Right now I only have one pair of pants that fits me. If you know me and you’ve seen me in the last six months, you have seen them. They are brownish-olive-ish and have zippers by the ankle that really actually hurt a lot if I sit cross-legged. They leave little grooves in my skin. I think I hate these pants.
I have other pants. I have pants, everybody! I just have had lots of different sizes in the last three years and this one particular pair is currently working. I’d buy more, but with infertility stuff, with miscarriages and IVF stuff, it’s been so much “who knows in three months…?” That I just stopped buying things.
When I first got pregnant, I wore my usual pants, and my husband started to take those sideways look-at-me-grow pictures. I got an app on my phone, “Picture-A-Day,” that captured the beginning of that year: chicken dinner, the gong at the midwives’ place, a hike! Pic-pic-pic! What a happy year! I was very psyched to watch the final video-slideshow on December 31st with my husband and our 2 month old baby and a remember every damn daaaaaay!
As I got toward my 11th week, I graduated to sweats. I didn’t look pregnant per se, just sort of sloppy, so I tried to wear a lot of eyeliner and hats.
When I got to the twelfth week, it was a no-pants situation. I wanted to go get full-on maternity stuff, but my mom had said — maybe just wait a week or two more? I went back and forth between shapeless dresses: a grey, embroidered one from Anthropologie, and a black cotton one that was Target’s “Mossimo” or Nordstrom Rack’s “Max Studio.” Some discount M-brand, who’s name seems like it means Large. I would describe the design as “that’s fine I guess.”
This was the very dress I decided to wear to the audition I had a week later! Week 13. I want to reiterate that it’s a black dress. And I want to say also that I do not own matching shoes for this item; it’s usually a sandals situation. And I’d love to add that actresses are never supposed to wear black to auditions for camera reasons but also maybe for the reason that black is A BUMMER! Never wear black at an audition unless you are a sexy person. I am hopefully a comedic actress. I don’t do sexy work. I don’t wear black, I wear green and pink and “up” colors, but this audition was different.
This audition was for a reality-type show for a pilot for a network! This means a five-minute interaction had the potential to make me $30,000 and then maybe a ton more if it got made and everything. A house! Several sets of dinner plates! The role was for “camera woman who hates actors” and there wasn’t even dialogue to memorize — just an interview — so it was really easy. I put on my comfort sandals and got in my car wearing zero makeup.
Also I should say that I had had my very first miscarriage three days prior.
So, I had no business being even at the gas station. I had no business being anywhere but home, but I wanted to be anywhere but home. I wanted to WORK and make MONEY and MOVE ON and I didn’t really understand that my body had been receiving a couple of months of happy hormones that just vanished and that there was a chemical joy vacuum, in addition to the other reasons I lacked joy. I didn’t get that I should have worn green, that I SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST WORN MASCARA COME ON because I was all the way 100% out of my mind.
I drove my crazy ass to Beverly Hills with my pale-ass face and gross-ass dress and body still processing trauma from 72 hours ago. I got on the elevator with my chin up high and pushed three.
It wasn’t until the I got to three and heard the “bing” and saw the elevator doors part that I began to question my choices. I was suddenly in a waiting area where there were seven other comedy actresses with great haircuts, flawless faces, and fucking fantastic pants. Everywhere. Cute little legs, adorable flats and pants with a stripe of grosgrain ribbon down the side and pants that would be described as “just FUN,” preppy ones with a ton of little umbrellas on them (what draught?!) and even jeans that were like those high-waisted sailor ones for slender gals, and I almost stepped backwards into the closing elevator but someone recognized me and said hi.
So I felt my body go cold and tried to make my mouth smile and went to the remote-est chair and pulled out a magazine to avoid talking to everyone and just looked down, not even reading. And the pants ladies were talking and joking about “krokodil” this flesh-eating drug that was big in maybe Florida and someone passed around a phone with pictures that were beyond disgusting — and I thought — flesh-miscarriage — babies — death — why — everything — why — what am I doing here?
And looked up to roll my eyes and made, instead, eye contact with the casting director who was sitting in the waiting area. Which is not normal. Usually the waiting area is actors only so people can pay each other little compliments or do weird intimidating braggy shit or be cool or whatever they do. But there she was. The audition was already happening and it was this conversation. So I tried to laugh and chime in and say “ew arm bones gross haha” or something and then went into the bathroom.
The worst mirror in on the planet is in this corporate bathroom on Wilshire and Roxbury. I hate this mirror. It’s well lit, softly, all the way around, and works perfectly. I saw myself, my pale, cry-faced, makeup-free, tired ass sad-ass face. I saw my dumb dress, my little useless belly pooching out, my depressing shoes and did the only thing I could think of.
I put my hair up! Yeah, girl! And rallied. Sort of. I was not going to cry, I was going to win!! This role was right for me. Fuck these other actresses! They get everything (awesome helpful mantra)! This was my turn!
The casting director called my name and I swaggered into the little room where a polite enough dude who was the director said — just so you know, all of the characters have changed. So, it’s not “camera woman” it’s just you. Tell me about Jean.
No thanks, man. Not today!
I too-aggressively launched into how, actually, the camera woman was right for me because I hate actresses too (A+ conversation stuff) and he said — well, it’s not really about that — and I said, but I even hate just sitting in that waiting room with them. They’re all crazy. Everyone’s narcissistic, and actors are so needy and then he wasn’t really laughing so I laughed for both of us (great, un-crazy move) and then I saw him wince a little bit. Like he was having a restaurant salad and got a little piece of glass in his watercress.
A weird cloud fogged up the rest of the quick three minutes I was there. He tried to change the topic, I remember, and asked me about what my last name means and I am ashamed to say I have been told several times and I still can’t remember. Village Turkey? Village something. It’s spelled differently in France? He said “okay, okay, thanks” the way people say “thanks” when you give them a gift and they don’t know what it is or how to use it and they want to put it down somewhere close.
Driving home through the construction on Wilshire Boulevard I found a new way of crying. Please, now, I have cried driving before, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for eight years, I’m not a freshman. But I really leaned in, and this was before the book, even. I pushed harder, liking it, almost singing. Red-faced and mouth wide open,speeding past miles of orange plastic net-fence.
I got home and turned on USA to watch Olivia Benson cuff pervs. I deleted my pic-a-day app and put the photos of my tiny sideways progress in my phone’s garbage can. I got a jar of peanut butter and carefully pressed chocolate chips into a spoonful of it, as I began to do what I needed to do: nothing.
Yuck. I hate nothing.
Post Script: I didn’t even get a call back for that pilot?! Hollywood is so political!!
But I did learn these things:
- Everyone on SVU has the magical power to walk up to a conversation and join right in without having heard the first part!
- A bag of semisweet chocolate chips is cheaper than four fancy bars and only slightly waxier.
- There are thousands of way worse stories, like a relative of mine who is an OB-Gyn who had a miscarriage on Christmas eve and had to deliver someone else’s baby the next day.
- Nobody cares if you stay on your couch for a whole week. Do it. Everything keeps happening and you can jump right in like double-dutch jump roping. Wait for it.
- Don’t get these, they really hurt: