Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Because paper has more patience than people."

I have been keeping a journal for 17 years. A few months ago, Jacob asked me what my motivation for journaling has been. I answered with a lot of reasons--because I write compulsively, because writing helps me think through things, because I know it will be fun to go back and read about later, because it will be an important record for future generations. But when I thought about the first journal entries I ever penned, and what motivated those, I realized suddenly that it was the diary of Anne Frank.

I was about 12 when I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young year younger than Anne was when she wrote her first entry. It is one of the most well-loved and oft-read books I own. I still have my original copy--I think I got it as a birthday or Christmas gift. It is one of the few books that survived moving to Oregon, my entire college experience, and various purges/spring cleanings. I've read it so often that I have whole sections of it memorized.

Anne articulated for me so many aspects of growing up, even though our worlds were so different. The feeling of being misunderstood, of being afraid to show anyone your better side in case they laugh at you, of having opinions and thoughts and aspirations that people don't take seriously because you are young. And I know I'm not the only person who felt that way--it's part of why the book has been so well-loved for so long.

Anne Frank's diary gave me courage as a young girl...courage to pursue my dreams and develop my gifts. Her words gave me confidence during lonely times, when friends were hard to come by, or when family members were fighting, or when the world just seemed too big and confusing to be a part of. The diary inspired me to write my own stories and experiences, and this blog exists in part because of that inspiration. This story is very very very dear to my heart, and it always will be.

Until this last week, I'd never seen any adaptation of the story. Not the play, not any film or television. I think I've been afraid of this enormously beautiful part of my life being...well, slaughtered. It would be heartbreaking to have this beloved story told poorly. But I finally girded my loins and headed to the Hale Centre Theatre Orem's production--an old friend was playing Dussell, and I wanted to see his work in this story that I love so much, and to see if the story could really be told on stage. So I sat in the 4th row and watched as ten actors told the story.

And it was beautiful. It was as close to perfect as it could get.

It is an astonishing challenge to portray people who really lived. And for so much of my life, I've seen each character through Anne's eyes...unfeeling Mummy, insufferable Mrs. Van Daan, the shy and dear Peter, the stodgy and foolish Dussell. But the play allowed me to see each character even more fully. Mummy only seems unfeeling because she and Anne don't quite understand each other, but they long for one another's love. Dussell is simply a man set in his ways, and having to go into hiding with two full families is hard on him. Mrs. Van Daan was truly happy when she was young, and her life hasn't turned out quite the way she wanted it to, and that hurts her.

(Part of me wishes I could have seen this show earlier, so that this blog could also serve as a review and a "go see this show!" But closing night was Saturday...oh, the impermanence of theatre.)

The script does a wonderful job of bringing Anne's diary to life, and condensing some of the most important parts into a 2-hour production. There were little details that I noticed and loved--the mention of the Westertoren clock, Anne's moment of talking about the window in her room, the giving of gifts. Anne gives all of these things a lot of thought in her diary, and seeing them nodded to onstage warmed my heart. And the script manages to capture the humor of Anne's world as well as the heartbreak--the anger as well as the love.

HCTO's stage conventions were also perfect choices (and I don't know whether some of these are specified in the script or not). The audience entered through the hidden door that concealed the entrance to the "Secret Annexe"--complete with a bookcase. And as soon as any of the "Secret Annexe members" entered the stage, THEY STAYED ONSTAGE. This included during scene changes (which were done through dimming the lights and a voiceover of one of Anne's diary entries, during which the actors would complete any costume changes), and during intermission. It was such a perfect convention--because the Van Daans, the Franks, and Dussell truly did have to stay there the entire time. Having the actors remain onstage and in character during intermission allowed the audience to see the way they must have spent most of their time, in boredom or in games, in conversation, or resting.

An enormous shout out must be given to each of the actors. I could spend hours singing each of their praises, but I'll just say that their performances were flawless. I think part of my love of the show was simply because what was presented onstage perfectly matched what I've seen in my head for all these years. Often when we dislike some movie or play, it's because what we see on stage or screen DOESN'T match our imagination, but this time, it happened to align perfectly for me. (And a big shout out must be given to Dan Anderson as well, for superb costume design. You've a good eye, sir, and your design heightened the storytelling without distracting from it.)

