Thursday, August 29, 2013

No, I'm NOT married.

A depiction of my future wedding day. 
There is this obsession with marriage and weddings that happens to people (I’d say women, but men get pretty weird about it too) around the 25-35 range. Everybody without a mate is desperately seeking one and everyone with one is wondering ‘when will he pop the question?’ or ‘when do I have to pop the question?’ Everyone around you is getting married and this odd competitiveness begins. “If Sheila and Bob get married before we do, I’ll just die!” Or, “Sheila and Bob had a taco truck and sparklers. We need a burrito truck and fireworks!” (Yes, I just implied Burritos were better than tacos. What of it?) Not only are there the quintessential “Bridezillas,” but now, thanks to Pinterest, we have the ‘who can DIY their wedding the most?!’ people. “Our flowers were grown from our own garden that we composted with our own shit made out pure kale juice that we juiced ourselves from a local organic farm.” There is a lot of pressure out there to have an amazing wedding.  My boyfriend (former fiancĂ©, former estranged fiancĂ©, former ruiner of my 20s) and I have been together for almost (roughly, on and off) 9 years. That’s right! 9 years. Guess what everyone, we’re 30 and STILL not married. 

"Yes, I found this umbrella/TV combo on Pinterest and that IS us on the screen!"

This does not mean I don’t want to get married. I’m fully on the crazy wedding train. I want the dress, the chocolate fountain, the open bar, etc. I want every little detail to be perfect. I just haven’t done it yet. I got some shit goin’ on and a wedding is a FULL-TIME JOB. Ask any bride. I’ve been to a lot of weddings. I’ve got some great ones to live up to. The first wedding I remember is when I was a flower girl at my Uncle Ron’s wedding here in California. (The only time I was a flower girl, but I’m not bitter.) I remember a big church and all that, but more distinctly, I’ll never forget my Uncle Ron singing “LOVE,” made famous by Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, to his new bride. That might have been the first time I saw someone drunk and it looked awesome. His love for her was clear. (I can’t WAIT to sing to Travis drunk at our wedding. And I WILL.)  I also vividly remember there was an ice sculpture that I could not stop touching. The point here is that I was like, 7 and I’ve NEVER forgotten that wedding. I attended a wedding in Vegas where all the food was served in cocktail glasses. It was the first time I had a Tom Collins. NEVER forgotten it. I went to a Mormon wedding where they served Sherbet Punch and I got Sherbet Punch drunk. NEVER forgotten it. I went to my cousin, Heather’s wedding and after we went for a reception dinner at Bucca Di Beppo and I had Chicken Cacciatore over mashed potatoes. NEVER forgotten it. The boyfriend and I had one of our most epic battles at our friends’ wedding in Gilbert, AZ. I puked. He left. Not proud. BUT I'VE NEVER FORGOTTEN IT. I’m about to be a bridesmaid at one of my best friend's wedding and I’m already creating memories I’m sure I will never forget. NEVER. (I tried to order a male stripper in Bakersfield, CA last week and I’m still getting emails. Its not good.) This is all because marriage means celebration to me. Not paper. Not taxes. Not a crazy step on the commitment ladder. I simply have not been able to afford it yet. And believe me, I’ve tried. But like I said, if you’re not loaded, it’s a full-time job.
I most definitely don't want to end up like this lady. Nameless and angry on someone's blog. 

There are varying responses when I tell people that my boyfriend of 9 years and I are not married. Marriage is very important in our society and in religion, so most have a strong opinion about it either way. My very religious family JUST began inviting my BF into the family picture in 2012. My sister-in-law didn’t have to wait 8 years. She was invited in right away because she married my brother, WITHOUT fully understanding the level of crazy my family was dishing out. And I get it. Marriage is a big fat commitment, but she’s only been around for a little over 3 years. Yet, they welcomed her with open arms. My brother recently came to visit with my niece and nephew and when we greeted them I said, “Genivieve, (my niece) say hi to Uncle Travis (my boyfriend)” and my brother said, “Oh, we weren’t sure if we were allowed to call him that.” In his defense, I believe this was because he thought we might be sensitive about it. If we haven’t gotten married yet, what business do we have being aunt and uncle to each other’s nieces and nephews? And how would people know we felt that way if we haven’t become husband and wife? I don’t know, but to us, we’re all family at this point.  Frankly, I heard more “Why haven’t you two gotten married yet,” in Arizona. AZ suburbs tend to be a little more conservative. I don’t get it much here in LA because there are more liberals, everyone is more concerned about the gays getting married, and apparently, “its not a great career move to get married in the entertainment industry.” (Don’t worry. Someone really dumb said that to me. But people think that way!) Whatever the reason LA has for leaving me alone on the marriage thing, I don’t care. I just appreciate hardly ever answering the question. Until JUST the other day when someone asked how long my boyfriend and I had been together. After I told them, they said, “Wow! Shit or get off the pot! Am I right?!” I said, “I’m sorry?” They said, “Well, it sounds like he doesn’t want to marry you. Uuuuhh, sorry. I call ‘em like I see ‘em.”

