How James Lipton became king of my adolescent fantasies

I have somewhat of a secret. I used to desperately wish to be famous. Maybe it was because I lived in such an insignificant blip of a place that I wanted to break out and let the universe know I existed, to form some connection with the world that I felt could never happen if I stayed where I was. I wanted to act, a goal that began when I read my first Shakespeare in fourth grade. Don’t fret, I’m not going to wax nostalgic theatre kid on you here. Despite my ambitions, I was never one of those theatre types. For a very brief time in high school, I am embarrassed to admit,  I also wanted to be a rock goddess. I formed a very short-lived band. We argued so much we couldn’t even decide on a name let alone what music to write, so it fell apart rather quickly. I also started dating the guitarist, which didn’t help matters.

Anyway, enough embarrassing myself. Suffice it to say, I had dreams of grandeur. There is this great movie called The Commitments. It’s about a band trying to make it in Dublin. Check it out if you haven’t seen it, super good. In the movie, the band’s manager also has dreams of grandeur, and spends some humorous scenes pretending he’s being interviewed on the BBC. That was me. I identified completely. There were many long baths spent in interviews for Vogue, on  the set of The Today Show, or my favorite, Inside the Actor’s Studio.

There was a period in my earlier life where I watched that show religiously. James Lipton asked the real questions. He wanted to know about how the actor prepared for their role, where they found their inspiration, not who they were dating or if Tom Cruise was a good kisser. It was super serious actor business. I ate it up, and naturally after the episode was over and I was sent to bed, I would lay awake pretending to be interviewed by James. I imagined myself telling him about what my inspiration had been for my Oscar award-winning role, how I simply adored being able to return to my roots on Broadway in the revival of Barefoot in the Park opposite James Franco, and answer the questions of all the bright-eyed hopefuls in the audience waiting for their own big break.. Most of all, though, I loved pretending to answer his closing questionnaire. I imagined how profound I would sound, how effortlessly cool. Yeah, I had a very overactive imagination as a kid.

Dreams change, though. We grow up. We realize we want different things, and in my case, we realize that all the fame and recognition in the world is not worth spending your life with theatre people. They’re their own special brand of bonkers (Just a note: I still have many friends in the theatre and mean this in the most loving sense). While my acting ambitions have long since faded, sometimes I catch myself playing my old game, just for fun.  So for old times’ sake and childhood dreams these, James darling where ever you find yourself tonight, are my answers…

1. What is your favorite word?

Surreptitious. It feels so nice rolling off my tongue, and it has such a fun meaning.

2. What is your least favorite word?

Commitment. I have a very strange association with this word. When I was younger, I had a hard time dealing with authority in certain situations. If I did not want to do something that I was otherwise being forced to do and did not understand why I was being forced to do it, I could pretty much be counted on to balk. I was (and am still) a questioner and fiercely independently minded. Coincidentally, my mother spent a great deal of time trying to make me cooperate and attend certain activities and functions I either hated or did not see the point of, or both, things like church, team sports, and for a very brief period dance lessons. When we entered into the same argument for the zillionth time, she would always tell me the same thing, “You made the commitment, now you have to see it through.” I would literally cringe every time the “c” word passed her lips. I guess it irked me because usually I wasn’t the one committing myself. She usually committed me. To this day, that word still sets my teeth on edge.

3.What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Passion, whenever someone is truly passionate about something, it’s amazing. It also usually means they know their stuff, which in an age where the majority of us know a little about a lot, it’s refreshing to see the reverse. Passion is infectious, too. When I see someone passionate about anything, I want to feel the exact same thing.

4. What turns you off?

Putting the cart before the horse. I have always been more of a tortoise than a hare type, slow and steady. I like to ease up and really get to know a situation before I rush in. I have found that one makes fewer mistakes that way. I like to be a live-in-the-moment type rather than live-for-the-next, so it bothers me when people get ahead of themselves.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Hands down, “fuck.” I love it and use it often. It’s a multipurpose swear word, and can be used to express so many different emotions. I also get a sick little pleasure by using it around people who don’t know me that well. I tend to come off as the quiet, librarian type at first, and for those who still think of me in that sense, when I let out an unexpected “Fuck,” their faces are priceless. I’m all for celebrating the small pleasures in life.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

This is something I miss in the city. I grew up in rural areas, and I always loved laying in bed on sultry southern nights drifting off to the sounds of crickets in the grass. It’s always been a very soothing sound for me.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Whistling, it absolutely drives me up a wall. I don’t know why. It just does.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I think it would be neat to make a career out of  photography, one that would actually make me good dough. Oh yeah, being a rock star would be pretty awesome too.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

I could never be a teacher. My mom has been teaching in public schools since I was very young.  I have seen first hand what a terrible career it can be. The shear insanity they go through on a daily basis for such a small paycheck is ridiculous. I have no patience either. For me, when I understand something, I can’t understand how someone else doesn’t. I take a, “Why can you just figure it out already!”attitude. I would be horrible with that many kids in one room.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“It’s cool, a lot of people make that mistake. The bible’s full of bunk, anyway. C’mon, let’s go party with Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut.”

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