

As my niece told me about her school play and swimming practice, it got me thinking about what I was doing when I was her age. I was filming a seriously intense movie with John Malkovich called Eleni. (And since my entire life seems to be on YouTube, you can see my somewhat terrifying scene at about 23:15.)

These clips remind me why it's challenging to explain to my young friends what I used to do. Because the movies still exist, and while the experience of working was formative for me, the finished product - the actual movie - was not.  It's kind of like having your yearbook pop up unexpectedly.  It seems totally dated and you can't believe your hair really looked like that. It's an inadequate representation of something that is simultaneously important and irrelevant.

Those movies have nothing to do with her relationship with Aunt Lisa, and yet, when my niece stumbled into the TV room post-nap that one time - there Mrs. Doubtfire was, pretending to be something that she needed to care about, just because it was right in front of her.

In the end, while the dolphin swimming was sufficiently interesting for a few moments, the Junie B Jones books I got her had a more lasting impact. I also taught her some yoga postures that seem to have solidified my position in her heart.

Together, the two of us can really rock out a Tree Pose.

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Beyond the Bed, Bath and Beyond

I went to the Bed, Bath and Beyond a few days ago. I had to run in to get a new cartridge for my SodaStream machine because mine ran out and I have a serious addiction to bubbly water with a slice of lemon. I live in a college town and the kids are just getting back to school, so the place was packed. There were freshman and parents standing in the aisles, looking overwhelmed and dazed about what was about to happen to them.

I grabbed what I needed and got in line to pay when I noticed a girl and her father who were shopping together. The daughter was wearing a university sweatshirt and her father kept pushing up his glasses, clearly stressed out about choosing a desk lamp for her dorm. They looked ready to come to blows over color preference. He was showing her the features of the lamp he liked and she was having none of it. She liked the purple one.

I tried not to stare, but I love watching the kids come back to school. I tend to be enamored with normalcy. Since I started acting as a pre-schooler and worked consistently until I retired, I never got to be a full-time student until I attended college at age 28. By then, I was living in a four-bedroom house with my husband - so the experience was not at all traditional. I never got to fight with my dad about dorm furniture. I certainly had other exciting opportunities in my childhood, but there were many normal kid things that I missed out on. So, when I see others participating in these kinds of traditional life moments, I can't help but find them intriguingly beautiful.

When the lamp battle was over, the father and daughter got in line behind me, both fuming slightly. When I stepped up to pay, the woman at the checkout stared at me. I started chit-chatting, which is what I tend to do, in the hopes that comments about the weather might divert attention from what I know is the real issue. She would not be deterred.

Had I seen Mrs. Doubtfire? I looked a lot like that girl. No, I looked JUST like that girl.

I responded by saying "I get that a lot" which is my go-to phrase because it is true.

She kept staring at me while I fumbled with my wallet. The dad behind me was tapping his credit card on the handle of the overflowing cart. I glanced back at the tower of shower caddies and plastic drawer sets and the purple, THAT'S RIGHT, DAD, PURPLE desk lamp in the cart. As I was signing the slip, I heard the dad telling his daughter that he really thought she needed just one more set of towels. Her sharp sigh indicated that she felt her current towel situation was sufficient.

I quickly grabbed my bag and left before the cashier could ask any more specific questions.

If I had been totally truthful, I would have admitted to the checkout woman that yes, when I was 14, for a few months I had filmed a movie. And now I'm in my thirties and I live in Virginia and although I'm thrilled that the movie was important to people, it's strange to still be asked about it.

But if I had confessed, there would have been the calling over of other employees and selfies and questions holding up of the line and trapping everyone behind me in a movie-worshipping vortex. Because that's what happens.

What I really wanted was for that dad and daughter to get out of the Bed, Bath and Beyond. I wanted them to set up her crappy dorm room with the purple desk lamp and the not-quite-enough towels. I wanted them to eat take-out burritos and chips out of a greasy bag.

Because then they would sit on the floor and the dad would realize it's not just the towels he's worried about. Maybe he gets up the guts to say he's proud of her, or maybe he just says something about her needing to work hard and get good grades because she's a smart girl.

And then the daughter would be embarrassed but secretly thrilled the way we all are when our dads say something dorky but sweet. And maybe she admits to being nervous about starting college and maybe she doesn't - but either way, she feels strengthened by the fact that at this moment, all she has to do is eat a burrito with her dad who let her get the purple lamp anyway.

I wanted their night to be about her brave venture into the terrifying, thrilling world of college. I did not want it to be about the fact that a retired actor was in front of them in line at the Bed, Bath and Beyond. I didn't want the focus of their conversation to be what I did more than two decades ago.