‘Shit or get off the pot?!?!’ No. They were not right. My boyfriend has seen me poop, naked, without make-up, with a crazy, sweaty, morning fro, all while bitching at him for something and he’s still deeply in love. We have fully shit in the pot. We have shit all over each other. For real. You think we’re not committed? I got stories for days. I’ve got two cats out of wedlock with him. We’re tight. The fact of the matter is, it’s not about the marriage certificate or title of husband and wife for us. Truly. It is about the celebration of Travis and Andrea. In our minds, we are epic. And in my mind, we need an epic wedding and celebration worthy of the time we have put in together. A wedding party so great, that our nieces, nephews, cousins, parents, and friends will remember forever and so fondly, that people will talk for years about how great our wedding was and our love is. I want people to dance, I want people to eat like crazy, I want people to drink until someone gets weird and we can make fun of them, I want people to cry, I want people to be jealous… So, you can see how much pressure I have put on this day.

My dream wedding dress. (HA. No, not really. Just like to scare my mother.)
I realize that no matter what we do for our wedding day, it will likely be wonderful. But even the “cheapest” of the do-it-yourself’s require a budget and right now, there is none. And when extra money rolls in, it goes toward these crazy careers of ours. We don’t want help from anyone else so, for now, we are happy with that. We could go to a court house tomorrow and get it done, but that would mean I couldn’t show my children video of me drunkenly singing “At Last” by Etta James to their dad someday. Hey! Maybe my children will be able to see it live. I don’t know. But it will be great. All I know is I need to look hot in my wedding dress. And I can’t imagine someday my BF and I will say, “You know, we never got married. What do ya say we just call it quits?” Probably not. Its love, people and its here to stay. 

Just because. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Things I learned that week I was a model

I like this girl's commitment. 
As a freshly 30, struggling actress in Los Angeles, I’ve got it pretty tough. Los Angeles is a young, good looking city. I mean, really good looking. Even our “uglies” are by most standards acceptable sexual partners. Youth is of GREAT value. This is mostly because it is the hub of the entertainment industry. Any hometown hunk who gets told he has talent is here. They’re all gathered in one place, making most of us feel inadequate. I’ve been totally fine with this. I’ve lived here for almost three years, feeling adequate most of the time. In fact, I haven’t given it much thought and I’ve been pretty happy with my body and the way I look until…. I booked a modeling job.

“I’m not a model,” I said. “Are you sure? You remember what I look like, right?” I asked my old friend who works for a prominent Japanese Motorcycle brand. He contacted me and asked that I do some print and catalogue work for them. He insisted that I had a look they were trying to go for, “cute” and more “conservative.” “Sure.” I said. I mean, who was I to pass up a great job booking just because I didn’t think I was the “model” type? They wanted me, didn’t they? I’d give it my all! I’d jump right in with confidence!  I’d go on a DIET!

And boy did I go on a diet. I went on a diet so hard, I was THAT
There's a person in this picture!
girl who said, “no thanks. Do you know how hard it is for your body to break that down?!” “Are you kidding me? That’s a carb.” “Don’t eat that in front of me.” “We have to eat now because Oprah says you can’t eat past 8pm!” I actually skipped the burrito and had shrimp cocktail at my favorite Mexican restaurant because it was literally, the only thing on the menu I could eat and I had NOT ONE, single chip with salsa on it. Screw what everyone else thought!  I was a MODEL! It was the first real “diet” I’d ever been on. It’s not as though I ate poorly in the first place, but this was first time I NEVER cheated. Not once!  Well guess what everybody, it worked. It F-ing worked. I dropped weight so quickly it was sad. Sad because it meant that eating incredibly clean is the ONLY way to really lose weight. I know now that I’m officially trading skinny for pizza and I’m totally fine with that, but I digress. I was ready for my modeling job.

