Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Comin’ in from “The Edge...”
Life Happens While You’re Making Plans... You’ve To Go with the Flow

Memorial Day weekend was spent sorting through my mom’s belongings, deciding what to keep and what to donate; packing up my sister’s house on Long Island in preparation for her move back to Chicago in two weeks, and packing up my own stuff to put into storage in anticipation of a move into Manhattan at the end of the summer.

That’s not how it was supposed be.

This time last year, my sister’s household in Chicago was already packed up and on a moving van in preparation for her and my mom to join my sister’s husband in their new home in New York. Back in Los Angeles, everything I hadn’t sold or given away from my apartment was on its way to my sister and brother-in-law’s new home via parcel post in 28 boxes.

My sister had never lived outside of a 25 mile proximity to Chicago, and it had been more than twenty years since I’d lived in New York at the start of my career. This was going to be a great adventure!

But my mom’s health took a turn for the worse, requiring me to be more of a caregiver than I’d anticipated; my sister’s home in Chicago never sold, which meant that she and her husband were carrying two mortgages, and the exec who’d recruited my brother-in-law to his new position got transferred, which meant that the possibilities for advancement my brother-in law had been promised never fully materialized.

Seven months after the start of our great adventure, my brother-in-law was transferred back to Chicago and he moved back into their old home, leaving my sister to put their new house on the market -- before we’d even finished unpacking all the boxes still in the basement -- and to request a transfer back to Chicago where the position she’d vacated had already been filled.

Eight months into the great adventure my mom was hospitalized. Nine months into it, as we were planning to bring her home, we were thrust into planning her funeral and mourning her death.

Life happens.

Today’s column is number 26...which is equal to six months, or half of 52 weeks, which is equal to 12 months...or one year. We’re almost at the halfway mark (since I actually started writing the column just before the beginning of the year) in achieving the goals we established in our New Year’s resolutions.

It’s time for us to take stock of how far we are from where we want to be. And as your “tour guide” on this little journey, it’s time for me to give you an accounting of how well I’ve “walked my talk.”

A lot has happened that I hadn’t planned for. But that’s how life works. It would be easy for me to make excuses for my not being where I wanted to be by this point. After all, my mother just died; I have to move, again, and find a new place to live; my finances are funky due to a recent unanticipated $3,000 worth of dental work (only half of which is covered by insurance), and a really big (life-changing) deal which I thought would be finalized by now is still up in the air due to a couple of sticking points still being negotiated. It would be reasonable to cut myself some slack.

But then that would make me a “slacker.”

I’ve heard it said many times that the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people aren’t....like not cutting themselves any slack just because everything doesn’t go according to plan.

When it became obvious to me that my mom couldn’t be left alone, I switched gears from focusing on auditions for soap operas and commercials to developing a career in stand-up comedy, which I could do at night, and working on my writing, which I could do at home during the day.

When mom died and the decision was made for my sister and brother-in-law to move back to Chicago, I had another decision to make as well: stay in New York; move back to LA; move with them to Chicago, or move to North Carolina to be closer to my son and daughter-in-law and my grandkids.

Sometimes things happen that interrupt your plans. Other things happen which can cause you to re-think and possibly change them. Despite the unforeseen circumstances, I chose to recommit myself to my goal of being a consistently working, income-producing actress. To that end, I thought going back to LA, where Iona Morris and I could produce and perform our show, “MOIST!” on weekends, with the hopes of nabbing a corporate sponsor, would be my best bet. In the meantime, income just from doing the show on weekends would be enough to support me while I auditioned for TV, film and commercials. Weeknights I’d hit the comedy clubs and hone my stand-up skills.

But before I left, I thought I’d give New York and daytime another shot by signing up for two workshops conducted by soap opera casting directors, Victoria Visgilio (One Life to Live) and Kate Martineau (As the World Turns) and booking another stand-up gig at Caroline’s.

Both Kate and Victoria were gracious and charming; I committed to staying in touch by photo postcard. The Caroline’s gig resulted in a nice piece of footage for me to post on YouTube.

Then life intervened, again, when a big time New York producer read our “MOIST!” script and told Iona and me that she laughed and blushed when she read it...and decided immediately that she wanted to produce it Off-Broadway.

For the last month, the lawyers have been hammering out “the deal.” And that’s where things stand at the moment...they’re still hammering. These negotiations are a lot more complicated than I’d ever imagined.
But that doesn’t stop the moving van from showing up next week.

So, I’ve decided to put my stuff in storage in New York and go back to Chicago with my sister to help her unpack and get moved in (again). No doubt I’ll also hook up with my old Edge of Night cast-mate, Jennifer Taylor, while I’m there, as well.

Then, it’s off to North Carolina, where I’ve been invited by my son and daughter-in-law to spend the rest of the summer hanging out with them and my grandkids. What happens after that is, for now, still up in the air.

I’ve also decided to go on “hiatus” from writing the column for the summer.

There’s been a lot of change in my life this past year. Writing this column has helped me put it all into perspective and focus on the positive. Hopefully, sharing my experiences have helped you to focus as well.

But, intuitively, I’m feeling the need to “rest up,” right now, for whatever is about to happen next. I am confident that I have been attentive to my goals and diligent in my plans. I feel assured that the soil has been appropriately tilled and that the seeds have been lovingly planted and judiciously watered. I need to relax, now, and allow them the time required to take deep root so they can grow tall.

Besides, as every good television executive knows, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned “cliff-hanger” in a season finale to bring the audience back the following season for the premiere episode.

So where will I be and what will I be doing in September?

Stay tuned....

...and stay strong!

XO, Mariann