In all my years of reading "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," I've only read the afterword a few times. I know the story of what happened to each of the members of the Secret Annexe. But Anne's diary doesn't cover it--we don't hear about the events in her voice. So I've never had to really face it. I've never had to watch the faces of the Van Daans and the Franks and Mr. Dussell as they listened to the sounds of the approaching Gestapo. I've never had to witness their fear and despair as the knocking and hammering got louder and louder. And my heart splintered watching it.

Anne Frank's story is an important one, and a beautiful one. Not only because of the story she tells, but because of the beautiful way she tells it. In one journal entry, she writes:

“I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me. I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear; my courage is reborn. But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”

In the tragedy of Anne's story, there is such beauty in knowing that her dream came true. She goes on living, even after her death. And in her own way, she did write something great, and she became both a journalist and a writer.

I know I can't speak for them. But I feel certain that the real Otto and Edith Frank, that the real Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, that the real Peter, the real Margot, the real Albert Dussell, and the real Anne Frank would be honored and pleased by HCTO's production, even if they would be surprised by it. I'm sure none of them expected their story to become so widely known, but I feel as though the universe gave Anne and each of her Secret Annexe housemates a gift. They get to have their story told, and they stand as voices of the millions whose stories we will never know. I left the production filled with gratitude for both Anne and her diary, and the world of theatre that brought it to life.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Whomp whomp...

Soooo, remember how I recently made this big, scary decision to pursue acting full-time? Almost immediately after announcing that decision, I was not cast in "A Christmas Carol." And that was...difficult.

Of course, rejection is always difficult. You kind of have to get used to's an inevitable part of the business. But it's always a little harder with theatre rejection for me. With television or film or commercials, there's no cast list posted. There's no definitive "NO YOU DIDN'T GET THE PART" just don't get a phone call. And you're usually not Facebook friends with everyone else who auditioned, so you don't see them posting casting announcements and changing their cover photos to promo shots of the show you wanted to be in. And a television/film/commercial gig is something that lasts a few days. Theatre is a commitment of several months. And you usually only prepare for a day or two for a screen audition, since that's the amount of notice you get, as opposed to building your repertoire and meeting with an audition coach and rehearsing for a few weeks ahead of time. It's just a bigger investment to do theatre.

I also rely almost exclusively on theatre for my social life. I'm about 75% introvert, 25% extrovert, but my friendships are a very important part of my life, and I rely a lot on them to make me a better, more well-rounded person. I have no idea how to make friends outside of theatre, even though once I know people, I'm all right outside of theatre. But I also know that actors are generally busy people--most of us don't have time to "go to lunch" or something. So if I'm not in a show, I'm...watching Netflix. I could grow a pair* and just invite people to hang out, but I'm inherently sort of awkward at doing that. It's a lot to overcome that awkwardness to get to the actual bonding time. So not being cast in a show, for me, also comes with this added weight of not spending as much time with people I care about.

When it comes to "A Christmas Carol," there was also the added weight of finances. My budget right now will last me until the end of November, but if I had been cast in "A Christmas Carol," I would have made it until the end of January, for SURE. Without absolutely needing any film/television/commercial/background gigs, and without needing another job. It would have essentially bought me two more months to pursue this pipe dream of acting full-time. I still might get enough film/television/commercial/background work to keep me going for a few more months, but I don't have the guarantee I would have with getting cast in "Christmas Carol." And I sort of missed auditions for a lot of other things, because of conflicts with "Oklahoma"--I'll have to wait a little while for the next round of auditions to come around.

("But Liz, you have a husband who works! Isn't he the breadwinner? Can't he support you both while you pursue this dream?" Yes, I do have a husband who works, and technically, he could support us both, but I can't bring myself to let him do that. He's working a great job right now, but it's not something he is passionate about, and he took it because the EXTRA income it generates allows him to pursue HIS dreams. I can't, in good conscience, ask him to give up his dreams for mine, which is what I would be doing if I made him pay all the bills while I auditioned for stuff.)