I know I romanticize the normal and that my adoration for the mundane could be a "grass is greener" situation. But I love those traditional social milestones and so I want them for others. I truly believe there is something inherently wonderful about the simple things in life - the connections, the transitions, the moments of silence. I love being able to acknowledge and enjoy them.

Maybe the none of it went down the way it went in my head, maybe there was not a single special moment or take-out burrito.

But I really hope there was.


Authenticity

Here's the thing they never tell you in those self-help books about choosing your authentic path. It sucks.

Sure, it's the only real way to live a content and purposeful life and eventually you will be better off, but for a long while - it sucks.

When you draw a line in the sand and make a different choice, people sometimes doubt what you are doing. They tell you that you are crazy for giving up _____________ , and that you should really go back to the old thing and just stay in your nice little box with the tidy label and be a good girl.

Embracing your true self can be painful. It's full of moments of paralyzing doubt that make you wish that you had taken that manicured, easy path - instead of hacking your way through the jungle with a machete, getting whipped in the face with branches and bitten by vicious insects.

But, it's still worth it.

There have been moments in the decade since I retired from the film industry where fitting in felt so awkward that it brought me to tears. Trying to make myself a LinkedIn profile caused me to have a breakdown, because in the real world, my film "skills" are completely irrelevant. I'd never had any other work experiences and my education was pretty much an afterthought. How was I ever going to do this?

There have been times I thought that I should give up and go back to LA and be an actor again. Not because it was what I wanted -- but because it felt easier and more familiar. Acting was my safety school.

From the emails and messages that I've been getting since I started this blog, I'm realizing that I am not alone in choosing the path less-traveled. Many of you seem to be saying - I'm doing this crazy thing, too, and it's challenging and brutal and I totally know how you feel.

And you DO know how I feel. Because almost everyone has to deal with that moment when they realize that what they want is different from what other people want for them. That's the moment where personal, fundamental decisions need to be made.

So, let me just say this. Whatever it might be that feels authentic to you, be it painting or going back to school or opening a coffee shop or moving to Santa Fe - don't banish it just because it feels like an uphill battle. It might be terrifying and unfathomable at times, that's okay. There are going to be a lot of people who don't get it. That's okay, too. It's not their life.

In the scariest moments, be reassured that you are not alone. There are lots of us out here, just trying to live the truth, make a difference and have some fun in the process. And I think pretty much all of us would say it's totally worth it. Because I know this for sure: choosing to live a counterfeit version of your own life sucks even more than the struggle for authenticity.

I have the following quote on my bulletin board because it gets me through those moments where I feel tired or frustrated and maybe I accidentally read the nasty comments about me on the Huffington Post. Maybe it can be of use to you, too.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

——–

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What are you?

I can't believe I'm writing this, mostly because I can't believe that you guys actually care. But judging by the number of times I get this question, I'm going to answer it. The question is, essentially, "what ARE you?" People ask in all kinds of ways, some more eloquent than others, but regardless of how it's phrased, my heritage seems to be of interest. This is funny to me, because when I was in the film industry, no one cared what my background really was.  Producers and casting directors took a quick look and placed me in two distinct categories:

"Ethnic"

This means "not blond." No matter how many highlights they put in (and you know they tried) I was never going to be blond. And I occasionally needed a good waxing.  Apparently, Americans are all blond-haired, blue-eyed and devoid of body hair.

"Athletic"

This means that I am short and possess smallish (real) breasts. This is a stark contrast to "waifish" which means tall, boobless and emaciated from never ever ingesting carbohydrates. This is also not "curvy" which means T&A all day but still managing to weigh under 120 lbs.

So, when producers were looking for an actor to play the tomboy, the friend or Joan of Arc, I was in. They wanted the feisty/moody/smart brunette? I had it covered. But, later in my career there seemed to be more and more calls for the "Britney Spears-type."

That is something I would never be.

I just couldn't act that well.

But as for my actual background: I am a Canadian mutt.

My mother's side is Scottish and Welsh. My father's side is Slovak. I know for certain that I mostly look like people from Dad's part of the world, because when my husband and I went to Prague last Christmas, he often lost me in a sea of pale, petite, dark-haired women.

Contrary to popular belief, and my own personal wishes, I am not Jewish. This comes as a surprise to me, too, especially since one of the only places I've ever seen my last name is a long line of Jakubs listed in Holocaust museums. But my father's side is Catholic, my mother's side is Presbyterian but I wasn't raised with any religious beliefs at all. I am now married to a Lutheran and I am...I guess...Buddhist-y.

Oh, and I'm also a massively introverted, right-brained Capricorn.

