Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hey. Major uncool.

I'm not cool. I hate it when I have revelations like this. I go along for months and months, totally deluded that I'm cool by Emily's friends who think I'm cool or by publishing articles that may or may not be cool in magazines that are probably righteously uncool, and then I'm smacked in the head with the realization that it's all a sham, and I am lamentably, deplorably, inexorably uncool.

A friend of mine -- a young thang, whose talent is so towering and undeniable that I actually love her and am not jealous of her -- gave up acting and is now pursuing a musical career.

Her name is Addie Brownlee. And if you get a chance to see her or hear her or meet her, be nice to her. Why? Because she stores more acting talent in her little finger than Julia Roberts ever aspired to.

I'm always disappointed in Hollywood's obsession with beauty over talent, but Addie was beautiful *and* talented. Why she didn't "make it" as an actor is completely beyond me. Not only did she have the looks and the talent, but she actually went out there and tried to make it happen, which is no small accomplishment. I can't begin to count the actors who have disappeared into NYC and Chicago and LA in their attempts to "make it." The vast majority of them were no more talented than my parrots. (Although those untalented dozens were absolutely gorgeous.)

And honestly, Addie's only 28 or 29 or so. I worked with her on "Our Town" at the Clarence Brown Theatre (in Knoxville, TN). She played Emily. I played her mother. And every second that she was on the stage was a lesson in perfection. I always watched her closing scenes. Those scenes when she was dead and reliving her birthday -- oh, the agony, the ecstasy, the sheer torture of never meeting her eyes for fear that I would lose my delicate grasp on my detachment from the meaningfulness of the scene.

(True story: I painted my toenails bright purple in an effort to find something else to think about during that scene. It was so hard, with Addie/Emily right there next to me, feeling so thoroughly connected to the life that she had lost, to stand there and stir imaginary oatmeal for what seemed like an eternity. "If it were a snake, it would have bit ya," I said, night after night, and thought, "I am not here, I am not here, I am not here, I have chipped purple polish on my toenails, I am not here.")

Addie could still win an Academy Award. She could still redefine American cinema acting. But for now, she's touring tiny dives and playing her guitar and making music for those few who are poetic enough to hear her voice.

And I? I am writing for scrapbooking magazines and wondering why I never wrote the Great American Novel or braving the life of the impoverished actor in NYC or Chicago or LA.

Then I remember *my* Emily and my Woodrow, my parrots and my cat, my husband and my disintegrating hovel in the boonies. There's a new strip mall being slowly built near the grocery store in Loudon, and gas prices have rocketed to $3 a gallon. My scrap space is still a mess, and I never finish my beading projects, and homeschooling wakes me up in the middle of the night and makes me wonder why -- why -- why I'm still living this strange life of mine.

I'm not cool. I'm not famous. I'm not hanging out with Green Day after their concerts nor leading forays into the South American jungle to catalog the living creatures that have yet to be catalogued.

But that's OK. I'm still me. Somewhere under all this mess, I'm still me.

--Miss Gradenko