Anyway, if it's not obvious by now, I just had a lot of eggs in that "Christmas Carol" basket. And right after making this decision to throw myself into acting full-time, not getting cast felt like the universe shouting "NOPE! You can't do this! You can't fulfill this life-long dream of acting as a career!" When you're vaguely terrified (which I am about trying to act full-time), any rejection feels bigger. Like you got shut down the second you tried.

But, really, I know it will be okay. It always is. I'm still sort of in mourning, but I've had a lot of good reminders that I'll be taken care of. Loving words from a good husband. Moving and profound moments in "Oklahoma" that speak to my heart as much as to Aunt Eller's. Sincere hugs in parking lots and backstage hallways. Encouraging words from friends. Little revelations that keep me focused and keep me grounded.

So give me another day or two to mourn and recalibrate, and then it's "F*** you, Matt Damon"** and moving on. I'm glad I've got so many good people in my corner on this journey.

* of testicles OR ovaries; both are symbols of power and courage
** see linked blog entry if you don't get the reference

photo via

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reminder: Walk Towards Your Mountain

It's been a while since I did this, but I've given the ole blog a little bit of a re-vamp. Partly because I like designing things, and partly because it used to state on the sidebar that I was a secretary, and that's no longer true.

After I lost my job at Alianza, I experienced this beautiful outpouring of love and support and kindness. I felt like I was grieving the loss of a loved one, and unexpected friendships showed up to help seal the cracks that formed in me when the school closed its doors. And now that I've had some time to mourn, I've also had some time to decide what to do next.

And here's what I've decided. I'm financially set for a few months--until December or so. And when we moved here to Utah, we moved here to pursue acting.

So...*deep breath*...that's what I'll do.


I'll audition like crazy--for things I couldn't previously audition for, just because my day-job got in the way. I'll do background work where I can get it to keep paying the bills, and to keep learning from being on set.

And I'll write. I'll learn more about how to get paid for my writing, and maybe publish an article or two.

I don't know when in my life I'll have another chance like this. When my circumstances are simply handing me an opportunity to pursue my dreams full-time, with so little risk. If, come December, the money runs out, I'll have a chance to re-evaluate, and maybe find something else to help make ends meet. But I want to, in the words of Neil Gaiman, "move towards my mountain."

In his 2012 commencement speech, Neil Gaiman talked about this great idea. He says:

"Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time."

And I've got multiple mountains, I think...but I know that acting is one of them. Writing is another. So the other thing I'm doing, come January is...*deep breath*...going to grad school.

I found a great, 2-year, online MFA in writing program at Lindenwood University. So before I could talk myself out of it, I applied. And last week, I was accepted. I'm vaguely terrified about the commitment (in time, money, effort). I'm actually still not even sure I'll be able to pay for it. So part of me feels crazy even posting this--what if it doesn't work out?! What if I can't afford it?! IS THIS A HUGE MISTAKE?!?! But I'm giving myself permission to go for it. And if it turns out that it IS a mistake, I can take time off, or drop out, or whatever. But this degree will give me two things: 1) a chance to improve and grow as a writer, to the point where I can maybe make money writing on a more regular basis, and 2) give me the credentials I need if I wanted to teach at a university level. Which would be pretty awesome.

So,'s to diving headfirst off cliffs, and to building wings on the way down.

photo via

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In my 30th year

Hey, it's my birthday! I am officially out of my twenties. And as per tradition, here's an update on how I did on this past year's goals, as well as my new list of goals!

Tuesday, September 8:
6 done, 1 in progress/incomplete, 2 incomplete

1. Write thank you letters to 10 people who have influenced me for good.
I've always been a believer in giving compliments. There's this quote that kind of drives my philosophy on this: Don't say "I love you" unless you mean it, but if you mean it, you should say it. And I've been really aware of the good people in my life lately, so they deserve to know it.
DONE. This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I wrote this goal, but I'm going to count writing thank you notes for the cast of Damn Yankees. Because there were more than 10 of them, and they definitely influenced me for good. And I wrote them thank you letters. 