It's messy and not that interesting, but it's the truth and that's what I love about life. The nuance and complications are what makes it fun...otherwise, everyone just gets some sort of arbitrary label like Athletic Ethnic Girl.

Everyone is deserving of more complexity than that.

——–

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You're either in or you're out

I admit it. I have a girl-crush on Mary Louise Parker. I've never met her, but my adoration is long-standing. It all started with Fried Green Tomatoes, when she was so sweet. Then there was The West Wing, when she was so cool. And then there was Weeds, when she was just so...hot. I love her in everything.

Last week, my crush became full-blown when she said she is pretty much done with acting because she is too "thin-skinned." She talked about the intrusive culture of negativity and criticism that actors are exposed to. She thinks it's ugly. It is.

Parker wants to spend her time writing, being with her family and taking care of her goats. (Reminder to self: look into getting some goats.) You gotta love a chick who has her priorities in line.

I totally get it - had a tiny fraction of the publicity that Parker deals with, and it was too much for me. I realized that the more I worked at my "dream job" - the more vulnerable and unpleasant the rest of my life became. The trade-offs were simply not worth it anymore. It seems that she feels the same way, and I love that Parker is setting her limits and refusing to participate.

It's a good reminder that there are consequences to trashy and harmful practices like rewarding snark and buying gossip magazines. Maybe it just seems like benign fun, but it's not, and one of the consequences is no more Mary Louise Parker.

We can't fix everything that is wrong with the world, but I have hope that if enough people starting calling this out as unacceptable, the direction of media can change. Maybe we can return to a time of accountability in reporting and a basic notion of privacy and decency.

But then my Kumbaya-We-Can-Change-The-World optimism comes crashing down around me when I hear that Oprah is paying Lindsay Lohan 2 million dollars to give her an exclusive post-rehab interview, then star in an eight-part documentary series on OWN.

Because clearly, that girl needs more money and exposure. That ought to help the situation. (Damnit, why is there no such thing as sarcasm font??)

I LOVE Oprah, but this is a major misstep. This is a blatant grab for ratings. This is putting an ant under a magnifying glass and watching it burn. Because even if Oprah attempts to produce this show in the most Oprah-like, soul-inspiring way, people will inevitably tune in to submit to humanity's most base desires -  watching someone suffer so that we don't have to think about our own purpose in the world.

I'm so grateful that I was never famous enough that Oprah wanted to do a show with me when I was young and stupid. I'm thankful that there is no reality show detailing my attempts to sabotage my own life while recklessly falling in love with anyone who would make eye contact. I'm thrilled that there was never a comment section that kept track of exactly how many poor decisions I made in any given week. But that's seems to be what sells now.

So, I sigh and go back to wondering - a la The Truman Show -  "How will it end?"

I really don't know how it ends, but regardless, I officially want Mary Louise Parker to be my new best friend.

I'd totally help her with the goats.

--------

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Your dream is stupid

I recently read an article in Thought Catalog that highlighted a problem I've been thinking about for a while now. It was called The Difference Between Boring People And People Who Actually Want To Live. The article says there are basically two kinds of people, drones and dreamers. Drones have 401ks and work in offices. Dreamers are creatives who feed their souls with artistic endeavors. Although the writer says she doesn't think one is better than the other...the title kind of gives her away.

I'm all for supporting people in their dreams of living a fulfilling life. What I don't like is the judgement of what their dreams are.

I've read a lot about how it's okay, for example, to leave your job at the insurance company so that you can be a painter of landscapes. But, I rarely hear that it's okay to go the other way.

The article says that "Dreamers think bigger than most people, are unwilling to settle for zombie office culture..."

My husband works in an office. He loves his work. He loves PowerPoint and analytics and button up shirts that need collar-stays. He loves the people he works with. His "zombie office culture" makes him feel purposeful. Should I roll my eyes at him and assume that deep down he is actually a boring and unfulfilled drone? The dude sings very loudly in the shower - he's pretty damn happy.

As someone who was a working actor in Los Angeles - a supposed "dream job" - I had dreams of working at a "normal" job with deadlines and sweater-sets. So, I'm a little sensitive to people placing judgement on what is a worthy dream and what is not. I fantasized about the routine and structure of regular life. My dream was to get away from premieres and paparazzi and limos. I never wanted to be famous and I don't think that makes my dream less valid than someone who does want those things.

Why are we not celebrating the fact that people have different dreams? Our society would fall apart if we all wanted to be artists or if we all wanted to be accountants. One friend of mine left fashion to work at a financial firm, another wants to stop the endless grad school cycle and become a midwife. Both finance and midwifery activate my gag reflex - I'm grateful that they can do those jobs, so that I don't have to. Plus, they also get to contribute to society and be happy. Big wins, all around.

