Did I mention that I had thought that I was dying, or that I'd started taking acting lessons?
Well, I'm not (at least not anytime soon, barring all kinds of foul acts and disasters) and yes, I am.
When I was in high school, a long, long time ago, I was in theater and did competitive speech, and according to some of the folks who judged such things back in Oklahoma in the 1980s, I was pretty good at it. Which actually might not be a shining indicator of theatrical prowess, but I did alright in that little pond, and during my last year of high school I toyed with the idea of going to OU as a theater major, or of hopping on a Greyhound and heading off to Hollywood.
Of course, I didn't...I went to a small two year college near where I grew up, studied police science, went into the army, and was sent to Germany. There, I got married, and my first child was born. After the army, I became a cop, and not long after that, the twins were born. Occasionally, I would think about joining a community theater, or of making my own independent movies, and I even wrote a screenplay. It sits in a manilla folder in a milk crate next to my desk, and every couple of years I thumb through it, and think that I should do something with it. But it's really not very good, and no, you can't read it.
Several years ago the bug got me pretty bad, I was reading everything about moviemaking that I could get my hands on, and I had the chance to be an extra in a movie that was shooting up in Albuquerque. If you watch "21 Grams" there is a scene in which Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are arguing outside of a bar when a police car drives by and they decide it would be best to move on. I drove that police car. I drove it around the block for a couple of hours while the scene was shot over and over again. Then I pulled the police car up to within five feet of Mr. Penn and Ms. Watts and turned the red and blue lights on and off as they shot close ups of them doing their dialog. Then the crew hauled everything across the street and we did the driving in circles shit again. We started shooting at 10 p.m. and when we finished, the sky was beginning to lighten. Then I bought a restaurant, and got sidetracked again.
A couple of years ago I started thinking about it again, that little bugging thought that I'd fucked up, and done the wrong thing. Of course, I hadn't. I have my kids, and a decent living to show for my earlier decisions, but that little bug wouldn't stop, so I put myself into a database for extras and background actors, and got another background role (a cop again, I've been typecast!) in a movie called "Odd Thomas" which will probably go straight to video due to some problems with distribution financing. It's based on a Dean Koontz series and looks pretty good, though.
I had several more shots at background work soon after, but the jobs were all about three to four hours away and they only give you a day or two notice most of the time, so I had to turn them down, and I guess I got myself blackballed with that agency for that, because there hasn't been a peep since.
Jump to January of this year...I'm seated in a coffee shop, cursing the weather, convinced that the swelling I feel in my throat is a tumor, and thinking that if I only had a year, or a handful of years left, what would I have wanted to try. I would have wished that I'd at least tried to become an actor. When I was young, I imagined being the star. Now, I know that I'd be very lucky to be the character actor, "that guy who was in that thing," and I'm very okay with that. Just to be able to make a living as an actor would be such a privilege.
So, I upgraded to a paid membership with that one agency (that was supposed to result in more exposure to casting directors, and turned out to be a minor waste of money and hope), signed up with a couple of others, and took a weekend intensive acting workshop up in Albuquerque. The bug really took hold then...I've since taken a longer course in film and TV acting at the same acting school, and am currently taking two more classes, another film/TV class at different school, and voice and speech with a Tony-nominated actress.
I'm not sure what classes I'll be taking next, I was hoping to take improv classes with a troupe in Albuquerque, but my schedule conflicted too much to pull that off this time around, but I am going to Los Angeles in September to take an improv class at The Second City! Beyond that, I plan to keep training, put myself out there for anything that I feel I fit the part for, and I've got a thought lodged in my brain for a local actors' workshop.
That thing in my throat? I don't know what it is. I went to a throat specialist, he poked, scoped, said he saw and felt nothing, and ordered an MRI, which came up clear. It comes and goes, a tightness, and what feels to me like swelling, I'm slightly convinced that I've developed a flour allergy (fairly common in bakers), but I really don't know. Whatever it is, it reminds me that I need get out and do things, and to try to be a little bit nicer, so it's not such a bad thing to have.