2. Complete all of the required Value Experiences for each of the Young Women Values in the Personal Progress program.
A few weeks ago, I was thinking, "I wish there was some sort of spiritual program for personal development in the Church, that's really specific." And then I realized that there is one! I completed Personal Progress over 10 years ago, but the program has changed since then and I'm excited to give it a go, and see what new things I can learn and experience.
Faith #1 - Establish pattern of consistent prayer (three weeks) DONE
Faith #2 - Thoughts on motherhood DONE
Faith #3 - Plan an FHE lesson DONE
Divine Nature #1 - Thoughts on developing divine qualities DONE
Divine Nature #2 - Interview mothers, develop attributes (two weeks) DONE
Divine Nature #3 - Improve relationship with a family member (two weeks) DONE
Individual Worth #1 - Thoughts on Heavenly Father's love DONE
Individual Worth #2 - Study patriarchal blessings DONE
Individual Worth #3 - Acknowledge worth of others (two weeks) DONE
Knowledge #1 - Thoughts on knowledge DONE
Knowledge #2 - Learn a new skill to help family DONE
Knowledge #3 - Memorize Article of Faith number thirteen, attend artistic/cultural event DONE
Choice and Accountability #1 - Establish pattern of regular scripture study (two weeks) DONE
Choice and Accountability #2 - Study For the Strength of Youth and live by it (three weeks) DONE
Choice and Accountability #3 - Discuss blessings and responsibilities of agency DONE
Good Works #1 - Acknowledge service in others (two weeks) DONE (see blog about it here)
Good Works #2 - Plan meals and share mealtimes (two weeks) DONE
Good Works #3 - Comfort and uplift others DONE
Integrity #1 - Establish and live by standards (one month) DONE
Integrity #2 - Self assessment DONE
Integrity #3 - Study integrity and record experience in journal DONE
Virtue #1 - Study and record thoughts on chastity DONE
Virtue #2 - Study and record thoughts on Holy Ghost DONE
Virtue #3 - Study Alma 5 and answer questions DONE
Virtue #4 - Focus on sacrament DONE

3. Get $2300 into savings.
This is about 3 months worth of living expenses. One thing I'm learning as we plunge into the world of professional acting is that while the money can be decent, it's not often consistent. Having some money in savings to help through the lean times is a good idea no matter what, but ESPECIALLY if you're acting for a living.
INCOMPLETE! *whomp whomp*
Deadline = June 15th
$210.02 as of February 25th
$260.03 as of March 2nd
$500 as of May 23rd
$1000 as of June 14th
But it will be okay! Another plan is in place! 

4. Some sort of work out goal. 
Okay, I know I'm being vague, which is lame sauce. I just don't know exactly what kind of work out goal I want to pursue yet. I'll update you as soon as I decide.
DONE! I came up with the 30/30/30 challenge. Here's the idea. You and one other person each agree to do 30 crunches a day for 30 days. If either of you misses a day, you owe your challenge partner $30. Exceptions to missing a day include grave bodily injury/illness. I challenged my sister-in-law, Camilla. And totally won. 

5. Do 3 PBS Art Assignments.
The Art Assignment is a weekly youtube show through PBS, hosted by Sarah Green. It highlights different contemporary artists and their work, and then they give you an "assignment" to participate in art inspired by their own work. You can post responses on youtube, or just enjoy the experience.
1. "Stacked Books" 
2. "The One That Got Away" (Here's a link to the assignment video. I've chosen not to share my contribution to this project here. I didn't use any names, but since it involves another person, I felt it was best to keep it anonymous. You can watch an update video about future plans for the project here, and you can listen to a preview of the planned podcast here.)
3. INCOMPLETE! *whomp whomp* But 2 outta 3 ain't bad! 

6. Finish editing my YA novel and submit it for publication
Uuuugggghhhhh I don't want to. I want to work on my NEXT story. But I'm almost done editing the YA novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and then I want to send it out into the world. Ideally, I want to have a final draft before this November, so I can do NaNoWriMo again without having TWO stories running around my head.
DONE. Submitted to one Salt Lake City-based literary agent as of 10:46 pm on July 1st. If they choose not to take me and my little story on, I'll keep submitting to other agencies, local and remote. Now the waiting game. 
Mansion Street Literary Management - submitted July 1, 2015 (rejected July 11, 2015)
Gateway Literary - submitted July 20, 2015 (still haven't heard back as of September 8th, 2015)

7. Poem a day for a month
I'm a big believer that regular practice will improve your skills in something more than anything else. I haven't been writing a whole lot of poetry for the last couple of years, so I want to give this a shot. I know that some of the poems will not be great. But that's not the point. The point is to just do it!
REVISED AND DONE. I'm counting NaNoWriMo for this one. Because that's a helluva lot of writing. And besides, I wrote a lot of poetry on my own anyway. I just wanted to have a writing goal. 