I was so excited on my first day of a four day job. I came in fresh faced, with no make-up and my hair thoroughly flat-ironed. I felt so good about myself and was ready to rock a leather motor-cycle suit, some aviators, and a fan. That was not to be. Here is what did happen:

This is a "plus size" model. Oi. 
I showed up to find 4 other models, much younger than I, tanner than I, and much thinner than I, with the exception of one “plus-size” model. Who, coincidentally was actually “too thin” to be a plus-size model at a size 12 (the smallest plus-sizes are usually 14, her agent often lied to clients about here size) and was also brought in to this shoot make it a little “more conservative.” If she was too thin to be a model and I was too fat, where the hell do we fit in? I came in to this feeling so good about myself, but here are some things I learned about myself during this shoot that left me feeling not so good. Some were implied, but some of things were actually said directly in front of me, in no particular order….

-          My hair is difficult to style and “simply does not photograph well.”
-          “Oh, she has bangs. Oh man, that’s so specific.” (On day 2, they figured out how to pin bangs back. Amazing.) “Well, see if you can make her like a, Zooey Dachanel type.”
-          My skin is too pale and I “could not be photographed against a white background.”
-          My legs “have no definition.”
-          My “boobs should be bigger for my body type.”
-          We had to hide my cellulite.
-          I “look like a medium, but I’m actually a small. Wow.”
-          I have one tooth on my left side that is slightly askew.
-          I have very dark circles under my eyes.
-          I have wrinkles around my mouth.
-          I “surprisingly have a lot of nice poses.”- (my ONE compliment.)
-          After day one, I wore black leggings for the rest of the shoot. (In other words, we were hiding my legs.)
-          I’m “old for a model.” (Not too old though, just old.)

I also learned  the other younger, thinner, tanner, real models spoke of their “numerous” flaws in such a matter-of-fact way, I started to believe all these things were important to acknowledge because it came with industry and it was their job to know how to pose to hide said flaws. It seemed important to me to acknowledge that my “flaws” were, in fact, too numerous to be a model. I was referred to as the “comedian” on set because I was certainly, no model. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time. It’s hard to play dress-up and take pretty pictures and not have a great time. It’s just that, I didn’t feel like a model and I wouldn’t realize it until later, but I did not leave that shoot feeling very good about myself. My friends and family were so sweet following the shoot, congratulating me and telling everyone around, “my friend here is a model.” But I hated it. I had way too many flaws. This job was a fluke. If they’d only been at that shoot with me, they’d know I’m no model. You tell people you’ve done some modeling and they look at you differently. Immediately, they look you up and down and analyze every inch of your face. I’d say “no, no, no… hahahaha… I’m not a model. I just got lucky with a booking.” In other words, “stop f-ing counting my many, many flaws. I know they’re there! STOP LOOKING AT MY FLAWS!” But I didn’t realize what I was really saying at the time.

This photo shoot was two months ago, but I was inspired to write today after someone told me I was pretty a few days ago. It was then I realized I’d spent the two months eating like shit, never going out, never dressing up, and never doing my hair. I postponed headshots and photo shoots for my website because I just didn’t feel like it. I certainly, did NOT feel sexy. I realized all of this when I received the “Pretty” compliment and instead of my stock, silly, charming response of “I know! Ha!” I politely said, “thank you” and immediately thought about my many flaws and that this someone was clearly just being nice…. That’s when I knew, my self-esteem was shot to shit, all because I was a “model.”

This girl is technically a model... for sturdy sinks.
One “modeling” job and I forgot what it meant to be beautiful and sexy. It was the label, “model.” It was my experience with “models.” It was when my worth was placed solely on my looks that I forgot I was talented. I forgot I was smart, I forgot I had a blog… The silly thing is, a “model” is defined as someone who is hired to promote or display a product in some way, but I (and I’d say most) have turned it into this thing most of us can NEVER be. I was a freaking model by its very definition, but I couldn’t handle it. The best thing I’ve learned is that I am not most confident and sexy when I’m feeling thin, having a great hair day, or wearing great clothes. I feel most confident and sexy when I’m exercising my talents and intelligence. (I'm feelin' randy at the very idea of posting this blog!) And when I feel talented or intelligent, I want to take care of my physical self, because I and my body deserve it. Everyone does. 

Nuff said.