So, go ahead and dream of being a potter or goat farmer or a 9-to-5-er or whatever. A dream doesn't have to include professional athletes and movie stars to be valid. I promise. "Normal" can be beautiful, too.

Here's the advice from the article that I liked:

Fuck other people. Fuck their opinions, their two cents, their idea on what is “right” and “normal” and “healthy” and what you “should be doing.”

Amen to that.

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The zit

I have a zit right now. It's on the very tip of my nose. It's big. It's what my friend Heather would call "angry." It has three dimensions and it laughs at any concealer that dares come its way. Here's one of the fantastic things about my non-famous life.

This zit doesn't matter.

This was not the case in my old life.

When I was 16, I filmed a terrible TV movie in the South of France called Reckoning. I played a girl who got kidnapped by bad guys that wanted to sell her as a sex slave.

During shooting, puberty hit (shut up - I was a late bloomer) and I broke out terribly. My acne was so bad that even the heavy-duty film make up couldn't cover up my horrible pimples.  And no one wants a zitty sex slave.

The production company decided to "shuffle around the shooting schedule" and film scenes that didn't involve me and my terrible skin until it cleared up a little. There were production meetings and location changes. It was discussed widely throughout the cast and crew. Doctors were consulted.

But now, no one cares about this thing on my face. No one cares at my yoga studio or at the Whole Foods or when I picked up our tax paperwork from the accountant. The dog didn't care when my zit and I took her for a walk.

To the best of my knowledge, there has not been a single meeting held to discuss the state of this current zit.

I guess some girls like having the loaner jewelry from Van Cleef and Arpels and all the other trappings that come with celebrity, but for me, nothing is more valuable than the freedom to get a really big zit.

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Hello, my name is Lisa Jakub and I used to be an actor (Or: The answer to "why did you quit acting?")

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Hello, my name is Lisa Jakub. But most people in a restaurant/dentist’s office/yoga studio dressing room, call me “Hey, you look like that girl from Mrs. Doubtfire/Independence Day/Matinee.”

There is a good reason for that. I am that girl. More accurately, I was that girl. Or maybe I always will be her. Twenty years later, I’m still trying to work that part out.

These days, I’m an author, speaker, workshop leader, yoga teacher, and a happily retired actor.

The actor part is an awkward thing for me to write about. Because I spent ten years running from my past. A friend said that I’m so dodgy about my old life, that I behave like someone who killed her entire family and moved out of state.

I’m that elusive about it.

But I didn’t kill anyone.

I was just an actor.

But sometimes when people find out I was an actor, it changes how they see me. They seem to think that I’m somehow inherently different from them. And they always look at me with a thoroughly perplexed look on their face – and say "why would you ever leave Hollywood?"

You’ve probably left a job before. Why did you leave? Probably because you didn’t enjoy it anymore. Maybe something about that job didn’t feel authentic to you or fit in with what you wanted from life. There were probably parts of your job that you really liked, but one day, when you made your pro and con list — the con side was longer. Maybe you had done the job for eighteen years - like I had. Maybe it was time to do something new. That’s why I left my job.

I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t awful and I’m not whining about how hard my life was. Parts of my job were wonderful. But then I got to the point where the competition and the politics and the superficial nature of the industry started to get to me. I felt like a phony who was trying to live someone else's dream. My anxiety and depression intensified. So, I decided I should leave, before I became one of those alcoholic/eating disorder ravaged/drug addicted train wrecks of a former child actor. I had no desire to be a cautionary tale.

But when people recognize me, it’s hard to explain all that, because movies and fame have become such a revered thing in our society. It makes me look special or different or weird – when in fact, I’m just figuring my way through the world. Just like everyone else.

So, when I left L.A., I tried to bury Lisa Jakub. I went to college, got married, became a writer and learned how to do normal-people things like use my stove. When people said, "you look like that girl..." I said, "yeah, I get that a lot." And ran away. I was trying to forget that the old life existed.

Everyone has something that they try to cover up about themselves, something that makes them feel different and a little strange. Something that they worry will make them not quite fit in, like that quickie divorce or the anxiety disorder or the funny-looking thing on their foot.

Movies happen to be that thing for me.

Have you ever tried to run away from something? Every time you turn around, you always find it sitting right on your shoulder. In my new life, I’m a writer and I process my whole life through words on a page. It comforts me, organizes me, and helps me make sense of the world. Through writing this blog and my first book, You Look Like That Girl, and then my second book, Not Just Me I’ve learned how to have a healthy relationship with this part of my life.

I don't run away anymore.

Movies don't have to be front and center because I don't think that what I did when I was fourteen years old is the most important or interesting thing about me.

I just don’t want to pretend anymore.