8. Take a community class in something (fencing, aerial silks, painting, etc)
I live in a place with community classes available! So I want to take advantage of them!
DONE! I took an awesome Intro to Aerial Arts class, which included aerial silks and trapeze. I loved the aerial silks, but trapeze was tough. Actually, all of it was tough...I was so sore sometimes after classes. But it was such a blast. I feel like I could barely do most things, but I really enjoyed myself. 

9. Pose nude for an art class
This is something that's been on my bucket list for a long time. And I debated for a really long time about it. As a member of the LDS Church, I wasn't sure how "okay" this was. But after doing a lot of thinking and researching and reasoning, here's why I want to do it. I want to experience the vulnerability of it. I want to use it as an exercise in courage. But I also want to do it because art students need bodies, and I've got one. And here's why it's okay. Figure drawing classes are not about sexuality. And as much as the media begs to differ, the naked body is not purely sexual. I'm not posing for pornography. I trust the men and women in any figure drawing class to be focused on their art. And I believe it's important for artists to learn figure drawing from the nude's an important skill in creating good art. (For a great perspective on the LDS Gospel and nudity in art, check out this blog entry from an LDS artist.)
INCOMPLETE! *whomp whomp*
But I am still interested in doing this, so I'm going to add this to my things to do during my 30th year. 

And as for my 30th year of life, here's what I've got on my to-do list:

1. Create and distribute a zine!
Remember zines? I've been digging the idea of mixed media lately, and as a child of the 80s/90s, this seems like something I should do.

2. Non-paper Poetry Project (at least ten poems)
A month ago or so, I was sitting in a restaurant with a few friends, and a poem came to mind, so I scribbled it onto a napkin. The imperfection of it appealed to me...the unfinished nature of it, and how it captured both the poem and the setting in which I wrote it. So here's my idea: write at least 10 poems on anything but regular paper--napkins, cardboard, trash, cloth, etc. Then take a picture of it and at the end, put all the pictures together in a collection.

3. Reduce BMI (body mass index) from 23.2 to 19.7 (goal weight = 115…down 20 pounds from current weight of 135)
My current BMI is totally in the healthy range. So is my goal BMI. So why bother with this goal? My reasoning is this: I spend a lot more time on camera nowadays, and it really does add ten pounds. Also, most of the work out goals I've had are things like "complete this many things." And after I complete them, I stop working out. I think it will help me to have an end make my goal "results-based." PLUS, this goal combines both exercise and diet.

4. Run a 10-minute mile, 3 separate times
I know I just talked about these kinds of goals, but look, this is sort of PART of the above goal. And I want to do it. I know a 10-minute mile seems absurdly slow. But I'm absurdly slow.

5. Go without soda for 1 month
Bleeeeggghhh. I hear this is really good for you. I just really like the carbonation. I don't even drink soda very often...maybe once or twice a week? Still. Maybe worth giving up.  

6. Go on 5 new hikes
Every time I go hiking, I think to myself, "I've got to do this more often." And now that I live in a place where I'm surrounded by HUNDREDS of hiking opportunities, I'm going to hike more often.

7. Nude modeling
I never got to this goal for my 29th year, but I'm still interested in it. I want to be a model for a figure-drawing class.

8. Get paid to write at least one thing (published online, in a magazine, etc)
I have no idea how this is done. But I want to figure it out and do it.

9. Complete temple work for 3 family names (baptisms, confirmations, initiatories, endowments, sealings)
Hooray for the spirit of Elijah!

10. Go stargazing
I do this all the time, just in the sense that I look up every time I'm outside at night. But I want to actually go out to someplace with little light pollution with the express purpose of looking at the stars.