Monthly Archives: May 2011

Guru Gone Wild!

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The yoga instructor. Often a Plan B career for failed artists around the world, whether they be actors, dancers or musicians. Throughout my years of struggling to be a working actress, yoga and meditation have been the touchstone that kept me somewhat sane throughout the process. So when I finally decided that acting might not pan out, yoga teacher training seemed like the obvious next step to take. It would be a fulfilling, healthy Plan B that would allow me to do something good for other people, and technically, I’d still have an audience.

In my teacher training school, I felt that I had found a home away from home. A sangha, or community, of like-minded individuals with a passion for yoga. But what I loved most about it was that I felt an incredible sense of respect and admiration for one particular teacher. She made me laugh, she had a beautiful yoga practice that I wanted to emulate, and her words could move people to tears during class. Most importantly, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I had finally found my guru.

Weeks of training went by. Long hours of sweat, meditation, research, aching muscles, and homework. But every time I wanted to give up, my guru was there to remind me that my hard work would pay off soon. One day, after hours of backbends, the class took a small snack break. One student, not me, thank god, decided to check the messages on her phone. Unfortunately for her, cellphones during yoga school happened to be our loving guru’s biggest pet peeve. Actually, it seemed far worse than just your average pet peeve. This one mindless gesture actually caused my teacher to spontaneously combust. Her face turned bright red, and I swear I saw smoke coming out of her ears when she screamed, “I can’t BELIEVE you just used your fucking cellphone!! What did I say about cellphones during yoga school?! Jesus Christ. What is wrong with you people?! Can’t you go for a few hours without using your gadgets? I mean, it’s just fucking ridiculous!”  The class went silent. The girl responded calmly that she had an emergency to check on, but my guru was too clouded with rage to listen.

When class resumed, everything had changed. I didn’t want a tea kettle of rage to be my guru. In fact, the whole class now saw our wonderful teacher in a much different light, and things were never the same. After the fact, she spent a lot of time apologizing for her outburst. I know gurus are only human, and to be fair, I agree with her about cellphones. But for some reason, a yoga instructor just cannot afford to lose her cool like that in front of a class.

Now I am yoga teacher and know I must treat this position delicately. People will look to me as a teacher, and perhaps some will call me guru down the road. But, unlike in acting, I am no longer free to express whatever wild emotion I am feeling. I must learn restraint. I must learn to control my anger. I must not lose my temper in front of those who look to me for guidance and peace. I must never become a guru gone wild.

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Bar Stalkers And Crossword Puzzles

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Over the years, when I didn’t have an acting gig, I have been a part-time bartender. Actually, I started as a cocktail waitress and gradually worked my way up the bar ladder. I decided I wasn’t going to waitress anymore when some bitch pulled my ponytail to get my attention. At least bartenders have a partition separating them from their customers, which would serve to protect me and my ponytail. The downside to bartending is that you are trapped behind the partition for nine to ten hours a night, with no say in who might decide to keep you company by lingering at the bar all night long.

I have worked at a few bars, and at each one I acquire a new bar stalker. It’s normal for a bartender to develop a group of regulars who come to see you, including friends, a few locals, and the neighborhood drunk, but there is always, without fail, a bar stalker. Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t usually take it beyond the bar. That would ruin the fantasy. But, like clockwork, they always turn up for my shifts and sit in the same spot.

My regular non-stalker customers know I’m a yoga teacher/writer/actress who loves music. But the difference between a regular customer and a stalker is that a regular will kindly remember things about you, while a stalker will start taking yoga classes, give you a copy of a play he has written, or bring you a rare Devendra Banhart bootleg to listen to. Plus, they all manage to find you on Facebook.

Stalkers vary from bar to bar. Some are thirty five year old tech nerds with hipster glasses. Others are black men who think I have an exceptional ass for a white girl. Then there’s the older guy in his fifties, recently divorced, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, has lots of money, and tries to impress me with his knowledge of single malt scotch. The one thing they all have in common is coming to the bar with something to do that will require them to stay for a very long time. Sometimes it’s a book or a computer, but often it is the New York Times crossword puzzle. I can’t believe how many of them use this same method of flirtation, and they love asking me to help them finish the puzzle. When it happens on a Monday or Tuesday, I don’t mind that much because the puzzles tend to be easy and I can help them wrap it up pretty quickly. But when they bring in the weekend puzzle, I know it is going to be a long night.

Unfortunately, I have to work a Sunday shift tomorrow.

The Age of Sagittarius

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In my early, un-jaded days in New York City, the first musical I auditioned for was Hair.  It was my favorite show, and I was fresh out of a liberal arts college in upstate NY, so I was at the peak of my hippie days. My jeans were flared, my sage was burning, my boyfriend lived in the woods, and I always had a copy of the Dhammapada in my purse. Actually, not much has changed since then, except for the feral boyfriend.

In this heady mindset, I thought auditioning for Hair would be like a group of friends welcoming me into their tribe to hear me sing. Rules, regulations and technicalities would never apply to such a liberated show.  All I needed was a headshot and a song to sing. I decided to save money and have my roommate take my headshots. A show like Hair wouldn’t care if they were done by a professional, and you can be sure the original cast didn’t spend 700+ dollars to have their photos taken. So my roommate and I set up the photo shoot in the basement of our budget duplex apartment in Brooklyn. We used desk lamps for lighting and had  a bedspread tacked on the wall for background ambiance. A few shots turned out well, so I had them blown up to headshot size at the Kodak store. They couldn’t do a border for my name, so I decided to staple the photo to a larger piece of paper and write my name on it. With my home made headshots ready,  I just had to choose a song in a hurry and then I’d be set.

Two days later, I was ready for my first musical audition. I chose to sing “Dream a little dream of me,” because surely the director would be a fan of Mama Cass. I didn’t have time to get sheet music, so I figured I’d sing it a cappella. My voice would still be heard. I was also wearing the cutest hippie dress, in a bright, noticeable red.

When I arrived, there was a line of people pouring out of the building. Apparently, you have to arrive at an audition at least three hours before call time.  I squeezed through hordes of girls from New Jersey, all caked in makeup, wearing peace symbols around their necks. Surely the director would be able to spot the authentic hippies from the fake. After hours of nervously waiting in the hallway, watching theater nerds do their diction exercises, it was finally my turn to audition. I walked into the room and filled the space with confidence and poise.  I handed them my headshot and immediately broke into a powerful version of my song. I nailed it. Or so I thought. When I finished, the director held up my headshot and said “What is this?” I told him it was my headshot. He then held up the photo over a nearby trashcan and proceeded to drop it in the bin. I froze and turned beet red, not thinking this could get any worse, when he added, “And don’t sing a cappella! Thank you. Next!”