Jan 10, 2007

Cats On Prozac, Susan On My Name Is Earl

The LA Times feature an article about Animals on Prozac. I hardly know how to respond. Except to wonder, how did anxious pets cope before now? This may put the pet psychics out of business.

Monday I had a callback for a teensy role on "My Name Is Earl." I had a callback for Earl several months ago. I kicked ass. I didn't book it.

I've had a lot of callbacks but haven't booked the jobs. The other week I had a callback for Crestor. Drug commercials are lucrative. I even wrote a piece for NPR about it. But they always pick earnest women to say At mycholesterol.com, we learned that Bob's cholesterol, plus his age and family history, means he has to do more. Or, Do you have a Cholesterol Plus problem? Women who can say that a straight face.

I didn't book it. It was one of those epic auditions, where they kept there for two hours, mixing and matching. And then they let us stay or we got booted off the island. I only went in once, then a half hour later they booted me off. I think I lost it when they asked for profiles. Me and my Jay Leno chin.

I used to make a living as an actor. Which makes it sucky when you don't anymore. When you've lived your life on a notion that God is involved in guiding your life, and you've seen him open the doors. Then you see Him blessing everyone within striking distance of you, you wonder … what did I do to earn God's malignant neglect?

Saturday we'd been out to dinner in Los Feliz, a trendy area made famous by the movie "Swingers." It's a place where lots of Hollywood hopefuls hang out. Not the America's Next Top Model gorgeous, but the funky weird gorgeous. A gorgeous I could have been once. I remembered what it was like to be that age and full of hope, because I had all the world and time in front of me.

Well I don't have the world and time in front of me. It lies behind me in the years I was soft and hopeful. I spent a good twenty years trying to make a living in this business. And now it is over, and the line of time is drawn and fixed behind me.


Monday morning, Larry and I were having our devotional. For some reason when we started to pray for the day, I got emotional and prayed to God, "Come on man, I'm not asking to be rich and famous, I just want enough for health insurance and to afford an apartment with a door on the bedroom and an actual bathtub!"


It's not just yuppies and Westsiders who act like they are entitled. Christians are the worst, and I have been one of them. I started my acting car
eer (and my career as an entitled Christian) sporting ideas like:

God has a wonderful plan for my life. He wants good things. Translate: I'm God's Kid: I don't have to work as hard. And my preachers gave me the Bible verses to back it up: God will open the doors that no man can close.

But then, life didn't work out that way. So pastors and teachers smiled, they downgraded my promises from holy writ to Hallmark maxims: When God closes a door, he opens a window.

To which I replied, Yeah, a window leading to unemployment and despair. And anyway, why can't God close the window, and open the door?

Monday afternoon, as I drove to the Valley, I thought more about that morning's prayer. Actually I thought about my transmission. Last time I drove to an Earl audition, my engine light went on. I thought about that. Then I thought about my whiny prayer. It was time to revise it.

I know this isn't your fault, God. Life is good and also hard. I know that I took much for granted. I was lazy and thought I was entitled to happiness and success, because I was yours. I am yours but I'm entitled to that alone. Please forgive me.

The women competing for my role looked like characters out of a Fellini film. Maybe my Jay Leno chin would help. We were all women over 35, dressed like drunken floozies. Vying for a chance to be funny. A chance to make rent money or health insurance.

While I was at the audition, a woman came up to me who recognized me from a temp job I had done four years ago. She still works at the law firm. Gives me the freedom to do this, she said. Go on auditions and have health benefits. I wondered again why I haven't sucked it up and gotten a full time law secretary job that allowed me to go on the occasional audition. I thought more about it, the image of life being a road behind me rather than in front of me. I got depressed.

I saw another woman there who'd been at the Crestor callback.
How did you do? I asked her.
They called me in once and released me. I don't care anymore, she said. She was dressed in a leather mini skirt and a crop top that showed off her ample cleavage. She didn't care anymore.

I realized my skirt was far too long to get this role.

I was the first one in for my category. The producers and writers in the room were friendly and fun. I was friendly and fun back at them.

I thought about joking that my skirt was too short. I didn't. I just got to the scene.

RANDY: Hi, I'm Randy. Are you drunk enough to come home with me?
The Woman downs the rest of her drink.

I wanted to swallow something. I had set out a can of Shasta Diet grapefruit, but I forgot to put it in the car. All I had in the car was a plastic water bottle filled with Blue Listerine. So I brought that in. I downed a swig of that. It spilled onto my halter top. Made them laugh. I drove home with a slight medicinal buzz.

I went to the gym, and resumed reading Don Miller's "Blue Like Jazz" which I've read before. I was on the chapter where Don and a friend went on a road trip, to get his real self back. They stopped at the Grand Canyon and hiked down. When they got to the bottom Don just felt crappy. But that night he lay and looked up the billions of stars. He apologized to God for being fake and getting lost. It felt like I was apologizing to an old friend, someone with home there had been assort of bitterness, and the friend was saying it was okay, that he didn’t think anything of it.

I teared up a little on the treadmill. I wanted a do-over for the last twenty years. But maybe I could settle for a do-over of just today.

Thank you, God, for whatever comes. Good and bad. It's a fallen world, and there is sorrow and sadness. But there is also joy.

Sometimes when God closes a door, he opens an air duct.

Turns out I booked the job on "My Name Is Earl." I will be briefly visible in an upcoming episode of My Name Is Earl. Playing a drunken floozy. won't actually drink alcohol during the scene, or even Blue Listerine. Nor will I be going home with Randy. I will be going home to my husband and celebrating the fact we are a bit closer to getting our insurance back. And we will celebrate in whatever way old married floozies get to do.


Lisa Milton said...

Loved your article on BWC - cracked me up. We'll be watching for you on 'Earl'. Congrats!

soulpadre said...

Susan, I just love how real you are: from Holy Writ to Hallmark maxims?! I will be more careful not to quote from Susan Polis Schultz when counseling folks! Thanks, and congratulations!

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